South African Military History 

South African Military History Society Eastern Cape Branch
Suid Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging Oos Kaap Tak

Newsletter No. 32: May 2007
Nuusbrief Nr. 32: Mei 2007

Chairman Malcolm Kinghorn welcomed all to the meeting and had the following announcements to make.
* Dave Whitehouse had agreed to take over as the Social Convener with effect June.
* Malcolm would assume the responsibilities of The Scribe along with his Chairman's duties and Ian Pringle would remain as Secretary but also assume the responsibilities of being The Tour Co-coordinator. Ian would assist The Scribe in transmitting the newsletter and at the same time add any other pertinent news items
* A parade is being held at The Outspan Shell Hole on the 13th May - further particulars may be obtained from Chris McCanlis

The Port Elizabeth Historical Society is planning a trip to the Van Stadens area which could take in the old forts of the area and which date to the Anglo Boer War. Ian would liaise with Richard Tomlinson in this regard as that Society had extended an invitation to join them on their excursion.

Following the end of our series on Gallantry Awards it has been decided that members would at future meetings be invited to give a five minute chat on the regiments that served in The Frontier Wars. Tim Jones is scheduled to talk on The Staffordshire Regiment at our May meeting and Dave Whitehouse will cover the June meeting

The tour arrangements for the trip on Aberdeen and Graaff - Reinet on the weekend of the 4th-5th May are in hand and a final note will be sent out shortly. At this stage it would appear that about 17 persons will be making the excursion. The area is rich in Anglo Boer War history and with Graaff Reinet being one of the oldest towns in the country the trip will also touch on other rebellions and encounters.

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Curtain Raiser: The Northern Rhodesia Police

Life Member Tim Jones' curtain raiser covered the Northern Rhodesia Police from 1912 to 1964. In 1911, North Western Rhodesia (Barotseland) and North Eastern Rhodesia became Northern Rhodesia. In 1912 the North Eastern Rhodesia Constabulary and the Barotse Native Police were amalgamated to form the Northern Rhodesia Police. The North Eastern Constabulary was formed in 1891 to combat the slave trade. In 1902 the Force was 385 men strong, distributed at 14 stations with Headquarters at Fort Jameson. The Barotse Native Police was formed in 1900. By 1902 the Force was 149 men strong distributed at 5 stations with Headquarters at Kalomo. The combined strength of the two Forces upon amalgamation was 19 Officers, 8 British NCOs and 750 other ranks. Police Headquarters was at Livingstone. In August 1913, the force divided into a military (Fighting Force) and a civil police.

On 11 August 1914, the Northern Rhodesia Police was placed on active service. The first action on the northern border was on 5 September 1914 when Abercorn was attacked and the enemy repulsed by local police and volunteer forces. The first action on the southern border was on 21 September 1914 with the capture of the German post in the Caprivi opposite Sesheke on the Zambezi River. By May 1916 there were 5 Service Companies of the Northern Rhodesia Police in the field, all of whom took part in General Northey's advance into German East Africa. By 1932 the Civil Branch of the Force had grown larger than the Military Branch and it was decided to form two separate units: the Northern Rhodesia Police and the Northern Rhodesia Regiment.

Although WW2 never reached Northern Rhodesia, activity connected with it included the arrest and internment of aliens and guarding vulnerable points, the copper mines, Italian POWs and Polish Refugee camps.

At 2359 on 23 October 1964 the Northern Rhodesia Police ceased to exist and at 00h01 on 24 October 1964 the Zambia Police came into being.

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Main Lecture - Friendly Fire - By Barry De Klerk.

Barry de Klerk's main lecture focused on the unfortunate reality of so-called friendly fire. Many incidents were listed, including an exchange of fire between British and allied German troops during the Battle of Waterloo. Barry's research found records of some 75 000 French soldiers being killed by own forces' fire during WW1. Less well known is that British warships were also attacked by Swordfish aircraft during the hunting of the Bismarck. Incidents during the Falklands War were listed, as were more incidents in Iraq, including the "Blues and Royals" incident which has attracted recent media attention. Submarines appear to have been particularly vulnerable to attack by own forces, with some 24 known to have been sunk in this way since 1914.

Barry summarised the reasons for these incidents as being recognition, navigation, information and technology failures. Also relevant is the natural aggression which often follows many hours of uneventful patrolling. While the reasons for friendly fire are many, Barry's advice is that one should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. One is left mindful of the military axiom that friendly fire isn't.

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Next Meeting - Thursday 10th May at 19.30 hours, at the usual venue of The Prince Alfred's Guard's Drill Hall, Central, in Port Elizabeth.
Curtain Raiser - Rob Melville on "Campaign Furniture"
Main Lecture - Chris McInnis on "The Nuremberg Trials"

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Malcolm Kinghorn.

South African Military History Society /