South African Military History Society

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


Past ZOOMeeting - Hosted by Johannesburg

Prof Ian van der Waag spoke about "Crime behind the Wire: traitors, collaborators, stool pigeons", focusing on the Second World War.

As part of a larger research project, Ian observed that the crimes committed by POWs (prisoners of war) could be grouped into being against the State or being against others - POWs or civilians. While the former group often left a paper trail - court records, if the matter went that far - it was impossible to determine how many crimes against fellow POWs and civilians went unrecorded. Trying to determine what had actually happened when a body was discovered - possibly a long time after the fatal incident - and given that most POWs would not have "seen or heard" anything to disclose to the camp authorities, make meaningful statistics almost impossible to generate.

Just looking at the numbers, 342 792 soldiers had volunteered; 17 303 became POWs of which 14 583 were released at the end of the war. Three hundred and eighty one died in POW camps. Some of these could have been surreptitiously removed had the Escape Committee of their specific camp learned that they were stool pigeons who had betrayed escape plans, for example.

Ian went into detail about the ranks, the regiments, the types of crimes using various graphs. SA along with the other dominions created units which would interrogate all POWs as they were released from the POW camps or made their individual ways back to Allied lines. Information thus gathered was collated and processed by MI5 with suspects then identified to their respective commands. These soldiers were not demobilised from the SA Forces until the investigation into their alleged crimes had been completed. Six Springboks, plus three more suspected of recruiting for the British Free Corps, were taken to court and some found guilty were jailed. (When the Nationalist government came into power in 1948 these were soon released from prison.)

A lively discussion followed.

The recording is on the website as usual as part of the ZOOM library:

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Johannesburg Branch

Thursday 8th September at 19h30 and then 20h15

Dr Brian Austin speaking from the UK will tell us about "The Bruneval Radar Raid" which took place at the end of February 1942.

"The Bruneval Raid" was one of the most remarkable of the various landings made by British forces on the coast of France before the almighty onslaught on "D Day" in June 1944. What made it so was its purpose to 'steal' a German Wurzburg radar from its operating site perched on a cliff top, 130m above the beach, near the village of Bruneval. That the raid was so successful was due to meticulous planning and training as well as the competence of the Royal Engineers who removed, as instructed, only those elements of the radar of interest to the 'boffins' back in England. Those RE sappers who performed that task were trained by none other than Colonel Basil Schonland, the 'father' of South African radar.

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Eastern Cape Branch (SAMHSEC)

Monday 12th September 2022 meeting; 19h30 then 20h15 as usual

Speaker: Stephen Bowker.
Topic: Leonard Cheshire, VC.

Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire VC, DSO and DFC was both a fighter and a philanthropist, reaching massive achievements in two totally different phases of his life. During the Second World War he was the youngest Bomber Group Captain with the RAF, with over 100 missions over enemy territory. Statistically, he should have been killed four times.

During peace he established the world-wide charity of Cheshire homes for the disabled allowing them to live life with dignity, their way.

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Become a Zoominatus/a and enjoy Military HistorySociety 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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Cape Town Branch

Special General Meeting Thursday 15th September

Members of the branch have been e-mailed a special newsletter inviting them to a special meeting of the Cape Town Branch of the SAMHS to be held at the Rosedale Complex, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank on Thursday 15 September 2022 at 8 pm to elect a new committee or vote for the winding up of the branch.

If you have any questions please contact
Ronnie Glass 083 441 6170 or
Mac Bisset (Committee Member) Cellphone 071 3590869 Messages (021) 686 6309

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KwaZulu-Natal Branch

Meeting at St Cyprians Church Hall in Umbilo, Durban, Saturday 9th July from 14h00 for 14h30

Details from Ulrich Duebi -

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Kedar Heritage Lodge

Unveiling of Memorial to Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiane - S A's first black Olympians on Saturday 17 September from 09:30 to 16h00

These two 'agterryers' from the SA War, who completed the Marathon in the 1904 Olympic Games, are the latest additions to the collection at this venue.

R200 per person for the day including Museum Tour at 10am, Keynote address by Vincent Carruthers, Buffet Lunch and Exhibit Tour.

Special rates for accommodation. Booking is essential. Contact Andre Wedepohl by Friday 2 September to book -

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Battle of Witpoort

The article on this battle in the 1999 Military History Journal by Dave Panagos piqued Allan Gordon's interest. Sadly, Dave is no longer with us - would members knowing about this specific battle please contact him directly at or Cell 082 455 9279?

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BOOKS for sale eastern side of Johannesburg

Pierre du Toit is reluctantly selling many of his books which include several Anglo-Boer War publications. If interested please e-mail him at or phone 011 453 5542 or cell 073 335 1741 for a list of what is still available.

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Trying to identify a SAAF veteran buried in New Zealand

"Terry McLaughlin" writes:
I am trying to find out some information about a possible SAAF veteran who is buried in a cemetery in Christchurch, New Zealand. The person in question is a John A Carlton, who died on 27/12/1974, aged 71. The inscription on his headstone gives the service number 327018, and his rank as Flight Sergeant. Mr Carlton is buried in a plot by himself, and the Christchurch City Council's cemetery ledger does not record who paid for the plot so I am struggling to find any relatives or possible descendant he may have.

Please contact Terry directly if you are able to help him.

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Who wrote the letter?

Gordon Stephenson ( writes: "I have a copy [of a] letter which refers to action during the Boer War. The writer was an officer who was injured and he details the incident, including his request to keep the bullet which hit him as a souvenir! Unfortunately, though there is much detail, there is no signature of the writer. Is this something your members might be able to help me with if I sent you a copy?"

He has sent me the copy of four typed pages which identify the patient (the mystery writer) as having been wounded at Elandslaagte such that he was in the Wesleyan chapel, a temporary hospital in Ladysmith, by 24 October 1899. Anybody who would like to see the letter please let Joan know at

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

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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

Cape Town details contact    Ronnie Glass    083 441 6170

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