Africa Service Medal

Era: WWII

The award of this silver medal was approved by His Majesty the King on 16th November, 1943.  The Africa Service Medal was a South African campaign medal for service in World War Two and was awarded in addition to the British stars and medals issued for the war. The medal was granted to members of the Union Defence Forces, the South African Police, and the South African Railways Police. 

The qualifications for the Africa Service Medal were:

  1. The signing of the Africa Oath acknowledging liability for service with the Union Defence Forces anywhere in Africa, and/or
  2. The signing of the General Service Oath acknowledging liability for service with the Union Defence Forces in any theatre of War.

The following also qualified for the Africa Service Medal:

  1. Personnel of the Union Defence Forces who served in a full, or part-time capacity.
  2. Personnel of other uniformed services, who performed full-time service with their respective units.  Service included membership of the South African Police, Essential Services, Protection Corps, South African Military Nursing Services, V.A.D officers and members, and women’s services.

To qualify for the Africa Service Medal members of those above must have volunteered for war service outside South Africa, and have served continuously for thirty days, or part-time for a total of eighteen hours, between 6th, September, 1939 and 2nd, September, 1945.

There are two versions of this award, a plain one for enlisted men and a silver version for officers.

Description:

Materials:      The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non-combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.

Ribbon –  32mm wide, orange-red coloured centre (the colour of the shoulder flash worn by South African volunteers) with 3mm wide green outer stripe, and 3mm wide gold inner stripe (the "springbok" sporting colours, which were adopted as the defence force colours).

Africa Service Medal
Africa Service Medal

Type – Campaign Medal.

Campaign- Second World War 1939-45.

Eligibility – South African Forces (including non-South-African nationals).

Awarded for – Campaign Services, Personnel who served continuously for thirty days, or part-time for a total of eighteen hours, between 6th, September, 1939 and 2nd, September, 1945.

Established – 16th November, 1943

Designer – Suggested by the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Union of South Africa, and then sketched by a member of the South African Mint.

Naming – In indented block capitals

Total Awarded – fewer than 200,000

Clasps – None issued

Suspender – Straight (Plain)

Description – The Africa Service Medal is made of silver and 36mm in diameter. The obverse of the medal is a map of Africa, with the inscription “AFRICA SERVICE MEDAL” around the left half of the medal, on the right of the circumference is the inscription “AFRIKADIENS-MEDALJE”. The Reverse of the medal depicts a Springbok prancing to the right.

A bronze King Protea flower emblem was used to represent the King’s Commendation and could be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Service Medal. It could be awarded for valuable services during WWII and was the equivalent of a Mention in Despatches.

 

This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals

Sources:

Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

< gov.uk/medals-campaigns-descriptions-and-eligibility>

Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Africa_Service_Medal >

Which are released under the terms of

Creativecommons.org/licenses/by-s/3.0/.

 

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