Saturday 1 June 2024

The Ten Clasp QSA – Myth or Reality?

The South African National War Museum (now known as Ditsong National Museum of Military History) has or had a QSA with ten clasps named to Trpr Moses Wilson, Damant’s Horse. I proved it was not a valid ten clasp QSA, the two date clasps belonged on a King’s South Africa medal. See The ten-clasp QSA mystery resolved (Military History Journal (South African Military History Society) vol 125 No 5 June 2012). The Special Note appended to the article by the editor immediately prior to publication is in fact irrelevant to the matter. No other ten clasp QSAs are known to exist.

Is it possible though? Strictly speaking the answer is “Yes”. Eight and even nine clasp QSAs are known, you can see how many and to whom by using the query “Number of clasps awarded on a QSA” in the Research Centre on The Register of The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902. The award of clasps was subject to rules specified for each clasp, these can be seen here.

Most of the known eight and nine clasp QSAs have the following battle clasps; Belmont, Modder River, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen and Relief of Kimberley. This combination represents the fighting and hard slog on the Western Front from November 1899, relief of Kimberley and the capture of the Boer capitals, ending with the second mass surrender of Boers in the Wittebergen in July 1900.

The clasp issue rules allow for a South Africa 1902 clasp on the QSA if the recipient served less than the 18 months overall to qualify for a KSA. But, most eight or nine clasp men either left the war in 1900 or 1901 or earned the KSA with over 18 months service. There are only nine months between the qualification dates for the first clasp, Belmont, November 1899, and the last clasp, Belfast August 1900, which gives plenty of time to earn South Africa 1901 take a break then serve again in 1902 to earn a South Africa 1902 clasp on the QSA. No examples have been found of a valid ten clasp QSA.

Total Clasps

Total known

South Africa 1901 clasp

South Africa 1902 clasp

Both date clasps

KSA Medal













 Of the 73 KSA medals issued to recipients of an eight clasp QSA three earned their KSAs as civilian conductors with the Army Service Corps and were thus, correctly, not issued clasps to the KSA. One had a no bar KSA, the other two single bar KSAs with South Africa 1901 clasp. The latter earned their South Africa 1901 clasps by virtue of being discharged from Rimington’s Guides in 1901.

There were only five battle clasps awarded for the Natal campaign; Talana, Elandslaagte, Defence of Ladysmith, Relief of Ladysmith, Tugela Heights and Laing’s Nek. A ten clasp QSA for a participant in this campaign would have to combine with battle clasps from the Western Front. As both fronts were fought simultaneously it is scarce to see QSAs with clasps for both fronts. Most are Relief of Ladysmith paired with Relief of Mafeking but, they don’t figure  in high clasp combination QSAs. The majority of this double relief combination are five clasps: RoM,OFS,T,TH,RoL. Belfast is the most likely non-Natal clasp in combination with the Relief of Ladysmith clasps as that battle in August 1900 marked the union of Buller’s Natal Field Force with Lord Robert’s South African Field Force.

A few multi-front clasp combinations are known to cavalry soldiers, in what capacity they served on either front or why they switched it is not known. They would have had to travel at some speed to meet the qualifying dates for the clasps. Captain FR Lawrence, 14th Hussars, and Pte 3899 JC Parker, 14th Hussars (probably officer’s servant) earned eight clasps each; J,DH,Bf,CC,OFS,TH,RoL,SA01,SA02. Pte 4331 V Botting, 9th Lancers, managed the Natal clasp in his Western Front eight clasp combination; B,MR,J,DH,Bf,RoK,OFS,N,SA01. The most common Western Front and Natal combination is Relief of Ladysmith and Relief of Mafeking,

In summary, the ten clasp QSA is technically possible but so far no valid issue of such a medal has been found.