The very good South African Forces Great War German March Offensive 28th March 1918 retreat from Dernancourt Lewis Gunner’s Military Medal group awarded to Private A.B. Sjoberg, 2nd South African Infantry - Natal and Orange Free State Regiment, later a serving member of the Citizen Forces during the Second World War. An Australian by birth from Sydney, who was later living and working in South Africa as a grocer at Clifton, East London, he was present on the Western Front from April 1916 and was three times wounded in action. The first time during the Battle of the Somme, receiving a gun shot wound to the back on 12th October 1916, he was back at the front from March 1917 with ‘B’ Company. The second time he was wounded was during the Third Battle of Ypres when he received a gun shot wound to the right shoulder on 20th September 1917. It was for his conspicuous gallantry in the face of heavy shell and machine gun fire during the German March Offensive on 27th March 1918 whilst in action at Dernancourt and covering the retreat of the 2nd South African Infantry that he won the Military Medal when serving as a Lewis Gunner. At a critical time, by his coolness and determination the small force covering the retirement were enabled to hold on to their position until finally relieved some hours later. Sjoberg was wounded in action for a third time on 30th April 1918. During the Second World War he attended annual training from 1941 to 1945 as a member of the South African Citizen Force, serving from May 1941 with the 55th Company, South African Engineer Corps, and from January 1943 with the 21st (M.E.B. North East Rand Armoured Car Commando in a maintenance role.
Group of 5: Military Medal, GVR bust; (373 PTE A.B. SJOBERG. 2/S.A.INF:); British War Medal and South African issue bi-lingual Victory Medal; (PTE. A.B. SJOBERG. 2ND. S.A.I.); Africa Service Medal 1939-1945, named in officially impressed South African style; (ACF153727 A.B. SJOBERG); France: Somme Combatant Veterans Association Medal.
Condition: Good Very Fine.
Together with the following:
A superb period Great War photograph showing Sjoberg, seated and wearing the ribbon of the Military Medal, with cap badge of the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force. Three other soldiers are standing behind him. Printed as a photo card. The photograph now creased and damaged in parts.
Letter notifying the recipient of the award of the Africa Service Medal 1939-1945, as published in Battalion Orders No.5/45 on 30th May 1945, to Sapper (No.153727) A.B. Sjoerg (M.M.), issued through the Commando Headquarters of 21 (MEB) N E Rand Armoured Car Commando. Together with the forwarding letter for the same, this addressed to Mr. A.. Sjoberg, 7 (A) - 7th Ave. Geduld Township, Springs, this post-dated 1960.
Recipient’s group of miniature medals for the first three awards, mounted as worn.
Great War period South African Overseas Expeditionary Force cap badge. Complete with slider.
Great War period South African Infantry bi-lingual brass shoulder title. Complete with slider.
Great War period 2nd South African Infantry - Natal and Orange Free State Regiment other ranks brass collar badge. Complete with slider.
Albert Bernard Sjoberg was born in Sydney, Australia, however his mother, Mary Alice Sjoberg went on to live in South Africa at Clifton, East London, where her son was working as a grocer, when with the outbreak of the Great War he attested for service with the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force at Potchefstroom on 17th August 1915. He was then 18 years old.
Joining as a Private (No.373) the 2nd South African Infantry - Natal and Orange Free State Regiment, he was initially posted to ‘D’ Company. Having sailed from South Africa for England on 4th October 1915 arriving there on the 21st October, but then sailed for Egypt on 30th December 1915, and disembarked at Alexandria on 13th January 1916, before embarking for Mersa Matruh on 20th January 1916, and seeing service with the 1st South African Infantry Brigade during the operations against the Turkish backed Senussi tribesmen in the campaign in the western desert of Egypt from January to March 1916.
The campaign over, Sjoberg returned to Alexandria from Sollum on 6th April 1916. Sjoberg then embarked aboard the troop ship Megantic at Alexandria on 12th April 1916, and having crossed the Mediterranean, disembarked at Marseilles on 20th April 1916 bound for the Western Front and active service with the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force.
Sjoberg found himself involved in the Battle of the Somme, where his regiment captured the village of Longueval and was deployed in the adjacent on 15th July 1916. Sjoberg was slightly wounded in action with a gun shot wound to the back on 12th October 1916, and admitted to the 1st/3rd Northumbrian Field Ambulance, before being moved to the 26th General Hospital at Staples on 14th October 1916, and then evacuated to England aboard the hospital ship Asturias on the same day. He was admitted to hospital at Tooting on 19th October 1916 but soon recovered.
Sjoberg returned to the Western Front and disembarked at Rouen on 17th February 1917, and then rejoined his regiment on 26th March 1917, being posted to ‘B’ Company. It was during the Third Battle of Ypres that Sjoberg was wounded in action for a second time on 20th September 1917, receiving a gun shot wound to the right shoulder, and being admitted to the 32nd Casualty Clearing Station. Transferred to the 22nd General Hospital at Etaples on 21st September, he recovered from his wounds in France, and was posted to the base details at Rouen on 28th September 1917.
Sjoberg was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field, the award being mentioned in the 1st South African Infantry Brigade Orders No.310 on 26th April 1918, and published in the London Gazette for 27th June 1918, the award being won during the German March Offensive on 27th March 1918 whilst in action at Dernancourt.
The recommendation reads as follows: ‘On 28th March 1918 at Dernancourt during a critical time in the retirement of our part of our troops, this man acted with conspicuous gallantry in the face of heavy shell and machine gun fire, and showed great resource and initiative in handling his Lewis Gun. By his fine example of coolness and determination the small force covering the retirement were enabled to hold on to their position until finally relieved some hours later.’
Sjoberg had in the meantime been wounded in action for a third time on 30th April 1918, though in what manner is unclear. It was presumably very slight and he appears to have remained with his regiment. Having then sprained his ankle he was admitted to the 42nd Stationary Hospital at Camiers on 17th July 1918, and rejoined the base details at Rouen on 14th August 1918, before returning to the front on 29th August 1918. He was on service at Wimereux when he contracted influenza and was admitted to the 1st South African Field Ambulance on 30th August 1918. The influenza escalated having been treated at the 8th Stationary Hospital, he was evacuated to England suffering from broncho pneumonia on 14th September 1918. After treatment at the South African Military Hospital at Richmond, he was discharged to the Military Convalescent Hospital at Eastbourne on 17th October 1918, and was discharged from there on 12th November 1918. Posted to the 1st Reserve Battalion South African Infantry at Woking on 22nd November 1918, he transferred to the 2nd Reserve Battalion at Woking on 27th November 1918, and was posted back to South Africa, where he disembarked at Cape Town on 24th April 1919, being finally discharged at Maitland on 24th May 1919. Sjoberg returned to live in East London.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Sjoberg who was then living in Geduld Township, joined the Citizen Force on 5th May 1941 as a Sapper (No.142585) in the 55th Company, South African Engineer Corps. The South African Citizen Force a reserve component of the South African armed forces. The Citizen Force consisted of a general manpower pool of white South African civilians who had received some military training in the past. They were periodically retrained for deployment in the event that they were mobilised for active service. During the course of the war, Sjoberg attended 13 days annual training right through to 1945, he having transferred to the 21st (M.E.B. North East Rand Armoured Car Commando on 1st January 1943. Sjoberg was discharged on the disbandment of the unit on 31st December 1946, and was issued the Africa Service Medal 1939-1945 belatedly circa 1960, this being his sole entitlement for the Second World War. He was then still living in Geduld Township.