South African Military 
History Society


News Sheet No. 8.
June 1973


At the normal monthly meeting held on 14th June, Maj. Justin Hulme, JCD, addressed 21 members on "Review of Early South African Military Units". In masterly fashion he succeeded in presenting a subject of vast dimension in brief and clear yet entertaining terms. He pointed out that the late Maj. Tylden had listed 628 separate units for the period between van Riebeeck's arrival and 1960. Since then another 200 had been disovered and the speaker himself had added some 70 or 80 names to the list. Maj. Hulme traced the development of volunteer units from the Free Burghers, modelled on the Town Guards of the Netherlands, to the first Commando Burgher Militia and the specific South African type of unit established after 1806. At that time many of these early units had a high percentage of Hottentots and Coloureds in their ranks.

During the Kaffir Wars many volunteer units were formed. These levies were paid 6d. per day plus rations. The largest number of units doveloped in South African military history were found in the Cape and Natal, amongst which the Natal Carbineers, D.L.I., N.M.R., Cape Royal Rifles and Cape Volunteer Artillery (now the Cape Field Artillery) have survived to this day. In the Orange Free State and Transvaal commando units provided the only type of military organisation, the Oranje Vrystaatse Staatsartillerie being a notable exception. Worthy to be recorded also is the fact that in 1914 the South African Aviation Corps was formed thereby making the South African Air Force the second oldest air force in the world (the R.A.F. taking precedence by 6 months).

In more humourous vein Maj. Hulme referred to some of the popular names by which some of the units became known, such as "The Stinking Fifties" (after the evil smelling dye in their corduroy uniforms), "The Forty Thieves", "The Jacaranda Jocks" and "The Pigs After Grub" - and others which, to the disappointment of the ladies present, he would not disclose.

The applause Justin got was an indication of how well his talk was received.


Col. Frank Coulter, SM, DSG, rose at the meeting to announce that. the State President had honoured one of the Society's Durban Branch members, Cmdt. SB Bourquin, DWD, by awarding him the Danie Theron Medal in recognition of exceptionally diligent and outstanding military service, and congratulated him on behalf of fellow members on attainlng this distinction.


(a) Proposed Weekend 0uting to the Ladysmith Battlefields - 23rd/24th June 1973.

Members wishing to participate should waste no time in reserving accommodation at Ladysmith for the night of the 23rd. The majority of members are expected to be putting-up at the Royal Hotel, 128 Murchison St. (Box 12), Tel. 65. Other hotels are: The Crown, 90 Murchison St. Tel 85, and Andrews Motel, Tel. 576

The provisional programme is as follows:

Rendezvous: All Saints' Church, Murchison Street, Ladysmith, on Saturday, 23rd June at 10.30 a.m.

From there the group will proceed via Gen. Sir George White's former headquarters to the toposcope on Convent Hill and thence to the Ladysmith Military Cemetery which may be regarded as a second rendezvous for the latecomers. The itinerary for the rest of the day will be announced then.

Members are invited to join in a buffet supper at approx. R1,50 per head at "The Buttery", Royal Hotel, at 7 p.m. which has been arranged in conjunction with the Ladysmith Historical Society. This will be followed by one of Maj. Darrell Hall's notable slide talks.

The rendezvous on Sunday will be in front of the Royal Hotel at 8.30 a.m. and the detailed itinerary for Sunday will be announced in Ladysmith but will include, inter alia, a tour, conducted by a member of the Ladysmith Historical Society, to Wagon Hill, Wagon Point, Caesar's Camp, Gun Hill and possibly Nicholson's Nek.

Departure time for home should be around 3 p.m. on Sunday.

(b) Monthly Programme

July 12th
Col. Frank Coulter, SM, DSC, Group Commander, 10 Commando Group, will give a talk on "RaidingForces and the Levant Schooner Flotilla in combined operations in the AEgean Sea during the yoars 1943ии45 where 400 aliled fighting men kept 400,000 enemy garrison troops at bay".

August 16th
Mr. Gerry Gore, a former Police Officer in Cyprus, will give a talk entitIed "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. (Please note that this is not the second Thursday in the month).

September 13th
Dr. Ian Copley will give a talk, accompanied by some slides, on "Robin Hood".

The venue as usual, will be the Board Room, Department of Bantu Administration, 132 Ordnance Road, Durban, commencing at 8 p.m. Glasses and ice will be supplied but please bring your own bottled or canned refreshments.


Tania Johnston.

South African Military History Society /