The Commemorative Medal of the Calabria- Sicilian Earthquake 1908
Medaglia Commemorativa Terremoto Calabro-Siculo 1908
also known as:

The Messina Earthquake Medal 1908

     At 5:22 am on the 28th December 1908 the Sicily & Calabria area of Italy was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. It was soon realised that the Italian authorities had a major disaster on their hands with a terrible death toll. (70,000 - 100,000 est. USGS). Many nations came to the aid of the affected areas and various ships in the Mediterranean at the time were deployed to offer whatever help could be given. Messina was the worst affected population centre and a number of Royal and British Merchant Navy vessels landed men to assist, from digging survivors out from collapsed buildings to assisting with the evacuation of the injured and homeless.
     In the aftermath of this it was decided by the Italian Royal family that a 'merit medal' would be produced to be awarded to those who distinguished themselves "whether by rendering assistance and medical treatment, or by donating health and administrative services and meeting the material and spiritual needs of the sufferers of the disaster" . This medal was struck in gold, silver and bronze - and in two sizes; 40mm and 30mm, - 40mm for institutions and 30mm for individuals. An estimate of up to three hundred of these merit medals were awarded.
    Another royal decree of 20th February 1910 announced that a commemorative medal was to be produced, to be awarded to everyone who came to the aid of the Italian people in the disaster. It is this second medal - the 'commemorative medal'  that frequently turns up in British Naval medal groups.
   The commemorative medal was generally awarded to those who landed to help in the relief operations and the vessels and numbers are reproduced below.

   Description: silver 32mm diameter with a ring suspension: Obverse; the bust of King Victor Emanuel III with the legend 'VITTORIO EMANUELE III RE D'ITALIA'. Reverse; the inscription 'MEDAGLIA COMMEMORATIVA -- TERREMOTO CALABRO-SICULO 28 DICEMBRE 1908 ' all within an oak wreath.

 Naming: issued unnamed.


Royal Navy Medals
HMS Boxer 52
HMS Duncan 607
HMS Euryalus 640
HMS Exmouth 598
HMS Lancaster 560
HMS Minerva 355
HMS Philomel 35
HMS Sutlej 613
Malta Yard 3
Merchant Navy  Medals; British/Foreign/Total
SS Afonwen 18/7/25
SS Chesapeake 31/30/61
SS Cretic 1/144/145
SS Drake 26/0/26
SS Ebro 25/2/27
SS Mariner 20/1/21
SS Ophir 229/5/234
SS Vito 14/6/20


Ribbon; green with white edges and white central stripe.

Messina Earthquake Medal Ribbon


The principle published work on the British relief effort during the Messina earthquake disaster is Angels in Blue Jackets, The Navy at Messina by J. W. Wilson and Roger Perkins. (Picton Publishing 1985, ISBN 0 948251 01 8 ). This book includes full rolls for recipients by vessel. (from which the above 'medals per vessel' numbers are extracted)




The Messina Earthquake Medal 1908 Medaglia Terremoto Calabro Siculo 1908

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