South Africa General Service Medal, with bar for 1877-8, awarded to Sgt. Maj. R. B. Keys, 1880

South Africa Medal, 1880

Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria

South Africa Medal, 1880

Reverse, a lion stooping to drink before a mimosa bush; in the exergue a Zulu shield on four crossed assegais

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South Africa General Service Medal, 1880 (Ninth Cape Frontier War)

The history of the British presence in South Africa is inextricably bound up with that of the Basuto and Zulu tribes whom it displaced. A series of shaky and short-lived accommodations with the various polities that made up the African kingdoms meant that the borders between the zones were never entirely free from conflict. Between 1877 and 1879 a number of particularly difficult punitive expeditions were mounted by the British authorities, and in 1880 a medal was sanctioned for these that was a new issue of that for the campaigns of 1834-1853 with a slightly modified reverse design.
Particularly demanding were the attacks of the Galeka and Gaika tribes on a protected people, the Fingos. The campaigns against the insurgent peoples lasted some eight months and involved, as well as extensive local forces, contingents of both the British Army and the Royal Navy serving ashore. The war ended in the annexation of the Transkei, home of the Galeka peoples, to the Cape Colony.
This medal was awarded to Sergeant Major R. B. Keys of the Cape Field Artillery (Prince Alfred's Own Volunteer Artillery), the heavy support of the local forces involved in this campaign, which became known as the Ninth Cape Frontier War. Lester Watson acquired his medal at some point before 1928.