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An unusual combination of medals


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I recently acquired the group of medals awarded to James Joseph Williamson, a motor mechanic who served in the Royal Air Force from 17/9/1942 to 23/3/1947 and the South African Air Force from 28/7/1948 to 27/7/1955.

In the RAF his foreign service was in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany from 13/6/1944 to 20/12/1946 for which he was awarded the 39/45 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal and War Medal (all unnamed).

In the SAAF his foreign service was in Korea from 1/4/1953 to 29/10/1953 for which he was awarded the SA Korea Medal, UN Korea Medal and Korean Korea Medal (only the last is unnamed).

SAAF men who were on active service in both World War II and the Korean War most commonly had the Africa, Italy and Atlantic Stars in their medal groups, not the France & Germany Star.

Regards

Brett

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Hi Leigh & Chris

Thanks for viewing and commenting on this topic.

Leigh, my interest in the SAAF is focussed on its role in the Korean War, but I have a medal-collector friend who recently switched his interest to WWII SAAF aircrew groups. As you know, South African military records can be copied and SAAF service is well covered in books and other publications, so the groups can produce a lot of relevant paperwork. To those collectors who enjoy research, it is a great theme.

Regards

Brett

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Morning Brett

You don't perhaps have a complete medal roll of the SA Korea Medal? The reason i'm asking is i need the total of awards made.

Literature I have differ between 797 and 820 awards. I can't get hold of a copy of Colin R. Owen's manuscript on this specific subject.

Will appreciate any information.

Excellent group.

Regards

Norman :rolleyes:

Edited by NPGilbert
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Leigh

There isn't a Fleury on the roll I use - perhaps another 'F'? If you have a picture of the tunic, I would be interested to see it.

Norman

The roll I use is the one published in the book by Winston Brent, "Flying Cheetahs" Korea 1950-1953, which was published in 2001 by Freeworld Publications. It is well illustrated and has lots of facts and figures. Amongst the statistics included are the following:

South African Korea Medal - 818

UN Korea Medal - 818

Korean Korea Medal - 818

US medals: Legion of Merit - 3; Silver Star - 2; Distinguished Flying Cross - 55; Cluster to DFC - 1; Soldier's Medal - 1; Bronze Star - 46; Air Medal - 180; Cluster to Air Medal - 104.

34 pilots and one ground crewman were killed in action or died in accidents, while one pilot died shortly after the war from the effects of ill-treatment while a PoW.

I hope this helps.

Regards

Brett

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Hi Brett

Thank you for the information. Ironically i got hold of the Colin R. Owen manuscript yesterday (all be it just to page through). It seems that Brent's book made use of the medal roll of Owen. It confirms the information you provided. One interesting point is that Owen states that 797 of the 818 were issued/awarded. It will be interesting to know why?

Have a great day.

Regards

Norman

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Leigh

There isn't a Fleury on the roll I use - perhaps another 'F'? If you have a picture of the tunic, I would be interested to see it........

Regards

Brett

The name should be "Fourie", I'll post photos but by starting a new thread so as not to get way off topic on this one,

thanks

Edited by leigh kitchen
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Leigh

There isn't a Fleury on the roll I use - perhaps another 'F'? If you have a picture of the tunic, I would be interested to see it.

Norman

The roll I use is the one published in the book by Winston Brent, "Flying Cheetahs" Korea 1950-1953, which was published in 2001 by Freeworld Publications. It is well illustrated and has lots of facts and figures. Amongst the statistics included are the following:

South African Korea Medal - 818

UN Korea Medal - 818

Korean Korea Medal - 818

US medals: Legion of Merit - 3; Silver Star - 2; Distinguished Flying Cross - 55; Cluster to DFC - 1; Soldier's Medal - 1; Bronze Star - 46; Air Medal - 180; Cluster to Air Medal - 104.

34 pilots and one ground crewman were killed in action or died in accidents, while one pilot died shortly after the war from the effects of ill-treatment while a PoW.

I hope this helps.

Regards

Brett

Here is a thread you may find interesting - the mini group was to a 'Blaauw'

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php?s=&showtop...st&p=288272

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Hi SAMedals

Thanks for pointing out the Blaauw miniature medals group. Amazing! I wonder where the full size medals are?

A friend recently visited the SAAF Museum in Pretoria and he sent me photos of some of the exhibits, including one that includes the miniature medals of S van Breda Theron, the first OC of 2 Squadron in Korea. I have tried to reduce the pic to 70k, which is all I am allowed to post, but that is too small for the subject matter. Like Blaauw's group, it is amazing - 22 medals in all!

I think I have reached the limit of SA Korea medals in my collection - they are just too expensive, especially ones to pilots. The Williamson group was given to me by a friend and I don't have any other friends as generous as that.

Regards

Brett

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Hi SAMedals

Thanks for pointing out the Blaauw miniature medals group. Amazing! I wonder where the full size medals are?

A friend recently visited the SAAF Museum in Pretoria and he sent me photos of some of the exhibits, including one that includes the miniature medals of S van Breda Theron, the first OC of 2 Squadron in Korea. I have tried to reduce the pic to 70k, which is all I am allowed to post, but that is too small for the subject matter. Like Blaauw's group, it is amazing - 22 medals in all!

I think I have reached the limit of SA Korea medals in my collection - they are just too expensive, especially ones to pilots. The Williamson group was given to me by a friend and I don't have any other friends as generous as that.

Regards

Brett

Hi Brett,

Thanks for the reply. Please PM me the pics from the museum if you can - I've attached a pic of a set o medals that I think belong to a brigadier who spent time in Korea (for the life of me I can't remember his name) perhaps you can help?

Regards, Gary

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Morning Gary and Brett

The group on the photo is very impressive and i had to go and dig a bit. Judging from the award range i am about 90% to 95% sure i have found the member who it belongs to. My guess is the following:

01214089PE Lt Gen Raymond Fullarton Armstrong.

He is the only candidate i could match as having been awarded both the Order of the Star of South Africa (1977) and the Star of South Africa Decoration (1975?). He served in the Mediteranian during WW2 as OC 2 Sqn in 1943. He also led 2 Sqn in Korea during 1951 and was awarded the American DFC, the Air Medal and the Korean Ulchi for his contribution in the Korean War. From 1974 he served as the Chief of Staff of the South African Defence Force until his retirement.

Gary maybe the name awakens the memory. If you guys have other candidates, lets share and compare.

Have a blast and regards. :rolleyes:

Norman

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For those interested the awards from top to bottom and left to right on the photo are the following:

(1) - Order of the Star of South Africa 1 st Class (neck chain with order)

(2) - Star of South Africa Decoration

(3) - Order of the Star of South Africa (same as 1 just mounted with the other medals)

(4) - Souther Cross medal (1952 issue)

(5) - South African Korea Medal

(6) - 1953 Elizabeth II Coronation Medal?

(7) - Union Medal

(8) - 1939-1945 Star

(9) - Africa Star

(10) -War medal

(11) -Africa Defence Medal

(12) -UN Korea Medal

(13) -American DFC

(14) -Air Medal

(15) -Korean Ulchi

(16) -Korea Medal

Hope I got them all right.

Regards

Norman :beer:

Edited by NPGilbert
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My guess is the following:

01214089PE Lt Gen Raymond Fullarton Armstrong.

Quite right. A few months ago someone sent me this very pic of Lt Gen Armstrong's medals.

Interestingly, Lt Gen Armstrong was succeeded as SADF Chief of Staff (Operations) by another Korean War veteran, Lt Gen Jack Dutton, who had been one of the 20 or so SA Army personnel who served in Korea, attached to the British Commonwealth Division.

At least six SADF generals of the 1970s were Korean War veterans - not bad, I suppose, for a contingent of only 800 or so.

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Hi Arthur

Do you have the names of the men attached to the Commonwealth Division and the names of the men who reached the rank of General?

My venture into Korean War research has turned out to be far more rewarding than anticipated. I wonder why I spent so much time on the military history of Victorian and Edwardian Natal?

Regards

Brett

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Hi Arthur

Do you have the names of the men attached to the Commonwealth Division and the names of the men who reached the rank of General?

Hi Brett

I don't have the names of the men attached to the Commonwealth Division, but the men who reached general rank were:

Lt Gen Raymond Armstrong SAAF -- Chief of Staff 1974-76

Lt Gen Pieter le Grange SAAF -- Chief of Staff Personnel 1974-77

Lt Gen Robert 'Bob' Rogers SAAF -- Chief of the Air Force 1975-79

Lt Gen John 'Jack' Dutton -- Chief of Staff Operations 1976-81

Lt Gen Antonie 'Mike' Muller SAAF -- Chief of the Air Force 1979-84

Lt Gen Denis Earp SAAF -- Chief of the Air Force 1984-88

Would the medal roll, e.g. Owen's, not identify the men attached to the Commonwealth Division? I've read somewhere that one of them received an MBE, and a couple were MiD and wore the British MiD emblem on the ribbon of the SA Korea Medal.

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Hi Arthur

Thank you the information on the Generals.

I don't have a copy of Owen's roll, but I will try and locate one. It should include the Commonwealth Division men. The roll I use is the one in Winston Brent's book on 2 Squadron, SAAF, so it is exclusively Air Force.

Regards

Brett

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Hi Brett,

I was in the National Library today, so I had a look at Owen's roll of the Korea Medal and unfortunately it doesn't indicate units. However, FWIW, I spotted three more names to add to the list of Korea veterans who reached general rank:

Maj Gen Christiaan Hartzenberg -- Adjutant-General 1959-68

Maj Gen Pieter Retief -- Director-General of Military Intelligence 1961-66

Maj Gen Toby Moll -- Chief of Defence Staff 1966-67

Going back to the photo of Lt Gen Armstrong's medals and insignia, there are two interesting things about it:

1 - the US Presidential Unit Citation awarded to 2 Squadron is missing

2 - in addition to the collar of the Order of the Star of SA, he had the SSA badge mounted on his medal bar, which is unorthodox. It was supposed to be worn on a neck ribbon. I'm guessing that he did this because he'd retired by the time the order was conferred on him, and it may have been simpler to wear the order this way with civilian clothes. He qualified for the order because he'd been awarded the original SSA decoration and was still in service on 1 July 1975, when it was replaced by the order, but the actual conferment didn't take place until 1977.

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Hi Arthur

Thanks for the additional information. I will ask the person who does research for me to try and track down the names of the men who served in the Commonwealth Division.

The matter of Armstrong and the PUC (then still called the DUC - Distinguished Unit Citation) is interesting. I have recorded that the DUC was awarded to the US 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing (which included 2 Squadron, SAAF) for service in the period 22/4/1951 to 8/7/1951. Armstrong was in Korea from 15/2/1951 to 11/8/1951, so he clearly qualifies and in Winston Brent's book he is credited with the DUC (as well as the US DFC and AM).

I have also recorded that a DUC citation specifically for 2 Squadron was for service from 28/11/1951 to 30/4/1952, i.e. after Armstrong had left Korea. Perhaps the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing DUC applied specifically to the American squadrons and 2 Squadron was acknowledged later? It would be worth checking photographs of other SAAF Korean veterans to see who wore the DUC ribbon and who didn't.

On the other hand, perhaps the simple answer is that Armstrong's DUC ribbon was not included in the photograph assemblage because it is a ribbon and not a medal. Not everyone would realise the significance of the DUC ribbon.

Regards

Brett

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  • 3 months later...

In an earlier post I wrote that I would add a photo of the miniature medals of the first OC of 2 Squadron, SAAF, in Korea.

Also, Arthur listed the 2 Squadron Korean War veterans who subsequently reached general rank in the South African military. To this can be added the name of another man who reached high rank. He was:

Air Vice Marshall John Howe

Howe left the SAAF after the Korean War, perhaps because of the 'Afrikanerisation' of the SA military, and joined the RAF in 1954. He has since retired and a few years ago he was living in Norwich, England.

Brett

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