Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (5 July 2011)

Date of Auction: 5th July 2011

Sold for £11,500

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A rare Boer War D.T.D. and Great War ‘German South-West Africa’ D.S.O. group of six awarded to Major J. F. Wolmarans, Staats Artillerie, later 4th South African Mounted Rifles

Anglo-Boer War Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst 1899-1902 (Maj. J. F. Wolmarans); Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R.; Anglo-Boer War Medal 1899-1902 (Maj. J. F. Wolmarans); 1914-15 Star (Mjr. J. F. Wolmarans S.A.M.R.-F.A.B.); British War and bi-lingual Victory Medals (Maj. J. F. Wolmarans) the War Medal officially re-impressed, mounted on an original wearing bar, nearly extremely fine (6) £4000-5000


D.S.O. London Gazette 22 August 1918: ‘For distinguished service in the field, and in connection with the campaign in German South-West Africa, 1914-15.’

The recommendation states: ‘Outstanding and excellent work done with his Battery in the fight for Pforte at which the entire enemy force was captured. Much of the efficiency of his unit (4th S.A.M.R. Battery) was due to his untiring energy and devotion to duty.’ Wolmarans was also mentioned in despatches in the same Gazette.

Jan Francois Wolmarans was born on 14 October 1873, in the Potchefstroom district of the Transvaal. He was the son of J. M. A. Wolmarans, member of the Executive Committee of Transvaal Volksroad. He was educated at the military academy at Breda in the Netherlands and on his return to the Transvaal he was appointed to the Civil Service, 1 November 1892, as 3rd Clerk to the Chief of the Chamber of Mines, Mr C. Joubert, of the South African Republic. During 1893 he was transferred as 2nd Clerk to the Chief of Police and Prisons, Mr J. J. H. Wolmarans. On 1 April 1894 he was appointed to a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Staats Artillerie, the only regular unit of the S.A. Republic, and served in that unit until the end of the Anglo-Boer War in May 1902.

He was promoted to Captain on 7 February 1896, and to Major on 7 February 1899. He saw service in various minor campaigns, including the Malaboch campaign and the Jameson Raid. On the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer war in 1899, he was sent with one half of the Staats Artillerie to Zandspruit, while the other half was despatched to serve under General Cronje at Mafeking and Kimberley. At Zandspruit the Staats Artillerie was further divided - the 3rd Battery to serve under General Lukas Meyer at Dundee, while the 1st Battery took up a position on the Transvaal border at Charlestown and Newcastle.

Wolmarans served with the 3rd Battery at Dundee (Talana) and Modderspruit battles; also at Spion Kop, Wagon Hill, Pieter’s Hill, Donkerhoek, Doornkop, and many other small engagements during the guerilla war in the Transvaal. He was finally taken prisoner at Ermelo on 11 January 1902, and sent as a prisoner of war to St Helena, where he remained until repatriated in August 1902.

Wolmarans joined the South African Constabulary on 1 July 1908 as a Sub-Inspector. This section of the S.A.C. became the Transvaal Town Police. On 1 April 1913 he joined the S.A. Permanent Force as a Lieutenant in the South African Mounted Rifles. He was promoted Captain on 1 November 1913 and Major on 1 April 1917, having been a Temporary Major since the outbreak of the Great War. He took part in the campaign in German South-West Africa, being on service from 6 August 1914 until 9 July 1915. For his services during the campaign he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Wolmarans saw no further war service but was called to active service during the 1922 Miners Revolt on the Witwatersrand. He continued to serve in the S.A. Permanent Force and was commanding the S.A. Field Artillery Brigade on his retirement in 1926. He was living on a small farm at Mooibank, south of Potchefstroom, when he died suddenly on 3 July 1929.

In 1921 when officers and men of the former republican forces received rewards for their services in the Anglo-Boer War, Wolmarans was awarded the Dekoratie Voor Trouwe Dienst (D.T.D.) for “Meritorious Service”, as recommended by Vecht-Generaal C. J. ‘Coen’ Brits, along with the usual Anglo-Boer Oorlog Medalje. Of the 600 or so recipients of the D.T.D., only 18 had won the D.S.O. during the Great War.