South African Railways and Harbours Brigade

Discussion in 'South African' started by Kieron Hill, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    After Paul sucessfully identified the cap badge of the soldier
    in the photo I have been trying to find information on this
    Regiment without much sucess. I am only clutching at straws
    but I am wondering if they would had envolvement in the
    Security of the Harbours and Railways throughout North Africa.
    The reason being that amongst these pictures there are photos
    of a gentleman in uniform of whom I am sure these pictures
    belonged to, he is seen with the men of the South African
    and Railways Brigade. I have scanned a picture of him but
    not sure if it will come out to well, he has white garter type
    things around his ankles and the badge under a x10 mag has
    the outline of a Military Police badge, there are also pictures
    taken from the roof of the Cario Provost Club, so this is why
    I am thinking they were involved in Security, but I cant be sure.
    Anyone got anything?
     

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  2. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    I finally found something, sounds like an interesting
    bunch, I have attached three photos of some of
    the guys all kitted up ready to go also a link to where
    I found the info



    The Patriot Files :: Dedicated to the preservation of military history

    The Railways and Harbour Brigade was disbanded in 1928 when its Medical Section and two armoured trains were absorbed into the Active Citizen Force. It was reestablished on 1 April 1940 with HQ in Johannesburg. It was organized with two infantry battalions, four armoured trains and an Operating Group in the Engineer Field. It formed No. 1 Railway Engineering Battalion on 10 September 1940 at Germiston, which was known as the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group. This Group consiste of 38th, 39th and 40th Railway Construction Companies and 41st Harbour Construction Company, all of which served in the Middle East. Similarly, a Mines Engineering Brigade was formed in the Rand with two battalions by December 1940. The North Rand Battalion had five companies and the South-East Rand Battalion had four companies. By 1942, it formed an Armoured Car Brigade.

    The Essential Services Protection Corps was formed on 24 October 1939 of men over 45 with Corps HQ established at Pretoria on 29 October 1939. Companies were initially established at Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London. This corps guarded all bridges and worked in close cooperation with the Railways and Harbour Brigade. A Seaward Defence Force was established in November 1940 and was later renamed the Coast Defence Corps. It absorbed the National Volunteer Brigade battalions on the coast in 1941 and by 1942 it had fifteen battalions. It further expanded in 1943 to include Armoured Car Commandos.

    Native military units were also established during the war. The Cape Corps was reformed on 8 May 1940 and recruitedColoured volunteers to train at Kimberley. By 20 May 1940, the Corps had a Pioneer Battalion and five motor transport companies. The Corps expanded rapidly during the war to include Motorized Infantry Battalions, POW Guard Battalions, POW Escort Battalions as well as Infantry Battalions. Corps units served in East Africa and the Middle East.The Native Labour Corps was formed on 1 June 1940. It was later called the Native Military Guards Brigade and still later the Native Military Corps. It had ten battalions at peak that did guard duty equipped with assegais (spears). The Indian Services Corps was established on 26 June 1940. It also changed names to the Indian and Moslem Corps on 11 September and the Indian and Malay Corps on 6 November 1940. The role of this corps was motor transport and pioneer. It was amalgamated with the Cape Corps on 13 October 1942.

    At the start of the war, South African had no armoured units. Some of the Active Citizen Force units, such as the Imperial Light Horse, had cavalry titles but all were infantry battalions. Only the Defence Rifle Associations maintained mounted units. As mentioned above, a Mounted Commando Division was formed during the war but this eventually was converted to armoured units. Many armoured car, tank and motorcycle companies were formed during the first half of 1940. These were eventually formed into units of the South African Tank Corps. The South African Tank Corps (SATC) had its beginnings in the formation of 1st Armoured Car Company, which was raised from the Permanent Force on 31 January 1940. The personnel of this company went on to form 1st Light Tank Company in May 1940 and moved to Kenya on 1 June 1940 equipped with 12 Mk III Light Tanks. As additional companies were formed or about to be formed, it was necessary to establish an organization for these units. The 1st Battalion, The South African Tank Corps was established at Robert's Heights on 23 May 1940 as a holding unit for the 1st Light Tank Company, 1st and 2nd Armoured Car Companies and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Motorcycle Companies. The 1st Battalion was reorganized on 15 July 1940 into Nos. 1 and 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicle Battalions, but both battalion were later disestablished since many units had transferred to East Africa. The following units of the SATC were formed during 1940:

    1st Light Tank Company - Raised May 1940 from original 1st Armoured Car Company.
    1st Armoured Car Company - Reconstituted in May 1940.
    2nd Armoured Car Company - Raised in April 1940 from the South African Police.
    3rd Armoured Car Company - Raised in May 1940 from volunteers.
    4th Armoured Car Company - Raised in June 1940 from volunteers.
    5th Armoured Car Company - Raised in June 1940 from volunteers.
    11th Armoured Car Company - Raised on 1 September 1940 from Regiment Suid-Westelike Distrikte.
    12th Armoured Car Company - Raised on 1 September 1940 from Regiment Westelike Provinsie.
    13th Armoured Car Company - Raised 3 October 1940 from 2nd Imperial Light Horse.
    14th Armoured Car Company - Raised 3 October 1940 from 2nd Royal Natal Carabineers.
    21st Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
    22nd Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
    23rd Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
    24th Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
    31st Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Special Service Battalion.
    34th Armoured Car Company - Raised January 1941 from the Cape Town Highlanders.
    1st Motorcycle Company - Raised May 1940 from the South African Police.
    2nd Motorcycle Company - Raised May 1940.
    3rd Motorcycle Company - Raised May 1940.
    A number of the companies served in East Africa (1st Light Tank Company; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 13th, 14th Armoured Car Companies; and 1st, 2nd Motorcycle Companies). By 1941, all companies were absorbed into battalions of the South African Tank Corps. The South African Tank Corps was to be short-lived and was absorbed into the South African Armoured Corps in 1943.
     

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  3. puzzlemaker

    puzzlemaker Junior Member

    After Paul sucessfully identified the cap badge of the soldier
    in the photo I have been trying to find information on this
    Regiment without much sucess. I am only clutching at straws
    but I am wondering if they would had envolvement in the
    Security of the Harbours and Railways throughout North Africa.
    The reason being that amongst these pictures there are photos
    of a gentleman in uniform of whom I am sure these pictures
    belonged to, he is seen with the men of the South African
    and Railways Brigade. I have scanned a picture of him but
    not sure if it will come out to well, he has white garter type
    things around his ankles and the badge under a x10 mag has
    the outline of a Military Police badge, there are also pictures
    taken from the roof of the Cario Provost Club, so this is why
    I am thinking they were involved in Security, but I cant be sure.
    Anyone got anything?
    My father served in the SAR&H Brigade in North Africa and was for a time attached to the DLI (I think). His main task in North Africa was driving ammunition trains in the ammunition dump outside Cairo (?) The locomotives used were elctric diesels - I might be able to find a pic or two. His name was Brown, J W G R 215030
     
  4. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    Thats great puzzelmaker and welcome to the forum
    I would love to see the photos
     
  5. wartopia

    wartopia Junior Member

    My wife's grandfather was also part of the SAR& H brigade, until he was transferred to the 7th Armd Recce Bn. He was eventually captured at Tobruk when it fell, and was captured and sent to POW camps in Italy then Germany.

    The South African Military Archives contains some information concerning the unit as well as War diaries of all the Armored Reconnaissance Battalions.

    Kind Regards

    Wartopia
     
  6. VEClarke

    VEClarke Junior Member

    My father was in the 41st Harbour Construction Coy. He was in Egypt and then up the east coast of Italy, Ancona, Bari, Foggia. I have a letter from him to his mother and part of the address was U.D.F.C.M.F. Does anyone know what that stands for? I have a photo of him with two other men and it looks like the three of them together were call the "The Three Musketeers".
     
  7. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The section from the Patriot Files was 'borrowed' from my original Order of Battle website.

    Here are some more details on the units that were connected to the South African Railways and Harbours Brigade. This information is from the two volume history of the South African Engineer Corps.


    Railways and Harbours Units

    1st Dock Operating Company

    The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Docks Companies were part of the Railways and Harbours Brigade. The company arrived in East Africa on 11 September 1941. It moved to Diego Suarez from Berbera on 27 August 1942 and then moved to Majunga on 5 September 1942. It left Tamative on 5 November 1942 for Diego Suarez and then went to Durban.

    2nd Docks Operating Company

    The company moved to the Middle East in August 1941 at Suez, Port Tewfik, Alexandria and other docks. It moved to Italy at Bari on 17 July 1944.

    3rd Docks Operating Company

    The company moved to the Middle East in early September 1942 at Suez, Port Tewfik, Alexandria and other docks. It moved to Italy at Brindisa on 7 August 1944.

    1st Composite Railway Operating Company

    The company served in the Middle East from June 1941, arriving at Geneifa. It was part of the Railway and Harbour Brigade.

    38th Railway Construction Company

    On 10 September 1940, No. 1 Railway Engineer Battalion was raised with headquarters at Germiston. It consisted of 38th, 39th and 40th Railway Construction Companies and 41st Harbour Construction Company. It was also known as the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group. This company was mobilized on 27 September and moved to the E.T.C. on 8 October 1940. It moved to East Africa on 25 February 1941. It moved to Egypt in October 1941 as part of the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group that had opened at Suez on 21 August 1941. It served in the Middle East. It left North Syria in March 1943 and on 3 November 1943 it landed in Taranto, Italy.

    39th Railway Construction Company

    On 10 September 1940, No. 1 Raiway Engineer Battalion was raised with headquarters at Germiston. It consisted of 38th, 39th and 40th Railway Construction Companies and 41st Harbour Construction Company. It was also known as the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group. This company was mobilized on 13 November 1940. It arrived in East Africa between 10 January and 12 March 1941. It arrived in the Middle East on 21 August 1941 as part of the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group. It served in the campaign up to Tunisia. It moved to Amirya on 13 November 1943 and sailed 18 November 1943 for Italy. It arrived on 8 December 1943.

    40th Railway Construction Company

    On 10 September 1940, No. 1 Raiway Engineer Battalion was raised with headquarters at Germiston. It consisted of 38th, 39th and 40th Railway Construction Companies and 41st Harbour Construction Company. It was also known as the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group. The company moved to the Middle East in July 1941. It served in the Middle East under the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group through Tunisia. It arrived at Taranto, Italy on 27 November 1943.

    41st Harbour Construction Company

    On 10 September 1940, No. 1 Raiway Engineer Battalion was raised with headquarters at Germiston. It consisted of 38th, 39th and 40th Railway Construction Companies and 41st Harbour Construction Company. It was also known as the Railway Construction and Maintenance Group. This company was mobilized on 25 November 1940. It arrived in East Africa between 5 February and 4 March 1941. It arrived at Suez on 29 September 1941. It served in the North African campaign right through to the capture of Tunis. After that it was located at Sousse, before moving to Tripoli. It arrived at Bari, Italy on 4 December 1943. The company served in Italy later as part of 3rd Port Construction and Repair Group RE.
     
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  8. VEClarke

    VEClarke Junior Member

    Thank you Dryan67 for that information.
     
  9. Christa

    Christa Member

    Kieron,
    I have discovered about 70 photographs of my grandfather, Henry Strydom, born 2/11/1901 in Johannesburg, South Africa, who served during 1941-1943 and was stationed in and around the Med. Sadly not all photographs have been captioned at the back so the significance of them are somewhat lost on us since his passing, but there are truly remarkable photographs which, should you be interested, I will gladly share but I have no idea which forums portals or headings they belong to. Some captions do include Sollum Pass, Sollum Bay (1943) as well as other photographs taken in and around Egypt (1943), Lybia (1942) and Port Suez (1941) and your name seems to pop up everytime I look at those headings. The whereabouts of the landmarks in the pictures and the uniforms, insignia on the Stukas, Mathildas and Battleships may be of much interest and significance to you. Could I post them to your profile and you decide where to distribute them?
    I attach some of them for you to decide or I can scan and email them to you
    Regards
    Christa
    sterling@sterlingauto.co.za
     

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  10. dryan67 - Do you have the link to the original article in your OOB website? I would like to use this in an article which refers to the SAR&H Brigade in the Nongqai magazine if possible.

    Kind Regards

    Frans


     
  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Frans:

    The Patriot Files quote at the top of this thread was exactly what I had on my website. I was kind when I said "borrowed". They copied my entire website, which no longer exists.

    The summary histories I added above, I wrote, from the SAEC history.

    You are welcome to all of it.

    I remember looking at old copies of Nongqai magazine at the New York Public Library back in the 1980s. They had some nice summary histories of some South African infantry units from WWII.

    David A. Ryan
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
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  12. NAOMIKEYTER

    NAOMIKEYTER New Member

    Please please, help me i want to know more about SAR & H my grandpa was with them in WW2 i have all his documentation and al i need is a bit of info about this brigade, what did it do, why were they on train? i have seen pics of them in tripoli and other north africa places in his travel, please inform me its not my genre
     
  13. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Naomikeyter,

    Most of the authors on the thread have long been absent form the forum, the exception being David Ryan. You could try using a Private Conversation with them, assuming they are alive and the email given is still valid.

    There are a few South Africans who frequent here, so you could be lucky.

    There are two other threads that refers to sub-units: 3rd Reconnaissance Bn. South African Tank Corps and 7th South African Recce

    Do you know which unit your grandfather served with in the brigade? That could narrow down your search. Wikipedia can help in pointing to other sources; I have not looked myself.

    Try this RSA website it might help: South African Military History Society - Journal page
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
  14. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Might be a good idea to nail down which Tripoli. There's more than one and elements of the SARH Brigade could be found at work in at least two of them.

    This refers to the lesser known of the two:
    In cooperation with Australian railwaymen, the South Africans built a new railway in Palestine. The line connected Haifa and Tripoli, covering a distance of 150miles. Construction was difficult, for it involved two tunnels and a sea-wall, built in places in water more than eight feet deep. The line was completed in just over six months.
     
  15. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    She came.
    She pleaded.
    She left.

    The SARaH Brigade was based in South Africa throughout the war. Elements of the Brigade, and troops over and above their needs at home, served in East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, the Middle East and Italy. But troops who did that will not be found by working out where the SARaH Brigade was or what it was doing - as it remained at home.

    To follow the story of an originally badged SARaH Brigade soldier who served outside South Africa, you need to know what he was doing and whom his overseas parent unit was.

    You say you have all his documentation Naomi, what does that say?
     

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