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Sporting Soldiers: South African troops at play during World War I


Sporting Soldiers.For soldiers in the First World War, sport was a way for them to escape the horrors of the battlefield or the monotony and dreadful conditions of prison camps. Sport was a part of soldiers’ lives, yet it is a subject not often touched upon in the various accounts of the Great War.
   

SANDF Medals and Decorations


The medals and decorations list of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) currently numbers 66, of which 52 are for acts of bravery, valour and other meritorious deeds performed before April 2003. The remaining 14 are presented for these and other acts performed after that date.

The pre-April 2003 list is:

Castle of Good Hope/ Kasteel de Goede Hoop (CGH). Instituted as the prime military award and also the highest award that may be bestowed on a South African. The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by a significant act of valour or most conspicuous bravery or during a pre-eminent act of self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of an enemy. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Honoris Crux Silver/ Honoris Crux Silwer (HCS). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional deeds of bravery, against an armed enemy, while in great danger of life. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Gold Star for Bravery/ Goue Ster vir Dapperheid (GSB). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in great danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Star for Bravery in Gold/ Ster vir Dapperheid in Goud (SBG). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in great danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Honoris Crux (HC). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in danger of life. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Bravery Star in Silver/ Dapperheid Ster in Silwer (BSS). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla who have distinguished themselves by performing deeds pf bravery against an armed enemy while in danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Star for Bravery in Silver/ Ster vir Dapperheid in Silwer (SBS). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK who have distinguished themselves by performing deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Pro Virtute Decoration/ Pro Virtute Dekorasie (PVD). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF in recognition of distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Star for Conspicuous Leadership/ Ster vir Uitnemende Leierskap (SCL). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla in recognition of distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field before April 27, 1994.

Conspicuous Leadership Star/ Uitnemende Leierskap Ster (CLS). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK in recognition of distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field before April 27, 1994.

Southern Cross Decoration/ Suiderkruis Dekorasie (SD). The decoration may be awarded to officers of the SANDF for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Pro Merito Decoration/ Pro Merito Dekorasie (PMD). The decoration may be awarded to other ranks of the SANDF for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Gold Decoration for Merit/ Goue Dekorasie vir Verdienste (GDM). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Decoration for Merit in Gold/ Dekorasie vir Verdienste in Goud (DMG). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Pro Virtute Medal/ Pro Virtute Medalje (PVM). The medal may be awarded to other ranks of the SANDF and the Auxiliary Service of the SANDF and other armed forces attached to or serving with or rendering service to the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by their distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field.

Ad Astra Decoration/ Ad Astra Dekorasie (AAD). The decoration may be awarded to air crew members of the SANDF on board aircraft for excellent flying skill or outstanding ingenuity or skill during emergencies or unusual situations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Army Cross/ Leerkruis (CM). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SA Army who have distinguished themselves in dangerous or critical situations by exceptional courage, leadership, skill, ingenuity or tenacity in the handling of personnel, weaponry or other equipment. The Air Force Cross, Navy Cross and a Medical Service Cross may be awarded to members of the appropriate services under similar circumstances. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Southern Cross Medal/ Suiderkruis Medalje (SM). This medal may be awarded to officers of the SANDF for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Pro Merito Medal/ Pro Merito Medalje (PMM). This medal may be awarded to other ranks of the SANDF for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Merit Medal in Silver/ Verdienstemedalje in Silwer (MMS). This medal may be awarded to former members of MK for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Silver Medal for Merit/ Silwer Medalje vir Verdienste (SMM). This medal may be awarded to former members of Apla for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Military Merit Medal/ Militere Meriete Medalje (MMM). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF for service of a high order and devotion to duty. A bar may also be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Merit Medal in Bronze/ Verdienstemedalje in Brons (MMB). This medal may be awarded to former members of MK for service of a high order and devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Bronze Medal for Merit/ Bronsmedalje vir Verdienste (BMM). This medal may be awarded to former members of Apla for service of a high order and devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Pro Patria Medal/ Pro Patria Medalje. This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the former SADF for service over a period of 55 days continuous or 90 days non-continuous operational service in the operational area of the former South West Africa, or other operational area as defined by the Minister of Defence, before March 21, 1990.

Cunene Clasp/ Kunene Gespe. Awarded to members of the former SADF for participation in Operation Savannah over the period August 25, 1975 to March 27, 1978.

Southern Africa Medal/ Suider-Afrika Medalje. This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the former SADF for participation in cross-border operations after April 1, 1978 and before March 21, 1990.

General Service Medal/ Algemene Dienstemedalje. This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF for military service of 55 days continuous or 90 days non-continuous between January 1, 1983 and August 19, 1993. The medal may also be awarded for participation in internal military operations as from August 20, 1993, or for service rendered as part of a military operation beyond the borders of the Republic of South Africa, or for official visits or inspections in connection with an operation. The period of qualifying service shall be a minimum of 30 days which may be continuous or non-continuous.

Maluti Clasp. Awarded to any members of the SANDF or Auxiliary Service in the SANDF, or any armed force attached to or serving with, or rendering any service to the SANDF who was engaged, for one day or more directly in, or in support of Operation Boleas and Operation Maluti over the period September 22, 1998 until May 14, 1999 and the second phase of the operation in Lesotho, codenamed Operation Maluti over the period May 18, 1999 until May 26, 2000.

Operational Medal for Southern Africa. This campaign medal may be awarded to former MK/Apla members who rendered service in a military operational capacity beyond the borders of the RSA for at least 60 days (which need not be continuous) before April 27, 1994.

South Africa Service Medal. This campaign medal may be awarded to former MK/Apla members who rendered service in a military operational capacity within the borders of the RSA for at least 60 days (which need not be continuous) before April 27, 1994.

Unitas Medal/ Unitas Medalje. Instituted as a commemorative medal for the unification of defence forces and armed forces in the RSA which commenced on April 27, 1994 and who rendered actual service over the full period April 27 to May 10, 1994.

Bat to the Medal for Distinguished Conduct and Loyal Service. The bar may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have rendered 50 years qualifying service.

Medal for Distinguished Conduct and Loyal Service/ Medalje vir Uitnemende Gedrag en Toegewyde Diens. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have rendered 40 years qualifying service.

Good Service Medal (Gold)/ Medalje vir Troue Diens (Goud). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 30 years qualifying service.

Gold Service Medal/ Goue Diensmedalje. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former Apla on the date of 30 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

Service Medal in Gold/ Diensmedalje in Goud. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former MK on the date of 30 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

John Chard Decoration/ John Chard Dekorasie (JCD). This decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Citizen Force on the date of 20 years qualifying service. A clasp may be awarded for 30 years qualifying service.

De Wet Decoration/ De Wet Dekorasie (DWD). This decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Commandos on the date of 20 years qualifying service. A clasp may be awarded for 30 years qualifying service.

Good Service Medal (Silver)/ Medalje vir Troue Diens (Silwer). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 20 years qualifying service.

Silver Service Medal/ Silwer Diensmedalje. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former Apla on the date of 20 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

Service Medal in Silver/ Diensmedalje in Silwer. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former MK on the date of 20 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

John Chard Medal/ John Chard Medalje. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 10 years qualifying service.

Good Service Medal (Bronze)/ Medalje vir Troue Diens (Brons). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 10 years qualifying service.

De Wet Medal/ De Wet Medalje. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Commandos on the date of 10 years qualifying service.

Bronze Service Medal/ Brons Diensmedalje. This medal may be awarded to persons who served in the former Apla on the date of 10 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

Service Medal in Bronze/ Diensmedalje in Brons. This medal may be awarded to persons who served in the former MK on the date of 10 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

SADF Champion Shot Medal/ SAW Kampioenskut Medalje. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who were adjudged the annual champion shots in the categories of small bore, full bore, service and pistol shooting.

Cadet Champion Shot Medal/ Kadet Kampioenskut Medalje. This medal may be awarded to the school cadet who is annually adjudged the champion during the final school cadet Bisley.

Mention in Despatches/ Vermelding in Berigte. This award is a miniature replica of the national Coat of Arms worn on the appropriate campaign medal related to the operational service the member rendered. The award may be awarded to members of the SANDF as special recognition for conduct and devotion to duty during operational circumstances for which no other medal can be awarded. If the recipient has no campaign medals the emblem is worn junior to all medals, mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic. If the member has no medals, the emblem is worn mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic.

Chief of the SANDF Commendation/ Hoof van die SANW se Aanprysing. This award is a certificate and may be awarded to military and civilian members of the SANDF and DoD, civilians employed by the State or the private sector and other institutions who have committed themselves to render a direct contribution and meritorious service towards the SANDF.

Other Commendations. Commendation certificates are instituted for all Chiefs of the Services as well as Chiefs of Staff Divisions for meritorious service and a meaningful contribution towards the SANDF. Various officers commanding have instituted commendation certificates and the use thereof enjoys high esteem.

Decorations on the post April 2003 list are:

Nkwe ya Gsuta (NG) (Golden Leopard). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of exceptional bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successful similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

Nkwe ya Selefera (NS) (Silver Leopard). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of conspicuous bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

Nkwe ya Boronse (NB) (Bronze Leopard). This decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

iPhrothiya yaGolide (PG) (Golden Protea). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who distinguished themselves by exceptional leadership or exceptional meritorious service and the utmost devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

iPhrothiya yeStilva (PS) (Silver Protea). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who distinguished themselves by outstanding leadership or outstanding meritorious service and particular devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a similar successive achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

iPhrothiya yeBhronzi (PB) (Bronze Protea). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who distinguished themselves by leadership or meritorious service and devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

Tshumelo Ikatelaho (General Service). This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF and of any Auxiliary Service in the SANDF and of any Armed Forces attached to or rendering any service to the SANDF who was engaged for one day or more directly in or in support of a military operation, belligerent or otherwise.

Medalje vir Troue Diens/ Medal for Loyal Service. The medal and subsequent bars may be awarded to members of the SANDF and of any Auxiliary Service of the SANDF whose character and conduct have been irreproachable and who, on or after April 27, 2003, completed the required years qualifying service, which need not be continuous.

Emblem for Reserve Force Service (RD). This emblem is awarded to officers and other ranks of the SANDF Reserve Force who, after April 27, 2003, completed the prescribed period of 20 years loyal service to qualify for the award of the Bar to the Medalje vir Troue Diens 20 years and whose character and conduct have been irreproachable and who are in every way considered worthy and deserving of recognition for Reserve Force service. The required minimum of five years’ service in the Reserve Force may be rendered in any years (which need not be consecutive) prior to, during or after, the qualifying period for the award of the 20 year Bar to the Medalje vir Troue Diens provided the member shall be serving as a member of the Reserve Force at the time of qualifying for the Emblem.

Okhankanyiweyo (Mention in Despatches/Vermelding in Berigte). The award is a miniature replica of the national Coat of Arms worn on the appropriate campaign medal related to the operational service the member rendered. The award may be awarded to members of the SANDF as special recognition for conduct and devotion to duty during operational circumstances for which no other medal can be awarded. If the recipient has no campaign medals the emblem is worn junior to all medals, mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic. If the member has no medals the emblem is worn, mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic.

Long Service Awards for Civilians. The award of long service certificates may be awarded to civilians members (PSAP) of the SANDF. Certificates are awarded for 10 and 20 years continuous service.

Public Service Certificates (PSAP members). The award of long service certificates may be awarded to civilian members (PSAP) of the SANDF. Certificates are awarded for 20 and 30 years continuous service. A cash amount is also awarded on completion of 30 years continuous service. The amount will be adjusted annually on April 1 according to the CPIX for the period January to December of the preceding year.

Badge for Voluntary Reserve Force Service. This emblem is awarded to members of the SANDF Reserve Force who have distinguished themselves by rendering five years praiseworthy voluntary Reserve Force service. This emblem is awarded for service rendered from October 28, 1985.

Commendation by Chief of the SANDF. This award is a certificate and may be awarded to military and civilian members of the SANDF and DoD, civilians employed by the State or the private sector and other institutions who have committed themselves to render a direct contribution and meritorious service towards the SANDF.

   

Endgame: Book Review


Endgame is yet another addition to the growing number of titles exploring aspects of one of the seduction efforts that eventually led to the conception of a democratic South Africa.

Written by noted academic, Professor Willie Esterhuyse, who himself was one of the band of influential Afrikaner South Africans who had clandestine meetings with top ANC representatives in the early nineties, Endgame is well worth the read as well as one of the must haves when it comes to bookshelves on the hows and whys of the democracy South Africa is today.

Starting back in 1987 he takes the reader on a journey involving South African politicians of that time as well as what was to many, the shadowy National Intelligence Service.

To this reviewer the involvement of the then South African government’s security apparatus is telling in that there were people, even then, who realised the writing was on the wall for apartheid and its separate development policies.

Esterhuyse takes the reader through meetings at various sites in England where top Afrikaner academics and businessmen met “the enemy” and realised they simply had to put their backs into it if South Africa was not to drift into civil war with the resultant economic disaster.

From genteel country lodges in the English countryside through to the conviviality that is English pubs there is personal insight into just how the opposing factions got to know each other, gradually building up trust to the stage where all were on the same side in agreeing apartheid must go to be replaced by a constitutional democracy.

Discussions about the release of political prisoners, notably Nelson Mandela, lifting the sports boycott and many others are dealt with in depth, but never in a boring manner.

All the ANC heavyweights are frequently mentioned and quoted as are some of the pillars of Afrikaner academia and business. It’s fascinating.

Whet this reviewer found even more fascinating, taking into account Endgame was only published last year, is how Esterhuyse reflects on the current status of the ANC.

Food for thought comes from this quote: “It is a tragic reality, but indisputably a clearly recognisable face of our country: the ANC government has failed to get direct and structural violence in the country under control.

“We have democracy and freedom, but not safety.

“The kind of violence we experience and the brutality that accompanies it even seems to be getting worse.

“Socio-economic inequalities, in other words, structured violence, have reached grotesque proportions. It contrasts with the obscene forms of materialism and self-enrichment promoted by the ANC leadership.

“What we are experiencing in the so-called post-apartheid era illustrates that freedom does not necessarily establish a culture of peace, nor does it automatically foster reconciliation.”

A comprehensive index as well as detailed notes add extra value for the scholar and Endgame should be required reading for political science students as well as for those with more than a passing interest in how South Africa got to where it is today.

Endgame: secret talks and the end of apartheid
Willie Esterhuyse
Tafelberg, an imprint of NB Publishers

   

Book review: From Addis to the Aosta Valley


altFrom Addis to the Aosta Valley: A South African in the North African and Italian Campaigns 1940-1945, was originally titled “One of millions,” because author Keith Ford was one of the many millions who served in the Second World War.

However, Ford may have been a little modest. He served for approximately six years on a number of fronts during the War and took part in several major battles, notably El Alamein, and has plenty of stories to tell about his experiences.

Ford enlisted in 1940 and trained as a gunner at Potchefstroom before being deployed to East Africa. He experienced his first combat while serving with the 1st South African Division during the invasion of Italian Somaliland. After Somaliland he was involved in the Abyssinian campaign and was with the victorious Allies when Addis Ababa was liberated.

After success in East Africa, Ford faced the might of Rommel’s army in North Africa. As a Gun Position Officer’s Assistant on 25-pounders with the 1st South African Brigade, he fought from Taieb el Essem, the defensive box south of Sidi Rezegh, to Bir el Gubi, Bardia, Tobruk and Gazala. After his battery was annihilated by German panzers at Agheila, Ford was retrained as a Bofors anti-aircraft gunner, and he was with the Eighth Army at El Alamein.

On posting to Italy in 1944, his Light Anti-Aircraft Unit 1 became D Company Witwatersrand De la Rey Battalion and dug in on the 1944 Winter Line. Ford saw action during the assault and capture of Caprara, the advance to the river Po and finally, St Bernard’s Pass in the Aosta valley.

Ford began writing notes about his experiences after the war with the aim of giving the human side of the story. “In most war stories usually successful and talented men are praised…we were the death or glory boys. Very little has been written about those ordinary people and their fears, hopes and opinions,” Ford said before his passing in May 2013.

Ford wanted to capture how the ‘many millions’ spent their time, from their ablutions and toilet methods to prayers and even angry criticism of the English high command. “When you read this book you will know the South African soldier,” Ford said.

The author’s greatest strength and his greatest weakness is his penchant for detail. He describes almost every aspect of a soldier’s life, which on the one hand is interesting because the reader gets an idea of all the little things that make up the soldier’s experiences – something that is often left out of other books. On the other hand, it can be excruciatingly boring sometimes as we are fed information that is completely irrelevant.

The majority of From Addis to the Aosta Valley is interesting and readable, especially Ford’s journey from naïve young schoolboy to experienced gunner taking on the Germans in North Africa. However, the latter section of the book lags and dwindles away – it is obvious that it is a re-hash of his journals at the end – while the book does not completely fizzle out, the end of it is lacklustre and tedious compared to the energy and detail he brings to the beginning and middle.

If you’re going to read From Addis to the Aosta Valley, a very detailed account of daily life of a South African soldier in Africa, read it fast, lest ye become bogged down in the finer details.

Keith Ford
From Addis to the Aosta Valley: A South African in the North African and Italian Campaigns 1940-1945
Co-published in 2012 by Helion & Company Limited and 30 Degrees South Publishers Limited
ISBN 978-1-920143-72-5
176 pages, 47 black and white photos
   

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