South African Military History Society


Newsletter / Nuusbrief 218
November 2022

Remembrance Month

Vacant Chairs

SAMHSEC remembers members whose chairs are vacant: Chris McCanlis BCR, Elizabeth Nel, Doug Boyder, Lionel Wulfsohn, Clive Malkin, Mike Duncan, Tim Jones, John Perrot, Duncan Fergusson, Taffy Shearing, Barbara Uys, Bill Mills, Mel Smethurst and Peter Gray.

Sunday 6 November 2022

The South African Legion Annual Poppy Run visits the graves of Military Veterans in the Greater Port Elizabeth Area and lays a Haig Poppy in remembrance. Meet at the Maritime Club, Central, Port Elizabeth at 0900 and travel to the various cemeteries. Harmony at the Maritime Club when the task has been completed. SAMHSEC participation is coordinated by Peter Duffel-Canham.

Friday 11 November 2022

Grey High School Remembrance Day Service in the Memorial Quad. Guests to be seated by 1030. Parking is not allowed on campus, so please use street parking.

Sunday 13 November 2022

Civic Remembrance Day Parade & Wreath Laying Service. Meet at Aloe White Ensign Shell-hole, Walmer at 0830.

New member

SAMHSEC welcomes new member Molefi Hlalele from Bloemfontein.

SAMHSEC 10 October 2022 meeting

Campbell Cooke discussed the SA Navy Amphibious Boat Squadron (ABS).

From 1983 to 1984 the South African Navy refitted SAS Tafelberg for amphibious operations. Six D-80 landing craft were procured for 1 Marine Brigade to establish the ABS for ship to shore operations.

ABS was established in 1984 in Simonstown with 1 D-80 and 3 marines: Lt Cdr Clive Bloom, CPO Alan Iliffe and LS Bruce Windell.

ABS operational members were selected by 1 Marine Brigade, served in the squadron on a voluntary basis and averaged operational 25 personnel at any given time. The squadron used D-80s, Barracudas and Klepper kayaks.

The D-80s were each fitted with 2 Yamaha 175 HP outboard engines. Three boats had 200 HP engines. The D-80 could carry 3 tons at 50 knots on the open sea. It had a flat bottom with 2 outer keels running the length of the boat and a flat, sloping bow ramp. Forward movement of the boat forced air down the ramp and under the boat, where it was trapped by the two keels, lifting the boat and reducing drag.

The D-80 weighed 1800 kg empty, was 7.24m long and 2.95m wide. It could carry 18 armed troops, a short wheelbase Land Rover or a Jakkals utility vehicle with trailer.

SAS Tafelbergís boat deck could launch D-80s from davits on either side. During operations, ABS launched at night 12 nautical miles from the shore, which is over the horizon. At all times ABS navigated by dead reckoning and in a tight formation.

During 1985, ABS developed operating procedures with SAS Tafelberg and 4 Reconnaissance Regiment in Langebaan. The squadron consisted of 3 groups: Training, Boats and Reconnaissance. The reconnaissance team was inserted in advance to choose the landing ground and send a beach report to SAS Tafelberg. Barracudas would then land the ABS Beach Master, who controlled the D-80 landings. In September 4 RR and ABS deployed for a joint operation in Mozambique.

In 1986, ABS deployed as support for 4 RR in Operation Drostdy, continued exercises with 4 RR in Langebaan and started its own diving capability.

In 1987, ABS and 4 RR deployed jointly for Operation Bagdon and ABS deployed in support of 4 RR in Operation Radcol. ABS was also deployed for Operation Resolve in Mauritius. ABS started its unit course in the Hermanus area with 7 Medical Battalion.

Exercise Sand Pebble landed marine infantry in Saldanha Bay in 1988. A seaborne attack on the Port of Namibe (Operation Prone) was scheduled for August, in which ABS would land marines and paratroops during the night and recover them the following night. This contingency operation was rehearsed in Walvis Bay as Exercise Magersfontein.

ABS attended 7 Medís land survival course in 1989. In September Exercise Vlakwater took place in Saldanha Bay. The reconnaissance team was inserted by submarine and the D-80s landed marines and paratroops.

In 1990, ABS was disbanded due to budget cuts.

The recording of Campbellís talk is in the SAMHS Zoom library.

Field trip to Fort Willshire

Twenty two members and guests participated in SAMHSECís field trip to Fort Willshire on 16 October 2022 with stops at the Milkwood Tree, the Battle of the Gwangwa and Fort Peddie.

See SAMHSEC Newsletter 215 August 2022 for Pat Irwinís overview of Fort Willshire presented to the SAMHSEC zoomeeting on 25 July 2020. The recording of Patís presentation is in the SAMHS Zoom library.

SAMHSEC RPC 31 October 2022

SAMHSEC Requested the Pleasure of historiansí Company to talk about military history on 31 October 2022.

In session 1, Peter Duffel-Canham told us about the model ME 262 at the GFI Art Gallery in Port Elizabeth.

Peter recently attended the unveiling of a model ME 262 night fighter donated to the Gallery by Geoffrey Hamp-Adams. He based the model and its colour scheme on the painting in the Gallery by Port Elizabeth artist Ron Belling.

The aircraft in the painting is in the South African National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold. In 1954 Belling went to Dunnottar to examine the aircraft and was surprised to see, not a multi grey finish as expected, but a variety of shades of green applied as a mottle. He made detailed notes and took colour samples that, along with research of Luftwaffe records, determined the aircraftís original finish. Belling then produced the painting now curated in the GFI Gallery with the rest of his collection.

When the aircraft was transferred to the Museum, the then Museum Director, Colonel George Duxbury, learned of Bellingís records and arranged for restoration to its original colour scheme. Belling directed the project.

Geoffrey Hamp-Adams and the two artists assisting him were determined to paint the model accurately as the aircraft originally was and also consulted the artistís notes and Luftwaffe records. The model now stands in a case with the artistís painting.

The recording of PDCís talk is in the SAMHS Zoom library.

In session 2, Hans Kriek discussed David Brock Katzí book South Africans Versus Rommel: The untold story of the Desert War in World War II (First Published 2018 in the UK, Trade Paperback published in South Africa 2019 by Delta Books ISBN 978-1-92824-807-1 Copyright David Brock Katz).

Hansí discussion was in the mindset of armoured and mechanised warfare and focused on the role of manoeuvre as practiced by Rommel and the SA Infantry Divisions. A secondary opinion is on the ineptitude of the British Field Command and the role thereof in inhibiting the battlefield potential of the South African formations.

The book gives perspective on the doctrine and tactics of Rommel as well as the rigidity of the British Command. The SA doctrine and tactics were closer to those of Rommel and this gave rise to animosity between the South African and British Commands. It contains much detail which, although interesting, requires concentration when reading.

The book is recommended for readers interested in the history of the SA Forces in East Africa and the Western Desert and manoeuvre warfare.

SAMHSEC 14 November 2022 meeting

McGill Alexander will tell us about the military exploits of Rob Roy MacGregor.

SAMHSEC RPC 28 November 2022

SAMHSEC Requests the Pleasure of your Company to talk about military history on 28 November 2022.

Please contact Andrť at if you want to use this opportunity.


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