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22nd September 2003clasps
By jim
Hi there,
sorry to sound stupid, but do the years on the clasp of a medal denote the time that a soldier was on service in that area.
eg South Africa medal?
22nd September 2003Edward Garcia

The dates on the 1877-1879 South Africa Medal do indeed denote the time that a particular soldier spent in the theater of operations. The clasps for this medal are somewhat unique in that they do not name the engagements but only the year(s) during which the particular battle/war or combination thereof took place. There were seven different clasps awarded with the medal only one of which was approved for wear on a given medal. The dated clasps areas follows: 1877, 1877-78, 1878, 1878-79, 1877-79, 1877-78-79 or 1879. While regulations permitted only one clasp to be worn on any given medal a very small number were awarded to colonial troop with 2 bars.

As you can see by the dates many of these so-called Zulu War Medals were awarded for service totally unrelated to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. I suppose it is possible for such a medal issued with an 1879 clasp to have been issued for the action against Morosi’s Stronghold in August of 1879 and therefore have nothing to do with the Zulu War proper either.

British troops who stayed in Natal and did not cross the border in Zululand received the medal with no clasp and did Naval personnel who remained “afloat”. Naval personnel
who served in the Naval Brigades ashore received the Medal with the appropriate clasp.

I hope this answers your question and anyone else out there feel free to correct anything I have written if it is in error.
23rd September 2003jim
thanks very much for your reply.
Just to clarify, the years on the clasp represent time actually spent in Zululand and not in Natal?
24th September 2003Steven Sass

One minor addendum to your extremely informative submission. I believe the 1879 clasp was also awarded for service in the Second Sekhukhune War in the Northern Transvaal.
24th September 2003Mike McCabe
And, interestingly, though it could ostensibly have been run-on to cover the 1880-81 First Boer War (or Transvall Rebellion), it decidedly wasn't.
25th September 2003Martin Everett
dear Jim,
Quite a number of soldiers were issued with the wrong clasp - a mistake by the battalion clerks - the NOK of a number of the soldiers of the 24th killed at Isandhlwana were issued with medals with clasp '1879' when clearly the soldier was entitled to '1877-8-9'.
26th September 2003jim
thanks to all for your replies.
Stil a bit confused. If the years on the clasp show'1877-8-9' does that mean the soldier spent those years in Zululand? and not for time spent in any other area of South Africa.
Thanks again
27th September 2003Edward Garcia

The clasp 1877-8-9 would indicate that the recipient had participated in the various campaigns that were fought in South Africa during those years many most of which were not in Zululand but in other locals such as during the Ninth Cape Frontier War against the Xhosa.
27th September 2003Martin Everett
The Army Order (dated 1 August 1880) sunctioning the issue of the South Africa Medal 1877-8-9 (to give the medal the correct name - more commonly referred incorrectly to as Zulu War Medal). The Army Order is published in full in Norman Holme's 'The Noble 24th'.

However, to answer your question the '1879' clasp was awarded to those Forces that served against the Zulus from 11th Janaury 1879 to 1st September 1879. The same clasp '1879' was awarded for the operations against the Sekukuni from 11th November 1879 to 2nd December 1879.

Where confusion may occur is that Troops employed in Natal during the period 11th January 1879 and 1st January 1879 received the medal WITHOUT clasp. However, soldiers at Rorke's Drift (in Natal of course) did receive the '1879' clasp as it was consider they did quality. Those troop at Helpmeekar on 22/23 January mostly qualified as 1/24th went on the advance to Ulundi.

I trust that helps.
27th September 2003jim
Martin and Edward
Thanks for the info
Very Helpfull
3rd December 2003Janice
I have a South Africa medal that says1855 below the lion. What was this for? The ribbon hasout wide blue stripes with thin stripes inside.
3rd December 2003Janice
I have a South Africa medal that says1855 below the lion. What was this for? The ribbon hasout wide blue stripes with thin stripes inside.
11th March 2004Vern
Today, (3-11-2003 I have finally determined what I have here. The South Africa medal. Purchased it 25 years ago at a yard sale in San Jose, CA. That is a story in itself. Any way it says 1879 on it. Name impessed in the rim is: T/238 SERGt. J. or maybe I. BROOKS A.S. CORPS. The first initial is not very readable, either a sloppy J or a strange looking I. I have been unable to find Mr. Brooks' name on any list of people who were awarded this medal. Can any one help me?
11th March 2004John Young

I have checked the rolls of the Army Service Corps, and Sergeant J. Brooks received the medal with clasp '1879'.

John Y.
18th March 2004Vern Hansen
Thank you John.
Did Mr. Brooks serve at Rorke's Drift? Can it be determined where he served? PLEASE, where did you find the rolls of the Army Service Corps? My medal looks to be the genuine article and not a cheap copy. Did this medal come with any kind of pin to attach it to wearer's blouse? In all pix I have seen, none show any means for attaching it to the wearer's clothing. I am thoroughly enjoying this search.
18th March 2004John Young

I can say that Sergeant Brooks was not present at the action at Rorke's Drift. Whether or not he actually served there I can't say.

What you need to do is have a researcher study the files at the National Archive, formerly the Public Record Office, Kew, west London. From that they should be able to provide you with a service history, if it is available.

There were a number of fixings to suspend the medal from whilst wearing it on a uniform, mainly made locally or by jewellers.

John Y.