South African military decorations order of wear

Mounted medal set.jpg

The first South African military medal was a campaign medal, the South Africa Medal, instituted in 1854 by Queen Victoria, the Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, for award to officers and men of the Royal Navy and British Army who served on the Eastern Frontier of the Cape Colony between 1834 and 1853 during the Xhosa Wars.[1]

Five more South African campaign medals were instituted during the Colonial era until 1910, when the Union of South Africa was established as a dominion of the British Empire. After Union and until 1952, members of the Union Defence Forces (UDF) could be awarded decorations and medals of the British Empire and, from 1949, the British Commonwealth. A number of purely South African decorations and medals were also instituted during this period, such as belated awards for Boer forces who fought in the Second Boer War, a Union commemorative medal and South African versions of some Empire medals with bilingual inscriptions in English and Dutch or Afrikaans.[2]

The first purely South African military orders, decorations and medals were instituted in 1952 by Queen Elizabeth II, the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. From 1961 decorations and medals were instituted by the South African State President and, between 1976 and 1994, also by the Presidents of the TBVC States, Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei. These awards were instituted in seven groups for the seven separate military and para-military forces which were integrated into the South African National Defence Force in 1994.[2][3]

The South African militaryEdit

The Union of South Africa was established on 31 May 1910 in terms of the South Africa Act, 1909, enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In terms of Section 17 of the Act the command-in-chief of the naval and military forces within the Union was vested in the British Monarch or in the Governor-General of the Union of South Africa as his representative.[4]

The Union Defence Forces were established in 1912 in terms of the Union Defence Act, no. 13 of 1912, enacted by the Parliament of the Union of South Africa. The UDF were renamed the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1958. On 27 April 1994 the SADF was integrated with six other independent South African military and para-military forces into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).[5][6]

The seven constituent forces of the SANDF were:

Orders, decorations and medalsEdit

Until 31 May 1961 the Fount of Honour was the British monarch. In 1961 the State President of South Africa became the Fount of Honour. In the TBVC states, established between 1976 and 1981, the Founts of Honour were the respective State Presidents. On 27 April 1994 the President of South Africa became the Fount of Honour for all military orders, decorations and medals.[5]

The Colonial and Dominion eraEdit

Until 1961, at first during the Colonial era and then from 1910 when the Union of South Africa was established, all military decorations and medals which were awarded to members of the Colonial Forces, the UDF and SADF were instituted by the British Monarch.[3]

The 1952–1975 groupEdit

The first purely South African military decorations and medals were instituted by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms on 6 April 1952 and, from 31 May 1961, by the State President. In 1952 a series of military decorations and medals was instituted by Queen Elizabeth II, consisting of substitutes for many of the British and Commonwealth awards which had been used until then. There were initially ten awards, to which a further eight as well as an emblem for being mentioned in dispatches were added between 1953 and 1970. All displayed the national Coat of Arms on the reverse, with the exception of the Union Medal and the Permanent Force Good Service Medal which had it on the obverse. Those awarded before South Africa became a republic in 1961 had Queen Elizabeth II's royal cipher above the Coat of Arms on the reverse.[5]

The 1975–2003 groupEdit

During the limited representation Republican era, in July 1975, the military decorations and medals of the Republic were revised. Seven decorations and medals were carried over from the earlier series of 1952-1975 and, along with the Order of the Star of South Africa with decorations in two military and five non-military classes, thirteen new awards were instituted. They were followed by another eleven new decorations and medals between 1987 and 1991. With the exception of the Pro Virtute Decoration, the trio of Good Service Medals and the National Cadet Bisley Grand Champion Medal, all displayed the national Coat of Arms on the reverse.[7][8][9]

The TBVC groupEdit

Between 1976 and 1981 the four independent republics of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei, known collectively as the TBVC states, were established within South Africa. Each of them instituted a set of military decorations and medals for award to members of their respective defence forces.[10][11][12][13]

The MK and APLA groupEdit

On 27 April 1994 South Africa became a fully representative republic. In 1996 a set of decorations and medals were instituted for award to members and veterans of MK and APLA.[14]

The 2003 groupEdit

Finally, all but one of these earlier awards were discontinued in respect of services performed on or after 27 April 2003, when a new set of nine decorations and medals was instituted to replace them.[15]

Order of wearEdit

Until 5 April 1952 all South African, other Commonwealth and foreign orders, decorations and medals awarded to South Africans were worn in the order of wear as prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.[3][16]

With effect from 6 April 1952 the aforementioned awards continued to be worn in the order of wear as prescribed on 5 April 1952 but, with one exception, took precedence after all South African orders, decorations and medals awarded to South Africans on or after that date. The exception was the Victoria Cross which, if awarded to a South African before 6 April 1952, still took precedence before all other awards.[2][3]

Sorting keys

The table below lists all the South African military orders, decorations and medals in the official order of wear. All the table columns are sortable and the two columns for order of wear, "OoW 2003" and "OoW 1993", will sort the awards in either the combined order of wear which became effective on 27 April 2003, or in the individual orders of wear of the seven constituent forces which were integrated into the SANDF on 27 April 1994.[2][3][16]

Most decorations for gallantry, distinguished and meritorious service and exceptional devotion to duty entitle the recipients to use the post-nominal letters as shown in the "PN" column of the table. These are succeeded, in order, by campaign medals in order of date of campaign, commemoration medals in order of date of institution, decorations and medals for efficiency, long service and good conduct, medals for skill at arms and proficiency in musketry, pre-1952 British era decorations and medals, and awards for voluntary and unremunerated service.[2][3][16][17]


OoW 2003
Order, Decoration or Medal PN Type OoW
1993
From To
  Victoria Cross VC Bravery   1856 1952
  Honoris Crux Gold HCG Bravery   1975 1992
  Gold Star for Bravery GSB Bravery   1996 2003
  Star for Bravery in Gold SBG Bravery   1996 2003
  Nkwe ya Gauta NG Bravery   2003
  Star of South Africa, Gold SSA Merit   1975 2002
  Star of South Africa, Silver SSAS Merit   1975 2002
  Order of the Leopard, Military Division, Commander Merit   1992 1994
  Star of South Africa SSA Merit   1952 1975
  Louw Wepener Decoration LWD Bravery   1952 1975
  Distinguished Gallantry Cross Bravery   1982 1994
  Gallantry Cross, Gold GCG Bravery   1985 1994
  Honoris Crux (1952) HC Bravery   1952 1975
  Honoris Crux Silver HCS Bravery   1975 2003
  Van Riebeeck Decoration DVR Bravery   1952 1975
  Honoris Crux (1975) HC Bravery   1975 2003
  Gallantry Cross, Silver GCS Bravery   1985 1994
  Cross for Bravery Bravery   1994 1994
  Bravery Star in Silver BSS Bravery   1996 2003
  Star for Bravery in Silver SBS Bravery   1996 2003
  Nkwe ya Selefera NS Bravery   2003
  Pro Virtute Decoration PVD Bravery   1987 2003
  Southern Cross Decoration SD Merit   1975 2003
  Pro Merito Decoration PMD Merit   1975 2003
  Conspicuous Leadership Star CLS Bravery   1996 2003
  Star for Conspicuous Leadership SCL Bravery   1996 2003
  Defence Force Merit Decoration Merit   1982 1994
  Distinguished Service Medal, Gold Merit   1985 1994
  Sandile Decoration SD Merit   1988 1994
  Decoration for Merit in Gold DMG Merit   1996 2003
  Gold Decoration for Merit GDM Merit   1996 2003
  iPhrothiya yeGolide PG Merit   2003
  Van Riebeeck Medal VRM Bravery   1952 1975
  Louw Wepener Medal LWM Bravery   1967 1975
  Distinguished Gallantry Medal Bravery   1982 1994
  Nkwe ya Boronse NB Bravery   2003
  Ad Astra Decoration AAD Bravery   1991 2003
  Army Cross CM Bravery   1987 2003
  Air Force Cross CA Bravery   1987 2003
  Navy Cross CN Bravery   1987 2003
  Medical Service Cross CC Bravery   1987 2003
  Southern Cross Medal (1952) SM Merit   1952 1975
  Pro Merito Medal (1967) PMM Merit   1967 1975
  Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Merit   1985 1994
  Southern Cross Medal (1975) SM Merit   1975 2003
  Pro Merito Medal (1975) PMM Merit   1975 2003
  Defence Force Merit Medal Merit   1982 1994
  Sandile Medal SM Merit   1988 1994
  Marumo Medal, Class I Merit   1988 1994
  Merit Medal in Silver MMS Merit   1996 2003
  Silver Medal for Merit SMM Merit   1996 2003
  iPhrothiya yeSiliva PS Merit   2003
  Danie Theron Medal DTM Merit   1970 1993
  Jack Hindon Medal JHM Merit   1970 1975
  Military Merit Medal MMM Merit   1974 2003
  Defence Force Commendation Medal Merit   1982 1994
  Venda Defence Force Medal Merit   1984 1994
  Marumo Medal, Class II Merit   1988 1994
  Transkei Defence Force Medal Merit   1994 1994
  Bronze Medal for Merit BMM Merit   1996 2003
  Merit Medal in Bronze MMB Merit   1996 2003
  iPhrothiya yeBhronzi PB Merit   2003
  Chief C.D.F. Commendation Medal Merit   1992 1994
  Korea Medal Campaign   1953
  Pro Patria Medal Campaign   1974 1994
  General Service Medal (Venda) Campaign   1985 1994
  Southern Africa Medal Campaign   1987 1994
  General Service Medal (South Africa) Campaign   1987 2003
  Ciskei Defence Medal Campaign   1988 1994
  Nkwe Medal Campaign   1990 1994
  General Service Medal (Bophuthatswana) Campaign   1991 1994
  Operational Medal for Southern Africa Campaign   1998 2003
  South Africa Service Medal Campaign   1998 2003
  Tshumelo Ikatelaho Campaign   2003
  Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal Commem.   1953 1953
  Independence Medal (Transkei) Commem.   1976 1976
  Independence Medal (Bophuthatswana) Commem.   1977 1977
  Independence Medal (Venda) Commem.   1979 1979
  Independence Medal (Ciskei) Commem.   1981 1981
  Military Rule Medal Commem.   1994 1994
  Unitas Medal Commem.   1994 1994
  Closure Commemoration Medal Commem.   2003
  Medalje vir Troue Diens and Bar, 50 years Service   2003
  Medal for Distinguished Conduct and Loyal Service Service   1987 2003
  Medalje vir Troue Diens and Bar, 40 years Service   2003
  Good Service Medal, Gold Service   1975 2003
  Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Gold Service   1982 1994
  Long Service Medal, Gold Service   1985 1994
  Gold Service Medal Service   1996 2003
  Service Medal in Gold Service   1996 2003
  Medalje vir Troue Diens and Bar, 30 years Service   2003
  John Chard Decoration JCD Service   1952 2003
  De Wet Decoration DWD Service   1965 2003
  Cadet Corps Medal Service   1966 1986
  Good Service Medal, Silver Service   1975 2003
  Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Silver Service   1982 1994
  Long Service Medal, Silver Service   1985 1994
  Service Medal in Silver Service   1996 2003
  Silver Service Medal Service   1996 2003
  Medalje vir Troue Diens and Bar, 20 years RD ♠ Service   2003
  Union Medal Service   1952 1961
  Permanent Force Good Service Medal Service   1961 1975
  John Chard Medal Service   1952 2003
  Good Service Medal, Bronze Service   1975 2003
  Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Bronze Service   1982 1994
  Long Service Medal, Bronze Service   1985 1994
  De Wet Medal Service   1987 2003
  Faithful Service Medal Service   1987 1994
  Medal for Long Service, Bronze Service   1988 1994
  Bronze Service Medal Service   1996 2003
  Service Medal in Bronze Service   1996 2003
  Medalje vir Troue Diens Service   2003
  Queen's Medal for Champion Shots in the Military Forces Bisley   1924 1961
  Commandant General's Medal Bisley   1965 1975
  SADF Champion Shot Medal Bisley   1975 2003
  National Cadet Bisley Grand Champion Medal Bisley   1987
  President's Medal for Shooting Bisley   1988 1994
  State President's Medal for Shooting Bisley   1990 1994
  Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst DTD Merit   1920 1946
  Distinguished Service Order DSO Bravery   1886 1952
  Distinguished Service Cross DSC Bravery   1901 1952
  Military Cross MC Bravery   1914 1952
  Distinguished Flying Cross DFC Bravery   1918 1952
  Air Force Cross AFC Bravery   1918 1952
  Distinguished Conduct Medal DCM Bravery   1854 1952
  Distinguished Conduct Medal (Natal) DCM Bravery   1897 1913
  Conspicuous Gallantry Medal CGM Bravery   1874 1952
  Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (Flying) CGM Bravery   1943 1952
  Distinguished Service Medal DSM Bravery   1914 1952
  Military Medal MM Bravery   1916 1952
  Distinguished Flying Medal DFM Bravery   1918 1952
  Air Force Medal AFM Bravery   1918 1952
  British Empire Medal (Military) BEM Merit   1922 1952
  South Africa Medal (1853) Campaign   1854
  South Africa Medal (1880) Campaign   1880
  Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal Campaign   1900
  Queen's South Africa Medal Campaign   1900
  Medalje voor de Anglo-Boere Oorlog Campaign   1920 1982
  Lint voor Verwonding Campaign   1920 1949
  King's South Africa Medal Campaign   1902
  Natal Native Rebellion Medal Campaign   1907
  1914–15 Star Campaign   1918
  British War Medal Campaign   1919
  Mercantile Marine War Medal[18] Campaign   1919
  Victory Medal (South Africa) Campaign   1919
  1939–1945 Star Campaign   1943
  Atlantic Star Campaign   1945
  Arctic Star Campaign   2012
  Air Crew Europe Star Campaign   1945
  Africa Star Campaign   1943
  Pacific Star Campaign   1945
  Burma Star Campaign   1945
  Italy Star Campaign   1945
  France and Germany Star Campaign   1945
  Defence Medal (United Kingdom) Campaign   1945
  War Medal 1939–1945 Campaign   1945
  Africa Service Medal Campaign   1943
  King George V Coronation Medal Commem.   1911 1911
  King George V Silver Jubilee Medal Commem.   1935 1935
  King George VI Coronation Medal Commem.   1937 1937
  Meritorious Service Medal (United Kingdom) MSM Gallantry   1916 1928
  Meritorious Service Medal (Cape of Good Hope) Service   1896 1913
  Meritorious Service Medal (Natal) Service   1897 1913
  Meritorious Service Medal (South Africa) Service   1914 1939
  Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Cape) Service   1896 1910
  Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Natal) Service   1897 1910
  Permanent Forces of the Empire Beyond the Seas Medal Service   1910 1930
  Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (South Africa) Service   1930 1952
  Volunteer Officers' Decoration for India and the Colonies VD Service   1894 1899
  Volunteer Long Service Medal for India and the Colonies Service   1896 1899
  Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration VD Service   1899 1930
  Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal Service   1899 1930
  Efficiency Decoration (South Africa) ED Service   1930 1952
  Efficiency Medal (South Africa) Service   1930 1952
  Decoration for Officers of the R.N.V.R. VRD Service   1915 1952
  R.N.V.R. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal Service   1915 1952
  Air Efficiency Award AE ♣ Service   1942 1952
  Union of South Africa Commemoration Medal Commem.   1910 1911
  South African Medal for War Services Volunteer   1945
  Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry Unofficial   1851
  Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps Medal Unofficial   1899
  Kimberley Star Unofficial   1900
  Cape Copper Company Medal for the Defence of O'okiep Unofficial   1902
Notes
  • ♠ In respect of recipients of the Emblem for Reserve Force Service only, indicating "Reserve Distinction".
  • Use of the post-nominal MSM was restricted to awards for acts of gallantry during the First World War.
  • ♣ Use of the post-nominal AE was restricted to officers only.

Errors and exclusionsEdit

The official order of wear of 2005 contains the caveat that, in the absence of full information on some awards, there may be among the awards listed for the TBVC states some which were never awarded. The official list contains minor errors, one of these being the post-nominal letters "VRD" instead of "DVR" for the Van Riebeeck Decoration. The post-nominal letters "VRD" are used for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Decoration.[2]

The following decorations and medals are excluded from the table:[2]

  • Civil, police, prisons and other non-military decorations and medals.
  • Military decorations which, while officially instituted, were never awarded and now never will be. These include:

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Medals of the Zulu War, 11th January to 1 September, 1879". Military History Journal. The South African Military History Society. 4 (4). January 1979. Retrieved 9 November 2019. (Zulu War Centenary Issue)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
  3. ^ a b c d e f 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.
  4. ^ South Africa Act, 1909, enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 20 September 1909
  5. ^ a b c South African Medals Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  6. ^ The South African Railways - Historical Survey. Editor George Hart, Publisher Bill Hart, Sponsored by Dorbyl Ltd., Published c. 1978, p. 25.
  7. ^ Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1952-1975
  8. ^ Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1975-2003
  9. ^ South African Medals Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  10. ^ South African Medals Website - Transkei Defence Force (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  11. ^ South African Medals Website - Bophuthatswana Defence Force (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  12. ^ South African Medals Website - Venda Defence Force (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  13. ^ South African Medals Website - Ciskei Defence Force (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  14. ^ South African Medals Website - Liberation armies (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  15. ^ Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
  16. ^ a b c "No. 56878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3353.
  17. ^ South African Medals Website - Post-nominal Letters (Accessed 28 April 2015)
  18. ^ "No. 33554". The London Gazette. 22 November 1929. p. 7530.