The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 5 No 5 - June 1982


Notes, Questions and Replies


‘The Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society’ Vol 20 No 3 (172), Autumn 1981, p 167, provides the following information which should be of interest to a great many South African servicemen and ex-servicemen/servicewomen who served in Greece during World War II. It will also be of undoubted interest to many British and Commonwealth ex-servicemen/servicewomen now resident in South Africa:

In December 1978 the Greek Government, by Presidential Decree, extended the award of the Greek War Medal 1940-1941 and the War Star 1941-1945 to Allied servicemen and servicewomen who served in Greece during World War II. The Greek Consulate-General in Sydney stated that the period of service qualifying for the Greek War Medal was from the date of the Italian invasion of Greece (28 October 1940) until the end of the evacuation from Crete (31 May 1941). Eligibility for the War Star was not clarified. However, it is understood that qualifying service for the Italy Star (11 June 1943 - 8 May 1945), when awarded for service in Greek territory, also qualified for the War Star. Eligibility for the Greek War Medal and War Star does not overlap, however. Thus, service up to 31 May 1941 is eligible only for the War Medal.

The number of South African recipients of the War Medal will obviously be very few. No specifically South African units were involved in Greece during the period 1940-1941. Only those South Africans either seconded to British or Commonwealth units, or serving as permanent members of these units, could be eligible. (Such secondments were, incidentally, very few during this period). However, there are far greater numbers of South Africans eligible for the War Star; as South African units were extensively involved in the Italian theatre of operations between 1943 and 1945, during which service in Greece and the Aegean frequently overlapped.

Application for these awards, accompanied by certified proof of qualifying service, is to be made direct to the Greek Ministry of National Defence, Athens. Applications are also welcomed from next-of-kin.

The first medal presentation (together with an honour scroll) was made in Sydney by the Greek Consul-General in early April 1981. Many ex-servicemen/servicewomen wore them in the Anzac day march. An official of the Consulate-General stated that there was a great backlog of applications, with an average of a year’s delay.

Both the Medal and Star are described in H., Taprell Dorling. ‘Ribbons and Medals.’ London, B.A. Seaby, 4th rev ed, 1974, p 286.

Dr Conrad Wood, Head of the Sound Records Department of the Imperial War Museum, London, has informed the Editorial Committee of the holdings of his department. Space does not permit a complete list of items available to be printed in this section of the Journal, but it is hoped that the following selection of titles will make readers aware of the facilities available: (a) Air Power, 1914-1939 (b) Western Front: Daily Life and Military Operations, 1914-1918 (c) The Anti-War Movements, 1914-1918, 1935-1947 (d) The British Army in India and Africa, 1919-1939 (e) Artists in an Age of Conflict (Artists who have been involved in reporting the wars of the 20th century) (f) British Prisoners-of-War in Europe and the Far East, 1939-1945 (g) Royal Navy: Lower Deck, 1910-1922 (h) Civilians and Non-Combatant Service in World War I (Medicine and Welfare, Industry and Agriculture) (i) The Great War 1914-1918 (BBC Television) (j) Women at War 1914-1918 (BBC Television) (k) The World at War 1939-1945 (Thames Television) (I) Interviews with and readings by British War Poets (in) Speeches by Nazi leaders (n) Recordings of the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1945-1946 (o) Lectures on Recent Defence Policy and Related Matters, 1974-1981. These lectures were delivered by academics, politicians, service personnel and other specialists at RUSI (Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies). Requests for details, relating to such matters as loan, purchase, availability of transcripts, etc , should be addressed to: Dr C. Wood, Dept of Sound Records Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SEL 6112, England.


First photo

9th Division Christmas Card, 1917-1918

Professor A.M. Davey, Associate Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, has provided the Journal with the following interesting item:
By 23 October 1917, 9th Division of 5th British Army had been withdrawn from the Ypres salient for a period of rest on the Belgian coast near Nieuport. The Division, which included 1st South African Infantry Brigade, was back in the front line early in December.
Maj Gen H.T. Lukin, the Division’s Commander, arranged that one of his men should design a divisional Christmas and New Year card. The artist was Sapper Arthur Porter of 63 Field Company, Royal Engineers. In peace time he had been a commercial artist who had worked for Sanderson, a well-known London firm of producers of floral materials. It appears likely that the card was designed and produced whilst the Division was in billets on the Belgian coast.

Mr K. Moeller of Swakopmund, Namibia/South West Africa, has queried the facts recorded in the article dealing with Willy Trück (Monick, S. ‘The Third Man: Willy Trück and the German Air Effort in South West Africa in World War I.’ Military HistoryJournal, Vol 5 No 3, June 1981, pp 114-115). He states that he has had many conversations with Mr Trück, and he (Mr Trück) has never made any reference to the events referred to in the article. Mr Moeller has also sent us an invaluable document relating to the German air effort in South West Africa in World War I. This document is an appendix, written in German, to the periodical, ‘Nachrichten’, Vol 11 Nos 3/4, 1979. A copy of this appendix was provided by the Gesellschaft fur Wissenschaftliche Entwicklung (Society for Scientific Development), Swakopmund. The appendix is entitled, ‘Uber Die Anfange Des Flugwesens in Sudwestafrika’ (About the Beginning of the Air Service in South West Africa). This appendix states that Mr Trück was originally sent to South West Africa to test air conditions, and to investigate the development of the postal service and the diamond trade. However, the document states that nothing further is known of Mr Trück after both he and his aircraft were commandeered by the military authorities after the outbreak of war. A further interesting point made in the appendix is the mention of a fourth pilot operating in South West Africa. This was Bruno Buchner. However, his main activities in South West Africa were in the period preceding the outbreak of war. Büchner is noteworthy in so far as he flew the first air mail service in South West Africa (to Usakos) on 17 May 1914. However, the document states that there is not further information concerning Büchner after 3 July 1914,


3. Editors’ Reply to Note No 8 (Willy Trück): The writer of the article, Dr S. Monick, at no point categorically states that Mr Trück was involved in any of the bombing operations described as related in Cpl Scott King’s diary (p 115). The possibility of Mr Trück’s aircraft being involved is raised, but, in view of the paucity of information concerning the entire subject of German air operations in World War I in South West Africa, the writer does not commit himself further. Those facts which are stated without qualification are derived from the documented sources cited in the bibliography. Mr Moeller’s kind donation of the document referred to above is greatly appreciated, as it is an invaluable addition to a very little known subject. However, at no point does it contradict the facts provided in the article.

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