King's South Africa Medal

King’s South Africa Medal
Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India
Country United Kingdom
Type Military Campaign medal
Eligibility British and Colonial forces
Awarded for Campaign service
Campaign Second Boer War
Clasps SOUTH AFRICA 1901
Established 1902
Order of wear
Next (higher) Ashanti Medal
Next (lower) Africa General Service Medal
Related Queen's South Africa Medal
Cape Copper Company Medal for the Defence of O'okiep

Ribbon bar

The King's South Africa Medal is a British campaign medal which was awarded to all British and Colonial military personnel who served in the Second Boer War in South Africa, who were in the theatre on or after 1 January 1902 and who had completed 18 months service in the conflict prior to 1 June 1902.[1]


The fourth campaign medal for the Second Boer War and the second which could be awarded for service in South Africa, the King's South Africa Medal, was instituted in 1902 and was the first British campaign medal to be instituted by King Edward VII. Recipients had to have served in the theatre of war between 1 January 1902 and 31 May 1902 inclusive and completed 18 months service, not necessarily continuous, in the conflict prior to 1 June 1902. The medal recognised service in the difficult latter phases of the war and rewarded those who, by their long service in the field, had brought the campaign to a successful conclusion. The medal was never awarded singly, but was always paired with the Queen's South Africa Medal.[1][2][3]

The Second Boer War

Poor logistics over very long logistics lines and disease, combined with having to fight against a disciplined and capable enemy of excellent horsemen and marksmen who perfected guerrilla warfare, made this a hard-won medal. In addition to men often having had to go without basics such as food and water, enteric fever killed several thousand and was a constant drain on manpower. Published casualty rolls run to over 50,000 names, while studies of contemporary publications and reports put the actual figure for all casualties at 97,000.[4]

This war is notorious for the British scorched earth policy, which was implemented when it became clear that the guerrilla tactics practiced by the republican Boer forces could not be overcome by conventional means. In 1901, Emily Hobhouse reported on the genocide which was taking place in the 45 British concentration camps for Boer women, children and elderly in which, over an 18-month period, 26,370 people would die, 24,000 of them boys and girls under 16. Exact mortality figures in the 64 concentration camps for black displaced farm workers and their families are not known, but was probably even worse.[5][6][7]

Award criteria

The medal

The King's South Africa Medal was awarded only to those troops who fought in 1902, and who had served for 18 months. Even with continuous service, the recipient would have had to have served from 1 December 1900 to have 18 months service before the war ended on 31 May 1902. Service therefore had to have commenced before the death of Queen Victoria on 22 January 1901 and, as a result, the majority of participants qualified for the award of the Queen's South Africa Medal only.[1][8][9]

Men who were invalided out of South Africa due to wounds prior to 1 January 1902 but who returned and served any time between 1 January 1902 and 31 May 1902 were also granted the medal, provided they had completed the 18 months aggregate qualifying service.[1]


Two date clasps were awarded for service in 1901 and 1902, but nurses did not qualify to receive either clasp. Apart from the nearly 600 nursing sisters who were awarded the King's South Africa Medal without a clasp, the medal was always awarded with at least one clasp and in most cases with both. With the exception of, for example, nurses who were all awarded the medal without a clasp, or wounded men who returned to action in 1902 after having been out of action for the whole of 1901 and who could therefore possibly receive the medal with only the 1902 clasp, the rest of the recipients were awarded the medal with both clasps.[1][2]

The date clasps are normally worn with the King's South Africa Medal, but are worn with the Queen's South Africa Medal by those recipients who had qualified for one or both of the clasps, but who were ineligible for the award of the King's Medal. The two clasps are:[1][4][9][10]

Order of wear

Campaign medals and stars are not listed by name in the order of wear prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, but are all grouped together as taking precedence after the Queen's Medal for Chiefs and before the Polar Medals, in order of the date of the campaign for which awarded.[11]

The British order of precedence of the Second Boer War campaign medals is as follows:[11]

In the order of wear of British campaign medals, the King's South Africa Medal takes precedence after the Ashanti Medal and before the Africa General Service Medal.[11]

South Africa

Even though the Republican awards for the Anglo-Boer War, the Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst and the two campaign awards, the Medalje voor de Anglo-Boere Oorlog and the Lint voor Verwonding, were instituted on behalf of King George V by His Royal Highness, the Governor General of the Union of South Africa, the Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst is not listed in the British order of wear and the two campaign awards would therefore most likely also have been excluded.[11] The South African order of precedence of the Second Boer War campaign medals, in order of the date of the campaign for which awarded, is as follows:[12]

In the South African order of wear, in respect of British campaign medals applicable to South Africa, the King's South Africa Medal takes precedence before the Natal Native Rebellion Medal.

With effect from 6 April 1952, when a new South African set of decorations and medals was instituted to replace the British awards used to date, the older British decorations and medals applicable to South Africa continued to be worn in the same order of precedence but, with the exception of the Victoria Cross, took precedence after all South African orders, decorations and medals awarded to South Africans on or after that date. Of the official British campaign medals which were applicable to South Africans, the King's South Africa Medal takes precedence as shown.[11][12][13]


The King's South Africa Medal is a silver disk, 38 millimetres (1.5 inches) in diameter and 3 millimetres (0.12 inches) thick.[1]


The obverse shows King Edward VII, in Field Marshal's uniform and facing left, with the legend "EDWARDVS VII REX IMPERATOR" around the upper perimeter.[1]


The reverse shows Britannia holding the Union Flag in her left hand and a laurel wreath in her right hand. In the right background are troops marching inland from the coast. In the left background are two men-of-war, with Neptune's Trident and Britannia's shield on the ground in the foreground. Around the top perimeter are the words "SOUTH AFRICA". The reverse is identical to the third version reverse of the Queen's South Africa Medal, with the wreath almost touching the "F" of "AFRICA".[1][4]


The clasps were attached to the suspender and to each other in roller chain fashion with rivets. The date clasps, in a pair or singly, were often issued to an eligible recipient after the medal, with the result that clasps were frequently attached with unofficial rivets, or worn loose on the ribbon if the recipient didn't bother to have them attached.[3][4]


The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with an 11 millimetres wide green band, a 10 millimetres wide white band and an 11 millimetres wide orange band. As was often done with subsequent campaign medals, the colours of the ribbon represent those of the countries in which the campaign took place, green and white for the South African Republic and orange and white for the Orange Free State.[2]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 King's South Africa Medal 1901 - 02 (Retrieved 2015-03-14)
  2. 1 2 3 Veterans Affairs Canada - King's South Africa Medal
  3. 1 2 British Commonweath War and Campaign Medals awarded to New Zealanders - The Queen's South Africa Medal (Retrieved 2015-03-13)
  4. 1 2 3 4 The Queen's South Africa Medal 1899 - 1902 (Retrieved 2015-03-13)
  5. Phillips, Lisle March (1901). With Rimington in the Boer War. London: Edward Arnold.
  6. South African History Online - The Anglo-Boer War at the Wayback Machine (archived 21 August 2008)
  7. "RootsWeb: SOUTH-AFRICA-L Re: Boer War Records". 1999-01-22. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
  8. Campaign Medals of the British Army 1815-1972 by Robert W. Gould (1972, Arms and Armour Press, London). p50. ISBN 0-85368-515-0
  9. 1 2 - Queen's South Africa Medal (Retrieved 2015-03-13)
  10. G.R. Duxbury (June 1972). "Queen's South Africa Medal with 10 Bars". Military History Journal. The South African Military History Society. 2 (3). (Retrieved 2015-03-13)
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56878. p. 3352. 17 March 2003.
  12. 1 2 Government Notice no. 1982 of 1 October 1954 - Order of Precedence of Orders, Decorations and Medals, published in the Government Gazette of 1 October 1954.
  13. Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
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