South African Military 
History Society


News Sheet No. 3.
January 1973


Although we are by now, well into 1973 it is hoped that all members had an enjoyable Christmas and we wish them a happy and prosperous new year, expressing at the same time the hope that the activities of this branch received due consideration in any new year resolutions members may have made.


The normal monthly get-togethers were resumed on Thursday the 11th January 1973. Mr. Alton Dighton, en ex Lancaster bomber pilot, gave an extremely interesting lecture on "Pathfinder Squadrons of the R.A.F." to an audience of 26 persons. Mr. Dighton must be given full marks for the exemplary manner in which he had prepared his talk and the delightful style of his presentation. He succeeded in making even technical aspects readily understandable to "earthbound" minds and enlivened his talk with touches of whimsical humour. His talk brought about a fresh awareness of the magnificent role the R.A.F. played during the last war outlining the events from initial mistakes and failures to ultimate success and glory.


Members are reminded of the tour to the 1881 battlefields in the Newcastle area over the weekend 2 - 4 February arranged by the Society's head office under the leadership of Col. Duxbury. The Durban contingent already consists of some 8 or 9 members and it is presumably not too late yet for others to make up their minds to go along.

For ease of reference the monthly programme of the Durban Branch for the next four months is repeated hereunder. The venue, as usual, will be the Board Room, Department of Bantu Administration, 132 Ordnance Road, Durban, commencing at 8 p.m.


February 22nd (Please note that this is the last Thursday in February).
Mr. John "Doc" Turner who was the medical officer of No. 5 Commando in the Congo will give a talk, illustrated with colour slides, on "Warfare in the Congo".

March 15th
Commandant S. 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".

If members know of persons who are willing and able to talk on any subject of interest to this branch they are invited to submit their suggestions to the undersigned or any member of the Programme Committee (SB, Ken and Midge).


A weekend tour to Ladysmith and the surrounding area has been proposed and, if sufficient members are interested, this should take place over the weekend 31st March/1st April 1973. This proposal will be discussed at the February meeting when you will be asked to indicate whether you intend joining this tour so that the Programme Committee may arrange an itinerary which will be dispatched with the February news sheet.


In his talk Mr. Alton Dighton related some almost unbelievable incidents arising from the air battles of World War II. The tail gunner of a Whitley bomber, after an extremely rough and hair-raising landing, stormed through the fuselage to the cockpit to vent his feelings on the pilot when to his horror he discovered that he was the only living soul on board! Homeward bound the bomber had been shot-up by enemy flak and had become uncontrollable. The pilot's instruction to his crew to bale out was not received by the tail gunner whose intercom had been severed by the flak. The plane landed itself in an open field.

T.M. Johnston

South African Military History Society /