South African Military History Society


At our 25th Annual General Meeting the Hon.Treasurer, Bob Buser, reported that our finances are in a healthy state. Regrettably, increases in postage and copying, as well as a rise in the hire fee of our venue, had led to an increase in our subscriptions. Membership, due to (free) advertising in Community Newspapers has grown and now stands at 105 members despite resignations. The number of visitors at our lectures has also grown considerably.

The treasurer proposed the appointment of Mr. G. Mangin as auditor for the ensuing year, it was noted that Mr. Mangin had carried out the audit for 2000. This motion was accepted by the meeting.

The previous Committee was re-elected unopposed.
Chairman: Derek O'Riley
Vice Chairman/Scribe: John Mahncke
Hon.Treasurer: Bob Buser
Members: Maj Tony Gordon, Johan van den Berg, Robin Smith.

Copies of Cape Town Branch Accounts can be obtained from our Treasurer, Bob Buser, at 689 1639 (evenings).

We were then treated to an excellent, illustrated presentation by fellow member Rodney Constantine on the Guerilla Campaign in the Cape Colony during the Boer-War, based on his MA thesis.

There were two Boer invasions into the Cape during the Boer War and two rebellions. One took place during the first, conventional phase of the war, the second during the second guerilla phase. Rodney's talk, however, only dealt with the second incursion. The Boer Guerilla War in the Cape was a small but significant part of the Boer War. There was fighting or a Boer commando presence almost everywhere in the Cape Colony during 1901 - 1902; from Rhodes and Scobell's Kop in the North-East to near Grahamstown in the South-East, to Sir Lowry's Pass & Parow (where the Boers raided horses) up to the Mierland and just south of the Richtersveld in the North-West. The main Cape Town-Johannesburg railway line was a very important dividing line.

It separated the agriculturally rich and strategically important Eastern Cape from the more arid and strategically largely unimportant North-West Cape. The Cape Boers who joined the commandos were rebels, and were treated as such by the British authorities.

The Cape Colony was very important to the Boer leaders and strategists because of the great number of potential rebels there. 10 000 Cape Boers had rebelled during the first invasion of 1899-1900. It was believed that there was a potential pool of 30 000 recruits available. Of course the Cape Colony was strategically very important to the British (in a Southern Africa context) in view of this railway system. Its relevance to the British Empire in a global sense came from its crucial position on the sea route to India. This meant that the Colony would be defended by the British with all the resources that they could muster.

The Boer guerilla who did the most damage to the British in the Cape was General Piet Kritzinger. His impact could be measured in terms both of the financial costs of the war there (attacks on the railway line and trains, destruction of property, costs of defence etc.), and of damage to British morale and prestige. Kritzinger entered the Cape Colony at Odendaalstroom on the 16th December 1900 with about 250 men. He operated mainly in the Cape Midlands and opened up new guerilla fronts in both the Eastern Cape and the North-East Cape. Kritzinger captured and looted the village of Jamestown on 2nd June 1901. This dramatic event changed the course of the war. General John French was appointed British Commander-In-Chief in the colony, (replacing Brabant), and immediately set about expelling the guerillas from the strategically-sensitive Midlands. On the 13th August in the Venterstad district, Kritzinger's commando was smashed and pushed north into the Orange Free State. This removed him as factor in the Cape Colony.

Kritzinger's raid into thee Cape Colony on Dingaan's Day was paralelled by General Judge Hertzog's entry on the same day at Sanddrift near Philipolis. But he did not remain long enough in the colony to make an impact. When General Krisjan de Wet entered in February 1901, he was ejected after only 18 days, and a general Cape uprising began to appear very unlikely. Guerillas such as Scheepers, Fouche, Maritz and Malan (and later Smuts) continued with the unequal struggle (some surviving until the end of the war) but they were unable to influence the course of the war.

Rodney closed with a description of Scheepers' fate which he based on new evidence discovered by him. Scheepers was poisoned by a Boer traitor and became so ill that he was forced to surrender. After being nursed back to health in a British military hospital, Scheepers, although far from being well, was tried and executed and buried without ceremony outside Graaf Reinet.

That same night soldiers dug up Scheeper's body and carried him to the normally dry river bed of the Sundays River Valley in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm. His grave was lost and his body never found again.

Judging by the comments made afterwards, Rodney's presentation of a many facetted subject was greatly appreciated by members and visitors alike.


10 May 2001
SINKING THE UIT-22, 965 km south of Cape Town, 11 March 1944, by 262 Squadron RAF.
Illustrated Talk by Wg Comd E.S.A. Nash D.F.C., A.F.C.
14 June 2001
RAILWAY GUNS. With special emphasis on German guns, e.g. Paris gun in WW II and the giant DORA 80 cm gun, used to pulverise the defences of Sevastopol.
Illustrated Talk by Johan v.d.Berg
12 July 2001
D.I.Y. Evening
PLEASE NOTE that due to the 9th August being World Women's Day, we have moved the next Lecture Evening to:

16 Aug 2001
Medal Evening with three-presenters, each one dealing with a different topic
13 Sept 2001
The Kaiser's Aviators: 1908 - 1918
An illustrated talk about aircraft, Zeppelins and their pilots before and during WW I by John Mahncke
Programme Schedule is subject to change.

BOOK CORNER: The following paperbacks and brochures can be borrowed from the Scribe for research purposes:
First World War, (1995), Martin Gilbert
Camouflage in the Western Desert 1941/2, Capt Connor Johnston
A Boer War Diary 1900/1, L/Cpl J.L. Hardy
Espionage in Switzerland in WW II, Bob Buser
Das Ende des Tannenbergdenkmals 1945, Maj G.Sailer

Subscriptions: Members who have not yet paid their 2001 subs are reminded to do so soonest.

Welcome to new Members: Mr.& Mrs.J.W.E. Blackmore, Mr.G.D.Malan (Sedgefield)

THE MUZZLE LOADING CANNON OF SOUTH AFRICA by Gerry de Vries and Johnathan Hall can now also be purchased by e-mail from: for R 160. incl. Vat, plus P&P.

Copies of CASTLE MILITARY MUSEUM BROCHURES are still available including the latest: The Swiss Regiment Meuron at the Cape and afterwards 1781-1816. Please order from: Natie Greef 469 1153.

Meetings are normally held one the 2nd Thursday of each month at 20h00 at the Recreation Hall of the SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, (off Alma Road), opposite Rosebank Railway Station, below the line.
All Visitors welcome. Tea and Biscuits will be served.

Jochen (John) Mahncke (Vice-Chairman/Scribe) (021) 797 5167

South African Military History Society /