King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


Museum & Collections
Contact Us

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

Further Reading



King’s South Africa Medal (Jan 1901 - May 1902)

The Uniformed bust of King Edward VII surrounded by the legend: “EDWARDVS VII REX IMPERATOR”.

The standing figure of Britannia with a flag in her left hand, her right arm extended holding a laurel wreath towards an advancing body of troops.  Two warships are in the background.  Around the top are the words “SOUTH AFRICA”.

Approx. 36 mm in diameter.

The medal and bars are of silver.

Approx. 32 mm wide.  Green, white and orange stripes reading from left to right, as seen, and all of equal width.

The ribbon passes through a plain, straight, swivelling suspender.

Generally in indented block capitals and giving Number, Rank, Initials, Surname, and Unit.  In the case of medals to men of The King’s Own the unit is inscribed; “RL:LANC:REGT.”

Two - SOUTH AFRICA 1901 and SOUTH AFRICA 1902.

Queen Victoria died in January 1901 during the course of the South African (Boer) War and was succeeded on the throne by her son, King Edward VII, who instituted this medal.  It was awarded to all who were serving in South Africa on or after 1 January 1902 and who completed eighteen months service in South Africa on or before 31 May 1902.  The medal was never issued alone, but always along with the Queen’s South Africa medal.  The time qualification of eighteen months did not need to be continuous; anyone who failed to qualify for the “1901” Bar because of wounds or illness and returned to South Africa in 1902 to complete the requisite service by 31 May qualified for the bar “South Africa 1902”.  Most of the medals issued bore both bars, but about 590 medals without a bar were issued to nurses who served in South Africa during the war.  Although there were no ‘battle’ bars awarded with this medal it does commemorate almost two years of guerrilla warfare after the Boer surrenders of late 1900 during which many casualties were suffered.

The King’s Own
Although officers and men of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment (the Regulars), the 3rd and 4th (Militia) Battalions and the Active Service Companies of the 1st and 2nd (Volunteer) Battalions (all part time soldiers) served in South Africa between 1900 and 1902, only those of the 2nd Battalion and 3rd Militia Battalions qualified for the King’s South Africa medal by serving through from 1900 to 1902.  Those of the 1st Battalion who went to South Africa served as specially trained Mounted Infantry to counter the Boers mounted guerrilla tactics and did not go out until 1901, whilst the 4th (Militia) Battalion went out in January 1900 and returned to England in August 1901 and the Volunteer Service Companies each served abroad for a limited period of about one year.  Those in the various Mounted Infantry Companies served far and wide in the ‘drives’ to round up and disarm the thousands of Boer horsemen still in the field in 1901, whilst the conventional infantry units operated Kitchener’s ‘Blockhouse System’ whereby the vast areas of open country were divided up into enclosed areas of manageable size by lines of strongly fortified buildings about fifteen feet in diameter at intervals of about one mile.  Each of the blockhouses was manned by about six men and a non-commissioned officer, and at salient points was a larger blockhouse with a garrison of about twenty five men and an officer.  It was the combination of the use of mounted troops and the blockhouse system which led to the final defeat of the Boers.

King's South African Medals in the museum's collection.

King's South Africa Medal

© 2006 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum