This year's Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday, 12 April, and was opened by the Chairman, Flip Hoorweg, who welcomed all present before declaring the meeting open. There was no problem with a quorum as there was a surprisingly large number of people present.
The meeting followed the usual format and the members present were informed that the society is going from strength to strength, with a rapidly growing national membership of over 500. The finances are also in an extremely healthy state, thanks in both cases to the hard work and dedication of Joan Marsh, the Secretary/Treasurer.
After all the reports were completed, the awarding of the George Barrell Memorial Prize for the best curtain raiser followed. First prize in this category went to John Cramp for his November talk on "The Evolution of the Victoria Cross". Although not a member of the Society, John and his wife had made a special effort to be present at short notice to receive his prize and both were warmly congratulated by Flip. Second prize went to Huffy Pott for his October talk on "The Battle of Berg-en-Dal" and third prize went to Bob Smith for his May talk on "The Bridge over the River Kwai".
The Felix Machanick Prize for the best main lecture went to Andr Sharashkin for his December talk on "The Russian Front of the Second World War". Unfortunately, because of illness, Mr Sharashkin was not able to collect his prize but hopefully will receive it at the next meeting. Second prize went to Carvel Webb for the April talk on "Radio and its transformation of Modern Warfare" and third prize went to M C Heunis for his August talk "OVSAC - the Orange Vrijstaat Artillerie Corps in the Boer War".
Brigadier General Deon Fourie then took the chair and called for nominations for National President. Flip Hoorweg was re-elected unanimously for a second term, as was the committee, en-bloc.
Under the heading of "General", Deon Fourie also raised the question of recruitment. The Society needs to attract more younger members and all members are requested to think about this. Although the membership is growing, we need to look for more young blood to shake up our complacency.
This business accomplished, Flip then closed the 41st AGM and gave out the usual notices. A volunteer was called for, and found, to assist with tea at the meetings, and members are once again reminded of the forthcoming outing to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria on Saturday, 26th May. This will not be just the usual stand and gawk tour, but will be led by the well-known guide Felicia Fourie, who will be giving us vignettes and little-known facts about Voortrekker Military history. Those interested should contact Bob Smith at 011-482-5222. Flip then introduced Martin Ayres, our speaker for the evening. Martin is a former National Chairman of the Society, with a life-long interest in Military History. He is an active member of a large number of local historical groups and societies and his talk would be on "Planning for D-Day 1944".
Using a Power-Point presentation, Martin gave us a beautifully illustrated talk and went into the most fascinating detail of this aspect of the Normandy invasion. Starting with the initial planning and formation of the planning team, Martin led us through the vast amount of intelligence-gathering required, which had commenced two years before the invasion. This was a most interesting period of his talk as he described all the "little men" whose keen-eyed observations and snippets of information which, when put together, produced the big picture of German positions and troop strengths in France.
Equally interesting were the details of the deception plans put in place by the Allies to confuse the German forces as to the exact time and place of the landing that they knew was coming. This extended even to the false armies created by dummy radio traffic and a series of feints by the Air Force to create a softening-up impression in the wrong areas.
Moving on to the very special requirements for the invasion, all of which had to be planned for, Martin told us about the things such as PLUTO, "The Pipeline under the Ocean"; Hobart's Funnies (specially adapted tanks for a number of tasks); the pre-fab Mulberry Harbours; and the absolute necessity for air superiority and airborne forces.
At the end of his talk Martin realised what dangerous ground he had so successfully traversed when it turned out, during question time, that there was more than one member in the audience who had actually been on the planning staffs at that time! It came out that the "Scorpion" flail tank had been designed by a South African Captain du Toit, for which he received an award of 25 Pounds Sterling. There were also South Africans on General Montgomery's committee - one member present had in fact been personally involved with the design of "Hobart's Funnies". Another South African, Dr Henry Olivier, who was engineer in charge on the Caborra Bassa hydroelectric project, was also a section engineer on the Mulberry Harbour project.
Flip thanked Martin for his excellent presentation, adding a few words of his own on background to the landing and Churchill's ideas. He also thanked both Martin and Lesley Ayres for their services to the Society and wished them well with their coming permanent return to the United Kingdom. The Johannesburg branch will sorely miss them both and a Certificate of Appreciation to this effect was presented to them.
This done, Flip adjourned the meeting and tea was served.
Any members wanting copies of the AGM minutes from 2006, or the financial statements for 2006 as presented at the AGM, is welcome to drop Joan Marsh a line at the letterhead addresses and she will post or e-mail them a copy.
For KwaZulu-Natal details contact Mike Laing 031-205-1951 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For Cape Town details contact John Mahncke 021-797-5167 (email@example.com)
For Eastern Cape details contact Malcolm Kinghorn 041-373-4469 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ivor C Little (Scribe) 012-660-3243
KZN in Durban:
SAMHSEC in Port Elizabeth:
The following was sent to Flip Hoorweg recently by Johnathan Andrews (email@example.com) and is reproduced
here for members' interest:
Voyage of the Planet Magazine is a new publication for the layman interested in archaeology and related subjects like anthropology, palaeontology, geology and more. We have a website which provides more information about the magazine and projects we are involved with: www.voyageoftheplanet.co.za
One of the features in our current issue deals with the Orange River Camps at Doornbult from the Anglo Boer War 1899-1902 and next month we feature interesting aspects of the Bernard Du Plessis Philatelic Collection of the Anglo Boer War. Voyage of the Planet will also be covering the story of the Doornbult Concentration Camp Archaeological Project when archaeologists will be excavating sections of the suspected mass graves and other areas of the camp later in May.
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