Circular dark bronze medal with integral bar for ribbon suspension; the face with the head of King Vittorio Emanuele III looking left, circumscribed ‘VITT • EM • III • RE • D’ITALIA • IMP • DI • ETIOPIA’ (Vittorio Emanuele III, King of Italy, Emperor of Ethiopia), signed ‘G.ROMAGNOLI’ and with makers mark a crowned ‘Z’ (for Regio Zecca); the reverse with a mountainous East African landscape, a fasces in the left foreground and inscribed ‘AFRICA ORIENTALE’ above and ‘MOLTO NEMICI MOLTO ONORE’ (many enemies, much honour) below above the signature of Mussolini, signed ‘V. PERRONE’; on original ribbon with a bronze citation in the form of a gladius (sword) wrapped in laurel, the hilt inscribed ‘FERT’.
The medal was instituted on 27 April 1936 for those involved in the conquest and occupation of Ethiopia in the face of international condemnation. Ethiopia had maintained her independence for more than two thousand years when Italian forces invaded in 1935 and, armed with 20th Century weapons, bombed and gassed the Ethiopian people into temporary submission, annexing the country in 1936. In 1941 patriotic Ethiopian, British and Commonwealth troops liberated the country and Emperor Haile Selassie re-entered Addis Ababa in triumph on 5 May. A good example.