Military Merit Medal (South Africa)
|Military Merit Medal|
|Awarded by the Chief of the South African Defence Force, from 1993 the State President, and from 1994 the President|
|Type||Military decoration for merit|
|Awarded for||Service of a high order|
|Status||Discontinued in 2003|
|Last awarded||27 April 2003|
|SADF pre-1994 & SANDF post-2002 orders of wear|
The Military Merit Medal, post-nominal letters MMM, is a military decoration that was instituted in the Republic of South Africa on 9 October 1974. It was awarded to all ranks of the South African Defence Force for service of a high order.
The South African military
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).
Orders, decorations and medals
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.
Fount of Honour
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.
History of the Military Merit Medal
In 1968 the Commandant General instituted the Commendation by the Commandant General, which was awarded for service of a high order that did not qualify for a decoration. Recipients were entitled to wear a bronze protea flower emblem on a strip of tunic cloth which was mounted like a medal ribbon, placed in the last position on their ribbon bars. About 500 awards were made and, from the appearance of the emblem, it became popularly known as the "Mielieblaar" (Corn leaf). When the title of the Commandant General was changed to Chief of the Defence Force, the name of the award was changed accordingly.
On 9 October 1974 the Chief of the Defence Force's Commendation was replaced by the Chief of the Defence Force's Commendation Medal, which was still awarded by the Chief of the Defence Force for service of a high order. All the members of the "Mielieblaar Club" received the new medal to replace the protea flower emblem. Even though officially sanctioned, the medal was considered unofficial and assumed the lowest position in the order of precedence since it was not instituted or awarded by the State President.
In 1992 a committee, chaired by Brigadier (Professor) Deon Fourie and with Colonel André Kritzinger, Commandant Ray Burgess, State Herald Major Fred Brownell and representatives of all four Arms of the Service as members, was tasked with the revision of the South African military orders, decorations and medals. Of the resulting recommendations, one that was approved in 1993 was that all awards for bravery and meritorious service should be considered as decorations and that recipients of all these awards should be granted the privilege of using appropriate post-nominal letters. Along with this recommendation, post-nominal letters were proposed for several new awards that had recently been instituted, such as the Pro Virtute Decoration (PVD), Pro Virtute Medal (PVM), Ad Astra Decoration (AAD), Army Cross (CM), Air Force Cross (CA), Navy Cross (CN) and Medical Service Cross (CC).
A third recommendation that was approved was that, since the State President was the Fount of Honour and the award of a military medal by the Chief of the Defence Force was therefore inappropriate, the Chief of the Defence Force's Commendation Medal should be upgraded to a full-fledged military decoration, awarded by the State President. The name Military Merit Medal and post-nominal letters MMM were proposed, as well as that its position in the official order of precedence should be revised accordingly.
Award criteria for the Military Merit Medal
The Military Merit Medal was awarded to all ranks of the South African Defence Force for service of a high order. The use of post-nominal letters by all recipients since 1968 was allowed from 1993.
Order of precedence
The position of the Military Merit Medal in the official order of precedence was revised four times after 1975 to accommodate the inclusion or institution of new decorations and medals, first when its status was raised from an award by the Chief of the Defence Force to a decoration by the State President, again with the integration into the South African National Defence Force on 27 April 1994, then again in April 1996 when decorations and medals were belatedly instituted for the two former non-statutory forces, the Azanian People's Liberation Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe, and finally with the institution of a new set of awards on 27 April 2003. Its position remained unchanged, as it was on 27 April 1994, upon the latter two occasions.
- South African Defence Force until 26 April 1994
- Official SADF order of precedence:
- Official national order of precedence:
- South African National Defence Force from 27 April 1994
- Official SANDF order of precedence:
- Official national order of precedence:
The Military Merit Medal is struck in bronze with an engrailed edge that has twelve points, to fit in a circle 38 millimetres in diameter, and is 3 millimetres thick at the centre. It depicts the South African Defence Force emblem in a circle framed by twelve protea flowers.
The reverse is smooth and displays the pre-1994 South African Coat of Arms with the decoration number stamped underneath.
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with dark blue and light blue bands, both 5 millimetres wide, a dark orange band 12 millimetres wide, and light blue and dark blue bands, both 5 millimetres wide. The colours represent the three Arms of the Service prior to the formation of the South African Medical Service as a separate fourth Arm, dark orange for the Army, light blue for the Air Force and dark blue for the Navy.
The original medals and ribbon hangers were struck separately and attached to each other with rings that enabled the medal to swing. A later version was struck with the ribbon hanger as an integral part of the medal, as depicted.
- South African honours system
- South African military decorations
- South African military decorations order of precedence
- Southern Cross Medal (1952)
- South African Medals Website - Post-nominal Letters
- South African Medals Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003
- Fforde, J.P.I. & Monick, S. A guide to South African Orders, Decorations and Medals and their ribbons 1896-1985. p. 18.
- South African Medals Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975
- Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1952-1975
- Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1975-2003
- Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
- Republic of South Africa Government Gazette no. 15093, Pretoria, 3 September 1993
- Alexander, E.G.M., Barron, G.K.B. and Bateman, A.J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau.
- Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981