South African Military History Society


Past Meeting; Johannesburg. 8th November, 1979

Thirty three members and guests attended the November meeting at which a lecture by Mr. Keith Campbell, a postgraduate student and part-time tutor in the International Relations Dept. at the University of the Witwatersrand, was presented. His subject was "The Sino-Vietnamese War,February 1979,and an assessment of China as a military power", with the emphasis falling on the assessment rather than the war. Starting with the geographical implications of China's proximity to Russia, he traced China's historical dependence on an army of men rather than machines, and the political factors which have figured largely in the post World War II development of this most populous nation, to its present status in the Nuclear Age.

All three arms of the Peoples Liberation Army appear to have a common problem in that their equipment, be it tanks, missiles, aircraft or ships, is outdated and definitely not as sophisticated as that of her most likely attacker, Russia. The political and military reasons for the attack against the Vietnamese earlier this year were sketched and this most informative lecture was illustrated by slides. (J.M.)

* * *

Future Meeting; Johannesburg

Thursday 13th December - Film evening arranged by Mr. P. Barker
The following three films will be shown:-
1)"Cranwell's Squadrons", 50 years of the RAF College.
2)"Make a signal", a film about Naval Communications.
3)"Desert Victory". Made during the war covering the desert campaign from Tobruk to TripolL

Thursday 10th January, 1980, Dr Philip Gon. "The last Frontier War"

* * *

Rescue operation - Fort Kwamoridi and Military Cemetery - Eshowe.

Members will be interested to read that the Durban Branch of the Society earlier this year was shocked and dismayed at the overgrown and neglected condition of the abovenientioned fort and nearby military cemetery. This matter was discussed with Mr G.A. Chadwick,the representative of the National Monuments Council and Chairman of the British Forces Committee of the South African War Graves Board.

On Saturday, l3th May, 1979, members of the Durban Branch of the Society travelled to Eshowe and,accompanied by Mr Chadwick and with the aid of the Boy Scouts, school children and local farmers, cleared the fort area of thorn scrub, hackea and lantana exposing many relics for the first time in very many years.

The South African War Graves Board and the Kwa Zulu Authorities through the good offices of a local inhabitant cleared the military cemetery of all the saplings and shrub. A new fence around the cemetery has been erected and a new gate fitted by the Board which also had all the crosses repainted and new name plates prepared.

Cash donations have enabled the Durban Branch to sponsor the manufacture of a plaque commemorating the names of all soldiers and sailors buried in the cemetery whose graves regrettably can no longer be identified individually.

Saturday 24th November 1979 saw the fulfilment of this operation and the final touches to the restoration of the military cemetery were completed. The staff of the Edgewood College of Education undertook the necessary research and identified the individual graves. The members of the Durban Branch of the Society affixed the name plates to the crosses and repacked the brick surrounds on the graves and to mark the final phase of this magnificent operation, Commandant S Bourquin, the Chairman of the Durban Branch unveiled the plaque bearing the names of those buried in unidentified graves.

The full story of this achievement, however, will be told in the forthcoming issue of the Journal. (M.G.P.)

* * *

"Speed record" of the Me lO9

The editor has received the following letter from Major D.P. Tidy on behalf of the Director of the South African National Museum for Military History clarifying the claim of the speed record of the Me 109.

The statement in the SAMHS Newsletter for November 1979 that ",...the Me 109, of which 33 000 were constructed, held the speed record of 397mph in 1937" is confusing. The error arises from the identification of the record-breaking Me1O9R with the German fighter, the Bf 109 (E,F and G)

Although Willy Messerschmitt joined the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke more than ten years before the war and headed the team that designed the Me 1O9R, the factory's name was not changed to Messerschmitt AG until after the first Bf lO9s and Bf llOs had been produced. Only subsequently were the products of the factory known as Me 163, Me 210, Me 262 and so on.

Martin and Orpen point out in "Eagles Victorious" that the so-called Me 1O9R was a specially designed aircraft that raised the world speed record in 1939,'.... but that the only thing it had in common with the Bf 109 standard fighter was its design team.' The Nazi propagandists gained world acclaim for the standard Bf 109 by confusing the two aircraft (as have many writers since).

* * *



Mike Marsh.

* NOTE* Fast mirror and backup site      BOOKMARK FOR REFERENCE     Main site * NOTE*

South African Military History Society /