South African Military 
History Society


Newsletter No. 462
KwaZulu-Natal August 2014

Contact: Ken Gillings 031 702 4828
Chairman: Charles Whiteing 031 764 7270
Society's web site address:

The first speaker at the Branch’s July 2014 meeting was Professor David Walker. His talk was entitled “John Cumming’s ride and the attack on Fort Peddie and it has been some time since members were treated to an address on this aspect of South African military history from the Eastern Cape. The quotations are from Cumming's own writings.

John Forbes Cumming (1808 – 1907) came to the Cape in 1839 as an idealistic young missionary of the Glasgow Missionary Society. By the beginning of the War of the Axe in 1846 he was in charge of the Mission to the amaMbalu at Iqibira.

The Mbalu Chief Nqeno, could see the inevitability of War on the Cape Frontier. The abandonment of Andries Stockenstrom's treaty policy by the new Governor, meant that the chiefs of the amaRharhabe and other frontier clans had no incentive to discourage cattle thieving and the retaliatory policy of the Colony amounted to tit-for-tat theft since no attempt was made to retrieve the actual stolen cattle. Instead, any cattle - no matter to whom they belonged and often many more than had been stolen - were brought back to the Colony. Nqeno died at the beginning of 1846, not long after the arrival of Cumming. On his deathbed he made his heir Stokwe promise to remain neutral in the coming conflict.

Because of Stokwe's avowed neutrality and the fact that he was recognized as neutral by the British, Cumming had hopes that Iqibira would remain unaffected. Nevertheless, shortly before the beginning of the war, he decided to evacuate his wife and infant son to John Pringle's (her father's) farm Glenthorn in the Colony. The wagon was loaded with the family and also with the aged Nomaza, Stokwe's grandmother. She had been the Great Wife of Langa the founder of the amaMbalu. They were accompanied by a number of Christian Xhosa. Cumming took them across the border and then returned to Iqibira. When the war started at the beginning of April 1846 Stokwe begged Cumming to stay as an insurance against a British attack and Cumming promised to do so. In turn Stokwe guaranteed the safety of the mission. He was the only missionary to remain in Xhosa territory and caused considerable worry to Governor Maitland. He asked C.L. Stretch, the government agent and Cumming's wife's uncle: “Can nothing be done? I give you authority to employ men at any expense and try and bring him out.” But Cumming chose to remain. The war came close. He wrote that he could hear the guns of the Battle of Burnshill, a disaster for the British in which most of a 125 wagon supply train was destroyed, including two wagon loads of wine for the officers' mess and the regimental silver of the 7th Dragoons! This battle initiated a major invasion of the Colony.

The weeks went by. Eventually the pressured on Stokwe became extreme and he felt unable to protect the mission any longer. He sent a message to Cumming: “Go out to your friends in the Colony, the country is filled with strange Xhosas, and as they are far away, they may come upon you before I can help you.”

During his lonely spell at Iqibira he had been served by a young convert, Pepe Gongwana. Now the two of them saddled up and set off to visit Stokwe at his Great Place. There they told him of their plans for getting back to Glenthorn. Stokwe was concerned for the safety of Cumming.

The direct route to Glenthorn was to the North West but was long and dangerous. Cumming had a better idea. South of Iqibira, in the ceded territory on the Colonial side of the Keiskamma was Fort Peddie, occupied by a significant British force. It was about 40km from Iqibira and Stokwe’s Great Place lay between. He and Pepe rode south. When they reached the fort it was bustling with troops and refugees. Traders from throughout the Xhosa regions were camped in their wagons. John Cumming had his own priorities.

The local Government agent, Captain John Maclean, introduced him to the local Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Lindsay of the 91st Argyllshire. The fort itself was manned by the 91st and large numbers of Mfengu troops were encamped outside. The latter were later to bear the brunt of the defence of the fort.

Lindsay was expecting an imminent attack. He was now faced with an importunate, travel-stained missionary who was demanding the loan of some wagons in order to bring the property of his mission station to safety.“What!” said he “How can you take waggons for such a purpose, and at such a time? The [Xhosa]s will seize them”. I said if he could favour me, our mission would be responsible for the value of the waggons. 'Well,' he said 'If you will get Stock to give you men to accompany you, I will spare you two waggons' This I did.”

The following morning the refugees in the camp were astonished to see the little wagon train, manned by Cumming, Gongwana, two drivers, and two voorlopers, setting off northwards. There was a certain amount of jeering: “... one of the Refugee Traders said “I bet you £500, that you will not bring these wagons back again.”

They made their way safely as far as the Great Place where Stokwe gave them an escort that was armed only with sticks. They travelled on to Iqibira. The mission station was still untouched. They loaded everything they could onto the wagons and set off on the return journey. Near the Keiskamma River, Cumming sent the wagons ahead to set up camp while he and Pepe made a diversion to bid a final farewell to Stokwe. They reached the Great Place in the evening and were welcomed by Stokwe. Just like Fort Peddie, Stokwe’s Great Place was awash with rumour and alarm:

“... at night we all lay down in the hut on the ground with our feet to the fire in the centre like so many spokes of a wheel. About midnight we were all aroused by a [Xhosa] putting his head in by the door and loudly saying the Fingoe’s [sic] of Fort Peddie have seized on the cattle, and the [British] soldiers are coming up in the morning to attack the Great Place. Stock looked to me and said “Do you hear that? “Yes” I replied 'I hear but I do not believe it all …' ”

Cumming offered to take a message to Fort Peddie provided that Stokwe supplied him with an escort. The escort soon absconded, being terrified of falling into the hands of the British, but Cumming, after a brush with a frightened sentry, was able to see Maclean, who immediately provided a message of reassurance. Cumming was able to return to Stokwe to tell him that, if he sent two representatives the following morning, Maclean would compensate him for the stolen cattle. Cumming’s departure the next day was the occasion of a remarkable scene: “In the morning before leaving I said to Stock “We are about to part, and may never see one another again. I would like that you would call your people here, and we shall worship God before leaving. ... in a short time a large number of [Xhosa] warriors with their arms gathered into a half circle on the hill slope, while I took my station above them and gave an address, and engaged in prayer. ...In the far distance were the Amatolas where a few days ago the battle of Burnshill had taken place, where the [Xhosa]s had burnt the commissariat waggons, and taken a great spoil of oxen and other spoil from the troops and thus forced them to retire. The intervening country was now lying at the mercy of the victorious [Xhosa]s, and what the end of all this might be who could know.”

John Cumming and Pepe Gongwana then said their farewells and rode to rejoin their wagons. They joined up with a detachment of reinforcements and in due course reached the fort. Cumming wryly observed that: “... in due time we all entered safely. The betting trader was astonished when he saw the two waggons coming in preceded by such a welcome force. However he failed to hand me the £500 which he had betted.”

In the camp there was near panic among the civilians and many of them abandoned their shelters for the night to take refuge within the fort. Cumming did not join them and was not above gently mocking them in his account: “I felt ashamed to join them, and so I determined to remain in the unfinished Commissariat rooms which had been given me. No attack took place. Next morning they all returned to their houses apparently feeling very small at the thought of having left them so unnecessarily.”

Cumming was now free to pursue his second objective – to reunite himself with his family at Glenthorn. The morning after his night in the Commissariat he found out from Maclean that a party of 17 Dragoons was going to Graham’s Town and he and Pepe were welcome to accompany them. The Sergeant in charge of the party looked at their small and scruffy mounts doubtfully and, rather than placing them in the safer position at the front of the column, said that they would have to bring up the rear and keep up as best they could.

The first stage of the journey took them as far as the Post at Trompetter’s Drift. The country was still in the grip of a disastrous drought and there was no grazing for the horses. Next day they continued along the perilous route, watching for ambush from the dense scrub in Driver’s Bush. At this point the horses of two of the Dragoons began to fall back and others began to flag. The mission “boerperde” continued without difficulty. “I said to the Sergeant “There is no use for us to wait, we will just ride on to Grahamstown (which perhaps 10 miles more or less distant from where we were)” He seemed a little touched at the idea of our now taking the van and reaching Town before him.”

Two of the grain-fed well-bred military horses died on the journey and another on arrival in Graham’s Town. The little mission horses showed no ill effects.

The following day they joined a Burgher force bound for Fort Beaufort. The journey took two days. The first night was spent at a wayside halt on the Koonap river, called Tomlinson’s Hotel. Cumming had hopes of a bed for the night, but they found the accommodation entirely occupied by Governor Maitland and his party so had to sleep outdoors. Fort Beaufort was reached the next day but there was no prospect of a party travelling towards Mankazana Post near Glenthorn so they set off alone.“On coming out of the Drift we met 8 well armed Burghers, who seeing us unarmed going into the mouth of danger said “Where are you going?” “To Mankazana” I said. “Are you mad? Where is your gun?” Before I could answer Pepe exclaimed “God is our gun” They went their way and we went ours. As we rode along the Karooma the sky was obscured with clouds of smoke arising on all sides from Farm houses burning ...”

They then encountered troops from Mankazana Post who said that they had the previous day been heavily attacked by a force under Maqoma and advised them against continuing. On hearing that they were determined to proceed they were asked to take a message to the Post commander giving him directions to Stuart’s Road where there was the possibility of retrieving a large number of cattle. This was successful and the next day the commander, Lieutenant Tom, agreed to escort them while another foray was made. The last stage of the journey had to be taken alone as the army horses needed to be returned to their stables. “We mounted the Black Hill and keeping to the side of the river along the ridge so as to see our way on every side, we went on till we saw a great smoke arising from what we knew as McMaster Kraal, where we knew the [Xhosa]s were at work. “However, we kept out of sight and went on till we reached Glenthorn in safety in the afternoon. I cannot describe the congratulations of all my beloved ones there at our wonderful journey from Igquiligha [Iqibira] through the country in a state of barbarous strife and war, and that without our having met an enemy all the way.”

The main talk, entitled “Guadalcanal - The Follow On” was presented by Fellow Member Roy Bowman. As indicated by the title, it was a sequel to his previous talk on the Guadalcanal.

The reports that emanated from Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley, Commander, South Pacific (“COMSOPAC”), during September and October 1942, became progressively more bewildering from daily and it was obvious to Admiral Nimitz that his old friend was on the edge of exhaustion, caused by the continuous pressure that he was under. Despite the Americans’ successful landing on Guadalcanal and the recent victory over the numerically stronger Japanese force at the Battle of the Eastern Solomon’s (24th and 25th August 1942), the sinking of the five Allied cruisers at the Battle of Savo Island on 9th August 1942, hung like a pall over the American forces in the Southern Pacific.
On 29th August 1942, an event occurred which was to affect the future of carrier warfare in the region.

As the bomb damaged Enterprise steamed toward Pearl Harbour after being badly damaged at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Vice Admiral Ghormley ordered his remaining carriers, the Wasp and Saratoga, to take turns re-provisioning at Tongatabu. Until the Japanese fleet made another appearance, the carriers would remain on station in their usual position, 220 miles Southeast of Guadalcanal, flying their aircraft in protection of convoys travelling from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal. A third carrier, USS Hornet, was underway south from Pearl harbour.

Because of the submarine threat the carrier task force made a practice of steaming at just 13 knots in order to optimize the efficiency of the sonar gear on their escorting destroyers, but that slow speed increased the ability of submarines to intercept and target them.

On the morning of 31st August, just 6 days after the American victory at The Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Commander Minoru Yokota, captain of the Japanese submarine, I 26, stalked the Saratoga east of San Cristobal. When he chose his moment to attack he closed so aggressively that his periscope scratched the hull of an escorting destroyer, USS Macdonough, in the American screen.

The crew of the Saratoga spotted the wakes of his incoming torpedoes too late to take evasive action and shortly before 07h00 a torpedo struck her. The shock wave whiplashed the hull from below the sea to the flag bridge, tossing Admiral Fletcher up into the overhead bulkhead and inflicting a forehead wound that would, much to his embarrassment, ensure that he became the highest ranking U.S. naval officer to date to receive the Purple Heart. The blast tripped circuit breakers in the Saratoga’s turbo-electric drive system, leaving her dead in the water.

The Saratoga was an exceptionally stout ship, built originally as a battle cruiser and converted after the conclusion of naval treaties. Her engineers corrected the starboard list by transferring fuel between tanks, and then the USS Minneapolis took her in tow at 7 knots. Despite a strong headwind, Captain De Witt Clinton Ramsey’s flight crews were able to perform the remarkable feat of conducting flight operations whilst under tow. Twenty of Saratoga’s strike aircraft managed to fly to Espiritu Santo while their ship was in this infirm condition.

The waters Southeast of Guadalcanal would earn the nickname of “Torpedo Junction”. Whenever the sound of gunfire or the basso thudding of depth charges was heard, someone would inevitably remark, “Sounds like there’s a Function at the Junction”.

With the Saratoga out of action for three months, Fletcher could no longer survive Fleet Admiral Ernest King’s acid mistrust. Fletcher’s caution paid no dividends now that his carrier’s favourite haunts, outside range of enemy air attack, were infested with submarines. His reward was a recall to Pearl Harbour in his damaged flagship and, before the year was out, to have his career as a carrier task force commander terminated by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King. After the Saratoga’s disabling, her valuable air group, like that of the Enterprise, found temporary homes – on the Wasp, on Espiritu Santo and on Guadalcanal. A Marine General with a keen sense of humour was said to remark.” What saved Guadalcanal was the loss of so many carriers”. As it happened, the Japanese had newly settled on the thrust of their main effort to regain control of Guadalcanal and its surrounding islands. With their traditional invasion convoys, using slow transport ships, unable to land troops and supplies by day in the face of American air attacks and too slow to sneak in and out by night, Yamamoto abandoned sending reinforcements via troopships altogether. A new way to bring troops to the embattled island would have to be found.

Admiral Raizo Tanaka would be asked to repeat his exploit of 19th August, delivering the Ichiki detachment again and again, using mainly light cruisers, barges and destroyers. These ships were able to make the round trip down the “Slot” to Guadalcanal and back in a single night, thereby minimizing their exposure to attack by the Cactus Air Force. Delivering troops in this manner, however, prevented most of the heavy equipment and supplies, such as heavy artillery, vehicles and much food and ammunition from being delivered. In addition, they expended destroyers that were desperately needed for commerce defence. These high speed runs occurred throughout the campaign and were later called the “Tokyo Express” by the Allies and “Rat Transportation” by the Japanese. Due to the heavier concentration of Japanese surface combat vessels, their well positioned logistical base at Rabaul and their victory at the Battle of Savo Island on the night of 9th August, the Japanese had established operational control over the waters around Guadalcanal at night, however any Japanese ship remaining within a 320km range of the American aircraft at Henderson Field during daylight hours was in danger of damaging air attack. This situation had endured for the months of August and September 1942.

Several days before the Japanese reinforcements began running, Vice Admiral Ghormley wrote to General McArthur to state his preferences of ships he wanted the Southwest Pacific Command’s aircrews to strike. Ghormley had done an analysis and felt that the biggest threat to the success of the American operations was aircraft carriers and troop transports. Destroyers were last on his list. Ghormley was not alone in underrating the value of enemy destroyers.

On the evening of 28th August, seven Japanese destroyers approached Guadalcanal in the first of what to be named by the Allies “The Tokyo Express”. Advancing to within range of Henderson Field, their vanguard was greeted brutally by the Cactus Air Force’s dive bombers, at great cost; the Asagiri sank, Shiratsuyu rendered non navigable and the Yugiri badly damaged with her commander mortally wounded. It was a remarkable performance against the small, difficult to hit ships. The remainder of the Japanese flotilla turned back after the grim news was reported. In the week ahead, bad weather prevented the Cactus Air Force from blocking the supply runs.

From the 14th September to 9th October, numerous “Tokyo Express” runs delivered troops from the Japanese 2nd Division to Guadalcanal. In addition to cruisers, barges and destroyers some of these runs included the seaplane carrier’s IJNS Nisshin and IJNS Chitose, which delivered heavy equipment to the island including vehicles and heavy artillery which the destroyers and cruisers could not carry.

Stubbornly maintaining his pace of nightly runs from Rabaul, Tanaka finally landed the last of Ichiki’s and Kawaguchi’s forces - more than five thousand men, having to run the gauntlet of the PT Boats that had been based amongst the islands that surrounded the “Slot”. Through piecemeal assembly, the Japanese had at last marshalled enough men to undertake their first general counter offensive on Guadalcanal.

Yamamoto now resolved officially to make Guadalcanal, not New Guinea, the principal operational zone of the Southeast Area, and postponed the drive to capture Port Moresby. On Guadalcanal, General Kawaguchi’s troops had gathered, and, fading into the jungle near Lunga Point, began planning a renewed assault on General Vandegrift’s Marine Corp perimeter.

The “Tokyo Express”, continued its deliveries of men and supplies, almost nightly, until late in the Solomon Islands campaign, when one of the last large “Tokyo Express” runs was interdicted and almost destroyed in the Battle of Cape St. George, New Ireland on 26th November 1943. During the final stages of the “Tokyo Express” operation to supply the Japanese troops on Guadalcanal, the fast destroyers used were not configured for cargo handling. Many supplies were simply pushed over the side, inside sealed steel drums lashed together. The drums floated ashore to be retrieved by the Japanese troops from the beaches. This was not as successful as intended. On a typical night in December 1942, 1500 drums were rolled into the sea and only 300 recovered.

During Operation Ke’, the evacuation of the Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, which ran between 14th January 1943 and 7th February 1943, 10,652 men of the approximately 36,000 Japanese forces were evacuated, mostly over the nights of 1st, 4th and 7th February 1943. Of those who were left behind many were killed in sporadic attacks on the American forces, some holding out until October 1947 when they finally surrendered. In early October 1942, Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa planned a major reinforcement convoy for Guadalcanal and two seaplane tenders. In addition, Mikawa ordered Rear Admiral Goto to lead a force of three cruisers and two destroyers with orders to shell Henderson Field whilst Jojima’s ships delivered their troops to the beach at Buna Point. Departing the Shortlands early on 11th October, both forces proceeded down “The Slot” towards Guadalcanal. While the Japanese were planning their operation the Allies made plans to reinforce the island as well.

Departing from New Caledonia on 8th October, ships carrying the US 164th Infantry moved north towards Guadalcanal. To screen this convoy, Vice Admiral Ghormley assigned Task Force 64, commanded by Rear Admiral Scott, to operate near the island. This force consisted of the cruisers San Francisco, Boise, Helena and Salt Lake City and the destroyers Farenholt, Duncan, Buchanan, McCalla and Laffey. Initially taking station off Rennell Island, Scott moved North on the 11th after receiving reports that Japanese ships had been sighted in “The Slot”. With the fleets in motion, Japanese aircraft attacked Henderson Field during day, with the goal of preventing Allied aircraft from locating attacking Jojima’s ships. As he moved north, Scott, aware that the Americans had fared badly in previous night battles with the Japanese, crafted a simple battle plan. Ordering his ships to form a column with destroyers at the head and rear, he instructed them to illuminate any targets with their searchlights so that the cruisers could fire accurately. Scott also informed his captains that they were to open fire when the enemy was sighted, rather than wait for orders.

Approaching Cape Hunter on the North-West corner of Guadalcanal, Scott, flying his fag in San Francisco, ordered his cruisers to launch their float planes at 22h00. An hour later, San Francisco’s float plane sighted Jojima’s force off Guadalcanal. Expecting more Japanese ships to be seen Scott maintained his course North-East, passing to the west of Savo Island. Reversing course at 23h30, some confusion led to the three lead destroyers, Farenholt, Duncan and Laffey, being out of position. At about this time, Goto’s ship’s began appearing on the American Radars. Initially believing these contacts to be the out of position destroyers, Scott took no action. As Farenholt and Laffey accelerated to resume their proper postions in the column, Duncan moved to attack the approaching Japanese ships. At 23h45, Goto’s ships were visible to the American lookouts and Helena radioed for permission to open fire. Scott responded in the affirmative and to his surprise the entire American line opened fire. Aboard his flagship, Aoba, Goto was taken completely by surprise.

Over the next few minutes, Aoba was hit more than 40 times by Helena, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Farenholt and Laffey. With many of its guns out of action and Goto dead, the burning Aoba turned away to disengage. At 23h47, concerned that he was firing on his own ships, Scott ordered a ceasefire and requested his destroyers to confirm their positions in the darkness. This done, the American ships resumed firing at 23h51 and pummelled the cruiser Furutaka. Burning from a hit to its torpedo tubes, Furutaka lost power after taking a torpedo hit from Buchanan. While the cruiser was burning, the American ships shifted their fire to the destroyer Fubuki, sinking her.

As the battle raged, the cruiser Kinugasa and destroyer Hatsuyuki turned away and missed the brunt of the American attack. Pursuing the fleeing Japanese ships, Boise was nearly hit by torpedoes from Kinugasa at 00h06. Turning on their searchlights to illuminate the Japanese cruiser, Boise and Salt Lake City immediately took fire, with the former taking a hit to its magazine. At 00h20, with the Japanese retreating and his ships disorganized, Scott broke off the action. Later that night, Furutaka sank as a result of battle damage and Duncan was lost to raging fires. Learning of the bombardment force’s crisis, Jojima detached four destroyers to its aid after disembarking his troops. The next day, two of these, Murakumo and Shrayuki, were sunk by aircraft from Henderson Field.

The Battle of Cape Esperance cost Scott the destroyer Duncan and 163 killed. In addition, Boise and Farenholt were badly damaged. For the Japanese, losses included a cruiser and three destroyers as well as between 341 and 454 killed. Aoba was badly damaged and out of action until February 1943.

The battle of Cape Esperance was the first Allied triumph over the Japanese in a night battle. A tactical victory for Scott, the engagement had little strategic significance as Jojima was able to deliver his troops.

Shortly before midnight on 13th October 1942, the warning siren at Henderson Field’s Japanese built pagoda control tower began sounding. A single engined aircraft was heard overhead and there was a flash of light on the horizon. Suddenly, at 01h33, the airfield was lit up by star shell bursts and the air was rent by the screech of 14 inch shells. Some burst overhead, showering the unfortunate Marines below with shrapnel and hundreds of tiny tubes filled with incendiary and fragmentation splinters. The unseen ships that were hitting them were close inshore and the trajectory of their fire was flat. Many of the Marines were paralysed by the shock of the scream of the shells passing overhead and the concussion of the massive explosions of the huge shells and, unable to find shelter, were caught out in the open.

The shellfire from the Kongo and the Haruna crept away from the Marine tent-lines towards the aircraft parks and fuel dumps, creating scenes straight out of Dante’s Inferno, on the battered airfield.

Suddenly, after an hour and 23 minutes, the fire ceased. The armoured turrets were brought in to the centreline, shell hoists stopped, and the two great behemoths, with their attendant destroyers, turned away to make their escape before the coming of daylight and the possibility of attack from carrier based aircraft, in retribution.

First light showed that 41 men in the fox-holes and tents were dead and all 48 Douglas SBD Dauntless in the aircraft park were destroyed.

The 973 14-inch projectiles that the Kongo and Haruna had fired during the 83 minutes of their bombardment that night, left a physical and emotional shock that affected all at Henderson Field that night of 13th October 1942.

Committee Member Don Porter conveyed the thanks of the audience to Prof Walker and Roy Bowman in an appropriate manner, for two outstanding presentations.


Thursday 14th August 2014:

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture: Mr James van Vuuren of the Provincial Heritage body, Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali / Heritage KwaZulu-Natal: “Sites of conflict in KwaZulu-Natal; who carries the can?” James will deal with Amafa’s role in an environment of changing priorities.

Main Talk: Another in our series on WW1 100: “The Umvoti Mounted Rifles in World War 1”, by Dr Mark Coghlan.


Thursday 11th September 2014:

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture: WW1 100: “Extracts from Harold Sampson's Diary”, by Jane Sampson

Main Talk: “Genocide of the San” by Dr Alex Coutts.

Thursday 9th October 2014:

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture: “The Formation, Training and Operations of WW2 Commandos”, by Mr John Goodrich

Main Talk: “Lawrence of Arabia”, by Charles Whiteing.

Thursday 14th November 2014:

Darrell Hall Memorial Lecture: Another in our series on WW1 100: “General George Patten and WW1”, by Maj Dr John Buchan

REMINDER: SA MILITARY HISTORY SOCIETY / TALANA MUSEUM CONFERENCE, 20TH / 22ND OCTOBER 2014. This Conference will have as its theme “From the Anglo-Boer War to the Great War” and has been put together by the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of the South African Military History Society and the Talana Museum in Dundee, Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Several Dundee based lodges and hotels have offered delegates discounted accommodation rates and these are shown in the attached document. The programme and enrolment form are also attached.

A Reminder that the 2014 tour will be to the eMakhosini Valley in Zululand, as guests of fellow member Paul Smith. Date: 11th and 12th October 2014. Please confirm your attendance with Ken Gillings ( or at the next two meetings (when a form will be circulated). A special rate has been negotiated with the Mtonjaneni Lodge but you need to state “SAMHS Tour” when booking with them. This is as follows:
Sharing- Bed and breakfast R405 less 20% = R324pp sharing (2013 rates)
Single - Bed and Breakfast R580 less 20% =R464 pp single (2013 rates)
Dinner – all meals are set menus R110 pp
We also do picnic or lunch packs at R80 pp

Their telephone number is 035 450 0904/5 (speak to Tracey Doubell) and their e-mail address is

The provisional itinerary will be as follows:
Saturday 11th October 2014:
Departure from Durban (own vehicles) by 07h00 at the latest. Suggested route: N2 North, Dokodweni offramp, Eshowe, Melmoth, Mthonjaneni (+- 3 hours travelling time)
10h00 Rendezvous at Mtonjaneni Lodge
10h30 Depart Mtonjaneni Lodge for the eMakhosini. Meet Paul Smith at the gate to his farm. Sites to be visited will include King Dingane’s (recently discovered) spiritual homestead of King Shaka, built after his assassination by King Dingane and the site of kwaBulawayo No 1. We will return to Mtonjaneni Lodge for participants to visit the Mtonjaneni Museum.

Gqokli Hill Battlefield and Ulundi Battlefield.
Sunday 12th October 2014:
08h30 – walk to Mtonjaneni Spring, then return to visit the three forts at Mtonjaneni.
10h00: Drive to Gqokli Hill for a description of the Battle of Gqokli Hill, April 1818.
11h00: Drive to Ulundi Battlefield. Possibly stop at Fort Nolela (time permitting).
Lunch time (NB – participants to arrange their own lunches): Continue to Ondini Museum and the partially restored isiGodlo (private residence) of King Cetshwayo kaMpande. Entry fee R30 per person. Picnic lunch (toilets etc available).

Return journey +-3 ½ hours. Those attending could consider spending a night or two in the nearby Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park, which can be entered via Ulundi at Cengeni Gate along a newly tarred road. Mpila Camp is self catering and easily accessible from our final stop at Ondini.

South African Military History Society /