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    I just acquired a BWM with the following unit abbreviation in the naming, ie., S.A. Vet. Regt.

    Although I feel fairly certain that the unit is the South African Veteran Regiment I am afraid I have not been able to uncover much more about the unit except: it seems to have been connected with the war in German SWA, and renamed the Protectorate Garrison Regiment in 1916.

    Apart from that, I have not been able to discover much about it. 

    If anyone has any additional information on this unit and its activities during the Great War, I would be most grateful to learn of it.

    For instance, I was hoping to obtain a bit more information such as:

    1.  the recipients were (obviously?) veterans... but veterans of what? ... the early phases of the Great War? .. (only?) the campaign in German SWA?... or veterans, in general?  Put another way: what was the (specific) criteria for membership in this unit?

    2. If they were veterans of the campaign in German SWA, (which seems like it might have been the case, based upon a couple of snippets I have uncovered thus far via Google), why were these veterans released from service? ... ie., why did they not carry-on in their original units for the balance of the Great War? ... were they wounded? (or otherwise disabled?)... did they not volunteer for "general service", (ie., outside of South Africa) and therefore could not be sent abroad?

    3.  Alternatively were they, somehow, connected to the Union Government's efforts to suppress the 1914 Rebellion?

    4.  How long was the unit in existence?

    5.  What did they do?... ie., what was their military role/function?  Did they serve as a sort of labour corps, or in an administrative function, or as a type of (military?) police constabulary?

    6.  Were they, in fact, limited in their service to a certain geographic area?

    7.  Were they mounted, mechanized, or on foot? ... or in offices?

    So many questions that simply knowing they were "veterans" do not answer.

    I have looked for an article which addresses these types of questions (and more) but whomever they are, and whatever they did, this unit does not seem to have left much of an historical footprint. I have consulted the Official History of the Union of South Africa in the Great War (NMP's reprint) but since it has no index, it was a bit hit-and-miss.

    So... any leads or additional information grateful received.



    In Our Dominion of the North


    PS: The following snippet goes a little way towards answers some of the above questions, but (regrettably) not too far.  Its from a Google Books online search.

    Lockhart - 1915 - SAVR - snippet intell.jpg

    Edited by Ceylon
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    • 1 month later...

    Hi Glen,

    I suspect that as of writing, you will have already gathered answers to your questions pertaining to the South African Veteran Regiment, if not, then below comments may be of some interest / usefulness.

    To be sure, I know very little about this unit, and know of even less on-line resources that will fill-in all the answers you seek.

    I have however, never seen a 1914-15 Star or Victory Medal named to this unit - only SA issue BWM's in silver, which indicate to me that the unit never served overseas from Africa, and if it ever did leave the borders of South Africa, it was not during any of the South African qualifying dates set for the campaign in GSWA or East Africa, and thus most likely never served under fire in any combat capacity during it's history.The above, may be borne out by the summary of Great War medals awarded to SA units that Chris put together in an earlier post, see below link; in which I can see no record of the SAVR under any of the lists for either 1914-15 Stars, or BWM/Victory medal pairs.


    In South Africa lots of single BWM's were issued for strictly home-service, with quite a number named up to small depot/staff commands  and units.

    The only mentions I can find to the unit are that they were deployed in 1915, to guard the POW Camp(s) set up to inter enemy troops captured in 1914-15.

    I suspect, the 'Veterans' were just generic former servicemen of a certain age, who had served in the Imperial Forces, or had prior service in any of the Permanent Force or Active Citizen Force units that combined formed the Union Defdence Force.

    Coincidentally, the British Army raised several Royal Garrison Regiments in 1901, that were formed from re-enlisited former time expired British Army / Royal Marines veterans - the age of these Veterans was considerably - very considerably - older, than that for the regualr line regiments of the British Army. The sole purpose of these units was to be deployed in non-combat areas, in home garrisons, and take over the duties of regualr line infantry regiments which latter could be deployed on active service (South African War). In the event the short-lived Royal Garrison Regiments, were shipped to numeorus overseas garrisons in 'The Med; - and POST WAR extensively in South Africa. Of the cuff, I think the last of the Royal Garrison Regiment battalions was wound-down circa 1906-1910. Basis the recent existence / experience of the Royal Garrison Regiment battalions in South Africa post 1902, I suspect the newly created Union Defence Force (1913) conjured up their own SAVR unit(s) along similar lines during the Great War.

    Good luck with the collecting.





    Edited by Aberdeen Medals
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