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Thread: Helmet, Mk.II of South African 1st RNC (Named, researched)

  1. #1
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Default Helmet, Mk.II of South African 1st RNC (Named, researched)

    Interesting British Mk.II helmet named to "D.H. Pretorius" "1st RNC" "1st SAIB". That is, the 1st Royal Natal Carbineers of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade. The Royal Natal Carbineers were an all volunteer unit that fought essentially from the beginning to the end in North Africa, first fighting the Italians, then the Afrika Korps. The 1st SAIB was disbanded in January of 1943, the 1st RNC went back to South Africa for rest and refitting, then fought up through Italy to the end of the war. The 1st RNC fought some serious and significant battles.

    History:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natal_Carbineers

    North Africa:
    Sidi Rezegh: The 1st Royal Natal Carbineers played a small part in the disastrous battles in the vicinity of Sidi Rezegh in Libya during late November 1941, between the 19th and 23rd. These actions formed part of Operation Crusader, the British of November–December 1941, intended to relieve the first siege of Tobruk.
    Taieb el Essem: The Carbineers was a component of the 1st Brigade force that held a defensive box south of Sidi Rezegh. On 24–25 November 1941 this force repelled a heavy German armoured assault.
    Bir Sciafsciuf: This minor engagement in November 1941 pitted a small Carbineer component against an enemy convoy in the vicinity of Sidi Rezegh.
    Gazala: The Gazala Line, to the west of Tobruk, established in early 1942, was a series of connected strong-points intended to blunt a German thrust towards Egypt. Carbineers formed part of the garrison of this line from March to June 1942, when they were forced to retreat after a German breakthrough and the fall of Tobruk. The major highlight of the Gazala sojourn was the patrol on 5 June where Sergeant Quentin Smythe earned the Victoria Cross.
    Point 204: This little-known clash occurred in the Alem Hamza area of the Gazala Line on 5 June 1942. The single company involved suffered heavy casualties in a clash with Italian troops. Among the six killed was H.P. Masterton-Smith, the 1931 Comrades Marathon winner.
    El Alamein defence: Following the breaching of the Gazala Line and the fall of Tobruk, British and Commonwealth forces retired to El Alamein, not far from Alexandria. Here a comprehensive series of defences were prepared. In July 1942 the Carbineers played its part in denying the Germans the breakthrough here that they needed to attain victory in this theatre.
    Qattara: On 26–27 July 1942 a detachment of the Carbineers was involved in this subsidiary action in the Alamein defensive battles of July 1942.
    El Alamein: The Carbineers played a small but eventful part in the huge and decisive Second Battle of El Alamein in October–November 1942. The Carbineer participation was confined mainly to the initial phase launched on 23 October.


    The helmet would be correct for an early unit as the South Africans did not start manufacturing their own helmets until mid-1940, after the 1st RNC was mobilized.
    South African manufactured Mk.II, with Jagerand liner:
    http://www.k98kforum.com/showthread....rt-Camo-Helmet

    I'm attempting to get the personnel records for "D.H. Pretorius".
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    Last edited by Hambone; 09-23-2014 at 02:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Great helmet Hambone!


    I just love items with real research possibilities.


    P

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    "Ach du lieber!" Bigdibbs88's Avatar
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    Was this the one Ken N had listed? Nice helmet I almost went for it

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    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigdibbs88 View Post
    Was this the one Ken N had listed? Nice helmet I almost went for it
    Yep. The price was good I thought for that kind of history. I'm going through SA sources/archives and trying to get info and records. Hopefully something will turn up.

  5. #5
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Received copies of the service records of Pte. Daniel Hermanus Pretorius from the South African Defence Force Documentation Centre. Very interesting stuff! Daniel, "DH", volunteered for duty and went into service on May 30, 1940, at the age of 19, but it looks like the enlistment office "upgraded" him to 21. He was born in Johannesburg, 5'7", 140 lbs., 32" chest, brown hair, grey eyes, healthy. He was initially assigned to the 1st Transvaal Scottish, 1st SA Inf. Brigade and was attached to this unit from May 30, 1940 to April 26, 1941. He was then transferred to the 1st Batt. of the Royal Natal Carbineers (at which time he painted the unit in his Mk.II helmet), 1st SAIB, from April 27, 1941 to October 6, 1941 (looks like a transpose error in the records).

    Campaigns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Inf...(South_Africa)

    Young DH Pretorius was "Entitled to Honorable Discharge" on October 9, 1941, "Engagement Terminated, under age, no parents consent". He had served "1 year 133 Days". His campaigns were listed as "East Africa 27-9-40 - 15-6-41" and "North Africa 16-6-41 - 10-9-41". He was wounded once, "Bullet, right deltoid muscle, superficial" on October 14, 1940, and in a field hospital, treated, and discharged on October 22, 1940. He received the following awards: Africa Star; African Service Medal; 1939-1945 Star; The War Medal (1939-1945).

    It is interesting to note that this helmet was a "Desert War" helmet and was not over-painted in tan. It may have been covered in sacking or a net. Also, if you look at DH's hand writing, it matches the style on the helmet. Peter U can help on the translation of his records in Dutch. The reason his helmet survived in original condition is probably because he brought it home with him on his discharge, as a souvenir to show the girls back home perhaps.
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    Last edited by Hambone; 09-23-2014 at 12:02 PM.

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Hi Hambone,

    Image #8 is in "Afrikaans", a South African version of Dutch.
    It is his service record.
    - Pretorius Danial Hermanus, serial number 241953 of the 1 TVL Scottish; joined on 30 May 1940 and had the rank of soldier, he was never promoted.
    He was transferred to SLOD on 4 October 1941 (just prior to his discharge).
    Service outside of the Union (I think they mean a state of South Africa) from 27 September 1940 till 1 October 1941.
    Place, date and reason of discharge: SLOD 9 October 1941; service terminate because he is under age and has no parental approval.
    He has a good character and integrity.
    Medals: 1939/45 star, Africa Star, the war medal 1939/45, the African service medal.
    And finally he has a clean (criminal) record.

    Signed by an major of the administration.


    Cheers,
    Peter

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    According to his record, he was WIA in October 1940, shortly after his arrival at the front.
    At this time his unit was engaged in the East Africa campaign fighting against the Italian army in Ethiopia, this fighting was mainly in the African jungle and a green helmet would make perfect sense.

    The East African campaign is an almost entirely forgotten battle of WW2 and it is incredibly rare to find something of this campaign.


    P

  8. #8
    Senior Member BadAim's Avatar
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    Love this research project. Really very interesting and why I love this hobby!

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    A Wikipage about the campaign in East Africa:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Af...(World_War_II)

  10. #10
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Thanks Peter! It looks to me from the records that he went off for high adventure, got shot in the shoulder by the Italians in East Africa soon after hitting the front lines, and after a little action in North Africa, perhaps he figured this desert war thing wasn't the fun filled adventure he initially contemplated. South Africa's army was a volunteer force. Enlistment under the age of 21 required parental consent. DH's records show that was not included in his enlistment documents (over-eager recruiter perhaps?). Maybe his mother found out about the wounding, maybe some savvy mate of his told him that he could get a ticket home because he didn't have parental consent to enlist at his age (under 21) and he cashed that chip in to get home.

    As we discussed privately, it's noteworthy that when he was 21, in 1944, there was plenty war left for the South Africans in Italy, and that is where the 1st RNC, his last unit, was fighting. Many casualties in Italy and probably guys coming home maimed and such.

    His helmet exists in original condition, probably for the same reasons as this one:
    http://www.k98kforum.com/showthread....II-helmet-ID-d

    Wounded / sent home independent of his unit, took his Mk.II lid with him as a souvenir of his service. The helmet was essential kit that one would have at all times.
    Last edited by Hambone; 09-24-2014 at 11:48 AM.

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