South African Military History 


Newsletter / Nuusbrief 105 June/Junie 2013

In the open house series on 13th May, Ian Copley spoke of Henri Alain-Fournier (1886 – 1914), a French literary critic and essayist who was also authored a single novel, Le Grand Meaulnes (1913), which is considered a classic of French literature. After school he was conscripted for two years of military service, rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. At the outbreak of WWI he re-joined his regiment and in September 1914 he and twenty of his unit were caught in an ‘ambush’ – probably cross fire – in St Remy Wood near Verdun. Because the ground was overrun by the Germans, their bodies were not recovered at the time and it was not known exactly where he had fallen or what the circumstances had been. The mystery was solved by a group of Fournier admirers who spent fourteen years combing through military records which, in 1991, enabled them to locate the site of the action. They dug for a month before finally recovering and identifying Fournier’s body with the aid of medical and dental records. The researchers found that his remains and those of his companions had been hit by bullets from all sides. In 1992, some 78 years after being killed in action, all the remains were reburied in the nearby national cemetery of St. Remy-la-Calonne.

The scheduled presentation on the military aspects of the Great Trek had to be postponed due to Pat Irwin having unexpected family commitments. Malcolm Kinghorn stepped into the breach for both the curtain raiser and the main lecture.

The curtain raiser dealt with The Evacuation of 3 Military Area on 28th November 1975 during Operation Savannah, which was the deployment of the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the Angolan Civil War of 1975/76. Operation Savannah included the deployment of a military liaison mission, code named 3 Military Area (3 MA), with the FNLA, which was operating north of Luanda with its headquarters in Ambriz, in resisting the Soviet assumption of power in Angola. 3 MA was under command of Brigadier Ben de Wet Roos, a former South African Military Attaché to Angola. His staff consisted of one officer for each of intelligence, operations, signals and engineers and a medical doctor. There was also a detachment of South African Artillery personnel with 3 x 140 mm guns [5.5 inch guns of WW II vintage], which had been deployed in support of the FNLA’s assault on Luanda from Caxito. Also in Ambriz were two members of the South African National Intelligence. There were thus 17 South Africans in the area. Apart from the FNLA, other friendly forces in the area were an infantry brigade from Zaire, an American CIA element and a force of white Angolans.

The tactical situation in the area in the second half of November 1975 deteriorated to the extent that evacuation of the South Africans became necessary. The original plan by the CIA to evacuate them via Zaire was considered sufficient until it was found that the CIA had withdrawn and left the South Africans to their own devices. Evacuation by air was not possible due to control of the airfield by mutinous FNLA elements. Travelling overland to Zaire was not an option due to the distance and the dubious reception which could be expected there. What remained was by sea and the SAS President Steyn was tasked to pick up the members of 3 MA and National Intelligence off the beach at Ambrizette, 80 kms north of Ambriz, on the night of 27/28 November. To the ill-disguised horror of the gunners, the guns were to be left in Ambriz.

With the evacuation planned as above, the complication arose that President Holden Roberto of the FNLA was not available to give permission for the South Africans to withdraw. In the event, permission was obtained on his return from Kinshasa literally minutes before the time that it had been decided to move anyway and the movement to Ambrizette was uneventful thanks to a presidential representative as escort.

Bear in mind that the evacuation had been arranged by HF radio (with slant wire antenna) from Ambriz to Rundu, from Rundu to Pretoria, from Pretoria to Silvermine in Cape Town and from Silvermine to the ship. The first contact that 3 MA had with the frigate was when VHF communication was established from the beach. What followed was a rapid learning curve that, in spite of what is depicted in movies, torch flashes from beaches are not visible to seaward. Nor, indeed, were the lights of the two Unimogs, which were eventually resorted to. The situation was becoming critical in terms of time for the ship to withdraw from the coast before first light, before a light shown by the ship was sighted from the beach and the evacuation could commence.

This was done by ferrying the personnel, the breach blocks and firing mechanisms of the guns – without which they could not be fired – in inflatable boats to the frigate’s rigid hull boats behind the breaker line. Time had become so critical due to the delayed RV that the ship’s Wasp helicopter had to fly two sorties to the beach to assist as soon as it was light enough to do so. Even so, the sun was up by the time that embarkation was complete and the frigate could commence opening the coast, vulnerable as it was to Cuban MIGs based in Luanda. In due course, the evacuees were disembarked at Walvis Bay to re-join the landward operation and the President Steyn continued its patrol. All involved were aware that it had been a close run and could easily have gone awry and, had it done so, it would have been a very long walk to freedom. The 140mm guns were returned via Zaire in March 1976 and were back in service later that same year.

The main lecture, on Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, was a sequel to Malcolm’s presentation in August 2012 on maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden [see SAMHSEC Newsletter 96].

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) analysis of West African Transnational Organised Crime Flows dated February 2013 identified increasing maritime piracy amongst the transnational crimes prevalent in the area, which is a major source of oil.
According to UNODC’s Threat Assessment, much of the piracy that affects West Africa is a product of the disorder that surrounds the regional oil industry. A large percentage of recent piracy attacks targeted vessels carrying petroleum products because there is a booming black market for fuel. Without this ready market, there would be little point in attacking these vessels.

Pirate attacks include kidnapping crews for ransom, as is typical off the coast of Somalia, where there is value in keeping hostages alive; hijacking to steal the vessel or cargo and where is no value in keeping crew alive; and armed robbery, which occurs throughout West Africa. Where information on attackers is available, almost all of the pirate attacks have been linked to Nigerian pirates. In Benin, many of the pirates were from the Nigeria-Benin border and victims report both English and French spoken by the pirates. The risk is that piracy will become broadly popular. There are many dissidents, out-of-work fishermen and marginalized youth who could be attracted to piracy and the potential payoffs could attract participants from outside Nigeria.

Security analyses indicate that there is a possible link between piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the financing of regional Islamist terrorist groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar Al Dine Movement for Onenes and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Boko Haram, and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, all of which operate in the wider Sahel desert region covering Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

According to the US Naval Institute Proceedings March 2013 edition “…an oil-based piracy of unrivalled proportion — born in the corruption and crime of Nigeria — is haemorrhaging across the Gulf of Guinea. Acts of depredation against ships and fixed oil installations more than 100 nautical miles off-shore have resulted in greater financial losses and had a wider economic impact than any piracy seen so far anywhere else in the world. Piracy is inseparable from economic and political conditions on land and, although the number of incidents may rise or fall, as long as conditions favour piracy, as is the case in the Gulf of Guinea, even the most extensive and sophisticated security regimes will find it difficult to control the problem. Deep-seated social attitudes, such as tolerance of corruption and the perpetuation of the subsidies that distort Nigeria’s internal energy market are major obstacles to change.”

The increase of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea was contrasted to the reduction of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, where international counter-piracy measures have contained piracy at 30-50% of 2012 levels. It was emphasized that while Somali piracy may have diminished, piracy networks remain a threat there. Of the array of international counter-piracy measures which have contributed to the reduction of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, only the passive measures recommended by the International Maritime Organisation in the International Ship and Port Security Code and the maritime transport industry’s Best Management Practices are available in the Gulf of Guinea.

May 17th – 19th Field Trip: A report by Geoff Brown

The year is 1901. Alice Olivia Featherstone and her children lived on the isolated farm ‘Featherstonehaugh’ situated next to the Grootrivierberge midway between the tiny remote outposts of Klipplaat and Willowmore. The Featherstones were in financial trouble and, with her husband away supplementing their income, Alice was totally vulnerable – as were thousands of other farmsteads in the Cape Province. Commandant Scheepers’ Commando suddenly appeared on the morning of 5th August 1901. They stripped the house of food, slaughtered livestock and chickens for their own consumption, used up all available fodder for their horses and, instructed by Piet van der Merwe, burnt the house down and swept on. Alice was then under obligation to report the presence of the Commando to the closest military authority. She had no means of communication, no transport – the horses had long since been commandeered – and so she had to walk to Klipplaat alongside the unfinished railway line. The war had touched her twice in six months: on 6th February 1901, there had been a skirmish close to the house between a patrol of about 30 men from the District Mounted Troops, the Cape Mounted Police, the 7th Dragoons and a 200-300 man commando under Scheepers who arrived later on a cart. The patrol had attacked the Boers and subsequently surrendered after a loss of six men. Captain Oliver won the DSO for this defence of Featherstonehaugh.

On Friday 17th May 2013, 33 members and visitors of SAMSHEC met at the small neat graveyard at Klipplaat where these men were buried. This was the start of a two and a half day meticulously planned and successful weekend spent studying the routes of the commandos of Commandants Scheepers, Kritzinger, Theron and Smuts as they erratically moved over the vast area of the Little Karoo. The tour was led by Allen Duff, formerly a history teacher and bursar at Michaelhouse, and more importantly to SAMSHEC, both an ardent researcher of the commandos that invaded the Cape in 1901 and an excellent public speaker.

The second stop was on the farm ‘Featherstonehaugh’, now called ‘Humefield’. The scene of the aforementioned one-sided skirmish was visited after which members sat on the stoep of the farmhouse and heard Allen recount the story of the unfortunate Alice right where it all happened.

Friday night was spent in Willowmore. Allen showed where the small town guard erected defence barricades in the village square, successfully preventing the attacking commandos from taking the town as they had no artillery. This was in stark contrast to Uniondale where there was no town guard and which was subsequently occupied by the Boers. During the illustrated evening lecture at ‘The Willows’, Allen screened photographs taken by amateurs of the ponderous baggage train under Colonel Gorringe off-loading at Willowmore, too late and too slow to catch either Scheepers or Smuts. The train journey to Willowmore had been delayed by lack of water for the steam engine between Glen Connor and Klipplaat. He showed photographs of the fort in Toorwaterspoort and the crew who built it after the train had been damaged by Scheepers. Allen explained the different strategies employed by the opposing sides. The Boers employed the tactic best described as ‘shoot and scoot’ as, being lightly armed, they could never hold any position indefinitely. Allen’s own description of the Colonial strategy was to ‘chase, corner and bombard’. If that failed, they tried to keep the commandos going west to drive them to thinly populated county with scant opportunity for obtaining provisions.

On Saturday, members viewed Toorswaterspoort from a vantage point; saw the mill at De Rust which the famished Deneys Reitz and Michael du Preez visited for food after crossing the mountains; saw the graves at Klaarstroom; and heard about the skirmishes Smuts and Scheepers had had in that area. That night was spent in Uniondale. Scheepers’ commando had simply ridden into Uniondale and occupied the important buildings including the Royal Hotel, Magistrates’ Office, Police Station and skating rink. The occupation could not last long and Scheepers departed with the key after having incarcerated the town worthies in the jail. A Town garrison was formed and six small forts (four of which have been traced and located by Richard Tomlinson) were hastily built high above the town for a belated defence.

Sunday morning saw members being shown part of the vast battlefield panorama under cloudless skies from a vantage point above Uniondale. The Kammanassieberge lay to the west, the Kougha Mountains to the east, the Grootswartberge, Baviaanskloofberge and Grootrivierberge unseen to the north. Allen explained that the Little Karroo was ideal for this new type of warfare, as food for men and horses could be obtained from the farms along the rivers and, when hotly pursued by attacking forces, the commandos could flee across the mountain ranges or simply split up and regroup later. Unlike the men on horseback, SAMHSEC members crossed the mountain ranges in comfort on good roads in a convoy of twelve vehicles. This convoy wound up a steep hill above Uniondale to visit a still well preserved fort and listened to Richard Tomlinson relate his recent research findings on the small circular stone forts.

The commando routes in the Little Karoo are not easy to follow as there were many changes of direction made to escape pursuers, to find provisions and to damage or destroy anything that might disrupt the British war effort. The generally well kept graves, found mostly in the small town graveyards, bear testimony to the life and death struggle that was waged in that theatre of war.

The last stop was the neat well-built stone Scheepers memorial near the site of a skirmish above a poort leading to the Langkloof. This was between the commando led by Piet van der Merwe and the 10th Hussars. Scheepers was present, but was so ill that he lay under a blanket. The tour ended at midday, Malcolm Kinghorn thanking Allen for leading what must rank as among the best tours which the branch has undertaken.

Future meetings and field trips/ Toekomstige byeenkoms en uitstappe

The next meeting will be held in Grahamstown on Saturday 8th June. Die voorstuk, ‘n Psigobiografiese persoonlikheidsbeskrywing van Generaal Christiaan de Wet, sal deur Riana Henning aangebied word. There will be a short summary and handout in English for those members who do not understand Afrikaans easily. Fred Oelschig will present the main lecture entitled 6 South African Infantry Battalion, Grahamstown. The lectures will be preceded by a morning outing to a former home of Piet Retief located in the military base. Further details will follow.

Matters of general interest / Sake van algemene belang

Members’ activities

A record 31 members of SAMHSEC and several guests participated in the May field trip to the Little Karoo to study Boer invasions of the Cape Colony during 1901. See the report above.

Pat Irwin recently visited the East Fort at Hout Bay and the Commonwealth War Graves section of Maitland Cemetery in Cape Town. The latter is in pristine condition and has a number of interesting graves, including those of British officers who wanted to be buried facing England, republican Burghers, members of the SA Native Labour Corps and five members of the Wehrmacht (see correspondence from by Johan v d Berg, in Military History Journal 15 (4) 157 - 158). Both these sites are well worth a visit.

Die Erfenisstigting

Die volgende gooie nuus is van die Besturende Direkteur van die Erfenisstigting ontvang:
Geliewe kennis te neem dat die Departement van Kuns en Kultuur  vanoggend skriftelik bevestig het dat die bedrag van R12 574 450,00 aan die Erfenisstigting oorbetaal gaan word, synde R11 872 321,00 vir die beplanning, oprigting en inruiming van Fase 2 van die Erfenissentrum en R702 129,00 vir kapitaalverwante projekte wat reeds deur die afgelope jaar deur die Erfenisstigting onderneem is of nog in die huidige finansiële jaar onderneem gaan word. Dit word as 'n besondere deurbraak vir erfenisbewaring beskou.

Die volgende paragraaf word graag vir u inligting aangehaal:  “The Department appreciates your organisation’s endeavours in the management and the restoration of heritage sites that do not receive any grant from government. Please be assured that the Department takes the heritage of the Afrikaner nation very seriously.”

Alhoewel daar nog nie bedrae daaraan gekoppel kan word nie, word ook graag bevestig dat die Vrystaatse Departement  van Sport, Kuns, Kultuur en Ontspanning in beginsel besluit het om die Winburg Museum en –monument eersdaags aan die Erfenisstigting oor te dra. Die Departement sal die fondse beskikbaar stel vir die herstel, opgradering en beveiliging van die terrein (volgens aanvanklike beramings ongeveer R4 miljoen), wat daarna deur die Erfenisstigting oorgeneem,  beheer en bedryf sal word. Die presiese voorwaardes van die oordrag, insluitende die bedrae wat die Departement daarvoor beskikbaar sal stel, sal binnekort  bevestig word.

Restoration to graves in the Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya

As a number of SAMHSEC members have a particular interest in the North African Campaign during World War II, we include the following letters, dated 24th April and 20th May 2013 respectively, from Capt (Navy) Charles Ross (Ret), the Secretary of the South African Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

24th April 2013: In the recent past the Agency has received numerous e-mails referring to a video clip on YouTube in respect of damage to the Commonwealth war graves in the Benghazi Military Cemetery in Libya.  This is an old clip referring to the initial vandalism in the cemetery that appears to be doing the rounds again. The cemetery was vandalised in February/March 2012 and 238 graves were damaged of which 22 were South Africans.  The Commission is in the process of replacing all the damaged Headstones.

20th May 2013: There has been progress recently on this matter and we thought you might find it helpful to be informed of the current situation. Since the incident took place, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has made significant progress in restoring the desecrated commemorations in Benghazi. To date, the 241 damaged headstones at Benghazi War Cemetery have been re-erected in their entirety. The Commission has also seen fit to erect a sign in both Arabic and English stating that the Cemetery includes Muslim soldiers who died liberating the people of Benghazi. Work is now also underway to replace the damaged commemorations in Benghazi Military Cemetery. The Commission has been working with the local Libyan police and other Libyan authorities to progress matters. Written permission has been granted to continue with the re-erection of the 84 outstanding headstones and tablets and work is scheduled to recommence on 17th May. The Commission continues to monitor both cemeteries on a regular basis.

Military history of Port Elizabeth

The following article appeared in the The Herald on 23rd May 2013 and will be of particular interest to Port Elizabeth members.

Most people know about 42 Air School operating from the Port Elizabeth Airport during World War II, but there also existed small camps which housed the personnel who manned the searchlights and Ack-Ack stations as well as the coasral batteries. There was also a sea rescue station located at the harbour and a building known as ‘Command House’. There also existed a connection between the King Edward Hotel and the military, and I was hoping someone could fill me in. I am particularly keen to speak to anyone who has first-hand knowledge of any of these various installations . This information is needed for a book about the history of Port Elizabeth and I am particularly interested in looking for people who may have wartime family photo albums depicting any of the above as well as other historic buildings.

Anyone interested or able to assist should contact Ivor Markman at 082 570 1720

Great Trek anniversary: Military encounters of the Voortrekkers 3

This month we record two military engagements between Mzilikazi’s amaNdebele and the Trekkers which took place in 1837, the year after the Battle of Vegkop. These are the battles of Mosega and the ‘Nine-Days Battle’. There is little consensus on the details, but the following general picture emerges. During 1836, preparations were made in the Trekker camp at Thaba N’Chu for a punitive expedition (strafekspedisie) against the amaNdebele army in order to reduce what, in their perception, constituted a continued threat, as well as to retrieve what cattle they could. The amaNdebele army had after Vegkop withdrawn to Mosega on the banks of the Marico River, while Mzilikazi himself had moved to Kapayin (eGabeni) some 60 km to the north.

The expedition consisted of approximately 100 Trekkers accompanied by 40 mounted Griquas (who had their own scores to settle) and six Koranna, all with firearms, and 60 baRolong warriors on foot. All were to share in the promised booty. No wagons were taken and this force, under Gert Maritz and Hendrik Potgieter moved rapidly reaching Mosega, the amaNdebele capital and military settlement, on 17th January when they apparently took the amaNdebele army by complete surprise. Despite a courageous and spirited defence, Mzilikazi’s warriors were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the expedition and eventually broke and fled, being pursued until either noon or sunset depending on the source. The entire town was put to the torch and various estimates put the number of dead as high as 450, including women and children, as well as an unknown number wounded. Of the attacking party, two baRolong warriors were killed. 5 000 to 7 000 head of cattle were seized, but no sheep or horses recovered. The expedition then returned to Thaba N’Chu accompanied by several missionaries from Mosega who were fearful of remaining there.

AmaNdebele military power was however far from broken at this stage: in mid-1837 they had successfully rebuffed, in a series of battles, an amaZulu punitive expedition against them. In November 1837, 360 Trekkers and a number of baRolong warriors under the leadership of Hendrik Potgieter and Piet Uys, undertook another punitive expedition against the amaNdebele, possibly the first military offensive in South Africa in which wagons were used. They attacked Mzilikazi at Tshwenyane, Kapayin and eGabeni in what has been called the ‘Nine-Days Battle’ (or ‘Seven-Days Battle’, depending on how it is counted, or sometimes the Battle of Marikwa). It ran from the 4th to 12th November. On this occasion the Trekkers did not have it all their way and at one point were close to being surrounded and annihilated. Again, due in large measure to the superior technology of the gun, the amaNdebele eventually retreated to beyond the Limpopo where Mzilikazi established the amaNdebele kingdom in what is now south-western Zimbabwe. Estimates of the amaNdebele losses vary from 1 500 to 5 000, including some women and children. There were no reported casualties among the Trekker party. The territory now conquered (which was later to become the western Transvaal), was re-occupied by the baRolong who had been expelled from it by the amaNdebele some years earlier, and settled by some of the Trekkers and their descendants.

In 1847 the amaNdebele again raided south of the Limpopo and a third punitive commando penetrated as far as the Motopo Hills in present day Zimbabwe. Peace was subsequently made between the Trekkers and the amaNdebele and a formal treaty concluded in 1853.

Websites of interest/Webwerwe van belang

Military language

The Portuguese influence on Afrikaans with particular reference to military language
Scientia Militaria
, South African Journal of Military Studies 18 (3) 6 --13. 1988 Brig JH Picard
World War I

British soldiers buried 96 years after being killed in WWI
Mail Online:
24 April 2013 Ian Drury, Peter Allen and Harriet Arkell 25 April 2013
World War II

Last hero of Telemark: The man who helped stop Hitler's A-bomb
BBC News
Gordon Corera, Security correspondent,

Dornier 17: Salvaging a rare WWII plane from the seabed
BBC News
Nick Higham 3 May 2013

Jack Dawson Green: Memorial to Spitfire pilot shot down over Holland
BBC News
Mary-Jane Cullen 5 May 2013

The Dambusters raid: How effective was it?
BBC News Magazine
15 May 2013

Hawker Hurricane on display before it goes up for auction
18 October 2012 Although a little dated, the following website, Captor and Captive, a documentary screened by SABC2, relating to the Border War, is of interest
Missing soldiers

Back from the dead? Vietnam vet found, 44 years on
25 April 2013
Mystery of 200-year-old British soldier found in the dunes of Holland
BBC News
Caroline Wyatt, Defence correspondent,

Bronmaterieel van krygsgeskiedkundige belang

Guillatt Richard & Hohnen Peter 2011 The Wolf: The mystery raider that terrorized the seas during World War I London/New York/Sydney The Free Press

As we approach the centenary of the start of World War I, it might be hoped that more balanced views of that conflict prevail than have generally been the case in the 20th century English-speaking world. One such account which achieves this is The Wolf, researched over five years by two Australians. This well-written account records the exploits of an ordinary cargo ship converted to a German naval raider, which operated in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. Against all odds she evaded the Royal Navy to return to her home port after spending 16 months at sea from November 1916 to February 1918.

An intersection of military and social history, this book details life on board the raider which, in addition to her own crew accommodated over 500 prisoners (both male and female) rescued from 14 of the 30 ships which she had, directly or indirectly, been responsible for sinking. Among her victims were ships sunk off Cape Town where she had laid mines. This is as much a story of German chivalry, honour, human decency and frailties under the stresses of war, as about naval conflict. This book is compulsive reading.

382pp illustrated with 8pp b & w photos, three good maps and substantial appendices.

In a similar genre is The last cruise of the Emden by American Edwin P Hoyt, published in 1967. SMS Emden was a sister ship of SMS Königsburg of Rufiji Delta fame.

Goodavage Maria 2012 Soldier Dogs: The untold story of America’s canine heroes New York New American Library

A fascinating topic, this is an outline of the training process of modern war dogs, focusing on their use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The story is illustrated with accounts of many individual dogs trained for different purposes ranging from IED detection to combat tracking. Several have died in the process but their presence in these theatres of war are estimated to have saved the lives of at least 1 800 soldiers. The book is also about the extraordinarily close relationships between these dogs and their handlers.

It is unfortunate that the style of the book is long-winded and repetitive: it could have been reduced to a third of its length without any loss of essential content. It remains however a useful, if somewhat laborious, insight into this little known aspect of modern warfare.

293pp illustrated with 16 colour plates.

Logboeke van ‘n Ou Vlieënier

Mike de Beer van Leërinligting verwittig vanaf sy plaas in Botswana dat “… my pa 'n navigator in die SALM vanaf die 1940s tot diep in die 1950s was en het baie duisende ure op Shackletons, Sunderlands, Catalinas en Ansons opgesit. Hy was gestasioneer op Ysterplaat, Die Bluff in Durban en oorsee in hoofsaaklik die VK en Europa. My broer is in besit van sy logboeke en 'n paar fotos. Hy was Lt. Colin de Beer en belangstellendes in afskrifte van sy logboeke kan my gerus kontak op”.

Members are invited to send in to the scribes, short reviews of, or comments on, books, DVDs or any other interesting resources they have come across.

Chairman: Malcolm Kinghorn: Secretary: Richard Keyter: Scribes (Newsletter): Anne and Pat Irwin: Society’s Web address:  The author is a retired British Army officer who began his service in the Lancashire Fusiliers, one of the Regiments comprising the composite force (The Lancashire Brigade) which led the assault on Spioenkop, and which subsequently suffered the highest casualties. He writes: “I visited the battlefield in 2007 and felt compelled to tell the story. There are many accounts, but I wanted to portray the battle not just from the Generals' viewpoints, but also from a grass-root perspective and experience - Lancashire cotton workers and young Dutch farmers. So I have written an historical novel which relates true events told through the experiences of fictitious soldiers and real generals. May I also say that during my research I found a number of articles from your organisation to be particularly helpful in accurately (I hope!) understanding the Boer view and actions…. I plan a sequel covering the guerrilla-war phase and incorporating characters from the first novel.”

The most recent Quarterly Management Report of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (3Mb) is available from Malcolm Kinghorn, for those who would like a copy. We greatly appreciate the dedicated work put into the CWGC by Captain (Navy) Charles Ross (Ret), Secretary of the SA Agency.

Peter Duffel-Canham has brought to our attention a recent paper of the (US) National Security Forum entitled Remembering the Invasion of Iraq: A Colossal Strategic Error by Steve Hull. A thought provoking document, it is available at Members are invited to send in to the scribes, short reviews of, or comments on, books, DVDs or any other interesting resources they have come across.

Chairman: Malcolm Kimghorn:
Secretary: Richard Keyter:
Scribes: Anne and Pat Irwin:

South African Military History Society /