South African Military History Society



Our Potpourri evening was opened by Dave Mitchell, Member of the recently constituted Castle Military Museum Foundation, who gave us an overview of its aims and invited interested people to join. This Foundation will form the nucleus of a wider structure which, hopefully, will expand military historical and historical interest in our City. Dave also reported on his visit to the UK, London and Edinburgh, as part of the Cape Town Highlanders' contingent for the celebrations of the Queen Mother's 100th Birthday.

The BATTLE OF BOSWORTH was presented by Robin Smith complete with illustrations.
The last conflict of the Wars of the Roses, Bosworth Field, was something of a watershed in the history of England. At lunch on 22 Aug 1485, the Middle Ages and the Yorkist dynasty ended, and that of the Tudors began. Richard III's defeat at Bosworth was dramatised by Shakespeare with his contention that he died shouting "A horse, a horse - my kingdom for a horse!" after being swatted from his steed by one of Henry Tudor's Welshmen lustily swinging a halberd.
The Wars of the Roses were civil conflicts between the rival claimants to the English throne from the Houses of York and Lancaster. When Edward III died at the end of the 14th century, he was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II. Richard was deposed, and the next decades saw a series of struggles between the rival claimants to the throne. The Yorkist Edward IV ruled undisputed from 1470 to 1483 and died leaving two sons and a daughter. His thirteen-year old son, William IV ruled only for nine months before being deposed by his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who proclaimed himself Richard III. William IV and Edward IV's younger son Richard were sent to the Tower and never seen again. (Gene tests on two of their descendants' hair might shed some light on this mystery?). Richard III, the wickedest uncle of all time, did not sleep easy! There were plots and intrigues everywhere. The head of the House of Lancaster was now Henry Tudor, in exile in France and awaiting his chance. In August 1485 he landed in Wales and advanced into England with a small army, not more than 5000 men. Richard met him with more than double this number and they clashed on Bosworth Field, about 16 kms west of Leicester. Some hard fighting gave a surprising victory to Henry Tudor. Richard III's "messy body" was taken into Leicester and displayed in the town square. Henry became King as Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, the elder sister of the Little Princes in the Tower. This union of the two houses eventually ended the struggle.

The battlefield is well-preserved with a visitor centre and a small museum.

Thank you, Robin, for your most entertaining and colourful show!

Warham Searle was our next speaker. He revealed his passion for St. Helena Island which he has visited many times and whose long history he knows intimately. Discovered in 1502 it became home not only to fallen Emperor Napoleon but to thousands of Boer prisoners captured after the battle of Paardeberg. Some 4 000 were shipped via Simon's Town to the island, and eventually 6 000 prisoners lived there. Buildings, fortifications and gun sites have remained almost unchanged since they were erected, and visitors will invariably feel transported back in time.
The next Boer War Centenary Cruise departs Cape Town on 30 June 2001 by The R.M.S. St.Helena and anyone interested in a visit can contact the local agent at 425 1165

Finally, Tony Gordon presented a number of books he had brought with him from the UK. There were b/w Magazines from the Boer War, as well as a copy of F.M. Montgomery's Autograph Book which contained three entries signed by General Smuts. Another was a collection of Cartoons from 8th Army Newspapers showing the "Two Types", unforgotten by probably all soldiers from the North African Campaign A weighty tome was an Alphabetical List of places = Gazetteer, which mentionsd 17 Rietfonteins alone, and lastly two books, one containing Alphabetical Lists of all casualties of the British Forces during the Anglo/Boer War, and the other giving the names of all who died until 1914.


14 September 2000

Talk by Bob Buser on espionage and counter-espionage in Switzerland

12 October 2000

Talk by Maj Helmoed-Roemer Heitman

9 November 2000

Sq Ldr Patrick Wells DSO will continue his talks about his personal experiences in WW 2

December 2000

In recess

18 January 2001

Please note that the first Society Evening will be on the THIRD THURSDAY OF JANUARY.

WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS: Dr.L.L.van Zyl, Mr. E.S.S. Nash, Mr. J.A. Weaver

We have been approached by a few-members who find night-driving arduous but would like to attend evenings nonetheless. Anyone who is in a position to offer lifts, and SENIORS.who require lifts, please contact John Mahncke at (021) 797 5167.

In reply to the many enquiries by Full Members, we have so far unfortunately been unable to verify when Journals will be available. Members will be informed as soon as details are known.

1) Membership application forms for The Castle Military Museum Foundation can be obtained from the Museum Office.
2) The Cape Metropolitan Tourism Office has published an interesting pamphlet for a FORTIFICATION AND CANNON ROUTE.
Copies are available from Information Offices: (021) 426 4260.

Meetings 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

South African Military History Society /