King’s South Africa Medal

This article on the King’s South Africa Medal will explain how a soldier qualified for the medal and where to find its records. I have written a guide to the Queen’s South Africa Medal and articles to help you research soldiers who served in the British Army:

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The King’s South Africa Medal

The King’s South Africa Medal was authorized by Army Order 232 of 1902 and was awarded to those who had served for 18 months in South Africa during the Boer War. The medal had two possible clasps and the majority of those who qualified for the medal were awarded both the South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 clasps. The King’s South Africa Medal was never awarded on its own and was always accompanied by the Queen’s South Africa Medal. The Army Order stated:

(1) His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve that a second war medal, bearing his effigy, shall be granted in recognition of the services rendered by the troops in the later phases of the campaign in South Africa, and to reward those soldiers who, by their long service in the field, have brought the war to a successful termination. This medal will be known as the “King’s South Africa Medal”.

(2) The ribbon will be orange, white and green in three stripes of equal width, and so worn that the green stripe of the ribbon shall be on the right.

(3) Provided the claims are approved by the Commander-in-Chief, the medal, in silver, will be issued to all officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the British, Indian, and Colonial forces; to civilian medical practitioners and others employed with military hospitals in South Africa; and to all nursing sisters, as defined in Army Order 195 of 1901; provided that (a) they were actually serving in South Africa on or after 1st January 1902, and (b) that on that date they had completed eighteen months’ war service, or subsequently completed such service before 1st June, 1902.

(4) In interpreting this rule the actual period of absence from duty either at home or in South Africa on account of wounds or sickness directly attributable to service in the field will be allowed to count, to make up the period of eighteen months.

(5) The medal will also be granted to officers, warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers, and men who have been invalided by reason of wounds received in action prior to January 1st, 1902, thereby being unable to complete an aggregate service of eighteen months in South Africa, provided they returned and served there for any period between 1st January, 1902, and 31st May, 1902, both dates inclusive.

(6) Two clasps will also be granted: (a) A clasp ‘South Africa, 1901,’ to all who served in South Africa between 1st January, 1901, and 31st December, 1901, both dates inclusive. (b) A clasp ‘South Africa, 1902,’ to all who served in South Africa between 1st January, 1902, and 31st May 1902, both dates inclusive.

King's South Africa Medal

Photograph kindly provided by Jacqui Kirk.

King’s South Africa Medal Clasps

There were two clasps which could be awarded with the King’s South Africa Medal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902. The medal was always issued with clasps except to a number of nursing sisters. A small number of men qualified for just the 1902 South Africa bar if they had been wounded and invalided out of South Africa prior to 1 January 1902 but returned between 1 January and 31 May 1902 and completed a total of 18 months service.

South Africa 1901: Those who served in South Africa between 1 January and 31 December 1901.

South Africa 1902: Those who served in South Africa between 1 January and 31 May 1902.

Records for the King’s South Africa Medal

The medal rolls for the King’s South Africa Medal can be downloaded for free from the National Archives by clicking on the link below. The series you will be searching is WO 100 and make sure you put King’s South Africa in the search bar along with your particular unit e.g. 7th Dragoons. Downloading entire medal rolls is only suitable if you know the soldier qualified for the King’s South Africa Medal and what their unit was.

Download King’s South Africa Medal Rolls

If you don’t know the unit a soldier served in or you aren’t sure whether they qualified for the medal then I would use Ancestry. Ancestry has a searchable database and you’ll need to search Ancestry’s UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949 collection. On the right hand side of the screen for service region click Africa and for service or campaign click South Africa 1899-1902. You can also search via unit.

Description of the King’s South Africa Medal

Obverse: A portrait of King Edward VII looking left with EDWARDSVC VII REX IMPERATOR around the rim.

Reverse: Britannia facing marching soldiers, both British and colonial and a battleship offshore. The words South Africa flank the figure of Britannia.

Size: 36 mm.

Metal: Silver.

Ribbon: 32mm with equal stripes of green, white and yellow.

Naming: Impressed in sans serif capitals. Though, some medals to officers were engraved.

Designer: G. W. de Saulles who also designed the Queen’s South Africa Medal.

Meyer Griffith King's South Africa Medals.

A photograph of Major Harold Meyer Griffith who was killed in action during the Cameroon Campaign in 1915. Harold is wearing a Queen’s South Africa and King’s South Africa Medal in the photograph. The King’s South Africa Medal was always worn to the right of the Queen’s South Africa Medal.