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South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.& P.O)

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South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.& P.O)

Postby Mass60 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:25 pm

I have WW1 medals from a great uncle, William Richmond ( born 1879) who was born and lived in Northumberland. I think he must have gone out to South Africa probably after 1907. He had links with railway and worked on railways prior to enlisting. His wife died in 1906 hence perhaps reason for enlisting. He was member of South African Field Telegraph and Post (Office ?) ( SAFT & PO ) for which we have a star medal 1914-15 and has also medals for S.A.C.S.C.R.E. 1914-18 A/Cpl and another L/Cpl 1914-19.
I should love to know
1. How he came to go out to South Africa in period 1907-14 from Northumberland- was recruitment common from areas such as the North East ?
2. Where he was in those years in South Africa..is there any way I can find information on his service record ?
3. Where was he in the period 1914-19. I assume he returned to fight in Europe, given he has these medals but must enlisted as a South African soldier

I know he travelled in Africa and Australia after this but returned in 1950s and died in the North East. I do not have a army service number as he was not registered as a soldier from UK. How can I find out further details of where he was in South Africa pre WW1 and service 1914-19 ?
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:43 pm

For general background - http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/south-african-forces-british-army/

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/3232-south-african-service-records/ - refers to obtaining service papers.

Also someone with a similar query - http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/SOUTH-AFRICA-CAPE-TOWN/2008-10/1223103670 - this thread highlights some reasons why some (apparently) South African records are at Kew.

There's every possibility that he served outside Europe - the Long, Long Trail article indicates where the major South African formations were and they're not all in Europe. I'm doubtful that the article covers all SA forces in WW1. The Star indicates that he was in a theatre of war but there were campaigns in Africa that I guess he might have been involved in.
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:53 pm

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that as soon as I hit the <enter> button, I'll think of something else that will be really useful.... In this case, Google South African Field Telegraph and Post and up comes this link - http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/961 where the PDF linked from there gives some serious detail on THE SOUTH AFRICAN FIELD POST AND TELEGRAPH CORPS (1914-1915). So SW Africa might be one possible answer for where he was????
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby brunes08 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:30 am

Have you tried looking for him on Passenger Lists for the journey to South Africa? Grandfather's oldest brother, a miner from Cornwall, went out to South Africa in 1905 to work in the mining industry, ending up in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). On the Passenger list it states his occupation. Perhaps people from Northumberland were also being encouraged out to the mining industry and other occupations as the African nations were opening up for development.
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby Mass60 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:49 pm

Never thought of checking passenger lists until you mentioned it ! Didn't find anything outward but in April 1921 I found a William Richmond, railway foreman , age 42 with permanent residence in Rhodesia, returning on a ship from Cape Town. The date of birth fits plus fact I know he worked on railways in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1920s and early 1930s. I am therefore thinking that his WW1 service medals must have indeed been for service in Africa and will try and follow that line of enquiry. Thank you so much for all the helpful advice.
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby MaureenE » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:38 am

For general background reading about the war in Africa during WW1, the FIBIS Fibiwiki includes a page East Africa (First World War)
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/East_Af ... _World_War)

This also includes links to some online books about the South-West Africa Campaign, the conquest and occupation of German South West Africa (Namibia) by forces from the Union of South Africa acting on behalf of the British Government at the beginning of the First World War.

Cheers
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby Mass60 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:52 pm

I have found someone with same name, age (33) and occupation (railwayman) as my relative recorded as sailing from Southampton to Buenos Aires, Argentina in August 1912 on the Avon. If this is indeed my relative, I wonder why he went to Argentina in the first instance, and whether it is likely someone would sail to Argentina in South America and then, in just under two years, sail to South Africa and gain the SAFT & PC star medal for war service 1914-15 there.
Is it possible he went to Argentina, perhaps recruited to work on their railways, in 1912 .....and if so, would South Africa be most likely place to sign up for war service when war broke out, rather than return to UK?
My grandmother knew her eldest brother had lived and travelled widely in Africa and also Australia but no mention ever of South America!
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby MaureenE » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:27 am

I'm not familiar with railway men, but some professionals such as engineers moved from country to country as jobs became available. If the man in Argentina is your man, perhaps he obtained a better job in South Africa and moved there before the war?

If he was still in Argentina at the outbreak of the war, Findmypast (pay website) has a database "British In Argentina 1914-1919". However, I cannot see a Richmond listed there (assuming the Search is working properly, which sometimes it isn't)
http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-w ... -1914-1919
This database is transcripts and images from the book Activities of the British Community in Argentina During the Great War 1914-1919, published in 1920.

Perhaps the fact that he does not appear in the above book is an indication he had left Argentina by the start of WW1.

Cheers
Maureen
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Re: South Africa Field Telegraph and Post Office (S.A.F.T.&

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:21 am

Certainly the railways in Argentina were very much controlled from the UK - as were the South African, so recruitment of professional skilled staff would have a substantial part in common. Based just on that idea (and *not* on direct evidence) I could imagine someone being recruited in the UK for a job on the Argentine railways (in the Signal & Telegraph???), seeing their next possible post in the same newspapers and then moving over to a South African railway.

All that is a theory, no more, based on where the railways were controlled from. Remember that at this time, Argentina was almost an unofficial part of the Empire. (Apparently several of the major Argentinian football clubs were set up by UK expats)

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