Queen's South Africa Medal, with bars for Cape Colony, Rhodesia, Orange Free State & Transvaal, awarded to Cpl. George Aldcroft 1902
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with veil
Reverse, Britannia in the foreground facing right holding a standard and waving a wreath over an army marching along the shore, with ships offshore in the background
Queen's South Africa Medal, 1902 (Second Boer War)
During the 1830s and 1840s several Dutch republics had been established outside the British Cape Colony in South Africa, among which were Transvaal and the Orange Free State, all now in modern South Africa. Transvaal was annexed briefly by the British but its independence re-established in the First Boer War.
In the 1880s however the discovery of vast gold reserves in Transvaal brought large numbers of foreign settlers, largely British, across the border, and an attempted coup at the instigation of Cecil Rhodes in 1895. Military escalation followed, negotiations failed and the two Boer republics, convinced that the British intended annexation, declared war in the Cape Colony in October 1899.
Despite initial successes in battle against Imperial troops, by mid-1900 the Boers were being driven into retreat by a much-reinforced Imperial opposition. They therefore turned to a dogged campaign of guerilla warfare, and it was May 1902 before the last of the distinct forces operating in the different provinces of the two Boer republics was forced to surrender.
Imperial troops (and sailors) therefore spent the period of 1900-1902 in local clean-up and defence operations, which were awarded bars to the Queen's South Africa Medal according to the provinces in which these operations were carried out. This medal was awarded to Corporal George Aldcroft of the Royal Canadian Artillery, whose service covered both `home' deployments in the Cape Colony and Rhodesia (now parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively) and `foreign' service in the two former Boer Republics (both now subsumed into South Africa). The medal incorrectly gives his first initial as `C.'. Lester Watson acquired the medal at some point before 1928.
The Museum must thank Corporal Aldcroft's grandson for bringing his grandfather's first name and the engraver's mistake to our attention.