The medal was sanctioned on 8th November 1903 for Masters, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Officers, 1st, 2nd , 3rd Engineers, Pursers and Surgeons of merchant vessels employed in the Transport Service which took troops to the South African War 1899-1902 and to China 1900.
A total of 1219 Medals were issued for South Africa (475 Engineers) and 322 for China + 178 for both SA and China. 118 medals were returned to the mint unclaimed.
SS Laurentian Details:
Tonnage was 4 522 tons gross, 4 376 under deck and 2 838 net. The house on deck was 146 tons. She was constructed in iron, had 3 decks and water ballast. She had a straight stem, one funnel, three masts (rigged for sail). There was a single screw, and a 2 x 2 cylinder compound inverted engine. She had new engine and boilers in 1893 when she was refitted. The new engine was a triple expansion engine with 3 cylinders of 28, 46 and 76 inches diameter respectively and stroke 54 inches. The engine could deliver 424 nominal horsepower, which gave her a speed of 13 knots. The engine was built by Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd. in Belfast. This ship had a bad reputation, as she was said to “roll on wet grass” and was called “Rolling Poly”. There was accommodation for 120 1st-class passengers and 850 3rd-class (steerage) passengers. Call sign: LJSV. Official registration #: 67994.
Time Line – Voyage to SA
October 11. Transvaal Government issued formal declaration of war.
October 12. Boers invaded British territory in three columns through Botha’s Pass, Laing’s Nek and from Wahkerstroom. They also intercepted anarmoured train between Vryberg and Mafeking and killed fifteen British. October 15. Earl Minto sent cablegram:—’ Much pleasure in telling yon (Mr. Chamberlain) that my Government offers 1,000 infantry for South Africa.’ October 16. Imperial Goverment accepted Canada’s offer; Chamberlain expressing great pleasure of Her Majesty’s Government on receiving Canadian Government’s offer. Canadian Government issued militia order for 1,000 volunteers. October 21. New Zealand contingent sailed for South Africa.
October 28. Victoria, Australia, contingent sailed for South Africa.
October 30. Steamship Sardinian sailed from Quebec with the first contingent ofCanadian troops—fifty-seven officers and 1,224 men, amid great and general popular enthusiasm. (Arrived at Cape Town, November 29.)
November 1. South Australia contingent sailed.
November 2. Earl of Minto cabled that Government of Canada offer to send a second contingent. This offer was at first (November 7) declined with thanks. 1900. January 21. First quota of second contingent left Halifax in the ss. Laurentian. (Arriving February 17 at Cape Town.)