DCM GV (C.S.Mjr. M.W. Keit 4/S.A.Inf.);
QSA (1) 02 (1070 Pte. M. Keit Durban L.I.)
Natal (1) 1906 (1906 Cpl. M. W. Keit Durban Light Infantry);
1914-15 Star (Sgt. M.W. Keit lstRhodn. Rgt.);
BWM and VM with MID (A/1st C/W. O. M.W. Keit 4th S.A.I.)
DCM LG 11 March 1920 (p.3137): 4916 C JSJM. M.W. Keit, 4th Bn., S.A. Infy. “In the operations on 8th October 1918, in front of Le Chateau, he was of invaluable assistance to his company commander, and displayed great courage and devotion to duty throughout. Although wounded he carried on until the objective had been gained and consolidated.”
MiD Keit, (described as belonging to Composite Battalion, SA.F.), was mentioned in a Despatch by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig dated 8 November 1918. (LG No. 31089) Max William Keit, known to his friends as “Billie”, was a carpenter with the South African Railways. He was born on 9 November 1885 in Durban, South Africa and married Lily Godfry in Somerset England on 30 June 1920. He died aged 53 years on 6 February 1939. He is buried amongst a number of family graves at St. Thomas’s Cemetery in Durban, South Africa.
Max Keit would have only been a lad 16 years old during the Boer War and this would explain why he only earned the single South Africa 1902 bar for his QSA medal. He is listed on Forsyth’s roll for the Bambata rebellion (numerous newspaper clippings included). .Although a resident of Durban, Max Keit served with the Rhodesian forces during the German S.W.A. campaign.
He attested for further service (this being his 4th campaign) with the 3rd S.A.I. on 31 July 1915. He is not listed in Ian Uys’s Rollcall for Delville Wood but presumably served throughout the campaign and the heavy fighting in France, perhaps also serving in Egypt in early 1916. In February 1918 the South African Brigade was reduced from four to three battalions. The naming on his medals, as well as other documents which accompany the lot, indicate that Keit was one of the 8 Officers and 200 other ranks who transferred to the 4th Regiment on disbandment of the 3rd Regiment. He continued serving with the 4th S A.I. until the end of the war. He was one of the many members of the 4th Regiment who were wounded during the heavy fighting on the 9/10 October 1918. He earned both a Mention in Despatches as well as a Distinguished Conduct Medal and clearly was in the thick of the action.
The LG date of his MiD suggests noteworthy conduct well before the October action which lead to the award of the DCM. The original documentation included with the lot makes the group all the more interesting.
Buchan, in his book The South African Forces in France describes how the attack beyond Beaurevoir on the 8 October 1918, covered by a creeping barrage, started at 05hl0 and that by 07h00 the South Africans had their first objective. The 4* Regiment were on the left and, like the 2nd Regiment, also had to face heavy machine gun fire, but swept through the German position at La Sablonniere and Hamage farm, taking no less than thirty-five machine guns. As soon as the first objective was won the ground was consolidated. The 4th Regiment had 45 men killed, and 4 officers and 194 men wounded.
Heavy fighting continued the following day, 9 October. The South Africans began the day in reserve but soon the 2nd Regiment was in action relieving the villages of Maurois and Honnechy, this being the first time that South African forces had liberated an area not cleared of its civil population. The 4th Regiment also experienced severe fighting in securing the village of Bertry and suffered the further heavy losses of an officer and 23 other ranks killed and 75 wounded. These were two days of heavy fighting and the 4th Regiment suffered one of their most severe periods during WWI with a total of 69 killed and 173 wounded in just two days of fighting.
Sold with original discharge document dated 27 April 1917; original MiD certificate; soldier’s Pay Book (period July 1917 - July 1918); linen copy of map of the Marche area, Belgium; covering letter enclosing Oak Leaf emblems (Oakleaves now excluded); copy of birth certificate; contemporary copy of marriage certificate; death certificate No. 166452; Rules of the League of Returned Soldiers and Sailors booklet (Durban Branch) with invoice receipt dd. 1919; three embroidered Great War post cards; copy Springboks Welcome Home 1919 booklet - a souvenir booklet from the City of Cape Town together with various other miscellaneous documents and numerous newspaper clippings, postcards. Most of the documents are worn.
This lot also includes a WWI pair to his wife: BWM; AVM (Brit.) 2511 WKR. L. Godfrey Q.M.A.A.C. (Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Coips.) as well as a Royal .Army and Navy Boxing .Assoc, silver hallmark medallion in original Mappin & Webb Ltd. plush lined box and assorted buttons and badges.