Africa Service Medal

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Africa Service Medal
Africa Service Medal obverse & reverse.jpg
Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India
Country South Africa Union of South Africa
Type Military Campaign medal
Eligibility South African forces
Awarded for Campaign service
Campaign Second World War, 1939–1945
Statistics
Established 1943
Total awarded Fewer than 200,000
Order of wear
Next (higher) War Medal 1939–1945
Next (lower) King George V Coronation Medal
Ribbon - Africa Service Medal.png Ribbon - Africa Service Medal & King's Commendation.png
Ribbon bars without and with the King's Commendation

The Africa Service Medal is a South African campaign medal for service during the Second World War, which was awarded to members of the Union Defence Forces, the South African Police and the South African Railways Police. The medal was originally intended for service in Africa, but it was later extended to cover service anywhere in the world.[1][2][3]

Institution[edit]

The duration of the Second World War in Europe was from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, while in the Pacific Theatre it continued until 2 September 1945. In addition to the British campaign medals which were awarded to combatants from all members of the British Commonwealth, several Commonwealth nations augmented the British awards by establishing their own service medals, all distinctive in design, purpose and criteria.[4]

For South Africa, the Africa Service Medal was instituted on 23 December 1943 by King George VI in his capacity as South African head of state, and was awarded in addition to the British campaign stars and campaign medals which were awarded for the war.[1][2][3]

Award criteria[edit]

The Africa Service Medal was awarded to members of the Union Defence Forces, the South African Police and the South African Railways Police.[1][2][3]

To qualify for the medal, a member of those services must have volunteered for war service outside South Africa and must have served there between South Africa's Declaration of War on 6 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 inclusive, continuously for thirty days or part-time for a total of eighteen hours. As the name indicates, the medal was originally intended for service in Africa, up to the defeat of the Axis forces in North Africa in 1943, but it was later extended to cover service anywhere in the world, right up to the end of the war in the Pacific on 2 September 1945.[1][2][3]

Union Defence Force land forces served in East Africa in 1940 and 1941, North Africa from 1941 to 1943, Madagascar in 1942, and Italy in 1944 and 1945. The South African Air Force served in all those campaigns mentioned, as well as in West Africa from 1943 to 1945, Sicily in 1943 and South-East Europe from 1943 to 1945, and provided air support to the Warsaw uprising in 1944. Naval forces and seconded personnel served in the Mediterranean from 1941 to 1945, Greece in 1941, the Arctic convoys from 1941 to 1945, the Java Sea in 1942, Sicily in 1943, the Indian Ocean from 1943 to 1945, the D-Day invasion in 1944, and the Pacific in 1945.[3]

Order of wear[edit]

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.[5]

In the order of wear of the Second World War campaign medals, the two British campaign medals and the Africa Service Medal take precedence after the nine campaign stars, of which the order of wear was determined firstly by their respective campaign start dates, secondly by the campaign's duration and thirdly by their dates of institution.[5]

The war service medals which were established by individual Commonwealth nations to augment the British Second World War campaign medals, all take precedence after the War Medal 1939–1945 in the respective orders of wear of those countries. These medals are, in order of date of institution:[3]

South Africa[edit]

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 medals which were applicable to South Africans, the Africa Service Medal takes precedence as shown.[5][21][22]

War Medal Africa Service Medal King George V Coronation Medal

Description[edit]

The medal was struck in silver to a design as suggested by Field Marshal Jan Smuts. It is 36 millimetres in diameter and 3 millimetres thick at the raised rim, and is affixed to the suspender by means of claws and a pin through the upper edge of the medal.[1][2]

Obverse

The obverse depicts a map of Africa, surrounded by the name of the medal in English and Afrikaans, "AFRICA SERVICE MEDAL" at left and "AFRIKADIENS-MEDALJE" at right.[1][2][3]

Reverse

The reverse depicts a prancing springbok against a landscape background, with the medal number impressed at the bottom on the rim.[1][2][3]

Ribbon

The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide and orange-red, the colour of the shoulder flash worn by South African volunteers, edged in 3½ mm wide green and yellow bands. The green and gold are the Springbok Rugby sporting colours which were adopted as the defence force colours.[1]

South African Second World War ex-servicemen referred to the ribbon of this medal as Ouma's Garter. Ouma Smuts (Granny Smuts) was the nickname of the wife of the South African Second World War era prime minister, Field Marshal Jan Smuts.[23] The nickname was a tribute to her unstinting efforts to supply the South African troops with home comforts.

King's Commendation (1939–45)[edit]

King's Commendation (South Africa).png

The King's Commendation (South Africa) (1939–45), denoted by a bronze King Protea flower emblem, was authorised to be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Service Medal and could be awarded for valuable services in connection with the Second World War. The Commendation could be awarded posthumously and was the equivalent of a Mention in Despatches, but for services rendered away from the battlefield. The full-size emblem, worn on the ribbon with the medal, is 19 millimetres high, and the miniature to be worn on the ribbon bar is 9 millimetres high.[1][2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alexander, E.G.M., Barron, G.K.B. and Bateman, A.J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Monick, S (1988). South African Military Awards 1912–1987. South African National Museum of Military History. p. 49. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i South African Medal Website – Union Defence Forces (1939–52) (Accessed 3 May 2015)
  4. ^ David T. Zabecki (ed) (1999). World War II in Europe – An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1049–1050. ISBN 0-8240-7029-1.
  5. ^ a b c The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56878. p. 3352. 17 March 2003. (Access date 14 April 2015)
  6. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The 1939–45 Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
  7. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Atlantic Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 4 April 2015)
  8. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Arctic Star (Access date 12 April 2015)
  9. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Air Crew Europe Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
  10. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Africa Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
  11. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Pacific Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 9 April 2015)
  12. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Burma Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
  13. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Italy Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
  14. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The France and Germany Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
  15. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The Defence Medal Eligibility Rules (Access date 21 April 2015)
  16. ^ New Zealand Defence Force – The War Medal 1939–45 Eligibility Rules (Access date 22 April 2015)
  17. ^ "Campaign Stars and Medals (1939-1954)". Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved July 8, 2012. 
  18. ^ Medals of the Second World War 1939-1945 - India - The India Service Medal 1939-1945 (Access date 14 May 2015)
  19. ^ New Zealand Campaign Medals – The New Zealand War Service Medal (Access date 14 May 2015)
  20. ^ Australian Government - It's an Honour - Australia Service Medal 1939-1945 (Access date 14 May 2015)
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
  23. ^ "South African Orders, Decorations and Medals A-Z". Archived from the original on 2009-10-24.