Pro Patria Medal (South Africa)

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Pro Patria Medal
Pro Patria Medal, 1st version.jpg
Awarded by the State President
Country South Africa
TypeMilitary campaign medal
EligibilityAll Ranks
Awarded for55 days continuous or 90 days non-continuous duty in an operational area
Campaign(s)1966-1989 Border War
StatusDiscontinued in 1994
ClaspsCunene Clasp for service in Angola in 1975-1976
First awarded1978
SADF pre-1994 & SANDF post-2002 orders of wear
Next (higher)
SADF precedence:
SANDF precedence:
Next (lower)
SADF succession:
SANDF succession:
Ribbon - Pro Patria Medal (South Africa).gif Ribbon - Pro Patria Medal & Cunene Button.png
Ribbon bar without and with Cunene button

The Pro Patria Medal is a South African military campaign medal which was instituted by the Republic in 1974. It was awarded to members of the South African Defence Force for service in an operational area, as designated by the Minister of Defence.[1]

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).[2][3]


The Pro Patria Medal was instituted by the State President in 1974.[2][4]

Award criteria[edit]

The medal could be awarded to serving members of all ranks of the South African Defence Force. The conditions for award stipulated that the recipient had to have:

  • been involved in combat or a skirmish or combat situation or an incident caused by enemy activities, or
  • participated in a specific operation acknowledged by the Minister of Defence, or
  • served for a continuous period of 55 days or non-continuous for 90 days in an operational area as designated by the Minister of Defence.[5]

The wording on the certificate of award reads that the Pro Patria Medal was awarded for service in the defence of the Republic or for the prevention or suppression of terrorism.[6]

Order of wear[edit]

The position of the Pro Patria Medal in the official order of precedence was revised three times after 1975, to accommodate the inclusion or institution of new decorations and medals.[7]

South African Defence Force until 26 April 1994

Korea Medal Pro Patria Medal Southern Africa Medal

  • Official SADF order of precedence:
  • Official national order of precedence:
    • Preceded by the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism.
    • Succeeded by the South African Railways Police Medal for Combating Terrorism.[8]
South African National Defence Force from 27 April 1994

Korea Medal Pro Patria Medal General Service Medal (Venda)

The position of the Pro Patria 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 decorations and medals was instituted in South Africa on 27 April 2003.[7]



The Pro Patria Medal is an octagonal medallion, struck in bronze and gilded, to fit in a circle 38 millimetres in diameter and 3 millimetres thick at the centre, with a golden aloe emblem in the centre on a blue roundel, 22 millimetres in diameter.[1]


The pre-1994 South African Coat of Arms is on the reverse, with the medal number stamped underneath.

Later version with fixed suspender

The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with a 3 millimetres wide orange band, a 1½ millimetres wide white band, a 5 millimetres wide orange band and a 6 millimetres wide dark blue band, repeated in reverse order and separated by a 1 millimetre wide orange band in the centre.[9]


The early medals and ribbon suspenders were minted separately and attached to each other with rings which enabled the medal to swing. On the original medal, the roundel on the obverse was also minted separately. The earliest version of the medal was minted by the South African Mint, but from c. 1980, further production of the medal was put out to tender by private enterprises. As a result, several versions appeared, nearly all minted with the ribbon suspender as an integral part of the medal and some still with a separately minted roundel, some without the gilding, and some minted with both the ribbon suspender and the roundel as an integral part of the medal.

Mentioned in dispatches[edit]

Mentioned in Dispatches

A recipient of the Pro Patria Medal who was mentioned in dispatches during the 1966-1989 Border War, was entitled to wear a miniature Coat of Arms on the medal ribbon and ribbon bar.[1]

Clasps and Bars[edit]


Only the Cunene clasp was awarded, to members who served in Angola during Operation Savannah in 1975 and 1976. Recipients of the clasp wear a button, with the letter C encircled by a wreath, on the ribbon bar.[1][5][10]


Although the 1974 warrant made provision for bars, none were authorised.


Conferment of the Pro Patria Medal was discontinued in respect of services performed on or after 27 April 2003.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  2. ^ a b South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  3. ^ a b Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
  4. ^ a b Alexander, E.G.M., Barron G.K.B. and Bateman, A.J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau. p. 46.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Certificate of Award - Pro Patria Medal.
  6. ^ a b c d Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005, OCLC 72827981
  7. ^ a b Republic of South Africa Government Gazette no. 15093, Pretoria, 3 September 1993
  8. ^ Monick, S (1988). South African Military Awards 1912–1987. South African National Museum of Military History. p. 43.
  9. ^ Malan, Magnus (2006). My lewe saam met die SA Weermag (1st ed.). Hatfield, Pretoria: Protea Boekhuis. pp. 120–144. ISBN 978-1-86919-113-9.