Then we were treated to a most interesting presentation by four members from the Cape Town Medal Group: Dr. David Grant, Robert Mitchell, William de Villiers and Glen von Zeil, who showed us some of the medals from their collections.
David Grant spoke on South African Medals and Bars which had been given to Indian Veterinary Assistants, Syces and Transport drivers as well as other Indian personnel during the Boer War. He not only described the medals in detail, but also gave their history, read from a list of awards, and named the recipients and their accomplishments.
Glen von Zeil remained in the same time-frame and, with the help of overheads, spoke on Boer war scenery from Port Nolloth to Springbok, as well as on people given the Queen's South African Medal, like William Carstens, a shopkeeper from Port Nolloth, who served as a Lieutenant in the Namaqualand Town Guard. Glen also showed us photographs of O'okiep Fortifications and Blockhouses and recounted a lot of fascinating history of the era with a great number of well researched details.
William de Villiers took us to India, specifically the North West Frontier, and to the early 20th century, with history going back to 1823, when the Frontier was used as a buffer against Russian Insurgents. He talked about Afghanistan battles, and what he called the great game between Great Britain and Imperial Russia. It was a period where the force of personalities, power of bribery and the hierarchy of chiefs ruled.
Robert Mitchell presented the history of the Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery in Cape Town during the Boer War, when tracks of rail were laid over a distance of about 4 000 miles to South West and East Africa. He also showed us photographs of bridges under construction, the Simba bridge in 1940, and medals which were awarded for this and other dangerous work, like clearing minefields, drilling wells, and the famous Springbok bridge across the river Po, 305 m long. His presentation was very well illustrated and researched as Robert is himself an engineer.
We were allowed to inspect medals our guests had brought with them, and an eager discussion followed, closing a most interesting evening covering a colourful topic.
Jochen (John) Mahncke (Vice-Chairman/Scribe) (021) 797 5167