South African Military History Society


Newsletter/Nuusbrief 179

August 2019

Matters of General interest.

Plans have been set in place for our annual field trip which will take place from 2-4 August. We will be spending two evenings at Hogsback and it estimated that there will be about 25 of us on the excursion. We will over three days visit among other sites Fort Hare University, the Tyumie Valley, Keiskamma Hoek, Ntaba-ka-Ndoda and Bailey’s Grave. This whole area has a long history of Frontier War involvement and promises to be an interesting experience.

The intention is that we will gather on the Friday evening at The Edge at Hogsback which has a very good table that will meet all tastes and needs. The bar area in the restaurant has a display of the old and illustrious tribal chiefs and the barman is most knowledgeable on the subject. There are a number of other eating establishments at Hogsback and tour trippers are welcome to avail themselves of their own choice. If you also have any running aspirations then by all means join the Park Run on the Saturday morning which sets off from The Edge. Our tour commences at 10.00am

Member’s slot – All Saints Anglican Church, Woodstock and its WW 2 Memorial - Ian Pringle.

This church has a small memorial erected by the local Moths post WW2 to honour the men of Woodstock who gave their lives in this campaign. Ian found this memorial while in search of an Italian restaurant in the area and he presented an overview of the area before and post WW2

Woodstock today is an old but now a recently discovered suburb situated close to the CBD and the home to the newly married, the so called arty set, students, small business and a developing restaurant trade. It has in fact become quite cosmopolitan and the demographics of the country are widely reflected.

Prior to WW2 it was then, like now, a predominantly blue collar English speaking area which supported politically the Labour Party of the day. The SAR & H Salt River Workshops were the largest employer and its employees were suitably so inclined. That said, when WW 2 was declared, the men of Woodstock answered the call and political differences were set aside – the Union Jack was hoisted by many of those who had their roots in the UK and/ or whose families had been employed by the old Cape Railways prior to 1910 and who had come out to run this system.

Woodstock has always had its own character and it is perhaps appropriate that the men of Woodstock are remembered in the suburb in which they lived and worked. All Saints is a final home of remembrance for those thus fallen

Curtain Raiser – Laying up the Grey flag and the unveiling the new flag – by Frank Collier.

Frank is an Old Grey with a passionate interest in his old school and more so the cadet detachment better described as Detachment No.33. It is now the oldest of its kind active in RSA dating to its founding in 1897. The detachment annually holds two major parades – they being Trooping the Colour and The Retreat Ceremony. It is 500 strong and Grey has no less than five musical bands of which the Military Band, known as The Reds, perform on these two occasions.

Trooping the Colour was first held in 1938 and since 1957 the parade has been held on an annual basis. The Grey flag since inception has had included in it the Union Jack and it has been displayed ever since despite South Africa becoming a republic in 1961 and a new dispensation coming into power in 1994! It was felt that the time had come to decommission the flag and to fall into line with the new order and to eventually acknowledge that Grey was no longer part of the British Empire!

Frank broached the idea of a new flag to Grey Rector Chris Erasmus and was promptly given the job of putting it all into place. He was fortunate to be able to assemble a team where each member was an expert in the field of flag design. He found an expert in embroidery and embossing, an eminent sail maker and an expert on metal work and handmade brass and stainless steel accoutrements.

Frank took us through an excellent power presentation in which he described in detail the making of the new flag. He added that were times of frustration and also of anxiety when an obvious colour design error was found a day before the flag was due to be presented. But it all came together in good time!

The new colour is tastefully elegant with gold frills and the Grey badge on an azure background. It is a double sided flag with the National Colours found on the opposite side. Frank added that the flag is designed to serve as a rallying point for the men of The Grey and will herald a new age in the history of Grey.

The old flag was decommissioned at a school assembly ahead of the Grey Reunion in May. The occasion was presided over by Venerable Archdeacon David Grobbelaar, Rector of St. Cuthbert’s and former paratrooper and Colonel in the SA Army. It was a moving occasion when the old flag was surrendered for the last time by Major Steve van Niekerk, Master in Charge of Cadets at Grey.

Frank said it was a proud occasion when the new flag was displayed at The Trooping a week later in front of the thousands of spectators who surrounded the Pollock Oval.

Main Lecture – The Battle of Delville Wood by Declan Brennan.

Declan presented a most interesting and detailed talk on this well known engagement and which over generations has been described as South Africa’s finest hour. Regrettably, and this we respect, we are unable to report fully on Declan’s presentation as it is subject to a book that he is writing and which may infringe on copy rights.

In commenting on this battle one should consider the circumstances of how the Union found itself at war. The Anglo Boer War had only ended 12 years previously. Memories of the 43 concentration camps established by the British in which some 25,000 Boer women and children died were still a fresh memory, the Prime Minister Louis Botha and his de facto Deputy was Defence Minister Jan Smuts who along with Manie Botha, M.W. Myburgh and Coen Brits were all Boer War generals and headed up the Union Defence Force. Tim Lukin was the odd general (man!) out in this equation! The army was predominantly Afrikaans speaking re-enforced by many who took the part of the Boer forces in the Anglo Boer War and one wonders how the Union came to pit itself against Germany? We look forward to Declan’s book to give us the answers!

August Meeting – Monday 12 August at our usual venue of the EP Veterans Car Club. Proceedings commence at 19.30hrs.
Member’s slot – A Photo Report on the recent Field Trip to Keiskammahoek by A N Other
Curtain Raiser - How I became to play a prominent role in The Moths – Jeanette Bradfield
Main Lecture - Her story – the Surgeon Princess – Barbara Ann KInghorn

Members are invited to send in to the scribe, 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.

Chairman: Malcolm Kinghorn
Secretary: Franco Cilliers
Scribes:Ian Pringle.

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South African Military History Society /