Africa Service Medal

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Africa Service Medal
Africa Service Medal.jpg
Africa Service Medal
Country South Africa Union of South Africa
Type Campaign medal
Eligibility South African forces
Awarded for Campaign service
Campaign Second World War 1939-45
Description Silver disk, 36mm diameter
Established 1943
Total awarded fewer than 200 000
Africa Service Medal BAR.svg

Ribbon: 32mm, central orange stripe, with green and gold stripes on either side

The Africa Service Medal was a South African campaign medal for service in World War II. It was instituted by King George VI, in his capacity as South African head of state, on 23 December 1943, and was awarded in addition to the British stars and medals issued for the war. The medal was granted to members of the Union Defence Forces, the South African Police, and the South African Railways Police.


To qualify for the medal, a member of those services must have volunteered for war service outside South Africa, and have served continuously for thirty days, or part-time for a total of eighteen hours, between 6 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. As the name indicates, the medal was originally intended for service in Africa, up to the defeat of the Axis forces in North Africa 1943, but it was later extended to cover service anywhere in the world, right up to the end of the war.


The medal is silver. The design was suggested by Field Marshal J.C. Smuts.


The obverse depicts a map of Africa, surrounded by the name of the medal in English, Africa Service Medal and Afrikaans, Afrikadiens-medalje.


The reverse depicts a springbok prancing through the veld.
Africa Service Medal obv.gifAfrica Service Medal rev.gif


The ribbon is orange-red (the colour of the shoulder flash worn by South African volunteers), edged in green and gold (the "springbok" sporting colours, which were adopted as the defence force colours).

World War II ex-servicemen referred to the ribbon of this medal as "Ouma's Garter". "Ouma" (i.e. "Granny") Smuts was the wife of the South African World War II prime minister, Field Marshal Jan Smuts.[1] The nickname was a tribute to her unstinting efforts to supply the South African troops with home comforts.

King's Commendation (South Africa) (1939-45)[edit]

A bronze King protea flower emblem was authorised, to be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Service Medal, for valuable services in connection with the Second World War. It could be awarded posthumously and was the equivalent of a Mention in Despatches for services rendered away from the battlefield.


  • Alexander, E. G. M., Barron G. K. B. and Bateman, A. J. (1986), South African Orders, Decorations and Medals, Human and Rousseau, Cape Town, 1986.
  • Monick, S, (1988). South African Military Awards 1912-1987. South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Fforde, J.P.I. and Monick, S, (1988). A Guide to South African Orders, Decorations and Medals and their Ribbons 1896-1985. South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, 1986.

External links[edit]