South African Military History Society

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


Past ZOOMeeting - Hosted by Johannesburg

In order to coincide with the anniversary of the battle of Talana, this ZOOMinar was held on the third Thursday, viz.20th October, when Pam McFadden spoke about "History happened here today 123 years ago".

The importance of coal to the Natal economy in 1899 explained why there were British troops in the tiny town of Dundee at the start of the Anglo-Boer War. The town has hills on three sides, one of which is Talana. Pam described the movements of the various Boer columns towards Talana and the response from the British. Low stone walls - still there today - proved to be a problem to the Tommies as they tried to climb upwards to the Boers shooting from the top of the hill; their leader Gen Penn Symons being a casualty of trying to get his horse to go over one wall. British casualties are buried on the lower slopes of the hill where an annual Remembrance ceremony is held, these days simultaneously commemorating the battle of El Alamein in WWII.

Pam started the then Dundee Museum in 1983; acquisition of part of the farm on which the battle was fought gave them a house and outbuildings as a base, donations started to come in. In due course Pam started taking groups up the Hill at twilight on the anniversaries ... one of the photos from the first climb had some extra figures - maybe more suggestion than image - and the "Ghost Walks" came into being.

In later years the museums of coal mining and glass manufacture were added to the premises as well as rooms which hosted an international commemorative Boer War conference in 2014.

Gandhi features in special exhibits (a future lecture?) while their document collection - already numbering tens of thousands - is indexed digitally. When Ken Gillings' books and notes were collected Pam found that much material from Darrell Hall and 'SB' Bourquin was included. Most recently Steve Watt's research papers on the Imperial Regiments in the ABW were also donated.

Question time led to a third file being recorded; all are on the website as usual as part of the ZOOM library:

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Johannesburg Branch

Thursday 17th November (NB Third Thursday) at 19h30 and then 20h15

Speaker: Kathie Satchwell

Subject: Remembrance
This is a major work following how families, friends, the government, and society at large treated remembering the lives of those lost during the Great War. It follows the families of a number of those killed and what the families have done to come to terms with their loss. This is an illustrated talk with 375 slides covering her research into the matter.

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Eastern Cape Branch (SAMHSEC)

Monday 14th November at 19h30 and then 20h15

Speaker: McGill Alexander

Subject: The military exploits of Rob Roy MacGregor.

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Let know in order to be sent an invitation to the next ZOOMinar

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Become a Zoominatus/a and enjoy Military History Society
meeting and talks in 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. We hold three ZOOMinars a month.

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.

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Do we need a What'sApp group?

Rev. Stephan Botha (formerly in Groot Marico, now back in Klerksdorp) asks if members of "Johannesburg" branch (i.e. inland and not yet gathered by Eastern Cape!) would like to join a What'sApp group to be kept abreast of invitations to Zoominars, commemorative gatherings, books etc which arrive out of schedule for inclusion in the newsletter. Please contact him directly at or 0837430507 (What'sApp) so we can find out if there is sufficient interest in his starting one.

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Help wanted - Australian Air Force WWII query - Smoke Curtain Installation

"I write as a member of the Australian Military Historical Society asking for your assistance to possibly connect me with a member of your organisation which may be able to assist me with information about the 250 Ib S.C.I. (Smoke Curtain Installation, Smoke Cloud Installation, Installation, Smoke Curtain) used in World War II.

My research to date suggests the unit, S.C.I. Type G, 250 lb. Mk. 3, was manufactured in South Africa in the early 1940's. It appears 665 units were shipped to Australia.

The S.C.I. had a dual purpose. It could be used to dispense a chemical that formed a smoke curtain on contact with air, or it could be used to dispense poisonous gas, mustard, phosgene, etc.

My interest is focussed on identifying a smoke generator installed under the wing of a Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Wirraway, an indigenous aircraft operated by the Royal Australian Air Force during and after World War II."

Kevin Driscoll

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Seeking descendants of Donald Roderick Forsyth (He was the founding Chairman of the Society in 1966)

"[I am] looking for contact to descendants of Donald Roderick Forsyth. I am a regionalist from Poland who studies the history of the Wolfram family, ancestors of the Forsyth family. I would be grateful for any help in establishing contact."


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University of the Free State Conference on 24-26 November

Dané Swanepoel e-mailed: "I am the liaison officer at the War Museum in Bloemfontein. The Museum, in collaboration with the University of the Free State Centre for Gender and Africa Studies, will be hosting a conference titled The Unsung Heroines and Youth of South Africa: Violent Histories and Experiences of South African Women and Children during Wars, Conflicts and Pandemics.

The conference will be available Online as well."

There is a six page pdf giving details of speakers and topics which Joan will send to any interested member, or contact the War Museum in Bloem directly -

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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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