South African Military History Society

Tel (+27)(0)10-237-0676 Fax (+27)(0)86-617-8002


Please note that April meetings of all four branches have had to be cancelled. The Covid-19 pandemic has even led to the closure of the Ditsong Museum!

Report on Johannesburg's March lecture meeting:

The curtain raiser presented by our chairman Hamish Paterson was entitled "The Battle of Minden, 1 August 1759, three lines of cavalry tumbled in ruin". Hamish began with sketching the diplomatic background. He emphasized the two flashpoints. In North America this was the Ohio Valley where the French wished to halt British westward expansion. In Europe it was Saxony and Silesia which the Habsburgs wanted to recover from Prussia.

Fighting broke out in the Ohio valley in 1754 and was followed by Braddock's disaster in 1755. In Europe there were alliances between Great Britain and Prussia and between France and the Habsburgs. The war, in Europe, began with the Prussia invasion of Saxony. Hamish then covered the preparations for the defence of Hanover. The 1757 and 1758 campaigns were indecisive.

The manoeuvres leading up the battle were then described together with the use of roses as a field sign. The deployment of both armies was covered. The mistake in interpreting an order caused Von Sporcken's column of British and Hanoverian infantry to march towards the French cavalry. The three lines of French cavalry charged, only to be tumbled in ruin in succession. Lord George Sackville failed to act. The French Army retired behind the Weser River and then to Kassel. Hanover and Brunswick were safe and the French were driven out of Westphalia

The incredible feat of the British and Hanoverian infantry had wrecked the French Army.

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The main event was presented by Nick Cowley and his team of singers and musicians. They presented the songs of the Anglo-Boer War. The audience were invited to join in the chorus which they did with gusto. The songs began with "Goodbye Dolly Gray" which dates from the Spanish-American War of 1898. Tom presented an original song on Spion Kop which he composed. It was unfair to the Duke of York who standardized the British Army drill in 1790s. The Irish were covered by "Galway Bay" and the satirical "Mountains of Mourne". Scotland was represented by "Scotland the Brave" and the "Green Hills of Tyrol" revised to "Green Hills of Natal".

The Welsh connection was dealt with by "We'll keep a welcome in the hillsides". The Celtic word hiraeth means homesickness in spades. The Australians were not left out. They had their moment with "Waltzing Matilda".

The Boer side was symbolized by the poem "Ritrympie" which showed the chivalry which characterized the war. The departure on commando was shown by "Die Oukraalliedjie" and the evening concluded with "Sarie Marais". The songs were illustrated most appropriate images. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Hamish Paterson

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AGM reports

The cancellation of the April lecture meeting in Johannesburg means the AGM reports were not formally presented to members. Any member wanting the minutes of the AGM held in April 2019, or the 2019 financial repots, is welcome to contact Joan Marsh at the letterhead address, who will send them a copy.

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Military History Journal

The December 2019 MH Journal was posted to members who were paid-up in 2019 on 16 March. Extra copies are available from Joan at the letterhead address for R80 each plus actual postage - R14 for South African addresses.

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Forthcoming lectures

With the country going into lock-down until 16 April the future of lecture meetings will be in abeyance at this stage. It is intended to send out another newsletter, nominally the May edition, once branches have clarity about their next meetings.

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Branch contact details

For Cape Town details contact Carl Burger 082 333 2706
For Eastern Cape details contact Malcolm Kinghorn 041-373-4469
For Gauteng details contact Joan Marsh 010-237-0676
For KwaZulu-Natal details contact Roy Bowman 031 564 4669

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