Union Medal

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Union Medal
Union Medal obverse and reverse.jpg
Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms
Country  South Africa
Type Military long service medal
Eligibility Permanent Force, all ranks
Awarded for 18 years of good service
Status Discontinued in 1961
Clasps 30 years of good service
Statistics
Established 1952
First awarded 1952
SADF pre-1994 & SANDF post-2002 orders of wear
Next (higher)
SADF precedence:
Next (lower)
Ribbon - Union Medal.gif Ribbon - Permanent Force Good Service Medal & button.PNG
18 Years and 30 Years service ribbon bars

The Union Medal was instituted by the Union of South Africa in 1952. It was awarded to Permanent Force members of the South African Defence Force for eighteen years of service and good conduct.[1][2][3]

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).[1][4][5]

Institution[edit]

The Union Medal was instituted by Queen Elizabeth II on 6 April 1952, during the Tercentenary Van Riebeeck Festival.[2][3][6][7]

Award criteria[edit]

The medal could be awarded to Permanent Force members of the South African Defence Force for eighteen years of good service. A clasp could be awarded after thirty years of service.[1]

Order of wear[edit]

With effect from 6 April 1952, when the Union Medal and several other new decorations and medals were instituted, these new awards took precedence before all earlier British orders, decorations and medals awarded to South Africans, with the exception of the Victoria Cross, which still took precedence before all other awards. The other older British awards continued to be worn in the order prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.[8][9][10]

The position of the Union Medal in the official order of precedence was revised three times after 1975, to accommodate the inclusion or institution of new decorations and medals, first upon the integration into the South African National Defence Force on 27 April 1994, again 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.[10]

South African Defence Force until 26 April 1994

Good Service Medal, Silver Union Medal Permanent Force Good Service Medal

  • Official SADF order of precedence:
  • Official national order of precedence. This national precedence was in error in respect of the next lower medal as determined according to their dates of institution. It was corrected by 1994.[10][11]
    • Preceded by the Railways and Harbours Police Medal for Faithful Service.
    • Succeeded by the Permanent Force Good Service Medal of 1961. (This is an error and should be the Railway Police Good Service Medal of 1960.)[10][11]
South African National Defence Force from 27 April 1994

Long Service Medal, Silver Union Medal Permanent Force Good Service Medal

  • Official SANDF order of precedence:
  • Official national order of precedence:
    • Preceded by the Railways and Harbours Police Medal for Faithful Service of the Republic of South Africa.
    • Succeeded by the Railway Police Good Service Medal of the Republic of South Africa.[10]
South African National Defence Force from April 1996

Silver Service Medal Union Medal Permanent Force Good Service Medal

  • Official SANDF order of precedence:
  • Official national order of precedence:
    • Preceded by the Railways and Harbours Police Medal for Faithful Service of the Republic of South Africa.
    • Succeeded by the Railway Police Good Service Medal of the Republic of South Africa.[10]
South African National Defence Force from 27 April 2003

Medalje vir Troue Diens and Bar, 20 years Union Medal Permanent Force Good Service Medal

  • Official SANDF order of precedence:
  • Official national order of precedence:
    • Preceded by the Railways and Harbours Police Medal for Faithful Service of the Republic of South Africa.
    • Succeeded by the Railway Police Good Service Medal of the Republic of South Africa.[10]

Description[edit]

Obverse

The Union Medal is a medallion with a scalloped edge and a raised rim, 38 millimetres in diameter and 3 millimetres thick at the rim and struck in silver, depicting the pre-1994 South African Coat of Arms encircled with the inscription "UNIE-MEDALJE • UNION MEDAL". The ribbon suspender is decorated with proteas and leaves.[1][12]

Reverse

The reverse depicts Queen Elizabeth II's royal cipher, a crown over "E II R", and has a raised rim and decorated ribbon suspender, similar to those of the obverse. The medals and ribbon suspenders were minted separately and soldered together. The medal number was impressed at the bottom on the rim.[1]

Ribbon

The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with bands of orange, white and blue repeated, three times, the outer orange and blue bands each 4 millimetres wide and the seven inner bands all approximately 3½ millimetres wide. Orange, white and blue are the colours of the pre-1994 national flag.[1][12]

Clasp
Clasp

The clasp, awarded after thirty years of service, was struck in silver and is 1 14 inches (32 millimetres) wide, with the Coat of Arms of South Africa in the centre and with a hole at each corner to enable it to be sewn to the ribbon. When ribbons only are worn, recipients of the clasp would wear a silver button on the ribbon bar, embellished with the South African Coat of Arms.

Discontinuation[edit]

Conferment of the Union Medal was discontinued on 31 May 1961, when South Africa became a republic and the medal was replaced by the Permanent Force Good Service Medal.[10][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  2. ^ a b Alexander, E.G.M., Barron, G.K.B. and Bateman, A.J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau.
  3. ^ a b Monick, S, (1988). South African Military Awards 1912-1987. South African National Museum of Military History.
  4. ^ South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  5. ^ Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
  6. ^ CometoCapeTown.com Blast from the past – Van Riebeeck festival in 1952 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  7. ^ "No. 56878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3352.  (Access date 14 April 2015)
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005. OCLC 72827981 In the document, the printed identification number is 9771682584003.
  10. ^ a b c d Republic of South Africa Government Gazette no. 15093, Pretoria, 3 September 1993
  11. ^ a b SA Army - Uniform: Former Forces Medals: South African Defence Force