South African Military History Society



Dear member,


We had the privilege of having Professor Cockram address the Society on an unusual subject: "DIPLOMACY AND THE USE OF ARMED FORCE." Not only was his talk enlightening, educational and a spellbinding one, but a pin would have been heard if it had been dropped.

His subject was given in a most masterful and captivating manner and those who missed it have indeed missed something that missed something that was a "must" for everybody. Unfortunately, due only to the school holidays, the audience was a little small. How we would like to have the Professor again but, as he is retiring from the Universtiy at the end of the calendar year, he is going to live in Cape Town.

He is a Professor of the Jan Smuts Institute of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand and was appointed to that post in 1952.

Apart from his distinguished academic career, he served on several United Kingdom delegations to international conferences.

During 1951/4 he 'was deputy United Kingdom High Commissioner in Australia.

During the Second World War, he served as po1itical secretary to the United Kingdom High Commissioner in South Africa. Amongst his duties were the establishment of an air training scheme in S.A. and the organization of Munitions production for the British Government.

He was also responsible for the settlement in Natal of over 6,000 evacuees: from the Middle East and South East Asia.


An entire book could be written about this "fantastic" (for fantastic it was) week-end and there is only time and space to give you unlucky fellow members, who were not present, only the event in general.

Our hired bus was a little late in starting for the trip and our first excitement was when two of the wheels "gave in" some 20 miles beyond K1erksdorp. This necessitated the driver thumbing a lift back to the town and arriving back with two new wheels and soon we were on our way; but instead of arriving at Kimberley between 10.30 and 11.00 p.m. we only arrived about 2.10 a.m. However the happy-go-lucky crowd aboard did not seem to mind and soon were enjoying a few hours sleep.

We were even lucky at the Savoy, where I stayed, to be able to get some refreshments at that terrible hour.

The next morning we met up with our fellow-members from Cape Town and Durban and those from the Reef who made the trip by car and we were soon speeding to our first day's Battles of Belmont and Graspan/Enslin together with our wonderful hosts, Richard Liversidge and Feona, Barbour of the Kimberley Historical Society.

Snow had fallen further to the south and so the day was a little cool and for that we were thankful. The day was most interesting and George Duxbury, as usual, gave the pictures of the battles in a masterly fashion. Great excitement of the day was when various members were able to pick up old bullets from the battlefields. It seems almost incredible that these were still lying around.

Lunch was laid on at the small Belmont Hotel and thoroughly enjoyed.

I almost forgot to tell you that en route the first night we had a short stop at Stilfontein to pick up Col. Gert Roodt and Dr. Jooste. There we enjoyed a braai and drinks (all on the house!!) and for this we are mest greatful to Col. Roodt and the members of his Shellhole who supplied the braai and we sat down to it too! Our thanks also to the local brewery for supplying the drinks free of charge.

And so it was back to Kimberley the first night and after a much-needed and enjoyable bath and dinner we set out for a visit to the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, which was rich with the Siege of Kimberley and the earlier life of the diggings, etc. What an evening we had with tea laid on by our friends Richard Liversidge and Feona Barbour. What a tower of strength these two people were.

Saturday dawned, another fresh day and we were again thankful for the mild weather, and part of the morning was spent at the Big Hole, but OH! had we only been able to have spent more time there ... There indeed was a wealth of interesting items to whet the appetites of all. There is just enough room and time to tell you about this fantastic set-up. It was far too soon for us to leave but "tempus fugit" and so we had to go. The visit to see the diamonds at Consolidated Buildings (De Beers) had been cancelled as no staff was available, it being a long week-end, and perhaps just as well as we would never have completed the day's schedule. And so it was yet another enjoyable day, doing Modder river during the remainder of the morning and then a most enjoyable cold buffet lunch with lots of "you know what" to drink at the Modder River Hotel.

Pat Rice, our Vice-Chairman, was responsible for a friend of his bringing all the way from Klerksdorp a Mr. Joubert, aged 91, who was a survivor of the Battle of Magersfontein. Can you believe it. Here, indeed, was history in the making and the old man was thrilled to think that he would once again re-live the Battle of Magersfontein which he did in the afternoon and once again souvenirs were found.

The farmer, on whose farm the battle-field is, invited us all for tea but unfortunately, owing to our tight schedule, we had to refuse. Just imagine, this hospitality to invite some 70 complete strangers at no notice,to have tea, with him and his wife.

Back to the hotel again for baths and drinks and a change and then to the Duggan-Cronin Bantu Gallery, another museum, for a never-to-be-forgotten braai and evening. This was organization for you. We were entertained by the Kimberley Historical Society again, and it was partly financed by the Kimberley Regimental Association. We met Mrs. McIntyre, the Vice-Chairman (or is it Vice-Chairlady?) of the Society, a charming lady indeed.

The bus returned at 10.30 to take us home and Sunday morning was spent en the farm of Mrs. Jacobs and her son, Dirk, at Paardeberg on whose farm the battlefield is. Mrs. Jacobs is the wife of the late General Jacobs, who died a couple of years ago and she and her son entertained the group to morning tea and melk-tert after George Duxbury's talk. Here again was entertainment meted out to complete strangers and we are very grateful to these two charming and wonderful people and we sincerely hope that they get the rain they so richly deserve. The mild weather had now gone and it was a very hot day.

Soon we were on our wav to the Reef via Christiana, Bloemhof and Wolmaransstad and there were no untoward incidents en route. Col. Roodt was given a resounding "good-bye" at Stilfcntein and the bus arrived back at the War Museum at 9.15 p.m. and soon all were speeding to their respective homes.

Now what of the trip?

There is no doubt that it was a resounding trip and all spoke highly of it. The bus is a "must" and this helped to "make" the trip. It gave all an opportunity of getting to know one another and the Public Address system wes most useful for pointing out places of interest, giving orders and for the dozens of jokes, etc., that were given by various people.

There were 39 people on the bus, including some non-members. On the trip, once having arrived in Kimberley, there were 38 members and 31 visitors. The numbers of members were broken down to 32 from the Witwatersrand complex, one from S.W.A., 2 from Cape Town and 3 from Durban. The one from S.W.A. was Colonel Peddle who was brought up at Magersfontein and we had the privilege of his addressing us on this particular battle. There were a few members on the trip who had particular associations with Kimberley and they were as follows:-

There were many amusing incidents, such as the count for lunch on one specific day - before I forget - "how many for lunch tomorrow?" The "late" Dr. Machanik was early for the bus on the last day and this could only have been possible by either his watch being VERY fast or thinking the bus should have left somewhat earlier than it was scheduled to do!!!

Many thanks to George Duxbury for the excellent precis with their pull-out maps that were supplied. They were a first-class publication and will become collectors' pieces in the very near future; also many thanks for all your hard work, George, in the preparation that must have gone into your talks.

I am sure I have forgottcn many incidents, but perhaps somebody else, in time, would like to compile a more comprehensive story of the trip. Also, sincere apologies if I have forgotten to thankothers for their work in this regard.

May I appeal to those who took pictures of the event to please present copies to the Society to build up a library of our outings and this will also help to lay the foundation of a society history in the years to come.

Many thanks to all those members and visitors who came and so helped us to make the trip such a wonderful one for all of us. A distinguished visitor on the bus with us all the way was Mrs Fraser, wife of General Fraser. We enjoyed her company and I know that she thoroughly enjoyed everything.

A father recently wrote this letter to his son: "Please write me longer letters with more details of what you're doing. Don't just ask me for money. I am enclosing the cash you asked for. By the way, you made a little error. "Ten" is written with one nought, not two!"


This meeting will take place on our usual day, the second Thursday, which will be the 12th November, 1969, and the address will be the much-looked forward to postponed "UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE" by General Fraser.

Here we have had to deviate from our usual day in order to fit in with the speaker and also it will, fortunately, not be too near the holiday and school-closing season. The date will be MONDAY the 1st (First) December. We have been very fortunate in procuring the services of Brian Chilvers, a journalist who recently returned from a "seeing on the spot" visit to Vietnam. He has just concluded a series of short broadcasts on this theatre of War and we are sure his talk to us will be most interesting. His father was the well-known author, Hedley Chilvers.


Subject matter is always needed so please do not hesitate to send in your contributions. You will realise, of course, that the articles to be published in one particular number must be balanced so if your article does not appear when you think it should, such as the following number, rest assured it will make up balanced matter for the next or perhaps the one after that.

The Chairman's speech at the Opening of a new factory began: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Reverend Fathers, distinguished Guests, members of the Press ... " and so on through a long list. Then he interjected thoughtfully: "It must be easier in Russia - they simply begin "Comrades"


It has been decided to accept these lists from members only for publication in tbis newsletter and provided they are in writing and submitted either at the monthly meeting for publication in the following number or by post so as to arrive not later than the evening of the monthly meeting.
Please send to Mr. B.G. Simpkins, 26 Sydney Carter Street, Roosevelt Park Extension, Johannesburg.


by Christopher Shores and Hans Ring with a foreword by Air Vice Marshall Raymond Collinshaw CB,DSO,OBE,DSC,DFC, published by Neville Spearman. The price of this book in England, is 75 shillings (R7.50) It is understood that arrangements are being made to distribute it in South Africa.

published by MacDonald & Co. Ltd. in paperbacks selling at 95 cents. Obtainable at the War Museum.

For further details of these two books, see August or September issues of the "COMMANDO" Magazine obtainable at CNA.

by A.J. Barker, published by Arms & Armour as one of their series of illustrated studies in twentieth century arms. Price in U.K. (25s) (R2.50)

a complete illustrated history of German armoured fighting vehicles from 1926-l945 by F.M. von Senger & Etterlin. Published by Arms & Armour. Price in U.K.95s (R9.50)

For further details of these two books see October issue of "COMMANDO".

by Vezio Melegari (Weidenfeld and Nicolson R15.00) For further details enquire from the Chairman.

FIVE ABOUT THE FEW: A belated, yet well-deserved mention for an excellent paperback collection from Pan Books: The Battle of Britain series. Five titles: "The Last Enemy" 4s., Richard Hillary's famous, and tragic autobiography; "Ginger Lacey, Fighter Pilot" (5s.) Richard Townshend Bickers' biography of a Battle of Britain Ace; "Squadron Airborne" (5s) Elleston Trevor's action-packed docmentary novel about a Spitfire squadron; Richard Collier's "Eagle Day" (6s) probably the best short history of the battle with many photographs; and the pick of the bunch to my mind, "Full Circle" (6s) by Air Vice-Marshal "Johnnie" Johnson in which this very distinguished airman follows the course of air warfare from the flying stringbags of 1914 to the Sabre-versus-MIG battles of the Korean War.


I would like members to please let me know either by post or at the forthcoming monthly meeting whether or not they like this new format or whether they would prefer the shortened version that was done prior to the last one. I feel that this one is better but then I do not wish to waste time writing a long one if there are no comments. Please let us have yours - don't be shy - PLEASE SPEAK UP.


This will be particularly welcomed to assure the smooth running of your society. IN PARTICULAR PLEASE LET US HAVE YOUR CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF THE KIMBERLEY TRIP. Thank you.


This infantry Magazine of tbe British Army is on sale every month at the CNA. It is a MUST for all members and contains a wealth of information.


There will be no Committee Meeting on 13th Nov. 1969.


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