South African Military History Society



The year saw the Branch continuing the success it has achieved over a number of past years. Our membership, our attendances at lectures, our finances are all satisfactory. We should, of course, be wary not to become complacent but there does not seem to be a cloud on the horizons.

All our talks concerned conflict in the last century and showed a nice balance between action on land, sea and in the air. One aspect of the talks was that nearly thirty percent of our members attended each meeting, and we attracted a goodly number of visitors who were generally irregular visitors, and whose numbers varied with the subject. Well over half the talks were given by our members; not a few were given by speakers at short notice when the original speaker was unable to be present. In all I think members will agree that the talks were interesting and entertaining. We have a number of volunteers ready to talk to us on a variety of subjects in the future.

Your committee met regularly with exceptionally few absences. It will be deprived of the efforts of Robin Smith who has had a dynamic effect upon us. He is to settle up country.
To all committee members I express my gratitude for the efficient and amiable manner in which they have carried out their tasks. May the coming year be as pleasant and successful.


At our March evening, Colonel Lionel Crook, who had kindly stepped in when Rodney Warwick was unable to give us his talk, offered an in-depth study of the history of the Cape Field Artillery in its early Volunteer years, as well as of the Volunteer system in the Cape Province. His presentation was based on research into the 145-year history of his regiment. Originally, the CFA was formed in 1857 and was known as The Cape Town Volunteer Artillery, and there was no shortage of volunteers to fill its ranks. They did duty with the other volunteer units, namely The Cape Royal Rifles and The Cape Town Cavalry. Other volunteer artillery units did duty in Simon's Town, George and Stellenbosch. Lionel spoke about the many commanders of his regiment in detail, most of whom were descendants of famous Cape Town or Western Cape families, as well as mayors and city councillors. Often father and son served successively, and it must be noted how democratically the unit was run regarding officer selection and promotions.
The volunteer period lasted from 1857 until 1913. They entered the Anglo-Boer war with 6 guns and grew from a single battery to a full Field Regiment in WW 2 and later into the 70s and 80s. Today the unit has only some 140 members. Before the Boer War, "A" battery had 12 pounders, "B" battery 7 pounders, on which Lionel gave us a detailed description, and "C" was a garrison company. During its life the regiment also carried the name of "Prince Albert's Own", granted to them by the Prince, one of Queen Victoria's sons. The regiment had its ups and downs, depending on the political and/or financial constraints of the day. It fought battles in the Transkei, Northern Border, Tambookie Campaign, the Langeberg campaign, the Anglo-Boer war, and assisted the civil authorities during the railway strikes and Malay riots in 1886. WW I and WW II followed, and then the many engagements in Southwest Africa and Angola, when Lionel was its Commanding Officer from May 1973 to March 1979.
It was a captivating talk, and we hope Lionel will finish his manuscript and secure a publisher so that this part of our military history will not be forgotten.


10 April 2003
1) Annual General Meeting
Captain Robert Taylor RD RNR: with maps
8 May 2003
Operations in the Mediterranean in 1941, Greece and Crete ( 62nd Anniversary of the Battle)
Illustrated Lecture by Johan van den Berg
12 June 2003
A subject on the SADF in Angola
10 July 2003
Speaker: Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Grose KBE, RN
14 August 2003
Botha's advance with the U.D.F. Burger Commandos
and the Tvl. Horse Artillery up to the Swakop River
Illustrated Lecture by Rodney Warwick
11 September 2003
Brigadier "Dick" Lord will talk on his service career
9 October 2003
Major Helmoed Roemer-Heitman will speak on a current military/political topic

OBITUARY: Believed to be the last surviving fighter pilot from WWI, FL.Lt. Henry Botterell from Canada died recently, aged 106. He flew 91 sorties in 60 days during the last few months of the war and shot down a German observation balloon. He was credited with a "kill", since balloons were considered to be just as dangerous as aircraft. (Notice by courtesy of "Dickie" Bullen).

Meetings are normally held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 20h00 in the Recreation Hall of the SA LEGION ROSEDALE COMPLEX Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, off Alma Road, opposite Rosebank Railway Station, below the line.

All visitors are welcome. Tea and biscuits will be served.

Jochen (John) Mahncke (Vice-Chairman/Scribe) (021) 797 5167

South African Military History Society /