At the start of our evening on 15th January, Brig.Gen. John Del Monte addressed us on his venture in forming a CAPE MILITARY PARTNERSHIP with the City Council, to advise, preserve and promote military cultural affairs on all levels for the future. This is an extremely worthwhile endeavour deserving wide support. We are glad to report that an inaugural meeting already took place at the ROSEDALE to launch this initiative. Any member wishing to know more about the project and willing to participate actively, may contact any Committee Member. A General Meeting has been arranged for 26th February, at 19:00 (7 p.m.), also at the ROSEDALE Complex, to select a Committee and take matters forward.
We were then privileged to listen to three short talks on totally different subjects:
1) Tony Gordon fleshed out last year's lecture on the Malaysian Emergency given by Brigadier W.A. Godwin, by diving into his treasure trove of old photographs and maps. In his usual animated manner, he gave us an expert run-down on the extremely hazardous conditions existing at that time in Malaysia. The dangers posed by the enemy were probably somewhat less than those created by natural calamities and obstacles posed by the weather and, even more so, the jungle in all its variants. To begin with, there were snakes, including cobras and a number of poison-goggas. Navigation in the jungle was not easy, and in hilly country they were forced to use a compass. The roads were dangerous, more than the jungle, and he listed the seven rules of safety, and if these were ignored they were in for some trouble. When Australian troops took over, they found this out the hard way. Everything depended on receiving the correct information and acting on it properly. For instance, one had to know the many terrorist organisations, their aims and allegiances. It was therefore not a war to be taken lightly.
2) The next speaker was Gerry de Vries who concentrated on his beloved cannons. At the moment old cannons are being lost, and with his Cannon Research Project he is in the forefront of saving what he can. In all 17 were bought back from scrapyards so far. Exactly 842 have been recorded, of which 93 were recovered during the last five years. 48 were repaired, 34 remounted on carriages, and 19 cannons fired in the city. Gerry's work requires a lot of love, dedication and detective work, sometimes even sneaky methods to discover the whereabouts of an elusive object. Guns from the Boer war are well known, but on muzzle loaders there is practically no information available. We from the Society should give Gerry all the assistance we can to promote his work, because once a cannon is sold privately or spirited away somewhere, our military heritage will be that much poorer.
3) Lastly, John Mahncke talked on additional legends from his collection of U-Boat stories. They were mainly from the Western Cape, with some appearing like variations on anecdotes already heard from other coastal stretches. A new story surfaced recently, when a friend gave him a video tape about a possible U-Boat base in the Antarctic in WW 2, which could also include a hangar for German designed and manufactured UFOs. When US Admiral Byrd led a "large" expedition to the Antarctic in 1947, he allegedly suffered considerable losses. For reasons unknown, the whole matter was hushed up by the US Government. If any member can shed some light on this mystery, the Scribe would very much like to hear from him/her.
60th ANNIVERSARY OF NORMANDY LANDINGS:
Your Committee invites Members, interested in and qualified to present talks on the above subject at our 10th June Society Evening, to contact Tony Gordon.
We would also like to plan talks on the Anniversaries of the Monte Cassino battles and Operation Market-Garden (Arnhem), later this year. Please contact Tony Gordon.
At its January Meeting your Committee decided to invite an extra Member to be responsible for, among other duties, attracting new blood to our Society. Any interested Member wishing to join is asked to contact the Chairman.
VISIT TO MAITLAND CEMETERY:
Tony Gordon has kindly offered to organise and lead a tour to Maitland Cemetery on Saturday, 27th March. Meet at 14:00 (2 p.m.) at Gate No. 10 (closest to the Vanguard Dr./Voortrekker Rd.-intersection).
Interested Members please contact Mac Bissett at 021 686 6309.
SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR 2004:
Due to increases in postage, photocopying and other costs your Committee has decided to increase subscriptions slightly. Full Single- or Family Members will now pay R170,00 each/or per couple, and single and married Associate Members R 50,00 each/or per couple.
When paying by cheque please make out to: S.A. Military History Society.
All visitors welcome. Tea and biscuits will be served.
Jochen (John) Mahncke (Vice-Chairman/Scribe) (021) 797-5167