South African Military History 


Newsletter No 83 August/Nuusbrief Nr 83 Augustus 2011

SAMHSEC's 11 July 2011 meeting opened with the series on family member's military service by Malcolm Kinghorn on his father, D.M.J. Kinghorn. DMJ grew up in Uitenhage and was one of the first intake of the Special Service Battalion, which was established in 1933 to prepare young men unable to find employment in the aftermath of the Great Depression for government service. He trained as the driver of a Whippet tank. After his SSB year, he joined the Permanent Force and qualified as a motor mechanic in the SAAF. In 1938, he was seconded to a SA Police detachment deployed to suppress civil unrest in South West Africa as the driver of the Siddeley Crossley armoured car now on display at the War Museum in Johannesburg. He transferred to the SA Army when the Technical Service Corps was established. During WW2, he served in brigade workshops with SA forces in East and North Africa. He was Mentioned in Despatches for successfully evading through the desert to avoid capture after the surrender of Tobruk. In 1954 he was sent to the UK to learn to maintain the Rolls Royce engines fitted in the Saracen and Ferret armoured vehicles procured for the SA Army. This included secondment to the British Army on the Rhine, where similar vehicles were deployed. He was the project officer for the South African manufacture of the Panhard armoured cars which became the SA Army's Eland series. Command appointments during his career included South Western District Command Workshops in Oudtshoorn, 84 Technical Stores Depot in Grahamstown and Eastern Province Command Workshops in Port Elizabeth.

The curtain raiser by Robin Kirby was on his grandfather, Lt Col Walter Houx Kirby, MC, who was born in San Diego, California. His family settled in Hankey during 1898, where his father was secretary to the mission station. In 1906 Walter left home and found his way to Kimberley where he worked as a prospector and sold insurance to the miners. To earn extra cash, he boxed in local bars and was the Heavy Weight Champion of West Griqualand. At the outbreak of WW1 he joined the RLI and was sent to German SWA, where he was wounded and captured and then escaped from the field hospital at Gibeon. After recuperating from his wounds, he joined 4 SAI under Lt Col Jones. The SA Brigade moved to France via Egypt and eventually to Delville Wood. During the Battle of Delville Wood, Walter's brother Harold Gordon Kirby was killed and his body never found. Walter was wounded in the face and evacuated from the battlefield. Walter rejoined his regiment to participate in the capture the village of Meteren on 19 July 1918 and was severely wounded in the lower leg. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in that battle. Walter returned to SA after the war and remained on the active list with the Transvaal Scottish. While called up for active duty during the Miners Strike of 1922, he was wounded by a sniper. By the time he was discharged from hospital, the fighting was over. Walter retired from the Army in 1929 and was recalled to active service in 1939. He was killed at Sidi Rezeg in 1941 while commanding the 3rd Transvaal Scottish.

The main lecture by Kathleen Satchwell on Great War Soldiers from Eastern Cape covered the Pattison brothers from Southwell, who were both killed in France. Regretfully, no newsletter input was received from the speaker.

The speakers' roster is as follows:

12 Sep

Subject: Ships that Durban built Speaker: Peter Duffel-Canham Subject: Thermopylae Speaker: Brian Klopper

10 Oct Subject: HMS Victory Speaker: Stephen Bowker Subject: The Battle of Trafalgar Speaker: Ian Copley

14 Nov
Subject: Francois Davis
Speaker: Richard Tomlinson
Subject: Savimbi and his brand, UNITA
Speaker: Fred Oelschig

12 Dec Movie Night: Sink the Bismarck. Coordinator: Jon Osher

9 Jan
Subject: British forces in Kuwait, 1961
Speaker: Ian Copley

13 Feb
Subject: The Battle of Algoa 1799
Speaker: Alan Montgomery
Subject: The Military Origins of the Volkswagen Beetle
Speaker: John Lemon

9 Apr
Subject: The Mystery of Veldt-Kornet Cornelius F Kruger
Speaker: Ian Copley
Subject: TBC
Speaker: Barry de Klerk

14 May
: Speaker:
Subject: TBC
Speaker: Franco Cilliers

The remaining slots on the 2012 roster are available. Members' assistance in filling the vacant slots is requested.

SAMHSEC's next meeting will be at 1930 on 8 August 2011 at the EP Veteran Car Club in Port Elizabeth. The curtain raiser will be Oceanos Reminiscences by Ian Copley. The main lecture will be by Tiaan Jacobs on the Blue Max. The World at War episode to be shown from 1830 will be The War In North Africa 1940 - 1943. The family member's military service series presentation will be by Barbara Kinghorn on her father.

Malcolm Kinghorn.
082 331 6223

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