Souvenir pencil holder from Princess Mary Gift Tin : Gunner S E A Greentree, Cape Garrison Artillery, South African Army

Place Africa: South Africa
Accession Number REL41729
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Brass, Sterling silver
Maker Colonial Ammunition Co
Place made New Zealand
Date made December 1914
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Souvenir pencil holder from a Princess Mary's 1914 Christmas gift tin. It is a two part object consisting of a .303 cartridge case and a sterling silver 'bullet' which originally held a pencil (not present) . The rimmed brass cartridge case is inscribed with Princess Mary's monogram. The headstamp (base) of the casing is stamped 'C.A.C / N Z / II'. The brass primer for the round has been fired and it has a small circular indent from the firing pin in the middle of the primer.

History / Summary

Associated with the First World War service of Septimus Ernest Athol Greentree in South Africa. This object is from a Princess Mary gift tin. The tins were presented to all soldiers and sailors of the Empire at Christmas 1914. Each contained various items such as a pipe and tobacco products, pencil, notebook, postcards, a photograph of the Princess or depending on whether the recipient was a non-smoker, a nurse or Sikh, perhaps a tin of spices, fruit lozenges, sugar candy or chocolate. Distribution was slow, and some did not receive their tins until 1920. The pencils and their protective 'bullet' cover were made from Mk VI.303 calibre ammunition. The markings on the headstamp (base) of the casing indicates that it was produced by the Colonial Ammunition Company in New Zealand.

Greentree was born on 22 January 1872 at Freeman's Reach, Hawkesbury, New South Wales, to Robert and Hannah Greentree. He travelled to South Africa and in June 1900 enlisted for service in the Boer War, joining 1st Battalion, Brabant's Horse, an irregular British South African unit. This highly mobile Light Horse unit was formed by then Brigadier General Edward Brabant, a South African colonial military commander. It was made up of approximately 600 South African colonials, Australians, British and Canadian soldiers and was heavily involved in fighting irregular Boer commando units, in particular in the Transvaal. Greentree attained the rank of corporal and in March 1901 was discharged from Brabant s Horse to serve as an agent with the South African Field Intelligence Division (FID). The FID conducted a diverse range of field intelligence activities and was considered highly effective at combating the Boers in South Africa.

Greentree was still living in South Africa when the First World War broke out in September 1914. Aged 42 he joined the Cape Garrison Artillery on 17 September 1914 at Cape Town and was assigned the regimental number A/51164. He served in German South West Africa (today known as Namibia) and was discharged on 29 July 1915 after the cessation of hostilities in this area.

Greentree re-joined the South African forces in Cape Town on 22 April 1916, this time as a private in the 11th South African Infantry with the regimental number 11681. The unit saw action against German colonial forces in East Africa. Greentree was discharged in Durban on 13 December 1916. He later returned to Australia and died in 1963 at Sydney, NSW, aged 90.