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The Register of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

The Queen's South Africa (QSA) Medal :

QSA

The issue of the QSA can be complex. Each unit created a nominal roll and entered the clasp entitlement. This was sent to the War Office for checking who then created lists for the Mint who made the medals. The first nominal rolls were completed from April 1901, this, the "Main Roll", covered 24 clasps for the QSA. The two date clasps were not issued on this roll. In October 1902 another roll was issued to allow for the claim of the date clasps on the QSA (see below for issuing regualtions). Known as the "Extra Clasp" roll the three state bars, Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal could also be claimed on this roll. For a unit there are usually more than one Main Roll and very many Extra Clasp rolls. The movement of soldiers in and out of units during the war made the completion of the rolls a difficult job.

When verifying a QSA medal entitlement is it is necessary to check both Main Rolls and Extra Clasp rolls. If a man served in more than one unit, which is common for colonial units, then it is necessary to check all the unit rolls. A man could qualify for different clasps with different units; for example a soldier in the Southern Rhodesian Volunteers would typically qualify for the Rhodesia and Relief of Mafeking clasps. This unit was disbanded in mid 1900. Many men then served in other units and would earn clasps such as Transvaal and Orange Free State. The Main Roll for the Southern Rhodesian Volunteers wouldn't show the Transvaal and Orange Free State clasps because the roll was prepared before the man earned them.

In The Register you will see many Medal Roll references for a soldier. Some records, though, where more than one unit in listed but have only one Medal Roll reference are incomplete. This is because the initial record was taken from one unit's Medal Roll which was annotated with the other units this soldier served with. To trace through each man's service on the Medal Rolls is a huge job. It is easier and quicker to do one unit at a time.

Twenty-six clasps were created for the QSA:
ClaspAbbreviationQualification
BelfastBfAll troops who, on 26th or 27th August, 1900, were east of a north and south line drawn through Wonderfontein (the garrison and troops quartered at Wonderfontein on those dates did not receive the clasp), and west of a north and south line through Dalmanutha Station, and north of an east and west line through Carolina.
BelmontBAll troops under Lieut. General Lord Methuen's command who were north of Witteputs (exclusive) on 23rd November, 1899.
Cape ColonyCC11th October, 1899 to 31st May, 1902, inclusive, who had not received a clasp for a specific action in the Cape Colony, or the " Natal " clasp.
Defence of KimberleyDoKAll troops in the garrison of Kimberley between 14th October, 1899 and 15th February, 1900, both dates inclusive.
Defence of LadysmithDoLAll troops in Ladysmith between 3rd November, 1899 and 28th February, 1900, both dates inclusive.
Defence of MafekingDoMAll troops in the garrison of Mafeking between 13th October, 1899, and 17th May, 1900, both dates inclusive.
Diamond HillDHAll 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.
DreifonteinDAll troops with Army Headquarters, and Lieut. General French's column, i.e. the left and centre columns, which advanced from Poplar Grove on 10th March, 1900.
ElandslaagteEAll 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.
JohannesburgJAll troops who, on 29th May, 1900, were north of an east and west line through Klip River Station (exclusive), and east of a north and south line through Krugersdrop Station (inclusive).
Laing's NekLNAll 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.
Modder RiverMRAll troops under Lieut. General Lord Methuen's command who were north of Honey Nest Kloof (exclusive), and south of the Magersfontein ridge (exclusive) on 28th November, 1899.
NatalN11th October, 1899 to 11th June, 1900, both dates inclusive who had not received a clasp for a specific action in Natal.
Orange Free StateOFSAll 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.
PaardebergPAll 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.
Relief of KimberleyRoKAll troops in the relief column under Lieut. General French who marched from Klip Drift on 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.
Relief of LadysmithRoLAll troops in Natal north of and including Estcourt between 15th December, 1899, and 28th February, 1900, both dates inclusive.
Relief of MafekingRoMAll troops under the command of Colonel Mahon who marched from Barkly West on 4th May, 1900, and to 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.
RhodesiaRAll 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.
South Africa 1901SA01All troops who served in South Africa between 1st January, 1901, and 31st December, 1901, both dates inclusive, who were not eligible for the King's South Africa Medal.
South Africa 1902SA02All troops who served in South Africa between 1st January, 1902, and 31st May, 1902, both dates inclusive, who were not eligible for the King's South Africa Medal.
TalanaTaAll troops under Lieut. General Sir W. Penn Symon's command on 20th October, 1899, who were north of an east and west line drawn through Waschbank Station.
TransvaalTAll troops in the Transvaal at any time between 24th May, 1900 and 31st May, 1902, inclusive who had not received a clasp for a specific action in the Transvaal.
Tugela HeightsTHAll troops of the Natal Field Force, exclusive of the Ladysmith garrison, employed in the operations north of an east and west line through Chieveley Station between the 14th and 27th February, 1900, both dates inclusive.
WepenerWeAll troops engaged in the defence of Wepener between 9th April, 1900 and 25th April, 1900, both dates inclusive.
WittebergenWAll troops who were inside a line drawn from Harrismith to Bethlehem, thence to Senekal and Clocolan, along the Basuto border, and back to Harrismith, between lst and 29th July, 1900, both dates inclusive.

These can be broken down into:

  1. The "state clasps": Cape Colony, Natal, Orange Free State, Rhodesia and Transvaal.
  2. The date clasps: South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902
  3. The Defence and Relief clasps: Defence of Kimberley, Defence of
    Ladysmith, Defence of Mafeking and Relief of Kimberley, Relief of Ladysmith and Relief of Mafeking.
  4. The remainder are known as "battle clasps".

There are rules for the award of the clasps:

  1. No state clasp can be awarded if the recipient has been awarded another clasp for an action that took place in that state.
  2. Defence and Relief clasps for the same siege cannot be awarded together.
    • Belmont, Defence or Relief of Kimberley, Defence or Relief of Mafeking or Modder River occurred in the Cape Colony
    • Elandslaagte, Defence or Relief of Ladysmith, Talana, Laing's Nek and Tugela Heights occurred in Natal
    • Dreifontein, Paardeberg, Wepener and Wittebergen occurred in the Orange Free State
    • Belfast, Diamond Hill and Johannesburg occurred in the Transvaal
    • There are no battle bars for Rhodesia
  3. The Cape Colony and Natal clasps cannot be awarded together.
  4. The date clasps are awarded if the recipient served less than 18 months in South Africa and was present in 1901 and/or 1902.

The QSA was awarded without clasps. Nurses and civilians were not allowed to be awarded clasps even if they qualified for them. Soldiers guarding Boer prisoners on St Helena were not awarded clasps either.

There was no qualifying time limit for the award of the QSA or any of the clasps (subject to the rules for that clasps). The only rule was that the recipient had to be on the strength of a unit to qualify for a clasp. A soldier arriving in Cape Town and joining his unit in Pretoria would only qualify for the Transvaal clasp despite travelling through the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State.

There are many anomalies to be found on QSAs and the clasps fixed by the issuing authorities; the issuing clerks did not always understand the rules and of course made errors.

Medals and clasps were very often issued in-complete. A soldier would get his medal with state or battle bars attached and then some time after, maybe years, the award of the date clasp(s) would be confirmed and a loose clasp(s) sent to him. It was the responsibility of the soldier to get the clasp affixed, many didn't bother, some did with crude wire others attempted to replicate the riveting method used by the Mint. This explains why you often find medals missing clasps or with clasps fitted unofficially which casts doubt as to the validity of the clasps. In these cases the medal rolls should always be consulted to verify the clasps.

The King's South Africa (KSA) Medal:

KSA

Queen Victoria died in January 1901 while the war raged on. Her son and successor, King Edward the VII, decided he wanted to award a campaign medal to mark the war that was ongoing when he came to the throne.

To avoid the expense and complexity of issuing clasps for distinct actions, of which there were many small ones during 1901 and 1902, it was decided to just use date clasps of which there are two; South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902.

To qualify for a KSA a recipient had to be serving in South Africa in 1902 and have spent 18 months on war service in South Africa. Service could be broken, for instance wounded or debilitated soldiers sent to the UK for convalescence and then returning.

The KSA was always issued with a clasp, except to nurses and civilians. It is most commonly found with the two date clasps, to have one clasp is rare and always needs to be verified on the medal rolls. The KSA was almost always issued complete. In some circumstances where a man had been issued the dates clasps off a QSA Supplementary Roll then a KSA with no clasps was issued.