South African Military History 


Newsletter No. 36: September 2007
Nuusbrief Nr. 36: September 2007

Paul Galpin shared one of his collection of war films with SAMHSEC's August meeting, which was held on 16 August because the second Thursday of the month, 9 August, was a public holiday. Paul offered a choice of either Dunkirk and The Cruel Sea. Perhaps predictably in a port city, the majority preferred the latter. Paul has kindly offered to share more of his films with us in future.

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Ian Pringle's ubiquitous contacts in the Cape Midlands and the Weather Bureau ensured the success of SAMHSEC's August 2007 tour, which was attended by a record 21 members and friends. A highlight was that Barbara and Ian Uys chose to share their 40th wedding anniversary on 1 September with the tour. The itinerary is copied below for those who did not attend to see what they missed:

Friday 31 August: visit the military graves in the Cradock cemetery, including that of General Kritzinger. Visit the home "museum" of fellow member Duncan Ferguson. Visit Modderfontein, where Smuts' commando captured a 17th Lancers camp on 17 September 1901.

Saturday 1 September: visit the field of the Battle of Stormberg on 10 December 1899. Visit Stormberg Junction. Briefing on blockhouses by Richard Tomlinson. Visit the military graves in the Molteno Cemetery, including that of Captain Montmorency, VC.

Sunday 2 September: briefing on the Slagtersnek Rebellion of 1815 by Alan Bamford and visit Bezuidenhout's cave.

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Members joining the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth visit to the van Stadens River Gorge forts on 15 September 2007 are reminded to advise the Society office (open on Monday and Thursday mornings; tel 041 585 2073) of numbers attending. Social committee member Dave Whitehouse has organised a brunch for SAMHSEC members and friends at The Hedges, 151 Main Road, Walmer from 1030 on 15 September. Those attending the brunch are requested to advise Dave on 082 570 1149 of their intention to do so not later than midday on 14 September.

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SAMHSEC's annual meeting in Grahamstown is on Saturday 13 October 2007. Fellow member Alan Bamford is leading a Military History Tour in Grahamstown in the morning. The draft programme is as follows:

09h00 Rendezvous at turn-off from N2 to 1820 Settlers Monument. View military target stones.
09h15 Move up Mountain Drive to Toposcope on Signal Hill for talk on details of 360 view and 100 years of Frontier Wars (1779-1878)
10h30 Move to fresh water fountain that provided Fort England
10h40 Move to Fort England
10h50 Tea
11h20 Walking tour of Fort England: Military Chapel and historical buildings
12h00 Move to Wesleyan Methodist Church to view a national cultural treasure: the organ built by William Hill of London about 1832, imported by Major Henry Somerset as a gift for his wife, presented by her to Military Chapel at Fort England and transferred to the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1914
1230: visit Scott's Barracks (1823)
12h45: Move to Yellow House Restaurant, High Street for brief talk on Piet Retief's Trading Store and Manifesto
13h00 Lunch

14h00 SAMHSEC meeting. The curtain raiser is on Grahamstown's First City Regiment. Copies of the Regimental History "First City - A Saga of Service" 2nd Edition by Reginald Griffiths, published in 1987, will be available for purchase at R25 per copy for over 200 pages. Alan Bamford is the main speaker on "Some Ideas on the Causes and Course of the 1st Anglo-Boer War - 1880/1881".

Note: the annual meeting in Grahamstown is a gesture of appreciation to the Grahamstown stalwarts who regularly attend SAMHSEC meetings in Port Elizabeth. Attendance by as many members as possible will be appreciated. Port Elizabeth members offering or requiring lifts are to advise Ian Pringle by 5 October so that contact with one another can be arranged.

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Brigadier General McGill Alexander (Ret) has joined the Society. Former SAMHSEC member Deryk Langman has become an overseas member of the Society. The Eastern Cape's prime export always having been good people, the US' gain is the Eastern Cape's loss.

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SAMHSEC's next meeting is at 1930 on 13 September 2007 in the PAG Drill Hall. The meeting will be a debate on military leadership led by John Stevens, based on Colonel Henry King Burgwyn, Jr, (1841-63), who was the youngest Colonel in the Confederate Army when he died at the age of 21 while leading the 26th North Carolina Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was commissioned as a captain after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute. His sense of military discipline and outstanding leadership qualities led to his rapid promotion to Major and Commander of Camp Carolina and by August 1861 he achieved the rank of Lt Colonel of the 26th North Carolina Regiment at the age of 19. A year later he succeeded Zebulon Baird Vance as Colonel, just short of turning 21. On the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, Burgwyn led his regiment in an attack on Brigadier General Meredith's "Iron Brigade" and was mortally wounded. This attack, sustained against almost hopeless odds, is regarded as one of the most heroic events of the war. His regiment had less than 200 men standing out of 875 by the end of the engagement. The success of the debate will depend on audience participation, so please do.

Malcolm Kinghorn.
SAMHSEC SCRIBE 082 331 6223

South African Military History Society /