CAPE TOWN NEWSLETTER NO. 267
At our 24th Annual General Meeting on 13th April, the Honorary
Treasurer, Mr.Bob Buser, reported that our finances are in a
healthy state. Regrettably, increases in postage tariffs and
copying forced a slight increase in annual subscriptions, however
our membership has remained almost constant, a few members having
resigned due to advanced age, and new members joining the ranks,
and we now have 100 members.
The previous Committee was elected unopposed.
Chairman: Derek O'Riley
Vice Chairman: John Mahncke
Hon.Treasurer: Bob Buser
Members: Maj Tony Gordon, Johan van den Berg.
Robin Smith was confirmed as new member.
Any member, not present at the AGM, but wishing to obtain a copy
of the Balance Sheet can telephone Bob at (021) 689 1693
THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE is one of the glorious disasters
that befell the British Army, and which has intrigued military
historians ever since. Robin Smith presented us with a superbly
illustrated, well researched lecture not only of this famous
incident, but of the entire catalogue of conflicts in this area,
at the same time drawing analogies between this and subsequent
engagements, and the much larger German army advance into Russia
almost 90 years on. The charge itself was a 30-minute action in
the Crimean war lasting more than two years. France and Britain,
allied with Turkey, went to war with Russia, principally in the
Crimea in the Black Sea. The objective of the Allies was to capture
Sevastopol. On 25 October 1854 the Light Brigade was only
at forty percent of its strength due to cholera having reduced
its ranks to that of a regiment. Five cavalry regiments took part
in the charge. They were commanded by Maj.Gen Lord Cardigan, who
reported to Lt.Gen Lord Lucan, commander of the Cavalry Division,
but they both hated each other, and this undoubtedly led to the
Light Brigade's ruinous attack down the Balaclava plain against
Russian guns and rifles. Furthermore, ambiguous orders and interpretations
resulted in confusion, and although the Russian battery was
destroyed, losses of men and horses were such that the
Brigade was no longer a fighting force. There were two more major
engagements, both at Inkerman, ending with British victories. But
winter proved a worse adversary than the Russians, and operations
ceased until warm weather arrived (together with the army's warm
greatcoats - six months late!). On 18 June, an attempt was made
to storm the defences of Sevastopol which was a total failure.
A further attack on 17 September succeeded and the Russians
evacuated the city. The British army now reinforced and well supplied
was keen to continue the war, however pressure from Austria
forced the Allies to open negotiations with Russia and a peace
agreement was concluded in March 1856.
Sevastopol once again became a strategic objective, when German
armies advanced into Russia in 1941. General v.Manstein fought
a masterly campaign to capture and subdue the Crimea, although
outnumbered by his enemy, and by December his 11th Army and the
3rd Roumanian Army had fought their way to the outskirts of the
city. But when the Russians managed to land 200 000 troops at
Feodosiya, the Germans had to withdraw to counter the new threat,
eliminating two Russian armies in the process. In May 1942, the
assault was resumed, this time with success, and the port was
firmly in German hands.
Two years later, in 1944, the position was reversed when huge
Russian formations were brought to bear on Sevastopol. Totally
outnumbered and outgunned, the German 17th Army stood its ground
after Hitler had refused to give permission to a withdrawal, and
when they were eventually allowed to retreat, losses and casualties
suffered were of a magnitude comparable to the disaster at
Through a visit to the Crimea, Robin has become intimately
acquainted with this area, the port and its history, and his
presentation closed with a report about present-day Sevastopol,
supplemented by slides about people, conditions, monuments and
11 May 2000
THE ROYAL ARTILLERY COMMANDO GUNNERS,
Post 2nd World War, i.e. 1961 to the present.
Talk by Col.J.McGregor plus Video
8 June 2000
- THE 101st US AIRBORNE DIVISION
(Their part in the Normandy Invasion, a Bridge too far, and the Battle of the Bulge)
- Illustrated Talk by Stan Lambrick
13 July 2000
- PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON LANDING CRAFT IN
WORLD WAR TWO: SICILY/NORMANDY/BURMA
- Talk by Mr. J.P.Creighton
WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS: Colin Campbell and William Rudd
SUBCRIPTIONS: Members who have not yet paid their 2000 subscription
are reminded to do so soonest.
Meetings of the Cape Town Branch are normally held on the 2nd
Thursday of each month at 20h00 in the Recreation Hall of the
SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, (off
Alma Road), opposite Rosebank Railway Station, below the line.
Visitors are welcome. Donations R 3.00. Students and Scholars
free. Tea and Biscuits will be served.
John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167
Military History Society /