South African Military 
History Society


Newsletter No. 437
July 2012

Contact: Ken Gillings 031 702 4828
Bill Brady 031 561 5542
Society's web site address:

The Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture ("DDH") was presented by guest speaker Jean Beater on 'Heritage and Environmental Assessments'.
Environmental impact assessments are undertaken in terms of regulations of National Environmental Management Act (Act No. 107 of 1998). Regulations inform as to whether a proposed activity should be subjected to a Basic Assessment or a full Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment. Listing notices in the regulations describe activities that require an environmental authorization before they can proceed. The National Heritage Resources Act No. 25 of 1999 states that the South African Heritage Resources Agency (previously known as the National Monuments Council). The Act refers to a three tier system of heritage resources, national heritage sites (Voortrekker Monument); provincial heritage sites (Sibudu archaeological site); and local heritage sites. Therefore it was prescribed that many of the powers be devolved to competent provincial and local authorities. Provincial heritage bodies Section 27(1) of the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act requires a heritage impact assessment when the following developments are to take place:

Construction of a road, wall, power line, pipeline, canal or other similar form of linear development or barrier is exceeding 300m in length; construction of a bridge or similar structure exceeding 50m in length; and any development, or other activity which will change the character of an area of land, or water. In the above Act, a heritage resource is defined as:
any place or object of cultural significance;
cultural significance is defined as a place or object that has aesthetic, architectural, historical, scientific, social, spiritual, linguistic and technological value or significance.

This includes:
graves and burial grounds including ; ancestral graves; royal graves and graves of traditional leaders; graves of victims of conflict; graves of important individuals; historical graves and cemeteries older than 60 years
movable objects, including amongst others-

In terms of the definition for archaeology, the following is included:
Features, structures and artefacts associated with military history which are older than 75 years and the sites on which they are found
Department of Environmental Affairs expects reports to include HIAs unless application to exempt this is made
DEA want to know that SAHRA and/or the relevant provincial heritage body have been consulted and are happy with the HIA
I.t.o of Amafa Notice of Intent to Develop (NID) needs to be made to them for the comment
Previously environmental practitioners either ignored heritage or sidelined it as a minor issue when compared to impacts on vegetation, wetlands, land use etc. [This is] No longer the case

The main talk of the evening was a presentation by fellow member Phil Everitt on Lt Gen Sir Charles Warren GCMG, KCB, FRS, in Northern Natal. Phil started by introducing the area of conflict using a combination of contemporary and modern maps. Utilising topographical maps of the "frontline on the Tugela from the Drakensberg to north of Weenen, he explained how Warren, as a highly trained engineer would probably have viewed this line of high ground as a continuous fortress. Engineers, as one of the three teeth arms of the army along with infantry and cavalry had developed, techniques for assaulting fortified positions over hundreds of years. He had previously given a presentation on the great French Military Engineer Vauban which illustrated the principles of careful observation and mapping to identify the most suitable area for the assault. This was followed by well planned, deliberate and sustained attack with intense artillery bombardment (possibly with sapping and mining) followed finally by the infantry assault. There would have been no unseemly haste or complex field type feints and withdrawals as used by Buller elsewhere.

Phil then gave a very brief overview of the battles from Colenso through iNthabamnyama, Spioenkop, Vaalkrantz, to the final breakthrough at Pieters, briefly mentioning Warren's part in these.

He now turned to a somewhat different format and introduced the technique of behavioural interviewing using the STAR (Situation, Time, Action, Result) method. The concept here is to predict the way a person will behave when confronted by a situation, based on his/her experience and actions in similar circumstances in the past. He then proceeded to "interview Warren" with questions and answers as below:

* Have you ever had an independent command? Almost always - eg Jerusalem, Kimberley, Warren Expedition (Stellaland and Goshen, Palmer expedition, London Metropolitan Commissioner, and Singapore.
* Experience of unconventional warfare? Yes -Tribal wars in E Cape, Arabs in Palmer expedition, Griqua rebellion.
* Have you ever been in command of mounted troops (Dundonald said he knew nothing of use of mounted troops). Yes - OC of Diamond Fields Horse in E Cape and Griqua Rebellion and 4,000 mounted troops in the Warren Expedition.
* Do you have experience in charge of infantry? Yes in Singapore, Suakin, Chatham and Medway. (In my mid fifties on taking command of the Thames District I donned infantry pack and equipment on a march to evaluate performance).
* What experience do you have with artillery? Engineers and artillery were both trained at RMA Woolwich, and this was followed by experience at Gibraltar and Singapore defences and the gunnery school at Shoeburyness.
* Do you have experience of design and attack of fortifications and defended positions? Yes, I modified defences at Gibraltar and on the Medway and set out original defences at Mafeking, and Singapore.
* Have you ever been in command when speed of action was required? Yes in the E Cape, the Warren expedition to Bechuanaland and in the Palmer expedition where the murderers were apprehended and the Palmer bodies returned to UK.
* Have you ever been involved in developing new ideas, equipment and tactics? I invented a truck lever for guns at Gibraltar, used the first balloons in British army on the Warren Expedition, and was involved with artillery trials at Shoeburyness.
* What techniques do you advise regarding building a leadership team? Always involve your team leaders in planning operations, give them scope, persuade but do not overrule. This is exemplified by my conduct at INthabamnyama and later.
* How do you relate to the common man under your command? Happy to muck in - assisted physically with bogged down wagons and guns on the march from Frere.
* What is your approach to physical fitness? Personally extremely fit, I argued for fitness training at schools when standing for parliament, and left sports trophies still competed for (to the present) at Singapore and Medway. I celebrated my birthday at Vaalkrantz by carrying out an individual reconnaissance well forward of the front line.
* What is your experience of reading topography with and without maps? I was chief instructor in Surveying at Chatham, carried out detailed mapping and modeling of Gibraltar, and personal surveys of Jerusalem and N Cape Free State boundary.
* Why do you think you were selected to take command of 5th division in SA? Until stopped by Buller I was originally posted to an area I knew well. I knew many of those involved such as Baden Powell (friend). Methuen, Carrington (leaders of my mounted troops in the Warren Expedition) and others. I had laid out the defences of Mafeking.

Phil then contrasted this with Buller, who was overweight, fond of champagne and good food, did not communicate and involve his commanders until Pieters, had performed badly in the maneuvers in England, and had been singularly unsuccessful in independent command for which he had no experience. Phil then concluded that Warren had initially been severely limited by Buller's interference before Hlangwane/Pieters, but had influenced the final operations from Hlangwane (which he would have viewed as an outer-work of a fortification), through to the joint planning and innovative use of artillery and infantry at Pieters. For this final breakthrough Buller usually gets all the credit (although no-one seems to know why he had changed his attitude and tactics). Warren, although he walked the length of the south bank with Buller during planning and was in command of the troops involved, gets very little mention and yet his attributes identified in the talk showed that he was the likely main influence in planning and execution. There is also nothing in Warren's past behaviour before the Anglo-Boer War that suggests indecision, lack of initiative and speed of action, lack of knowledge of use of mounted troops, inability to appreciate topography or use of artillery. All of which authors usually identify with him in N Natal. He has obviously had a very bad press!

Following a lively question and answer debate the vote of thanks was presented by Ian Sutherland who congratulated both speakers on their research and presentations.

Thursday 12th July 2012 - 19h00 for 19h30.
Venue: Murray Theatre, Dept of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.
The Darrell Hall (DDH) Memorial Lecture
will be- The lonely Boer graves of St. Helena by Jayne Moir.

The Main Talk will be presented by Colin Dean on Nazis on Ice.

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FUTURE SOCIETY DATES: August - October 2012:

9th August
DDH - 'Arthur Martin-Leak, VC' and Bar by Robin Smith.
Main - 1941 - 1945; 'The Naval War in the Pacific' by Capt. Brian Hoffmann.

13th September
DDH - 'HMAS Sydney and her fate' by Ian Sutherland.
Main - 'Long service in SA. Colonial Volunteer forces and in the Union Citizen Force 1894 - 1930' by Brian Thomas.

11th October
DDH - Uluthi; Secret of the South Pacific by Roy Bowman.
Main - Manstein - Supreme Strategist; Hitler - Supreme Commander by Bill Brady.

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Day Tours - Bluff gun emplacements and the Holocaust Museum have been recommended. Brian Hoffmann and Charles Whiteing will finalise and make the necessary arrangements.

This will cover the 1906 Poll Tax (or Bhambatha) Rebellion and we will cover the following sites: Greytown Museum, Ambush Rock (Mpanza), Natal Police graves, Kranskop, King Cetshwayo's grave and Mome Gorge Battlefield. Accommodation has been arranged at the George Hotel in Eshowe and members are required to make their own booking. Please refer to the SA Military History Society Tour when doing so. Tel Lee-Ann on 035-474 2298 or e-mail

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South African Military History Society /