Union of South Africa King's Medal for Bravery

Union of South Africa King's Medal for Bravery

Infobox Military Award
name= Union of South Africa Kings's Medal for Bravery

caption= Obverse of the medal. Ribbon: 44mm, blue with orange edges.
awarded_by= Union of South Africa
type= Civil decoration.
eligibility= South Africans.
for= "Gallantry performed in the face of imminent and obvious peril by those who endanger their own lives in saving or endeavouring to save the lives of others"
status= lapsed 31 May 1961, officially abolished 20 May 1970.
established= 23 June 1939


The Union of South Africa King's Medal for Bravery was the highest South African civilian decoration, during the period that the country was a constitutional monarchy in the British Commonwealth. It was instituted by King George VI on 23 June 1939 as the King's Medal for Bravery, and was renamed the Queen's Medal for Bravery on 15 December 1952, after the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne. The medal lapsed when South Africa became a republic on 31 May 1961.

The King's/Queen's Medal was awarded for gallantry in saving or endeavouring to save the lives of others. It had two classes: gold and silver. Although it was primarily a civilian award, during World War II it was also granted to military personnel, for non-combatant acts of gallantry.

A public competition was held to find a suitable design for the medal. The winning entry, by Miss Renee Joubert, depicted 18th-century Cape hero Wolraad Woltemade on his horse, rescuing shipwreck survivors from a stormy sea. As a result, the medal was often referred to as the "Woltemade Medal". Its ribbon was blue with orange edges, two of the colours of the South African national flag.

A total of thirty-six medals were awarded: one in gold and thirty-five in silver. Eighteen of the recipients were military personnel.

In the British order of precedence, the gold medal ranks as a 2nd-level decoration (equivalent to the George Medal), and the silver medal ranks as a 3rd-level award (equivalent to the Queen's Gallantry Medal). However, in South Africa, the gold medal is ranked as a 1st-level decoration and the silver as a 2nd-level award. Despite its status, the medal has no post-nominal letters.

The medal was revived in 1970, as the Woltemade Decoration for Bravery. It was re-designed in 1988 as the Woltemade Cross for Bravery, which was discontinued in 2002. The current civilian award for bravery is the Order of Mendi for Bravery.


Abbott, P. E. and Tamplin, J. M. A. (1971). "British Gallantry Awards". Guinness Superlatives

Monick, S. (1990). "South African Civil Awards 1910-1990". South African National Museum of Military History

ee also

* South African civil honours

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