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EASTERN CAPE BRANCH Newsletter No 80 May/NuusbriefNr 80 Mei 2011

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SOUTH AFRICAN MILITARYHISTORY SOCIETY EASTERN CAPE BRANCH

SUID -AFRIKAANSE KRYGSHISTORIESEVERENINGING OOS-KAAP TAK

 Newsletter No 80 May/NuusbriefNr 80 Mei 2011

 SAMHSEC’s 11April 2011 meeting in Port Elizabeth opened with the first in the series on familymember’s military service. Seven members of Tiaan Jacobs’ family, includinghimself, served, starting with a family member who was in the Battle of BloodRiver on 16 December 1838. Jan Jacobsz, born at Swellendam on 11 October 1812,was the eldest son of Michiel Christiaan Jacobs and the brother of MichielCornelius Jacobs, born 25 April 1816, Tiaan’s branch of the Jacobs’ progenitor.Jan married Anna Catharina Erasmus on 2 February 1834 in Cradock. As no mentionhas been found of children, she must have died early. He then married JohannaSusanna Magdalena van Niekerk in the laager of Hendrik Potgieter atPotchefstroom, which indicates that they were part of the Potgieter Trek. Janand other family members were in Natal before the Battle of Blood River and heresponded to the call from other Voortrekkers to join forces for theforthcoming battle. Jan and his family did not return to the Transvaal afterthe Battle of Blood River, but, after almost 11 years, settled in Senekal,Orange Free State, after stays at Pietermaritzburg, Weenen and Winburg. He diedat Senekal on 20 April 1888. Although he did not receive any medals for thebattle in which he participated, he will be remembered and honored by hisdescendants for the fact that he voluntarily joined his fellow Voortrekkers forthe imminent battle, thus putting his life in jeopardy.  (Scribe’s note: Anyone interested in doing apresentation on a family member’s military service is invited to approach theScribe). The curtainraiser by Mike Duncan was on Major Allister MacIntosh Miller, DSO, OBE. Millerwas born in Swaziland in 1892. He joined the Royal Scots Greys in August 1914 andserved with them until March 1915, when he transferred to the RFC. In 1916 hewon the DSO flying cover for SA troops in Longueval and Delville Wood. At theend of 1916 and during 1917, Miller toured South Africa recruiting pilots forthe RFC. On his first trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, he came in to landon the 18th fairway of the PE Golf Club. As this was the first time anaeroplane had been seen in PE, the crowd rushed forward, causing Miller tocrash into a bunker, damaging the propeller, the remains of which are mountedin the PE Golf Club entrance. In 1919 Miller was awarded the OBE. In 1924 he waselected MP for Durban Point. He pioneered an air-mail service from Cape Town toPort Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Durban. This led to theformation of Union Airways in 1929 with headquarters in PE. Union Airways wassubsequently taken over by the SA Government and became South African Airways. Theroad in front of the PE airport is named Allister Miller Drive in his honour. DuringWW2 Miller was responsible for air training at Kimberley, Queenstown andBenoni. He is buried in the North End Cemetery in PE.  The main lecture by LawrieWilmot was on the development of radar andradio beams, with acknowledgement to his source The Secret War by Brian Johnson.British radar began as a concept in 1934. Dr. H.E. Wimperis, the then Directorof Scientific Research at the Air Ministry, had on his staff a  scientistnamed Robert Watson Watt, who was the head of a Radio ResearchStation. Watson Watt produced a remarkable report dated 12 February1935 titled “Detection and Location of aircraft by  Radio Methods”. Heproposed using a radio pulse technique to measure the three vital parametersrequired for practical radar: range, bearing and altitude. Cathode-ray tubesenabled the reflected signals from a target aircraft to be visuallyplotted. The face of the tube was calibrated in miles which enabled  the range of the target aircraft to bedetermined. By August 1935 altitude was being measured and by January 1936, bearing.By September 1939 the whole east coast of Britain was covered by a chainof radar stations,  appropriately named Chain Home Radar. Interception byfighters became ground-controlled. The invention of the cavity magnetron in1941 enabled effective short wave anti-submarine and shipping radar to bedeveloped. The Germanscodenamed their radar Freya. It was an aircraft detection system similar to thatof the British and operated on 558 to 560 Mhz.  Freya was also usedagainst shipping. The most effectiveBritish counter to radar was Window. This consisted of aluminium strips halfthe length of the enemy dipole aerial wavelength. It reflected powerful echoeswhich saturated radar screens and, when dropped in huge clouds,  madedetection of aircraft almost impossible. Although the Germans also developedtheir own version of Window, named Duppel, they never used it. A Germanscientist, Dr. Hans Plendl, had by 1938 developed a radio beam system whichenabled German bombers to navigate in darkness and all weather conditions anddrop their bombs accurately. It was codenamed Knickebein and usually operaratedon 31,5 Mhz. British counter-measures counterfeited the beams and directed enemyaircraft off course to drop their bombs harmlessly in open country. The beamscould also be jammed and by 1943 radio navigation beams had largelybeen neutralised. (Pat Irwin’s note: In the light of our main speaker's talklast night, Barry has sent me this website, which I am sure our members wouldfind fascinating.  

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1374818/Nazi-bomber-comes-deep-Dornier-shot-1940-coast-Kent.html) SAMHSECcongratulates fellow member Barry Irwin on being awarded his PhD.  SAMHSEC’snext meeting will be at 1930 on 9 May 2011 at the usual venue. The curtainraiser by Andre Crozier will be on The clearing of the Zuurveld. The main lectureby Franco Cilliers will be on Anti-ship Missiles. The Worldat War episode will be Banzai – Japan strikes 1941 -1942. The family member’smilitary service presentation will be by Peter Duffel-Canham.  MalcolmKinghorn SAMHSEC SCRIBE culturev@lantic.net    082 331 6223 

LawrieWilmot is open to offers in the region of R1000 for a complete 16 volume set ofthe Illustrated War News of WW1. He has a review written by a valuator of rarebooks confirming the good quality of the photos and of the accuracy of the reporting.Anyone interested may contact him on lgw@lantic.net.

 

NewsletterNo. 423; KwaZulu-NatalMay 2011

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NewsletterNo. 423; KwaZulu-NatalMay 2011

 

The AGM was chairedby vice chairman Dr. John Cooke. Bill Brady was re elected as chairmanand Roy Bowman and Captain Brian Hoffman proposed and seconded to thecommittee.

      The Darrell Hall Memorial talkwas presented by fellow member Paul Kirk on “Jasper Maskelyne - theWar Magician.”

     JasperMaskelyne, was born in 1902 in England,a music hall conjurer, never fired a shot in battle, but his amazing featsplayed a key role in the Allied victory in Africa. JasperMaskelyne was a British stage magician in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of anestablished family of stage magicians, and could also trace his ancestry to theroyal astronomer Nevil Maskelyne. He is most remembered, however, for theaccounts of his work for British military intelligence during the Second World War, creatinglarge-scale ruses, deception, and camouflage.

     Maskelyne joined the Royal Engineers when theSecond World War broke out, thinking that his skills could be used in camouflage. Heconvinced sceptical officers by creating the illusion of a German warship onthe Thames using mirrors and a model. He waseventually deployed to the African theatre in the Western Desert,although he spent most of his time entertaining the troops. In January 1941,General Archibald Wavell created A Force forsubterfuge and counterintelligence. Maskelyne was assigned to serve in it andgathered a group of 14 assistants, including an architect, art restorer,carpenter, chemist, electrical engineer, electrician, painter, and stage-setbuilder. It was nicknamed the Magic Gang. The Magic Gang built a number ofillusions. They used painted canvas and plywood to make jeeps look liketanks with fake tank tracks and tanks look like trucks. They created illusionsof armies and battleships. His largest illusion was to conceal Alexandria and the Suez Canal to misdirectGerman bombers. He built a mock up of the night-lights of Alexandria in a bay three miles away withfake buildings, and anti-aircraft batteries. To mask the Suez Canal he built a revolving cone of mirrors that created awheel of a lighthouse spinning light nine miles, meant to dazzle and disorientenemy pilots so that their bombs would fall off-target. In 1942 he worked inOperation Bertram before the Battle of Alamein. In 1942 he worked in OperationBertram. His task was to make German Field Marshall think that the attack wascoming from the south when British General Montgomeryplanned to attack from the north when British General Montgomery planned to attack from the north.In the north, 1,000 tanks were disguised as trucks. On the south, the MagicGang created 2,000 fake tanks with convincing pyrotechnics. There was a fakerailway line, fake radio conversations, and fake sounds of construction. Theyalso built a fake water pipeline and made it look as if it would never be readybefore attack.

     The Magic Gang was disbanded after thebattle and, although Winston Churchill praised hisefforts, Maskelyne did not receive the appreciation he desired. Maskelyne triedto resume his stage career after the war without much success. He alsopublished a book about his exploits, Magic: Top Secret in 1949. In 2002 TheGuardian said: "Maskelyne received no official recognition. For a vainman this was intolerable. Very little verifiable evidence of Maskelyne's workduring this period is documented, leading some researchers to believe thatMaskelyne's claims are exaggerated or fabricated. He later moved to Kenya and founded a drivingschool. He died in 1973.

     The standard Maskelyne account has beencritically analysed by military historians and magicians and it is concludedthat Maskelyne's wartime exploits have been heavily fictionalised.

 The Main Talk was presented by guest speaker PropGeldenhuys on “The Rhodesian War.”

     The RhodesianWar was a civil war in the former country of Rhodesia(now Zimbabwe)fought from 1964 to 1979. The war and its subsequent settlement ultimatelyended white minority rule under Ian Smith and resulted in the creation of the Republic of Zimbabwe under theleadership of Robert Mugabe. Despite the impact of economic and diplomaticsanctions, Rhodesiawas able to develop and maintain a potent and professional military capability.The regular army was always a relatively small force, but by 1978–79 itconsisted of some 10,800 regulars nominally supported by about 40,000reservists, though by the last year of the war, perhaps as few as 15,000 wereavailable for active service. While the regular army consisted of aprofessional core drawn from the white population, the majority of itscomplement was actually composed of black soldiers. The army reserves, incontrast, were largely white and, toward the end of the war, were increasinglybeing called up to deal with the growing insurgency. The regular army wassupported by the para-military BSAP with a strength of about 8,000 to 11,000men and supported by between 19,000 to 35,000 police reservists. The policereserves acted as type of home guard. The war saw the extensive operation ofRhodesian regulars as well as elite units such as the Selous Scouts and the RhodesianSAS. TheRhodesian Army fought bitterly against the Black Nationalist. The RhodesianArmy also comprised mostly black regiments. As the war went on, the frequentcall up of reservists was increasingly utilized to supplement the professionalsoldiers and the many volunteers from overseas. By 1978 all white males up tothe age of 60 were subject to periodic call-up into the army; younger men up to35 might expect to spend alternating blocks of six weeks in the army and athome.

     The Rhodesian Army was, considering thearms embargo, well-equipped. The Rhodesian Air Force operated a variety ofequipment and carried out numerous roles, with air power providing theRhodesians with a significant advantage over their enemy. When the arms embargowas introduced, the RhAF was suddenly lacking spare parts from externalsuppliers and was forced to find alternative means of keeping their aircraftflying. The RhAF was also relatively well equipped and used a large proportionof equipment which was obsolete, such as the vintage Dakota transport aircraftand the early British jet-fighter the de Havilland Vampire. It also used moremodern types of aircraft like the Hawker Hunter and Canberra bombers, the as well as Alouette 111helicopters. At the beginning of the war much of Rhodesia's military hardware was ofBritish origin but during the course of the conflict new equipment such asarmoured cars were procured from the South Africans. Several captured SovietBloc tanks were provided to Rhodesiaby the South Africans, though only in the last year of the war. TheRhodesians also produced some of their own armoured vehicles. The means withwhich the Rhodesians procured weaponry meant that the arms embargoes had littleeffect on the Rhodesian war effort. During the course of the war most whitecitizens carried personal weapons, and it was not unusual to see whitehousewives carrying sub machine guns.

     The Rhodesian government divided thenation into eight geographical operational areas: North West Border (OperationRanger), Eastern Border (Operation Thrasher), North East Border (OperationHurricane), South East Border (Operation Repulse), Midlands (OperationGrapple), Kariba (Operation Splinter), Matabeleland(Operation Tangent). The fighting was largely rural, with both movementsattempting to secure peasant support and to recruit fighters while harassingthe administration and the white civilians. Unlike the town-dwellers, ruralwhites faced danger and many were killed but in 1979 there were still 6,000white farmers. They were vulnerable every time they left the homestead. ZANLAwas the armed wing of ZANU. The organization also had strong links with Mozambique’sindependence movement FRELIMO. ZANLA, in the end, was present on a more or lesspermanent basis in over half the country, as evidenced by the location of thedemobilisation bases at the end of the war, which were in every province. Inaddition, they were fighting a civil war against ZIPRA, despite the formationof a joint front by their political parties after 1978. It was ZANLA'sintention to occupy the ground, supplant the administration in rural areas, andthen mount the final conventional campaign. ZANLA concentrated on thepoliticisation of the rural areas using force, persuasion, ties of kinship andcollaboration with spirit mediums. ZANLA tried to paralyse the Rhodesian effortand economy by planting Soviet anti-tank land mines on the roads. From 1972 to1980 there were 2,504 vehicle detonations of land mines (mainly Soviet TM46s).In response, the Rhodesians co-operated with the South Africans to develop arange of mine protected vehicles. They began by replacing air in tyres withwater which absorbed some of the blast and reduced the heat of the explosion.Initially, they protected the bodies with steel deflector plates, sandbags andmine conveyor belting. Later, purpose built vehicles with V shaped blast hullsdispersed the blast and deaths in such vehicles became unusual events.

     ZIPRA was responsible for two attacks oncivilian Air RhodesiaViscount airplanes using Sam 7 surface to air missiles. Ten out of the eighteencivilians on board who survived the first crash were subsequently killed by theZIPRA militants. In his memoirs, Story of My Life (1985), Nkomoexpressed regret for the shooting down of both planes, claiming ZIPRAintelligence believed the plane was carrying General Walls and his aides.

The vote of thanks was presented by Captain Brian Hoffman who thankedboth speakers for their excellent and well prepared presentations.

THE SOCIETY’S NEXT MEETING:

Thursday 12th May 2011 – 19h00 for 19h30. Venue: MurrayTheatre, Dept of Civil Engineering, Universityof KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

The Darrell Hall (DDH) Memorial Lecture will be presented byfellow member Roy Bowman on “The TokyoRaid.”

The Main Talk will be presented byfellow member Anthony Elworthy on “My father Lord Elworthy.”

 FUTURESOCIETY DATES: June – August.

9th June:

DDH - “Letters from thefront” by Charles Whiteing.

Main Talk - “CecilRhodes's role in Southern African military history” by Maj Gen Chris le Roux.

 14th July:

DDH – “MilitaryIncidents” by Marjory Dean.

Main Talk -. “Afghanistan – Axis of Terror” byPeter Williams.

 11th August:

DDH – “The Thukela;Spionkop Revisited” by Mikhail Peppas.

Main Talk - “The Raid on SurpriseHill by the 2nd Bn, The Rifle Brigade” by Robin Smith

 Branch Battlefield Tour. Theweekend of Saturday 13th andSunday 14th August 2011 has been finalised for the annual BranchBattlefield Tour. As requested by a recent show of hands, this year we’ll befocusing on the two battles at Colenso and the manner in which the tacticschanged on both sides – especially the British. At this stage, we have thefollowing presenters: Ken Gillings, Maj Gen Chris le Roux (tbc), Prof PhilipEveritt and Roy Bowman. Further details will follow in subsequent newsletters.

 

NOVEMBER 2010

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THE SOCIETY’S NEXT MEETING:

Thursday 9th December 2010 – 19h00 for 19h30. Venue: Murray Theatre, Dept of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

The Darrell Hall (DDH) Memorial Lecture will be presented by fellow member Roy Bowman entitled USS Cassin Young DD793, a Fletcher Class Destroyer.

This will be followed by our year end cocktail party. Snacks will be supplied by the Society. However, members are to bring own refreshments.

FUTURE SOCIETY DATES: January - March 2011.

20th Jan. (Third Thurs.)

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture - Steve versus the Kudu, by Colonel Steve Bekker (NB This lecture has been brought forward from 14th April 2011).

Main Talk - The Spy who disappeared by Capt.(SAN) (Retd) Brian Hoffman

10th February. (Back to the Second Thursday)

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture – Aerial Bombings of Civilian Targets, by Mr Brian Davies

Main Talk – Operation Torch, 1942 by Bill Brady

  10th March.

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture – My Experiences in the Armed Struggle, by Mr Sunny Singh

Main Lecture – Major General Sir Charles Warren in Northern Natal, by Professor Philip Everitt

  FUTURE EVENTS

Fort Nottingham Highland Gathering – 16th April 2011

Ladysmith Battlefields Festival – Freedom of Entry to be offered to 8 Reserve Force Regiments, one Regular Force Regiment and one UK Regiment while existing Regiments (Royal Navy, SA Navy, 5 SAI, Natal Carbineers, Light Horse Regiment and Irish Guards) will be invited to exercise their Right to Freedom of Entry.

Society tour to the Battlefields of the Somme and Italy – 8th to 20th July 2011.

Itinerary available from Ken Gillings

  Contact: Mike Laing 031 205 1951 laingm@eastcoast.co.za

Bill Brady 031 561 5542 wbrady@worldonline.co.za

Society’s web site address - http://samilitaryhistory.org

 

JAN 2011

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Here is a reminder that the first meeting of 2011 will be held on the THIRD THURSDAY of January 2011 instead of the usual second Thursday. We will revert to normal from February.

 

 

Contact: Ken Gillings 031 702 4828 ken.gillings@mweb.co.za Bill Brady 031 561 5542 wbrady@worldonline.co.za

Society’s web site address: http://samilitaryhistory.org

Newsletter no. 418 KwaZulu-Natal December 2010

 

Due to the Chairman Bill Brady being unavailable due recent knee surgery, the meeting was chaired by Charles Whiteing.

The Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture was presented by vice chairman Dr. John Cooke entitled “The Conquest of the Incas.”  Here is Dr Cooke’s personal appraisal of this remarkable period of military history:

     Following a visit to South America last year, I became very interested in the Incan Empire and its rise and fall. In fact, the whole history of the previous Andean civilizations is absolutely fascinating, with amazing cultures flourishing in the two thousand years prior to the Incas. All these developments took place without any contact whatsoever with the rest of the world, and many inventions which had been present in Europe and Asia for millennia did not exist. The Peruvians did not have the wheel or pulleys, iron or steel, any written language or numbers, and only primitive weapons, with rudimentary protective armour. From the agricultural aspect, they had no cattle or horses, and had only the llama as a beast of burden, which was not strong enough to pull a plough. Despite this, they grew crops on steep hillsides, on skilfully engineered earthquake- proof terraces, and became superlative stonemasons. The stage was therefore set for a disastrous clash of contrasting civilizations, when colonists from Europe, with superior technology, arrived at the beginning of the sixteenth century, driven by two powerful motives, greed for gold, and arrogant religious fervour. With his superior weapons, and the help of local tribes, Hernan Cortez subjugated the Aztecs of Central America in 1519, and as the Pacific Ocean had been discovered a few years earlier, the Spaniards were then lured down the west coast by tales of a fabulous land of gold to the south, the Empire of the Incas. This had modest beginnings with a small tribe in the central Andes, led by the legendary Manco Capac who took over and settled his followers in the fertile Cuzco valley, early in the 13th century. Over the next 200 years they gradually began to acquire more territory by conquering the surrounding tribes, and continually building their strength, both militarily, and economically. The turning point came when the Incas were attacked by the Chancas in 1438, and their brilliant leader at that time, Pachacuti, scored a great victory. He rapidly went on to expand his kingdom by first subduing all the smaller tribes in the north, and then turned south to conquer, and assimilate the 400 year old Aymara Empire around Lake Titicaca. The Aymarans had already established the idea of political and cultural unity, which Pachacuti embraced and developed further.

     Expansion of the Incan Empire was then achieved by battles when necessary, but more often by bloodless diplomacy and negotiation, when the advantages of becoming part of the Empire were compared with the consequences of resistance. If they refused to surrender, the local leaders and their families were slaughtered, but, if they co-operated, they were allowed to stay in power, their own customs and religions were respected, and allowed to remain intact.

     A major unifying device was the teaching of the local Cuzco language, Quechua to the chiefs and young people throughout the conquered areas, and so it became the “lingua franca” of the whole Inca Empire, rather like Latin in the Roman Empire. Offspring of the local rulers were also brought back to Cuzco for indoctrination. The quality of life and the nutritional well-being of the subjugated peoples were greatly enhanced by the introduction of new agricultural technology, such as the terracing of steep hillsides, and extensive irrigation systems. Again, like the Romans, a magnificent road system was engineered, to link the cities and towns, and thus provide communication and transport of goods over thousands of kilometres of often very difficult terrain.

     At last, when Pachacuti became tired of campaigning, and decided to develop Cuzco into a magnificent city, his able son Topa Inca took over the expansion of the Empire with enthusiasm. In 1525, Huayna Capac was residing in his northern province of Quito, when he heard the disturbing news that white sailed ships had been sighted exploring the coast further north. He was not to know that the ships were carrying a dangerous cargo of avaricious Europeans, led by a soldier of fortune called Francisco Pizarro. In 1524, Pizarro got together a small expedition, and sailed down the west coast to the San Juan River some 500 Km. south, but only encountered jungle, and returned empty handed. A second voyage 2 years later was much more successful, and literally struck gold a lot further south Pizarro returned to Spain in 1528, and after showing King Charles V solid gold drinking vessels, a live llama, and two Peruvians, was given a Royal Charter to conquer the land of gold. Two years later he returned to Panama with a small ill-equipped expedition, which eventually set sail in January 1531 with 3 ships, 180 men, and 27 horses, surely the smallest invasion fleet in history. The Spaniards began by plundering coastal towns north of Tumbez. Pizarro was then reinforced by another 130 men from Panama, and, leaving a garrison at the coast, he marched inland to conquer the Incas.

     It would seem to be the only time in history when a band of some 200 soldiers, commanded by a determined, avaricious, illiterate, but able commander overthrew a mighty empire of several million, plundered its’ riches and destroyed its’ magnificent cities. The only Incan city to survive destruction was Machu Picchu, never found by the Spaniards, lost for centuries and discovered in1911 by the American explorer Hyram Bingham. The rest of the empire gradually succumbed to Christianity, but some of the early artists exercised Peruvian interpretation when depicting holy events.

 

The Main Talk was presented by fellow member Ian Sutherland entitled “The salvaging of the German High Seas Fleet.”

     On 21st June 1919, seven months after the end of WW1, a group of touring schoolchildren at Scapa Flow were witness to the greatest act of destruction in maritime history – the scuttling of a fleet of 74 warships from Destroyers to Battleships on the orders of Rear Admiral von Reuter.

     Germany signed the Armistice with the Allies on 11 November 1918. Article XXI of this ordered the surrender of all German U-Boats; over 200 were handed over, mostly within the next two weeks.  On the morning of 21 November and were met by an Allied force of 250 ships under Beatty which included most of the Grand Fleet, an American Battleship squadron and representatives of other navies with a total of forty four capital ships.  The Allied guns were trained fore and aft but the gun crews were ready for action. At 3.57 p.m. the German flag was ordered to be hauled down and was not hoisted again until the ships were scuttled. From the 22-26 November the German ships left in groups for Scapa Flow, all having arrived by 27 November. The Germans were not happy at being interned at Scapa Flow as they felt that they should have been interned in a neutral port, and that the British were breaking the spirit, if not the word of the Armistice. They were however in no position to do anything about it. During this time the peace talks had been dragging on, with several extensions to the Armistice, and the Treaty of Versailles was not ready until May 1919.  The Allies were divided over the fate of the ships with many countries wanting a share, whilst the British, the major naval power at the time, were less keen to boost the strength of rival navies. The German officers planned the scuttle, the troublesome crew were not told but in many cases worked out what was going on by watching the officers making preparations, many of the crews were then told. At 10.30 am on 21 June Reuter signalled the fleet "Paragraph eleven. Confirm." - the code for immediate scuttle. Over 400,000 tons of modern warships were sunk, the largest loss of shipping in a single day in history.  Publicly the British were outraged but in private there was a sense of relief that the problem of what to do with the fleet was now ended.

     Ernest Cox a self made engineer was appointed by the Admiralty of salvaging the ships. He later said, "Without boasting, I do not think there is another man in the world who could have tackled the same job. Before I undertook this formidable task, I had never raised a ship in my life. Quite frankly, experts thought me crazy, but to me these vessels represented nothing more than so much scrap of brass, gunmetal, bronze, steel etc., and I was determined to recover this at all costs.

     Even at the start of the salvage operation in the ships were well beyond ever seeing active service again, after some 5 years submerged in salt water. Many of the salvages were towed to Rosyth where they were broken up for scrap. Gun metal was of particular value, though some guns had mysteriously vanished when the ships were raised. Local "entrepreneurs" were suspected recall that one of the battleships, being towed upside-down, ran out of control at the Forth railway bridge and narrowly escaped demolishing it. Virtually the whole operation was fuelled from the bunkers of the Moltke which went down, fully coaled, on her side in shallow water. A hole was cut in her side, and a crane was mounted to pluck out the coal.

The salvage of the SMS Hindenburg remains one of the most complicated examples of marine salvage undertaken. The Cox & Danks Shipbreaking Co. twice attempted to salvage the Hindenburg in 1923 and 1924. The first method involved sealing the ship and patching holes with concrete and tallow, after which water was pumped out to return buoyancy to the hull. This attempt failed as the water did not displace evenly, resulting in the bow rising faster than the stern. A second attempt was made, in which the ship came dangerously close to capsizing. A tackle system was devised to hold the ship upright while pumping operations were resumed. This attempt failed when the lines parted under the strain, and the salvage was put on hold for several years. In 1930 it was tried again. As the bottom of Scapa Flow was too firm to allow the hull to dig in and stabilize itself, blocks were made from the hulls of salvaged German destroyers and filled with concrete to allow the ship more stability. The ship's superstructure and several of the gun turrets were cut away to reduce topside weight. The wreck was finally raised on 22 July 1930 after 11 years on the bottom of Scapa Flow. At approximately 30,000 tonnes, the SMS Hindenburg remains one of the largest acts of marine salvage undertaken, and certainly one of the most difficult. From preliminary attempts until the successful salvage, seven years were required to raise the ship. SMS Hindenburg was the only large warship of the High Seas Fleet to be raised upright at Scapa Flow.

 

Lt Col Dr Graeme Fuller delivered a vote of thanks to both speakers for well researched talks and excellent presentations. He considered both talks to be worthy of Armistice Day.

 

THURS 10th (mONTH ?) 2011

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THE SOCIETY’S NEXT MEETING:

Thursday 10th 2011 – 19h00 for 19h30. Venue: Murray Theatre, Dept of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

The Darrell Hall (DDH) Memorial Lecture will be presented by guest speaker Sunny Singh on “My Experience in the Armed Struggle”.

The Main Talk will be presented by fellow member Jesse Wesseloo on “The Raid on Medway, 1667”.

FUTURE SOCIETY DATES: April- June.

14th APRIL

DDH - “Jasper Maskelyne - the War Magician.” by Paul Kirk.

Main Talk – “The Rhodesian War by Prop Geldenhuys.

12th MAY

DDH – “The Tokyo Raid” by Roy Bowman.

Main Talk - “My father Lord Elworthy” by Anthony Elworthy.  

9th JUNE

DDH - “Letters from the front” by Charles Whiteing.

Main Talk - “Cecil Rhodes's role in Southern African military history” by Maj Gen Chris le Roux. 

OVERSEAS TOUR TO DELVILLE WOOD AND ITALY.

Due to the possibility of the Italian Leg of this tour not taking place due to lack of numbers, an extension to the French leg has been proposed by the Royal British Legion and costings are currently being finalised. Those who have indicated their interest will be kept informed.

  BRANCH BATTLEFIELD TOUR.

At the last monthly meeting, the majority of members opted to cover the two Battles in the Colenso area. The tour will therefore focus on the Battle of Colenso (15th December 1899) and the Battle of the Thukela Heights (12th to 28th February 1900) and involve an in depth comparison of the tactics used by both sides. Details will be circulated in due course, but should you wish to participate in the presentations, please contact Ken Gillings on 031 702 4828 / 083 654 5880 or by e-mail on ken.gillings@mweb.co.za  

  Hi Shipmates,

                            Anyone interested in attending is most welcome. No need to RSVP, just show up.

  Yours aye

Allen

 

MARCH 2011

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Newsletter No. 421; KwaZulu-Natal March 2011

The Darrell Hall Memorial talk was presented by guest speaker Brian Davies entitled “Aerial Bombing of Civilian Targets.”

     Brian has been fascinated for years on a book "Glimpses of World History" by Jawaharlal Nehru. It consists of many hundreds of essays on historical topics made simple for his teenage daughter who went on in later years  to be the Prime Minister of India. He was in British gaols for political activity aimed at overthrowing the imperial British  power in India. He was well educated (in Britain, ironically), and his knowledge was vast. His book mirrored the thinking of many

intellectuals in India in the 1930's.

      Nehru's chapter headed "Iraq and the virtues of aerial bombing" contains these passages :".the Iraqi people who had been told they were now (in 1918) free of Turkish rule, were given a new constitution, headed by a King. They were very much opposed to the British mandate (as granted by the League of Nations in 1920). Agitations and demonstrations continued, and matters came to a head .in August 1922.  The British High Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox, put an end to the power of the King as well as that of the ministry and of the council which Iraq had been given, and took full

charge of the government himself.

      Although the new parliament functioned after the adoption of the new constitution in 1925, the people were far from satisfied and in the outlying areas disturbances sometimes took place. This was especially the case in Kurdish areas, where there were repeated outbreaks, which were suppressed by the British Air Force by the practice of bombing and destroying whole villages. A special effort was made to end these disturbances by force. The British Air Force was used for this purpose.

      Nehru goes on to say :"Finding that the people of the villages often ran away and hid themselves on the approach of an aeroplane, and were not sporting enough to wait for the bombs to kill them, a new type of bomb – the time-delayed bomb - was used.  This did not burst on falling, but was so

wound up as to burst some time afterwards. This devilish ruse was meant to mislead the villagers into returning to their huts after the aeroplanes had gone, and then being hit by the bursting bomb. Those who died were the comparatively fortunate ones. Those who were maimed, whose limbs had been torn away sometimes, or who had other serious injuries, were far more unfortunate, for there was no medical aid available in those distant villages.

     This method was considered to be cheaper and more expeditious than the old one of sending in an army. But it is a terribly cruel and ghastly method.  Indeed it is difficult to imagine anything more disgustingly barbarous than to throw bombs, and especially the time-delayed bombs, on whole villages, and destroy innocent and guilty alike. These thoughts  were those of Nehru, and were shared by most of the political leaders of India in the 1930's, and motivated them in their demands for independence after World War II.

 Resort to aerial bombardment seems to return to haunt the perpetrators, sometimes some decades later.  One looks at the acts reported in our press of the Italians in Abyssinia in 1935, and of the German Luftwaffe in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. On 26 April 1937, the German Condor Legion, a Luftwaffe detachment of 150 aircraft under General Hugo Sperrle, sent by Hitler (to Spain) to

assist Franco, carpet bombed the Basque town of Guernica for three hours, wreaking terrible destruction and killing more than a thousand people..Hitler noted the success of the massed aerial bombardment, and Franco's GHQ claimed the town had been destroyed by the Republican (communist) defenders as they withdrew. It was only in 1999 that the Spanish government finally admitted that Franco had lied about Guernica.

Many years later, now, the result may be to leave a residue of doubt. Were the British politicians' hands so terribly clean when World War II broke out, and when British cities like London, Coventry, Liverpool, Hull

and Manchester came under bombs in the Battle of Britain ? Those targets were not those grubby little huts in Iraq. Did they reap the whirlwind ?  Did they kill the wrong people ? Did the Germans reap another more ferocious whirlwind between 1941 and 1945, from Allied bombardment of their cities from the air ? One recalls the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne by the R A F about 1942 at the start, and in 1945 almost at the end of the war in Europe when 1,000 Lancaster bombers hit Dresden and unloaded 2,600 tons of high explosive and killed 40,000 Christian civilians who were fleeing the atheist Red Army.  Note the irony.

The atom bomb dropped by the U. S. over Nagasaki killed many Christian converts in a centre where Christianity had been permitted for centuries after its introduction by the Dutch. Note the irony.

 

The main talk was presented by chairman Bill Brady on Operation Torch – The allied landings in North Africa, 1942.

     Operation Torch took place on November 8, 1942. This operation which still commands incredulity came a fortnight after the launching of the British El Alamein offensive at the opposite end of the Mediterranean. By the time that the new Allied expedition landed in Morocco and Algeria Rommel's Afrika Korps was in full retreat from Egypt.

     At the Arcadia Conference in Washington, the first Allied meeting following Pearl Harbor, Churchill put forward the 'North-West Africa Project as the first step towards 'closing and tightening the ring around Germany'. However, Roosevelt's service advisers were dubious about its practicability preferring an early and more direct attack against Hitler's Europe. The President and his strategic advisers had already decided on a "Germany first" strategy. This commitment to Germany First was heartening to Churchill, but the enthusiasm to fight the Germans immediately was unrealistic. The British Prime Minister emphasised the drawbacks of a premature landing in Europe with inadequate strength. Pointing out the risks of being overwhelmed, without bringing any appreciable relief to the Russians. He was aware that American military forces were in the process of expanding, organising, and training for combat; therefore, they were hardly a match for their strong and veteran foe. Churchill cabled to Roosevelt that the plan for a landing in France in 1942, should be discarded, and went on to urge, once again, the case for Torch as the sole means by which the U.S. could strike at Hitler. The American Chiefs of Staff reacted with renewed objections. Then, a major event occurred that was to change the entire situation. Rommel's unexpected counterstroke dislocated the 8th Army's westward advance and forced the British to retreat more than 200 miles to the Gazala Line.

     This was followed in June by the collapse at Tobruk. So, instead of advancing westward as planned, the 8th Army was thrown back in disorder a further 400 miles before halting at Alamein. A joint Allied operation in North Africa was now viewed as essential. The operation was approved and Roosevelt promised to provide 300 Sherman tanks to the 8th Army.

"Torch"would have to be in essence an outwardly American show. The French still remained bitter about the British attack on their fleet shortly after France fell and would certainly oppose a British landing. The initial landing waves would therefore consist solely of American troops, also the commander of the overall operation would have to be an American. For this reason, Eisenhower was appointed the Allied Commander-in-Chief. He was relatively unknown and "Torch", a complicated venture to be undertaken in considerable haste, would be a serious challenge. As it turned out, he grew in stature and self-confidence resulting in a meteoritic military and later political career. Eisenhower chose Major-General Mark Clark as his Deputy Commander-in-Chief. Clark would prove invaluable in dealing with the French in North Africa. The close proximity of Tunisia to Sicily made it extremely likely that German and Italian forces would be dispatched to counter the Allied landings. So, to limit such action, the major part of the invasion force would have to take place in the Mediterranean.

"Torch" would consist of three major landings. The Western,Centre and Eastern Task Forces. The Western Task Force was to be wholly American and would sail across the Atlantic from Norfolk, Virginia. Patton would sail on board the flagship, USS Augusta, and planned to come ashore near Casablanca in French Morocco.

     The Centre Task Force was to consist of American troops transported from the United Kingdom to Oran in Algeria. The Eastern Task Force was also formed in the United Kingdom and would be predominantly British. Making the initial landings near Algiers , however, would be a relatively small American force. For reasons previously noted.

     Officially, French leaders in North Africa pledged their support for Vichy and to defend their colonies against any attacker. But covertly, many of them conspired against the Axis. Realising that the only chance of liberating their country was through an Allied victory. Robert Murphy, the chief American diplomat in North Africa, had been actively engaged in discreet meetings with French officers sympathetic to the Allies.

As a result, the French now urged that a senior Allied military representative should come secretly to Algiers for talks. Accordingly General Mark Clark flew to Gibraltar with four key staff officers. The party were then transported by a British submarine to a rendezvous west of Algiers. Clark told the French that a large Anglo-American force was being dispatched to North Africa. In the interests of security, however, he abstained from giving details of the time and places of the Allied landings. An important issue discussed was the choice of the most suitable French leader to rally the French forces in North Africa to the Allied side. Admiral Darlan, Vichy's second in command, had by chance happened to be in Algiers visiting his sick son in hospital.

     De Gaulle was ruled out. Roosevelt had developed a deep distrust of him and disliked his arrogance. Roosevelt actually insisted that all information about Torch should be withheld from de Gaulle. In these circumstances the Americans, from the President downward, readily accepted the view that General Giraud was the most acceptable candidate for the leadership of the French in North Africa.

The operation started well. Surprise was complete and no opposition was met on the beaches. The advance from the beach-heads got going and soon reached the airfield that was readied to receive aircraft. The Axis powers were now, as anticipated, dispatching forces to Tunisia. German and Italian aircraft started to arrive near Tunis and heavy equipment was brought over to Bizerta.

     "Torch" was the first of a series of large-scale coalition amphibious landings, Sicily, southern Italy, southern France and Normandy would lead the Allies to the final battle with the enemy.

Both talks were followed by a most lively question and answer session.

Professor Phjip Everrit thanked both speakers for two very professional and well researched talks that included a variety of illustrations.  

 


12th MAY 2011

Posted by rnanatalsa@gmail.com on August 6, 2011 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

THE SOCIETY’S NEXT MEETING:

Thursday 12th May 2011 – 19h00 for 19h30. Venue: Murray Theatre, Dept of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

The Darrell Hall (DDH) Memorial Lecture will be presented by fellow member Roy Bowman on “The Tokyo Raid.”

The Main Talk will be presented by fellow member Anthony Elworthy on “My father Lord Elworthy.”

FUTURE SOCIETY DATES: June – August.

9th June:

DDH - “Letters from the front” by Charles Whiteing.

Main Talk - “Cecil Rhodes's role in Southern African military history” by Maj Gen Chris le Roux.

 14th July:

DDH – “Military Incidents” by Marjory Dean.

Main Talk -. “Afghanistan – Axis of Terror” by Peter Williams.

 11th August:

DDH – “The Thukela; Spionkop Revisited” by Mikhail Peppas.

Main Talk - “The Raid on Surprise Hill by the 2nd Bn, The Rifle Brigade” by Robin Smith

 Branch Battlefield Tour. The weekend of Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th August 2011 has been finalised for the annual Branch Battlefield Tour. As requested by a recent show of hands, this year we’ll be focusing on the two battles at Colenso and the manner in which the tactics changed on both sides – especially the British. At this stage, we have the following presenters: Ken Gillings, Maj Gen Chris le Roux (tbc), Prof Philip Everitt and Roy Bowman. Further details will follow in subsequent newsletters.

 


14th JULY

Posted by rnanatalsa@gmail.com on August 6, 2011 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

THE SOCIETY’S NEXT MEETING:

Thursday 14th July 2011 – 19h00 for 19h30. Venue: Murray Theatre, Dept of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

The Darrell Hall (DDH) Memorial Lecture will be presented by Mrs Marjory Dean (a National Committee Member from Johannesburg) on “Military Miscellany.”

The Main Talk will be presented by Peter Williams on “Afghanistan – Axis of Terror.”  

FUTURE SOCIETY DATES: August – October 2011. 

11th August

DDH – “The Thukela; Spioenkop Revisited.” By Mikhael Peppas

Main Talk - “The Raid on Surprise Hill by the 2nd Bn The Rifle Brigade” by Robin Smith. 

8th September

DDH – “Mediterranean Naval Strategy, 1940-1943” by Bill Brady

Main Talk – “The Suez Crisis.” by Johannesburg member, Alan Mantle. 

13th October

DDH - My Family in the Military 1799-1995 by Brian Thomas

Main Talk – The Disputed Territory as a cause of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879” by Anthony Coleman

Membership Fee

     Please note that many members remain unpaid. Kindly check your records regarding payment, otherwise the newsletter and journal will be discontinued.

Name Tags

     Please advise the chairman of your name and a name tag will be produced at the society's expense.

ANNUAL BATTLEFIELD TOUR.

     This will take place over the weekend of the 13th and 14th August 2011. An evaluation of the change of tactics by both Boer and British commanders will be the focus of the tour, with presentations by Prof Philip Everitt, Dr Graeme Fuller, Roy Bowman, Bill Brady and Ken Gillings. The Royal Hotel in Ladysmith has offered members a special rate of R495 single DBB,  and R765 sharing DBB for the night of Saturday 13th August 2011. Bookings must be made directly with the hotel on telephone 036 637 2176, fax 036 637 2176 or e-mail reservations@royalhotel.co.za . Please refer to the bulk booking made with Ms Ellouise Jansen van Vuuren.

    An attendance register will be circulated at the next two meetings, but to assist with logistics and planning, please advise Ken Gillings. Note that a light lunch will be organised with the Colenso Club and members are requested to support them.

     NOTE THAT PARTICIPANTS WILL BE USING THEIR OWN VEHICLES

     The cost of the tour (excluding the light lunch and accommodation) will be R30 per person.

Rendezvous at the N3 Ultra City west bound (Estcourt) for a 09h00 SHARP departure. 

 

Contact: Ken Gillings 031 702 4828 ken.gillings@mweb.co.za

Bill Brady 031 561 5542 wbrady@worldonline.co.za

Society’s web site address: http://samilitaryhistory.org

Newsletter No. 423; KwaZulu-Natal May 2011

 

The AGM was chaired by vice chairman Dr. John Cooke. Bill Brady was re elected as chairman and Roy Bowman and Captain Brian Hoffman proposed and seconded to the committee.

 

     The Darrell Hall Memorial talk was presented by fellow member Paul Kirk on “Jasper Maskelyne - the War Magician.”

     Jasper Maskelyne, was born in 1902 in England, a music hall conjurer, never fired a shot in battle, but his amazing feats played a key role in the Allied victory in Africa. Jasper Maskelyne was a British stage magician in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of an established family of stage magicians, and could also trace his ancestry to the royal astronomer Nevil Maskelyne. He is most remembered, however, for the accounts of his work for British military intelligence during the Second World War, creating large-scale ruses, deception, and camouflage.

     Maskelyne joined the Royal Engineers when the Second World War broke out, thinking that his skills could be used in camouflage. He convinced sceptical officers by creating the illusion of a German warship on the Thames using mirrors and a model. He was eventually deployed to the African theatre in the Western Desert, although he spent most of his time entertaining the troops. In January 1941, General Archibald Wavell created A Force for subterfuge and counterintelligence. Maskelyne was assigned to serve in it and gathered a group of 14 assistants, including an architect, art restorer, carpenter, chemist, electrical engineer, electrician, painter, and stage-set builder. It was nicknamed the Magic Gang. The Magic Gang built a number of illusions. They used painted canvas and plywood to make jeeps look like tanks with fake tank tracks and tanks look like trucks. They created illusions of armies and battleships. His largest illusion was to conceal Alexandria and the Suez Canal to misdirect German bombers. He built a mock up of the night-lights of Alexandria in a bay three miles away with fake buildings, and anti-aircraft batteries. To mask the Suez Canal he built a revolving cone of mirrors that created a wheel of a lighthouse spinning light nine miles, meant to dazzle and disorient enemy pilots so that their bombs would fall off-target. In 1942 he worked in Operation Bertram before the Battle of Alamein. In 1942 he worked in Operation Bertram. His task was to make German Field Marshall think that the attack was coming from the south when British General Montgomery planned to attack from the north when British General Montgomery planned to attack from the north. In the north, 1,000 tanks were disguised as trucks. On the south, the Magic Gang created 2,000 fake tanks with convincing pyrotechnics. There was a fake railway line, fake radio conversations, and fake sounds of construction. They also built a fake water pipeline and made it look as if it would never be ready before attack.

     The Magic Gang was disbanded after the battle and, although Winston Churchill praised his efforts, Maskelyne did not receive the appreciation he desired. Maskelyne tried to resume his stage career after the war without much success. He also published a book about his exploits, Magic: Top Secret in 1949. In 2002 The Guardian said: "Maskelyne received no official recognition. For a vain man this was intolerable. Very little verifiable evidence of Maskelyne's work during this period is documented, leading some researchers to believe that Maskelyne's claims are exaggerated or fabricated. He later moved to Kenya and founded a driving school. He died in 1973.

     The standard Maskelyne account has been critically analysed by military historians and magicians and it is concluded that Maskelyne's wartime exploits have been heavily fictionalised.

 

The Main Talk was presented by guest speaker Prop Geldenhuys on “The Rhodesian War.”

     The Rhodesian War was a civil war in the former country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) fought from 1964 to 1979. The war and its subsequent settlement ultimately ended white minority rule under Ian Smith and resulted in the creation of the Republic of Zimbabwe under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. Despite the impact of economic and diplomatic sanctions, Rhodesia was able to develop and maintain a potent and professional military capability. The regular army was always a relatively small force, but by 1978–79 it consisted of some 10,800 regulars nominally supported by about 40,000 reservists, though by the last year of the war, perhaps as few as 15,000 were available for active service. While the regular army consisted of a professional core drawn from the white population, the majority of its complement was actually composed of black soldiers. The army reserves, in contrast, were largely white and, toward the end of the war, were increasingly being called up to deal with the growing insurgency. The regular army was supported by the para-military BSAP with a strength of about 8,000 to 11,000 men and supported by between 19,000 to 35,000 police reservists. The police reserves acted as type of home guard. The war saw the extensive operation of Rhodesian regulars as well as elite units such as the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian SAS. The Rhodesian Army fought bitterly against the Black Nationalist. The Rhodesian Army also comprised mostly black regiments. As the war went on, the frequent call up of reservists was increasingly utilized to supplement the professional soldiers and the many volunteers from overseas. By 1978 all white males up to the age of 60 were subject to periodic call-up into the army; younger men up to 35 might expect to spend alternating blocks of six weeks in the army and at home.

     The Rhodesian Army was, considering the arms embargo, well-equipped. The Rhodesian Air Force operated a variety of equipment and carried out numerous roles, with air power providing the Rhodesians with a significant advantage over their enemy. When the arms embargo was introduced, the RhAF was suddenly lacking spare parts from external suppliers and was forced to find alternative means of keeping their aircraft flying. The RhAF was also relatively well equipped and used a large proportion of equipment which was obsolete, such as the vintage Dakota transport aircraft and the early British jet-fighter the de Havilland Vampire. It also used more modern types of aircraft like the Hawker Hunter and Canberra bombers, the as well as Alouette 111 helicopters. At the beginning of the war much of Rhodesia's military hardware was of British origin but during the course of the conflict new equipment such as armoured cars were procured from the South Africans. Several captured Soviet Bloc tanks were provided to Rhodesia by the South Africans, though only in the last year of the war. The Rhodesians also produced some of their own armoured vehicles. The means with which the Rhodesians procured weaponry meant that the arms embargoes had little effect on the Rhodesian war effort. During the course of the war most white citizens carried personal weapons, and it was not unusual to see white housewives carrying sub machine guns.

     The Rhodesian government divided the nation into eight geographical operational areas: North West Border (Operation Ranger), Eastern Border (Operation Thrasher), North East Border (Operation Hurricane), South East Border (Operation Repulse), Midlands (Operation Grapple), Kariba (Operation Splinter), Matabeleland (Operation Tangent). The fighting was largely rural, with both movements attempting to secure peasant support and to recruit fighters while harassing the administration and the white civilians. Unlike the town-dwellers, rural whites faced danger and many were killed but in 1979 there were still 6,000 white farmers. They were vulnerable every time they left the homestead. ZANLA was the armed wing of ZANU. The organization also had strong links with Mozambique’s independence movement FRELIMO. ZANLA, in the end, was present on a more or less permanent basis in over half the country, as evidenced by the location of the demobilisation bases at the end of the war, which were in every province. In addition, they were fighting a civil war against ZIPRA, despite the formation of a joint front by their political parties after 1978. It was ZANLA's intention to occupy the ground, supplant the administration in rural areas, and then mount the final conventional campaign. ZANLA concentrated on the politicisation of the rural areas using force, persuasion, ties of kinship and collaboration with spirit mediums. ZANLA tried to paralyse the Rhodesian effort and economy by planting Soviet anti-tank land mines on the roads. From 1972 to 1980 there were 2,504 vehicle detonations of land mines (mainly Soviet TM46s). In response, the Rhodesians co-operated with the South Africans to develop a range of mine protected vehicles. They began by replacing air in tyres with water which absorbed some of the blast and reduced the heat of the explosion. Initially, they protected the bodies with steel deflector plates, sandbags and mine conveyor belting. Later, purpose built vehicles with V shaped blast hulls dispersed the blast and deaths in such vehicles became unusual events.

     ZIPRA was responsible for two attacks on civilian Air Rhodesia Viscount airplanes using Sam 7 surface to air missiles. Ten out of the eighteen civilians on board who survived the first crash were subsequently killed by the ZIPRA militants. In his memoirs, Story of My Life (1985), Nkomo expressed regret for the shooting down of both planes, claiming ZIPRA intelligence believed the plane was carrying General Walls and his aides.

The vote of thanks was presented by Captain Brian Hoffman who thanked both speakers for their excellent and well prepared presentations.

 


JULY NEWSLETTER

Posted by rnanatalsa@gmail.com on August 6, 2011 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Greetings Fellow Members and Friends of the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of the South African Military History Society.

Attached are the following documents:

· The July 2011 monthly Branch Newsletter;

· ‘Round-Up’ – a fascinating newsletter containing snippets of Karoo history (including military history) produced by Mrs Rose Willis, who used to live in Beaufort West and is a former member of the National Monuments Council’s War Graves Committee;

· A ‘Warning Order’ from Brig Gen Malcolm Kinghorn of the Eastern Cape Branch of the SAMHS regarding a field trip they are undertaking to several military history sites in their Region. Kindly contact Malcolm directly if you wish to join them. His e-mail address is culturev@lantic.net;

· The KZN Branch’s 2012provisional programme. As you can see, there are three slots available for the Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture (maximum 20 minutes duration). Should you have a topic that you feel will be of interest to the Society, please let me know. Note that I am now starting to compile the 2013 Lecture Programme!;

· The latest edition of the ‘Ladysmith Lyre’, produced by Ms Fifi Meyer of the Ladysmith Historical Society. A ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the 118 day Siege of the town.

· Scans of the Teesdale group of medals from our Society’s medal specialist, Brian Thomas, who writes: “You may remember my talk a few years back on the first SA born V.C. recipient, Teesdale, and the last surviving SA born V.C. recipient, Norton. I have attached pictures of the Teesdale medal group which was sold in London at Spinks on 21 April this year for 312 000 pounds i.e. R3.5 million. That may well be a world record price for a Crimea V.C.

The group is special in that it was the last V.C. for Crimea , and Teesdale was serving on secondment with the Turkish Army and not the British, against the Russians. As such he did not qualify for the British campaign medal for Crimea, but was awarded a Turkish Crimea medal. The six V.C.s for the 1881 Boer War were also some of the very few V.C.s awarded without any linked campaign medal.

The Spinks catalogue devotes eight most interesting pages of write-up on Teesedale.

Regards

Brian”

Brian has also supplied two interesting photographs of Teesdale as a Lieutenant and a Major General Sir, which I’ll circulate either as an additional mailing or as an attachment in the next newsletter.

Mrs Eleanor Schofield of the Baynesfield Museum writes: “ We are having the Vintage Baynesfield Time Marches On - Military History on Display, again on 17th July. Please ask your members if anyone has a collection they would like to exhibit here at Bayesnfield. I would love to get some news items to display. Thank you, Eleanor” Eleanor may be contacted via e-mail on curator.jbe@mwebbiz.co.za

Branch Battlefield Tour. As you will see in the newsletter, the Branch’s Battlefield Tour this year will be an evaluation of the change in tactics by both Boer and British commanders during the two Battles in the Colenso area: The Battle of Colenso (15th December 1899) and the Battle of the Thukela (Tugela) Heights (12th to 28th February 1900). The Royal Hotel Ladysmith has offered members a special rate, details of which appear in the newsletter. Please note that you will need to book directly with the hotel. Contact telephone number & e-mail address also in the newsletter. As usual, we will use our own transport. Date: 13thand 14th August 2011. Speakers: Prof Philip Everitt, Roy Bowman, Lt Col Dr Graeme Fuller, Bill Brady and Ken Gillings. Please advise Ken Gillings if you wish to attend via ken.gillings@mweb.co.zaor add your name to the list that will be circulated at the meeting on the 14thJuly 2011. Rendezvous: Ultra City West (ie on the road to Johannesburg ) just past the Estcourt turnoff. Departure 09h00 S H A R P !!

Ladysmith Battlefields Festival. The eMnambithi/Ladysmith Municipality has identified heritage and battlefield tourism as one of its core values and has put together a remarkable Festival that will take place from the 29th June 2011 to the 3rdJuly 2011. This will include a gun run through the town and a parade that will eclipse many others that have taken place in South Africa recently. On Saturday 2nd July 2011, no fewer than 13 regiments will either exercise their Right to Freedom of Entry of Ladysmith, or will be granted that honour. The parade will take place at 10h00 in Murchison Street (the main road through the town). Cultural festivities throughout the weekend, culminating with a tour of the Battlefields of Colenso (15th December 1899) and Spioenkop (24thJanuary 1900) on Sunday 3rd July 2011. Rendezvous at Platrand Lodge for a 09h00 departure for the tour. The only charge for the battlefield tour will be R20 per person entry fee to Spioenkop. The parade will be worthwhile attending simply to witness history in the making. Those Units / Regiments that will be exercising their Freedom of Entry will be the SA Navy, 5 SA Infantry, the Natal Carbineers and the Light Horse Regiment. Those that will be granted Freedom of Entry are: 121 Battalion (in honour of the Zulu scouts from Driefontein that were raised by the Rev RC Samuelson during the Siege); the Natal Field Artillery (Elandslaagte, Colenso, post Siege Operations); the Vrystaatse Artillerie Regiment (antecedent regiment - the Artillerie-corps van den Oranjevrijstaat); the Transvaalse Staatsartillerie (antecedent regiment– the Artillerie-corps van de Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek); the Durban Light Infantry (Colenso area, Willow Grange); the Natal Mounted Rifles (Rietfontein, Siege of Ladysmith); the Umvoti Mounted Rifles (Relief of Ladysmith); 15 Maintenance Unit (Siege and Relief of Ladysmith) and 1 Medical Battalion Group (Siege and Relief of Ladysmith). This massive parade will take about two hours to execute and several of the abovementioned Regiments will have their modern weaponry on display, such as the G6 Howitzer, the Multiple Rocket Launcher, Olifant Tank and Rooikat Armoured Car. An event that is not to be missed. Full marks to the eMnambithi/Ladysmith Municipality for acknowledging the role played especially by the SANDF’s Reserve Force Regiments! The Festival will include a Literary Display that will include several book launches, including one by our Society’s former National Chairman Bob Smith. For further details contact tourism@ladysmith.co.za or Ken Gillings on 031 702 4828 / 083 654 5880 / ken.gillings@mweb.co.za . By the way, stand by for a similar event at about the same time in 2012, when overseas Units / Formations / Regiments will be invited to do something similar.

Next Meeting. This will be held on Thursday 14th July 2011. Venue: Murray Theatre, Department of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College Campus, Durban . Time: 19h00 for 19h30. Speakers: Mrs Marjorie Dean on “Military Miscellany” andMr Peter Williamson “ Afghanistan – Axis of Terror”. Please note that Marjorie is a national Committee Member of the Society and will be travelling to Durban with her husband Colin especially to present her lecture. Peter Williams has recently returned from several visits to Afghanistan , so will be speaking from personal experience. Two topic that simply cannot be missed!

Once again, marvellous mountains of military history. See you at the meeting on the 14thJuly.

Regards,

Ken

Ken Gillings

Tel: 031 702 4828

Cellphone/Mobile: 083 654 5880

E-mail: ken.gillings@mweb.co.za

Skype: kenheath1

 

     The Darrell Hall Memorial talk was presented by fellow member Charles Whiteing on “Letters from the Front.” Charles detailed the events and circumstances experienced by his father, Herbert Frank Grey Whiteing (a.k.a. Jim or Jimmy) to his parents Frank & Alice Whiteing at their home “Ruym” in Newlands, Cape Town. They span a period from 1940 to 1942 and include his service in Somaliland, Abyssinia, North Africa & his Officers Course at Roberts Heights in Pretoria. They give an insight to his experiences, camaraderie, romances, prevailing humour and hardships. All letters written to him from his parents were posted care of the Army Post Office Durban, & then forwarded to him wherever he was stationed.

     29 December 1940. Thanks his folks for the General Smuts Christmas card. Being the Company Quartermaster, he was responsible in distributing parcels and mail from home ‘just like Father Christmas.’ Every man received a packet of nuts & raisins, ½ pound sweets, an extra 50 cigarettes and a souvenir “Jannie Smuts” tin containing ½ slab chocolate. There were tins of Christmas pudding, sheep tongue and Eskort Ham which he handed to the kitchen for slicing up. He invited a couple of the English speaking NCO`s to his shack “The Outpost Hotel” for Christmas lunch, suitably supported by beer and whisky. After lunch, the Union Jack was unfurled and the King was toasted with their home made brew. Love to all, and ends his letter; “the Epistle according to St James.

     8 Jan 1941: He describes the woods surrounding their camp. One night an officer heard a crashing in the undergrowth only to find a Rhino illuminated by his torch. It had trampled around their tents & drank the water from their canvas wash basin outside. Mentions he now has a little dog as a mascot called ‘Dixie.’ Although still a puppy, nips everyone & everything in a playful way.

     28 Jan 1941: Replies to letter from his Mum, who wrote that their garden in Newlands is yielding an abundant supply of vegetables. He suggests they look at a copy of the Rand Daily Mail dated 3 Jan 1941 which carries an article ‘Our troops went out on Patrol.’ This would give some idea where he was stationed, as with his two brothers, Cyril & Tib where all the forces gather, before heading off to their respective front lines.

     3 Feb 1941: Writing from “a good few miles’ into Abyssinia.” The armoured cars advancing through the undergrowth with Vickers machine guns and mortars ‘spitting death.’ He was walking along the road with Capt. Cronje, the 2nd in command when a sniper fired on them. He requested to join the rest on the company in the advance, as Coy. Quartermasters don’t normally go to the front lines. The force closed on the enemy post which eventually raised a white flag with the entire attack lasting just over twenty minutes. He said, “It's a queer sensation to have bullets whistling about you and wondering whether your name is written on one or not. If one had, then it had the wrong ruddy address! I have heard the rumour that there is recruiting in the Union for active service overseas – the Blue Tabs. Please let me know if that is the case & whether it's possible for the fellows up here to participate in the undertaking. I have never mentioned in any of my letters exactly what things are like in our crowd for obvious reasons (censored mail), but certain pointers indicate we are Britishers – English speaking fellows & are quite unwanted. For sure this unit wishes to be 100% Afrikaans speaking – men of the veld etc. Therefore with the feelings as they are, I feel my presence and duties would be suited elsewhere. Certain other members of my Company have also been curbing their tongues lest ‘John Bull gets a-going.’ Last evening I happened to overhear certain parties` conversation which compels me to write as I have done. The comment passed as our crowd left Ladysmith (their staging area) was; ‘thank goodness the hobo’s have gone.’ Then in Pietermaritzburg we were dubbed the ‘South African Australians.’ You can imagine my feelings after being in a Regiment – a British Dominion Regiment as the Cape Town Highlanders for about four years. Fortunately my rank takes me out of the motley crowd but the feelings exist throughout. Please don’t upset Mom with the details of this letter as she might begin to worry. Dad, I know you will understand the position as any one else. I only wish I could get a transfer to Cyril or Tib`s ack ack crowd. But of course this is the price one pays after losing a job, and joining a Unit of which one knows nothing. One thing I will and must say, this crowd are a damn good fighting crowd – go through anything and have plenty of guts. But that is not all when the ‘esprit de corps’ is nonexistent on all sides. Anyway Dad, if I can get overseas, I know you will let me go, provided the military authorities can be squared. So hears [sic] hoping I’ve not bored you with excessive grumbling or grousing.” Until next time. Your son, Jim.

     4 Feb 1941: Took up position after a day’s traveling in convoy. Set up camp, and shell trenches dug. After a light supper of Coffee, Porridge, Biscuits and Jam, we settled down for the night. This was interrupted by an enemy convoy traveling up the same road. The time was 03h34 and the moon was settling down. All hell let loose with intensive gunfire from both sides. Seven Italians tanks then joined the battle supported by light artillery. However as dawn broke the enemy turned tail from the direction they came from. Captured Italian officers revealed they had been sent to reinforce the garrison of the local town. Within a day the Battalion attacked & captured the town located about three miles up the road. It comprised a ‘Beau Geste’ type fort with a chapel & swimming pool. We commenced our advance to find the Italians had already vacated the next town. He writes, ‘I expect we’ll be home very soon now as our job in Abyssinia is just about done – I think.

     The Main Talk was presented by Maj. Gen. Chris Le Roux on “The role of Cecil John Rhodes in South African Military History.”

     Cecil John Rhodes was born on 5 July 1853 and died on 26 March 1902. He was an English-born businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. He was the founder of the diamond company De Beers, which today markets 40% of the world's rough diamonds and at one time marketed 90%. An ardent believer in colonialism and imperialism, he was the founder of the state of Rhodesia which was named after him. After independence, Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe. He set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate. A sickly, asthmatic, adolescent, Cecil Rhodes was taken out of grammar school and sent to Natal, South Africa because his family thought the hot climate would improve his health. They expected he would help his older brother Herbert who operated a cotton farm. On 1 September 1870 he first set foot on African soil, a tall, lanky, anaemic, fair-haired boy, shy and reserved in bearing. He remained in Natal until October 1871, when he moved to the diamond fields, just opening up. Over the next 17 years Rhodes succeeded in buying up all the smaller diamond mining operations in the Kimberley area. His monopoly of the world's diamond supply was sealed in 1889 through a strategic partnership with the London-based Diamond Syndicate. In 1892, Rhodes financed The Pioneer Fruit Growing Company. The successful operation soon expanded into Rhodes Fruit Farms and formed a cornerstone of the modern-day Cape fruit industry. In 1874 and 1875, the diamond fields were in the grip of depression, but Rhodes and his financier Rudd were among those who stayed to consolidate their interests. During this time, the technical problem of clearing out the water that was flooding the mines became serious. Rhodes and Rudd obtained the contract for pumping water out of the three main mines. On 12 March 1880, Rhodes and Rudd launched the De Beers Mining Company.

     In 1880, Rhodes prepared to enter public life at the Cape. In 1890, Rhodes became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony and implemented laws that would benefit mine and industry owners. He introduced the Glen Grey Act to push black people from their lands and make way for industrial development. He also introduced educational reform to the area. Rhodes' policies were instrumental in the development of British imperial policies in South Africa. He did not, however, have direct political power over the Boer Republics and often disagreed with the Transvaal government's policies. He believed he could use his money and his power to overthrow the Boer government and install a British colonial government supporting mine-owners' interests in its place. In 1895, Rhodes supported an attack on the Transvaal, the infamous Jameson Raid, which proceeded with the tacit approval of Secretary of State for the Colonies Joseph Chamberlain. The raid was a catastrophic failure. It forced Cecil Rhodes to resign as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, sent his oldest brother Col. Frank Rhodes to jail in Transvaal convicted of high treason, and led to the outbreak of the Second Boer War. Rhodes promoted his business interests as in the strategic interest of Britain: preventing the Portuguese, Germans and Boers from moving in to south-central Africa.

     One of Rhodes' dreams was for a "red line" on the map from the Cape to Cairo. Rhodes had been instrumental in securing southern African states for the Empire. He and others felt the best way to "unify the possessions, facilitate governance, enable the military to move quickly to hot spots or conduct war, help settlement, and foster trade" would be to build the “Cape to Cairo Railway." Rhodes wanted to expand the British Empire because he believed that the Anglo Saxon race was destined to greatness. In his last will and testament, Rhodes said of the British, "I contend that we are the first race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race." He wanted to make the British Empire a superpower in which all of the British-dominated countries in the empire, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony

     Rhodes was more tolerant of the Dutch-speaking whites in the Cape Colony than were the other English-speaking whites in the Cape Colony. While Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, he helped to remove most of the legal disabilities that English-speaking whites had imposed on Dutch-speaking whites and was supported by the Afrikaner Bond. Rhodes was a man of the boldest vision; close friends spoke of the “sheer natural power of his mind”, his magnetic powers and his love of nature and art. There was a dark side, captured by the jibe that he was a man with a first rate mind and second rate principles. He was phenomenal in shaping the History of Southern Africa. 

     After a lively question and answer session, the vote of thanks was given by Don Porter who thanked both speakers for their excellent and well prepared presentations. 

 

 



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