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British War Medal, 1914-1920, attributed to Private E. Bird, 1st South African Infantry
[GB442]
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British War Medal, 1914-1920, attributed to Private E. Bird, 1st South African Infantry
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Circular silver medal with claw and ribbon bar suspension; the face with the head of King George V facing left, circumscribed ‘GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND : IMP:’(George V King of Great Britain and Emperor of India), signed ‘BM’ (for Sir Bertram Mackennal, 1863-1931) on the base of the neck; the reverse with St. George on horseback, reins in his left hand, a sword in his right, trampling a shield bearing an eagle with wings outstretched and a skull and crossbones, wavy lines denoting the sea beyond, a radiant rising sun upper right, dated ‘1914’ and ‘1918’ upper left and right respectively, signed ‘W McM’ (for William McMillan, 1887-1977 who also designed the British Inter-Allied Victory Medal); attributed on the edge to ‘PTE. E. BIRD. 1 ST S. A. I.’; on replaced correct ribbon. The medal was instituted in 1919 and awarded to members of the British and Imperial forces who had served between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. Officers and men of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, and Dominion and Colonial naval forces were required to have completed 28 days mobilised service, though this was waived if active service had been terminated by death. The award criteria were subsequently extended to include post-war mine-clearing at sea and service in operations in Russia in 1919-1920. The 1st South African Infantry Regiment (Cape of Good Hope Regiment) was recruited, as the name implies, in Cape Province in August and September 1915 for service overseas. It left for England from Cape Town and underwent training at Bordon in Hampshire. In December 1915 it was sent to Egypt as part of the makeshift Western Frontier Force to engage the Senussi tribesmen led by Gaafer Pasha and German and Turkish officers in the Egyptian western desert and saw action at Halaxin on 23 January 1916. By February, Gaafer Pasha had been captured and, the threat neutralised, the Battalion sailed for Marseilles and went by train to Flanders for trench warfare training and subsequently to the Somme and fought with the utmost bravery and tenacity in extreme conditions in Delville Wood. In one of the copies of his book ‘The South African Forces in France’, John Buchan wrote ‘It is invidious to compare the worth of gallant men, but I think all soldiers would agree that at any vote the South African Infantry Brigade had no superior’. This example is in unusually good condition.

 
British War Medal, 1914-1920, attributed to Private E. Bird, 1st South African Infantry
Click to enlarge
British War Medal, 1914-1920, attributed to Private E. Bird, 1st South African Infantry
Click to enlarge
British War Medal, 1914-1920, attributed to Private E. Bird, 1st South African Infantry
Click to enlarge
British War Medal, 1914-1920, attributed to Private E. Bird, 1st South African Infantry
Click to enlarge
   
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