Gerrits Travels – Vietnam War 1966-’70 (part 6)

A Dutchman in Vietnam!

Gerrit spent the first half of the ’60s in Greenland working at the BMEWS base, one of the coldest parts of the world. You can read more about him there in the earlier blogs about him: Gerrits Travels – Part 1 – BMEWS at Thule Air Base – Greenland The second half of the ’60s he spent in tropical Vietnam working state related contracts.

As he passed away I am not sure I will ever know what he did there exactly. He worked in some capacity for RMK-BRJ the largest building conglomerate active in Vietnam during the war. You can read more about their history here: RMK-BRJ wiki

DSCF0303

He had some form of medical education in the US (he stated to be an MD but I found no actual proof for this though) and he worked in some medical capacity it seems, probably in the line of Health and Food safety for RMK-BRJ.

012

Below a photo of his kit-bag (his original Dutch one, not a US version!): GHM Medical Department / Facilities & Operations RMK BRJ / 6th Division Vietnam

001

Here some paperwork form his time in Vietnam:

His MACV ID Card (Military Assistance Command Vietnam)

His S Government drivers license with Vietnam Road Sign test

Saigon Hospital card and Saigon Freemason membership card (look at the date?)

As he spent more than 4 years in Vietnam he witnessed most of the war and not always from a safe distance! On several occasions he risked his life during the line of work. As can be read on the Wiki regarding RMK-BRJ with more than 52 emplyees killed.

I’ll share here some of my favourite pictures from his collection (these are mainly prints I took from the slides he made).

Some local forces:

DSCF0445

Do you something bulbing inside his white shirt? He always carried a grenade there for safety reasons, but not visible….

Driving a river boat, he went with the river forces on patrols on several occassions, just for fun and he spoke French fluently so he could help out in communications too.

With the Marines he had a Dutch friend there too, recently emigrated to the US.

And some random photo’s:

Some of the items he collected during this period:

DSCF0307

The Marbles pilots survival knife he already got in Greenland and brought to VN.

The Rolex Datejust he bought for his Birthday during R&R in Bangkok! It can be seen on the stairs of a friends house in Saigon. He is guarding the house with his M1 with double (taped together) banana magazines.

A relatively rare item among his military gear are these: Military Survival Kit – Hot Wet environment. Mainly issued to Special Forces in Vietnam – complete with all items including flare gun and amphetamine tablets (also called no sleep tablets). For more info see http://www.vietnamgear.com/kit.aspx?kit=370

005

At least one more episode to follow! Congo and Persia are the next stations in the trip…

DSCF0510

You cannot hide your heritage 🙂

For the earlier parts you can go here: Gerrits Travels – Part 1 – BMEWS at Thule Air Base – Greenland

Hungarian Air Force: pilot wings and cap badges

The Hungarian Air Force was built up in secret during the 1930s. Officially this was not allowed based on the Trianon treaty that was a result of World War 1. Also when the war started and they could openly built the Air Force further it remained rather small compared to other forces in the war making all insignia quite rare.

In most countries a pair of wings has become the standard symbol for an aviators qualification. In the Hungarian Air Force this was no different. What makes it a a bit more interesting is that almost the same design was used for cap badges. This leads to many mistakes by collectors, pilots wings are seen as cap badges and vice versa.

The distinction is actually quite easy. For the qualification badge the wings are straight and for the cap badges the wings are curved. Otherwise they are the same.

Pilot wings

There are basically two types of wings that were used in World War 2 by the Hungarian Air Force. One for the pilot and another for the observer (navigator). The only difference between these is that the pilot has a crown above the eagle and the observer not.

The wings are made of cloth with gold bullion stitching. There is no difference in rank visible in the badge – which makes it different from most Hungarian badges like on the cap badges we will discuss next.

The wings were worn (sewn on) on the right breast above the top pocket of the 1930M Air Force officers uniform (that I will discuss in another blog).

thumb_IMG_6448_1024

thumb_IMG_6455_1024 Worn version of the pilot wings, front and back below

thumb_IMG_6456_1024

Metal versions of these wings were also officially made but these seem to have only been given to non-Hungarian pilots as “exchange” badges.thumb_Schermafbeelding 2018-04-07 om 10.38.16_1024Metal version awarded to a german pilot (photo from the internet, not my collection)

The observer wings were introduced later in the war and were worn by the officer with this task in the crew of a bomber. These are very rare and also exist in metal for foreign observers but I have not found a photo of one being worn or a confirmed original.

IMG_6450        Lieutenant with the observer wings (photo from internet)

Cap badges

For the cap badges the story is interesting too as some more variations exist. The basis is again cloth with bullion stitching. Silver for ranks below officer and gold for officers. But more variations exist. A more ornate version on a red cloth background for general officers exists which is very rare. Also a version for officers in training. For use on the side cap for common soldiers a metal version was in use that later became standard for all ranks. All variations of course with the curved wings!

thumb_IMG_6473_1024NCO cap badge in silver bullion, top is worn, bottom one new old stock

thumb_IMG_6474_1024The NOS one even has the makers label still attached!

thumb_IMG_6447_1024Officers ID of an officer in training (zaszlos) with cap badge

Period overview of Air Force badges and ranks:

HUNGUniChart (1)

For more info on the Hungarian Air Force uniform go here:

The Hungarian WW2 Air Force officers 1930M tunic (zubbony)

 

HGU-4/P USAF Aviator Sunglasses 1958-2018, an icon for 60 years!

The HGU -4/P was introduced in 1958 and is still in use in 2018 marking an unpreceded 60 year period, a design classic in all aspects!

dav

Although the USAAF Aviator Sunglasses (AN6531 and the G-2) are probably the most iconic (aviator) sunglasses in the world and still in production today (Ray-Ban being the most well known maker) they were in official air force use from 1941 until their replacement in 1958 so they “only” lasted a period of 17 years.

General Douglas MacArthur with the earlier G2 Aviator Sunglasses and A2 leather jacket

They were then replaced with the sunglasses that are the subject of this blog: the HGU-4/P Aviator sunglasses. An extensive testing was done in 1958/59 and the HGU-4/P was considered the better compared to the G-2 that was still in stock at that time.

Here you can read the original report of that testing: HGU 4P

American Opticals designed these glasses for more comfortable use with helmets in mind resulting in the iconic bayonet style arms. The original version had a 52mm frame and was gold filled, later versions became gold plated and also available in matte chrome. Since 1982 Randolph started supplying the US forces with these glasses and they still do today. Both brands made these glasses also available for the commercial market and they still do today. Minor differences between the commercial and military versions can be found.

A few military examples in matte chrome, from the internet:

Here some photo’s from the internet of the glasses being worn in Vietnam:

And some celebrities on and off the screen (from the internet again):

And my own set (now with prescription multifocal glasses), RE from December 1991:

dav

 

 

Captain Varga of the Hungarian River Guard

Naval Forces of Hungary in WW2

In April 1919 the Hungarian government established the Naval Forces (Hadihajós csapat, literally “warship group”) under the authority of the Defence Ministry for the purpose of patrolling the Danube. It was replaced on 1 March 1921 by the civilian Royal Hungarian River Guard (Magyar Királyi Folyamőrség) under the Interior Ministry. Between March 1927 and May 1930 it expanded to about 1700 personnel, a number that held until the end of World War II. On 15 January 1939 the River Guard was renamed the Royal Hungarian Army River Forces (Magyar Királyi Honvéd Folyami Erők) and placed under the Defence Ministry. It used naval ranks until 1 July 1944, when it switched to army ranks. In April 1941 it took part in the annexation of Yugoslavia. From April 1944 on its minesweepers assisted the Kriegsmarine (German navy) in clearing the Danube of aerial mines.

Order of battle (1 April 1940)
  • Patrol Boat Regiment (Budapest)
    • I Group
    • II Group
  • River Security Regiment in Ujvidek/Novi Sad after April 1941)
    • 1 Battalion
    • 2 Battalion
    • 3 Battalion

The above was copied from Wikipedia

876px-A_Magyar_Királyi_Folyamőrség_őrnaszádjai_ünnepi_díszben._Fortepan_100496.jpg

Staff Captain Varga

The items shown here in photo’s come from the estate of Staff Captain (equivalent of Major in the army) Varga who emigrated to the US after WW2. Currently I have no photo’s or other info apart from what I will show below. The research has just started so I expect to update this page soon!

varga-1

From the ranklist of officers of the Hungarian forces the above picture. It shows he participated in the (re)annexation of Transylvania and Yugoslavia with his ship.

0734_01

And a copy (with thanks to the Hungarian Military Archives) of his basic information as stated in the Military Archives.

The generic Hungarian flag that was used on all boats of the River Guard. As there were few boats they are very rare today. Probably he took this from the last boat he was stationed on. I hope to find out which boat that was.

thumb_IMG_6082_1024

Next to his flag also his parade belt with hangers for the Navy dagger has survived and a set of shoulder boards with his final rank of Captain.

thumb_IMG_6083_1024

These items were part of the Otto Friedrich collection from Cleveland.

 

WW2 Hungarian Gendarme (Csendőr) tunic

The word Gendarme is an old word, used in slightly different versions (Csendőr in Hungarian) all over Europe and has a similar meaning in all those languages. It was a military styled police force that acted in the rural areas. In Hungary cities had the right to set up a local police force (which they also had to fund in that case). All other areas (including cities that did not choose to have their own police force) were served / regulated by the Csendőr that were state funded. They were somewhere in between the army and the city police forces and brought law and order to the more remote areas.

In Hungary they also used the same uniform as the regular army (Honved) but could be distinguished by the colour of the shoulder and collar tabs: red on a green basis. Next to this they wore a very distinctive black hat with a rooster feather.

thumb_IMG_5923_1024

In times of war the Gendarme / Csendőr would also act as military police or more correctly as Field Gendarmes. Within regular army units there were also Military Police men but these were not regular Gendarme / Csendőr and did not have the same extensive level of specialized police training. Such MP men wore regular uniforms but could be distinguished by a special badge (period 1942/44) that was worn on the left breast pocket.

thumb_IMG_5935_1024

During the war, as late as 1944 – when the Germans had taken over practical control of Hungary,  a German style gorget (metal plate hanging from a chain on the front of the uniform) was introduced to make it more visible that a person was a Gendarme. As these were used only late in the war only few photo’s of them being worn exist.

This tunic was probably made in the 1930s and altered after the introduction of the M1940 type of uniform where a different type of collar was used (stand and fall type as now seen on this tunic). The rank is that of sergeant and also the silver buttons indicate it is an NCO rank (gold buttons for officers). The 3 medals indicate that the man served also in WW1 and participated in of two of the three re-annexation campaigns of areas lost in the Trianon treaty.

thumb_IMG_5916_1024

These items were part of the Otto Friedrich collection from Cleveland.

For more info on Hungarian uniforms go here:

The Hungarian WW2 army officers 1931M dress tunic (társasági zubbony)

The Hungarian WW2 Air Force officers 1930M tunic (zubbony)

The Hungarian WW2 army uniform 1939M tunic (zubbony)

The Hungarian WW2 Saint László Division badge.

This badge is the only (official) Hungarian divisional badge that was in use during the second world war, it was intended for wear on the left breast pocket but can also be seen worn on the cap in period photo’s.

The Szent László Division was formed in October 1944. It is often named and seen as an elite unit because it was made up of the remainders of the Parachute regiment and several other “elite” units from both army and air force and even gendarmerie (rural police forces that were semi military).

The division was named after the Hungarian Saint László, king of Hungary 1077-1095 and patron saint of military men and exiles. A most fitting name for this unit as most of the surviving members became exiles.

It was commanded by Brigadier General Zoltán Szügyi (from 12th Oct 1944 until May 8th 1945). He can be seen in the photo (from the internet) below in the center. Before commanding the St. Laszlo Division he was commander of the Para Regiment. He is wearing the badge on the right breast pocket (sports badge under and para qualification badge above).

thumb_IMG_5749_1024

Elements of the division saw action for the first time on the 19th of December in 1944 when they were used as emergency troops to plug gaps in the front. They suffered heavy losses during the defense of Hungary and did not fight as a whole division until April 1945 when it had received manpower again from several other units, to cover the earlier losses. The division continued to fight until ending the war in northern Croatia and southern Austria. When the war ended they crossed the Alps and entered Carinthia where they surrendered to the British forces. Something very rare occurred then, they were initially allowed to keep their weapons until a discussion with Tito’s partisans had been settled. After that they were soon disarmed and transferred to regular POW camps in Germany and Austria.

Most of these men did not return to Hungary or other locations occupied by Russia in fear of repercussions and very long periods of forced labour in Russian POW camps. The western occupational forces released them much sooner. Of the Saint László Division many chose to emigrate to the US. This making the unit insignia quite rare and found mostly outside of Hungary. Either from emigrants or found in the ground on places where they fell during the war.

The soldier on the left in the photo below (taken from the internet) wears the badge on his cap. The soldier in the middle also wears his para qualification badge on his side cap. Both insignia are officially worn on the right breast.

The badge itself is a simple aluminium cast with 4 drilled holes to sew it on clothing.

thumb_IMG_5747_1024

Sources:

  • Leo W.G. Niehorster – The Royal Hungarian Army 1920-1945
  • Several websites for photo’s and general information.

Hussar Attack, 1915 Bronze by Szamosi

This bronze is titled “Husszar Roham” (in Hungarian) which translates in “Attack of the Hussars”. The Hussars are the traditional Hungarian horse cavalry and has become a generic name for light cavalry units in all armies in Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. During WW1 horses bacame outdated in the course of the war and many cavalry units became “dismounted”, so on foot, without their horses. In 1915, the date of this work, the Hussars were still very much in action with their horses. Especially on the Eastern front, fighting against the Russians over large areas with relatively few people.

This original bronze (probably the only existing example) was made by the Hungarian artist Szamosi. It took me years to find this out. I always thought the first letter was a R in place of the actual SZ.  Szamosi lived between 1885 and 1971 and specialized in medals and plaquettes. This one is of a formidable size, 30 cm in diameter.

When I found it I had a difficult time to establish how to display this work of art. Finally I decided to have it framed as a “painting” with the 2 screws it has on the back.

Not sure where and how is was placed originally, maybe on a wall? Before the war Szamosi was already active both as an artist and as an educator at the Arts Academy.

His most famous works are from the 1910s and 1920s. During the first world war he made several works of art related to the war like this one.

thumb_IMG_5472_1024 2

Reference: Szamosi Soos

 

Chinese Qing Dynasty work of art by Ding Guanpeng?

This work of art I bought a long time ago when I was somewhere between 12 and 15. when. In those years, together with my late father Herman, we went to all kinds of flea and antique markets to find nice things. On such a quest we found this part of a Chinese scroll  in a local (which was Deventer in that period) antique shop. Although it was not expensive I did not have the money to buy it. Because I liked it very much my father decided to buy it for me. In my 20s, when I had some money I had it framed and more recently I had it framed in a more fitting frame with museum quality glass.

Those more than 30 years I have had this work of art in my possession I never researched it further. Now with the possibilities of internet I finally was able to find out something more – many thanks again for the help Internet collecting communities!

It is probably from the 1720-1770 period which falls under the Chinese Qing Dynasty. The artist may be the famous “Ding Guanpeng” one of the great painters of the early Qing period.

Ding Guapeng is also well known for his depictions of the 18 Luohans he made for the Qianlang emperor. The scene shows two of the 18 Arhats or Luohans, the original first followers of Buddha on their mythical beasts in the clouds. Based on the info I found on Wikipedia I think on the left is Pindola the Bharadvaja described there as: Sitting dignified on a deer, as if in deep thought. With perfect composure, contented with being above worldly pursuits. And to the right is Nantimitolo tamer of the Dragon described as : In the hands are the spiritual pearl and the holy bowl, endowed with power that knows no bounds. Full of valour, vigour and awe-inspiring dignity, to succeed in vanquishing the ferocious dragon.

thumb_IMG_5431_1024

The seal is not of the artist – if it ever was signed that part of the scroll has been lost in time – it is a collectors seal and the seal is Japanese, not Chinese. So this work of art went from China to a Japanese collection before it came to the Netherlands (and who knows where in between…).  The seal reads 佐渡 良 Sado Ryo 藏書 books of collection ( Sado Ryo is alias of 坪井 信良 Tsuboi Shinryo 1823-1904 ) So it is safe to say is was collected in the 19th century.

thumb_IMG_5433_1024

(http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Tsuboi_Shinryo):

Tsuboi Shinryo Born: 1823/8/28 Died: 1904/11/9 Japanese: 坪井信良 (Tsuboi Shinryou)
Tsuboi Shinryô was a Rangaku medical scholar of the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods, and the father of Tsuboi Shôgorô, known as one of the “fathers” of Japanese anthropology.
Shinryô was born in Takaoka, Etchû province, the second son of Sado Yôjun. He began studying medicine under Koishi Genzui in Kyoto in 1840, and later studied under Tsuboi Shindô in Edo and Ogata Kôan in Osaka, before being adopted by Tsuboi Shindô in 1844/9. He later served as domain physician and educator at the han school of Fukui han, under lord of Fukui, Matsudaira Shungaku, before becoming an assistant scholar at the Tokugawa shogunate’s Bansho shirabesho. He became a physician in service to the shogunate in 1864, and was shortly afterwards bestowed the title of hôgen.
Shinryô established the first medical magazine in Japan in 1873, the Waran iji zasshi, and published a number of other works as well over the course of his career. The magazine lasted 43 issues, ending in December 1875. Meanwhile, Shinryô was named head of the Tokyo Prefectural Hospital in December 1874, and retired three years later.

For new blogs go to: www.erikscollectables.com