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General Botha's Bodyguard: Constable H.S. Venter

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At the outbreak of the First World War, the Union of South Africa agreed to occupy German South West Africa for the Imperial Authorities.

The task was to be undertaken under the personal command of General Louis Botha, then Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.

General Botha requested that his bodyguard be formed from members of the South African Police.

Initially, 50 mounted policemen were selected from the various police districts within South Africa.

Unfortunately, before the campaign against the Germans could be initiated, an internal rebellion had to be suppressed in 1914.

In this rebellion, many of Botha's former erstwhile comrades in arms from the Anglo-Boer War rose against him. Their number included General and Senior Officers from the then fledgling Union Defense Force.

The Bodyguard had seen heavy and bitter fighting at Winburg and Nooitgedacht where one of its members was killed in action.

After the Rebellion, the decision was made to increase the Bodyguard to approximately 100 members.

This force consisted of approximately 50% English and 50% Afrikaans (Dutch) speakers.

Police General Orders listed a total of 119 members who had been members of the Bodyguard during various periods.

Of the 119 members listed, 3 were officers.

No 4322 Constable H.S. Venter was seconded to the Bodyguard from 12 October 1914 until 31 December 1914 as a member of the South African Police.

Venter therefore took part in the internal "Rebellion" operations in South Africa.

From 13 January to 14 August 1915, he was seconded to the Union Defense Force for the duration of the German South West African Campaign.

Venter had been a constable in the Heidelberg District of the Transvaal, known as the 37th District, before joining the Bodyguard.

The Bodyguard embarked from Cape Town to Walvis Bay on 5 February 1915.

They were on the "Galway Castle".

The campaign was successfully concluded and the Force returned to South Africa.

For his World War One service, Constable Venter was awarded the 1914-15 star, the 1914-20 British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

The 1914-15 star was dispatched to him on 29 January 1921 and the other two campaign medals on 30 October 1922.

Venter continued his service with the South African Police and received other medals.

I am still continuing with my research on Venter as well as into this fascinating elite South African Police unit that served with distinction during World War One.

I also have the Anglo Boer War Medal to his father, Corporal E.A. Venter.

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Excellent Will! Thank you for posting.

Another really fantastic group from your collection, not just for the medals, but for the rich history that accompany them. Full compliments to you for endevouring to uncover all the information, and thereby preserving the full story.

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Another great addition to your collection. Congratulations.

I have a WWI trio and Police Good Service Medal (2nd type) named to Constable (later Lance Sergeant) J I P Bezuidenhout of the Commander in Chief's Bodyguard.



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In my file on Bezuidenhout, I have added photocopied pages from:

The Nongqai - 1915, pages 103, 104. (Someone has borrowed my copy of this volume of 'The Nongqai', so I will get the full reference later.)

Gallantry Awards of the South African Police 1913-1994 by Terence King - Page 29 0n naming of police medals. Example of CinC's Bodyguard given.

Pages 241-244 Chapter on Bodyguard.

Military Medal Society of SA - Newsletter 287. Article on a Bodyguard's medal group.



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  • 2 weeks later...

.........Military Medal Society of SA - Newsletter 287. Article on a Bodyguard's medal group......

Hi Brett

Is the society still active? If so can you please provide me with contact details to subscribe etc. Much appreciated.



Edited by NPGilbert
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