Tuesday, November 20, 2012

REGGIE WALKER - OLYMPIC LEGEND

Walker was 19 years, 128 days when he won, making him 
      the the youngest ever winner of the Olympic 100m.               

REGINALD EDGAR WALKER
(March 16, 1889 - November 5, 1951)

OLYMPIC 100m CHAMPION 
 LONDON 1908 (IVth OLYMPIAD)
100m WORLD RECORD HOLDER
WW1 WAR VETERAN (WOUNDED)






Reg Walker's 1908 solid gold Olympic medal as well as his
springbok blazer was reported stolen in the 1930's. 
His great grandson confirmed that many
 of his other medals & trophies were also stolen,
or given away by Walker during his life.
This named WW1 medal group of Walker is the only
prominent "Reg Walker" memorabilia I'm aware of.

 1914/15 Star (German South West Africa)
British War Medal & bilingual Victory Medal.
(Campaign in France)

 Naming on the 1914/15 Star
(7th Infantry - Kimberley Regiment)
Medal Index card for German South West Africa.


4th S.A.I. medals named Lance Corporal R.E. Walker
 Naming on the British War Medal &
bilingual (English/Dutch) Victory Medal.
(4th S.A.I. - South African Scottish)


Attestation paper for the campaign in France.
(February 1917)

Attestation paper for France

Reg Walker's service record confirms that he received
a gunshot wound to the head (Wounded-in-Action),
Rubber stamped on his Medal Index Card for the
1st South African Infantry Brigade in France  
Service Record for France.

 Original certificate for setting a new 100metres World's Record
(Tuesday, August 4th, 1908)
 On the left is an original photograph of Reg Walker
in his springbok running gear.
The pic of the stop watch was captured moments
after he set a new world's record.

On the 28th July the Independent Newspaper group 
published the following article in their Durban Saturday broadsheet. 
Wonderful research by Natal history buff Mark Levin.
"Heart & Soul
Walker was way ahead of the times" 

And the follow-up article by Tanya Waterworth
 Saturday, 4 August 2012.
This after Walker's great grandson, Greg Bouchet
read Levin's article and made contact with the Newspaper.
"Tragedy of Durban's Olympic hero" 

The following four scans are from the Independent articles.
Reg Walker wins the 100m gold medal at the 
1908 London Olympic Games.


 Walker always raced with the 
springbok emblem on his vest.




Walker is carried off the track after winning the 
gold medal at London 1908.

The 100m for men at the Olympic Games is considered as the 
blue riband event of all. Herewith the exclusive club of 25 winners up to 2012:
Usain Bolt (2), Justin Gatlin, Maurice Greene, Donovan Baily, Linford Christie,
Carl Lewis (2), Allan Wells, Hasely Crawford, Valery Borzov, Jim Hines, Bob Hayes,
Armin Hary, Bobby Morrow, Lindy Remigino, Harrison Dillard, Jesse Owens,
Eddie Tolan, Percy Williams, Harold Abrahams, Charles Paddock, Ralph Craig,
Reggie Walker, Archie Hahn (2), Frank Jarvis & Tom Burke.

A short biography, extracted from Mark Levin's research article as well
as information & background history supplied by Greg Bouchet (great grandson),
are in the process of being assembled and will be edited soon.

(To be published in this space)

NB: I would be very interested
in any Reggie Walker memorabilia.
Medals, certificates, pictures,
postcards, personal letters, etc. 
pixelrenoster@gmail.com 
 







Thursday, May 31, 2012

WILLIAM MASSON MM, DFM (GLIDER PILOT)



LIEUT. WILLIAM MASSON MM, DFM
The Gordon Highlanders & Army Air Corps
WW2 Glider Pilot Regiment

MILITARY MEDAL (For Bravery in the Field)
DISTINGUISHED FLYING MEDAL (For Courage)


Military Medal, Distinguished Flying Medal, 1939/45 Star, Africa Star,
France & Germany Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal & KGVI War Medal.

William Masson
1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders.

Two Decorations:
Military Medal & Distinguished Flying Medal.



MILITARY MEDAL
FOR BRAVERY IN THE FIELD

Naming on the MM
 2874921 PTE. W. MASSON. GORDONS.

William Masson was awarded the Military Medal for escaping twice in very daring fashion.
Herewith a copy of Military Intelligence's Secret Report after the interview with Masson.
See the complete transcript after the scan.

INTERVIEWED BY M.I.9  24th FEBRUARY 1941
ACCOUNT OF ESCAPE OF
 2818602 PTE. C. McIVOR. 1/GORDONS, 153 BDE. ,51 DIV
and
2874291 SGT. W. MASSON, 1/GORDONS, 51 (H.D.) DIV.

CAPTURED - 12.6.40                 ESCAPE - 20.6.40
    RECAPTURE - 20.6.40     FINAL ESCAPE - 12.7.40      
                            
1940, 12 June CAPTURE:
We were taken prisoners on 12 June with the remnants of our Battalion at  ST. VALERY-EN-CAUX. We were marched off, in a long column of P/W,   through OISEMENT to SOUES, where, we passed through the town, we escaped  by jumping through an open doorway.
Soon afterwards we were given civilian clothes and set off for the coast.
1940, 28 June RECAPTURE:
We were picked up a week later at night by a German patrol near MOINCOURT, between CAYEUX and AULT, where we had been looking for a boat.
Unfortunately, for us, a German sentry had been shot that evening and, as we were in civilian clothes, we were accused of having done this. On interrogation we revealed our identity and were taken, next day, to ROUEN.
1940, 4 July ROUEN:
While under guard, at ROUEN, we heard two explosions, which we were told were caused by saboteurs. Later we rejoined other P/W with whom we were marched through CAMBRAI and TOURNAY towards BRUSSELS.
1940, 12 July FINAL ESCAPE:
On 12 July, when approaching Brussels, we dodged out of the column and, when out of sight as we were still in civilian clothes, set off again.
1940, 17 July CYSOING
12 August  LINE OF DEMARCATION:
We then went through VICHY, THEIRS, LYONS, ST. ETTIENNE, LE PUY, MENDE, RODEZ, ALBI, TOULOUSE, FOIX,  ARLES, AXLEC-THERMES and BOURG MADAM to the Spanish frontier where we were arrested by French gendarmes and, after detention at ST, CYPRIAN we were taken to FORT ST JEAN in MARSEILLES.
We saved up money (it took some time) given us by the American Consul and bought railway tickets to BANYULS, we crossed the frontier, assisted  by three young gendarmes, over to COL DE BANYULS. We were arrested in Spain and spent eight weeks' detention in various prisons before release and repatriation.   
(Interviewed by MI9 on 24th February, 1941)  



DISTINGUISHED FLYING MEDAL
FOR COURAGE

Naming on the DFM
2874921 ACT W/O CL. II   W. MASSON. A.A.C.

Preparing the Glider.

This Warrant Officer was a pilot in a glider-borne attack at Syracuse on the night of 9th July, 1943. Under circumstances of great difficulty and considerable enemy opposition, he succeeded in landing his glider in enemy territory without damage to the infantry men he was carrying. His skill as a pilot and his courage were an example to all. Subsequently, he displayed outstanding leadership and gallantry in an attack on a pill-box and was largely responsible for its capture. (From: WW2TALK)
Masson is also listed at PEGASUSARCHIVE - Invasion of Sicily - Five DFM's to Glider Pilots.

William Mason was born on 15 November 1912.
He is from Woodside, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

Herewith a brief summary of his record of service.
Masson attested with the Gordon Highlanders on 17/11/1930. In 1941 he was decorated with the Military Medal for Bravery for his daring escape from German capture. He served with this unit until February 1942, both abroad (Gibraltar Garrison) and at home.
From there he was transferred to the Glider Pilot Regiment where he took active part in the Invasion of Sicily and was subsequently decorated with the DFM. He was promoted to Lieutenant and briefly held the rank of Temporary Captain towards the end of WW2. He was on strength with the Glider Pilot Regiment until December 1945.


The following is a letter confirming the transfer of
LT. MASSON, M.M.,D.F.M.
to the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers, The Parachute Regiment.
Also the promise of promotion to Honorary Captain the following year.
At this point he relocated to Tanganyika, East Africa.

Pte. Masson was physically very fit and a superb boxer, having won the Gordon's inter-company boxing champioships on numerous occasions. he fought as a BantamLight-weight.

The following is Masson's Asst. Instructor's Certificate.
dated 1933 - 1935

Herewith the inter-company boxing trophies which William Mason won
with the Gordon Highlanders during the 1930's.

1935
2nd Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders.
Inter-Company light Weight
Cpl. Masson

2nd Bn. The Gordon Highlanders. Inter-Coy Championship.
Winners 1931 "A" Coy - Bantam.
Pte. W. Masson.

Light-Weight Champion
Gibraltar Garrison
1934-35
Cpl. W. Masson


******************

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NORMAN LESTER RAE DSM - HMS B-11 & THE MESSUDIYEH


NORMAN LESTER RAE
WW1 DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL
HM SUBMARINE B.11
SINKING OF THE "MESSUDIYEH"
THE DARDANELLES, DECEMBER 13, 1914
(VC ACTION, LIEUT. NORMAN HOLBROOK)


Naming on the 1914/15 Star, WW1 British War & Victory Medals
232229 N.L. RAE. A.B. R.N.

Born in Basingstoke, Sussex, England on 19th August 1888.

RAE's full Service Record.
Entered the Royal Navy on 9 August 1906 as a 18 year old.
He had 12 years of continous service engagements until discharge.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL
Naming on the DSM:
232229 N.L. RAE, A.B., H.M. SUBMARINE. B.11.

"...FOR SERVICE IN THE DARDANELLES IN SUBMARINE B.11"
Confirmed in the LONDON GAZETTE 1 January 1915.

Extract from the LONDON GAZETTE.

A silver pocket watch awarded & engraved to RAE.
The front bears his "NLR" monogram with the following text on the back:
"SUNK BY B.11, "MESSUDIYEH", DARDANELLES DEC 13 1914"
I am not sure who exactly awarded this engraved watch to RAE.
Perhaps by VICKERS, who built B.11. Maybe Lt. Norman Holbrook VC
might have had these watches engraved to the crew of B.11.
The sinking of the MESSUDIYEH by B.11 was such a remarkable pioneering
feat that the Royal Navy might have decided to honour the crew beyond the
medal awards with this memento in honour of that special occasion.  

The crew of B.11:
Lt. Norman Douglas Holbrook VC (3rd left back) & Lt. Winn DSO with
Milsom, Davey, Harding, Douglas, McKenna, Perry, Mortimer,
Rae, Read, Buckle, Blake, Foote, Sowden & Lovelady.
(Pic: Epic Legends of First World War/Arch Whitehouse photographed with Rae's DSM)

 It appears that Norman Holbrook VC & Norman Rae corresponded with
each other for years after the War.
The following letter, to Dear Rae, was written by Holbrook VC on Dec 12th, 1958.
(Exactly 44 years after preparation commenced for one of the first great
submarine exploits of modern warfare on 12 December 1914, inside B-11)
Holbrook, then age 70, wrote from his home at Stedham Mill, Midhurst:

"Dear Rae. Thank you so much for your letter. I was so interested to hear all your news ... hear that you were still going strong. You are the only one of my crew who write to me. I saw Davey during the war, then a Lieut: R.N. So he has got on fairly well but he never writes. Well I am still going strong doing a certain amount of work on the farm.......".
He goes on talking about the farming and cattle breeding that he does, and also his travels and the cold weather. He then mentiones his planned trip to South Africa.
"..So we are going to S. Africa this winter for 3 months.........I am taking a car with me and we may come to Jo'burg. If so I will let you know in good time and we will meet......
Well, hope you are well alive kicking & hope we can meet when I am in S.Africa.
All the best for a happy Xmas.
Yours Sincerely
Norman Holbrook.

HM SUBMARINE B-11.

 B-11 was the 1st British Warship to enter the Dardanelles in WW1.
The December 14th, 1914 sinking of the Turkish Warship MESSEDIYEH
  was a remarkable feat of extreme courage & guts.
Also referred to as a "brilliant coup".
Much have been written about this heroic feat.
The following text from of EPICS & LEGENDS of the FIRST WORLD WAR by
ARCH WHITEHOUSE describes the action well..

Western Turkey is seperated from the main portion of Asia Minor by the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and a narrow channel known as the Bosporus that connects the Marmara with the Black Sea. Istanbul, then called Constantinople, is situated at the southern end of the Bosporus. naval Intelligence had learned that somewhere inside and below the slimmest portion of the Dardanelles, an area known as the Narrows, were five lines of Turkish mines that prevented surface ships from moving into the Sea of Marmara. The Narrows are about twelve miles from the entrance to the strait, and the Turkish capital and its important shipping appeared to be fairly safe.
A few French Submarine commanders had enlivened their dull patrol work in the Aegen sea by penetrating the Dardanelles and running wild against the Turkish fleet. These exploits were noted by Lieutenant Commander Pownall who was in charge of the British submarine base, and he suggested that his boat commanders might play the same game.

Lieutenant Holbrook, who was keen to give it a try, pointed out,
"My boat, B-11, is the only one that could do it. I have a new battery, and if I restricted my speed to two knots, I might be able to run submerged for almost twenty-four hours."

Only by comparing distances, space and other features of the dardanelles against the performance of those early 1914 submarines, can one have any conception of what Lieutenant Holbrook was talking on. When submerged, the speed of these vessels was between five and six knots, but this could be maintained for only about two hours; by the end of that time they would have to surface and recharge the batteries by running the Diesel engines. To forestall this, Holbrook planned to move at his slowest speed and thereby have electric power for a full day's submerged sailing.
These submarines had no anti-mine gear, no metal blades that could sheer off mine-mooring cables or nets; on the contrary they bore all sorts of jagged projections that invited entanglement with mine-mooring ropes or cables. With this in mind, Holbrook rigged some temporary mine guards, and his B-11 was ready for one of the first great submarine exploits of modern warfare by Saturday, December 12, 1914.
At 4.15 the next morning she was on the surface three miles from the entrance to the Dardanelles. The Turks had mounted searchlights that swept the strait continously during the night, and in order to use his battery as economically as possible, Holbrook waited until dawn when these lights were extinguished. Then he moved on the surface as far as he dared. About a mile from Cape Helles on the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula he trimmed and began to dive. In these old subs the conning tower was not shut off from the main boat hull during submerged sailing, for the inner end of the periscope was located there, and the comander had to stand inside to observe and control his vessel when the hull was under water. While hazardous, this arrangement had one advantage, for the commander, without changing his position, had a view through the conning tower ports when the submarine was forced suddenly to surface, and this factor was an important feature in B-11's exploit.

Commander Holbrook moved along the northern shore, which was fairly straight, at a depth of between sixty and eighty feet. Any enemy mines would be moored between sixty and eighty feet where they would entangle surface craft, and if all suppositions were correct, if Holbrook's mine guards worked, there was a fair chance of his getting through.
B-11 had proceeded about a mile when tell-tale vibrations told the crew that thier mine guard had fouled in some manner. Coming to the surface , Holbrook discovered that the guard on the port forward hydroplane had twisted around, forming a hook that would collect mines rather than evade them. The young commander had to unbolt this mine trap quickly and proceed without it.

Progress was slow over the next four hours, but by 9.40 a.m. Holbrook decded that he was somewhere near the Narrows, and on making an observation through the periscope saw that he was right. Off his starboard beam was a large two-funnelled, grey ship, flying the Turkish ensign and bristling with naval guns.
Knowing that a good torpedo shot would be difficult in the strong current, Holbrook decided to move up as close as possible before attacking. He dippedhis periscope depth again and found he had been swept down by the current, so, closing in gradually, he moved to get into a position for a shot from his starboard torpedo tube.
The current held him fast and he had to increase his battery output to get his nose around to draw a bead on the Turkish man-of-war. Then, risking being seen, he gave his orders:
 "Stand by !...Fire !"

Holbrook watched the torpedo through his periscope as it churned a white streak and sped for irs mark. At that instant his boat was caught in a swirl and his periscope went under. The coxswain gradually brought her up again, but before the commander could get aother look there was the thud of a great explosion. Everyone aboard B-11 knew that their torpedo had scored. A cloud of black smoke enveloped the ship , and as Holbrook watched, the guns aboard the man-of-war, and others on shore, snarled in revenge. The water about B-11 was churned with the eruptions of the bursting shells; the Turks had spotted him at last.
Holbrook swung away and lowered his periscope after noting the enemy vessel settling by its stern. This was his first victory but it was immediately tempered with consternation. The man at the helm reported that he could not read the compass as the lens was fogged, but Holbrook was too busy to waste time on that problem. he took one last look around to choose a safe course of escape, but the land had few distinguishing features. The only definite mark was the Turkish Warship, now on fire as she wallowed. As it turned out, however, he had guessed correctly that he was in sary Siglar Bay, a gouge in the southern coastline just below the Narrows. But he had been swept in by the current much farther than he had intended, and the course he selected to take him clear was more westerly than he realized, and carried him into an area of shoals.
There was a sudden bump indicating that B-11 had struck bottom. Her commander knew that the first effect of striking bottom is for the nose to go up, and on that presumption he ordered full speed ahead, hoping to move into deeper water. There was some satisfactory scraping below and B-11 seemed to be moving into the clear, when she struck another bump and practically came to a standstill. On glancing through the conning tower ports, Holbrook saw that the submarine was well out of water.

Guns that were mounted in nearby forts lost no time in opening fire util columns of spray blotted out everything. Had a chunk of shrapnel from any of these shells even nicked the conning tower the crew would have been interned behind barbed wire. The batteries were still providing power and the screws twirling, as old B-11 slogged along on her belly, yard by yard; it was bump, scrape, waddle, flounder as she fought like a hooked pike for deeper water.
The destroyed Turkish man-of-war was later identified as MESSOUDIEH.
As Lieutenant Holbrook's B-11 bumped and bounced over the sand and shale, the Turks hammered away with much noise but little accuracy. At last the bumps and scraping ceased, she floundered into the clear and surged forward, diving as she went. Gradually the conning tower went under and she was fully submerged.
The crew breathed a thankful sigh, relieved to learn that the conning tower had not been hit.
"How's her head?" Holbrook called down to the men at the control platform.
"We can't see, sir. The compass is still blurred."
"Tell Lieutenant Winn to have a look."
Holbrook's first Lieutenant could not determine anything from the instrument, and the skipper decided that the shock of shells bursting on the water so close to them had shaken the compass box, but he said nothing and raised his persiscope again and searched the horizon for other Turks to conquer. He spotted a Turkish wreck, apparently standing on one end, and he figured that she was on his starboard beam, and if he kept B-11 so, he would be steering toward the northern shore. After about ten minutes of submerged sailing a break in the land appeared on the port side. This was the entrance to the Dardanelles showing up to the south-west, so, putting his helm over, Holbrook steered for it.
The passage out was made once more at eighty feet to avoid the minefield, but this time the current was in his favour. It was almost impossible to keep direction without a compass, but Holbrook held her as steady as he could, and by frequent surfacing to periscope depth he made his way to the entrance where he came to the surface. In the excitement the crew had not noticed that the aur was becoming foul in thier long submergence of nine hours. Their oxygen had been almost used up, as was disclosed when the Diesel would not run until the boat had been completely ventilated.
All Turkey was astonished by his feat. How could a British submarine bash its way through their minefield with four miles of shore batteries on each side, and torpedo a warship right under their noses and escape?

When Lieutenant Holbrook was honoured with the Victoria Cross for his submarine exploit, other young bloods soon begged for the same chance. by 1915 the submarine still had to prove itself. Submarine warfare was seen as a form of barbarism that could only result in the destruction of all those that take part.
These underwater boatmen were seen as young adventurers, a breed apart from other military forces; A daring minority group with a strange esoteric excitement of its own dtermined to prove that it was capable of exploits of which no one had dreamed.
(Text from Epic Legends of the First World War by Arch Whitehouse, p220 - p225)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MENDEL SCHNEIDER - WW2 JEWISH P.O.W. - DEVOTED MEDIC

PTE. MENDEL SCHNEIDER
SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL CORPS


Young Schneider enlisted at age 17.
At the time of his enlistment he changed his name
from Mendel to Manuel.
After the war he reverted back to his Jewish name Mendel.
 (See scans of his 1964 passport further down on the page)
Medal entitlement confirmed on his Medal Index Card.

1939/45 Star, Africa Star, KGVI War Medal &
silver Africa Service Medal.
All four medals are correctly named as below.
(Africa Service Medal)

He served with the 11th Field Ambulance.
South African Medical Corps.

Captured at Tobruk, 18 December 1941.
Held Prisoner-of-War until his official release in July, 1945.
Between May-July '45 Schneider was to assist the
U.S. Forces with the Liberation of other P.O.W.'s.

Mendel Schneider's original P.O.W. sheet-metal STALAG ID tag.
STALAG IV B 275013

The following scans are three certificates signed by various
Officers Commanding of the United States Army Liberation Forces.
MEDICAL DETACHMENT.
ARTILLERIE KASERNE
A.P.O. 339
24, MAY, 1945
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT PTE. MANUEL SCHNEIDER,
176436 OF THE S.A. MEDICAL CORPS. S.A.F. - U.D.F. WORKED AS A
MEDICAL ORDERLY. AT THIS INSTALLATION FROM 26. APRIL TO 24. MAY 1945.
HE CARED FOR BRITISH AND AMERICAN EX-PRISONERS.
His character is above reproach and he
performed his duties in a highly proficient
manner.    
Signed: Fank D. Bernard
CAPT. MED. CORPS
COMMANDING

Another of these certificates (see transcript below the scan)
RESTRICTED

HEADQUARTERS
23RD CHEMICAL SMOKE GENERATOR BATTALION
APO 230, U.S. ARMY
1 June 1945

CERTIFICATE

This is to certify that Private MANUEL SCHNEIDER, 176436, 11th
South African Field Ambulance Unit, S.A.MC., S.A.F. Union Defense
Force, a prisoner of war for approximately 3½  years, served voluntarily
with this organization aiding it in its mission of collecting and evac-
uating Recovered Allied Military Personnel at the RAMP Center, Artillery
Kaserne, Erfurt, Germany during the period 2 May, 1945 to 26 may, 1945.
He worked as an interpreter and medical orderly carrying out his duties
in an excellent and willing manner.

Signed: BRUCE C. PHENIX
Major, C.W.S.
Executive Officer

All three certificates are typed on thick cardboard paper.
The following scan is the last certificate dated 4 july 1945.
HQ DP 55
APO 339
ERFURT
4 July 1945

CERTIFICATE

This is to certify that Pvt. Manuel Schneider 176436, SAMC
UDF worked with this organization from 26 May 1945 to 4 July 1945, as
Medical Orderly and Interpreter. His ability in these two fields, led
me to request his services while he was attached to the 23rd hemical
Smoke Generator Battalion, U S Army. Due to the deplorable conditions
of many of the Casernes under my command, I was in dire need of such
valuable personnel to assist me in cleaning these conditions. Also
because these conditions could very easily have affected the health of
American troops stationed in the area, I immediately asked for this man.
During his service with my organisation his work was aggressive, untiring,
and diligent. His absence can be justified by the immediate situation 
that existed at that time.
Signed: JOHN B. COLLINGS
Major CAV
Commanding DP 55
PS. Needless to say the situation has now
been cleaned up due in large part to his work. 

Arriving back home in Durban
"Standing in the lifeboats and clinging from every vanatage point on the starboard side,
nearly 3,000 returning troops cheered lustily as the Carnarvon Castle neared the wharfside
in Durban on Monday. This was one of the most cheerful contingents of men ever to come into Durban."


After the War, in 1946, Schneider was awarded
the certificate for Good Service
"Your name has been brought
to my notice in connection with
your Service in the Armed Forces
of the Union of South Africa.
I am privleged to express
in this manner my appreciation of
your good war service and devotion
to duty whilst a Prisoner of War.
Signed: General P. Van Ryneveldt
Chief of the General Staff."

Schneider's South African Passport issued to him in 1964
indicates that he changed his name back to the Jewish form, MENDEL.