South African Military History Society


Lecture by Mr. Gerald Stewart on "The Charge of the Light Brigade".

Those members of the Society who were present at the meeting on Thursday evening, 9th August, 1979, were indeed fortunate in hearing Mr. Gerald Stewart's brilliant address on "The Charge of the Light Brigade" which, as the Chairman said in his welcoming address, was described by Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery as "one of the most famous military disasters of all time".

Although most members are familiar with Tennyson's famous poem on "the gallant six hundred", few are well acquainted with the details of the Crimean War, which was a somewhat complicated affair. Mr Stewart outlined in most lucid fashion the background to the War, the shortcomings of the British military organization at the time, the personalities involved, the incredible blunders of the officers in charge, the terrible hardships suffered by the soldiers and, finally, the magnificent and almost unparalleled gallantry of those involved in the charge.

A full appreciation of the charge requires an understanding of the detailed events which led up to it, and Mr. Stewart provided this most competently by means of his lucid explanations and an extremely finely drawn plan of the battlefield.

The talk was followed by a series of excellent slides prepared by Mr. Stewart of scenes from the battlefield, and of the medals, personalities, uniforms and accoutrements involved. The slides enhanced and illustrated the address most graphically.

After question time Dr. Felix Machanik showed examples of certain of the headdresses worn by the cavalry, medals, and some of the weapons in use at the time.

A vote of thanks on behalf of the Society was proposed by Major Alec Tyrrell.

The above report was written by Mr. Nick Kinsey. Attendance was 34 members and 3 guests despite the lack of notification by means of the usual newsletter.

* * *

KLERKSDORP August 1979 ... "Escape of Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau"

At the request of the Klerksdorp Branch of the Military History Society Major Darrell Hall, accompanied by Maurice Gough-Palmer and Nick Kinsey, proceeded to Klerksdorp on the afternnon of Thursday, 16th August, 1979, for the presentation of Darrell's talk and slide show on the Escape of the Scharnorst and the Gneisenau". Whilst Darrell presented the British commentary on the escape of the battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen from Brest to Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven in February, 1942, Nick did the narrative from the German point of view, and Maurice presented the "neutral" commentary.

The presentation,which was well received and attended by an audience of about 40 people, helped to revive interest on the part of the relatively small number of members of the Klerksdorp Branch to whom greetings were conveyed from the main branch in Johannesburg.

On the way down the party visited the Concentration Camp Cemetery of Vyfhoek at Baillie Park,Potchefstroom, and also the combined Concentration Camp Cemetery and Military Cemetery at Alexander Park (Olën Park) also in Potchefstroom.

The Johannesburg visitors stayed with Dr. & Mrs. Hugo Hallatt in Klerksdorp and are most appreciative of their kind hospitality. (H.W.K.)

* * *


Thursday 13th Sept Col A.D. Celliers - "Reminiscences of being on the staff of General Dan Pienaar".

Thursday 11th October: : Bill Garr - "Gettysburg"
Paul Barker - "Some planes of the Luftwaffe".
Fred Wright - "Episodes in the War in the Desert".

Thursday 8th November:: Mr. Keith Campbell- "Sino-Vietnamese War, Feb 1979,
and An Assessment of China as a Military power".


Thursday 13th Sept :: Col A.J. Barker - "The End of the Mandate: 1948.
Personal recollections of Palestine".


Thursday 20th Sept : : The T.V. documentary film entitled "Black as Hell,Thick as Grass".

Thursday 18th Oct :: Maj. D Mack - "Operation Savannah".
Please diarise the above dates.

* * *


It is with deep regret that we learnt of the murder of The Right Hon. the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G., P.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., G.C.V.O., D.S.O., Admiral of the Fleet. Many members will remember his World War 2 exploits particularly in view of the documentary about his life which is currently being shown on television.

Thats all.... Mike Marsh.

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

South African Military History Society /