South African Military History 

P.O. BOX 12926


Our guest speaker on 13 February 2014 was Mr Ian Pringle, whose subject was one of the erstwhile Rhodesian Army and Air Force’s most successful external raids, the attack on the Chimoio Complex in Mocambique’s Manica Province. It was immediately followed by a similar raid on Tembue in Tete District, close to the Zambian Border. Both operations took place from 23-27 November, 1977. He the author of the book on the same subject, titled Dingo Firestorm: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War, published both overseas and locally.

A full account of the above lecture will be included, together with the March lecture, in the April Newsletter.

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Members are reminded that the Annual General Meeting will take place prior to the lecture for April. The date is 10 April 2014. Members not paid up by that date, will not be eligible to vote.

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The book Sporting Soldiers - South African Troops at Play during World War I by Prof. Floris van der Merwe is now on sale. Prof Van der Merwe has liaised with the chairman and will make copies available to be on sale to members at the next meeting of the Cape Town Branch.

With the advent of the centenary of the First World War (WWI) in 2014, the timely appearance of “Sporting Soldiers” will tie in nicely with the society’s planned lecture series during the WWI centenary period It definitely will find a worthy niche in the ranks of the expected surge of centenary writing about WWI, and will certainly appeal to those interested in military history.

“Professor Floris van der Merwe has a long professional career as an accomplished scholar of sport in history. “Sporting Soldiers” is his research in book form about sport in the British and South African Forces during World War One. His wonderful ability to evoke the social world of his historical subjects, using incidents and episodes to enable readers to relive the small enjoyments, frustrations and sporting triumphs of his subjects. Photographs, graphic representations and other visual imagery are used, that adds seamlessly to the narrative.

The book comprehensively covers the Great War from a South African perspective, starting with the position of the Union of South Africa in the overall context of WWI. The chapter on South African prisoners of war is the first comprehensive coverage of this topic to be published. His incisive feel for the role of depressive forces, such as ‘Barbed-Wire Disease’, social class, colonial identities and racial segregation for example, shows how his study covers more than just sport.

It is clear how important sport and organised recreational activities were as a release from the stress and strain of war. With “Sporting Soldiers”, scholars and lay persons alike can learn more about it.”

[Extract from a review by Prof W.R. “Bill” Nasson of Stellenbosch University.]

Price: R195,00
Copies will be available at the next meeting.

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Forthcoming Meetings:


Cecil Rhodes is on record as saying he had only met two creators in South Africa, one being himself and the other James Douglas Logan. Born in Reston, Scotland in 1859, Logan emigrated to South Africa at the age of nineteen. Based upon years of research in South Africa and the United Kingdom, and using original archive material (including many unseen photographs) Dr Allen’s fascinating talk is based upon his forthcoming book and explores how James Logan made his fortune in late nineteenth century South Africa through business, politics and a high profile association with the British Empire’s favourite sport – cricket.

James Logan became known as the ‘Laird of Matjiesfontein’ after the Karoo town he had developed. This famous town is today a national heritage site and a popular tourist destination for South African and international visitors. This talk will explore how Matjiesfontein was created and how James Logan developed this little town in the Karoo into a renowned health resort attracting the rich and famous of the late nineteenth century. The talk will also explain how James Logan was instrumental in developing the game of cricket in South Africa and examine the controversial but little-known 1901 South African cricket tour to England – a venture funded by Logan himself in the midst of the Anglo-Boer War. Matjiesfontein’s pivotal role in the war is explored alongside James Logan’s exploits during this time.

Dr Dean Allen is a native of Somerset in the West Country of England, and his long association with South Africa began in the mid-1990s when he began his studies at Stellenbosch University. Currently a lecturer in Sport Management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Dean has taught at Universities in South Africa, Australia, Northern Ireland and England and is widely published in the areas of sports history and sociology. It was during research for his Master’s Degree (that focused on Sport during the Anglo-Boer War) that Dean first visited Matjiesfontein and a fascination for the history of cricket and this region led to a PhD that was completed in 2008. His book Empire, War and Cricket in South Africa: Logan of Matjiesfontein will be published in February 2014 and is a result of that doctoral study.

Professor Albert Grundlingh, Chair of History Department, Stellenbosch University, had the following to say about the book:

It is more than just a sports history and also more than just a political history. Its strength is the way in which it melds the two to provide a new perspective on a turbulent South African past.

Dr. Allen has indicated that the publication of his book was delayed and that it will only be available after the lecture. However, copies will be made available at the meeting soonest following on the publication, for those interested in obtaining a copy (signed copies can be arranged through the chairman.)


BOB BUSER: Treasurer/Asst. Scribe
Phone: 021-689-1639 (Home)

Phone: 021-592-1279 (Office)

(1) The story of John McCrae and his well-known poem will be the subject of a lecture sometime in the future.

South African Military History Society /