France: First Flight from Great Britain to South Africa

France: First Flight from Great Britain to South AfricaFrance: First Flight from Great Britain to South Africa
Form: Circular
By: After John Pinches, London
Date: c 1975
Ref:  Laidlaw: 0349b;
44.5 mmGilded Silver38.0 gm$35

Edge: Plain. Stamped: "VERMEIL" and the French hallmark for sterling silver. Also stamped with the makers mark in a lozenge and "P" and "76" in rectangles.

Obverse: A British Vickers Vimy bomber flying to the left, below busts of two Royal Air Force Officers in uniform with caps, side-by-side front.

Reverse: Within a laurel wreath entwined with a ribbon: "MUSEE DE L'AIR" at the bottom, the emblem of the French Air Force and below that across: "Lt. Cl. Pierre van Ryneveld / et Major C.J.Q. Brand / Premiere liaison / Grande-Bretagne - Afrique du Sud / 4 February - 20 March 1920".

Notes: The two pilots on this medal were born in South Africa. General Sir Hesperus Andrias van Ryneveld KBE CB DSO MC (1891-1972) was the founding commander of the South African Air Force (SAAF). Air Vice Marshal Sir Christopher Joseph Quintin Brand KBE, DSO, MC, DFC, (1893-1968) was a South African born officer of the Royal Air Force.

In the First Word War both men served with distinction in The Royal Flying Corps and later in The Royal Air Force. In 1920 The Times newspaper offer a £10,000 prize for the first flight from London to Cape Town. General Jan Smuts authorized the purchase of a Vickers Vimy, G-UABA named 'Silver Queen' and van Ryneveld (commander) and Brand (co-pilot) formed the crew for the record-breaking flight.

They left Brooklands, England, on 4 February 1920 and, while they successfully reached Cape Town by air on 20 March, they were disqualified as winners of the prize because their original aircraft had crashed. Both van Ryneveld and Brand were knighted for their the record attempt.

The British version of this medal is Laidlaw 0349a.