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Mostert, Johannes Frederik Wilhelm. Commandant 6 years 4 months ago #34167

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Served: Fordsburg. Awarded the DTD (Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst) and received the Wound Ribbon (Lint voor Verwonding).
Dr David Biggins

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Mostert, Johannes Frederik Wilhelm. Commandant 10 months 5 days ago #72649

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Picture courtesy of City Coins

From the City Coins 71 auction, November 2020.

DTD (Komdt. J.F.W. Mostert). DTD skimmed and officially re-impressed;
ABO (Komdt. J.F.W. Mostert);
With length of Wound Riband (LvW)

Johannes Frederik Wilhelm Mostert served as Field Cornet in the Fordsburg/Johannesburg Commando under Commandant Ben Viljoen and took part in major Natal battles such as Elandslaagte, Colenso, Spioenkop and Pontdrif (Vaalkrans).

He was severely wounded at Pieters Heights on 27 February 1900: fractured jaw caused by shrapnel, bullet wound through left elbow and shrapnel wounds in hip and shoulder. This is confirmed in the Official hand-written ZAR Casualty Return where it is stated that V.C. (Veld Cornet) Mostert was admitted to the Hospital at Van Reenen’s Pass/Harrismith on 3 March 1900.

Mostert saw active service as a Major in the Carolina Commando during the suppression of the 1914-15 Rebellion, but this did not qualify him for any WWI awards.

He applied for the DTD, ABO and LvW in September 1921.

On Vorm “A” he stated his rank as Field Cornet and, when wounded, as Vecht Generaal (Fighting General). He also stated under Date of Service “1 October 1899 till 27 February 1900 when wounded and in hospital (Natal) till 2 months after peace.”

On Vorm “B” he had the same claim about rank but amplified his medical woes: “Severely wounded at Petersheights 27 Feb 1900, from there to Harrismith Hospital and thence to Pretoria Hospital. Later sent to Merebank Camp. Discharged 2 months after Peace was declared”. Vorm “C” saw a statement “wounded 27 February 1900 and afterwards in hospitals till 2 months after Peace”.

The Medal Advisory Commission, surprisingly in the light of the rather unusual medical history, approved of the award of the DTD, ABO and LvW in the rank of Veldkornet and this was published in the Government Gazette No 1191, dated 11 November 1921.

On 7 February 1922 Mostert acknowledged receipt of his awards but expressed disappointment at the rank. He said that he at least expected the rank of Commandant and repeated that he was a Vecht Generaal when wounded. The Commission re-assessed the claim and asked Mostert on 25 July 1922 to return the awards for the rank to be altered to Kommandant and asked him to supply service dates regarding his three claimed ranks.
He replied on 2 August 1922 “I was acting in the position of the late General Ben Viljoen from the Battle of Pontdrif/Rooi Randjies (Vaalkrans- 5 February 1900) when he suffered bomb shock to his head and went to hospital, up to when I was wounded.”

The amended awards were sent to Mostert under cover of a letter dated 6 October 1922. The DTD was skimmed and completely re-impressed and a freshly named ABO was issued.

The amendments were published in the Government Gazette No 1270, dated 13 October 1922.

Unfortunately, the Medal Advisory Commission seemed to have been unaware of statements in two contemporary publications which would have refuted almost all of Mostert’s claims and which would have rendered him ineligible for any award!

General Ben Viljoen in “My Reminiscences of the Anglo-Boer War”, London, 1902, dealt with the Battle of Vaalkrantz in Chapter X. On p91-2 he described the effect on him of a lyddite shell bursting overhead on 5 February 1900, resulting in him being hospitalized, On p100 he noted: “…my faithful adjutant, J du Preez, who had taken my place for the time being,…”.

After some time in hospital, he recuperated at home. He returned on 27 February 1900 and on 28 February was brought up to date with news about the Pieter’s Hill battle by Field Cornet van der Byl (p102-104): “…we were attacked on our left flank and in the rear. Assistant-Commandant du Preez and Field Cornet Mostert were both severely wounded, but are now in safe hands…”.

Dr J Fessler, one of the German medics attending to Boer wounded, wrote in “Onder de Roode Kruis in Transvaal”, Amsterdam. 1904 (p146-7, freely translated): “Among the wounded, that we encountered during the Boer retreat on 28 February, were the Acting Commandant of the Johannesburg Commando, Du Preez from Krugersdorp, and Field Cornet Moustard of the same commando; both severely wounded”.

He then relates how the two men managed to find their way via Van Reenen’s Pass to Harrismith where they were attended to by another German, Dr Schelkly, who removed the bullet from Du Preez’ chest, and mentions that both men’s wounds were completely healed. He adds: “I later met Du Preez in Krugersdorp, where he owned many properties, on the day the British entered the town (June 1900). He stood there and watched the entering troops: he definitely had no desire to fight again… By chance, some weeks earlier, I saw Field Cornet Moustard in the Grand Hotel in Krugersdorp. His jaw, which was treated, initially by Dr Schelkly and later by the First Dutch Ambulance in Pretoria, had healed completely as was the case with his elbow, which he could bend again. He also did not return to the battlefield and was quite curt and aloof when I recognised and spoke to him. He was elegantly dressed”.

In 1937 Mostert used his “illegal” awards to successfully apply for a war veteran’s pension at a rate applicable to that of Commandant.
Sold with copied pages from Mostert’s complete medal application file, Government Gazette entries, ZAR casualty returns, relevant pages from the 2 books referred to above and original photos of Mostert in 1940’s.
Dr David Biggins
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