Van Aswegen, Sgt Willem LWD - He and 2Lt Dirk Nel were the first recipients of the Louw Wepener Decoration, in 1961. They were decorated for climbing aboard a burning armoured car, at a public display, to rescue the crew and extinguish the fire before the vehicle's ammunition could explode.
Van Niekerk, 2Lt Hermanus HCS - First recipient of the Honoris Crux Silver, in 1976. He won the decoration in Angola, for distinguished leadership under enemy fire, despite being seriously wounded.
Van Rhyn, Maj George - The SA Defence Force's official artist in the 1950s and '60s. He designed all the military decorations and medals instituted between 1952 and 1970.
Van Riebeeck, Jan - Founder and first commander of the first European settlement in South Africa 1652-62. The Van Riebeeck Decoration and Medal (1952) were named after him.
Van Riebeeck Decoration (DVR) - A military decoration for distinguished service in the field. Instituted in 1952, it was reserved for officers. The decoration was discontinued in 1975.
Van Riebeeck Medal (VRM) - Also instituted in 1952 and discontinued in 1975, this medal was awarded to other ranks for distinguished service in the field.
Van Staden, Col Buks - Police officer, He designed the 1985 SA Police Silver Cross for Gallantry.
Van Vuuren, Gen J.J.J. SEE SMO - First (and only?) recipient of the SARP Star for Distinguished Leadership, in 1981. He was the Commissioner of the SA Railways Police Force.
Van Vuuren, Brig M. SMO - First recipient of the Decoration for Distinguished Service in the SARPF, in 1967. He was the Commissioner of the SA Railways Police Force.
VD - Post-nominal letters for (i) the Volunteer Officers' Decoration, (ii) the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration, and (iii) the RNVR Volunteer Officers' Decoration.
Venda - One of the former African homelands inside South Africa. It was self-governing from 1972 to 1979, and "independent" from 1979 to 1994. Venda had its own honours system, comprising the Order of Thohoyandou, and series of decorations and medals for its defence force, police, and prisons service. They became obsolete when the homeland was reincorporated into South Africa in 1994.
Victoria Cross (VC) - The highest British decoration for gallantry in the face of the enemy. It became available to South Africans in 1867, and between 1877 and 1945 it was awarded to 24 members of South African military forces and to two South Africans seconded to British forces. When the South African honours system was established in 1952, the VC was given first place in the order of precedence, ahead of the new South African decorations, but it lost this place when the precedence was revised in 1967 and since then it has ranked with other British awards, after South African awards. Nevertheless, the last serving VC recipient, who retired from the SA Defence Force in 1981, continued to wear it in first place.
Victory Medal - As one of the Allied nations that emerged victorious from World War I, South Africa issued the Victory Medal established by the Allies at the Versailles peace conference in 1919. It was a bilingual version of the British design of the medal, and was awarded to those who had served in any theatre of operations during the war.
Viljoen, Marais DMS - State president 1979-84. He instituted the new SA Prisons Service decorations and medals (1980), new SARP decorations and medals (1980), and the National Intelligence Service decorations and medals (1981).
Visagie, Lt Gen J.H. SDE SMO - First recipient of the SARP Star for Distinguished Devotion, in 1983. He was Commissioner of the SA Railways Police Force.
Volunteer Long Service Medal - A British military medal for 20 years service in the part-time volunteer forces, adopted by both Natal and the Cape in 1894. It was superseded by the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal in 1900-01.
Volunteer Officers' Decoration (VD) - A British military decoration for 20 years commissioned service in the part-time volunteer forces, made available to the colonies in 1894. It was adopted by both Natal and the Cape that year, and was superseded by the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration in 1900-01.
Vorster, John DMS - Prime minister 1966-78 and state president 1978-79. He instituted the civilian division of the Order of the Star of South Africa (1978), and new SA Police decorations (1979).
VRM - Post-nominal letters for the Van Riebeeck Medal.
Walker, Capt Arthur HCG & Bar SM MMM - The most highly decorated SADF member of the Border War. He was awarded the Honoris Crux Gold in 1982 for risking his life during a night operation in Angola, by turning on the lights of his helicopter to draw enemy fire away from another helicopter. He later earned the bar to the HCG by landing in enemy territory to search for and rescue the crew of a helicopter that had been shot down.
Wankie Campaign (1967-75) - A long-running Umkhonto weSizwe campaign aimed at infiltrating South Africa from Zambia through Rhodesia. It was blocked by the deployment of SA Police para-military units in Rhodesia. Presumably the campaign was covered by the Southern Africa Service Medal.
Warrant - The legal document by which most orders, decorations and medals are instituted. Those issued by the monarch prior to 1961 were called Royal Warrants, but those issued by the (state) presidents since then are called simply "warrants". A warrant sets out the criteria for award, describes the insignia, authorises post-nominal letters (where applicable), and spells out any other conditions that apply. Often, regulations are issued to supplement the terms of the warrant and deal with administrative details.
Royal Warrants were signed by the monarch and counter-signed by the prime minister. Presidential warrants are signed by the president and counter-signed by a cabinet minister. Warrants are usually (but not always) published in the Government Gazette.
Waterfall, Cmdt Peter - Champion shot. He won the Queen's Medal for Champion Shots five times (1952, 1954, 1955, 1958 and 1961).
WD - Post-nominal letters for the Woltemade Cross for Bravery: Gold.
WDS - Post-nominal letters for the Woltemade Cross for Bravery: Silver.
Wearing Orders, Decorations and Medals - Each of the uniformed services has its own dress regulations which prescribe how orders, decorations and medals should be worn, and the regulations for the various national orders also contain general guidelines. In general, a sash is draped over the right shoulder to rest on the left hip; a neck badge is worn around the neck (with the ribbon under the collar); chest decorations and medals are worn in a single row on the left side of the chest, over the pocket; and breast stars are pinned below them.
Wepener, Louw - Orange Free State military hero, killed leading an attack on Thaba Bosigo mountain in the 1865 Basuto War. The Louw Wepener Decoration (1952) and Louw Wepener Medal (1967) were named after him.
Westdene Dam (1985) - Twenty-nine decorations - five Woltemade Decorations in Gold, 21 Woltemade Decorations in Silver, and three SAP Crosses for Bravery - were awarded for the rescue of dozens of schoolchildren from a bus which plunged into the Westdene Dam in Johannesburg.
Western Cape - One of the three provinces into which the former Cape of Good Hope was divided in 1994. It is the only province with its own honours system, established in 1999.
Western Cape Gold Cross - Instituted by the Western Cape provincial legislature in 1999 to recognise exceptional achievements in the interests of the province.
Western Cape Provincial Honours Act - Legislation passed by the Western Cape provincial legislature in 1999 to establish the Western Cape Golden Cross, the Order of the Disa, and the Premier's Commendation Certificate, for achievements and services in the interests of the province.
Woltemade, Wolraad - 18th-century hero. He rode his horse into rough seas eight times to rescue shipwreck survivors, until he and his horse drowned. The incident was depicted on the King's Medal for Bravery, which was later superseded by the Woltemade Decoration for Bravery (1980) and the Woltemade Cross for Bravery (1988).
Woltemade Cross for Bravery - Instituted in 1988 as the third incarnation of the civil award for bravery. It was awarded in two classes - Gold (WD) and Silver (WDS) - for bravery in saving lives or protecting state-owned property. The decoration was superseded by the Order of Mendi for Bravery in 2002.
Woltemade Decoration for Bravery - The republican version of the Queen's Medal for Bravery, instituted in 1970 to recognise bravery in saving life or property. Like its predecessor, it was divided into two classes: gold and silver. The decoration was superseded by the Woltemade Cross for Bravery in 1988.
"Woltemade Medal" - Unofficial name of the Queen's Medal for Bravery, because the design depicted 18th-century hero Wolraad Woltemade on his horse rescuing shipwreck survivors from the waves.
Woodburne, V Adm Lambert DVR SD SM MMM - He and Col Jan Breytenbach were the first recipients of the Van Riebeeck Decoration in 1974, for distinguished service in a special forces operation in Tanzania in 1972. Later Chief of the Navy.
World War I - As a dominion in the British Empire, South Africa was committed to World War I and the Union Defence Forces and the specially-raised SA Overseas Expeditionary Force campaigned in South West Africa (1914-15), German East Africa (1916-18), Egypt (1916), France and Belgium (1916-18), and Palestine (1917-18). Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve personnel served with the Royal Navy in the Aegean and other theatres of operations.
Around 2000 South Africans received British orders and decorations (including three Victoria Crosses) during the war. The campaign medals were the (British) 1914 Star, 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the South African issue of the Victory Medal. The most highly decorated South African of the war was Cape Andrew Beauchamp Proctor VC DSO MC & Bar DFC, who served in the Royal Air Force.
World War II - As an independent member of the British Commonwealth, South Africa fought on the Allied side in World War II. The Union Defence Forces' major campaigns were in East Africa (1940-41), North Africa (1941-43), Madagascar (1942), Sicily and Italy (1943-45), and South East Europe (air force, 1943-45). Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve personnel served with the Royal Navy in, among others, the Arctic convoys (1941-45), and the Java Sea (1942).
More than 2500 members of the South African forces received British orders and decorations (including three Victoria Crosses) during the war. The campaign medals were the (British) 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Burma Star, Italy Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, and War Medal, and the South African-issued Africa Service Medal. The most highly decorated South African was Capt Edwin Swales VC DFC, who was seconded to the Royal Air Force.
Wounds Riband - see Lint voor Verwonding.
Zinn, Maj Gen Hendrik SM OBE - First recipient of the Southern Cross Medal, in 1960.
Zuidafrikaanse Republiek en Oranje Vrijstaat Oorlogsmedalje - A campaign medal instituted in 1920 for military veterans who had served in the Boer forces during the Anglo-Boer War. It is often referred to as the "Anglo-Boere Oorlog Medal".