News Sheet No. 4.
(a) Over the weekend 3rd and 4th February, 1973, the S.A. Military History Society arranged. tour of the 1880/1881 Boer War battlefields under the leadership of Col. George Duxbury. Natal members of the Society and their families, 23 persons in all, attended and enjoyed a most memorable outing.
After having attended an opening function arranged by the Newcastle Historical Society on the previous evening, tour members met on the morning of Saturday the 3rd February at Fort Amiel to inspect the remains of the fort which overlooks the Incandu River and once guarded the waggon road to the north. It is understood that the Newcastle Historical Society intends restoring the fort, as far as possible, and using it as a local history museum.
The tour party then, after calling in and looking over the giant Iscor development site, proceeded to Mount Prospect Cemetery below Inkwelo Mountain. This cemetery stands on ground near where General Sir George Pomery Colley had his camp in 1880 and it is here that he and many of his men who were killed on Majuba, and in other battles in this vicinity, lie buried.
The next stop was made at Laingsnek to inspect the Boer defensive positions and the British line of attack which is marked by some graves and culminates at a point marked by a monument erected in memory of officers and men of the 58th Regiment who fell in action in the battle on 28th January, 1881.
After lunch at the Valley Inn, during which a violent thunderstorm provided some diversion, the battlefield at Ingogo (Schuinshoogte) and the monuments and graves thereon, were visited under somewhat damp conditions, but neither rain nor mud succeeded in dampening the interest awakened by Col. Duxburyls clear and precise outline of the events which took place here on 8th February, 1881.
In the evening, and notwithstanding the wet conditions which prevailed, the party were entertained to a lavish braai at the Valley Inn with the Newcastle Historical Society as its host. The evening was concluded by some interesting slide talks.
Sunday the 4th February dawned under grey skies. In convoy the party proceeded to the foot of Majuba and aided by the cool conditions reached the summit without undue exertion. Huddled together against the chill wind the members listened intently to Col. George Duxbury's exposition on the occupation of, and attack on, Majuba on 26th/27th February 1881, before the members scattered to explore the terrain in detail.
Impending rain hurried the party back to the parking area at the foot of the mountain and unfortunately prevented any sociable gathering at a communal luncheon.
The Natal members greatly appreciated the arrangements made by the Society's head office in organizing this tour, and also the hospitality of the Newcastle Society, and felt somewhat sorry for those members who missed this opportunity.
(b) Monthly Get-together.
The monthly branch meeting, which was attended by 26 persons, took place on Thursday, 22nd February. It was addressed by Mr. John "Doc" Turner on his experiences as a member of 5 Commando in the Congo. His factual description, presented in a realistic yet unassuming manaer, recalled some of the events of the turbulent and vicious war which raged in the Congo in the mid-sixties. His colour slides were interesting and revealed, to the surprise of many, the natural beauty of the Congo. In stark contrast to this stood the slides indicating the more gruesome aspects of man's activity in wIar. An album of photographs kindly lent to us by Mr. Turner is available for viewing by interested persons in the Executive Reception Office, Department of Bantu Administration.
The evening was concluded by a brief slide talk given by Ken Gillings on the "Defence of Mafeking".
(a) Sunday Morning Outing: 1st April, 1973.
It has, unfortunately, not been possible to fix any dates, as yet, for the proposed weekend tour to Ladysmth. Members are, however, invited to participate in a Sunday morning outing on the 1st April to visit localities connected with Dick King in anticipation of the talk to be given by Mrs. Daphne Strutt on 10th May.
RENDEZVOUS: 9 a.m. in the south-western corner of the parking area in front of the Louis Botha Airport buildings. From there it is proposed to visit Dick King's house and grave at Isipingo, the monument commemorating the battle of Congella in Maydon Road, the Dick King monument on the Victoria Embankment, Dick King Street, and the Old Fort. No detailed commentary will be given as this will be reserved for Mrs. Strutt, but members are invited to use this opportunity to acquaint themselves with the localities mentioned and to take what photographs they wish. They will be given an opportunity to share their slides, even odd ones, at the conclusion of Mrs. Strutt's talk on 10th May.
It is expected that the tour will terminate at the Old Fort at approx. 12.30 p.m. whereafter members may make their own arrangements in respect of lunch.
Attention is also drawn to the fact that many articles connected with Dick King are exhibited in the Local History Museum, Aliwal Street, which apart from weekday visiting hours, is also open on Sunday afternoons from 2 - 5 p.m.
(b) Monthly Programme.
For ease of reference the monthly programme of the Durban Branch for the noxt four months is repeated here-under. The venue, as usual will be the Board Room, Department of Bantu Administration, 132 Ordnance Read, Durban, commencing at 8 p.m. Glasses and ice will be supplied, but please bring your own bottled or canned refreshments. (There is a machine which dispenses Coca-cola and Fanta (10c per can) on the verandah on the left side of the main Bantu Administration building.)
March 15th (Please note that this is the third Thursday in March). Commandant "SB" Bourquin will give a talk, illustrated with colour slides, on "The Cato Manor Riots of' 1959"
April 12th Mr H.W. Schmidt, author of "With Rommel in the Desert", will talk on his experiences as a former Captain in the Afrika Korps and one-time A.D.C. to Field Marshal Rommel.
May 10th Mrs. Daphne Strutt, Curator, Local History Museum, will 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 entitIed "A Review of Early South African Military Units".
If members know of persons who are willing and able to talk on any subjoct of interest to this branch they are invited to submit their suggestions to the undersigned or any member of the Programma Committee ("SB" Bourquin, Ken Gillings and Midge Carter).
WHERE HAVE ALL THE BLOOMERS GONE?
The sun has set on the British Army's Bombay bloomers. They've bitten the dust. No longer will they flap in the summer breeze.
The gear which helped the Desert Rats win the Battle of El Alamein has been dropped from the British military wardrobe.
"The young man of today prefers long trousers", said a senior officer. "Many units have already abandoned shorts and the rest will follow suit."
So far, though, the Royal Navy and the R.A.F. are resisting the change. Both services are fighting to retain shorts for summer wear in tho tropics.
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