South African Military 
History Society


News Sheet No. 6.
April 1973


(a) Thirteen persons met on a sparkling Sunday morning, the 1st of April, for a most instructive and enjoyable visit to various localities associated with Dick King. These included his well-kept grave in a small cemetery at Isipingo Rail and his house nearby which, unfortunately, is being renovated in a way which completely changes the original appearance. It is gratifying to note, howover, that as a result of this restoration part of the original cottage will be permanently embodied in the new structure. From Isipingo the party proceeded to the site of the Battle of Congella, marked by an obelisk, and the site of the Boer camp at the Congella Park.

At this stage the flagging spirits of the "campaigners" were revived by an invitation from Robin and Lyn Crossley to have morning tea at their nearby home. Neither the garrison troops nor the Voortrekkers had it so good!! Thank you Robin and Lyn for your gracious hospitality.

Proceeding towards town, stops were made at the Dick King statue on the Esplanade, from which point King had crossed the bay at the commencement of his epic ride, and Dick King street in which he had plied his trade as a butchor. The outing ended at midday at the Old Fort and nearby military cemetery.

This trip was arranged in anticipation of a lecture to be given by Mrs. Daphne Strutt on the 10th of May and for this reason the commentary on this oocasion was restricted to the barest essentials.

(b) Monthly Get-together

The normal monthly meeting on 12th April produced one of the highlights of this year's programme. Twenty six members (including two who made a special 240 mile return trip) listened with great interest to Hauptmann (Capt.) H.W. Schmidt, former A.D.C. to Field Marshal Rommel. Mr. Schmidt presented a fascinating picture of aspects of the North African campaign, coloured by warm human feelings, humour, and a clear grasp of the military situation at the time. Names such as Tobruk, Bardia, Sidi Rezegh, Mersa Matruh and Halfaya Pass came vividly to life again. His candid sketch of Rommel's personality, combining both critical analysis and warm understanding, was such as one will not find in any book.

The talk was extremely well prepared and delivered and aroused so much interest that for a whole hour after its delivery the gathering sat around in a friendly circle avidly asking questions and discussing aspects connected with the War in the desert.


The monthly programme for the next four months is set out overleaf. The venue, as usual, will be the Board Room, Department of Bantu Administration, 132 Ordnance Road, Durban, commencing at 8 p.m.

May l0th
Mrs. Daphne Strutt, Curator, Local History Museum, wiII talk on "Dick King, his ride, what gave rise to it; and what results it achieved."

June 14th
Maj. Justin Hulme, Chairman, Durban Branch, S.A . Military History Society, will give a talk entitled "A Review of Early South African Military Units".

July 12th
Col. Frank Coulter, SM, DSC, Group Commander, 10 Commando Group, will give a talk on "Raiding Forces and the Levant Schooner Flotilla in comhined operations in the AEgean Sea during the years 1943-45 when 400 allied fighting men kept 400,000 enemy garrison troops at bay".

August 9th
Mr. Gerry Gore, a former Police Officer in Cyprus, will give a talk entitled "Cyprus, Island in Revolt". At present a serving officer in the Commandos, Mr. Gore has also served as an officer in the King's Royal Rifle Corps and in the King's West African Rifles,


Capt. Schmidt, mentioned that what we know as bully beef uas known to the, men of the Afrika Korps as tinned "alter mann" (old man) from the trade initials A.M. which appeared on the labels, and he averred that it tasted exactly like it!

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When Churchill learned that "Communal Feeding Centres" were to be established in wartime Britain he sent a strong protest to the Minister of Food: "It is an odious expression, suggestive of Communism and the workhouse.
I suggest that you call them British Restaurants. Everyone associates the word "restaurants" with a good meal, and they may as well have the name if they cannot have anything else."

T.M. Johnston

South African Military History Society /