Own a piece of history - today! Primary source accounts from Sudan during the Second World War are rare. The present archive reveals matters of discord between the Army and the Government, during this period and after the war when restructuring of civil service was taking place, providing insight from a leading participant who's work as a mechanical engineer made a mark in Sudan, including the formation of a Mechanical Transport Department. Complete personal archive of documents and correspondence of Scottish mechanical engineer, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Sudan Defence Force, Personal military number 254419 (SDF 978), and freemason attached to the Khartoum Lodge, Andrew Cameron Robertson of Perthshire, who spent 24 years in Sudan and who contributed greatly to the accessibility of motor transport in Sudan, commercially, for war supply, and for agriculture. Comprises approximately 280 documents, manuscript and typescript, mostly correspondence and mostly in English, a scant few documents with portions in Arabic; including a certificate from the Governor of Sudan for a notable civil appointment; continuous correspondence regarding his military posts, the structuring of the Sudan Defence Force during and post war; some fascinating "private" letters describing concerns and incidents, and comprehensive documentation of his lengthy career in Sudan.
Contained and chronologically organized in Robertson's five folio archival folders of Sudan Government stationery, each measuring approximately 25 x 35 cm. Together with his Army Book 439 Officer's Record of Service, signed by him, with manuscript entries throughout, blue cloth boards with fold-over flap, printed to front, measuring approximately 11 x 14 cm. Together with his signed Masonic membership certificate in English and Latin, with the embossed seal of the organisation, steel engraved allegorical illustration, a watermarked single leaf measuring approximately 31,5 x 40,5 cm. The lot in very good condition, a primary source archive which provides rare insight of the inner workings and politics of the Sudan Defence Force during the Second World War, post-war operations of the Sudan Government, by a respected Engineer who was for more than two decades greatly involved.
Andrew Cameron Robertson (born 1901) of Perthshire, Scotland, arrived in Sudan in 1927 on a three-year working contract as Motor Engineer for the Sudan Mercantile Co. Upon arrival, he learned basic Arabic. His contract was renewed in 1930 and he became manager of the firm in 1932, which was by then called the Sudan Mercantile Company (Motors) Ltd. The earliest folder pertains to obtaining this work. In all, he would work with the firm for ten years.
In June 1937, the British Government offered him the civilian post of Manager, Stores & Workshops, Mechanical Transport, Sudan Defence Force. Robertson became a Freemason at the Grand Lodge of Scotland on 21 December Anno Lucis 5938 [21 Dec 1938], joining the Khartoum Lodge No, 2877.
A certificate of Grand Master is signed by him on 6 February 1939. He joined the Army's Sudan Defence Force in April 1940 and was placed on the register for the Emergency Reserve. Officially enrolled on 12 June 1940 as a 2nd Lieutenant, he served in Khartoum North, in mechanical engineering. Three days later, a letter confirms this rank of "Bimbashi" in pdgin terminology and indicates that he's posted to "Mechanical Transport" as a temporary commission. A large certificate printed in English and Arabic bearing the red seal of the Governor of Sudan, completed and signed in manuscript, makes it official.He gained the rank of Captain on 5 May 1942 and was appointed at the same time as Temporary Major. From 4 November 1942 to at least end of September 1945 he was attached to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps (REME). On a document from March 1943, he is referred to as "El Kaim" short for Kaimakam, indicating that he then held a higher rank, having been promoted to Temporary Major sometime after January 21st. In his army book we learn that he was a Major on 29 April 1944. Ongoing discussions took place regarding the purpose and restructuring of the Sudan Defence Force after the war. Robertson puts forth some interesting points for considerations , for example, in a letter to SDF Headquarters on 5 August 1945, In view of the many and various difficulties in running this Unit due to reductions in British key personnel under Release and Python scheme etc. It is suggested that the time has now come to consider generally the location and functions of this Unit in the Post war years. The volume of work in Base Wksps [workshops] is diminishing... The layout of the whole installation, never designed for economical working, requires replanning... The coming rains are certain to cause damage to many mud building etc... The question of post war British Staff also arises... Suitable staff with knowledge of the country and the language , being readily available as and when required. This letter reveals the political cross-fire in which Robertson found himself at the center of. Robertson's own letters also allude to the awkward situation.
Foley writes, At your request I have seen H. Hunt regarding El Kaimakam A. The position is particularly difficult... Robertson Bey will be [necessary] when we come to roll up the SDF & S. His existence has long since been a thorn in the REME flesh, & one of the reasons for this was his loyalty to S.
Needs in the outstation workshops of Juba, Fasher & El Obeid, which served the S. As well as the army. Foley's letter also reveals that Robertson often worked alone and in general with very little support during wartime. He performed noble work in the difficult September 1939 - 1941 period, when he was alone except for me above him, & Messrs Bell & Wright of the S.
At that time, with battles raging, the British army showed little predisposition to assist... Nevertheless he has served the Government & the army well... Two folders contain all the particulars and correspondence of his Army career, including one with confidential letters and fascinating details of internal conflict between the Sudan Defence Force and the Sudan Government, among other things. One folder details the challenges in obtaining the retirement benefits he was due.
In a letter, he writes, Immediately on demobilization, on 1st December 1945, I became Secretary of the Committee which was formed to investigate the formation of a new Mechanical Transport Department, and which eventually recommended its formation. In 1945 he went through the process of bringing his wife to Sudan to live with him, which is well documented in the archive. Apart from a brief 60-day leave in the previous year, he had not seen her since August 1939.He was officially released from active military duty on 21 August 1946. And, at the end of January 1947 he was released from His Majesty's Commission, an appointment from 1945. In 1946, Robertson petitions the Sudan Government Public Works Department for employment, noting that , ...
My Sudan career began by ten years service to the Sudanese through a commercial firm of repute... In all my Sudan career I have therefore been in the closest contact with Sudanese labour of all grades, and can therefore accurately and wholeheartedly work towards the goal of Sudanization... My whole life has been devoted to the practical application of Motor Transport... On 18 June 1947 he was appointed Controller of Outstation Workshops, Mechanical Transport Department, in the Sudan Government, and by 1948 was attached to the Department of Agriculture and Forests, as manager of the Agricultural Machinery Depot at Wad el Huri.
He retired in 1951, after four years in civil engineering works in Sudan. Interesting financial loss reports from 1951 provide details of a fire incident causing loss of supplies, and other lost equipment in the desert, in these cases naming the drivers. One folder pertains to this work after retiring from the Army. For his WWII service in the Sudan Defence Force, Andrew Cameron Robertson was awarded four medals: The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M. (Military) Member's 2nd type breast badge, silver, cross separated from crown suspension; the 1939-45 Star; the Africa Star; and the Defence and War Medals.
London Gazette 30 December 1941. "El Bimbashi, Sudan Defence Force". Recommendation states: Bimbashi Andrew Cameron Robertson, M. [Motor Transport, Sudan Defence Force attached to Stores and Ordnance, Sudan Government]. This officer has rendered meritorious service during the last 6 months having been in entire charge of the M.
Stores (American type) of all the Imperial forces in the field (Sudan command). With no other officer to assist him and with only a mixed Sudanese and Indian Staff he has earned for his work in this sphere the personal thanks of both Divisional commanders and his services have been of a high order and great value. He was also responsible for the uncasing and preparation and equipping and testing and issue of all new and repaired American type vehicles, and the supply of tyres, parts and accessories for their maintainance by units and advanced repair workshops in the field - British and Indian Armies, S. African, Free French and Belgian, Ethiopian patriotic forces included.
Recommended by the Director of Stores and Ordnance, Sudan Government. London Gazette 13 January 1941 Capt. Sudan Defence Force (SDF) was a locally recruited British-led force formed in 1925 to assist the police in the event of civil unrest, and to maintain the borders of British administered Sudan.
During the Second World War, it also served beyond the Sudan in the East African Campaign and in the Western Desert Campaign. As part of the Anglo-Egyptian "Condominium, " the Sudan was at war with the Axis from the time the notorious German leader invaded Poland in 1939 and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.Initially the war was limited to Europe and so the Sudan Defence Force had little to do other than preparation work should the land war reach Africa. The Frontier Battalion of the Sudan Defence Force, set up in May 1940, was joined at Khartoum by the 2nd Ethiopian and 4th Eritrean battalions, raised from émigré volunteers in Kenya. From 10 June 1940, when Italy declared war on Britain and France, the SDF was involved in the East African Campaign. The Sudan itself was occasionally the target of hostilities, notably from the Italians upon their entry into the Second World War. At first, the SDF went on the defensive against attacks into the Sudan by forces of the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) and the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) based in Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI). The Italians occupied the railway junction at Kassala, the small fort at Gallabat, and the villages of Ghezzan, Kurmuk, and Dumbode on the Blue Nile.
In the first days of August, an Italian force of irregular Eritreans raided as far north as Port Sudan. In September 1940 an Italian attack was attempted on Khartoum, from Goz Regeb to Gallabat, on a front of 200 mi (320 km). Italian reinforcements arrived in October 1940 and patrolled more frequently, just as dissensions among local potentates were reconciled by Sandford's diplomacy.
Major Orde Wingate was sent to Khartoum with an assistant to join the HQ of the SDF. On 20 November, Wingate was flown to Sakhala to meet Sandford; the RAF managed to bomb Dangila, drop propaganda leaflets and supply Mission 101, which raised Ethiopian morale. The Sudan Defence Force fought during the East African Campaign on the "Northern Front" under the command of Lieutenant-General William Platt. In October 1940, three motor machine-gun companies from the SDF were part of Gazelle Force, a mobile reconnaissance and fighting force commanded by Colonel Frank Messervy. The Frontier battalion from the SDF was part of Gideon Force commanded by Major Orde Wingate.In January 1941, during the British and Commonwealth offensive into the AOI, the SDF took part in the successful invasion of Eritrea. During this invasion, the SDF contributed machine gun companies, howitzer batteries, and other forces (including some homemade armoured cars).
The SDF also played an active role during the Western Desert Campaign along the Sudanese border with ASI in North Africa. SDF convoys of 3-ton trucks had to make a round trip of about 1,300 miles to keep the garrisons at Kufra supplied with petrol, food, and other vital supplies. In 1942 on instructions from London, British Military Intelligence, Cairo and elements of the Sudan Defence Force were involved with countering Operation Salaam, the infiltration of German Brandenburger commandos into Egypt. Together with British intelligence agents, members of the SDF were ordered to intercept and capture the German intelligence (Abwehr) commandos and their Hungarian guide, desert explorer László Almásy.By the end of the war, the SDF was an experienced military force with about 70 Sudanese officers, almost all of them Muslim northerners. Gradually Sudanese officers were appointed to replace British officers in the years that preceded independence.
The item "1927-1951 Major Robertson WWII SUDAN DEFENCE FORCE Primary Source Documents" is in sale since Friday, July 31, 2020. This item is in the category "Antiques\Maps, Atlases & Globes\World Maps". The seller is "voyagerpress" and is located in Blaine, Washington. This item can be shipped worldwide.