This article by Henk Loots appeared in the OMRS “Miscellany of Honours” No. 9 1992, for a later article with very interesting photos of the wound ribbon and its award documents please go HERE
short note in the winter 1988 Journal at page 263 by A.F. Flatow on
the late issue of the Anglo-Boer War Medal to the family of the
German Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha, has prompted me to record more
fully this Medal. This is based on an article, which was published in
the Military Medal Society of South Africa Journal 31 of March 1989.
The first shot of the Anglo Boer War was fired at Kraaipan on 12
October 1899, and the war ended with the signing of the Peace Treaty
at Vereeniging on 31 May 1902. During this period almost a hundred
thousand Burghers took up arms. Some were boys hardly into their
teens and others were old men in their seventies and eighties.
Approximately thirty five thousand of them were taken prisoner of
war, many thousands surrendered during the course of the war and
after the Peace of Vereeniging only some twenty-one thousand finally
laid down arms. In comparison it can be noted that on British side
almost four hundred and fifty thousand men took part in the war.
MEDALS - BRITISH SIDE
war or campaign is usually commemorated by means of the issue of a
medal and the Anglo Boer War was no exception to this rule. On the
British side the first Queen’s South Africa medals were issued to
Canadians of Strathcona’s Horse on 15 February 1901, more than a
year before the war ended. The British were rather optimistic as to
the duration of the war and the first striking of the medals bore the
dates 1899-1900. This mistake was rectified by tooling off the raised
figures before the first presentation but a small number of QSA
medals escaped the chisel and were issued uncensored. British
soldiers who saw service for the full period between 1 January 1901
and 31 May 1902 also received the King’s South Africa medal.
Right: The Orange Free State side of the ABO
On the Boer
side, notices did appear in the Transvaal Government Gazette in May
1900 about the eventual issue of a decoration for bravery for
Republican soldiers: this, for obvious reasons, never happened.
first moves towards awarding a medal to Boer Burghers and Officers
came from Colonel Skinner, Commandant of the Military School at
Bloemfontein, in 1913. He noticed that Officers who had fought on the
Republican side were without medal ribbons while their fellow
officers who had served on the British side were well decorated, and
asked Defence Head Quarters to rectify this omission. However, due
to the intervention of the First World War, nothing was done about
the matter until 1920.
Right: The Transvaal side of the ABO
the Government Gazette of 21 December 1920 (Notice 2307) regulations
were published for the award of a Decoration for Devoted Service
1899-1902 (Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst or DTD), a Medal (Anglo Boere
Oorlog Medalje or ABO) and a Wound Riband (Lint voor Wonden or LVW).
The gazetted notice restricted the awards to South African citizens
who were serving in the Union Defence Forces or were liable so to
serve if called up under the provisions of the S.A. Defence Act and
who did true and faithful military service during the Anglo Boer War
and actually served with the Republican forces in the field between
11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902. The published regulations per sé
excluded many men who had fought on Boer side, e.g. the members of
the various foreign units like the Irish Brigade, Hollander Corps,
etc. and potentially also the Natal and Cape rebels.
later years the regulations were less stringently enforced and the
eventual qualification action for the award of the medal was proof
that the applicant had fought against the British without
surrendering or taking either parole or the oath of allegiance prior
to 31 May 1902. The original closing date for applications (30 June
1921) was also not adhered to.
Decoration and Medal are both of silver, 1.45in. in diameter. There
is no obverse or reverse in the accepted sense of the word. On the
one side is the Coat of Arms of the Orange Free State1).
The Decoration has the inscription ‘Voor
Trouwe Dienst’ (For
Devoted Services) and the Medal has the inscription ‘Anglo
appear on both. The ribbons for the Decoration and Medal as well as
the Wound Riband have the colours green, white, yellow, deep blue and
orange in various widths and combinations. The rank, initials and
name of the recipient are impressed in block capitals on the edge of
the medal. The Wound Riband has no medal accompanying it but was
issued with a printed certificate carrying a full colour reproduction
of the Riband.
The late Dr Frank Mitchell, J.C.D., pointed out to me that the
‘Transvaal’ ox-wagon has a single shaft and the ‘Free State’
one a double shaft.
Above: the DTD, DSO group to Major C.W. Cloete, commanding Enslin's Horse in 1915 and a Sniper in Danie Theron's scouts during the Boer War
REACTION TO BOER MEDALS
The reaction of the English press in South Africa to the Government
Notice was quite interesting.
The Rand Daily Mail carried a short
factual account under the heading ‘True
and Faithful Service: Decorations for Burgher Forces’.
The Star saw a topical political message in the announcement:
repeated Nationalist assertions that South Africa is under or
subordinate to Great Britain or the British Government, instance
after instance keeps cropping up to show the incorrectness of these
statements. The last of these instances, and perhaps the one which
will attract the attention of those interested in the present
structure and continual evolution of British Commonwealth as the most
remarkable, is the Union Government Notice recently issued that
provides for the issue of Decorations, Medals and Wound Ribands to
those Burghers of the late Republics of the Transvaal and Free State
who fought in the war of 1899-1902 against Great Britain … it is
doubtful if anything could reveal the amazing elasticity of the
British Commonwealth or demonstrate the actual liberty and
independence of the Dominions more clearly than this decision of
South Africa, itself part of the Commonwealth, to award Decorations
and Medals to its citizens for fighting against that Commonwealth’.
caustic comments, however, came from Vere Stent, columnist of the
Pretoria News. This soldier cum journalist saw active service in
Rhodesia in 1893 as a Captain in command of E Squadron, Raaff’s
Rangers. As a journalist he covered the Matabele Rebellion in 1896
and the Langeberg Campaign of 1897.
the outbreak of the Boer War he again became a Reuter’s
Correspondent and was besieged in Mafeking. During the First World
War he covered the South-West Africa and East African Campaigns. From
the entry on Stent in the Dictionary of South African Biography one
learns that he was involved in several libel cases and he was seen to
intransigent and self opinionated’.
This last statement is borne out by the following article which is
quoted in its entirety:
of the future
rather vague paragraph in the official communiqué of the proceedings
of the Council of Defence caused a great many soldiers to believe
that it was the intention of the Department of Defence to issue the
King’s and Queen’s medals for the Anglo-Boer War to the burghers
who fought against both King and Queen. Nothing of the sort,
however, is contemplated.
Department of Defence intends to strike three medals – a general
service medal to be issued to all burghers who took part in military
operations under the old Republic; an officers’ medal to those who
held commands – whether our old friend the Vleesch Korporaal of
immortal and gastronomic memory will come under this heading is still
a moot point;-and a medal for every man who was wounded. Whether this
general service medal is to date back to the war of ’81 is not yet
decided, but there seems no reasons why it should not.
this rate we shall be the most bedecorated-if not
decorative-community in the world.
attempt was made-the idea, I believe, emanated from the Gilbertian
brain of our egregious Chief of the Staff-to give those Union medals
precedence over all other decorations and to insist on the principle
of ‘South Africa
first’ upon officers
and men wearing them upon ‘the
right of the line’.
To this, however, the Council would not agree. According to King’s
Regs, any decoration not from the King himself or from allied
Governments approved by him, should be worn on the right breast after
the manner of the Nightingale decoration for women and the Humane
has been suggested that some of the soldiery may not care to wear
Union decorations at all, and I am told that the officer or man who,
having received such a decoration, declines to wear it will be for
orderly room on a charge of being improperly dressed. This is
curious, because the present Chief of the General Staff is, I am
told, habitually improperly dressed.
seems that he declines to wear his British ribbons until the Union
medals and ribbons have been issued. If this be true it is a pretty
example of insubordination for a Brigadier General to set. If the
Minister for Defence had any backbone, which he seems to be without,
as witness his settlement of the Board of Control business during the
tram strike-if he had any backbone he should have insisted that the
Chief of the Staff should drop political considerations and obey his
own regulations. No wonder discipline in the Defence Force is at a
low ebb when the Chief of the Staff openly defies orders.
this matter of medals why not go further and create a Union order and
publish an honours list. We might create old Gen. de Wet a Grand Star
of the Wacht-en-Beetje bush, and the newly-developed passion of our
Dutch fellow colonists for decorations might be gratified to the
full; even our Prime Minister who despises ‘those
Baubles’ might be
persuaded to accept the Supreme Cordon of the Order of the Remschoen.
Hush! Oh! Hush! We are ‘imperilling
the Imperial connection.’
Seriously speaking, the idea of giving the many gallant old burghers
who fought during past wars some memento of the good service they did
is a good one and no one can really object to it.
Above: The naming on the post WW1 Era medal (Type A Medals)
Above: The naming on the WW2 Era medals (Type B and C Medals)
already mentioned, the rank, initials and name of the recipient were
impressed on the medal. Unfortunately, no commando or unit was added,
although the relevant information had to be stated on the application
forms and was recorded on a central card index and register system.
many years it was a formidable task to find out in what unit a
particular recipient of a medal or decoration had served. This period
of uncertainty largely came to an end in 1976 when the late Don
Forsyth, Founder member of the Military Medal Society of South
Africa, published a Roll listing all recipients and their units. The
term ‘largely came to
an end’ is used
because it was still impossible to differentiate, for instance,
between a Burger Jacobus Frederick Smith who served in Gen. De la
Rey’s Commando and burger Josia Francois Smith who served in the
Heidelberg Commando since both medals were impressed BURGER J.F.
Above: On the left is a WW2 type suspender, found on Type C medals, on the right is a WW1 type suspender, found on Type a and B medals
medals can, however, be positively identified by correlating the type
of suspender as well as the type and size of lettering with the date
medals can be divided into three groups:
Type A: Medals with straight
non-swivelling suspenders as used on the British War Medal
(1914-1918) and with naming in indented large block capitals (often
unevenly positioned) as on the South African W.W.I. issue of the
Type B: Medals with the WWI
non-swivelling suspenders as above but with a thinner and smaller,
more even type of indented block capital naming as found on the South
African WWII Africa Service Medal.
Type C: Medals with the small
thin type of edge lettering and straight non-swivelling suspenders as
used for the Africa Service Medal.
A is applicable to all medals issued from 1921 up to October 1937.
Type B medals were issued from October 1937 to February 1942 whereas
the type C medals were issued from February 1942 right up to the last
issue in 1982. Under type C there are also variations where a square
dot is found after the initials and cases where it is a round dot. An
interesting sub-variety also occurs on at least one batch in 1942-43
where the figure ‘6’
was used instead of the letter ‘G’
of BURGER and, in at least one instance, even as the ‘S’
method of classification obviously does not solve all uncertainties
but can be applied in cases where a single example of multiple issue
with the same surname and initials falls into one of the above three
categories. If, for instance, the record cards and registers indicate
that three medals to J.J. Smit were issued between 1920 and 1930
there is no way of identifying the individual ones but if a fourth
one was issued in 1948 it would be possible to isolate that
particular J.J. Smit.
type C discs have two 5mm. wide notches filed on both sides at the
suspension hole. Please use the correct (ASM) suspender when
repairing a damaged medal of this type!
Above and below: Left - Type A and B medal disc, Right - Type C medal disc
mentioned previously, quite a number of applications were
unsuccessful. In the majority of cases this was due to applicants
having taken either parole or the oath of neutrality before the end
of the war.
other cases, especially early applications from overseas volunteers,
it was due to the fact that they were not actually in the field at
the end of the war. In this way a number of applications from
Hollanders and others were turned down in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
In later years these rules were interpreted more loosely and,
especially in the late 1930’s, a fair amount of medals were issued
to, among others, Scandinavians, Hollanders and Germans who had
served on the boer side.
of the applicants really took chances. At the extreme end of this
category surely must fall the application by one HHA Abbenhuis who
tried to claim an Anglo Boere Oorlog medal on the strength of him
having been a sailor on the Man of War Gelderland that took President
Kruger to Holland. Another interesting but unsuccessful application
for the Wound Riband was from a Mrs. Steyn who gave her rank as
and stated that she was with the Ermelo commando when captured by the
English on 10 September 1901, being wounded through the nose when an
English column fired on women fleeing from the camp. However, the
Adjudant General notified her that she did no active service: hence,
medical personnel’s applications for the medal (and some cases for
the decoration) were also unsuccessful because at some stage or other
they were captured by the British and went on to serve in a medical
capacity on the British side. A certain Mr. Davis claimed that he was
temporarily in charge of railways between Van Reenens and Harrismith,
gave his rank as a burger and said that he had served part time under
Gen. Prinsloo when at Van Reenens. However, on his form he also noted
that he later sold refreshments to troops on construction work on the
Harrismith/Bethlehem railway line and that he eventually served as
Conductor in the Transport Department. He actually served on both
sides: I haven’t yet checked whether he got a QSA medal for his
who were strictly excluded from receiving the ABO medal were those
who went over to the English side and served in units such as the
National Scouts, the Orange River Colony Volunteers, the Farmers
Guard etc. I do, however, have one ABO medal to a National Scout,
awarded by and to himself. This particular gentleman was issued with
a QSA medal off the roll of the National Scouts in 1903. He never
claimed this medal and, obviously, in later years he also wanted to
be counted among those Oudstryders who proudly wore their Republican
medals at volksfeeste. He then obtained a medal issued to another
Burgher with his surname, removed the initials and had his own
initials engraved instead.
MEDALS TO WOMEN
have identified 19 ABO medals which were awarded to women. Two of
these were schoolteachers who served as voluntary nurses and the
others were trained nurses. As a tribute to these brave women I
include a nominal roll:
Medals Awarded to Women
Voluntary Nurse AE Adriani Red
Cross Hospital, Pretoria Directrix GJ
Netherlands Red Cross Ambulance Nurse LS
Boshoff Red Cross Hospital, serving with Gen. CR de Wet Nurse SG
Netherlands Red Cross Ambulance (Pretoria, Nooitgedacht, etc.) Nursing
Sister SC Charbon 2nd
Netherlands Red Cross Ambulance at Harrismith Nurse LM
Netherlands Red Cross Ambulance Nurse AS
Lindblom Scandinavian Ambulance (Mafeking, Magersfontein, Paardeberg,
etc) Nurse EC
Lindblom Scandinavian Ambulance, (Mafeking, Margersfontein,
Paardeberg, etc) Nurse EM
Perk-Engelbert Ambulance Train (Newcastle-Pretoria) then combined
Netherlands/Russian Ambulance Nurse SJ
Roos Red Cross Ambulance Nursing
Sister GM Rooseboom Ambulance Train (Newcastle-Pretoria) and Red
Cross Hospital, Pretoria Nurse AE
Schipper Ambulance Trains: (Newcastle-Pretoria, Pretoria-Kroonstad
and Eastern Transvaal), Red Cross Hopsital, Pretoria Nurse HC
Svensson Scandinavian ambulance (Mafeking and Magersfontein) Nurse J.
de W. van der Hoop-Boogh Netherlands Red Cross Ambulance Nurse JP
van’t Haaff French Ambulance Theatre
Sister AJP v Schermbeek Netherlands/Russian Ambulance Nurse G.
van Sevenhoven 2nd
Netherlands Ambulance Nurse CR
Visser Red Cross Hospital at Mafeking Voluntary
Nurse HA Wiersma 1st
the medal to Nurse Boshoff her rank is given as VERPLEEGSTER. I would
appreciate receiving details of the naming found on other nurses’
number of medals were eventually awarded to members of the various
foreign units who fought on the Boer side. At least 90 were awarded
to members of the Hollander corps, some 40 odd to members of the
Scandinavian corps, 20 to the German Commando, 10 to the Foreign
Legion under Gen. de Villebois-Mareuil and 5 to the Irish Brigade.
Some of these (especially Hollander) served in specific commandos
such as the Ermelo Commando, Pretoria commando, etc., and their
medals are noted as being issued off these units.
usually seen on an Anglo Boere oorlog medal is BURGER. However, in
going through Don Forsyth’s roll some rather unusual ranks are
found, e.g., HOEFSMID (farrier), VELDTELEGRAFIST, HELIOGRAFIST,
ARTILLERIST (Gunner) and OPPERWAGTMEESTER (Sergeant-Major). I have
one to ASSISTANT HOOF VAN TELEGRAAF.
LAST ABO ISSUE
As previously mentioned the last batch of twelve Anglo Boere Oorlog
medals was issued in 1982, including one to Burger HC Lubbe (right).
Carel Lubbe was born on 5 September 1888 in the Jacobsdal district of
the Orange Free State. When the Boer War broke out he was living with
his parents in the Faruesmith district. His father and brothers were
on commando and early in 1901, when his mother was taken to the
concentration camp in Kimberley, he joined the Fauresmith Commando
under Commandant Charles Nieuwoudt at the age of twelve years.
was in the field up to 31 May 1902 and took part in various
skirmishes, among others on Sunday 25 December 1901 in the Fauresmith
district. In this action, one officer and one private of the 49th
Company, Imperial Yeomanry, were killed and a number wounded. In
April 1902 he also took part in a night raid near Bloemfontein when
hundreds of head of cattle were retrieved from the Farmers Guard, a
unit mainly composed of ex Free State burghers who had joined the
British forces. Herman Lubbe laid down arms at Bloemfontein early in
October 1914 he joined the Colesberg/Hanover commando under
Commandant Robinson. He saw active service against Rebel and German
forces in the Upington area as well as Lutz se Put.
he received a 1914/15 Star in the early 1920’s he was not aware of
any other medals he was entitled to. In August 1982 his grandson
applied on his behalf for his Anglo Boere Oorlog medal as well as
this 14/18 War Medal and Victory Medal. These applications culminated
in the presentation of the 3 medals at a special ceremony on 24
January 1983 in his hometown of Carolina. More than 80 years after
the Boer War, and almost 70 years after the actions on the South West
African border, Herman Carel Lubbe was awarded his medals by
Major-General Neil Webster, Chairman of the Council of Military
Veterans Organisations. The ceremony was short and simple but most
definitely unique. It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible,
to find another survivor of a war entitled to a medal, 81 years after
signing of the peace. Burger Herman Carel Lubbe died on 11 August
1985. His medals now have an honoured place in my collection after he
presented them to me in February 1985.
the Boer forces are not very well known outside the Republic of South
Africa. In my collection, however, these medals have a very special
place: in the majority of cases, they are the only memorial to men
and women of all ages who had suffered hardships and inconvenience
and faced great danger for what they believed was a just cause,
namely the independence of the Transvaal and Orange Free State