South African Military History 


Newsletter/Nuusbrief 116
May/Mei 2014

The fourth meeting of the year took place on Monday 14th April. The open house slot was taken by Franco Cilliers recounting a recent visit to the Mossel Bay Cenotaph. He found two aspects particularly interesting:one was the mosaic showing the globe with a redline from Mossel Bay to France. The second was the plaque which had Irak written on top as South African troops have not served in Iraq. On it was recorded the name of Wm.1 Warren Lotter.

Further investigation revealed that ‘Private First Class’ Warren Christopher Lotter was born on 16th March 1988 and died at Tikrit, Iraq on 31st December 2008 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He wrote matric in 2006 at the Punt Hoërskool in Mossel Bay and immigrated to the United States during 2007 where he received US citizenship, presumably through his father. He joined the US Army at the end of 2007 and was trained as an artillery man. He deployed to Iraq as part of the 25th Infantry Division in 2008 and was shot by a sniper. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for wounds and actions in Iraq and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. A memorial service was held for him in Mossel Bay, where his mother still lives.

The curtain raiser, Seaview and the Royal Navy, was presented by Richard Tomlinson.The Seaview holiday resort was developed in the 1930s by the Richardson family, starting with the Tidal Swimming Pool, which was opened in 1936 on the shore below where Seaview Hotel was later to be built. Twelve rondavels were erected on the cliff area behind where the hotel came to be constructed. These were later used to accommodate the Cadet-Ratings. On 18th June 1938, Seaview Hotel opened, built in the streamlined International Style to the design of local architect Maurice Berman.

South Africa declared war on Hitler’s Germany on 6th September 1939. In March 1942, staff of HMS King Alfred, a Royal Navy training establishment on the south coast of England, started searching for a suitable site for a similar college to train temporary officers for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR or ‘Wavy Navy’) and the South African Naval Forces (SANF). They first looked at Alexandria in Egypt, but this was not suitable due to the North African campaign being in progress. Thence their attention turned to South Africa, where they checked all possible locations from East London to Cape Town.

On 1st August 1942 they fixed on Seaview Hotel, close to the harbour of Port Elizabeth, and “moored with all possible anchors down…” The first intake was received two weeks later. The choice was logical as it was quicker, safer and more convenient to take ratings from the Eastern Fleet here, as well as Union applicants, rather than transport them to England. U-boats were very active in the South Atlantic at that stage and three weeks or more of voyaging was saved.

It is the custom in the Royal Navy to give all land establishments ship’s names. Many names were considered and finally Good Hope was suggested by the British Admiralty and approved by Field Marshall Jan Smuts. It was named after a four-funnelled Armoured Cruiser of 14 000 tons launched in 1901, a gift from the city of Cape Town to the Royal Navy. She visited Port Elizabeth some years later as Flagship of the 1st Cruiser Squadron. Placed in the Reserve Fleet in 1914, she was re-commissioned later that year with reservists under Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock and proceeded to the South Atlantic. Joined there by HM Ships Monmouth, Glasgow and Otranto, she was ordered to search for the German China Squadron under Admiral Graf von Spee in the Pacific.

This squadron comprised the heavy cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the three light cruisers SMS Dresden, Leipzig and Nürnberg. The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were crack gunnery ships and were manned by crews who had been together for a year or more. On 1st November 1914 the older and weaker British squadron engaged the enemy off Coronel on the Chilean coast. After an epic one-hour battle, Good Hope blew up and sank with all hands after receiving 35 direct hits from 8” guns. Our Good Hope at Seaview was reported sunk several times by German radio as Admiral Doenitz did not realize she was a shore station!

Before being posted to Seaview, ratings received basic training at HMS Assegaai in Pietermaritzburg and did a spell at sea. Candidates showing leadership qualities went before an Admiralty Selection Board and, if suitable, were sent to Good Hope. Approximately 1 000 Cadet-Ratings (C/Rs) qualified as officers over the two-year life of the ‘ship’.About 70% were from Britain, 25% from South Africa and remainder from New Zealand, Australia, Rhodesia and Newfoundland. The South African ratings were partly those seconded to the Royal Navy and partly those earmarked for the SANF(South African Naval Force) and trained by the Royal Navy for the Union Government. The latter were no longer trained at Good Hope from 1943 onwards,when courses for SANF midshipmen were started at SANF Naval Training Base, HMSAS Unitie, in Cape Town.C/Rs wore caps with a white band, dined in the officers’ mess and were expected to behave as officers. Training courses lasted 12 – 14 weeks and C/Rs were allotted to various Divisions named after famous British admirals – Anson, Howe, Rodney, Grenville and Nelson – with an extra Accountants’ Division named Scott. The standard of training was equal to that at King Alfred.

A large Drill Shed was built on the approach road to the hotel and still survives. A 12-pdr gun and an Oerlikon in an armoured turret were erected in the grounds for gun drill. The Tidal Pool was roped into service, davits being erected at the poolside for boat-drill training. A rigorous training schedule was implemented, followed by voluntary classes in all subjects until the generator was switched off at 22h30. C/Rs also undertook sea training on HMSAS Africana or other ships based in Port Elizabeth harbour. The course ended with a final examination. Cadets varied in age from 18 to 43 and had been educated at a variety of educational institutions in South Africa and overseas. Of the South African schools, Grey High School in Port Elizabeth was the most popular with 22 old boys, followed by Durban High School with 18. HMS Good Hope was finally closed in June 1944 on orders of the C-in-C, South Atlantic, as shipping could by then once more pass safely through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal.

Richard explained that he had a personal interest in Seaview Hotel and its Royal Naval service as his late father-in-law, Ronald Exell, trained there from September to November 1943. He finds it particularly sad therefore to view the present deteriorated and abandoned state of the old hotel, the demolition of which was announced in the Herald on 2nd April 2014.

The main lecture, titled The life story of Voortrekker leader, Piet Retief was presented by Tiaan Jacobs. Pieter Mauritz Retief was born on 12th November 1780 on the farm Soetendal in the Wagenmakersvallei, and was the fourth of ten children of Jacobus and Debora Retief (neé Joubert). His family were of French ancestry, his great-grandfather being the 1688 Huguenot refugee Francois Retif, (1663-1721) from Mer Blois, Provence, in France. He was the progenitor of the name in South Africa.

Piet Retief’s father was a farmer and he grew up on one of the ancestral vineyard farms, Welvanpas, established by French wine-making immigrants near Wellington. He worked on this farm until the age of 27, after which he left to settle on the farm Kromme Rhee, near Stellenbosch. He tried his hand at a number of businesses such as prospecting for land, building, and the liquor trade. Most were never really successful and he was constantly involved in lawsuits and financial difficulties. In 1812 he left Stellenbosch for the Eastern Frontier as Commandant of the burger commando. On 4th July 1814 Retief was married in Graaff-Reinet to a widow, Magdalene Johanna (Lenie) De Wet. The couple settled in Uitenhage and had four children. Lenie died in Potchefstroom on 31stAugust 1855.

Retief moved to the vicinity of Grahamstown in 1818, where he made his fortune. Like other farmers, he acquired wealth through livestock, but suffered repeated losses from Xhosa raids. He was an educated man and as a result of his involvement in various commandos to recover cattle, he developed good leadership qualities and was appointed Field Commandant of Albany district in 1822.

The cattle raiding eventually prompted the 6th Cape Frontier War in 1835. Retief assumed command as Provincial Field Commandant of punitive expeditions in response to raiding parties from the adjacent Xhosa territory. His letters indicate that he was a refined and intelligent person who was known for his honesty, moral integrity and benevolence. He was also known for his restless nature and energy.

Retief nonetheless had a history of financial trouble. According to historians, he occupied more than 30 farms during his stay in the Eastern Cape. He is reported to have gone bankrupt at least twice. Stock losses impelled many frontier farmers to become Voortrekkers (literally, "those who move forward") and to migrate to new lands in the north.

Retief lost much of his money in a bad business decision. He had accepted contracts for the erection of barracks and the Drostdy in Grahamstown, and although he was a wealthy man at that stage, he experienced significant damages when he left the business operations in the hands of foremen when he was called to do Commando service at the border. After the contracts failed, he surrendered his estate in 1834, for the second time, and was forced to return to farming at Mooimeisjesfontein in the Riebeeck-East district, where he lived with his family from 1834-1836.

Two groups of emigrants left the Cape Colony in the second quarter of the 19th century. The first being the Trekboere who, in the process of looking for better grazing, migrated beyond the borders of the Colony. The second group was composed mainly of the frontier farmers of the Eastern Cape, who had a stronger political drive to leave the Colony and who undertook the Great Trek and later became known as the Voortrekkers. The Voortrekkers’ migration started in 1835 resulting from their discontent with the British colonial authorities, the ongoing border wars, a lack of land, labour problems and a feeling that they were politically marginalized.

During this time Great Britain began to introduce a series of reforms that angered many Afrikaners. The Anglican Church became the official church of the Cape Colony, and with it came the English language and legal practices and norms. Reforms that deeply affected many Afrikaners were laws prohibiting the slave trade and later, the abolition of slavery at the Cape. The farmers did not so much object to the abolition of slavery as to the fact that compensation had to be collected in England, which was impossible for most of them. This meant that many Dutch farmers at the Cape lost a great deal of their ‘wealth’.

Retief became a spokesperson for the frontier farmers who voiced their discontent, mediating between them and the British government, represented by the newly appointed Lieutenant-governor of the Eastern Cape, AndriesStockenström. When talks with the latter failed, Retief helped to organize the migration of farmers to the north of the country, away from British domination and control. This is the movement which eventually became known as the Great Trek. Retief’s household departed in two wagons from Mooimeisiesfontein in early February 1837, and joined a party of 30 other wagons heading north.

They crossed the Orange Riverin March 1837 into little known territory and in April 1837 arrived at ThabaNchu where they joined another group of 300 Trekkers who had earlier converged at the Vet River. There Piet Retief was elected as ‘Governor of the United Laagers’17th April. This coalition was very short-lived and ThabaNchu did not become a final settlement for the Voortrekkers. Retief believed that Natal would be the ideal destination as it offered the convenience of connection with the outside world and the opportunity to carry on trading and business. On 4th July he sent a commission of five men to find a suitable route for the wagons over the Drakensberg. On their return, the scouts announced that they had found no less than five passages over the mountains.

On 5th October 1837 Piet Retief established a camp of 54 wagons at Kerkenberg near the Drakensberg range in the hope of settling in the more fertile Natal. This area was under the kingship of Dingane, Shaka's half-brother and successor. Retief proceeded to explore the region between the Drakensberg and Port Natal where, in the middle of October, he was heartily welcomed by the few English merchants trading there. He then continued his journey, accompanied by an interpreter, along the coast to Dingane. Using the missionary Francis Owen, Retief sent a letter to Dingane telling him that he wished to live in peace with the Zulu people. Due to his favourable impression of the region, Retief started negotiations for land with the Zulu king whom he visited at uMgundgundlovu, the royal homestead late in October 1837. Retief was in high spirits at the prospect of negotiating a land deal for his people with Dingane. He sent a message to the laager on 2nd November, informing them that they could enter Natal. In November 1837, about 1000 Voortrekker wagons started the descent over the Drakensberg from the Orange Free State into Natal.

Retief visited Dingane a second time with a delegation of five men with the purpose of negotiating the purchase of uninhabited territory, with the Zulu king. During the negotiations, Dingane accused Retief’s people of the theft of approximately 300 cattle from one of the Zulu kraals. He agreed to a Trekker settlement in Natal, provided that theyreturn the stolen cattle as a token of their innocence and friendly intentions. Retief however, suspected that the rival Msutu clan, under Chief Sekonyela, was responsible for the theft.

At the end of November Retief was back with his people and immediately departed for Sekonyela with a party of 70 Trekkers where he succeeded in obtaining some 700 head of cattle. On their return journey the party visited the Laager at Doornkop, near present day Estcourt, on the 10th January 1838, where Retief started with preparations to return the retrieved cattle to Dingane. A meeting was held about how the cattle would be returned. Retief was requested by various parties, including Gerrit Maritz, not to return to uMgundgundlovu. In his sincerity, but also perhaps because he did not have enough knowledge of the potential motives of Dingane, Retief never expected any betrayal. Besides, he did not dare to give Dingane any offence or suspicion as he might then refuse to sign the purchase agreement.

It is possible that Dingane had sent the Trekkers on this mission to test the military capability of Retief's men, promising them that if they succeeded he would give them land to live on. Their success made Dingane aware that an outright battle with the Voortrekkers would not lead to Zulu victory. For reasons not well understood, Dingane conceived a plot to kill all of them. Despite warnings, Retief left the Tugela region on 25th January 1838, in the belief that he could negotiate with Dingane for permanent boundaries for the Natal settlement. The party consisting of approximately 60 or 70 volunteers, including his son and three other minors, as well as 30 mounted retainers, arrived at uMgundgundlovu on 3rd February 1838. A treaty was signed, whereby Dingane ceded all the land south of the Tugela River, as far as the Mzimvubu River in the Transkei, to the Voortrekkers and to the north from the sea as far as they needed. The deed of cession of the Tugela-Umzimvubu region, although dated 4th February 1838.

Retief and his men were then invited to celebrate the return of Dingane's cattle. At the entrance to the kraal they were informed that it was not considered polite, or good custom to enter with weapons. Reluctantly their horses and guns were left at the entrance with their 32 servants. A total of about 70 Voortrekkers, together with Piet Retief, entered the main cattle kraal and were received by the king. They were to witness a special farewell performance by his Zulu impis. Suddenly, when the dancing had reached a frenzied climax, Dingane leapt to his feet and shouted "Bulala abatagati!"("Kill the wizards!"). With these instructions, Dingane's warriors who had appeared to be unarmed, pulled spears from the cow dung in the kraal, and attacked the Voortrekker group. The Voortrekkers made an attempt to fight back, using only their hunting knives and fists. The Zulus had to overpower them without killing them, as it was against Zulu custom for blood to be spilled in the royal kraal. Some of them actually died in the kraal, but most of the group, Retief, his son, the men, and retainers, about 100 people in total, were overpowered and dragged across the Omkumbane stream to KwaMatiwane, the ‘place of execution’, where Dingane had executed hundreds of his enemies, who offended or angered him.

The Zulus killed the entire party by clubbing them to death. Retief was killed last, so that he would witness the deaths of his son and comrades. Their bodies were left on the hillside for the vultures. On a hill overlooking uMgundgundlovu, the Reverend Francis Owen, who had tried to negotiate the establishment of a permanent mission station, was witness to the entire event.

“From this all”, the Huisgenoot reported in 1938, “we gather that Piet Retief was a born leader, a man with a strong personality and perseverance, although he was gentle and friendly of nature, as well as a man with inner godliness. The dismay and feeling of helplessness his passing on caused amongst the Trekkers, suddenly was the gauge of his grandeur” – freely translated from the Afrikaans!

Future meetings and field trips/ Toekomstigebyeenkoms en uitstappe

SAMHSEC’s next meeting will be held in Grahamstown on Saturday 10th May at 14h00 in the Rhodes University Department of Education in Grey Street. The curtain raiser will be by Karola McConnachie on A German soldier's [her father’s] account of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1944.
The main lecture entitled Philatelic aspects of the North African Campaign 1940-1945, will be delivered by Professor Malvern Van Wyk Smith. There will be no screening of the ‘World at War’ series this month. The lectures will be preceded by a morning visit to the Grahamstown Cathedral and a field visit to sites of the Battle of Grahamstown which took place on 22nd April 1819. Details of times and directions have been circulated to all members and the venue in Grey Street will be signposted. Any further enquiries can be directed to Pat Irwin at the e-mail address at the end of this newsletter.

Members are reminded of the SAMHSEC May 2014 Field Trip and Anglo-Boer War Conference and Commemorative Weekend in Richmond. The following members have indicated their intention to attend: Peter and Karen Duffell-Canham, Pat Irwin, John Stevens and Richard Tomlinson. If you intend attending and have not yet done so, please inform Malcolm at as soon as possible. Further correspondence regarding the field trip will be addressed to those members who have indicate their intention to attend by 7thMay.

At the March AGM, Malcolm Kinghorn offered to present a series of talks for the Open House slot on ‘military terminology and concepts’, an offer which was enthusiastically received. Although Malcolm was unable to be present at the April meeting, the first in the series, to assist in understanding WW I, is entitled Battle Handling: Conventional and unconventional warfare. Conventional warfare is the use of conventional weapons and battlefield tactics between two or more states in open confrontation. Forces on each side are well-defined and fight using weapons that primarily target the opponent's military with the aim of weakening or destroying the opponent's ability to resist. Unconventional, orirregular, warfare implies operations conducted to coerce, disrupt oroverthrow an occupying power or government by operating through or with anunderground, auxiliary and/or guerrilla force. While WW I was essentially a conventional war, some unconventional warfare did occur, for example, the operations against the Turks in the Middle East in which Colonel Lawrenceplayed a prominent role.

Matters of general interest / Sake van algemene belang

Individual members’ activities / Individuelelede se aktiwiteite

While doing ‘oupadiens’ in Durban during April, Malcolm Kinghorn attended fellow member Ken Gillings’ launch of his new book Discovering the Battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu War, published by 30° South Publishers.

While on a similar duty in Cape Town, Pat Irwin attended a ceremonial firing of a 6-poundermuzzle-loading cannon located on the summit of Rondebosjeberg north of the city on 5th April. This iron gun (No. D 393), made by the Finspång foundry in Sweden, possibly as early as the late 17th century, was part of the Dutch East India Company’s gun signal system (VOC-seinstelsel) used for calling up burgher reserves in the event of any threatened invasion of the Cape. Until fairly recently it was utilised as a corner-post between three farms which meet at the summit. The function was a joint venture between the Durbanville Erfenis Vereniging, the Van Riebeeck Society, and the Cannon Association of South Africa, supported by the three farmers concerned.

Members forum/Lede se forum

This slot was suggested in the evaluation conducted at the recent AGM. To date, no items have been forthcoming.

Erfenis Stigtings projekte

Projekte van die Erfenis Stigtings wat verwant hou met Suid-Afrikaansekrygsgeskiedenis en veral die Oos-Kaap is:
* Werk wat gedoen word by die blanke konsentrasiekampbegraafplaas, die swart Anglo-Boereoorlogbegraafplaas en die Voortrekkerbegraafplaas teBrandfort.
* Die herstel- en opruimingswerk by die konsentrasiekampterrein asook die konsentrasiekampgrafte in die ou munisipale begraafplaas te Port Elizabeth
* Die bou van braaiplekke, sny van gras en ander herstelwerk by die Karel Landman Monument te Alexandria in die Oos-Kaap.
* Skoonmaakaksies by die monument in die Uitenhage Feesterrein (waar die konsentrasiekamp destyds geleë was.)

World War I Centenary Year / WêreldOorlog I Eeufees Jaar

* Port Elizabeth (Bayworld) Museum WW I display

The museum is planning a World War I display to be opened in September 2014. Part of the display will feature Port Elizabeth’s role in that conflict. SAMHSEC members willing and able to contribute to the display are requested to contact Emile Badenhorst either at 041584 0650 or

* For an interesting article on the artistic legacy of the Great War, see:\

* WW I Centenary Collections from Cambridge Journals

To mark 100 years since the beginning of World War One, Cambridge Journals has brought together a collection of recent papers focusing on the conflictand its implications. Papers included in this collection examine the war from a range of perspectives, including history, politics, economics and medicine. All articles are accessible free of charge. See:

* The first major naval tragedy of the Great War will be remembered 100 years on this September with three days of commemoration on both sides of the English Channel. More than 1459 men were killed when the cruisers HMS Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue were torpedoed by a single German submarine, the U9 under Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen– a severe blow to the Royal Navy’s pride. Weddigen was awarded the Pour le Mérite and the Iron Cross First and Second Class.
He was lost at sea in 1915.

The cruisers were on patrol roughly 40 nautical miles west of Den Helder, providing a shield for the transport of men and material to the British Expeditionary Force on the fledgling Western Front. All three ships were obsolete and heavily crewed by reservists and trainees – facts which earned them the tag ‘the live bait squadron’ within the rest of the Grand Fleet. That label proved to be all too prophetic. Aboukir was torpedoed first: Hogue and Cressy moved in to pick up survivors, convinced their sister ship had struck a mine. Instead the U-boat then sunk both of them in turn. The whole action lasted only 90 minutes, but cost the lives of 62 officers and 1397 men. Only 837 sailors were rescued. Some of the dead were washed ashore on the Dutch coast and subsequently interred in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the small town of ’s-Gravenzande, near the Hook of Holland.

On Sunday 21st September this year, descendants of the three ships’ crews will meet at Chatham Historic Dockyard – home of the 7th Cruiser Squadron in 1914 – to remember their forebears and watch the premiere of a documentary about the tragedy.The following day, there will be a drumhead service in the historic dockyard, the release of 1459 poppies – one for every man lost –and music from the Band of HM Royal Marines followed by a Retreat ceremony. After a day’s travel to the Netherlands, Dutch historian and author Henk van der Linden – who has been instrumental in raising awareness of the disaster in his native land – will lead tributes in The Hague area. More details about the disaster and the forthcoming documentary can be found at the Live Bait Squadron Society’s website:

Websites of interest/Webwerwe van belang

Richard III

Richard III was the last King of England to die in battle, at Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485. His remains were discovered in 2012 under a car park in Leicester. He may have several hundred thousand descendants, some of whom will certainly be found among South Africans. For anyone interested in this line of enquiry, the forensic details relating to his wounds or the reconstruction of his face and voice, the following website is well worth looking at:


Colonel Tresham Gregg: a serial escaper
The Telegraph 26th March 2014

Bletchley Park code-breaker Jerry Roberts dies
The Telegraph 26th March 2014

Matters nautical

HMS Birkenhead Memorial unveiled
Cilene Bekker Hermanus Times 13th March 2014

World War II

RAF fighter frozen in the sands of time
Paul Harris Mail Online News 10th May 2012

Military history in the making

A cyber history of the Ukraine conflict
InformationWeek: Dark Reading 27th March 2014

Secret Shin Bet unit at the front lines of Israel's cyber-war
Arutz Sheva 25th April 2014

Resource materials of military historical interest/
Bronmaterieel van krygsgeskiedkundigebelang

Fraser Gordon 2012 The quantum exodus: Jewish fugitives, the atomic bomb and the holocaust
Oxford OUP

Marginal to military history, but significant in its consequences, this book deals with the Nazi persecution of Jewish scientists in Germany, Nazi occupied territories and Italy during the 1930s. An extraordinary high proportion of these scientists were mathematicians, theoretical physicists and chemists, many of whom were Nobel Prize laureates.

The initial removal ofcivil liberties and employment opportunities for Jews were systematically followedby physical harassment, confiscation of property, arrests and ultimately the concentration camps where nearly six million Jews perished. Many of the top Jewish scientists were however able to emigrate or flee their homelands and found their way to universities and research institutes in Britain and America where they constituted the core of scientists working on the Manhattan Project to develop the two atomic bombs. In a sense, it was no co-incidence that the Holocaust and the atomic bomb happened at the same time.

Having dismissed theoretical physics and particularly relativity theory as JüdischePhysik the exodus paralleled a sharp decline in German science which had up to then been a world leader, and had the fortunate effect of denying Nazi Germany the capacity to construct its own nuclear weapon.

This is the story of a group of remarkable men, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi,Leo Szilard, Edwin Teller and Niels Bohr among many others, who wittingly and unwittingly ushered in the concept of nuclear warfare, dramatically changing the course of military history, especially in the case of conflict between Japan and America which would probably have had a different ending without the A-bomb. The book is concise, well written and well documented.

267 pages and illustrated with b & w photographs, the price of this hard cover book varies between US$30 and US$45 depending on sources.

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, Jonathan Ossher, Franco Cilliers and Tiaan Jacobs.

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

As part of the Royal Marines 350th anniversary celebrations, the men and women of the Corps of Drums of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Band Service will be attempting to break the current world record for the longest continuous drum roll. The Corps of Drums are one of the oldest branches within the Royal Marines and were present at the formation of the Corps on 28thOctober 1664. In addition to marking ‘RM350’, the Corps of Drums aim to raise an ambitious £166400 for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. The record attempt will take place in London during the first bank holiday in May 2014.

South African Military History Society /