Queen's South Africa Medal, with bars for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast, South Africa 1901 & South Africa 1902, awarded to Pvt. T. Moore 1902Image["Queen's South Africa Medal, 1902"]
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with veilImage["Queen's South Africa Medal, 1902"]
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.
Initially the Boers were successful, laying several British garrisons under sieges of varying length and inflicting vastly disproportionate casualties upon Imperial forces whenever they met in battle, largely due to the British commanders' reliance on frontal assault in formation on light mobile forces armed with up-to-date weapons. The Boers however could not be persuaded to risk the same casualty level as the British and so in a series of costly engagements Imperial forces were able to drive the Boers back.
Their resistance in the field was more or less quelled by May 1900, at the end of the which month the mining town of Johannesburg fell to Imperial attack. Pretoria followed soon after, and after another battle at Diamond Hill on 11-12 June in which, again, the Boers were driven from their positions with a quarter of the Imperial casulaties, a final set-piece battle was fought at Bergendal (also known as the Battle of Belfast, after the larger town nearby). Here the Boer forces under Louis Botha, outnumbered four to one, were unable to hold off the Imperial troops and thereafter withdrew from organised fighting. They maintained a bitter and obdurate guerilla campaign in several areas of the two Republics until mid-1902, when a surrender was finally agreed.
The period between mid-1900 and mid-1902 saw numerous small actions in the two home and two occupied provinces, service in which was generally recognised by the issue of bars for those provinces. This medal was awarded to Private T. Moore of the Royal Warwick Regiment, and he fought at all three of Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Bergendal, but his medal also bears two of the `provincial' bars, for the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State.
Moore's battle honours might alone explain these bars, but it seems that he may well have been part of the lengthy clean-up operations against guerillas of 1900-1902, as the two last bars indicate that he was in active service in South Africa until at least the beginning of 1902. This however makes the bars hard to explain: they were only issued to soldiers in the theatre who were not eligible for the King's South Africa Medal, which was open to those who had performed more than eighteen months' service in those provinces. Since Moore's bars indicate service between May 1900 to January 1902 minimum, he must have been out of the area, perhaps invalided home, for a period between June 1900 and December 1901. Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928.