South African Military History Society


P.O. Box 52090
SAXONWOLD, Transvaal.
Telephone: 41.4703

September, 1970 (received 6 October at Johannesburg Reference Library)


Dear Fellow-member ,



Mr. Jacques Van Oortmerssen addressed the Society at the September Meeting on "THE POETS AND POETRY OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR" and it was more than an education for those who attended

Mr. Van Oortmerssen, from the start, held his audience captivated with his magnificent control of the English Language, his superb acting (which was the media in which he addressed the audience) and his masterly knowledge of the subject.

He had all of us so spellbound, that time and again the Chairman gave him carte-blanche to carry on long after the usual time allotted to speakers.

He received an outstanding ovation when he finally finished and we were all indeed grateful for what we had heard and we will certainly do everything in our power to have the privilege of his attendance again.



Charles Cohen once again gave us a delightful 15 minutes of recorded music and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. Many thanks Charles for all your hard work.



Those of us who went to Kimberley last year on the bus trip did not think it possible to have such an enjoyable time again and yet we did. The Ladysmith tour was an outstanding success in every sense of the word and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. All the arrangements went like clock-work and there were no hitches at all.

On the way down we enjoyed a braai at Valley Inn, at the bottom of Majuba Mountain and a very pleasant 1½ hours was spent there. On the bus there were 34 people; 19 members and 15 visitors.

Two parties totalling five in two cars met us there and also enjoyed the braai. On arrival in Ladysmith people were accommodated at the Crown and Royal Hotels and the Motel with one car-load of members from Sasolburg who went to Colenso.

Four members from Durban joined the party on the Saturday morning with one of them camping!

On Saturday morning visits were made to Ladysmith Town Museum and the R.E. Stevenson Museum at Colenso where morning tea was taken at the Hotel.

The Bus and the convoy of some 8 cars then moved to Clouston Koppie where a talk was given on the Battle of Colenso and then back to Colenso Hotel for an enjoyable lunch.

The afternoon was devoted to visits to interesting sites with regard to the Battle of Colenso and also a visit to Fort Wylie.

That night Dr. Felix Machanik gave us a s1ide show of Majuba and the visit to Kimberley and then one of our Durban members, Daryl[sic] Hall, took over. What an evening it was. 'Daryl gave us two tape-recorded slide shows, "THE GUNS IN SOUTH AFRICA" and "WATERLOO" and his presentation was quite remarkable with a profound knowledge of his subjects. Many thanks, Daryl, for an unforgettable evening.

We had two other surprises that evening for our audience and for these we are most grateful to Capt. John Ball, one of our Johannesburg members who was with us on the tour.

He had arranged for two very important people to be at Ladysmith as the Society's guests for the week-end.

Firstly we had "Oom" Chris Davel, who is one of the few surviving Burgers who fought in the Battle of Spioenkop and he is 90 years of age. He fought in this battle with the Carolina Commando and, was twice wounded. What a remarkable old man and what history he added to our tour. It was indeed an honour to have him with us.

The other person was none other than one of the grand-sons of Commandant Hendrik Fredrik Prinsloo, the Boer leader of the Carolina Commando at Spioenkop. He bears the same Christian names as his grand-father and he had brought Oom Chris Davel with him, in a truck, all the way from Carolina, some 300 miles.

Another interesting history link with Spioenkop was that on the tour with us we had two brothers, Daryl and Russell Campbell, by coincidence both history teachers. Their grandfather was also a member of the Carolina Commando and although they have no proof that he fought at Spioenkop, it is almost certain that he did.

Sunday dawned rather dull (that is the weather!) but by the time we were on our way to Spioenkop, the clouds had vanished and it was another lovely sunny day. En route the Resident Engineer showed what progress was being made with the huge dam near Spioenkop. This dam will hold water which will be pumped over to the Witwatersrand in time of need.

Our party picnicked at the bottom of Spioenkop and then we had the free beer that one of our members, Mr. Will Carr from Johannesburg, had so kindly donated for the trip. He was unable to be present. Then came the climb up the long steep hill, by rough road, and when the summit was finally reached, there was a magnificent view of the surrounding country-side and then we were briefed on the battle. Hendrik Prinsloo and Oom Chris reached the top by way of the former's truck and the old man must have lived all through the battle again. It was indeed fitting having him there.

Although Sunday evening was free, Daryl Hall very kindly gave us two more of his wonderful shows and these were "ISANDLWANA" and "PEARL HARBOUR" and then he had the long trip back to Durban. Once again many thanks Daryl for your wonderful spirit in coming up and joining us and entertaining us so well.

Monday morning was yet another lovely sunny day and after visiting the Old All Saints Church, wonderfully interesting and steeped in history, we went to Caesars Camp, Wagon Hill and the I.L.H. Cemetery with a talk on the Siege of Ladysmith. Yet another interesting person in our group at this particular place was Col. Gert Roodt who had travelled from Klerksdorp to join us for the long week-end. His father had fought at the Siege of Ladysmith and was in the battle of Wagon Hill where he had been wounded more than once by members of the ILH.

It was at the ILH Cemetery that we said our official goodbye to all who had then to leave and make their respective ways back to all corners of South Africa.

We had had some 31 members and as many visitors and our thanks to them all for making the trip so successful; to those who came from our Durban Branch and for those who travelled from as far away as Klerksdorp and Sasolburg and so we had representatives from 3 provinces.

We had had three glorious days of history and weather and good company and we look forward to something similar next year.

At the top of Van Reenen's Pass we halted for our picnic lunches and yet again more free beer and we were back at the War Museum at 6.40 p.m.

Many thanks to Cmdt. George Duxbury for all the hard work he put into the magnificent precis with their fold-out maps and for his lectures on the tour and also to Dr. Johan Barnard who so ably helped out in the lectures as well. This tour will long be remembered by all who went; bad luck to those who were unable to attend - better luck next time .



For the benefit of new members we give hereunder the programme for the remainder of the year and will do so each month so that they will know what our future lectures are:-

Date Topic Speaker
October 8th "THE EAST AFRICA CAMPAIGN 1914-1917" Col. Lunn-Rockliffe
November 12th "THE JAMESON RAID - NEW THOUGHTS" Mr. P. Cartwright
December 3rd "THE GREAT WAR - THE AIRFORCES" Sqn-Leader D. Tidy



Articles etc. are always needed for our Journal and you are requested to submit these to the Editor at the same address as the Society's.

It is important that as many as possible of these are received to enable to editorial committee to build up a bank.

We a1l look forward to the next issue with great gusto.



CORRESPONDENCE: Please look carefully in all envelopes that contain correspondence etc. that is sent to you by the Society. When the last issue of the Journal was sent to members, many of them just assumed that there was nothing else in the envelopes and so missed the June issue of the Newsletter.

In order to minimise administrative work, and therefore expenses as well, we will not issue receipts as such for subscriptions, but ask you to accept your membership card as acknowledgment of the receipt of your subscriptions. This will be sent to you attached to the following newsletter.


A Committee Meeting will be held at the War Museum on Thursday the 8th. October, 1970, at 7.10 p.m.



Details of this lecture:-

Kind regards.

B. G. Simpkins

South African Military History Society /