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I was lucky enough to acquire a group of medals recently which included the medal of the Durban Recruiting Committee.

At the time of writing there are very few references to this Committee, or its medal (or medallion), online.

There is a reproduction of a recruiting poster bearing the rubber stamp of the Committee, bearing date 9 October 1918, at the Imperial War Museum site (http://www.vads.ac.u...e.php?uid=29576).

Dix Noonan Webb sold a medal as part of a job lot on 5 March 1996, as follows: "South African National Memorial 1914-1918, ‘For their Faith and for Freedom they Died’, bronze plaque by Alfred Turner, 100 x 73 mm, in fitted presentation case; together with small 9 carat gold medal ‘In celebration of the Union forces in South Africa 1915; Pretoria Citizens Service Medal 1914-19, bronze; Durban Recruiting Committee, bronze medal, and Johannesburg Peace Celebration medal (4), one in silver, the remainder bronze, very fine to extremely fine (8)". The lot sold well above estimate.

JK Militaria (http://www.jkmilitar...om/Miscell.html) is offering a medal for sale, suspended from a red/white/blue medal as follows: "South Africa, 'Pro Patria' (for Fatherland) WW1 Durban Recruiting Committee medal. Medal in bronze. Interesting design with Springbok head. Ribbon appears original. 26mm in diameter."

The medal I have came with the WW1 pair to Conductor Percy McEvoy Wheeler of the South African Service Corps.

Wheeler was a 43 year old farmer from Sarnia in Natal, roughly ten miles inland from central Durban, as the crow flies. He volunteered for full-time military service and was formally attested into the Army in Durban for service with the South African Imperial Service Units on 19 February 1917. He stated quite clearly that he had had no previous military experience and it seems he was needed for a specialised role best-suited to a Natal farmer - to be a conductor with the animal transport in East Africa.

Five days after joining up, and with barely any exposure to military training, lore or customs, he embarked at Durban bound for East Africa aboard the transport Clan McPhee.

South African medal collectors will tell you that the greatest enemy our men faced in East Africa was not General von Lettow Vorbeck (brilliant though he was), but malaria and other tropical diseases.

On 21 April 1917 - less than two months after arriving in the theatre - Wheeler reported sick suffering with malaria, and was admitted to No. 14 South African Casualty Clearing Station in Dodoma.

But unlike fitter and younger soldiers who often emerged shattered but alive from an encounter with the female Anopheles mosquito, Wheeler was untrained, so presumably unfit, and 43 years old.

He died the next day.

The Durban Recruiting Committee Medal found with his medals is suspended from a violet coloured ribbon. Violet is, traditionally, a colour of mourning.

I cannot say with certainty that the Medal was only given to families of men killed or died on service, but we do know the Committee published at least two lists of the dead (see http://www.google.co...MITTEE%22&btnG=), and in light of the ribbon, I feel safe to say that this little medallion, although unofficial, enjoys something of the status of the Memorial Crosses of Canada and New Zealand.

William

Here is a picture of the obverse.

Edited by Archer

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And here the reverse. Also Wheeler's medals (not to scale).

Edited by Archer

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William - a very interesting article on a rare medallion. I have never actually seen one - but, it does remind me of the Chief's medal issued for King Edward 7th's Coronation. The smaller version had this same rough type of mount.

A good addition to your collection. Mervyn

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I doubt it was awarded as a memorial medal, surely in that case they would have had something of better quality with a name?

And would a recruiting centre have been able to keep tabs on who was sent where and who was killed? I think once you passedthrough the recruiting centre it was "Hasta la vista Bwana"...

Maybe it was given to people who worked there when they had been there long enough and done enough paper pushing`?

Best

Chris

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No - I think that is very unlikely, Chris.

We are taking about a medal distributed by a voluntary committee in a provincial town - not an official award designed, struck and paid for by the government of the country.

The quality of the medallion would have been governed by the funds available to the committee. They quite possibly used what money was left over when they shut down after the war, to strike these medals.

(You may be forgetting just how small the population was, and how few the resources were, in the South Africa of 1918.)

The violet ribbon looks contemporary. The colour is surely significant. I will concede that medals may also have been given to committee members and others, but somehow I doubt they would have been on violet ribbons.

Lastly, let me repeat, Chris, we do know the Committee published at least two lists of the dead [see above].

Cheers!

William

Edited by Archer

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They did give out a next-of-kin certificate to the family of soldiers who did not return, so possibly a medal accompanied the certificate?

A certificate also accompanied the award of the recruiting medal.

I have both examples of the certificate in my collection and will attempt to get scans sent to me so that I can post them on the forum.

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This medal and certificate was awarded to Lcpl Vinnecombe of the 4th South African Infantry or South African Scottish Regiment who was killed in action on 22 March 1918.

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Another " in memoriam" card to Pte Mahon who was killed in action at the Butt de Warlencourt, Somme on the 16th of October 1916.

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The certificate that accompanied the medal for services rendered.

Private Mahon survived the Battle of Delville Wood and was discharged a year later for being "under age".

He was wounded during the Senussi caampaign in North Africa before he went to France with the 1st South African Infantry Brigade.

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Yes - these scans are VERY interesting and much appreciated!

The faded purple of the ribbon on Private Mahon's medal is surely significant.

It is pleasing to see Forum power rescuing this award from obscurity!

Regards

William

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Most definitely, it is also amazing to see the depth and quality of material that is available within the forum membership!

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I am always amazed at some of the replies. Now that you have pointed out the ribbon on Will's mounted example you

can see that it was folded as for the 1st WW Victory medal. Also, they used a nice watered silk. Something to remember

for future medals of this type which need new ribbon. Mervyn

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William (CT)

Along with Williams (Jhb) posting on this subject matter I am now a very "happy chap" the two posts confirms and adds to information I have in my draft booklet on the subject of NOK awards and documentation.

Regards

Brian

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I too have one of these "Durban Recruiting Committee" Medals - with the original violet ribbon. I have had it for many years. I see that Kaplan has one up in his latest (July 2014) auction. The price estimate is R500 - which surprises me. I would have thought much less for what is, after all not really an "Official War Medal" ? Any thoughts? But medal prices seem to be rocketing. I bought a silver Natal Coronation Medal (29mm) EVIIR on auction in 2010 for R269. I see that again, in Kaplan's current auction, there is one for an estimate of R1,200. Amazing........

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The Natal Coronation Medal came in three sizes. The smallest was given to schoolchildren. The middle size to local

dignatories - Mayors, councillors, businessmmen etc. It is probably this size that Kaplan is selling. I would value at

about Rands 700. The largest size was given only to Zulu Chiefs - and is quite rare. Mervyn

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Yes, the one Kaplan is selling is the (middle) 29mm one - estimate R1,200 !!!!???? As I said, my 29mm example, in 2010, cost only R269.

My 2013 MYB gives the value as £85 - £100 so maybe Kaplan's price is even cheap? We shall see. But as I have one, I'm not bidding, anyway.

I must say that I am also in awe of some of the information one gets on this Forum. The Durban Recruiting Committee info is VERY interesting,

and very valuable. At least I now know what I thought was just another "commemorative" or 'unofficial" medallion is MUCH more than that. Sadly,

although I have one - with the original violet ribbon - I do not have a certificate. Pity.

But good, very useful reference info, anyway. Thank you "sabrigade".

ATB

David B

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Very nice Brett. By comparison, the 21mm medal must look miniscule to the big 51mm version.

I don't know if it is just your photo, or do you not have the correct ribbon - i.e. with a

central claret stripe? My 29mm one also does not have the correct ribbon. Mine has a sort

of maroon coloured one. I wonder where we can get the correct ribbon - IF it is available?

ATB

David B

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David

The ribbons are without the central claret stripe. Presumably, there must be correctly-ribboned medals somewhere. Perhaps someone in the local numismatic society can help?

Regards

Brett

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Thanks, Brett. If you ever manage to track any down, please may I buy a six inch length from you?

Thank you,

All the best,

David B

==========================

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Hi Guys

There is a huge misunderstanding about this medal.

The CORRECT name for this small medal is the Womans War Badge. Issued by the DRC to related females of sevice personal who came from Number 5 Military District (Natal). Purple ribbon for those who had died, Red White and Blue for those who were wounded and still serving. They were issued with two versions of certificates.

More about this medal in a book I am hoping to bring out within a year.

Regards

Brian

Edited by brian conyngham

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Well done - that ends the speculation. I used to see a few , but they are not common. Let us know when your

book is published and we will give it some publicity. Best wishes for 2015. Mervyn

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