Newsletter No. 34: July 2007
Nuusbrief Nr. 34: Julie 2007
Dave Whitehouse opened SAMHSEC's 7 June 2007 meeting with the Frontier Wars Regiments series on the Nottinghamshire Regiment, which was formed in 1739 as the 56th Houghton's Regiment and renamed the 45th Regiment in 1748. Deployed to Canada from 1755 to 1765, it took part in the capture of Quebec in 1759, which led to the end French rule in Canada. The Regiment then participated in the American War of Independence in 1776. By 1778 it was based in Nottingham and re-designated the 45th (1st Nottinghamshire) Regiment. After deployment in the West Indies from 1786 to 1801, the Regiment was on the troopship Windsor which was taken over on the high seas by French POWs and sailed to Boston. In 1806 the Regiment participated in assaults on Buenos Aires and Montevideo. During the Peninsula Campaign, the Regiment earned 13 battle honours and the nickname "The Old Stubborns". The Regiment was deployed to the Cape in 1843 and to Natal in 1845, where it constructed the 45th Cutting in Pinetown. The Light Company had remained in Colesburg and later participated in the Seventh Frontier War. In 1865 the title of the Regiment changed to the 45th (Nottinghamshire Regiment) Sherwood Foresters. After service in Burma, India and Egypt from 1865 to 1888, the Regiment was posted to South Africa in 1899, where it participated in the marches to Bloemfontein and Pretoria and the Battle of Diamond Hill. During WW1 the Regiment fielded 33 battalions and lost over 11 00 killed and 33 000 wounded. In WW2 the Regiment served in Belgium, Norway, the Middle East, the Western Desert, the Far East, Italy, India and Burma. 1970 saw the regiment amalgamated with the Worcestershire Regiment (raised in 1694 as the 29th Regiment of Foot) to become the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th Foot). The regiment has earned 109 battle honours and its members have won 16 Victoria Crosses.
Bill Mills' curtain raiser was on the Armoury of Styria in Graz, Austria. Graz and its armoury defended the Holy Roman Empire for 230 years in a war that began with the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and ended with the defeat of the invading Turks at the siege of Vienna in 1683. During that period Styria was almost constantly under threat from the Turks and Hungarian rebels. The Armoury was established in the early 16th century to procure and store weapons for use by the Styrian yeomanry. It was the most important arms store in the south-east of the Habsburg Empire. Storage space was created with the construction of a five-storey wooden building in 1642. Most of the weapons are pieces of armour and personal weapons for infantry and cavalry from the 15th to 17th centuries. The collection includes beautifully ornate officers' weapons and armour manufactured in workshops in Graz, Innsbruck, Augsburg and Nuremberg. Almost alone among European arsenals, the one in Graz was spared from dispersal and closure. Some 32 000 of the original 185 000 exhibits have been preserved, with armour, helmets, weapons and other war material laid out as for inspection. The artillery pieces were lost during the Napoleonic wars. Over the centuries, many items were sold to raise cash.
The main lecture on South African National Defence Force (SANDF) integration and transformation between 1994 and 1999 was presented by Jock Harris. At the time of the April 1994 elections, seven military forces existed in the country, namely the South African Defence Force (SADF), the Defence Forces of the homelands of Bophutatswana, Ciskei, Trankei and Venda (statutory forces) and the military wings of the political parties ANC and PAC, namely MK and APLA respectively (non-statutory forces). From June 1994 these forces were integrated into the SANDF. The process was facilitated by a British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT), whose role was to determine SANDF doctrine, oversee the return of exiled military personnel, monitor qualification and ranking procedures and supervise training.
The lecture then focused on Jock's own experiences during this period. From June to December 1994, he commanded the SADF Group 8, headquartered in East London, where four of the integrating forces were present, namely the SADF, Ciskei Defence Force, MK and APLA. After high level planning sessions, a team of senior officers from each force held integration information sessions at various places in the area. Jock was then transferred to Eastern Province Command (EP Comd) in Port Elizabeth, where integration included a fifth force, namely the Transkei Defence Force., making EP Comd the territorial command with the highest number, namely five of seven, of integrating forces.
Non-statutory force members reported to Wallmansthal near Pretoria, where their bona-fides were verified and they were documented, issued with kit and posted to various centres for further training. At EP Comd, an Integration Office presented seven week orientation courses for officers, warrant officers and NCOs. The rank and file underwent 3 months basic training at various units in the command area. Courses were based on SADF doctrine.
Parallel to integration was transformation to ensure that the SANDF was affordable and able to fulfil its mission. Once trained, members of all seven forces were staffed into the new SANDF structure. Those who could not or who were unwilling to be accommodated in the SANDF were given severance packages enabling them to leave the service. A dilemma in the severance process was that former non-statutory force member had not contributed to a pension fund as had statutory force members. Affirmative action was applied during the staffing process to ensure that the SANDF was representative in terms of race and gender.
Members joining the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth visit to the van Stadens River Gorge forts on 15 September 2007 are to advise the Society office (open on Monday and Thursday mornings; tel 041 585 2073) of numbers attending.
SAMHSEC's August 2007 Tour is confirmed as being to Tarkastad, Stormberg and Cradock from Friday 31 August to Sunday 2 September. Details from the tour coordinator Ian Pringle, 083 401 6623, Ian.Pringle@za.bp.com.
Colonel Graham du Toit offers a research service to trace details of military service. Contact at 012 662 3596, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting is on 12 July 2007 at 1930 in the PAG Drill Hall. Speakers are Ian Pringle on a TBC Frontier Wars regiment, Barry Irwin on HMS Seraph and Pat Irwin on the Battle of Waterloo.
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