South African Military History Society

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


Past ZOOMeeting - Hosted by Johannesburg

After the Easter weekend we were treated to a ZOOM lecture from Kathie Satchwell who told the story of a World War I nurse by the name of Margaret Smith Dewar. Margaret's father was a civil engineer and she had already qualified as a nurse at a Scottish institution when the family came to Germiston for her father's work. Like her brothers, she also worked in Germiston until the start of the Great War saw her return to Britain.

While the British Army was sorting out its reluctance to have women in the Army - what would happen if a man had to salute a female officer? - Shock! Horror! - Margaret joined a volunteer Scottish group who had been welcomed with open arms in France. Once Queen Alexandra's Nursing service had been recognised she was assigned to a hospital in Brighton. There she nursed, amongst others, wounded participants from the Irish uprising.

When volunteers were called for to help in Macedonia where the Serbians were battling the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian empire and incoming German forces, she went by ship and ended up working in a tented hospital very near the battlefront.

She was killed sheltering a patient inside a tent in a clearly-marked hospital when German aircraft from a nearby airfield dropped bombs (by hand!) onto the hospital - claiming afterwards they had been aiming at the adjacent railway line. Kathie showed photographs which prove that they must have been deliberate attacks on the hospital tents which were the furthest away from the railway line.

The recording of the lecture is available in the Zoom library in two parts on the website.

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

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Johannesburg Branch

Our next zoom lecture is scheduled for Thursday 12th May starting at 19h30. Health issues have resulted in our original speaker having to withdraw. ZOOMINATI will be informed by e-mail as usual.

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Eastern Cape Branch (SAMHSEC)Requests the Pleasure of your Company to talk about military history at 19h30 on 30 May.

Ian Pringle will tell the story of Moskow - a remarkable horse of the Anglo Boer War; a black stallion captured by General Kritzinger from the King family in Bedford, its return and subsequent show successes.

Mac Alexander will review the book "Eerste Daar" by General Kaas van der Waals.

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Becoming Zoominati and enjoying Military History Society
meeting and talks from your own home.

Approximately 200 of our members receive announcements of forthcoming meetings and are invited to join the meetings. We wish to encourage more of those who are missing out to become involved.

All you need is a computer, OR A CELLPHONE, and a data connection and you can become part of the meetings. You will need to contact the Society to be added to the invite list and then you are all fitted out. You then click on the link in the invitation just before the meeting starts and it will hook you up to join the meetings.

A beneficial side-effect of becoming Zoominati is that with your new-found knowledge and experience, you can start Zooming with friends and family all over the world using the same facilities.

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KwaZulu-Natal Branch

Meeting at St Cyprians Church Hall in Umbilo, Durban, from 14h00 for 14h30 on
Saturday 14th May

DDH Talk Roy Bowman The Carrier that never was

Main Talk: Dr John Hart A History of Ukrainian National Identity

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Congratulations to Prof Phil Everitt on his election to the chairmanship of the KZN branch.

The Chairman's and Treasurer's reports are part of this newsletter. Copies of the abridged financial statement are available on request to all members.

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Request for help - letters from men who fought on the Western Front in WWI

My name is Bartosz Kaczmarek, I am a student of public history at the University of Wroclaw. I am currently working on my thesis, which aims to present the depiction of the Great War of the years 1914-1918 in the letters of the men that fought on the Western Front.

I intend to reconstruct the depiction of the conflict by conducting the analysis of letters written by soldiers sent to the Western front. I would like to include as many different perspectives as possible, comparing the writings of people of different nationalities and backgrounds. One topic that I find very interesting is that of South African soldiers, their involvement in the fighting on the Western Front and their perception of the Great War. It would be highly beneficial to present and analyse their experiences. But, to do that accurately, I need a sizeable source material.

PLEASE would anybody who has such letters and would be willing to share them - scanned or photographed - with me, contact me directly at

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Chairperson's report for the year ended December 2021

As all our members are aware, we are still experiencing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the various lockdowns that were imposed in South Africa, our Military History Society has not held any in-person meetings since the beginning of April 2020. As an interim measure, members of the committee of the Johannesburg branch of our Society requested me to assume the position of Chairman.

We are extremely grateful to our Committee members, Mike and Joan Marsh, who have been able to keep our Society going in these difficult times. They arrange for speakers to give us interesting monthly talks on aspects of military history via Zoom. The benefit of having Zoom meetings is that members living outside Johannesburg have been able to link up to our talks. We nevertheless understand that not all our members are able to link up to the meetings via Zoom.

Joan and Mike have also ensured that our Society published 2 editions of our Military History Journal in 2021. Without their hard work and dedication, we would not be able to keep our Society going.

We have also teamed up more closely with the Eastern Cape branch of our Society. They also hold monthly Zoom meetings at which interesting talks are presented.

We are extremely grateful to all our speakers for the time and effort that they put into their interesting presentations, most of which were supported by PowerPoint slides.

Yours sincerely

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Honorary Treasurer's report
for the year ending 31st December, 2021.

Since there was no physical Fifty-sixth Annual General Meeting, which would have been held in April 2022, this report forms part of the May Newsletter.

This report reflects the position of the Society as at 31st December, 2021.


1) The Society showed a surplus of income over expenditure of R2 839 in 2021.
2) Income increased from subscriptions (+11%) but decreased from interest (-31%) and dividends (-50%) . Tea monies and visitors fees fell away because lecture meetings could no longer be held.
3) Expenditure was R 3 463 lower than in 2020; income was R 4 010 greater. Cape Town's subsidy could not be paid in the absence of their membership records.
4) The cost of the Journal made up 58% of expenditure, the same as in 2020. Postage made up 27% of the costs.

Subscriptions for 2022

The Committee set the subscription rates for 2022 at R280 for Single membership (5.7% up) and R300 for Family membership (5.3% up).

Members older than 80 continue to be entitled to discounted subscriptions.

Membership and General

Overall member numbers dropped by 4 to 363.
Membership of branches:
JNB = 191 from {202 in 2020} (was 231 in 2019) [and 245 in 2018]
KZN = 67 {82} (98) [123]
CT = 12 {15?} (18) [23]
SEC = 66 {50} (51) [52]
Overseas = 26 {21} (20) [18]

Special membership categories:
Single life = 29 {33} (38) [42]
Fam life = 14 {14} (16) [16]
Over 80 = 18 {20} (22)
Over 90 = 2 {3} 3

The Society's Internet Web-site continues to enjoy interest with slightly more than 3 million articles or photographs downloaded in a year. Thanks are due to our Web-master, Mr Mike Marsh, for developing and continuing to sponsor the Web-site.

Finally, thanks are expressed to Mr Malcolm King for checking these accounts.

Joan Marsh (Mrs) - Honorary Treasurer
6th April 2022

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Branch contact details

Eastern Cape details contact    Malcolm Kinghorn    041-373-4469

Gauteng details contact    Joan Marsh     010-237-0676

KwaZulu-Natal details contact    Prof Phil Everitt    084-437-1636

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