Other decorations and medals
June 2009

Foreign honours and awards

OVER the years, South Africans have received many foreign orders, decorations and medals.

It would be pointless (and impossible) to list them all, but the following deserve mention because they were granted to large numbers of individuals, or collectively to military forces. They are listed in chronological order.

France — ZA Republiek president Paul Kruger was awarded the Legion d'Honneur. During World War I, France awarded the the Medaille Militaire and Croix de Guerre and other honours to more than 170 South Africans.

German Empire — The Südwestafrika-Denkmünze (South West Africa Medal) which was issued to German forces for the 1904-06 Herero War in South West Africa was also granted, with a special clasp, to a Cape Mounted Police unit which supported one of the operations.

Belgium — During World Wars I and II, more than 90 South Africans were awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medaille Militaire, as well as a few other decorations.

Russian Empire — A few dozen South Africans who served with the "White Russian" forces in the post-1917 civil war against the Bolsheviks were decorated with the Orders of St Anne, St George, St Stanislas and St Vladimir.

United States of America — During the 1944-45 Italy campaign and the 1950-53 Korean War, South African forces served under American command, and earned nearly 400 US awards, including a Presidential Unit Citation (2 Squadron, SA Air Force), the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Soldiers' Medal.

South Korea — The South Africans who served in the Korean War received several South Korean honours, including a Presidential Unit Citation (2 Squadron SA Air Force), the Order of Military Merit (the highest class being granted collectively to the South Africans who died on active service) and the June 25th Incident Participation Medal (a.k.a. the South Korean War Medal). In the 1980s, the Ambassadors of Peace Medal was awarded to surviving veterans.

United Nations — The South Africans who served in the Korean War received the UN Service Medal, which is ranked as a foreign medal. Since 1999, SA National Defence Force contingents have served in UN peacekeeping missions in the Congo (MONUC), Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Burundi (UNOB), and Liberia (UNMIL), and have been granted the UN Medals for those operations.

Poland — In 1992, Poland awarded the Warsaw Cross to surviving South African Air Force veterans who had flown in air supply operations to besieged Warsaw in 1944.

China (Taiwan) — During the 1970s and 1980s, South Africa enjoyed close diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and politicians and senior military officers received numerous Chinese honours, including the Order of the Resplendent Banner, the Order of the Cloud and the Banner, the Order of the Brilliant Star, and the Political Warfare Medal of Honour.

© Arthur Radburn
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