South African Military History Society

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The meeting was opened by our Chairman, Malcolm King, who announced that the attendance last month was 87. He then proceeded to the notices.
SAMHS Centenary trip to Delville Wood - there now is an itinerary and price list available. Contact Ken Gillings.
Kathleen Satchwell would be selling her book Your Loving Son, Yum after the meeting.
Malcolm also informed us that Charles Ross of The Commonwealth War GravesCommission had received a special award as a result of their caring for 23 000 locations across the world.

Film shows for 2015: In co-operation with the Ditsong National Museum of Military History and the Majestic Historical Film Society, The SA Military History Society will be showing the following films at the Museum during 2015:
24 May: The Gathering Storm. Churchill's life between the World Wars, and how his experience in World War I enabled him to anticipate what would happen in World War II.
23 August: Regeneration: The story of some of the greatest poets of World War 1, such as Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and the early attempts to treat "shell shock" by psychiatry.
22 November: The Red Baron: The story of German air ace Baron Manfred von Richthoven. This film has some great aerial combat scenes.
Tickets cost R100 and can be booked in advance from The Majestic or obtained at the door. Tickets include afternoon tea after the film, and there will be time for discussion of what was seen in the movie. To book, call Hennie on 082 475 7933 or 011 486 3640.

The first lecture of the evening was Phoenician Warships - An Arms Race in Antiquity by Anne Marie Smith.

The 20th century did not see the first arms race as there had already been one in the ancient Near East from about 700BC to 150BC. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Assyrians, Persians and Romans all played a role in their respective areas. The Phoenicians emerged as a major trading power on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean circa 1200BC. They were a conglomerate of city states located on rocky outcrops along the coast. Warships were needed for protection as trading ships, harbours and coastlands were vulnerable to attacks by pirates.

As there are no pictures of the early Phoenician ships, we presume they were like the early Greek ships (as seen on vases etc) which were open ships with a single bank of oars, thwarts for the rowers, a small deck fore and aft but very little storage space. These long, narrow ships were lightweight so they could be pulled ashore in order for fighting to take place on the beaches.

The lecturer then showed us an illustration of the Phoenician Bireme of 7th century BC. This had a bronze ram at the bow, two rows banks of rowers and space for fighters on the top deck. The ramming of an enemy ship in the rear was known as diekplous whilst ramming in the side was periplus.

Obviously, the bow of the attacking ship had had to be reinforced to withstand the impact. The new materials, bronze and iron, made the new fighting techniques possible on sea and land. The Phoenicians sourced and traded the new materials but often had to pay this in tribute to their Assyrian overlords who would stock-pile until they had enough to build weapons.

The next development was the triremes, the most famous were made in Sidon. These had three banks of rowers so were possibly wider, and as rowers needed to keep time, flute players or drummers were carried to set the pace. Old triremes were often re-used as horse transports and, in 332BC, one was loaded with flammable materials to try to stop Alexander the Great making a mole to reach Tyre from the mainland. The device ignited but Alexander still conquered Tyre.

After this the centre of Phoenician power moved to Carthage where the quadriremes were developed whilst the Greeks produced quiqueremes. During the First Punic (Carthaginian) War the Romans did not have warships but found an abandoned Punic warship in the Straits of Messina which they took apart and copied. They designed and added the Corbus (crow) to act as a boarding bridge to land soldiers on enemy ships for hand-to-hand combat.

At the battle of Aegades 241BC, the Romans were barricading Lillybaeum and some of the Punic ships they sank close to Motya have been recently excavated. Interestingly, there were Punic numbers on certain planks showing that the ships had been built in series according to a fixed plan and in record time. This was very innovative - the start of the production line.

There were considerable supplies of food and "dagga" on board too. During the Third Punic War when the Romans besieged Carthage which had two harbours - mercantile and naval - they constructed a mole to close off the mercantile harbour and so entered the city via both harbours. As this was the end of a three-year siege it resulted in a massive bloodbath and was the end of Punic and Phoenician culture in 146BC.

The main lecture was presented by Jan Wilhelm Hoorweg: Adolf Galland & WWII Germany - Ace of the Luftwaffe. Galland was born 19th March 1912 in Westerholt, Westphalia to a family with French Huguenot descent. Adolf and two of his three brothers would become famous fighter pilots and aces. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was denied an airforce but gliding was allowed and became increasingly popular with German youth. After a gliding school was established in the Gelsenkirchen area, Galland travelled 30km on foot or by cart to "help" until his father bought him a motorcycle.

He first flew at 15 and became an instructor at 19 when his father bought him a glider. He was one of 18/4000 applicants accepted for training at Lufthansa. But matters did not go well and he eventually was asked to an interview with an embryonic and illegal Luftwaffe where he learned to fly high performance aircraft.

He was among a few pilots invited to Berlin in 1933 where he met Hermann Goering. Galland was amazed by Goering's physique but impressed by his enthusiasm especially when he told the group that they now had the opportunity to be trained in Italy. Initially they were treated as inferior pilots by the Italians. This soon changed when Galland flew a series of low-level manoeuvres gaining their respect and then the serious training began.

On returning to Germany, he flew Lufthansa airliners to Barcelona, Geneva and Marseilles. Basic training at the Grenadier barracks at Dresden soon followed and he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant on 1st October 1934.

In March 1935, the pretence was dropped and the Luftwaffe made its appearance. Galland specialised in aerobatic displays at Juterborg Damm with the second wing of the Richthoven Fighter Group. During one display, he crashed his plane and sustained severe head injuries and an eye injury. Although medically unfit, he managed to keep flying. A year later another crash aggravated the eye injury. He insisted he was fit and was ordered to undergo eye tests. He got the eye charts and learned them backwards and forwards so that he was cleared to fly.

The Spanish Civil War began in July, 1936 and Hitler & Mussolini decided to come to Franco's aid. A volunteer corps - the Condor Legion - including Galland went to Spain. Here, WWII was rehearsed on a small scale. Carpet bombing was practiced for the first time and Galland even tried a napalm bomb. He was now a Squadron Leader in the Third Squadron nicknamed "Mickey Mouse" because of its emblem.

They avoided air combat & concentrated on ground targets as they were flying the old 51 Heinkel Bi-plane Fighter. In these armament and equipment were primitive with 6 10kg splinter bombs inside the fuselage and machine guns that had to be reloaded by hand because of the heat.

Galland left Spain in May 1938 but before leaving flew the new Messerschmidt BF 109 which convinced him to change from a strike pilot to a fighter pilot. He was ordered to the Air Ministry in Berlin and they had 5 wings ready by the time the Sudetenland was incorporated into the Reich.

The start of the Polish campaign in September 1939 saw Flight-Lieutenant Galland flying the so-called bi-plane Stuka, the Henschel 123 as part of the ground attack squadron 2. The close air support operations Galland had been advocating were executed with perfect co-operation between the Luftwaffe and the mechanized army resulting in a blitz victory in 18 days.

He was now transferred to 27th Fighter Group (JG27) where he was overburdened with administration and could not fly often. However, when the Germans started their offensive against the Low Countries in May 1940, Galland shot down three RAF Hurricanes in one day.

By the end of the French campaign, he had 14 confirmed kills and became Wing Commander of the third wing of 26th Fighter Group (JG26 nicknamed Schlageter). For ID purposes they had the under noses and later the entire engine cowling painted yellow. During the Battle of Britain, the Wing shot down 285 fighters for the loss of only 76 planes and 45 pilots - this was the time when Galland scored most of his victories but he had the utmost respect for his enemies.

Whilst the RAF had their radar the Germans had their fighter the BF 109E which could outperform the Spitfire Mark 1. It performed best at 25 000 feet plus and had the advantage of fuel-injection instead of the carburetors of the British fighter. Goering was unhappy with the direction that the Battle of Britain was taking so Galland was made Kommodore of JG 26 Schlageter. This did not seem to hamper his flying and by 25th September 1940, his tally was 40 kills. He was then awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross by Adolf Hitler, becoming only the third member of the Wehrmacht so honoured.

By the end of 1940 he was a full Colonel. By the middle of 1941, JG26 & JG2 were the only fighter groups in France but they had the new Messerschmitt BF 109. Galland was ordered to intercept Hess when he flew on his peace mission to Scotland but this proved impossible. On 21st June 1941, he survived being shot down twice in one day!

Galland was a character who always had a cigar clamped between his teeth so on his plane the Mickey Mouse insignia was holding a hatchet and smoking a cigar. Chivalry amongst pilots was shown when JG26 shot down Wing Commander Douglas Bader, Galland got his team to mend Bader's artificial legs and then organized for the RAF to drop a new set. Whist awaiting the legs Bader was treated as an honoured guest by Galland. They would meet again when their roles were reversed a few years later.

November 1942 saw Galland as Commander of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force and a Lieutenant General. He planned and executed the brilliant Operation Donnerkeil (Thunderbolt) to successfully protect the German ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen on their journey from Brest in France to Kiel in Germany.

Over the next few years Galland increasingly clashed with Goering whose erratic behaviour was fuelled by his increasing drug dependency. Nonetheless, Galland continued to promote the interest of the men he commanded and the increase in fighter production that reached its wartime peak in September 1944. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the ME 262 jet fighter known as the Swallow and so the first unit was set up.

Galland was furious about the Battle of the Bulge where more than 300 fighter pilots were lost needlessly because he had planned a very different scenario for Germany's final defense and felt that the Battle of the Bulge was not going to achieve anything useful.

As a result of this and suspected involvement in the so-called "fighter pilots revolt" he was relieved of his command. Finally, he was offered his own unit of Me262 jets which he accepted. This unit was known as Galland's Circus and also because of their colourful markings - to distinguish them in the flak - the Parrot Squadron.

Galland was captured by the Americans and imprisoned in Germany until April 1947. After the war he was involved in various ventures as he did not get the hoped-for top post in the new Luftwaffe. He wrote an autobiography The First and the Last in 1955 which became a best-seller in 14 languages. His total tally of 104 kills was truly remarkable when one remembers that there were long periods when he was not allowed to fly. Adolf Galland died at his home on 9th February 1996 after a long illness and was buried at Remagen.

Pat Henning

Apologies for typo in last month's newsletter when Entebbe Raid was dated 1967 instead of 1976.

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The December 2014 Military History Journal has finally arrived and has been posted to members. If yours has not arrived by mid-March please contact

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For Cape Town details contact Johan van den Berg 021-939-7923
For Eastern Cape details contact Malcolm Kinghorn 041-373-4469
For KwaZulu-Natal details contact Ken Gillings 031-702-4828
For Gauteng details contact Joan Marsh 010-237-0676

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