South African Military History Society

Tel (+27)(0)10-237-0676 Fax (+27)(0)86-617-8002


The chairman, Ivor Little, opened the meeting by welcoming the 84 members and guests present. Then followed the usual monthly announcements before Ivor introduced the curtain raiser speaker for the evening. This was well-known fellow member Jan-Willem Hoorweg, born in The Netherlands but educated in South Africa where he has made a career in the music industry, first as a musician and then as an executive. In his spare time he enjoys sport and has an abiding interest in military history.

The subject of Jan-Willem's talk was "The Golden Horseshoe (U-99 and Otto Kretschmer)". Starting with the re-birth of the German Navy's U-boat (Unterseeboten) arm in 1934, Jan-Willem led us through the early pre-World War II years of its growth under Admiral Raeder and Captain Carl Doenitz. He then introduced the young commanders, who numbered among them the future aces Gunther Prien, Joachim Schepke and Otto Kretschmer.

Kretschmer, the subject of the talk, was born in 1912 and, as part of his education, travelled extensively, including eight months studying English at school in Exeter in the UK. He joined the German Navy as a cadet in 1930 and, after service in light cruisers, in 1936 was selected for submarine service. He received his own command, U-35, in 1937 and was involved briefly in the Spanish Civil War. Later that year he was given command of U-23 and, after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, achieved success with the sinking of the tanker "Danmark" and "HMS Daring". His conduct towards the survivors of the ships he sunk was always meticulous and humane.

After eight patrols, Kretschmer was given a larger and more powerful command, U-99. While on trials the ship's anchor brought up two horseshoes and these were immediately taken up as the ship's crest, gilded and placed, one on either side of her conning tower.

In this boat Kretschmer, by now Kapitanleutnant, became the greatest submarine ace of World War II. He introduced the tactic of daring, close-up surface attacks, wreaking havoc as he ran between the lines of a convoy, and Jan-Willem gave us a detailed summary of these attacks and how Kretschmer's reputation grew. Finally in 1941, after sinking almost 275 000 tons of allied shipping in only 18 months, his luck ran out when U-99 was forced to the surface by HM Ships Walker and Vanoc and then sunk with the loss of 3 crew members. Kretschmer was among the survivors and spent the next seven years as a prisoner-of-war. After the war he rejoined the German Navy and attained the rank of Rear Admiral and retired as NATO Chief of Staff for the Baltic Approaches. He died in a boating accident on the River Danube in 1988 while celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary.

After a brief question period, Ivor thanked Jan-Willem for his well-presented and most interesting talk and then introduced the main speaker for the evening.

This was John Bleloch, a past committee member and active amateur historian and tour guide, whose subject was "The Second Phase of the Second South African War of Independence".

Using clear and easy to follow maps, John set out on the mammoth task of covering the final two years of the Anglo-Boer War in 40 minutes. This he did admirably well. Starting with Roberts' occupation of Bloemfontein in 1900, John gave an overview of the Boer decision to avoid future set piece battles and concentrate on guerrilla tactics to wear down the British.

Keeping his audience with him, John led us on the various commando campaigns which gave the British a merry chase all over the country. Included were the great "de Wet hunts" and Smuts' foray into the Cape. Eventually Kitchener's scorched earth policy began to bite. The block house system and British "drives" across the veld also took their toll. The Boer will to fight was undermined as they realised that to continue would only result in the destruction of them as a nation.

At the conclusion of this most interesting and informative talk, Ivor once again allowed a brief question period and then called upon committee member and past chairman Colin Dean to thank the two speakers. This Colin did with his usual flair, after which the meeting adjourned for refreshments.

Ivor Little
Chairman and Scribe.

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Mystery payments

Unidentifiable payments have now grown to 3 in number:
"Annual dues" 12 January, "Cheque Killarney" 5 February and "Cheque Kloof" 12 February. Please contact Joan on the letterhead address or to claim your credit.

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Annual Prizes in Johannesburg

Please would members who attend the Johannesburg lectures vote for the best lecture in 2010 by completing the form on the web-site or filling one in at the lecture meeting on 10 March.
Or you might prefer to fill in the form in this envelope and post it to PO Box 59227 Kengray 2100 or fax it to 086 617 8002.

The prizewinners will be announced at the AGM in April.

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For KwaZulu-Natal details contact Ken Gillings 031-702-4828
For Cape Town details contact Ray Hattingh 021-592-1279(am)
For Eastern Cape details contact Malcolm Kinghorn 041-373-4469
For Gauteng details contact Joan Marsh 010-237-0676

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The following appeal is from Steve Lundestedt - please contact him directly on 0837323189 or at if able to help:


The Siege of Kimberley lasted from 14 October 1899 until relief on 15 February 1900, a total of 124 days. Those defenders who were killed in action have been memorialised on several monuments, but the only unit that does not have its own memorial is that of the Kimberley Light Horse. All the rest have their own memorial.

Honoured Dead Memorial - all the names of those who died
Carters Ridge Cairn - all the names of those who were killed in the two battles
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment - all their names on the monument in Preston, Lancashire
Kimberley Regiment - all names on the plaque in the Regiment Hall
Diamond Fields Horse - all names on the Kimberley Regiment Plaque
Cape Police - all names on the memorial in Belgravia, Kimberley
The Kimberley Town Guard never lost anyone killed in action.

The only memorial missing is that of the volunteer unit - the Kimberley Light Horse.

Permission has been granted by the MOTHs in Kimberley to place a tablet with these names at the entrance to the Garden of Remembrance on the side closest to the Honoured Dead Memorial. The tablet has been designed as simply as possible, and a quotation received from Theo Lategan for the construction and erection of said monument. The quoted cost is R7 000.00.

It is planned to have a weekend programme in October to unveil not only this memorial tablet, but also one to Stephanus Viviers (a Boer DOW and buried in Gladstone cemetery) and to the unknown lady killed on 11 November in front of the Kimberley Club - the first civilian to be killed by hostile fire in Kimberley. Apart from the 3 memorials to be unveiled on that weekend, there shall be battlefield tours for the region as well as a talk or two. It is also (hopefully) planned that a memorial to the memory of George Labram be unveiled at the same time.

In this regard I would like to know if you or your firm would kindly like to donate some money towards the erection of this KLH memorial. Naturally, your donation will be acknowledged, receipted, and you will receive an invitation to the unveiling ceremony in October 2011.

You will also receive a regular update on the amount raised as the fund raising goes along. If the total goes beyond the R7 000 it shall be used to help pay for the two smaller tablets. They cost R2 000 each.

Should you wish to donate some money, and every little bit counts, I shall advise in due course of the banking details.

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