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SEA TRANSPORT MEDAL - South Africa 1899-1902


Guest Darrell
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Guest Darrell

I've once again deviated from the Victorian Era, but not really since this medal was struck for service in both the Boer War and 3rd China Wars which were going on or had been fought during Queen Victoria's reign.

These medals are quite scarce and depending upon the clasp, can be quite expensive as well.

First a little background to the medal itself:

Transport Medal 1899 - 1902

This medal was to reward service transporting troops and materials (including service on hospital ships) during the Boer War in South Africa and the Boxer rebellion in China. It was awarded to Mercantile Marine officers of the ranks: Surgeon, Purser, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Engineer, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Officer and the Vessel Master. 1719 medals were issued to the officers of 181 vessels.

Description: silver, 36mm diameter with a swivelling suspender.

Naming: Impressed in serif block capitals. Recipients name only - no rank or ship is given - reference to the medal roll is necessary to identify the recipients rank and vessel.

The obverse bears the bust of King Edward VII in Admirals uniform and the legend "EDWARDVS VII REX IMPERATOR."

Reverse depicts his Majesty's transport "Ophir" under way, beneath a map of the world, surrounded by the legend "OB PATRIAM MILITIBUS PER MARE TRANSVECTIS ADJUTAM" (latin) which translates "for services rendered in transporting troops by sea".

Two bars issued; S. Africa 1899 - 1902 and China 1900

Ribbon, red with two blue stripes.

This medal is for service during the Boer War. The recipient a T.W. Ralston was the Chief Engineer aboard the CITY OF LONDON. Interesting to note there were a total of three ships that took on that name. The second built in 1876 was the one that Ralston served on to earn the medal.

I've searched quite a bit online, but couldn't find a great deal about this ship other than the below information:

CITY OF LONDON / HONG BEE 1876

The CITY OF LONDON was built by Connell's, Glasgow in 1876 for George Smith's City Line. She was a 3,212 gross ton, 11 knot, iron built steamer. She sailed to the Far East and also made one or more voyages to Australia for the Orient Line. In 1901 she was sold to Lim Ho Puah, Singapore and renamed HONG BEE.

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Guest Darrell

Lastly a few shots of the Official Medal Roll listing Ralston as the rightful recipient of the medal and Clasp:

a. Coverpage listing information on the medal itself.

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Guest Darrell

b. The list of number of Engineers for all Companies involved with "Transport" entitled to the medal and Clasp(s):

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Darrell - you were fortunate to find one of these , they are rare. The China Bar brings a higher price then the Boer War - however, both are expensive. I had one as part of a four family member group - he had been the Grandfather and was a Captain for the same shipping company - can't remember his ship now. He had the Boer War clasp and had kept a private log - which gave great detail. His ship brought the N.S.W. Lancers to Sth. Africa.

The Line became defunct but I understand started again a few years ago with two ships. They were always noted for their high quality of service and only carried about 100 passengers.

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Guest Darrell

Thanks Mervyn, yes they are difficult to find (especially in good condition). I would suspect finding one with two claps would take most of a collecting career and then you'd likely have to pay for it like a mortgage. They did exist. In fact since the City of London did transport soldiers to China, there are a few listed even on te roll show where they were entitled to 2 bars.

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I've never seen one with both bars - however, the conflicts were in the same period, so at least some ships had to have been at both locations. You do have to wonder where we managed to find the numbers of troops and ships that were needed ? The 1879 Zulu War was the same - the larger conflict going on at the same time was the Afghan Campaign - and, we are still there losing lives, I think it is the 4th Campaign since the 1830's.

Mervyn

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I've also liked the Transport Medal for some reason. For a number of years, I've logged sightings of them in the market and collections and have recorded 324 specimens of the 1719 issued (roughly 19%). Of those recorded, 36 were 2-bar medals (178 2-bars were issued).

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Guest Darrell

Of those recorded, 36 were 2-bar medals (178 2-bars were issued).

Three of which show up on the Engineers Roll of the Ellerman line shown on post above.

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