South African Military History Society

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


Past ZOOMeeting - Hosted by Johannesburg

General Douglas MacArthur relieved as UN Commanding General in Korea, April 1951 was the subject of Robin Smith's Zoominar on 19th January. There were surely many of us who knew very little about the Korean War, except perhaps for cursory awareness of the SAAF's involvement.

Robin started by quoting Georges Clemenceau who said "war was too serious a matter to entrust to military men"! He stated that the military would prefer it if the politicians, once having decided to go to war, would leave them alone to get on with executing their plans to win same.

In the person of Douglas MacArthur the USA had a military man who enthusiastically promoted himself especially in the minds of the general public. His flight from Bataan was highlighted not by the loss of territorial possession so much as by his public declaration that he would return.

Korea, like Germany, was split in two after the end of the Second World War. 38th parallel being regarded as the divider. Elections brought a communist regime to the fore as rulers of North Korea while South Korea was anti-communist and inclined towards the West. The North invaded the South in July 1950 (possibly at Russia's urging?) and took over almost the whole country before the United Nations resolved to send a multi-national force to aid the South. Most of these would be American troops and MacArthur, already in Japan, was designated to command them.

North Korea was found to have been assisted by Chinese and the UN did not want the conflict to escalate. MacArthur perhaps failed to appreciate the bigger political picture and repeatedly ignored some of the orders from his superiors. He also publicly denied some of the political statements which led to him being relieved of his command in 1951. The war dragged on until 1953 when the USA and North Korea signed to end it. The peninsula reverted to using the 38th parallel as it's de facto border, with a stringently enforced non-militarised zone on either side.

To this day South Korea has never formally made peace with its neighbour to the North.

The recording of his two-part lecture is to be found on the Society's website in the ZOOM video library.

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

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Johannesburg Branch

Thursday 9th February 2023 at 19h30 and then 20h15

Speaker: Errol Back-Cunningham

Subject: The man who killed Kitchener: Fritz Joubert Duquesne, the Boer Spy.

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Eastern Cape Branch (SAMHSEC)

Monday 13th January 19h30 and then 20h15

Speaker: Franco Cilliers

Subject: The development of the Ratel Infantry Combat Vehicle.

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SAMHSEC Requests the Pleasure of your Company to talk about military history on 27 February 2023.

Session 1 (19h30) Pat Irwin will speak about the wars and battles of the Barolong people of Central South Africa from the 16th to the 19th centuries as recorded by Dr Silas Molema (1875-1950)

Session 2 (20h15) Ian Copley will tell us about Corporal Ward, a UK National Serviceman who served in Ian's Field Ambulance unit in Kenya. The talk deals with the challenges of tackling boredom amongst servicemen.

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Lesotho query in the person of Nikolai wrote
I am writing to you about your article concerning the Basuto Regiments who perished in 1943 on their way to Malta. The article was by Norman Clothier about the tragic sinking of the Erinpura en route to Malta (Vol 8 no 5 - June 1991)

It seems that he was looking for information on the coys. that reached Malta, which I have. I would be interested to learn more about these regiments, specifically any details concerning their 'singing' and other traits.

I am looking for anyone that has any information on the AAPC in Malta.

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Rhodesian query - e-mailed for some help:
I am doing some research on a news article that was printed in the then Rhodesia. I personally saw this article in black and white about Mr Tinie Visagie.

The story went as follows: One-night Mr Visagie went to investigate a disturbance at his cattle only to find a lioness at the "cattle kraal ". He tried to chase the lioness away and was attacked by her. He was mauled but managed to stab the lioness several times in the ribcage with a knife.

She let go of him and he was rushed to the nearest hospital. Later the lioness was found dead nearby. Mr Tinie Visagie was a parliament member of the then Rhodesia. He later emigrated to South Africa.

Now my Ms Rika Viviers from Haenertsburg has misplaced this article. I need your or any former Rhodesians' help in where to find a copy of this article.

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William (Bill) Harding is asking about his relative Edmund William Stenson 1831-1900

Edmund Stenson was my maternal great great grandfather. I am compiling a biography of his life as a missionary in South Africa and Lesotho. He was born in Limerick or County Clare in Ireland and came to South Africa in 1851 with the 43rd Regiment to, ostensibly, serve in the Eighth Frontier War. I have no details of what role he played in that regiment, other than that he might have been in the Commissariat, and was moved around a lot, e.g. Fort Jackson and other locations. I also have no details as to how his regiment was deployed. in that conflict, other than that he was fortunate to have not been shipped on the Birkenhead to East London.

A brief diary my great grandmother (Ida Annie Marshall, nee Stenson), prepared for my mother, merely states that her father 'was a military man'.

He married Adelaide Manley (1820 Settler) in Grahamstown in 1854, and at one stage may have lived near Kei Mouth ('Thornlands'?). During this period he took up the priesthood (Anglican) [his father and grandfather were Anglican priests] and was located in the Bloemfontein Diocese from circa 1870 onwards. During this period there are also indications that he was a contractor allied to the military in the eastern Free State. My great grandmothers husband, George Thomas Marshall (another grey area) was ostensibly also a contractor.

He was the first vicar to the Diamond Fields at Barkly West. He was present at the (first) siege of Mafeking and his son, the Rev John William Stenson, played a Rev George Smith 'Rorkes Drift' type role at the defence of Mohale's Hoek in Basutoland in the 1881 Gun War - Edmund, who founded and ran the mission at Mohales from 1875-1881, had to urgently vacate his family to Wepener and lost his house, church and all his possessions in that incident.

While his eldest son John was vicar during the siege of Kimberley (and married a nurse there), Edmund's other sons were also involved, one being killed just days before the relief. Another son was killed in Rhodesia as part of some or other military venture there.

So, within this context, I am seeking to learn how he ended up in the military, how his unit got here and what role they played in the 8th War and his several years existence in the King Williams Town / Grahamstown / Kei Mouth area after his marriage. in Greyton.

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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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The December 2022 Military History Journal

has arrived from the printers and is in the process of being distributed.


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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