South African Military History Society


Newsletter/Nuusbrief 185

February/Februarie 2020

Matters of General interest.

Our Chairman Malcolm Kinghorn welcomed us to the first meeting of the New Year and wished all a happy and prosperous year to come.

In a first for the branch since inception it was noted that we had no ladies present on the evening. Apologies were certainly received from the fairer sex and we assume therefore that they have survived the seasons’s festivities!

Malcolm reminded us that our Annual General Meeting will take place on 9 March – that being as well our usual monthly meeting. He appealed to the membership to avail themselves to take up positions on the Committee for it is good to see chairs being swopped and newer faces being seen willing to serve. Tasks are not really onerous in nature but it does require a level of dedication which we are sure we have in good measure!

Our annual outing is due to take place in about August and dates are being finalized. At present the idea is visit the Stutterheim and Thomas River area but if there are other suggestions then please come forward with your proposals!

Malcolm made a further appeal to invite veterans of past campaigns to address our meeting especially those of WW2. Their numbers are now limited to a handful and their story needs to be told and in doing so recorded in our archives. In a few years time as we are all aware their stories if left unrecorded will die with them

Member’s slot – The grave of Clifford Gronau - killed during WW1 in German South West Africa.

The member’s slot was taken by Malcolm Kinghorn. Since visiting the South African War Graves in Swakopmund and Luderitz in 2014 (see SAMHSEC Newsletter 143 August 2016), Old Grey Malcolm Kinghorn found that Private Clifford Gronou, who was killed in action near Luderitz on 26 September 1914 and is buried in the Luderitz Cemetery, was an Old Grey whose name is on the Grey High School War Memorial. During his subsequent visit to Luderitz in December 2019, in addition to placing poppies on all the War Graves in the Cemetery, Malcolm placed a Grey High School badge on Old Grey Private Gronou’s grave. The War Graves in the Luderitz Cemetery are well maintained.

The Curtain Raiser – Bisley Competitive Shooting - by Mac Alexander

This presentation once received will be included in a future issue.

Main Lecture – The use of force and the Constitution of the USA – by Malcolm Kinghorn

The main lecture by Malcolm Kinghorn was on the Use of Force and the Constitution of the United States of America, which is the supreme law in that country.

Article 1 of the Constitution determines that only the Congress has the power to declare war. The Constitution also authorises the Congress to raise, maintain and make rules for the government of the Army, Navy and Militia when on National Service.

Article 2 determines that the President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the US Army, Navy and Militia when on National Service. This ensures that the United States’ Forces are always under civilian control.

The pre-WW2 understanding of the Constitution was that the Congress has war powers and the President has the power to repel sudden invasions of the United States.

The Congress exercises control over the President by having the sole authority to declare war, which it has done 5 times, most recently when the US declared war in 1942. The Congress also has the power to authorise the President to use force, by issuing Authorisations for the Use of Force, as was done after 9/11.

Supreme Court precedents were set in the so-called Steel Seizure Case in 1952, when the President’s unilateral nationalisation of the means of steel production during the Korean War was decided in favour of the Congress and in 1936 when the Curtiss Wright Case was decided in favour of the President, with the Court ruling that the President is the sole organ of foreign policy.

Presidents using force without Congressional approval led to passing of the War Powers Act of 1973, in terms of which the President must inform Congress within 48 hours of using force. Such use of force must be terminated within 60 days unless Congress declares war, issues an Authorisation for the Use of Force or extends the 60 days.

Since WW2, Presidents have been less congressionally controlled and Congress has not exerted its authority. The ongoing tension between the Legislature (Congress) and the Executive (President) is unlikely to be resolved.


Our next meeting – Monday 10 February 2020 – 19,30hrs – EPVCC – Cunningham Road.

Member’s slot – Mac Alexander – An appreciation on Colonel At Shoeman

Curtain Raiser – Franco Cilliers – The state of the worlds navies

Main Lecture – Ian Copley – My service in Three Armies


Chairman: Malcolm Kinghorn
Secretary: Franco Cilliers
Scribe (newsletter):Ian Pringle.

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South African Military History Society /