South African Military History Society

News-sheet No. 78. DURBAN BRANCH October 1979


White soldiers, assisted by Black levies, fighting Blacks in Zululand a hundred years ago - that was the theme at our September meeting. Black soldiers, assisted by White troops, fighting other Blacks just a few short years ago - that was the war in Angola; and the part these White troops played in "Operation Savannah" was the theme for our October get-together. Major P. Mack, a S.A.D.F. officer, spoke of his personal experience and observations, as a member of the South African task-force which became involved in operational activities, in support of Unita, against the N.P.L.A. and its Cuban mercenaries.

In a clear and straightforward way, enlivened by an occasional touch of humour, Major Mack imparted a new dimension to events which by now have become public knowledge. At the same time, without violating the code governing classified information, he enabled his audience to take a peep behind the scenes and to find answers to many questions which had been obscure and open to speculation.

Members of the audience were grateful for having had an opportunity to obtain first-hand information on this campaign which in the past had been surrounded by so many question marks. While it is not possible to reproduce such information in writing, since much of it is still treated as "classified" material, it is possible to note with pride and confidence the way in which South African soldiers acquitted themselves in a most difficult task, to note their courage and discipline, their battle-readiness and leadership, their coolness and élan.

John Yelland proposed a vote of thanks and gave expression to the sincere appreciation of the members present.

At this get-together we were happy to have in our midst, Durban Branch foundation member, Robin Crossley, who had motored all the way from Pietermaritzburg to attend, and to welcome a visitor from the U.K. , Mr. Richard Murray of the Hon. Artillery Company of London, who honoured this branch by spending his FIRST EVENING IN SOUTH AFRICA with us.


Congratulations on behalf of the members of this Branch are extended to our Chairman, Cmdt 'SB' Bourquin, who recently received the Good Service Medal in gold, for 30 years service in the South African Defence Force.


The History of the Second World War by Sir Winston Churchill. Six volumes + pp 4 000 (hard covers). Telephone Fellow-member Victor Conrad 846071 (Home) R30,00 o.n.o.


A hearty welcome is extended to new member Dr. B.K. Dougherty.


NOVEMBER 8THLt Col N.S.E. Martin will give a talk on "THE HISTORY OF NATO".
December 13thFellow-member Dr. Ian Copley will show some films on the war in Rhodesia (on behalf of the South Africa/Rhodesia Association). At this meeting a collection, in aid of SARA, will be taken.


A plaque, donated by members of this branch of the S.A. Military History Society, which names the men buried in graves which can no longer be individually identified, will be unveiled at the Eshowe Military Cemetery on Saturday, 24th November 1979. As many members as can make the trip are asked to be in attendance.

Members of this Branch are also invited on this occasion, and in collaboration with members of the Edgewood Teachers' Training College, to assist in fixing name plates to individual graves and to demarcate such graves with lines of bricks which will ha available on site.

Participants are requested to provide their own refreshments and picnic lunches.

The rendezvous will be at the cemetery at 10 a.m. Eshowe is a comfortable 2 hours drive from Durban.

(Mrs) Tania van der Watt,
Secretary, Durban Branch,
S.A. Military History Society.

Please note change of address:
Box 870, HILLCREST, 3650.
Telephone 742970 (Home)

The venue for all meetings will be the Lecture Room, 'SB' Bourquin Building (Port Natal Administration Board's Head Office) on the corner of Jan Smuts Highway and Buro Crescent, Mayville, on the second Thursday of each month, UNLESS OTHERWISE ANNOUNCED, commencing at 8 p.m. Glasses and ice will be supplied so please bring your own canned or bottled refreshments. Friends and interested persons are welcome to come along.

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