South African Military 
History Society


Newsletter No. 529
October 2021

Contact: Charles Whiteing
Telephone: 031 764 7270
Mobile: 082 555 4689

ON 9TH OCTOBER 2021 AT 14H30.

The Chairman, Charles Whiteing welcomed members to the meeting and advised that the raffle will be drawn at the interval. Members were advised of the speakers and the respective topics of their talks.

The DDH Talk was delivered by fellow committee member Ulrich Deubi titled "Fellows of the Flag".
My talk opened with my display of a German flag which had been signed by army soldiers of the South African 15th Field Artillery Regiment in Italy. I had obtained the flag from a family member of one of the soldiers who had signed the flag. My research included establishing the location of each of the signatories. My Power Point visuals reflected each signatory in uniform and holding the flag during my subsequent meetings with them.
The first name encountered was Noel Whittaker who was living in the Berea, Durban. Following an initial telephone call to make an appointment, Noel was overwhelmed in seeing his signature on the German flag signed by himself and his fellow servicemen 57 years ago. My meeting was opportune, insofar that a few weeks later, Noel Whittaker passed away. With his passing, I realised that my time was limited to continue my research.
A fellow signatory was Victor Pellew, a retired master of Durban High School who was traced to Pietermaritzburg. A further signatory was John Youngelson, a Michael House old boy, educated at UCT, and played post war rugby for Easter Province. He was a well-known plastic surgeon in Kzn.

A meeting with another signatory was John Hankinson who lived in Durban North who had recently suffered a stroke with limited communication but was quite happy to hold my flag endorsed with his signature. William Buckle, another signatory and a man of few words lived in Pennington on the South Coast who I met and showed him his signature all those years ago. Vic Pellew provided me with the details of John Nelson, the final signatory, who lived in Australia. John Nelson communicated with me and mailed some pictures of himself. I had the honour of meeting John Nelson when he visited South Africa a few later. We met and he requested we travel to Pietermaritzburg to visit Vic Pellew who was expecting us. I was a bystander in the background listening to these two old soldiers reminiscing on the days up north.

My men, although not hero`s with no gallantry medals. But the gentlemen I met, like so many others, had just done their duty.

Following a Q & A session, the Chairman declared the interval & Raffle.

The Main Talk was delivered by fellow committee member Professor Phil Everitt titled "My Visit to Guernsey - An Island Fortress".

His talk covered the history of the island from Norman times and its unique position as a "British Crown Dependency." Fortifications on the island began with Castle Cornet in the capital port in 1204 and continued through to the Napoleonic era. Forward to the Second World War when the Germans occupied France and their subsequent occupation of the island which had been declared open and undefended. Following the failure of Operation Sea Lion, Hitler`s plan to invade Britain; the fortifications were increased, forming part of Hitler`s Atlantik Festung or Atlantic Wall. In fact, 1/12 of all concrete and steel used in the building of the Atlantic Wall was used on the Channel Islands. Ironically, the Allies bypassed the islands on D Day, the 6th of June 1944. Following a period of near starvation by the inhabitants and Germans alike; they finally surrendered in May 1945 following Germany`s final surrender. Phil`s Power Point visuals covered general views of the island of Guernsey, with illustrations of the restored 220mm Batterie Dollmann gun pit, the Underground Military Hospital and the concrete Naval Communications Centre. Most of the installations remain in situ to this day and are of interest to tourists and military enthusiasts alike.

Unfortunately, his fascinating talk had to be shortened prior to delivery due to scheduled load shedding at 16h00 at the meeting venue.

Committee member Dr John Cook delivered the vote of thanks to both speakers on their respective fascinating talks.

The Chairman thanked all attendees and advised them of the next meeting at the same venue on at 14h30 on Saturday 13 November 2021.

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South African Military History Society /