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.
THE CAPE FIELD ARTILLERY
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.
All visitors are welcome. Tea and biscuits will be served.
Jochen (John) Mahncke (Vice-Chairman/Scribe) (021) 797 5167