South African Military History Society

Tel (+27)(0)10-237-0675 Fax (+27)(0)86-617-8002


Past ZOOMeetings

Johannesburg's offering on 10th September was by Dr Anne Samson, talking from the UK on 'Novels, some SA inspiration, and the formation of MI5 and MI6'.

It was surprising to find out that MI5 and MI6 had not been part of the UK's military make-up well before the start of the Great War. Anne described to us how in the second part of the nineteenth century there was an increased awareness of spies, national security and vulnerability, due in part to author William le Queux's novels.

In this early part of the twenty-first century where television and twenty-four hour news services vie for our attention, and most of us are well aware of spies from the two World Wars, the Cold War and the present danger to critics of especially Putin and his Russian minions, it is hard to think that there had to be an artificial attempt to awaken public and political interest therein.

Use was made of spy novels, starting with newspapers serialising - like the original Sherlock Holmes stories - some of those written by William Le Queux. Later stories from HG Wells, Roger Pocock and others were used to sensitise the British public to the existence of "enemies" and turn their thoughts towards conscription in future wars not being an absolute impossibility. Roger Pocock founded the Legion of Frontiersmen in 1904 partly on the back of his experiences of frontier defences in his travels which included Canada and South Africa during the AB War. Despite the disinterest - de facto rejection - by the authorities, the Legion of Frontiersmen grew alongside more regular preparations for conflict in the UK, and started branches in Canada in 1906 and South Africa in 1908. Another author whose works were used was Dan O'Driscoll, a later leader of the Legion.

Asked a question about MI-1 to MI 4, Anne researched matters during the lecture pause and told us the answer in the second part - expanding that MI-numbers were not carried forward from the First to the Second World Wars - and that even within a war there was no consistency. MI- numbers were used as and when needed and sometimes "retired" even during a particular conflict!

Listen to her ZOOM talk which is accessible from the ZOOM library on the Society's web-site.

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Johannesburg hosting:
Robin Smith's subject on 8th October is "War and Peace in the Anglo Boer War - starting a war is a lot easier than stopping one".

Starting with the Bloemfontein conference, then the Boer ultimatum and, like all the wars of the first half of the 20th century, the huge enthusiasm of the population on both sides to go to war.

Roberts's reaction after the occupation of Pretoria and the advance to Komatipoort was that the war was practically over. He returned to England to become Commander-in Chief in London. Kitchener was left to mop up and, at first, without the vital resources of manpower.

Various offers and counter-offers for peace were made between February 1901 and 1902 but the final document was only agreed and signed about an hour before the deadline of midnight on 31 May 1902.

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SAMHSEC - Eastern Cape Branch's next ZOOMeeting

will be held on Monday 12th October from 19h30.

The Main Talk will be presented by Eric Kelly on "The Great Sea Trek of 1820"

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They will also hold a "Request the Pleasure of your Company" Zoom session at 19h30 on the last Monday i.e. 26th October.

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Details of the lectures will be sent to all on the master list as usual

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KZN branch

The KZN branch committee is due to meet this coming weekend with a view to resuming their ROOMeetings from November!

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Cape Town Branch

Cape Town Branch is still unable to consider ROOMeetings as yet due to their venue's high covid-19 risk.

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Society telephone contact

Changed phone number - the land line has been discontinued - please use 010 237 0675 to contact the Marshes i.e. the letterhead office.

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Members with an interesting presentation on any aspect of military history are sought for ZOOMEETINGS. A nominal 20 minute lecture supported by Power Point or similar slides, but not video, is required.

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New to Zoom?

Training sessions are not mandatory but are to help those members who are unfamiliar with this new way of accessing the Society's talks while under Covid-19 look-down.

Johannesburg has had five training sessions so far and will hold more sessions as requested. If you would like to attend a training session please e-mail or

In all cases when you attend a Zoom meeting you need an invitation from the host. Every meeting has its own ID and password. If you are already on SAMHSEC or JNB's lists, you will be sent this information. We are creating a master list of members who have expressed interest, to whom notices of all future Zoom lectures will be sent.

To be added to this existing master list, if you have not yet already done so by e-mail, please e-mail or

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ZOOM lectures about Kitchener

Magaliesberg Association for Culture & Heritage (MACH) have invited Anne Samson
to speak at 11h00 on October 7th - Kitchener the man not the myth
and at 11h00 on October 14th - Kitchener - Soldier of Peace
while 11h00 on October 21st - the 1914-18 war and the end of Kitchener's life.

All 3 ZOOM sessions for R100
Bookings at: or
Mike 071 382 5905

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E-mail query to the Society's web-site about a cap badge: wrote: Re: 32 Company South African Labour Contingent

I have recently acquired a cap badge for the above mentioned South African unit that I believe served on the Western Front in the role of Forestry Troops during WW1. The badge is also maker marked on the reverse with a tab that reads 'TIPTAFT' over 'B'HAM'. The badge itself is in the shape of a maple leaf, which leads me to believe those men who served in the unit were either from South Africa or were South Africans who had emigrated to Canada before the commencement of hostilities and who joined-up with the CEF as a form of ancillary reinforcements. However, despite my, and others, best efforts, we have been unable to ascertain anything to do with this unit, and I was wondering whether any member could assist in trying to identify where this unit came from and a little bit about its history?

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There are still 60 members who choose to receive posted newsletters as opposed to e-mailed ones. Postal services were supposed to resume at level 1. Once the six-month backlog has cleared, members should receive newsletters for April, May and June in one envelope and for July, August and September in the second.

The June Military History Journal is being processed between Sweden and Johannesburg.

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