To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, the South African Mint launched a series of limited-edition A Celebration of Winston Churchill's Life and Legacy commemorative coin and medal sets featuring the Krugerrand with a celebratory "Winston Churchill 50 Years" privy mark to honour his life and career. The series reflects South Africa’s critical role in creating the legend around Winston Churchill in 1899, over four decades before the name became stamped on 20th century history as a prime architect of victory in the Second World War. Churchill was almost killed in South Africa, but the country ended up being the making of him.
Included in each commemorative set is this 1oz silver medal that pays tribute to Winston Churchill as a war correspondent and member of the South African Light Horse (SALH) regiment during the second South African War (1899 - 1902). The medal was designed by L Guerra and engraved by MJ Scheepers (obverse) and VL Chipa (reverse). The obverse shows him as a young man wearing a slouch hat with the SALH regiment in the background. The stylised Union Jack refers to Winston Churchill’s role as an extraordinary British statesman. The reverse depicts a military cross with the abbreviation SALH and the year of its foundation: 1899. The RMS Dunottar Castle as depicted on the medal is the ship, which took Churchill to Cape Town in 1899 and back to Britain in the summer of 1900.
Assuming his role in 1899 as the Morning Post’s war correspondent covering the second Anglo-Boer War, Churchill’s own exploits became almost as newsworthy as the events he was reporting on. Despite being in a non-combatant role he led the defence of an armoured train ambushed by the Boers. However, with no gun to defend himself he was captured, surrendering to a Boer fighter called Louis Botha who became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
Three weeks later, Churchill escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp with £75 and four bars of chocolate in his pocket. He found his way back to Durban despite a reward for his capture, and became a lieutenant in the South African Light Horse Regiment. On returning to Britain he was greeted as a celebrity and he capitalised on his fame by winning the Oldham seat for the Conservatives in the 1900 general election.
Tumi Tsehlo, Managing Director at the South African Mint, adds, “With South Africa having such a pivotal place in the Churchill story, it seems fitting to create a Krugerrand in his honour. The Krugerrand has its own important place in history as one of the most revered and sought-after coins, favoured by collectors around the world. Its release is a major contribution to the commemorations of the great man’s death in 1965.”