KNIL – timepieces

Recently I added two KNIL timepieces to my collections. A wristwatch by Tissot and a timer by Heuer. Based on these I started some deskresearch and this blog is based on what I found online so far. All additional info is welcome!

Wristwatches. So far I have found three specific versions of KNIL wrist watches. Two versions with a waterproof case and a decentral (small) seconds hand and one with a central (long) seconds hand.

Type 1: WWW. The first type are re-issued watches of the British army. The so called Waterproof Wrist Watch (designated WWW on the back). These watches are nicknamend the dirty dozen (after the movie) as there were 12 manufacturers of these WWW type watches. These watches have a caseback that has the English official stamping and a secondary KNIL engraving and in some cases even a third Indonesian Army (A.D.R.I.) engraving that is somewhat cruder.

Below an example of the 12 makers from the face side and two from the reverse with KNIL and ADRI engraving as shown on: https://www.acollectedman.com/blogs/journal/59621443-the-story-of-the-dirty-dozen-the-first-wristwatches-specially-commissioned-for-the-british-army

The engraving in all cases is KNIL and a 4 digit serial number. So far I have found numbers starting with a 1/2/3/4/5 so a total of more than 5000 pieces seems possible.

Type 2: Tissot. The second type seems to be bought directly by the KNIL as it only has one type of engraving and they all are similar.

These also have a serial number of 4 digits and so far I have found numbers starting with 6/7/8. So based on that it is likely that these came after the WWW watches! This is only a hypothesis though. Further research is needed! My version:

It is numbered 6577. I have seen multiple examples online with the exact same caseback and identical type of engraving with numbers: 6787 / 7009 / 7746 / 8709 so there were probably 3000 of these Tissot watches! Museum Bronbeek (KNIL museum) has two examples in its collection (8466 / 8807). One of these example came from the estate of a Bren carrier driver.

Below a version with the same style of reverse but a slightly different face which has seen very much use (and abuse) – not my collection.

Type 3: Central seconds variation/Queen Juliana. The third variation has central seconds and a later type of engraving. It has a crowned J (for Queen Juliana so 1948 or later!) below that KNIL and under that again the serial number starting with a letter T and 4 digits. The digits start with 0 and 1 again. There seem to be more brands with this engraving but all have central seconds which is fitting with a later period of production/purchase. Technos seems to be one of the brands making this type of watch.

Both photo’s taken from internet – I could not establish the owner of the photo’s if found I will provide the credits.

Apart from the example of the Tissot watch in Bronbeek I have not seen examples of watches with a confirmed provenance. With a possible 8 to 10,000 watches all personell who needed a wristwatch to perform their official duties might have received one (as far as avalaible). This would include air force use, drivers, artillery and many other fuctions, maybe even officers.

British Army Pocket Watch (GSTP – General Service Time Piece). So far I have seen a few examples of these classic pocket watches with a KNIL engraving. These are also re-issued British army timepieces. Probably bought together with the WWW wrist watches from British military surplus after WW2.

And last for now a Heuer Timer. These are so far all the same and have a 30 seconds face with a 15 minute counter. Serial numbers have 3 digits and all examples seen so far start with the number 2 (224 / 227 /243) so a series of less than 300 it seems. Like the Tissot this seems to be one order for one type only. Thest timers were probably used for sound distancing, so mainly artillery use. Determining the distance based on the sound of impact after a shot has been released and measuring the time in between to calculate the distance. Possibly also used for mortar and air force (bomb) timing.

So far I have not established if these were already used in 1942 or before or only 1946 and later.

As stated above this is only based on some deskresearch so nothing is conclusive yet. More info is welcome, please contact me, also with examples and additional serial number info.

Austrian Iron Crown Order 1851

This is a group of documents to Adolph Straub from 1851 who was a Stabs Auditor (Military Judge) in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia which was in Austrian hands at that moment. Fieldmarshall Count Radetzky was the commander / viceroy of that region from 1848 until his death in 1858.

And on the following page from the ranklist of 1851 we find Straub:

Stabs-Auditor (Military Judge) Adolph Straub was awarded the Iron Crown Order 3rd class in 1851. Officially the number of recipients was limited to 50 in the original statutes but this was no longer the case in 1851 nevertheless it still was a rare order.

Below the formal award document signed by the Minister of War Feldzeugmeister Csorich.

Fieldmarschall Radetzky as commander of Straub also communicated with him regarding the award which leads to the letter below to Straub including the original signature of Radetzky and the use of his personally marked paper (often more generic paper was used in general communications!).

So this group of documents if for an important order but also with some very rare signatures in Austro-Hungarian history.

Vitéz stories VI – Colonel Csanády, Honvéd IR 24

Of this officer I have two documents in my collection. The diploma for his promotion to Colonel in 1920 which was also his final rank before retirement.

The 1917 ranklist shows him as a major in the 24th Honvéd Infantry Regiment.

The 1918 version shows he has been promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.

His medal list does not show yet the Iron Crown Order 3rd class he must have received in the course of 1918 and is listed as his highest ranking medal on the diploma for Colonel.

He also became a vitéz in 1929. In this short overview it is mentioned that he saw action both on the Russian and Italian front. This overview mentions a different unit.

And that leeds to the 2nd document of this officer, his order of vitéz diploma of 1929, at which moment he was already retired.

The document unfortunately was in pieces but what was left has been beautifully restored!

This article about two Golden Bravery Medals also mentions him (based on name and rank it must be him) as a commander of an attack on the Northern Italian village of Passarella in November 1917.

Sources of documents through this great Hungarian website of the Hungarian Military Archives

Austro-Hungarian WW 1 photo’s – part III

Here some more pictures from my collection with the addition of information by contributers on Facebook and forums. Good enough to share but not enough for their own blog… Thanks again for your help!

First theme – Helmets and or gasmask being worn:

After the 11th offensive (in Hungarian) and the date indeed corresponds with a moment shortly after the 11th Isonzo battle.
With thanks to Ryan Nelson: Not much can be seen in the background, however due to the helmet, gasmask, and, the trench, it can possibly be inferred that this soldier could be with either Landwehr Infanterie Regiment Nr. 4 ‘Klagenfurt’ or Nr. 27 ‘Laibach’ which were called Gebirgsschützen regiments 1 and 2 in March 1917. The two Landwehr regiments had been incorporated into the Landesschützen command and were also given the Edelweiẞ insignia. These two regiments were along the Piave front in 1917/1918 and not in the mountainous areas like the 3 Kaiserschützen regiments. The man also appears to be wearing a sharpshooters lanyard typical for the Landesschützen which is in line with the above assessment.
Kézdivásárhely (Rumania) April 23rd 1918. On the location by Sandor Magyarosi: the Romanian offensive against Transylvania in 1916 took the town, but as a part of the German-Austro-Hungarian counterattack, the Austro-Hungarians took it back the same year (more precisely, the k.u.k. 82nd regiment). They pushed forward to the border an stopped (a bit into Romania), so the lines of the two parties were built in the mountains. The major fighting took place in fact in 1917, at the Ojtoz/Oituz Pass. Basically Kézdivásárhely was the first town behind the front (there were some villages that were closer, but this was the closest urban settlement). If the picture was taken in April 1918, these guys probably were just withdrawn from the front (the armistice with Romania was already in place) and they were waiting to be transferred to the Italian front.

Some other (than infantry) branches:

Two cavalry men (Hussars most likely)
Pioneer that looks like an attendant of the Pionierkadettenschule because of his smaller “Kadettensäbel” and the Salonhosen (Maxi Wlezcek)
Ulans, eastern front early war. Very non standard coats….

Reading a paper…

Reading a Hungarian newspaper. Interesting to see a German “ersatz” Pickelhaube above the man.
Officers (major and 2nd lt) reading a Hungarian newspaper (Az Est – The Evening) and some trench art made of shells in use.

Some medals being worn by officers (bravery medals you can find in the blog dedicated to that theme).

Reserve 1st Lieutenant Paul (Pál) Zsurilla Paul of Infantry Regiment 26. Note the 2nd award bar on the Military Merit Cross! (thanks to Ivan Iver Chudý)
Award ceremony of a German Irond Cross 2nd class to a Cavalry officer

Austro-Hungarian WW1 photo’s – part II

The army did not only exist of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery but these pictures are the most common ones. This blog is dedicated to some of the other professions in the KuK army. All needed in the war effort but less standard to find pictures of. Here some orignals from my collection.

Dogs played a part in different capacities in WW1, here an example fo dogs used to pull carts for transport purposes like the mail, the so called “KuK Hundekolonne” in German.
KuK Military laundry group, see top right board with Militär Wäscherei!
Field kitchen or “Gulash Kanone” in use.
A more common profession, the farrier or hoof smith

Communications (signals/telegraph) was an important part of the modernisation of warfare in WW1. Left the armlet with T for Telegraph which was in use before the more generic collar badge was introduced that can be seen on the man right.

And communications in use!

The Medical Corps plays an important role during war. Here some examples starting with the field medics, “sanitäter” in German:

Rare variation of the medical armband of the German Knights (see the Emperors coat for a reference to this version)

And the hospitals, both in the field and regular military hospitals.

Medical Doctor in front of Field Hospital 1/1 so the first hospital of Corps 1
Room pictures

And some rare “action” pictures from the hospital

And a last MD in action

More medical people below. Based on rank not medics but MDs.

The Field Gendarmes were the military police that had an important role but often not very popular. They had standard KuK uniforms with only an armband as distinction from the regular army. They were the law behind the front lines and in the occupied territories.

KuK Field police (gendarme), Streif Korps. Front and back of the photo postcard.

Below some variations of the armband in wear from the photo’s above. It seems hard to find two examples that are the same. See also the book “The Emperors coat” (Rest/Ortner/Ilming) for multiple examples.

Austro-Hungarian campaign in Serbia 1915

Worldwar 1 started with the declaration of war against Serbia by the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1914 and was the start of the Serbian campaign. This campaign was largely unseccesfull until the attempt that started on October 7th, 1915. This last campaign ended on November 24th of the same year.

In this last campaign against Serbia were the following forces: the Bulgarian First Army commanded by Kliment Boyadzhiev, the German Eleventh Army commanded by Max von Gallwitz and the Austro-Hungarian Third Army commanded by Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza, all three under the control of the German Field Marshal August von Mackensen.

WW1 period map from internet

Until the end of WW1 the Banat region was part of Hungary which was again part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The small city of Fehertemplom, or in German Weisskirchen, was in that region and bordered with Serbia. After the war as a result of the Trianon treaty the region would be split and Fehertemplom would become part of Serbia.

Josef Pártos was a finance official in the rank of Respizient in the Royal Hungarian Finance Commission of the city of Fehertemplom.

He received two separate document for a “Belobende Anerkennung” roughly a “mention in despatches”. This is more or less one step below the merit medal (often known as Signum Laudis based on the text on the reverse of the medal) and in this case also in the face of the enemy. So with wartime ribbon and swords if the medal indeed was given (swords were added only later in the war to the ribbon).

What he exactly did to earn this commendation is a mystery and probaby will remain so (no military records). But it must be quite unique for a finance person to qualify! Based on location and date it most probably was linked to the final Serbian campaign that started on October 7th 1915 especially as the first document is awarded by the 3rd Army command (one of the 3 armies involved in that action as discussed above) and hand signed by its Commander Kövess von Kövessháza!

Photo with signature of Kövess – from internet

The second document is from the regional command of Banat.

Vitéz stories V – Sergeant Deli, KuK IR 44

For this man, sergeant Deli Jószef, I still have to research the background of his medals but below his full entitlement.

From the 1939 Vitéz yearbook

Before the war he completed his compulsory service in the 44th KuK Infantry Regiment reaching the rank of sergeant in the reserve and also qualifying as a sharpshooter. His name originally was Doszpod!

Deli and his wife in the first years of the war based on his uniform. He already has the two Silver Bravery Medals.

In 1924 he became a viéz and in that process changed his name to Deli! If the applicant had a non Hungarian name one of the requirements was to change the name to a typical Hungarian one. This was the reason some did not apply as they did not want to change their names! This often leads to difficulties in researching vitéz backgrounds, if the name was changed, as the original name is not recorded!

The original diploma in poor condition as found
And the same document after professional restoration

In the 1920s he became not only a vitéz but he also applied for the grant of land which he indeed received as one of about 5500 of the more than 24.000 vitéz.

Grand diploma for the grant of land in prestine condition!

Vitéz stories IV – Lieutenant Simó, KuK IR 51

This group consists of the documents of Antal/Anton Simó, lieutenant in the reserve of KuK Infantry Regiment 51. As he lived in the Transylvania region he became a Rumanian citizen after WW1 as a consequence of the Trianon treaty.

In 1941 as a result of the last Hungarian re-annexation action Transylvania became part of Hungary and he became a Hungarian citizen again. All the Austro-Hungarian medals could be worn and used in Hungary but obviously not in Rumania.

So in 1941 he could apply for all his relevant WW1 medals and also apply for the vitéz order as a Hungarian citizen. He also moved to Budapest and worked for the Hungarian railways. (MÁV).

His ID card from 1918 showing him with the 2nd class Bravery medal and with the rank and photo of fähnrich, later crossed out and changed in Leutnant. As all officers in training he first went through the nco ranks in which period he was eligible for the Bravery Medals to the ranks below officer!

His Bravery medal 2nd class would be awarded for actions in 1916 as described below in the request form. The request forms come from the Hugarian Military Archives!

From the Hungarian Military Archive.

Text of the request: In Annerkennung tapferen Verhalten vor dem Feinde. Im Gefechte vom 7. und 8. Juli 1916 Sudlich Podgaino Ubernahm er nach Verwunding des Zugskommandanten das Kommando in dem Zeitpunkt als der Feind bereits an der innersten Hinderniszone war und drangte denselben durch seine Entschlossenes tapferes Aufträten wobei er an der spitze sienes Zuges Kämpfte zuruck. Bracht ihm durch geschickte Feuerleitung grosse Verluste Bei.

Translation: In recognition of brave conduct in the face of the enemy. In fight from 7th and 8th of July 1916, south of Podgaino. He took over command, after the commander became injured, at the moment that the enemy already was at the innermost defense line and forced them back, by his convincing brave action, in which he fought at the front. Inflicted great losses to the enemy by his adequate fire direction.

From the history book of the Worldwar, book II, 1920: 7. Juli griffen zwei neue russische Korps im Räume Karczewo-Wygoda das Kolozsvärer Infanterieregiment Nr. 51 an, ‘das bei Tuganowiczi und Podgaino stand, heldenmütig die Stellung hielt und alle Angriffe erfolgreich abwies. Am 8. Juli 2 Uhr vormittags erfolgte ein erneuter heftiger Angriff, welcher den ganzen Tag andauerte. Vor der Front der 51er lagen über 2000 Tote, ohne daß das tapfere Regiment auch nur einen Schritt zurückgewichen wäre.

Translated: On July 7th two Russian corps attacked in the area of Karczewo-Wygoda the 51st Infantryregiment from Kolosvar that bravely held the line near Tuganowiczi and Podgaino and rejected the attack succesfully. On the 8th of July at 14.00 hrs a new attack was launched that lasted the entire day. In front of the 51st there were more than 2000 death without the Regiment retreating even a step.

And the documents and texts relating to his first class Bravery Medal

Tapferes Verhalten vor dem Feinde: In der Durchbruchsschlacht am 24./X. 1917 bei (Punkt) 778 nördl Dol. Kal stürmte er mit der 1. Welle der 7. fkomp bis über die 2. fdl. Linie, wo er infolge schwerer Verwundung abbleiben musste. Er gab ein mustergültiges Beispiel seiner Mannschaft.

Request form and detail from the Hungarian Military Archives

Translation of text: Brave conduct in the face of the enemy. In the breaktrough fight on the 24th of October 1917 at point 778 north of Dol. Kal. he stormed with the first wave of the 7th field company beyond the 2nd enemy line, where he, as a result of a major injury, had to stay behind. He was an example to his men.

The villages Kal and Dol Kal can be found at the position (roughly) 46°5′ North and 31°24′ East

The date of this action is the start of the 12th Isonzo battle in Italy! In October 1917 the Kolozsvárer IR.51 took part in the Isonzo / Karfreit breakthrough. The villages are Dol (east of Selo) and Kal (im Cepovantale). The regiment (three battalions) was together with IR.64 a part of the 69th Infantry Brigade. The regiment held a sector in the Cepovan Valley (Capovantal) on the Bainsizza Plateau.

Official document/certificate confirming his both Bravery medals

As stated his other medals would be added only after 1941:

Karltroop cross certificate
Wounded medal with one stripe on the ribbon.
Hungarian WW1 commemorative medal
And finally his invitation to the vitézi rend award ceremony in 1943.

His entitlement in 1943 would have looked like this (these are not his medals as the group only existed of the papers).

With many thanks to the Hungarian Military Archives for helping with the relevant materials that made this blog possible!

And a last document from the military archives – his military pass post from the 1950s

Vitéz stories III – Sergeant Joföldi, KuK IR 38

These are the documents and medals of sergeant in the reserve vitéz Jóföldi Gábor.

Complete WW1 entitlement including vitéz order and certificate

The following information comes from the history of the 38th KuK regiment by József Doromby :

Photo from the regimental book.

“He was born in 1885 in Bogyiszló. In 1907-09 he fulfilled his military duties in Bilek. He was involved in the mobilization and trained as a reserve NCO until January 15, 1915. After that he went to the Serbian front, and from there on May 13, to the Italian front. He went to Doberdo, Italy and then he was taken back to the Serbian front and then again to the Italian battlefield, from where in April 1916 he was taken sick to the hospital. After his recovery, he was commanded to the Russian, Romanian and finally again to the Italian front. Wife: Judit Bencze; children: Judith, husband. Mrs. János Sánta, Gábor, Lidia, husband. Mrs. Józsefné Németh, Ferenc. “

The piece in the book also give his full medal list as shown above. He did not qualify for the Wounded Medal as his period in hospital was due to illness, not wounds received in battle.

His Silver Bravery Medal 1st class would be the basis for his later (1929) introduction into the vitéz order. Below the full size diploma which is quite rare as most units only handed out the small certificates for in the legitimation capsule.

Below some other papers, his 1919 release from service papers, the certificate for his Karltroop cross and his Hungarian WW1 remembrance medal.

He was mobilized again for WW2 (Igazolvány lap in the top middle) but probably did not see any action due to his age.

All papers and medals came from the family and are a real group. Below a “Kappenabzeichen” of the 38th KuK Infantry Regiment in which he served (my collection but not part of his estate!)

With thanks to Zoltán Sőregi for finding the regimental information!

Vitéz stories II – Sergeant Molnár, KuK IR 48

Due to my interest in the Hungarian vitéz order I bought this document. It is a diploma for participating in a course for land management that was given to members of the order – who also would receive a gift of land as part of the order.

With it came another document. The certifacte for participation in the (re)annexation of Transylvania in 1941. By that time he was a reserve sergeant and aged 51!

Researching him in the 1939 vitéz yearbook gives an overview of his medal entitlement. The second document is key for confirming it is as the name is extremely common in Hungary but it gives his year of birth, 1890, and his domicile, Gyoma.

A short translation of the info: Sergeant-Major in the 48th KuK Infantry Regiment with the following medal entitlement: Silver Bravery Medal 1st class (O1) with 3 bars, Silver Bravery Medal 2nd class (O2) with 2 bars and Bronze Bravery Medal, Karltroop Cross and Wound Medal with 3 stripes.

So 4 times (1 award and 3 bars) of the Silver Bravery Medal 1st class. The highest amount of these in the entire Honvéd part of the Austro-Hungarian army was 3 times and that only once!

Example of a Silver Bravery Medal 1st class (Emperor Karl version) with a device for 3 repeated awards! A repeat of 3 in silver is extremely rare if original!

And 3 times (1 award and 2 bars) of the Silver Bravery Medal 2nd class. In the entire Honvéd part of the Austro-Hungarian army there were only 189 such men!

The numbers of such entitlements for the entire Austro-Hungarian army are not known. The info above comes from this excellent website! But it can be guessed that this combination of 8 Bravery Medals is probably extremely rare and might be unique and certainly much rarer than a Golden Bravery Medal!

It is an honour to have these nice documents to a NCO with an absolutely unique entitlement!