The extremely rare Second World War East Africa and Union Service Silver Protea Military Commendation group awarded to Captain H. Travers-Jackson, South African Engineering Corps, who having seen service during the East African Campaign from January to September 1941 with the 24th Workshop and Park Company, then went on to be commissioned in October 1941, and serve in the Union as Adjutant to the 100th Aerodrome Maintenance Company from October 1942, and in a similar capacity with the 105th Aerodrome Maintenance Company from September 1943 through to the end of the war, being decorated with the rare Silver Protea Military Commendation in the Government Gazette of 1st January 1946, one of only 12 men decorated with this award within the South African Engineer Corps, and one of only 797 recipient of this decoration.
1939-45 Star; Africa Star; War Medal; Africa Service Medal 1939-45 with Silver Protea Military Commendation Emblem attached to ribbon, all named in officially impressed South African issue style; (222139 H. TRAVERS-JACKSON).
Harold Travers Jackson, surname also hyphenated Travers-Jackson, was born on 20th September 1907 at Cape Town, and worked as an accountant for the Schweppes Agency Ltd in Johannesburg. During the 1930’s he saw four years service with No.1 Field Company of the South African Engineer Corps as part of the Active Citizen Force, which unit was based originally at Cape Town, and then from 1934 at Durban. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Travers-Jackson joined the Union Defence Force on 28th June 1940, and was posted as a Sapper (No.222139) to the South African Engineer Corps, for service with the 24th Workshop and Park Company at the Engineer Training Centre at Premier Mine. Promoted to Acting Corporal the very next day, Travers-Jackson began full time military service with the 24th Company on 12th September, and was soon promoted to Corporal on 17th October 1940, and to Acting Sergeant on 1st December 1940, followed by Sergeant on 1st January 1941. On 15th January 1941 the 24th Company moved from Premier Mine to Durban, and then the next day Travers-Jackson embarked aboard the S.S. Selandia and disembarked at Mombasa in Kenya on 22nd January, and then saw service during the East African Campaign. On 1st February 1941 he was promoted to Acting Staff Sergeant. The 24th Company under Captain J.P. Fisher, proceeded to to Thika near Nairobi, where it joined the 1st South African Division. Its work began at once with the preparation of a special pontoon train of 70 vehicles for the bridging of the Juba River to the north. The unit built the vehicle chassis for this bridging train. In February 1941 the 24th Company left Thika and undertook a four day drive through Garissa, Liboi, and Afmadu to Kismayu, and it began work here at the end of the month repairing plant and machinery damaged by the enemy. It also retained Advanced Park Sections as far apart as Nanyuki, Thika and Afgoi. After a short time the unit moved on to the town of Mogadishu, recently captured from the Italians; here it was handicapped by the lack of vital parts for important machine tools found in the local Italian workshops. The unit made a major effort to restore these machine tools and began to scour the town, the former capital of Italian Somaliland, for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing parts. The Company enlisted the help of an Italian speaking local, and his sleuthing resulted in the discovery of the missing parts for much of the sabotaged machinery; these had been hidden under a convincing looking machine bed. Shortly afterwards the Company, along with the 18th Divisional Field Park Company, became engaged in the mass production of engineer stores, and for this purpose they were redesignated Corps Troops. The unit began this new task in May 1941 and established itself at Diredawa, on the railway line between Addis Ababa and the port of Djibouti. One of the major tasks undertaken by the 24th Company was to assist in spanning a flooded river north of Jijigga; the bridge to be used for a Hamilton Truss which had been lying in store at Aden since the First World War. It had most of its launching gear missing, and the 24th Company had to build this from scratch despite the fact that no other bridge of this kind had been constructed in East Africa. The bridge was completed on 21st June - a day ahead of schedule. At the same time, 24th Company had a detachment west of Addis Ababa engaged in the repairing of bridges. On 30th July 1941, Travers-Jackson was posted off the strength of the 24th Company and placed on the South African Engineering Corps General List for return to the Union. He received orders the next day to proceed home for a qualification course for commissioned rank. On 2nd August he embarked at Berbera on the “President Doumer”, and arrived at Mombassa on 12th August. He was sent to Nairobi with miscellaneous details and returned to Mombasa on 31st August, sailing on the same day to the Union in the S.S “City of Canterbury” with a S.A.E.C draft. His service in East Africa ended officially on 1st September 1941. Arriving at Durban on 10th September, he was placed on the strength of the Union Base Depot there, and the next day left for the Engineer Training Centre and Reserve Training Depot. Having successfully completed his course there, Travers-Jackson was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 8th October 1941, and attached to the Engineer Reserve Training Depot and to the Permanent Force as Adjutant. On the same day he was posted for service with the Directorate of Engineering. Travers-Jackson left the Depot on 8th November and joined the Staff of the D.F.A.E.T. as Assistant Staff Officer, Railways. Promoted to Acting Lieutenant on 10th February 1942, he ended his Staff service on 22nd March, being posted back to the Engineer Reserve Training Deport two days later. Remaining at the Depot for two months, he was promoted to Temporary and then War Substantive Lieutenant on 8th April 1942. On 23rd May 1942 Travers-Jackson was posted to the strength of the “ZB” Reserve Field Company, S.A.E.C., where he remained for some five months, and on 26th October was posted as Adjutant to the 100th Aerodrome Maintenance Company, and moved the next day to join it at Premier Camp. The 100th Company served throughout the Union, and was composed of five inspectorates. This and one other company, the 105th Company, had responsibility for dozens of S.A.A.F stations and for landing grounds throughout the country. Initially the unit set up bases at Swartkop, Germiston, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Brooklyn. In January 1943, South Africa was split into two regions which corresponded roughly to Inland Area and Coastal Command, and the 100th Company and 105th Company retained responsibility for one region each. Along with many other airfields, the Companies looked after some 40 air schools, and with this pressure of work it was not until August 1945 that the 105th Company was de-activated. The Aerodrome Maintenance Companies had carried out their task so well that the 100th Company was retained and placed in the Permanent Force as part of the South African Air Force. After a year with the 100th Company, Travers-Jackson was posted to the younger 105th Company on 30th October 1943, and remained with this unit until his discharge. On 1st January 1945 he was promoted to Acting Captain and Adjutant, and on 3rd September 1945 was released from military service. Posted to the discharge depot at Johannesburg on 13th September 1945, his good service with the Aerodrome Maintenance Companies did not go unnoticed, and he was one of just 797 South African service personnel to receive the South African Silver Protea Military Commendation Emblem, his award being notified in the Government Gazette of 1st January 1946 ‘for valuable services rendered in connection with the war’. Travers-Jackson is one of only 12 members of the South African Engineering Corps to receive this rare decoration. Travers-Jackson became a Foundation member of the Sappers Association of South Africa, and a Foundation Country Member of the Sappercrust Country Club, and latterly resided in Pinetown, South Africa, dying on 26th April 1986.