Gerrit’s Travels – Persia 1971-78 (Part 7)

From Greenland to Vietnam to Zaire to Iran/Persia and especially in Greenland and in Persia Gerrit collected some nice items he kept in his homes. Most of these are gone now but from his period in Persia I have some items I really like among these a cradle, probably from the first half of the 20th century or earlier…

The cradle hanging on a wall in our living room

I do not have much knowledge regarding persian rugs, travel bags and relatead items but ended up having a small collection of these. In one of the following blogs or adding to this one I will show some of the items I have.

Some paperwork from Gerrit of his Persian period.

Earlier blogs regarding Gerrit van be found here and here

Vietnam 1967 – Rolex Datejust 1601

In a series of earlier blogs – Gerrit’s Travels – I described some of the places where a family friend lived. He was born in the Netherlands but emigrated to the US, became a citizen there and worked around the world on US Government contracts. As a civilian but often in war areas or other troubled locations. Between 1966 and 1970 he spend his time in Vietnam as a contractor.

Gerrit with some civilian and ARVN’s

One of the most prized possession in Vietnam according to many sources was a high quality waterproof watch. For many the first choice was a Rolex, if they could afford one. Watches were most often bought during one of the R&R (Rest and Recuperation) trips out of country.

Rolex Datejust 1601, with box, chronometre certificate and guarantee (punched) from 1967 both year of production and purchase and the original bracelet also stamped with yearmark 67!

During his 2nd year in country he went on a R&R trip to HongKong where he decided to buy his much coveted watch, the Rolex Datejust. He did so on his 38th birthday, as a gift to himself but also with some money he had received form his parents for this birthday as he told me.

The watch remained his daily companion for the following years in Vietnam but also in many places where he went in later years. During the 1980s when I was in my teens he lived partially in the Netherlands with his wife and in laws. Through my mother I got to know him and some of his stories of all his travels. Still the Rolex was his loyal companion. It was this watch that started me wanting to have a high quality watch for myself.

Since that time I have had watches of the best brands in the world but some years after Gerrit passed away I inherited his military posessions and also was able to buy his two watches (the other I described before) from his widow.

Although I seldomly wear the watch I feel very proud to be the owner of this small part of history and each time I wear it my thoughts go out to the memory of Gerrit!

Watch on the stairs of a friends house in Saigon, keeping watch during a restless night….M1 carabine with double (taped) banana magazines at the ready…

Read more about Gerrit in the earlier blog on my other website:

KuK Offensive Group Edelsbrunner BH2 (Bosnian/Bosniaken) – Golden Bravery Medal, Austro-Hungarian army WW1

Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry

Bosnia Herzegovina became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire only in 1878. Nevertheless its capital Sarajevo would be the scene of the start of World War 1 in 1914 by the assination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand.

The AH regimental system was regional so each regiment would get men from a specific region. This way four Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry Regiment were formed. Officers (on purpose) would come from a different region. These regiments were numbered BH1 to BH4.

Golden Bravery Medals

Despite the fact that they had been linked to the Austro Hungarian empire for a very short time or maybe even because of this the 4 Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry Regiments that were formed in WW1 would get the highest number of gallantry (Golden Bravery) medals in the entire AH army.

The average of these Golden Bravery medals was around 10 per regiment but the BH2 Infantry Regiment would get the highest amount of all, 42! The runner up regiment would get 36 Golden Bravery medals. There was even a saying in the AH army – “The Bosnians are coming” which would bring fear to the enemies as they were seen as fierce fighters.

More about the bravery medals can be found in my earlier blog.

Officers in BH2

As a large part of the Bosnians were Islamic the Fez was worn as the standard hat in these units for all men, independ of belief! Officers not being from the same region could choose if they would wear “normal” officers hats or also the Fez like in the picture below.

An album in my collection has photo’s from several related (two brothers with family name Almasi) and befriended officers coming from the same “German” city of Trautenau in the current Czech Republic.

It seems they al went as volunteer (1 year) officers to the war. Several of them becoming officers in BH2. Below Leopold Erben from Trautenau who also, as an officer in training, would earn a Golden Bravery medal for BH2 in 1918!

Leopold Erben GTM, BH2

Offensive Group Edelsbrunner

One photo has the caption of “Offensivgruppe Edelsbrunner” named after its leading officer, Edmund Edelsbrunner, also from Trautenau! He was also one of the 42 people in BH2 who was awarded the Golden Bravery medal.

He would receive it during his training period for officers (so still NCO for the awarding of medals) in 1915. During the rest of the war he would remain very active even getting an Iron Crown order 3rd class as a lieutenant which is very rare for such a low ranking officer, almost only flight aces would get that honour.

A specific event is mentioned in the book “Die Bosniaken kommen” by Werner Schachinger. In the book his group is mentioned as a “Nachrichten” or reconaissance group. This part is about his role in the 12th and decisive Isonzo battle. Probably this is the action for which he received the Iron Crown order!

“After the arrival of the main group of BH2 1st Lt Edelsbrunner and his men detached themselves again and went north. While two companies of BH2 were involved in heavy streetfights in the city of Forgaria. In the meantime Edelsbrunner circled around the city and went straight for Anduin capturing an Italian Artillery unit in the proces. He captured 7 pieces of artillery, 12 machineguns and other materials but also 600 Italian soldiers. The struggle for the bridge of Cornino was over after this. He earned the title of “Ramssurimann of Anduin” for this from the men of BH2″

All of these pictures come from the same album in my collection. I will publish some more in another blog soon.