South African Military History Society

News-sheet No. 80. DURBAN BRANCH December 1979


Monthly get-together

It should have been fellow-member Ian Copley's privilege to introduce and present a number of short films on the guerilla war in Rhodesia at our December meeting. However, being a member of the Rhodesian Army Medical Corps, Captain (Dr.) Ian Copley had been "called-up" for a spell of duty with the armed forces over the Christmas period. Nevertheless, the films were shown in his absence and evoked great interest and appreciation. Two visitors, one with tears in her eyes, thanked us for the "privilege" to have been able to attend and to see the films. Although the attendance was good, the proximity of Christmas and other "distractions" were presumably the cause for the attendance not being as good as we had hoped; but notwithstanding this fact the silver-collection in aid of the South Africa-Rhodesia Association (SARA) netted the appreciable sum of R29,20 which, when the money was handed over, was rounded off to a neat R30. A warm "Thank you" is again extended to all donors.

The film-show itself consisted of four shorts of which the first, with the title "Doppies" presented an interview with a captured terrorist, a self-confessed killer of eighteen people and gave a good insight into the motivation, mentality and attitude of this type of person. Following this came another film presenting an interview with one of the few survivors of the Viscount disaster. He gave a graphic eye-witness account of how the Rhodesian passenger plane was shot down by terrorists who then rounded up any survivors they could find and massacred them in cold blood. The third film depicted the training of and life with the "Selous Scouts" the crack Rhodesian army unit which must surely rank as one of the most outstanding military units in the world. The last film showed the functions and operations of the Special Air Services (SAS) a unit almost as impressive and successful as the Selous Scouts.

Ian Copley and SARA deserve a warm word of thanks for having made these films available to us.

Another Rescue Day at Fort KwaMondi. Following on earlier efforts arrangements were made for interested persons and organisations to meet at the military cemetery, Eshowe, on Saturday 24 Nov 1979 for the purpose of fixing new name plates to the crosses on those soldier graves which can still be identified and t o unveil a plaque bearing the names of those soldiers whose graves can no longer be individually identified. A gallant band of intrepid "rescuers" from this branch and the Edgewood College gathered on a damp and misty morning under low hanging clouds, at kwaMondi, Eshowe, to take the earlier rescue operation one step further. The gloom was temporarily dispelled by a rather sumptuous morning tea with all sorts of delicious cakes and savouries provided by Miss Estelle Gericke.

No sooner had work commenced than drizzle set in and growing progressively worse turned into such a heavy downpour that it almost became necessary to rescue the rescuers. Full marks must be given to the Mayor and Mayoress of Eshowe, Councillor and Mrs. Louis Stead who braved these conditions to be present when our own Chairman, Cmdt "SB" Bourquin, unveiled the plaque sponsored by this branch. For the record the following additional attendances are recorded: George Chadwick (British Forces Committee of S.A. War Graves board), Arthur Ashby (MOTHS), Dick and Joan Carter (TocH), Estelle Gericke (War Graves Board), Ken Gillings and Jannie and Tania van der Watt (SAMHS), Ingrid Machin, Jeff Mathews, Rhoda Wilkins, Brian Peid, Barry and Susan Crossley (Edgewood), Mrs Hayward (Zululand Museum, Eshowe).

As the weather made it impossible to lunch in the open, Estelle Gerieke threw open her home and the picnic lunch which followed left nothing to be desired as far as comfort, good spirits and good fellowship were concerned.


In order to resume our military history outings, in so far as petrol price and restrictions make this possible, it is proposed to visit Spionkop over the weekend 26/27 January 1980. This will be the weekend following the 80th Anniversary of that famous battle (23 January 1900). In broad outline the intentions are as follows:

Saturday 26 Jan 1980. Assemble on the summit of Spionkop at llh00. Inspection of various features of the summit, graves, and monuments. A picnic lunch and a series of talks will fill in the time up to about 15h00. After 15h00 there will be three alternatives: (a) return home, (b) proceed to such accommodaton, hotels or otherwise, as participants will have arranged for themselves, say, at Ladysmith, Winterton or the Spionkop Holiday Resort run by the Natal Parks Board, (c) prepare to camp on the summit of Spionkop (permission to do so has been obtained).

Sunday 27 Jan 1980 at 09h30 assemble at Potgieter's Drift Bridge (Bridge over Tugela on Ladysmith-Winterton Road). Inspections of and talks on the British positions along the Tugela, Mount Alice and Spearman's. Picnic lunch at the Spionkop holiday resort, and return home in the afternoon.

Further final details will be contained in the January news-sheet, but persons who seek information in regard to camping out on the night 26/27 January on Spionkop may obtain details from "SB" Bourquin (Durban 851607) or Ken Gillings (Durban 854027 (Home) 316785 (Work)).


Christmas 1979 is already something of the past and it is hoped that it has been to all members a happy and joyful occasion; but the new year 1980 still lies ahead. Our wish is that it may bring peace and prosperity, goodwill and happiness to all of us.

Programme of Monthly Meetings:
JANUARY 10THFellow-member Ken Gillings will show an hour-long BBC TV film on the funeral of Lord Louis Mountbatten. (At this meeting a collection, in aid of the Gunners' Association, will be taken).
February 14thOur Chairman, Cmdt "SB" Bourquin will give two short talks entitled "Freedom Fighters: (i) William Tell, (ii) Andreas Hofer."
March 13thFellow-member Jeff Mathews will present a talk on General Lord Chelmsford.

The venue for all meetings will be the Lecture Room, "SB" Bourquin Building on the corner of Jan Smuts Highway and Buro Crescent, Mayville, on the second Thursday of each month, commencing at 8 p.m. Glasses and ice will be supplied so please bring your own refreshments.

A hearty welcome is extended to new members Mr and Mrs Collyer, Messrs. M.A.R. Wesson, Jeff Mathews, Barry Crossley and Martin Donaldson.

(Mrs) Tania van der Watt,
Secretary, Durban Branch, SAMHS.
Box 870 Hillcrest 3650.
Tel. 742970

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