Members of the Commonwealth forces who served in the Second World War, 1939—45, were eligible under identical conditions for all the various campaign stars and medals awarded by the British government to citizens of the United Kingdom. In addition the various Dominion governments struck national medals for award to their own forces — the Union government, in fact, gained royal approval for the award of two such domestic medals:Africa Service Medal.
This shows on the obverse a relief map of the African continent with the inscription AFRICA SERVICE MEDAL * AFRIKADIENSMEDALJE. On the reverse is a leaping springbok against a background of the Karoo. This silver medal was given to all members, male and female, of the uniformed services of the Union Defence Force who served for 30 days and who signified under oath their willingness to serve either anywhere in Africa or in any theatre of war. The ribbon is of orange, edged on either side with the Springbok colours, green and gold. The wide orange stripe commemorated the ‘orange flash’ worn by all South African servicemen who had signed the oath for service anywhere in Africa. Each medal bears the regimental number and name of the recipient. (All British stars and medals of the Second World War given to South Africans were similarly named, although citizens of Great Britain and other Commonwealth countries received unnamed medals.)
South African Medal for War Services
Was given for unpaid service in one or more of the voluntary organisations, such as the South African Women’s Auxiliary Service and the Civilian Protective Services, which were officially recognised as being associated with South Africa’s war effort. Minimum service necessary was five hours per week for not less than two years, one at least of which had been continuous. This silver medal bears on the obverse the arms of the Union of South Africa, and on the reverse the dates 1939 – 1945 within a wreath of proteas. Around is the inscription SOUTH AFRICA * SUID-AFRIKA * FOR WAR SERVICES * VIR OORLOGDIENSTE. The ribbon is of three equal vertical stripes – orange, white and blue. This medal was issued unnamed, but was accompanied by a certificate signed by Field Marshal J. C. Smuts. It was possible for one individual to qualify for both these South African medals, but such cases were few. Korea Medal, Union of South Africa. In 1950 South Africa dispatched No. 2 Squadron of the S.A. Air Force (the Flying Cheetahs), with supporting personnel, to the Korean War. This squadron was equipped with Sabre jet fighter aircraft and was attached to the United States Air Force. The Cheetahs gave an excellent account of themselves and were awarded the U.S.A.’s Presidential Unit Citation.
All members of the United Nations force were awarded the United Nations medal for Korea. In addition, most of the participating nations awarded their own campaign medals to their nationals. While other Commonwealth countries accepted the British Korea medal, South Africa instituted its own. This circular silver medal bears on the obverse a representation, in relief, of the maps of the Union of South Africa and Korea, joined by means of an arrow, with the ocean as background, the whole partially surrounded by a laurel wreath and the inscription KOREA in the upper dexter arc. The words VRYWILLIGERS * VOLUNTEERS are inscribed above the map of the Union, and across this map appears the inscription U. VAN S.A. – U. OF S.A. The reverse bears the Union coat of arms surmounted by the royal cypher E II R and crown. The medal, which bears on the edge the number and name of the recipient, is suspended by means of a ring from a ribbon of sky-blue, edged on either side with vertical stripes of dark blue and orange. Most South Africans who served in Korea subsequently also received at the hands of the Government of South Korea the Korean Service Medal, which, with the South African and United Nations’ Medals, gave them three medals in all for the campaign. It is the only recent South African campaign medal and was instituted on 2 Jan. 1953 by royal warrant, sealed by the Prime Minister, Dr. D. F. Malan.
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