South African Military History 


Newsletter/Nuusbrief 113
February/Februarie 2014

SAMHSEC’s first meeting of the year was held in Port Elizabeth on 13th January 2014. In the open house slot, Ian Pringle quoted from the most recent edition of Rob Milne’s book Anecdotes of the Anglo Boer War. As with all anecdotes some are humorous, some tragic and some decidedly odd! One which raised a good laugh described an epitaph on the tombstone of a British officer in Calcutta who was accidently shot by his batman. It read, "Well done thy good and faithful servant!" Then there was the young Boer Commando lad whose father was shot next to him at the Battle of Wagon Hill (Platrand) at Ladysmith. The youngster was found still wearing a hat with a Grey College badge on it. The infamous role of the National Scouts which was remembered for generations after the conflict also has its fair share of anecdotal stories.

The curtain raiser, Operation Alfred: British troops in Swaziland, was presented by Ian Copley. There had been mounting unrest in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland in the middle of 1963. Strikes had started at the British-owned asbestos mine at Havelock, close to Barberton on the border with South Africa, followed by strikes on the sugar plantations. Swaziland was seen as a sensitive area between South Africa and Mozambique with a police force too small to deal with trouble in more than one place at a time.

On Friday 14th June 1963, the 700 strong 1 Bn Gordon Highlanders, forming part of the British army’s 24 Brigade, was airlifted from its base at Gilgil in the Rift Valley to RAF, Eastleigh in Nairobi. They had been on stand-by for the previous seventy-two hours. Take-off occurred five hours after ‘go’ from the War Office in London. 24 Brigade, the ‘Fire Brigade’, was normally on forty-eight hour stand-by to be air portable to anywhere in Africa or the Middle East. Six Britannias, two Argosies and six Beverley aircraft were made available from Middle East Command, Aden, for the transport of men and equipment. Ian was responsible for B section of 24 Field Ambulance which was split into two parts for the airlift. They took off from RAF Eastleigh at 06:00 the next day and arrived in Salisbury [Harare] at midday. Strike leaders had been arrested on the same day as the start of the airlift. Ian takes up the story in his own words.

“Whilst there, I was able to liaise with the SMO Rhodesian Army to arrange for critical casevacs to be transferred to the Andrew Fleming Hospital in Salisbury. Only one case was to require this facility. I also met the RAF liaison officer from Aden who would be responsible for onward transfer of less urgent cases to the British Military Hospital in Nairobi. Meanwhile tension had eased in Swaziland. The KANU party HQ in Nairobi registered its disapproval of Kenya being used as a base for sending troops to ‘oppress our brothers in Swaziland’ and the slow process of independence for that country, Bechuanaland [Botswana] and Basutoland [Lesotho]. They described it as a ‘furtive affair’ – ‘an affront to Kenya’s self-governing status’; ‘Britain still allowed itself to be influenced by Verwoerd’s regime’.

On the second day we arrived at the new Matsapa airport at 06:00 to be met with food and a welcome hot cup of tea provided by the Red Cross under the auspices of Lady Marwick, wife of the Resident Commissioner, Sir Brian Marwick. This was the beginning of incredible hospitality for the troops in Swaziland. Operation Alfred had gone very smoothly over two days. At an indaba at Lobombo, King Sobhuza told the workers striking for higher wages, to go back to work and Swaziland more or less returned to normal.

In the next few days 32 landing sites covering the whole country were identified, e.g. the racecourse at Pigg’s Peak, for the use of Twin Pioneer aircraft to deliver supplies or collect casualties. Only one casualty evacuation was required here after a lorry, driven without brakes from Pigg’s Peak to Mbabane, fell off the bridge into the Komati River, killing the driver and severely injuring the passenger. The main function of the army henceforth was to support the police and for my unit to deal with any casualties or prevalent diseases.

We reported to the Government Hospital and the same day accommodation was found for the RAMC members and RASC drivers in the newly built nurses’ home, which could also be used as the site for a casualty clearing post rather than in town. In return the men were posted to assist in theatre and in the X-ray department. Others helped to cut wood as the hospital workers were still on strike. My Land Rover had arrived but without keys or driver. He had fallen asleep and only arrived the next day with the second half of the section.

The troops were alerted to the prevalent health problems in Swaziland, such as malaria in the Lowveld and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases; there was a resistant strain of the local gonorrhoea. There was consternation amongst the wives in Nairobi when we indented for another 1000 condoms. Medical services [and dental extractions] were rendered at a rural clinic and a sick parade at the central prison in Mbabane that also housed mentally disturbed cases, both male and female.

The army was well represented at the Swaziland Show; the Highlander’s regimental pipes and drums march-past was a great success. One of our tents was set up with mock casualties inside - to the consternation of some Swazi women passing through. The catch for Europeans was the invitation to have their blood group tested and the result registered in the hospital ‘blood bank’ so that, if required, they could be telephoned to donate a pint. The Queen’s birthday was suitably celebrated as well as Waterloo Day for the Gordons, but on this occasion, without the presence of the Royal Scots Greys. At Waterloo, the Gordons had gone into action hanging on to the stirrups of the Greys. Subsequently the colonel of the Gordons rode a grey horse on parade and the Greys wear the Gordons’ badge on the back of their head dress.

After two months in Swaziland our 2 330 kg of freight, medical supplies, equipment and tentage, was packed up and returned with us to Nairobi.”

The main lecture, titled How fast can she go, how far can she shoot? : Understanding specifications and comparisons, was delivered by Barry de Klerk. His report, with minor editing, is as follows:
“When I was at school a friend and I used to compare specifications of military hardware, and we were very pedantic, for example a ship that could go 30.5 knots was definitely faster than a ship that could go 30.25 knots. Somewhat later I realized there was much more to this than meets the eye – how fast, how far, how high – is often more difficult to determine. For aircraft, different speeds can be reached at different altitudes; ships reach different speeds depending on how heavy they are – among many other factors. Official specifications are also often rounded off. In British publications a speed for a German aircraft of 373mph at 19 680ft is actually a nice round 600km/h at 6 000m. Nobody expects each aircraft to be identical to the last mile per hour or so. A wing area of 602.47 square feet actually translates to 56 square meters. Paint finishes can also affect speed – bare metal gave less drag and weighed less, therefore the silver jets and US aircraft of WW2. Polishing a wooden aircraft could add several miles an hour to the speed – something that kept Russian fighter ground crews busy. Matt black night fighters were slower (and more visible) than gloss black night fighters.

The roots of this talk lay in an argument in Ships Monthly, and an (as yet) unpublished article I wrote to clarify matters. The argument is an old one – how fast was the SS United States, the passenger ship which held the Blue Riband for decades, and which still holds, as far as I am aware, the record for the fastest passenger ship crossing of the Atlantic from East to West. Just as a background note, starting on the morning of 13th February 1969 the United States left Port Elizabeth and was alongside in Cape Town that same evening after covering the 423 Nautical Miles in 14 hours and 24 minutes, a record for a passage along the South African coast which still stands. For the United States, near the end of her career, the average speed of 30.56 knots (approximately 56 km/h – not bad for a floating mega hotel) was barely stretching her legs – this was the normal operating speed and some way off what she could do.

The ease with which this ship could travel at record-breaking speeds contributed to all kinds of improbable speeds being attributed to the it, despite the fact that the trial results, long kept secret, were revealed by John R Kane, former Vice President of Newport News Shipyard, builder of the United States, in a paper presented to the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in November 1977. Hunting down this document took me months, I kept hearing about it but not finding it till I got a lead via Facebook from a contact in Texas. The maximum speed achieved by the United States at her speed trials was 38.32 knots, (44 miles or 71 kilometres per hour). The 44 knots often quoted was quite possibly due to confusing the miles per hour figure for a knot figure. This 44 knot myth was almost definitely encouraged by the US Navy.

The designed normal maximum power of the ship was 158 000 shp (shaft horse power), to give a ‘solid’ 34 knots. At her builders’ trials, at the relatively light displacement of 40 450 tons, she reached 30.33 knots with 91 921 shp and 34.13 knots with 135 727 shp. At her official trials, run slightly lighter at 39 900 tons, she reached 36.01 knots with 165 619 shp and the famous 38.32 knots with 241 785 shp. Websites dedicated to the United States are very often long on enthusiasm and short on knowledge. The ship was much smaller than the RMS Queen Mary, with a lot more power and was faster than any other ocean liner, although certainly not enough to cross the Atlantic at 48 miles per hour, as claimed by one effusive website.

The problem with being pedantic about specs is that they are often only for a specific set of (often unrealistic) circumstances. In 1940 the 37 knot Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni was caught and sunk by the 32.5 knot Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney (a bit of corner cutting was involved). On the day there was nothing to choose between the two ships on speed, despite the theoretical advantage of the Italian ship.

One reason for this is the different ways that the British and Americans on the one hand and the Europeans (Germany, France, and Italy) do trials. As far as the former were concerned, trials were to see if the ship could achieve its designed performance. As far as the latter were concerned, trials were to see what the maximum performance could be. As a result, theoretically faster European ships were often no faster than their British and American counterparts in actual service. Another reason is that fouling of a ship’s bottom increases every day that it is out of dock. This can cost up to 10% of speed, or increase power required for a given speed by up to 30%. The United States needed 100 000 shp to cruise at 30.5 knots when fresh out of dock, but 130 000 shp to cruise at the same speed when in need of a clean. The state of the engines and the states of sea and wind, and of course the displacement (mass) of the ship make a difference as well.

Richelieu, Hood, Renown and Iowa were among the fastest battleships ever built, but which was fastest? The Iowa class was the fastest design, but these ships appear to have never achieved their maximum speed on trials, breakdowns disrupting both in the original 1940’s trials and in the 1980’s and the figures quoted for these ships are extrapolations from their fuel consumption trials graphs. Running relatively light, probably at 50% load and forcing it's engines to 19 percent above their designed 150 000 shp levels Richelieu went faster than any battleship ever tested, reaching 32.69 knots with 179 000 shp, the fastest ever tested speed for a battleship. It is quite possible that under most operational conditions the Iowa class may have been faster than Richelieu and Jean Bart, but measured trials results make the French beauty the fastest battleship ever – unless I get information to the contrary.

I mentioned earlier that the 44 knot top speed myth for the SS United States was almost definitely encouraged by the US Navy. An example of top speed fibbing is the first nuclear powered cruiser, USS Long Beach. According to Jane’s Fighting Ships 1960-61 the Long Beach was supposed to be capable of 45 knots. Later in the sixties, after the ship had entered service, Jane’s listed her as being capable of 30.5 knots. By the mid seventies this had changed to 35 knots. Supposedly, with two thirds of the power of a World War 2 American heavy cruiser of the same size Long Beach was significantly faster. The 30.5 knot speed seems to fit in with the installed power.

The Soviet Krivak class destroyers, which went from being 38 knot super-destroyers powered by eight gas turbines to fairly normal frigates capable of a little over 30 knots as they came to be better known, are an example of another propaganda use of exaggerated speed and capability. The capabilities of Soviet equipment were often exaggerated in the West in order to generate funding for newer, better weapons.

The War Emergency groups of destroyers, of which South Africa got two second hand (SAS Simon van der Stel and SAS Jan van Riebeeck) as well as one converted to a Type 15 Frigate, (SAS Vrystaat) have wildly divergent top speeds. Generally credited as being capable of 36 knots, on trials they achieved between 28.5 knots and 36 knots, but most were between 30 and 34 knots. In a race between two ships of this type in 1971 to find out which ship was the fastest in the Royal Navy, HMS Cavalier narrowly beat HMS Rapid over 68 miles at an average speed of 31.8 knots. On her original sea trials Cavalier achieved 30 knots, while Rapid achieved 32 knots. Jane’s Fighting Ships 1967-68 listed the design top speed for both ships as 36.75 knots, the ‘sea speed’ as 31.25 knots.

The French Le Fantasque class destroyers were the fastest destroyers ever built. Fantasque, oddly enough, was the slowest on sea trials, reaching 42.71 knots, while le Terrible reached 45.02 knots with 94 240 shp. Designed power was 74 000 shp. Extreme power is needed to make a conventional displacement hull go very fast, so one way round it is to go on top of the water. The Canadian hydrofoil Bras d’Or was the fastest warship in the world, reaching 63 knots. A lot has to be sacrificed to make ships go fast, and many would say that the American Littoral Combat Ships, which can, depending on source, go 48 knots, 47 knots, or “more than 40 knots”, have sacrificed too much for their speed.

There are many myths around the speed of American aircraft carriers. Some sea-trials photographs do suggest extreme speed, but according to the US Navy, the fastest of these, the USS Enterprise, had a maximum speed of only 33.6 knots, not the 35 knots we were always led to believe. The later carriers are slower, because they are bulkier and their lines are less optimized for speed, but more to get the most ships into the existing dry-docks. Nuclear submarines also appear to have slowed down – when I was at school the Skipjacks were supposed to be able to go 50 knots, now all American nuclear submarines are listed as 30 knots+, which seems about right when one looks at the speed and power of torpedoes.

Turning to Aircraft, the MiG-25 Foxbat was always supposed to be capable of Mach 3.2, and had been measured at that speed on radar. After Lt. Viktor Belenko defected in his MiG-25 in 1976, it turned out that the design was redlined at Mach 2.8; going faster wrecked the engines. One thing that recce MiG-25s were able to do over Israeli skies was to outrun air-to-air AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. So how does a Mach 3.2 aircraft outrun a Mach 4 missile? The answer is that the missile peaks at Mach 4, just after motor burnout, and then it coasts and slows down. Speed and range for an air-to-air missile also depends on how fast the launching aircraft is and how fast it gets into the right position for launch. Once Israel got its F-15 Eagles the Foxbat ceased to be invulnerable. The Sparrow launched from the Eagle could shoot down a Foxbat.

Missile specs should be approached with caution. Invariably the peak values are given, so a missile like the AIM-54 Phoenix, capable of Mach 4 and flying more than 100km will do neither of these if launched at low altitude in dense air, and it may only be flying at Mach 2 by the time it gets to the target. This speed decay will mean its hypothetical 30G turning ability will also have decayed to 7.5G, with every turn reducing energy and agility. Another interesting thing about the Phoenix is that F-14 Tomcats, when I was young, were invariably illustrated carrying six missiles, an unlikely load, as this made the aircraft too heavy to land back on the carrier. Carrying six missiles meant one either had to shoot two missiles or jettison them before landing.

Aircraft speed can also vary considerably with altitude. In the case of the F-15C Eagle, a point to note is that on afterburner it is capable of more than 1 300 knots at high altitude, as opposed to less than 800 knots at sea level. (This is very, very fast, but still less than the published Mach 2.5 – maybe the four Sparrows account for the difference). Without afterburners it goes over 600 knots low, but this speed decays with altitude, because turbofans lose thrust with altitude. Of course carrying heavy bomb loads (all external) will slow it down. The F-22 Raptor, by comparison, is supersonic without afterburning while armed, because of superb engines and internal weapons.

Regarding turbofan engines losing thrust at altitude, the Tornado is as fast as the F-15at low altitude, but according to rumours denied by the RAF, when heavily loaded it sometimes needs afterburning when trying to keep up with propeller-driven Tupolev ‘Bear’ aircraft at high altitude! The Westland Wyvern was produced with a 3 500 hp Rolls Royce Eagle and later with the Armstrong Siddeley Python turboprop of over 4 000 hp, but was faster at high altitude than the Eagle because the piston engine developed more power at altitude.

Can the Panavia ‘Tornado’ keep up with the Tupolev Tu-95 ‘Bear’ when heavily loaded?[caption to two photographs]

Finally, how far does she shoot? Richelieu’s guns could shoot more than 40 000m, but the longest ranged gunfire hits were both in 1940 - by HMS Warspite on Guilio Cessare and by Scharnhorst on HMS Glorious – both at round about 24 000m (over 26 000 yards). Most gunnery duels were fought at way below the theoretical ranges of the guns, although longer distances might have been possible later in the war with radar ranging. It would seem that a lot of effort in making battleship guns shoot further was wasted. One thing one does find is that there is much conflicting information available. If you see more than one listed performance for a specific ship or aircraft, they might all be right (or wrong!) depending on the circumstances to which they apply.”

The French Richelieu, 1940 – 1968. Her eight 15 inch guns had a range of 40km. She was possibly also the fastest battleship ever built.[Photo caption]

Future meetings and field trips/ Toekomstige byeenkoms en uitstappe
The next meeting will be on 10th February 2014 at 19h30 at the EP Veteran Car Club in Port Elizabeth. The curtain raiser will be Our Tour de France 2013 by Andre Crozier. The main lecture by Franco Cilliers will be titled Yom Kippur, the Vale of Tears Battle. The meeting will be preceded by the screening at 18h30 of the next episode of the ‘World at War’ series which was not broadcast on television. This will be the first 50 minutes of Episode G.

The May field trip has been finalised and details are contained in Addendum A. Watch this space. Please note too that the lectures for April and May have been swapped around so that the meeting in Grahamstown is now on Saturday 10th May. Details of the morning field trip will follow in due course. A revised speakers’ roster for 2014 is included as Addendum B.

Sake van algemene belang / Matters of general interest

In Memoriam

It is with sadness that we record the passing of John Perrott. John was a SAMHSEC member from November 2005. He addressed the branch on M'fengu Auxiliaries on 10th August 2009 and his presence at our meetings will be missed. SAMHSEC was represented at his funeral and condolences have been extended to his family.

New Members

We welcome Warwick and Pat Grimes of Port Elizabeth as new members of the South African Military History Society. We hope they will enjoy a long and happy association with SAMHSEC.

Individual members’ activities

Peter Duffell-Canham flew the flag for SAMHSEC at the James Dalton parade on 19th January. He reports that the grave is in good condition, with the MOTHS having it as a project. Regrettably the same cannot be said about the Russell Road Cemetery which is in a poor state.

A landmark

One of our oldest members, a healthy Bill Mills celebrated his 85th birthday on 8th January. Well done Bill – not everyone is privileged to reach that age and still look so good. Bill has addressed SAMHSEC on a number of occasions.

Research in progress

Many of our members know Geoff Brown who recently retired from his farm outside Grahamstown, to Kenton-on-Sea and who has been on a number of field trips with SAMHSEC. It will be of interest to many that he is currently, in collaboration with Allen Duff (who led SAMHSEC’s May 2013 field trip to the Little Karoo) researching the skirmish between the Boer commandos and the Grahamstown District Troops/Nesbitt’s Horse which took place at Salisbury Plain/Hottentotskop between Grahamstown and Bedford in May 1902. Several members of SAMHSEC visited the site in 2008. We will hear more from Geoff on this topic in due course.

International Military History Conference: From the Boer to the Great War

Advance notice is given of an International Military History Conference to be held at the Talana Museum, Dundee from 20th–22nd October 2014. It is to mark both the 115th Anniversary of the Anglo-Boer War, and the centenary of the start of World War I. See programme details in Addendum C.

Heritage conservation

Over the past few months we have run a progress report on the Erfenisstigting’s restoration of the O’Neill Cottage near Laingsnek where the peace treaty ending the Anglo-Transvaal War (1880-1881) was signed. For anyone interested in further details on the cottage and its historical significance, see the KZN Branch Newsletter 455, January 2014.

It is also pleasing to note that the Anglo-Boer War concentration camp in Lennox Street, Port Elizabeth has recently been tidied up and an information board in Afrikaans and English installed. It is not clear who was responsible for this, but it may have been the Rapportryers, who erected the original memorial.

D-Day Veteran

Brig Gen Albie Gotze, a veteran of D-Day living in KZN, has enquired whether members are aware of any other veterans of that epic event. If you are aware of anyone, please could you put them in touch with Albie? His e-mail address is

Websites of interest/Webwerwe van belang


Designer of AK-47 dies
Anon News 24 23rd December 2013
Anon 29th December 2013
Leonid Bershidsky reporter news: Your Abilene Online 29th December 2013
Anon The Telegraph 29th December 2013

Growing up in the shadow of the Kalashnikov in Kashmir
Anon BBC News India 23rd December 2013

Wing Commander Jimmy Flint
Anon The Telegraph 29th January 2013

Ron Clark and a ‘Centurion’ Lancaster Phantom of the Ruhr
Anon The Telegraph 29th January 2013

Hiroo Onoda, Soldier Who Hid in Jungle for Decades, Dies at 91
Robert McFadden Asia Pacific 17th January 2014
BBC News 17th January 2014


Royal pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing
Anon BBC News 23rd December 2013

Gerda Taro: The forgotten photojournalist killed in action
Alison Gee BBC Magazine 27th December 2013

A Welsh lady, art, and Hermann Goering
Stephen Evans BBC News Magazine 17th January 2014

Former Nazi guard charged in France with Oradour massacre
Kim Willsher The Guardian 9th January 2014

Aircraft carrier in Trouble

USS Ronald Reagan Crew Members Sick With Cancer Three Years After Fukushima Contamination
David Kashi International Business Times 24th December 2013

Resource materials of military historical interest/
Bronmaterieel van krygsgeskiedkundige belang

Von der Heide Nicki 2013 Field Guide to the battlefields of South Africa Cape Town Random House Struik

A book of this title is long overdue in South Africa, and the author, a battlefield tour operator, is congratulated on tackling the topic. It covers 70 battles and skirmishes, half of them being in KwaZulu-Natal. The basis for selection appears to be a judicious combination of what is simply interesting, and historical relevance. There are eight regional maps showing the location of the battlefields discussed. These, together with the directions given, and in many cases the GPS co-ordinates, make most of the sites relatively easy to locate.

It is a pity however that the GPS co-ordinates are not given for all the battlefields, and one wonders why. There are also maps of 16 of the battlefields, thirteen of them in KZN – clearly the author’s bailiwick. These are well drawn and presented, all with useful comment and annotations, and will enable visitors to get a good general impression of the major actions which took place. To give equal treatment to 70 battles in a single book is a difficult task at best, such that inevitably accounts will tend to be superficial. Nonetheless each battlefield covered contains core information on ‘how to get there’, the context in which the battle occurred, the actions in the battle, the aftermath and the principal combatants. In general, the accounts provide a good overview and there is a limited reference list at the end for those wishing to pursue further details. It is unfortunate, however, that a few key references and sources are not provided for each of the battles.

The book is unfortunately marred by a large number of minor errors and inaccuracies. One gets the impression that it was rushed at the end and details were not properly checked by either the author or the publisher. Nor does the text seem to have been proofread by someone with a military background or experience that might have picked up many of the problems.

Captions to illustrations seem to be a particular problem. Some examples are p113: this is a 6.3” howitzer not the ‘Long Tom’, a replica of which is near to it; p130: this is a 5” Medium Gun, not an ‘Armstrong fortress gun’. I can find no evidence that it was captured at Groenkop. It was already obsolete and the British were unlikely to be using it there, as it had been replaced by the 4.7”gun; p293: the portion of Bell’s sketch reproduced does not show the ‘pursuit’ at all. The Trekkers withdrew rapidly with the appearance of the 7th Dragoons. There was no pursuit; p315: lances were not used at Peterloo. The Dragoons employed there, used sabres on the crowd – a big difference, especially if one is on the receiving end.

Some of the historical descriptions could also be improved. At Vegkop, for example, the evidence indicates that Sarel Cilliers (who was not a priest or even a dominee, but the unconsecrated spiritual leader of the Trekkers) played a much greater role in relation to Hendrik Potgieter than the account gives him credit for. Similarly credit needs to be given to the BaRolong chief Moroka, to who’s generous help the Trekkers owed their survival after the battle. While on matters spiritual, the entry on the ‘Doppers’ on p 337 needs correction: the most popular Afrikaans church by far is the NG Kerk. It is hoped that many of these blemishes will in due course be corrected in a well-deserved second edition.

The book is well laid out and informative and a welcome feature is the general avoidance of unsubstantiated anecdotes and raconteuring which all too often characterise military history guided tours. One may quibble with some of the points in the text and with the clarity of some of the accounts, but this does not diminish the overall enterprise which this book reflects. It is a very worthwhile addition to South African military history in general and to its promotion of interest in the subject in particular.

The book is 352 pages in length and illustrated throughout in full colour. The paperback edition is available from Bargain Books for a modest R199.00. PI

Dzimbanhete Jephias Andrew 2013 ‘Drawing Lessons from Zimbabwe's War of Liberation’ Small Wars Journal 10th December 2013
[This is a controversial article but for those interested in the Rhodesian Bush War/Chimurenga, interesting.]

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 as well as news on individual member’s activities. In this Newsletter, there have been contributions by Richard Tomlinson, Malcolm Kinghorn, Barry Irwin, Michael Irwin, Andre Crozier and Peter Duffell-Canham.

Chairman: Malcolm Kinghorn:
Secretary: Richard Keyter:
Scribes (Newsletter): Anne and Pat Irwin:
Society’s Web address:


Andy McNab (a former SAS operative, author of Bravo-Two-Zero and subsequently a writer of several best-selling fiction and non-fiction books) has joined forces with the charity Walking with the Wounded to hold a Story Writing Challenge for schools to encourage children to write. The winning entry will receive a visit from Andy to their school, signed copies of his books and some WWTW goodies. It is always gratifying to see popular war heroes exhibiting social responsibility.

ADDENDUM A: SAMHSEC FIELD TRIP FROM 30 MAY TO 1 JUN 2014: EARLY WARNING ORDER Good day All, 1. SAMHSEC’s next field trip is likely to be to the Richmond, Northern Cape, ABW Weekend from 29 to 31 May 2014. The provisional programme is as follows: Thursday 29 May: Visitors arrive in Richmond 18h00: Dinner Friday 30 May:  08h00-09h00: Breakfast 09h00-11h00: Lectures at Museum Hall in Richmond 11h30-12h30: Lunch 12h45: Depart for Middelburg via Noupoort 14h00: Tour to ABW sites and places of interest in Middelburg 16h30: Depart from Middelburg to Richmond 18h30: Dinner 20h00: Evening Session Saturday 31 May: 08h00-09h00: Breakfast 09h00-13h00: Lectures at Museum Hall in Richmond alternative: field trip to Deelfontein and Merriman 13h00-14h00: Lunch 14h00-16h00: Lectures at Museum Hall in Richmond 16h00: Walking tour through Richmond to view ABW & other historical sites 17h30: Sundowners at Vegkop Fort overlooking the town 18h30: Dinner 20h00: On Commando: Social Session Sunday 1 June 08h00-09h00: Breakfast 10h00: Depart for Schanskraal Farm on Middelburg road, approx 40km from Richmond 2. The names of the speakers and topics of the 12 lectures are awaited from the event organisers, as are details of the military history significance of Schanskraal. The name does sound promisingly bellicose. 3. As we visited Middelburg in August 2008, SAMHSEC is planning to leave PE on the morning of Friday 30 May to join the Richmond programme from before dinner that evening. Suggestions for sites we could visit on Friday en route to Richmond and/or en route back on Sunday are welcome. 4. Members who want to join the Richmond programme earlier and/or attend the visit to Middelburg are, of course, welcome so to do. 5. Persons other than SAMHSEC members are welcome to join all or part of the field trip. 6. Those attending the field trip are to arrange their own accommodation. The Richmond organisers’ recommended options are awaited. 7. Transport is self drive. Roads, which include dirt and farm roads, are accessible to sedan cars. Persons requiring lifts will be advised of those with seats available and they can arrange with each other. 8. Costs, which exclude meals, transport and accommodation, are to be shared by participants. Should 15 persons attend, costs should be approximately R100 each. 9. Legalities: The ideal world would not be a risky place, including the risk of litigation. We don’t live in such a world, so please note that participation in the field trip entirely at own risk. Everyone joining the field trip will be required to sign the standard SAMHSEC indemnity. The bottom line is if you attend our activity, accept the fact that you will never have us in Court, not even for our own gross negligence or intent. The decision whether to risk us in fact causing you damage, even by gross negligence or intent on our part, is yours to take and if you have a concern that this is a real risk, you are free to choose not to attend. 10. This early warning order will be updated once the details expected from the event organisers have been received. Regards, Malcolm 23 January 2014 ADDENDUM B SPEAKERS’ ROSTER 2014 Ser Date 5 minute Curtain Raiser Main Lecture 1 13 January Subject: Anecdotes from the Anglo Boer War Speaker: Ian Pringle Subject: British troops in Swaziland : 1963 Speaker: Ian Copley Subject: How fast can she go? How far can she shoot? Speaker: Barry de Klerk 2 10 February Subject: Hex River Pass Train Disaster 1914 Speaker: Richard Tomlinson Subject: Our Tour de France 2013 Speaker: Andre Crozier Subject: Yom Kippur ~ Golan Heights Speaker: Franco Cilliers 3 10 March Subject: Boer War Refugees in Lesotho Speaker: Ian Pringle Annual General Meeting Subject: 61 Mech Speaker: Brian James 4 14 April Subject: Seaview Hotel and the Royal Navy Speaker: Richard Tomlinson Subject: 175th Anniversary of the Great Trek - life story of Piet Retief Speaker: Tiaan Jacobs 5 10 May (Grahamstown) Subject: Hottentotskop Skirmish Speaker: Geoff Brown TBC Subject: Experiences of a German soldier at the Siege of Leningrad (1941 – 1943) Speaker: Karola McConnachie Subject: To be finalised – either The ABW in Philately or Drummer Hodge Speaker: Malvern Van Wyk Smith 6 9 June Provisional: Subject: Rebellie 1914 Speaker: Alwyn du Preez 7 14 July Subject: An Overview of World War One Speaker: Pat Irwin Subject: An Overview of World War One Speaker: Pat Irwin 8 11 August Subject: The Kokoda Campaign: 1942 Speaker: Warren Myburgh Subject: Soldaat se Vrou Speaker: Barbara Kinghorn 9 8 September Subject: Hex River Pass Train Disaster 1914 Speaker: Richard Tomlinson Subject: Oh What a Lovely War- An Analysis. Speaker: John Stevens Subject: Oh What a Lovely War- An Analysis Speaker: John Stevens. 10 13 October Subject: Airborne Raids in Africa's 30 Year War: Chimoio/Tembue 1977 and Cassinga 1978. Speaker: McGill Alexander 11 10 November Reserved Reserved Provisional Subject: Heritage made, heritage lost Speaker: Geoff Hamp-Adams 12 8 December ADDENDUM C: International Military History Conference: From the Boer to the Great War This will be sent as a separate attachment. 11 | Page Websites of interest/Webwerwe van belang


Polish paratrooper Michael Czeredrecki
FifeToday 4th December 2013
The Scotsman 9th December 2013
[Members will recall that in June 2011, (Newsletter 82) Michael’s granddaughter Nadia Czeredrecki-Schmidt addressed SAMHSEC on her grandfather’s remarkable military experiences during the Second World War.]

Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Wakeling was a defuser of UXBs who emerged victorious in a five year battle of wits with Hitler’s bomb makers.
Anon The Telegraph 20th November 2013

Matters Naval

US Navy launches slightly less cool drone from submarine
Evan Ackerman IEEE Spectrum 12th December 2013

The past and future of aircraft carriers
Bryan McGrath The National Interest 10th December 2013

Battleship X: USS South Dakota

German Battleship Tirpitz

Matters aeronautical

Top five fighter aircraft of all time
Robert Farley The National Interest 7th December 2013

US Air Force being downgraded to ‘Air Persuasion Task Force’ [The comments on this letter provide a fascinating discussion on past and current defence spending and cuts in the USA.]
Eric K Fanning (Acting Secretary of the USAF), Gen. Mark A Welsh III (Air Force Chief of Staff), James A. Cody, Chief Master Sergeant of the USAF Michael Yon Online Magazine 12th December 2013


Exclusive footage on how the tank armour on Challenger 2, Leopard 2 and Abrams M1A2 works

Top 10 best battle tanks

Top Ten World War II Tanks

World War I

WW1 'sacred soil' ceremony takes place in London
Anon BBC News UK 30th November 2013

The following is a selection of WW I websites sites featured in The Telegraph over the past few months:

‘Your Country Needs You' - The myth about the First World War poster that 'never existed'
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 2nd August 2013

Viola, the trawler that fought World War One
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 3rd August 2013

The British medic, the US Doughboy and the French post mistress: A tale of WW1 love and bravery
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 7th August 2013

National Children's Football Alliance wants a pitch on the site of the fabled Boxing Day Truce in 1914
Jim White The Telegraph 8th August 2013

How WW1 sailor saved his life by laying it down for a friend
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 15th September 2013

German and British art to feature in new WW1 exhibition
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 24th October 2013

WW1 romances and the 'hasty weddings' scare
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 28th October 2013

The stone that will celebrate WW1 VC heroes
Jasper Copping The Telegraph 3rd November 2013

Inside the First World War
The Telegraph 15th December 2013

World War II

World War II photographs hidden in a trunk for 71 years

WW II U-boat found in Java Sea
Alan Hall Mail Online 22nd November 2013

Middle East

Iron Dome in Action in Israel: Shooting Down Rockets
Anon New York Times 20th November 2013


Satellite imagery reveals mystery ‘supergun’ in Chinese desert
StratRisks 16th November 2013

Resource materials of military historical interest/
Bronmaterieel van krygsgeskiedkundige belang

Roberts David (Ed) 2010 Minds at War: poetry and experience of the First World War. London Saxon Books

This is a rich and comprehensive collection of literary sources contextualising the canon of the war poetry we have become familiar with. The 250 poems by 80 poets featured in this book make if far more than a mere anthology. These are augmented and contextualised by an array of extracts from contemporary records, personal letters, diaries (both private and regimental) as well as other published works that help to create an insightful understanding of the First World War from the first rumblings to beyond the ‘peace’ at the end.

The collection of poems and other writings cover various facets of the war from the early enthusiasm for it, through the suffering it caused, to early recognition of psychological stress, the end of the war and a heart-felt exploration of the alien peace-time world as experienced by the service men and women who survived the war and went home to find a different world. This book is arguably one of the best introductions to World War I. It is a gripping read and is recommended as an excellent guide to those events that have cast a long shadow across the years.

The book was first published in 1996 and has been reprinted seven times. The paperback is 410 pages and contains maps, photographs and sketches. - ACMI

Ons het kennisgewing ontvang van die volgende boekbekendstelling:

Grobbelaar Paul 2013 1914: Rebellie of Protes? Vryheid teen imperialisme

Hierdie boek is ’n poging om leemtes in die geskiedskrywing oor die rebellie aan te vul. Die gebeure is op verskillende vlakke benader om ter wille van balans ook die ‘stem’ van sowel rebelle as regeringsondersteuners op die grondvlak te ‘hoor’, maar veral dié van die Afrikaner aan beide kante van die politieke spektrum wat vanaf 1910 hulle pad in die vreemde atmosfeer van die Westminster parlementêre stelsel van die Unie van Suid-Afrika moes vind.

Dit is in drie afdelings ingedeel. In die eerste afdeling word tersaaklike aspekte oor elk van die vernaamste leiers en hulle persoonlikhede behandel. In die tweede afdeling word die rol van die Bethulie-kommando aan regeringskant aan die hand van nog ongepubliseerde operasionele dokumente en korrespondensie behandel. In die derde afdeling word die ervarings van ’n gewone rebel, `n prokureur, aan die hand van sy ongepubliseerde briewe behandel. Daarin gee hy, as ontwikkelde mens, ’n interessante kykie op die omstandighede in die tronke, asook op die persoonlikhede van Genl. De Wet en Siener van Rensburg met wie hy saam in die Johannesburgse Fort opgesluit was.

Die gebeure word deurgetrek vanaf die staatsvlak tot by die gewone mens aan beide kante van die opstand, die werklike belanghebbendes by die gebeure. Valshede en innuendo word sonder aansien van persoon aan die kaak gestel. Vir elke aanvegbare stelling wat die skrywer maak, word die nodige bewyse so breedvoerig moontlik aangevoer. - PG

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 as well as news on individual member’s activities. In this Newsletter, there have been contributions by Malcolm Kinghorn, Barry Irwin, Michael Irwin and Dennis Hibberd

Chairman: Malcolm Kinghorn:
Secretary: Richard Keyter:
Scribes (Newsletter): Anne and Pat Irwin:
Society’s Web address:



During the First Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch fleet had a resounding victory over the English fleet on 29th November 1652. The English Parliament had decided to reduce the size of the fleet to save money. As a consequence, Admiral Blake with only forty ships came up against the Dutch fleet of ninety-six ships under the command of Admiral Tromp. The English fought from noon until night fell but lost heavily in both ships sunk and captured and as dusk fell the survivors made for the safety of their harbours. It was after this battle that Tromp hoisted a broom to his masthead to indicate that he had ‘swept the English from the sea’.

South African Military History Society /