South African Military History Society

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


Attention members - two events of possible interest this week:

The Bloemfontein Museum of the Boer Republics invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Women's Clothing from the Anglo-Boer (South African) War
presented by Mrs. A. Carelsen
Time: Aug 10, 2021 10:00 am Johannesburg

RSVP for link by 6 August 2021: Dr Vicky Heunis -


Cape Town based members

Chris Taylor 082 908 3456 advises as follows:
... we (Noon Day Gunners) are hosting a Big Bang this Sunday 8th August 2021, when we will fire our 6-pounder from the deck of Het Posthuys and attempt to Blow Away the Covid Blues. Gunfire at 12.00 pm, followed by a talk encompassing both the Battle of Muizenberg and the Battle of Blaauwberg in the Stables behind Het Posthuys.

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Just let know in order to be sent an invitation to the next ZOOM meeting.

Contact the branch to confirm ROOM meetings while we are under Covid-19 restrictions.

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Members with an interesting presentation on any aspect of military history are sought for ZOOMEETINGS. A nominal 30 minute lecture supported by Power Point or similar slides, but not video, is required

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Past ZOOMeetings

Hosted by Johannesburg

On 8th July Claudia Frattini talked about The Irredeemables: A brief story of Zonderwater Italian POW Camp and the prisoners of Special Cage (Block 8).

Past lectures and Military History Journal articles have covered various aspects of the life of the approximately 170 000 Italian world war II POWs held in South Africa. Around 100 000 of these were housed on a farm by the name of Zonderwater, near Cullinan east of Pretoria.

Claudia covered a lot of background but concentrated on the problems which arose with the surrender of the Italian Govt to the Allies in July 1943. A political divide occurred in the camp among the prisoners, those backing the former government and those accepting the new reality. Italy became a co-belligerent with the Allies - but there was no obligation on the Allies to repatriate their POWs. There was a small core of fascists who simply did not behave as if the conflict WAS over. They spent their time being a nuisance to all and trying to convince other POWs to join their lost cause. Eventually this led to an election by the inmates who voted to separate into the two factions with those backing the former government (approx 3 000) going into their own 'special cage'. They were referred to as the "irredeemables". When repatriating POWs all the Allied countries left the 'problem' prisoners til last - it was 1947 before the last of Block 8 was entrained for Durban en route home. Even on their way home they caused as much fuss as possible..

The prisoners in the special cage produced a manuscript comprising a collection of 244 folios of artistic works which was called "In Marche" (On the March). This manuscript was a work of art itself.

When the camp was closed in 1947 the Manuscript was saved by being smuggled out by the Chaplain, who gave it to a resident of Pretoria when he was repatriated. This person looked after it for 18 years until the Chaplain could return to South Africa. The Chaplain then gave the manuscript to the Italian Chaplain of a Catholic Church in Pretoria who transferred it, 22 years later, to the Zonderwater Museum.

Claudia's talk also detailed some of the folios in the manuscript, a study of which forms the basis for her doctoral thesis.

Her lecture is in the ZOOM video library as usual.

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Eastern Cape Branch (SAMHSEC)

Next zoominar will be on Monday 9th August starting at 19h30

Speaker: Barbara Ann Kinghorn
Subject: "The American Field Service"

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Next RPC (request the pleasure of your company) will be on Monday 30 August 2021, at 1930 South African time.

Ian Copley will be talking about Post Traumatic Stress: battle fatigue and shell shock.

John Stevens will be talking at 20h15 about the book In Danger's Hour by Douglas Reeman.

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Johannesburg Branch

Next scheduled ZOOM lecture will be on Thursday 12 August at 19h30

Speaker: Dr Graeme Fuller
Subject: "Kenneth Graham Gillings 1947 - 2016 A personal reminiscence and tribute from his friend Graeme Fuller."

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Branch contact details

Cape Town details contact    Carl Burger     082 333 2706

Eastern Cape details contact    Malcolm Kinghorn    041-373-4469

Gauteng details contact    Joan Marsh     010-237-0676

KwaZulu-Natal details contact    Charles Whiteing     082-555-4689

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