Louw Wepener Medal
|Louw Wepener Medal|
|Awarded by the State President|
|Type||Military decoration for bravery|
|Awarded for||Courageous or heroic deeds in saving lives|
|Status||Discontinued in 1975|
|Clasps||Bar for subsequent award|
|SADF pre-1994 & SANDF post-2002 orders of wear|
The Louw Wepener Medal, post-nominal letters LWM, is a South African military decoration for bravery that was instituted by the Republic of South Africa on 20 October 1967. It was awarded to members of the South African Defence Force for courageous or heroic deeds in saving lives. The Louw Wepener Medal was discontinued on 1 July 1975 when a new set of decorations and medals was instituted.
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.
The Louw Wepener Medal, post-nominal letters LWM, was instituted on 20 October 1967 as a second-level military decoration for bravery in addition to the existing Louw Wepener Decoration. The awards were named 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.
The Medal could be awarded to all ranks of the South African Defence Force, or serving with or rendering service to the Defence Force, for courageous or heroic deeds of self-sacrifice in saving lives in the presence of personal danger, or deeds performed in the execution of or beyond the call of military duty and for which other purely military awards were not normally made. A Bar could be awarded for a further similar deed of bravery.
Order of wear
The position of the Louw Wepener Medal 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
- Official SADF order of precedence:
- Official national order of precedence:
- Preceded by the Van Riebeeck Medal (VRM).
- Succeeded by the Pro Virtute Medal (PVM).
- South African National Defence Force from 27 April 1994
- Official SANDF order of precedence:
- Official national order of precedence:
- Preceded by the Van Riebeeck Medal (VRM) of the Republic of South Africa.
- Succeeded by the Distinguished Gallantry Medal of the Republic of Bophuthatswana.
The position of the Louw Wepener Medal in the order of precedence remained unchanged, as it was on 27 April 1994, when decorations and medals were belatedly instituted in April 1996 for the two former non-statutory forces, the Azanian People's Liberation Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe, and again when a new series of military orders, decorations and medals was instituted in South Africa on 27 April 2003.
The Louw Wepener Medal is a bronze 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 "MEDALJE : MEDAL" at the bottom.
The reverse has the pre-1994 South African Coat of Arms, with the decoration number stamped at the bottom on the rim.
The ribbon is 1 3⁄8 inches (35 millimetres) wide and orange, with four white bands, all 1⁄16 inch (1.6 millimetres) wide and spaced 7⁄32 inch (5.6 millimetres) apart.
The bar is 1 3⁄8 inches (35 millimetres) wide and in bronze, with the encircled letters "LWM" in the centre. When only ribbon bars are worn, a recipient of a subsequent award would have worn a bronze button with the encircled letters "LWD", 8 millimetres (0.31 inches) in diameter, on the ribbon bar.
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.
|Godfrey, E.J.J. [a]||Gnr||SA Army||SAA||12 Sep 1969|
|Nell, D.H.||S Sgt||SA Army||SSB||6 Aug 1971|
|Froneman, J.J.||Sea||SA Navy||Oct 1971|
|Lamont, J.F. [b]||LS||SA Navy||SAS EH||25 Aug 1972|
|Swanepoel, M.P.P. [c]||LS||SA Navy||25 Aug 1972|
|Meyer, J.J.||Sgt||SA Army||Hoëveld||28 Jun 1974|
|Blaauw, D.I.||2 Lt||SA Army||1 PB ||6 Jun 1975|
|Marrs, S.B. [d]||Spr||SA Army||6 Jun 1975|
Actions cited for
- Godfrey, E.J.J. – Gunner Godfrey saved someone from drowning in the sea.
- Lamont, J.F. – Leading Seaman Lamont rescued a crewmate from heavy seas.
- Swanepoel, M.P.P. – Leading Seaman Swanepoel rescued an unconscious man from a fire.
- Marrs, S.B. – Sapper Marrs rescued a woman and her child who had fallen overboard from a pont into a crocodile-infested river.
- Louw Wepener Decoration
- South African honours system
- South African military decorations
- South African military decorations order of precedence
- South African Medal Website - Post-nominal Letters (Accessed 28 April 2015)
- South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
- The South African Military History Society: Military History Journal Vol 1 no 1, December 1967: LOUW WEPENER MEDAL (Instituted 20 October 1967) by G.R. Duxbury.
- Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1952-1975
- South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
- Suid-Afrikaanse militêre dekorasies: 1975-2003
- Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
- South African Medal Website - Legal aspects - Fount of Honour (Accessed 1 May 2015)
- Republic of South Africa Government Gazette no. 15093, Pretoria, 3 September 1993
- Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
- Uys, Ian (1992). Cross of Honour. Germiston: Uys. p. 3. ISBN 0958317321.
- Els, Paul (2010). We conquer from above. PelSA Books. p. 299.
- South African Digest (29 August 1975).