Police decorations and medals
June 2009

SA Railways Police Force

THE South African Railways & Harbours Police Force (SARHPF) was established in 1916. It was renamed the South African Railways Police Force (SARPF) in 1955, and was incorporated into the South African Police (SAP) in October 1986. The SARPF had two series of decorations and medals, corresponding to the contemporary SAP awards. The first was used from 1934 to 1966, and the second from 1966 to 1986.

1934-1966

South African Railways Police medal ribbons 1934-66
The 1934-66 series consisted of the King's/Queen's Police Medal (shared with the SAP), and a long service medal, authorised in June 1934. SARHPF personnel who served in World War II were granted military medals.

Railways Police Good Service Medal (1934-1966) — Originally (1934-60) called the 'Railways and Harbours Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal'. It was awarded to "other ranks" for (i) gallantry or distinguished conduct, or (ii) 18 years excellent service.

Insignia: A variation on the equivalent SAP and Prisons Department medals of the period, i.e. a circular silver medal displaying the South African coat of arms (obverse) and "For Faithful Service - Vir Troue Diens" (reverse).

1966-1986

South African Railways Police medal ribbons 1966-86
The second series of decorations and medals, introduced in August 1966, originally consisted of four decorations and medals. In 1980, following the institution of additional SAP awards the previous year, the series was enlarged to eight awards, and three of the existing decorations were re-designed. All became obsolete when the SARPF was disbanded in October 1986.

Unless otherwise stated, the medals were awarded by the transport minister.

SARP Star for Distinguished Leadership (SEE) (1980-1986) — Awarded, by the state president, to general officers, for for distinguished leadership, meritorious service to national security, or outstanding service to dynasties, heads of state or government. Gen J.J.J. van Vuuren was the first (and only?) recipient.

Insignia: An 8-pointed silver star superimposed on a larger gold star, which is juxtaposed with another silver star. It is worn on a neck ribbon, and there is also a gold collar for ceremonial occasions. The breast star has four multi-rayed points, and displays a sprig of oak with three acorns on a white roundel.

SARP Star for Distinguished Devotion (SDE) (1980-1986) — Awarded, by the state president, to general officers, for meritorious service which promoted SARPF efficiency or actively contributed to national security. The first recipient was Lt Gen J.H. Visagie.

Insignia: An 8-pointed silver star with a smaller gold star in the centre (obverse). It is worn on a neck ribbon, or on a silver ceremonial chain.

SARP Cross for Valour (IF) (1966-1986) — Awarded by the state president, for conspicuous and exceptional gallantry in the line of duty, or in protecting or saving life or property.

Insignia: (1) The original badge (1966-80) was a white-enamelled gold Maltese cross, displaying the South African heraldic lion on a platinum roundel, and superimposed on a 4-pointed star on a gold circlet resembling a locomotive wheel. It is worn on a neck ribbon.

(2) The second badge (1980-86) was a white-enamelled gold double Maltese cross, displaying a sprig of oak with three acorns on a black roundel (obverse), and the national coat of arms and "Valour -Dapperheid" (reverse). It too has a neck ribbon.

Decoration for Outstanding Service in the SARPF (SMO) (1966-1986) — Originally (1966-80) called the 'Decoration for Distinguished Service in the SARPF'. It was awarded by the state president, for (i) particular gallantry in the line of duty or in protecting or saving life or property, or (ii) distinguished service. Brig M. van Vuuren was the first recipient.

Insignia: A 5-pointed gilded silver star with a central design of a hand holding two thunderbolts on a green roundel, superimposed on a 5-pointed multi-rayed star on a circlet resembling a locomotive wheel (obverse); the reverse displays the national arms and "Distinguished Service - Voortreflike Diens" (until 1980) or "Outstanding Service - Uitnemende Diens" (from 1980).

SARP Medal for Combating Terrorism (1980) — A campaign medal for service in preventing and combating terrorism after 26 August 1966, by (i) being in combat with terrorists, or (ii) being injured through terrorist activities, or (iii) completing 60 days (originally 6 months) counter-insurgency duty in a designated area.

Insignia: A circular silver medal displaying an upright sword between two sprays of laurel (obverse), and the SARPF badge with "Bekamping van Terrorisme - Combating Terrorism" (reverse).

Star for Merit in the SARPF (1966-1986) — For (i) particularly meritorious or exemplary service, or personal heroism, or (ii) 30 years irreproachable and exemplary service. By and large, it was used as a long service medal.

Insignia: (1) The original badge (1966-80) was a 5-pointed silver star with a central design of two hands shielding a flame, superimposed on a circular medal with a radiated surface encircled by what appears to be a locomotive wheel (obverse); the reverse depicts the SARPF badge and "Verdienste - Merit".

(2) The second badge (1980-86) was a gilt octagon, bordered with oak leaves, displaying an 8-pointed star with a central design of two hands shielding a flame (obverse) and the SARPF badge with "Verdienste - Merit" (reverse).

SARP Star for Faithful Service (1980-1986) — Awarded after 20 years irreproachable and exemplary service. A clasp could be added after 40 years service.

Insignia: Similar design to the 1980-pattern Star for Merit, but in silver and with the words "Troue Diens - Faithful Service" on the reverse.

Medal for Faithful Service in the SARPF - 1st Type (1966-1980) — For 18 years irreproachable and exemplary service (or 15 years service for someone who had already received the Railways Police Good Service Medal).

Insignia: A circular bronze medal displaying an ox-wagon on a red roundel against a radiated background enclosed in a circlet resembling a locomotive wheel (obverse), and the SARPF badge with "Troue Diens - Faithful Service" (reverse).

Medal for Faithful Service in the SARPF - 2nd Type (1980-1986) — Awarded after 10 years irreproachable and exemplary service.

Insignia: An octagonal bronze medal, displaying the South African coat of arms within a border of oak leaves (obverse), and the SARPF badge with "Faithful Service - Troue Diens" (reverse).

References :
  • South Africa Government Gazette 2207 (29.06.1934), 1507 (05.08.1966), 7002 (16.05.1980), and 8634 (31.03.1983).
  • Abbott, P.E. & Tamplin, J.M.A.; British Gallantry Awards (1971).
  • Alexander, E.G.M., Barron, G.K.B.; Bateman, A.J.; South African Orders, Decorations and Medals (1985).
  • Machanik, F.; 'The King's Police Medal' in SA Numismatic Journal (Oct 1969).
  • Monick, S.; Awards of the South African Uniformed Public Services 1922-1987 (1988) and South African Civil Awards 1910-1990 (1990).
 
© Arthur Radburn
 
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