The Queen's South Africa Medal (QSA) was awarded to military personnel who served in the Boer War in South Africa between 11th October 1899 and 31st May 1902. Units from the British Army, Royal Navy, colonial forces who took part (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa), civilians employed in official capacity and war correspondents. The QSA (without bar) was also awarded to troops who guarded Boer prisoners of war at the POW camp on the island of St. Helena. Troops on the Mediterranean islands were awarded the Queen's Mediterranean Medal, and some personnel on troopships got the Transport Medal.
The QSA was the medal issued to all who served in South Africa up to the end of the war in May 1902. This included those such as the New Zealand 10th Contingent who arrived in Durban in May 1902, and did not fight. The requirements for the King's South Africa Medal meant that few were issued
Poor logistics’ and disease made the South African campaign a tough one for the British soldier, men often having to go without basics such as food and water, and enteric fever was a constant drain on manpower. This combined with having to fight a guerrilla war against a capable enemy makes this a hard won medal. The modern published casualty rolls run to over 50,000 names.
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 – (32 mm) wide, and consists of five stripes: red (5 mm), dark blue (5 mm), orange centre, dark blue (5 mm), and red (5 mm).
Suspension – Straight
Type – Campaign medal
Eligibility – Service in South Africa between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902
Awarded for – Service
Campaign – Second Boar War.
Established – 1900
Designer – G. W. De Saulles
Naming – Generally in indented block or sloping capitals. Some were engraved in different styles.
Clasps – 26 issued
Description - A circular, silver medal, 1.52 inches (39 mm) in diameter. The obverse shows a crowned and veiled effigy of Queen Victoria, facing left, with the legend ‘VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX.’
The reverse has Britannia depicted holding the Union Flag in her left hand and a laurel wreath in her right hand. In the right background are troops marching to the coast and in the left background are two men-of-war. Around the top are the words ‘SOUTH AFRICA’. The first medals, awarded to Strathcona's Horse, bore the dates ‘1899–1900’. The dates were removed from subsequent medals because the war continued beyond 1900. Some medals still show the 'ghost' of ‘1899–1900’.
Bronze medals were issued to non-enlisted personnel (including Indians), though some silver medals were issued to native troops.
Three types of reverse are recorded. Initially the war was expected to reach its conclusion in 1900 and the medals were struck with the reverse dates “1899 – 1900” (on this type the wreath in Britannia’s hand points towards the letter “R” in “Africa”). A small number of these were issued before it was realised that the war was to drag on much longer than this. Therefore the rest of the dated medals that had been manufactured had these dates machined off, though common to see remnants of these dates. The third type is found with Britannia’s wreath pointing towards the letter “F” of “Africa”.
Clasps are commonly, though not strictly correctly, also referred to as ‘bars’. They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating service in a particular campaign or battle. The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned. Usually the first earned Clasp is borne nearest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, though they can be found in the wrong order.
CAPE COLONY: 11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902
All troops in Cape Colony at anytime between 11th October 1899 and 31st May 1902, inclusive, who had not received a clasp for a specific action in the Cape Colony or the “Natal” clasp
NATAL: 11 October 1899 and 11 June 1900
All troops in Natal at any time between 11th October 1899 and 11th June 1900, both dates inclusive who had not received a clasp for a specific action in Natal or the Cape Colony.
RHODESIA: 11 October 1899 – 17 May 1900
All troops who were under the command of Lieut. General Sir F. Carrington and Colonel Plumer in Rhodesia between 11th October 1899 and 17th May 1900, both dates inclusive, or who landed at Beira between 11th October 1899 and the 25th May 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘ORANGE FREE STATE’ (28th Feb 1900 – 31 May 1902)
All troops in Orange River Colony at any time between 28th February 1900 and 31st May 1902, inclusive who had not received a clasp for a specific action in the Orange River Colony.
‘TRANSVAAL’ (24th May 1900 & 31st May 1902)
All troops in the Transvaal at any time between 24th May 1900 and 31sy May 1902, inclusive who had not received a clasp for a specific action in the Transvaal.
SOUTH AFRICA: (1901 – 1st January 1901 – 31st December 1901)
Awarded to those not eligible for the King's Medal although they had served at the front between 1st January and 31st December, 1901.
‘SOUTH AFRICA’ (1902 – 1st January 1902 – 31st May 1902)
Awarded to those not eligible for the King's Medal although they had served at the front between 1st January and 31st May, 1902.
‘DEFENCE OF MAFEKING’ (13th Oct 1899 – 17th May 1900)
All troops in the garrison of Mafeking between 13th October 1899 and 17th May 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘DEFENCE OF KIMBERLEY’ (15th Oct 1899 – 15th February 1900)
All troops in the garrison of Kimberley between 14th October 1899 and 15th February 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘TALANA’ (20th Oct 1899 (Natal)
All troops under Lieut .General Sir W. Penn Symon’s command on 20th October 1899 who were north of an ease and west line drawn through Waschbank station.
‘ELANDS-LAAGTE’ (21st Oct 1899 (Natal)
All troops at Elandslaagte on 21st October 1899 who were on the right bank of the Sunday river and North of an east and west line through Buys Farm.
‘DEFENCE OF LADYSMITH’ (3rd Nov 1899 – 28 Feb 1900)
All troops in Ladysmith between 3rd November 1899 and 28th February 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘BELMONT’ (23th November 1899)
All troops under Lieut. General Lord Methuen’s command who were north of Witteputs (*exclusive) on 23rd November 1899.
‘MODDER RIVER’ (28th November 1899)
All troops under Lieut Lord Methuen’s command who were north of Honey Nest Kloof (exclusive), and south of the Magersfontein ridge (exclusive) on 28th November 1899.
‘RELIEF OF LADYSMITH’ (15th Dec 1899 – 28th Feb 1900)
All troops in Natal north of and including Estcourt between 15th December 1899 and 28th February 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘TUGELA HEIGHTS’ (12th – 27th February 1900)
All troops of the Natal Field Force, exclusive of the Ladysmith garrison, employed in the operations north of an east and west line through Chievelely Station between the 14th and 27th February 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘RELIEF OF KIMBERLEY’ (15th February, 1900)
All troops in the relief column under Lieut. General French who marched from Klip Drift on the 15th February 1900 and all the 6th Division under Lieut. General Kelly-Kenny who were within 7,000 yards of Klip Drift on 15th February 1900.
‘PAARDEBERG’ (17th –26th February 1900)
All troops within 7,000 yards of General Cronje’s final laager, between midnight of the 17th and midnight of the 26th February 1900, and to all troops within 7,000 yards of Koodoe’s Rand Drift between the same dates.
‘DRIEFONTEIN’ (10th March 1900)
Awarded to troops serving with Army Headquarters and Lieut Gen French's column which advanced from Popular Grove on 10 March 1900
‘WEPENER’ (9th – 25th April 1900)
All troops engaged in the defence of Wepener between 9th April 1900 and 25th April 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘RELIEF OF MAFEKING’ (17th May, 1900)
All troops under the command of Colonel Mahon who marched from Barkly West on 4th May 1900 and all troops who were under Colonel Plumer’s command between 11th October 1899 and 17th May 1900,both dates inclusive, and who were south of an east and west line drawn through Palachwe
‘JOHANNESBURG’ (29th May 1900)
Awarded to those troops who, on 29 May 1900, were north of an east and west line through Klip River Station and east of a north and south line through Krugersdorp Station.
‘DIAMOND HILL’ (11th – 12th June, 1900)
All troops who, on 11th or 12th June 1900, were east of a north and south line drawn through Silverton Siding and north of an east and west line through Vlakfontein
‘WITTEBERGEN’ (1st –29th July 1900)
All troops who were inside a line drawn from Harrismith to Bethlehem, then to Senekal and Clocolan, along the Basuto border and back to Harrismith, between 1st and 29th July 1900, both dates inclusive.
‘BELFAST’ (26th or 27th August, 1900)
Awarded to troops who, on 26 or 27 August 1900, were east of a north and south line drawn through Wonderfonein, and west of a north and south line through Dalmanutha Station, and north of an east and west line drawn through Carolina.
‘LAING'S NEK’ (12th June, 1900)
All troops of the Natal Field Force employed in the operations and north of an east and west line through Newcastle between 2nd and 9th June 1900, both dates inclusive.
Please note: When you buy this medal from us, it is supplied WITHOUT clasps.
You may order the various clasps for this medal directly from the supplier (details on your receipt).
Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’
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