Louw Wepener Decoration

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Louw Wepener Decoration
Louw Wepener Decoration.jpg
Awarded by the Governor-General and, from 1961, the State President
Country  South Africa
Type Military decoration for bravery
Eligibility All Ranks
Awarded for Acts of the most conspicuous courage or greatest heroism
Status Discontinued in 1975
Post-nominals LWD
Statistics
Established 1952
First awarded 1961
Last awarded 1974
Total awarded 7
Posthumous
awards
2
Precedence
Next (higher)
SADF precedence:[1]
SANDF precedence:[2]
Next (lower)
SADF succession:[1]
LWDlint.gif
Ribbon bar

The Louw Wepener Decoration, post-nominal letters LWD, is a military decoration for bravery that was instituted by the Union of South Africa in 1952. It was awarded to members of the South African Defence Force for acts of the most conspicuous courage or greatest heroism. It was discontinued on 1 July 1975 when a new set of decorations and medals was instituted.[3][4]

The South African military[edit]

The Union Defence Forces (UDF) were established in 1912 and renamed the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1958. On 27 April 1994 it was integrated with six other independent forces into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).[4]

Orders, decorations and medals[edit]

In April 1952 a series of military decorations and medals was instituted, consisting of substitutes for many of the British and Commonwealth awards which had earlier been used. More decorations and medals, as well as an emblem for being mentioned in dispatches, were added between 1953 and 1970. In July 1975 the military decorations and medals of the Republic were revised. Some decorations and medals were carried over from the earlier series of 1952-1975 and new awards were instituted, followed by more between 1987 and 1991. 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.[4][5][6][7][8]

Fount of Honour[edit]

Until 1958 the top three awards were reserved for conferment by the Queen while the rest were awarded by the Governor-General, but in 1958 the Governor-General was authorised to also award the top three. In 1961 the State President became the Fount of Honour, and in 1994 the President.[4]

Award criteria for the Louw Wepener Decoration[edit]

The Louw Wepener Decoration, post-nominal letters LWD, was awarded to all ranks for acts of most conspicuous courage or the greatest heroism in circumstances of great danger, and was primarily a non-combat decoration. This decoration was instituted in honour of Louw Wepener who, in 1865, lost his life whilst leading his burghers in an attack on a Basotho stronghold on Thaba Bosigo during the Basuto Wars of 1858-1865. Only seven awards were made, the first in 1961 and the last in 1974.[4]

Order of precedence[edit]

The position of the Louw Wepener Decoration in the official order of precedence was revised twice after 1975 to accommodate the inclusion or institution of new decorations and medals, first with the integration into the South African National Defence Force in 1994 and again with the institution of a new set of awards in 2003.

South African Defence Force until 26 April 1994
South African National Defence Force from 27 April 1994

The position of the Louw Wepener Decoration in the order of precedence remained unchanged, as it was on 27 April 1994, when a new series of military orders, decorations and medals was instituted on 27 April 2003.[2]

Description[edit]

Obverse

The Louw Wepener Decoration is a silver-gilt medallion, 38 millimetres in diameter, that depicts the mountain peak of Thaba Bosigo with two men on horseback at its foot. Below the horsemen are the words "THABA BOSIGO, 1865" and around the circumference are the words "LOUW WEPENER" at the top and "DECORATION • DEKORASIE" at the bottom.

Reverse

The reverse has the pre-1994 South African Coat of Arms, with the decoration number stamped at the bottom on the rim. Specimens that were minted and awarded before South Africa became a republic on 31 May 1961 had Queen Elizabeth's royal cipher (E II R) above the Coat of Arms.

Ribbon

The ribbon is 1 38 inches (35 millimetres) wide and orange, with five white bands, all 18 inch (3.2 millimetres) wide and spaced 18 inch (3.2 millimetres) apart.

Discontinuation[edit]

The conferment of the decoration was discontinued in respect of services performed on or after 1 July 1975, when a new set of decorations and medals was instituted.[6]

Recipients[edit]

LWD
no.
Name Rank Service
Arm
Unit Date
awarded
Nel, D.vZ. [a] 2 Lt SA Army SSB 19 May 1961
van Aswegen, W.A.G. (Willem) [a] Sgt SA Army SSB 19 May 1961
Stephens, F.P. [b] Sgt SA Army SACMP 1 Nov 1963
van Wyk, H.H. [c] Rfn SA Army 1 SAI 1 Nov 1963
van Heerden, J.H. [d] Cmdt SA Army Middle Karoo Commando 15 Aug 1969
Britz, J.P.  [e] Maj SAAF 1 Sqn 19 Mar 1970
Zeelie, F.J.  [f] Lt SA Army 1 RR 6 Dec 1974

Note 1:  denotes a posthumous award.

Actions cited for[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nel & Van Aswegen – Lieutenant Nel and Sergeant van Aswegen climbed aboard a burning armoured car at a public event to rescue the crew and extinguish the fire to prevent an explosion.[4]
  2. ^ Stephens, F.P. – Sergeant Stephens defused an explosive device that had been placed on a railway line.
  3. ^ Van Wyk – Rifleman van Wyk jumped onto the wing of an incoming light aircraft with a damaged wheel to help the pilot land safely.
  4. ^ Van Heerden – Commandant van Heerden picked up and tossed a live grenade clear of a training group at risk of his own life.[9]
  5. ^ Britz – Major Britz prevented his stricken Sabre aircraft from crashing into a built-up area in Pietersburg by staying at the controls instead of ejecting by parachute.[9]
  6. ^ Zeelie – Lieutenant Zeelie single-handedly stormed an enemy position. He was the first SADF casualty in combat in the 1966-1989 Border War.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Republic of South Africa Government Gazette no. 15093, Pretoria, 3 September 1993
  2. ^ a b c d e Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
  3. ^ South African Medals Website - Post-nominal Letters
  4. ^ a b c d e f South African Medals Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975
  5. ^ Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1952-1975
  6. ^ a b South African Medals Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003
  7. ^ Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1975-2003
  8. ^ Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
  9. ^ a b c Uys, Ian (1992). Cross of Honour. Germiston: Uys. pp. 3, 8, 1. ISBN 0958317321.