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Africa General Service Medal 1899-1956

Guest Darrell

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Guest Darrell

Deviated a little to the north of Victorian, a King Edward the VII era medal. The Africa General Service Medal 1899-1956.

This one came with a ton of research that will take me a while to post. A few interesting chapters in this fellows career, both in places he went, medals he received and conditions that forced an untimely demise.

First up a brief synopsis of his life and military career.

His name was Edward Onslow.


Edward Onslow was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. A Groom by occupation, he attested for the King’s Royal Rifle Corps at Manchester on 1 December 1899, aged 18 years, 7 months. After completing his basic training he was posted to the 4th Battalion K.R.R.C. in Ireland.

In February 1901 a mounted infantry company from the 4th Battalion, consisting of 5 officers and 135 other ranks, including Onslow, embarked at Queenstown on the S.S. Columbine for active service in South Africa.

Initially known as the 19th Mounted Infantry Company, they served in various columns in the Eastern Transvaal. Serving in the unit then known as the 25th (Rifles) M.I. Battalion - 4th Company,

Onslow is likely to have been present at the battle of Brakenlaagte, 30 October 1901. For his services in the Boer War he was awarded the Queen’s medal with four clasps.

He then served in Somaliland, 14 January 1903-9 July 1904, for which he was awarded the A.G.S. Medal with clasps for Somaliland 1902-04 and Jidballi.

Returning to England, Onslow was transferred to the Army Reserve on 30 November 1906. He was discharged on 31 October 1914 as ‘no longer physically fit for war services’ - suffering from chronic gastritis.

His disability notwithstanding, Onslow attested for the ‘duration of the war’ into the Army Service Corps on 19 April 1915. Aged 33 years at the time of his re-enlistment, he had been living in Higher Broughton, Manchester and employed as a ‘motor lorry driver’.

Just two days after joining the colours Onslow embarked at Southampton on the S.S. Munich for France and on 22 April 1915 arrived at Rouen, assigned to serve with the 621 M.T. Company (Base M.T. Depot) A.S.C. One day later he was admitted to hospital suffering from acute gastritis.

On 30 April he was invalided to England and then sent to Dublin Castle for treatment. During this very short "service" he would be eligible for the 1914-15 Star, BWM and Victory Medal.

On 12 February 1916 he was discharged from the army as ‘no longer physically fit for war service’.

He died on 22 July 1919.

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Guest Darrell

The only medal that has been located is his South Africa General Service Medal.

Interesting to note that on his Attestation Papers for his first enlistment in 1899 and later in the ASC he was assigned the Regimental Number 2332. However, the wierd thing, he was awarded the AGS and QSA medals with the Regimental Number 2323. This is backed up by entries in the Medal Rolls for each with the same 2323 number.

A clerical error? Someone with dyslexia? Who knows. Whatever then case, this error slipped through un-noticed or corrected.

The following is a short description of the Africa General Service Medal 1899-1956.


General Information:

This medal was first instituted in 1902 for Campaigns on the African Continent, and was issued to British and Colonial Forces, The Medal remained in use for 54 years, the longest running British service Medal.

Bearing the effigy of Elizabeth II it was issued with the Bar Kenya for service during the Mau Mau Campaign 1952-56.



1st Issue: King Edward VII in uniform, facing left and legend "DWARDVS VII REX IMPERATOR";

2nd Issue: King George V in military uniform, facing left, and legend: "GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP"

3rd Issue: Queen Elizabeth II, facing right, an legend: "LIZABETH . II. DEI . GRATIA . REGINA. F: D: +"


Except for wording in the exergue it is the same as the East and Central Africa medal. A standing figure of Britannia holding a palm branch and scroll in her extended left hand and a trident in her right. In the exergue is the word "AFRICA"


A yellow edged black with two green stripes towards the centre from a plain, straight suspender.


Silver or Bronze




'N. NIGERIA', 'N. NIGERIA 1902', 'N. NIGERIA 1903', 'N. NIGERIA 1903-04', 'N. NIGERIA 1904', 'N. NIGERIA 1906', 'S. NIGERIA', 'S. NIGERIA 1902', 'S. NIGERIA 1902-03', 'S. NIGERIA 1903', 'S. NIGERIA 1903-04', 'S. NIGERIA 1904', 'S. NIGERIA 1904-05', 'S. NIGERIA 1905', 'S. NIGERIA 1905-06', 'NIGERIA 1918', 'EAST AFRICA 1902', 'EAST AFRICA 1904', 'EAST AFRICA 1905', 'EAST AFRICA 1906', 'EAST AFRICA 1913', 'EAST AFRICA 1913-14', 'EAST AFRICA 1914', 'EAST AFRICA 1915', 'EAST AFRICA 1918', 'WEST AFRICA 1906', WEST AFRICA 1908', 'WEST AFRICA 1909-10', 'SOMALILAND 1901', 'SOMALILAND 1902-04', 'SOMALILAND 1908-10', 'SOMALILAND 1920', 'JIDBALLI', 'UGANDA 1900', 'B.C.A. 1899-1900', 'JUBALAND', 'JUBALAND 1917-18', 'GAMBIA', 'ARO 1901-1902', LANGO 1901', 'KISSI 1905', 'NANDI 1905-06', 'SHIMBER BERRIS 1914-15', 'NYASALAND 1915' and 'KENYA'


Impressed Capital Letters

Edited by Darrell
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Guest Darrell

Closeup of Obverse. Also interestingly enough, the condition of the disc indicates that this medal appears to have been worn alongside another few medals.

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Guest Darrell

Before I post some of the research, below are the copies from the Medal Rolls indicating entitlement of the AGS (w/ 2 Clasps) and the QSA (w/ 4 Clasps - Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, and South Africa 1902) medals.

First up AGSM Roll (note the Reg No.):

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Guest Darrell

For those wishing to see normal sized attachments posted below so you can actually read them follow this link:

The following Research details Attestation in 1899. Note the second Reg. No. M2/076665 that was issued for the 2nd go round during the First World War in 1915

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