South African Military 
History Society


News Sheet No. 5.
March 1973


The monthly get-together, attended by 31 persons, took place on Thursday, 15th March. SB Bourquin introduced his talk for the evening by saying that the Cato Manor Riots of 1959 could be regarded as military history because of the State of Emergency which followed them and the involvement of considerable military forces in assisting the South African Police in the restoration of law and order. With the aid of colour slides he outlined briefly the conditions which existed in the Cato Manor slum area at the time, and the political agitation, which, fanned by the A.N.C. and its brother organisations the P.A.C. and the Poqo, erupted into violence.

The actual riots led to a state of civil disobedience and opposition to authority for a period of nearly nine months which found its culmination in the murder of nine policemen and the declaration of a State of Emergency. The armed forces had an important function to fulfill in the internal security sphere.

As Director of Bantu Administration in Durban, Cmdt. Bourquin was personally involved in the unrest of this period. His factual account, supported by excellent slides, was extremely well received and left no doubt in the minds of the audience as to what might have happened if the police and armed forces had not been ready to deal with a situation such as this, and that unless properly handled, such a situation could arise again.


(a) Sunday Morning Outing - 1st April - Localities connected with Dick King.

Members are reminded of the outing arranged on the abovementioned date, details of which appear in the February News Sheet. The rendezvous is at 9 a. m. in the south-western corner of the parking-area in front of the Louis Botha Airport buildings.

For ease of reference the monthly programmne of the Durban Branch for the next five months is repeated hereunder.

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'Socioty, 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 combined 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.


Ever wonder why men's suits have rows of useless buttons on the sleeves?

They're there for a very good reason and were inspired by the brass goodies on military uniforms. The question is how did the buttons find their way on to military sleeves?

According to Mr. R. Brasch in his book "How Did It Begin?" a king (not named) ordered his men to sew on the buttons. The king had apparentlyˇ noticed that the soldiers on palace guard duty had fallen into the despicable habit of wiping their noses on their jacket sleeves. So he ordered cuff buttons and put a stop to the habit.

It is doubtful that the buttons still serve the same purpose on men's suits. They have probably been retained for their incidental advantage of sparing the cuffs from a certain amount of wear, and, of course, for style.

T.M. Johnston

South African Military History Society /