Two medals suspended from ribbons. The first is silver with a profile portrait of Queen Victoria and a red, black and orange ribbon with two clasps reading South Africa 1901 and Cape Colony. The second is bronze and has a profile portrait of Edward VII and a white and black ribbon.
Medals and Insignia

The Queen’s South Africa Medal and the Order of St John South Africa Medal, awarded to Private J. Ford

1899 - 1902
LDOSJ: 2/1-2
102mm x 34mm and 92mm x 37mm

The South African, or Boer war (1899–1902) was fought between Britain and the Boer South Africans.  It was the culmination of longstanding tensions between the British and Boer leaders who were each seeking to exert their influence in Southern Africa.  As a trained, uniformed body of men and woman, one of the original aims of St John Ambulance was to form a medical reserve for the Armed Forces in the event of war. In 1898, a discussion between the War Office and the recognised voluntary agencies had led to arrangements under which the British Red Cross agreed to deal with fundraising, and the Order of St John would organise the receipt and despatch of ambulance material and provide trained men to supplement the Royal Army Medical Corps.  This arrangement was quickly to be tested when the South African War broke out in October 1899.

Every man who served with the St John Ambulance Brigade in South Africa received the official campaign medal, the Queen’s South Africa Medal, in the same way as all the other forces involved.  Each silver medal is officially impressed on the rim with the number, rank, initials and name of the recipient followed by the unit ST.JOHN AMB:BDE. Only two ranks were used: Orderly and Supernumerary Officer, the latter being equivalent to Sergeant.  A number of clasps were issued with this medal to indicate participation in the various campaigns, but many St. John men received these later than their medal so they are often found loose on the ribbon rather than being attached. The commonest clasps appear to be those for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Natal, but none are rare.

At a meeting of the Chapter-General held on St John’s Day 1900, a suggestion that the Order of St John should issue its own medal to commemorate the service of the Brigade members was approved.  1800 men were awarded the medal. It was awarded to every man who had served with the Brigade in South Africa and, additionally, to a number of those who had been concerned in this country with the mobilisation of stores. Therefore, it is usually found paired with the Queen’s South Africa Medal but it is possible for it to be found alone.  This medal is bronze, and includes the mottoes of the Order ‘PRO FIDE PRO UTILITATE HOMINUM’, For the Faith; in the Service of Mankind, as well as having the recipient’s details engraved around the edge.


The Museum of the Order of St John would like to thank all those who have supported and continue to support its work. In particular, the Museum would like to thank the following for their generosity: