South African Awards for Saving of Life and Property

Medals for the saving of life have always held a great fascination for me.  Being brave goes with the job of being a soldier, and there are dedicated awards for bravery, however for one individual to save the life of another person or persons while placing their own lives in danger is worthy of a great reward.

Worldwide each country has recognised this, and each has created its system of awards for the recognition of saving of life and property. South Africa is no exception.

The purpose of this article is to track the development of purely official South African lifesaving awards.

The Medal for The Great Gale in Table Bay

Medal for the Great Gale of 1878 in Table Bay

I quote from a 1987 article titled “The Great Gale in Table Bay 19 July 1878 by the late Dr Frank Mitchell. 

“One of the most treasured pieces I have in my collection is a small handmade, hand-engraved, silver Maltese cross”.

Medal for the Great Gale of 1878 in Table Bay – reverse

Fifteen medals were awarded to the volunteer crewmen who so bravely went out in the hardest of the gale to the wrecked bark in “The Cape of Storms” or what we now called Table Bay in July 1878.  The full story can found in Journal no 2, The Association of South African Numismatic Society.

I consider this the first “official” South African Life Saving Medal, and it was so highly prized and treasured by the recipients that of the 13 awarded, approximately ten (10) medals are known to have survived and are in Museums or private hands. 

Although 15 men were presented medals at a benefit concert held in the Cape Theatre Royal, only 13 names are known. 

1MrDufton
2MrPiers, F C 
3MrWoodhead, H
4MrBuyskes, G
5MrGibson, B
6MrStevens, George
7MrKrumm, Carl
8MrVon Tromp
9MrSamuelson
10SergeantMacPherson 
11Constable Taylor, Gordon 
12ConstableMatheson
13Constable Peterson

I acquired mine with a family grouping. Unfortunately, a WW1 British War Medal suspender has replaced the original flat square suspender; however, I too consider this one of my most treasured pieces. 

Over the next 60 years, numerous South Africans qualified and won many variations of British and foreign lifesaving awards including the George Crosse, George Medal, Edwards Medal and so forth.  

In 1939 South Africa introduced its unique lifesaving award known as the King’s Medal for Bravery. Today, we South Africans, we refer to this award as the Wolraad Woltermade Medal and grew up as kids on the story of the Wolraad Woltermade riding into the waves to save his fellow man. 

The medal is named in memory of Wolraad Woltemade, an elderly servant of the Dutch East India Company, who gave his life while rescuing shipwrecked sailors in Table Bay on 1 June 1773.  The ship De Jonge Thomas broke anchor in a gale-force Northwestern and was driven ashore in the Salt River Mouth. Woltemade rode his horse into the sea seven times and brought surviving sailors ashore each time, but on the eighth excursion Woltemade and his exhausted horse were overladen by panic-stricken sailors and drowned

In 1939 South Africa introduced its unique medal, the King’s Medal for Bravery

King’s Medal for Bravery (1939 to 1953)

Kings Medal for Bravery (Obverse)

The medal was awarded to recognise gallantry performed in the face of imminent and obvious peril by those residents of the Union of South Africa or its dependent territories who endangered their own lives in the act of saving, or endeavouring to save, the lives of others. 

Although it was primarily a civilian award, it was also granted to military personnel for non-combatant acts of gallantry during the Second World War

Kings Medal for Bravery – Fuill Size and Mini

The medal was awarded in two classes, Gold and silver.

In simple terms, the gold medal can be considered the South African George Cross and the silver medal as the George Medal. 

The gold medal is for saving of life or property at considerable risk of your own life and the silver for saving of life or property. 

Very few awards were made.

George VI     34 in silver                1 to a child/youth – J J Hart

Elizabeth II   1 in silver 

George VI     1 in Gold                   to a child/youth – F C Drake

Roll of award for Kings Medal (silver)  (with thanks to Arthur Radburn)

1MrDalling, William Tweeddale29 December 1939Tried to save a black man in a rock-burst, Rose Deep Mine
2MrNourse, Dennis9 August 1940Saved a man from being savaged by a shark, Warner Beach, Natal
3MrMoubray, Robert John31 January 1941Jumped down a 50 feet waterfall near Tzaneen to save a friend, who had fallen and struck his head, from drowning in the pool below
4MrVan den Berg, Michael Adriaan4 April 1941Saved an injured miner despite ignited dynamite fuses, Venterspost Gold Mine
5MrGivana, son of Siqwayini4 April 1941Assisted Mr M.A. van den Berg in the aforementioned rescue, Venterspost Gold Mine
6MrSnell, Hendrik28 August 1942Tried to save the pilot in a crashed and burning aircraft, Landsdowne Road, Cape Town
7LtRabe, Arnold (SAAF)30 July 1943Saved a pilot from a burning aircraft
8T/F SgtBrady, Martin Wilson Taylor Bellingham (SAAF)17 December 1943Saved a pilot from a burning plane, Youngsfield Base, Cape Town
9Pupil PilotDe Jong, Daniel Nicholaas (SAAF)4 February 1944Saved his instructor from a burning aircraft, Standerton
10T/2 LtFowles, Geoffrey Turner (SAAF)4 February 1944Saved a pilot from a burning plane, Pietersburg
11A/MBotes, Rudolph Daniel (SAAF)4 February 1944Attempted to save the crew of a burning aircraft, Wingfield, Cape Town
12MrMpotu6 April 1944Saved a miner in the face of exploding dynamite, Venterspost Gold Mine
13A/CplFaul, Joseph Pick (SAAF)21 April 1944Tried to save a man overcome by fumes in the fuel tank of a Catalina aircraft
14T/CaptFisher, H.S. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945 at the Grand Magazine, Pretoria
15T/CaptWarner, A.L.H. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
16T/LtSolomon, H.I. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
17T/WO2Bruyns, H.C. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
18WO2Murcia, L. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
19T/S SgtDu Plessis, P.F. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
20SgtPentz, C. (UDF)14 September 1945Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
21L CplSeholi, Peter (UDF)7 December 1945Rescued two men, gassed in a sewer, Maitland, Cape Town
22SgtFerreira, I.M. (UDF)8 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
23SgtBronkhost, N.J. (UDF)8 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
24T/CplBreet, W.S. (UDF)8 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
25MrTheron, Marthinus Jacobus15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
26MrHall, John Bassett15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
27MrSehlogo, Andries15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
28MrNel, Frederick15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
29MrClark, Edward George15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
30MrSnyder, Erle Snider15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
31MrMpye, Amos15 February 1946Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945
32ABAdlam, H.S.J. (SANF (V))12 April 1946Saved a black man from the sea and sharks, Durban
33MrLewis, Peter Thomas23 January 1948Saved a child from the path of a railway locomotive, Pretoria
34MasterHart, Jack Jacobus22 October 1948At age 14, rescued a child from a burning garden hut, Johannesburg
1MasterDrake F C 8 September 1944 At age 14, rescued a child from a burning garden hut, Johannesburg. (GOLD award)
Single Kings Medal in Gold

After 1953, the medal became known as the Queen’s Medal for Bravery, and only one (1) silver award has been traced. 

1Mr Nilsen L, R27 February 1953Gallantry at Winklespruit 

(S Africa: Civil Orders, Decorations, and Medals: 1967-2002, 2020)

(Authors note. I have seen this medal in Gold with EIIR cypher, but I do not believe any of this type was awarded.)

The medal is carried on an oversized silk ribbon (45mm) with matching top pin type suspender.  All pin suspenders are in hallmarked Gold or silver, matching the award.  Each medal is engraved with the initials and surname of the recipient.  The engraving is for the George VI issues is always in a particular style by the same engraver. 

Capt A L H Warner (TSC – Union Defence Force) – WW1 East African SA Motor Cycle Corp Veteran – For Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945 at the Grand Magazine, Pretoria

KMB – Capt ALH Warner TSC, BWM & Vic – Sgt ALH Warner, WM & ASM 72685 ALH Warner
Capt Warner – reverse – showing SA Victory Medal (South African Motor Cycle Corp) and the large size suspender on Kings Medal

8177 T/S/Sgt P F du Plessis (SAMC) ex Prince Alfreds Guard – Gallantry displayed on the occasion of an explosion on 14 March 1945 at the Grand Magazine, Pretoria

KMB – 8177V T S/Sgt PF Du Plessis, WM & ASM 8177 PF Du Pessis
KMB – 8177V T S/Sgt PF Du Plessis, WM & ASM 8177 PF Du Pessis (reverse of Kings Medal)
The Explosion of the Grand Magazine in Pretoria
Explosion of the Great Magazine Pretoria 1945

Of the  36 medals, 17 were for one catastrophic event of the explosion on 14 March 1945 at the Grand Magazine, Pretoria.   The single gold medal was to a child, and the only one silver medal was to a child. 

Master Jack Jacobus Hart (civilian youth) – at age 14, rescued a child from a burning garden hut in Johannesburg.

Kings Medal to J J Hart – only silver medal to a youth
Naming on Kings Medals – J J Hart
J J Hart – note large size suspender with hallmark

Each medal is presented in a simple dark blue Pretoria Mint rectangular box. Miniature medals were only awarded to officers, and therefore only 4 or 5 are known to exist.  The Miniature medal was not automatically granted with the decoration. 

Kings Medal for Bravery – Mini Medal only issued to officers – Medal to Capt Warner

The Kings (Queens) Medal for Bravery is one of the rarest and most sought after South African Bravery medals, and in my opinion, other the SA Police Kings and Queen’s medals, must be considered the pinnacle item in any South African collection.  

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery: Gold and Silver (1970-1988) 


South African became a Republic in 1961, and although I can safely assume that many acts of civilian bravery took place, there were no further awards of the Queen’s Medal until 1970 when a new award was gazetted. This was to be known as the Woltemade Decoration for Bravery. 

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery – Gold

Very simply stated this is the South African Republican version of the Kings / Queen’s Medal for Bravery, awarded for tremendous and exceptional gallantry in saving, or attempting to save, life or property.    

As regards the actual award, some changes were made from the Kings/Queens medal.  The picture showing Wolraade Woltemade on the horse in the sea was retained; however, it was now placed on the obverse (front) and the previous obverse showing the monarchs head was replaced by the South African Lion Monogram and became the reverse. 

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery -Gold (Reverse)

It is simple round breast medal struck in 18ct Gold or 925 Sterling Silver.  All decorations were struck by the SA Mint in Pretoria and bear the SAM hallmarks. The hallmarks show a letter which can determine the date of manufacture. 

In April 1948, at the request of the Chamber of Mines, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) published in the South African Government Gazette voluntary hallmark specifications for the marking of precious metals. They consisted of the letter U encircling the head of a Springbok for articles made of Gold, and the head of a lion for pieces made of silver. No mention was made of other precious metals such as platinum or Palladium. It was decided to use the letter U (denoting the Union of South Africa) which was used on the ammunition manufactured by the South African Mint during the Second World War, and which gained international recognition as a significant contribution to the war effort. The lion and springbok heads were quite detailed and required the skill of experienced die makers. The punches were sold by the South African Mint who had an overseeing role in regulating the use of thereof. (B, 2020)

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery – Gold – SAM Mint marks

In 1975, the realist images of the springbok and lion marks were replaced by a single stylistic representation of a Springbok head encased in an oval form. It was thought that this new mark would give a more distinct imprint. The mark was also used for products made in platinum. In 1995, the logo of the SABS (the acronym is imprinted in the top half of an oblong outline) was introduced as a certification mark. It is not clear whether this mark replaced the old dating system, or whether it was used alongside the completion of the dating system that would have continued until 1999. (B, 2020)

In addition to these standardisation marks, articles had to bear the grade marking (e.g. stg or 9ct.), followed by a letter symbol denoting the year of manufacture, along with the gold or silversmith maker’s mark. The year mark was standardised by using a gothic typeface alphabet in lower case, starting with the letter ‘a’ denoting gold and silver products made in 1948 and concluding the cycle with the letter ‘z’ in 1973. In 1974 a new alphabetic cycle was introduced consisting of upper case Roman letters, where ‘A’ represented the year 1974, ending with the letter ‘Z’ in 1999. It appears that a third alphabetic cycle was not introduced and the dating system discontinued.

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery – Silver – SAM Hallmarks

Each medal is named in an engraved style by SA mint with the name of the recipient in full and includes a date.  Various mint engravers performed the work over the years, and thus the style of engraving varies slightly.   But most importantly, the medals are all numbered.  The number is stamped and appear before the name.  The manner of stamping is always consistent. 

The medal continued to use the same oversized ribbon (45mm) but no longer silk. 

Each medal is contained in a simple dark blue SA Mint rectangular box, and the full-size medal is always accompanied by a matching miniature medal. The miniature are always hallmarked but unnamed and unnumbered.  

Over 18 years only 61 gold and silver medals have been traced as being issued. 

Gold medals                        18 medals 

Silver medals                       43 medals 

Roll of Gold Medals (18) :  (with thanks to Arthur Radburn)

1984Bester, Dirk Uys saved his family from an armed intruder in their home
1985Koen, Petrus Lucas (aged 17) (posthumously)died trying to rescue fellow school pupils from the Westdene dam disaster (27 March 1985)
1985Du Toit, Daniel Sarel (aged 14) rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Mahner, Alfred (German Citizen) medal no 14rescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Opperman, Gotlieb Rudolf (aged 15)  Medal no 16rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Scheepers, Petrus Johannes Joubertrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Van Rensburg, Johann (posthumously)died trying to save a girl from drowning at Cape Vidal (19 September 1984)
1985Van der Merwe, Michiel Casparus (posthumously) died trying to save a girl from drowning at Cape Vidal (19 September 1984)
1985Louw, Abraham Jacobus (aged 15)saved his brother from being electrocuted by high-tension cables
1986Brown, Jacobus Johannes (posthumously)drowned trying to save a man from a flooded drain (28 October 1978) 
1986Campbell, Gordon Victor (posthumously)died trying to fight off an armed attacker near White River (9 March 1985) 
1986Ahlers, Willem Constantynfought off an armed attacker near White River (9 March 1985) 
1986Lloyd, Owen Hughsaved his son from the jaws of a crocodile in the Zambesi river (May 1986) 
      1987Darvel, Shaun (aged 17) (posthumously) died trying to save his brother from drowning (26 December 1986) 
      1987Human, Jacobus Johannes Daniel (posthumously)died saved a woman from a gang of armed attackers in Johannesburg (October 1986) 
1987Van der Westhuizen, Willem Petrussaved a woman from a gang of armed attackers in Johannesburg (October 1986) 
1987Jooste, Johannes Petrus (posthumouslydied saving a woman from an oncoming train at [Stellenbosch] (February 1986) 
1987Saint, Douglas Brettrescued his sister from a burning boat (December 1984) 
Alfred Mahner – Gold – German Citizen – medal no 14
Mahner – Reverse with suspension device

Roll of Silver Medals (43) :  (with thanks to Arthur Radburn)

1973Le Roux, Johannes Lodewikus (posthumously died helping two fellow schoolchildren to escape from a bus trapped in the path of an oncoming train at Henley on Klip (28 January 1970)
1978Kolver, Johannes Petrusrescued a man from the jaws of a crocodile in the Kruger National Park (21 November 1976) 
1978Olivier, Louis Pieterrescued a man from the jaws of a crocodile in the Kruger National Park (21 November 1976) 
1982Marais, Andries Josephussaved someone from a shark attack
1982Taylor, Wendy Lorrainesaved two children from drowning in the sea at Glenmore Beach (23 January 1981) 
  1985 (27 awards)
1985Cooke, James Edwardlaid demolition charges on the burning oil tanker Castillo de Bellver
1985De Beer, Frederick Coenradlaid demolition charges on the burning oil tanker Castillo de Bellver
1985Gardner, Michael John Andrewlanded a helicopter on the burning oil tanker Castillo de Bellver to rescue a trapped seaman (5 August 1983) 
1985Labuschagne, Casper Jeremiahlanded a helicopter on the burning oil tanker Castillo de Bellver to rescue a trapped seaman (5 August 1983) 
1985Winson, Alan Robertlanded a helicopter on the burning oil tanker Castillo de Bellver to rescue a trapped seaman (5 August 1983) 
1985Alexander, William Robertrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster (27 March 1985)
1985Botha, Johannes Jurgensrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Bouwer, Izak Zierkrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Brodie, James McKenzierescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985De Kooker, Bernadus Theodorus (aged 17)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Gordon, John James (aged 15)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, Ockert Machielrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Lourens, Dirk Johannes,  medal no 26 rescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Nell, Kenneth Royrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Roelofse, Adriaan Christiaanrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Schuman, Lucasrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Steyn, Petrus Jacobusrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Swanepoel, Christiaan Jacobusrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Van Aswegen, Willem Herklaas (aged 14), medal no 30rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Van der Walt, Gert Albertusrescued children from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Van Deventer, Catrina Jacoba (aged 17) rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Van Lelyveld, Martin Ernest (aged 17)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Van Wyk, Stephanus Johannes (aged 17)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Viljoen, Coenraad Rudolf (aged 15)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
       1985Waldeck, Petrus Gerhardus (aged 14)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985Wehmeyer, Matthys Louis (aged 17)rescued fellow pupils from the Westdene dam disaster
1985McDonald, Victoria Petronella Martinasaved a friend from an attacker with a knife at Temba (4 December 1984)
1986April, James 
1986Du Plessis, Andrew Johnsaved a woman from drowning in the sea at Llandudno (18 February 1984) 
1986Hutchison, Jonathan Rogersaved a child from drowning in the sea at Ballito bay (8 November 1985) 
1987Anthony, James John Rodger (posthumously)died trying to save Rene and Karin Idas from drowning at Silwerstroom Beach (January 1987) 
1987Idas, Rene Edwinasaved her sister Karin, and tried to save Rodger Anthony, from drowning at Silwerstroom Beach  
1987Idas Karin Belindasaved her sister Rene, and tried to save Rodger Anthony, from drowning at Silwerstroom Beach (January 1987) 
1987Canfield, Shahiedrescued a baby from a burning house in Bonteheuwel (November 1986) 
1987Klein, Yolande Anushka (aged 10)saved her younger brother from electrocution (June 1986) 
1987Nkabinde, Goodwillrescued four handicapped children from a burning bus in Johannesburg (1986) 
1987Oelofse, Nicolaas Jacobusrescued two children from a burning car near Ventersdorp (October 1986) 
1987Crous, Derekrescued two children from a burning car near Ventersdorp (October 1986) 
1987Hattingh, Barry Arnoldrescued a woman from a burning car seconds before it exploded (May 1986) 

(S Africa: Civil Orders, Decorations, and Medals: 1967-2002, 2020)

War Medal & Africa Service Medal – 59521 DJ Lourens, Woltemade Decoration for Bravery:  Silver – 26 Dirk J Lourens 9/11/85

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery – Silver – Dirk J Lourens

Woltemade Decoration for Bravery:  Silver – 30 Willem H van Aswegen 9/11/85

Medal and Miniature to Willem van Aswegen in small box of issue

In 1988, the Woltermade Decoration for Bravery was replaced by the Woltermade Cross for Bravery 

Woltemade Cross for Bravery: Gold and silver (1988-2003) 

Woltermade Decoration – Class I – Gold

The Woltemade Cross for Bravery, Gold, post-nominal letters WD, is the senior of two classes of a South African civil decoration for acts of bravery. It replaced the Union of South Africa King’s Medal for Bravery, GoldUnion of South Africa Queen’s Medal for Bravery, Gold and Woltemade Decoration for Bravery, Gold, all of which ranked on par with each other and the award of which had been discontinued in 1952, 1961 and 1988 respectively.(Woltemade Cross for Bravery, Gold, 2020)

The Woltemade Cross for Bravery could be awarded to South African citizens who have “distinguished themselves by exceptional bravery, by placing their own lives in great danger while trying to save the life of another person, or by saving or protecting property belonging to the state, within or beyond the borders of the Republic of South Africa. The cross could also be awarded to non-citizens who have distinguished themselves in this manner, by placing their own lives in great danger while trying to save the life of a South Africa citizen, or by saving or protecting property belonging to the state, within or beyond the borders of the Republic of South Africa” (Woltemade Cross for Bravery, Gold, 2020)

Woltermade Decoration Class II – Silver

The award was changed from a round medal to a cross, and I will assume that the powers that be decided that it should follow the cross form in the same pattern as the military counterpart, the Honrus Cruz. 

The Gold Cross is worn around the neck, as a neck decoration and the silver on the breast as a breast badge.  The ribbon is the same colours as before, but the old oversized ribbon was changed to 33mm wide. 

The Class I (Gold) is struck in 18ct Gold, and the silver in 925 sterling silver.  Both crosses were manufactured by the SA Mint and are officially hallmarked.   Each award is contained in sizeable red box complete with a matching numbered and officially hallmarked miniature medal. The hallmarks show a letter which can determine the date of manufacture.  These hallmark letter on the full size and miniature medal must correspond. 

Decoration Class I in Gold – in Box of award (no2)
Reverse Showing SA Hallmarks and numbering – no 2
WD (2) Mini Medal reverse

The Class I (gold) awards include a small 18ct lapel badge.  There is a very small silver lapel badge for the silver Class II.  

Lapel Badge for Class II Silver

Traced to date are the following number of awards 

Awarded in Gold     (Class I)         27

Awarded in Silver   (Class II)        39

I am currently confirming the details of the award, and the full roll will be published shortly.  However, below please find the illustration of the first award ceremony on 20 October 1988 detailing the lists of the very first awardees. 

Master Andre Prinsloo (Posthumously) – civilian youth aged 13, Class I medal no 2 – died during the attempted rescue of a fellow pupil in the sea, 7 November 1987

Andre Prinsloo WD no 2

Andre was on a school excursion when while they were playing in the surf a strong current swept them offshore.  Andre and his teacher Mrs Strauss lost their lives in this tragedy.  

Certificate of Award – note medal number
Prinsloo Citation
WD (2) Prinsloo – Newspaper article

Private Anton van Der Bergh – SADF,  WD Class I medal no 5 – awarded for removing a powerful bomb from a car in front of a crowded shopping centre in Pretoria, 25 July 1986.

Van der Berg (WD no 5) receiving award from State President PW Botha

Aton lifted a live terrorist “smoking bomb” from the trunk of a car outside a busy shopping centre and removed it to a safe area.   Anton was serving in the military at the time, and it is unusual for this action that he did not receive a military decoration known as the Honorus Cruz (Gold class) for his actions.   He is the only military recipient of the Woltermade Decoration in Gold. 

Van Der Bergh Citation

Mr Clarence Farrell – civilian porter, Class II medal no 6 – an unsuccessful attempt to  rescue a man from a swarm of bees in Pretoria, 11 February 1987

Farrell Certificate of Award (no 6)
WDS (no 6) C Farrell – Full size medal
WDS Miniature Medal (no 6) to C Farrell Mini medal reverse – note matching number
WDS (6) Farrell – Citation

All three above awards were presented on 20 October 1988  at the Presidential Guest House by the State President.   I had the privilege to interview those present at this ceremony, and they all recall award number one, a Hendrik Boshoff,  known as the “leopard man”.  

Award Ceremony 1988 – Prinsloo’s Father front row extremest left, Boshoff front row 2nd from left, Anton Van der Bergh in Military Uniform, 2nd-row centre. PW Botha, State President wearing Order of the Southern Cross.
WD WDS – list of names in photo
WD List of Recipients Oct 1988

On 15 August 1987, Mr Boshoff displayed exceptional bravery by saving Mr Basie Marais from the claws of an outraged female leopard.  While the two men were walking in opposite directions around a farmhouse, a female leopard attacked Mr Marais. Mr Boshoff, who heard the cries of Mr Marais, found him with a leopard on him.  Mr Boshoff fired a shot at the leopard’s hindquarters with a .357 revolver, hitting her in the haunch.

The shot only served to enrage her.  She grabbed at Mr Marais throat, and he tried to block the attack with his arm.  Mr Boshoff grabbed the leopard around her neck with his arm and pulled her away from Mr Marais.  In the process, he lost his revolver.  He caught hold of a stone, however, and hit the leopard with the stone until she collapsed.

Newspaper article regarding the 1st awards of the WD and WDS

Interesting points of interest

All the awards are under the control of the Chancery of Orders in Pretoria.   The Chancery controls all State Awards and access to their records pre 1994 has been limited for obvious state security reasons.

The procedure for the award is first that a recommendation from an interested party is made to the Chancery of Orders. Such recommendation or motivation, if considered appropriate, would be forwarded to the South African Police for further investigation.  

The SA Police would then conduct a formal investigation.  All parties concerned would be contacted and official statements under oath compiled from all parties and witnesses concerned. This was performed to verify and corroborate the deed.  A summary of such statements would be forwarded to the Chancery were a panel would adjudicate the award for a decision.  The nature of the act would then warrant –  no award or an award in either silver or Gold. No award was made without the proper procedures being followed. 

I have personally reviewed the SA Police Files for Van der Berg and Farrell. For security reasons these are not published; however, I can confirm that the police conducted comprehensive and formal investigation similar to when detectives investigating a crime. In the Police files, I noted other investigations where witnesses could not confirm the deeds, and therefore recommendations for awards could be made.  

I trust in the good nature of all men. When it comes to saving the life of a fellow person, such actions are not motivated by a desire to be awarded a medal or receive a reward.  I salute all who attempt to save or saves the life of his fellow man. 

In November 2003, the Woltermade Cross ceased to exist and was replaced with the Order of the Mendi for Bravery.

Order of Mendi – 2003

The Order of Mendi for Bravery is a South African honour, instituted on 30 November 2003. It was initially called the “Mendi Decoration for Bravery”, and was renamed as an order on 22 October 2004. Although this is primarily a civilian honour, there have been a few military awards, including a collective award to the South African Air Force and South African Navy units which rescued the passengers from a sinking ocean liner in 1991, and a collective award to SAAF units which carried out flood relief operations in Mozambique in 2001.  

Geocities.ws. 2020. S Africa : Civil Orders, Decorations, And Medals : 1967-2002. [online] Available at: <http://www.geocities.ws/militaf/civ67.htm> [Accessed 31 May 2020].

En.wikipedia.org. 2020. Woltemade Cross For Bravery, Gold. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woltemade_Cross_for_Bravery,_Gold#Discontinuation> [Accessed 31 May 2020].

B, G., 2020. Hallmarking Of Twentieth Century South African Precious Metal Artefacts: An Article For ASCAS – Association Of Small Collectors Of Antique Silver Website. [online] Ascasonline.org. Available at: <http://www.ascasonline.org/ARTICOLOGENNA202.html> [Accessed 13 June 2020].