South African Military History Society

December 1980 NEWSLETTER

Past meeting: Johannesburg

Continuing its successful run on the local circuit, Metro Goldwyn Hall's latest production "Long Tom" entertained 56 members and guests on the 13th November.

Mr. Charles Cohen assisted Major Darrell Hall to explode several myths which surround the 4 famous Creusot guns of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

President Paul Kruger's Republic bought the 4 guns in 1896/7 together with 4 000 common shells, 4 000 shrapnel shells and 800 case shot ostensibly for use in the forts defending Pretoria although they were in practice "Siege guns". The 155 mm Creusot guns weighed 11 000 kg together with their carriage and firing platform, and could fire a 43kg shell 9 800 meters. Their major drawback however was the reliability of the ammunition.

Maj. Hall and Mr. Cohen traced the engagements of each of the guns up to their eventual destruction. (Currently the exact movements of only one of the guns can be followed throughout the war, while the other three's movements become entwined at Bergendal). Three of the Long Toms were deployed at one stage at Ladysmith during the siege, but the British managed to storm one of the positions and damage a gun. This was later repaired at the Railway Workshops in Johannesburg by the Boers and used at Kimberley until the relieving force arrived. Another Long Tom was used at Mafeking. All the Long Toms were finally deployed together at Bergendal.

During the retreat from Lydenberg, one of the guns would have been captured except for the quick thinking of two Irishmen serving with the Boers, who managed to fetch and fire one round of case shot and disperse the pursuing British cavalry. The guns now ceased to play a major role in the war and were destroyed by the Boers one by one. One was destroyed at Komatipoort, one at the Groot Letaba River in the Haenertsburg area, one at Rietfontein near Lydenberg (this was the one that had been damaged at Gun Hill) and the last at Bergplaats near Pietersburg.

Exactly where the last gun was destroyed is uncertain, but a member of the audience informed Maj. Hall that as a child he had piaed with a piece of this gun. This piece eventually had been given to a school museum, but they had unfortunately lost it.

Cmdt. Deon Fourie thanked the speakers on the Society's behalf.

* * *

Future meetings: Johannesburg

11th December - 20h00 - Film evening - "Patton"
This is a full length feature film starring George C.Scott. It runs for approximately 3 hours so the film is scheduled to start promptly at 20H00. Please be punctual.

15th January - 20h00 - Col C Duxbury - "Bronkhorstspruit"
(This lecture will also act as a briefing for the mini-tour to be held on the 25th Jan. Please note the revised date for this lecture).

11th December - 20h00 - Dr Angus Allen - "The Jacobite War in Ireland, 1689-1691: Bantry Bay to the Boyne".

(Contact Tania v.d. Watt for details at Dbn 742970)

* * *

Tour to Bronkhorstspruit: Sunday 25th January,1981

The Museum is arranging a one day tour to Bronkhorstspruit on the Sunday 25th January, 1981. The Museum is going to hire one bus only and those travelling on this bus will be required to pay a small charge towards the hire costs. Everybody who would like to go on this mini-tour is asked to contact the Museum as soon as possible to reserve a seat and get further details. Bus seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. The Museum's phone number is 41-5513.

* * *

Tour to Majuba 26th Feb. - lst March.

There are still some seats available on the buses for the tour to the Centenary celebrations of the First Transvaal War of Independence at Majuba from 26th Feb. to lst March,1981. The War Museum reports that some of the tour-regulars have not yet booked, and advise them to do so quickly before the buses are full. Further details and application forms can be obtained from the Museum.

* * *

Tour to Durban area.

A tour is being planned to the Durban area to tour battlefields, socialise with the Durban branch members and attend the Republic Day celebrations at the end of May 1981. More details in later newsletters.

* * *

Subscriptions for 1981.

The Executive Committee has reluctantly agreed to increase the membership fees for the Society from 1981. This has become unavoidable due to the increase costs of the Journal, printing and postage. Those members who wish to take out life membership may still do so however at the old rate of R50-00 provided payment is made to the Treasurer (Mr. M Gough-Palmer 616-1531(H)) before 31st December, 1980.

The new rates are:-
Single membership R7,50 (was R5-00)
Family membership R10.00 (was R7-50)
Life membership R75,00 (was R50-00)

* * *


Apologies are extended to those members who received their newsletter after the date of the last meeting. We are trying to find out when it is best to schedule the printing of the newsletter. Please diarise the meeting for the following month when receiving your copy of the newsletter.

Anyone with any item of interest which might be suitable for publication in this newsletter can contact me at Jhbg 648-1150(W), 648-1657(H), Compliments of the Season to you all,

Mike Marsh,

P.S. There might or might not be a newsletter at the beginning of January, so please make a note of the date of the January events.

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

South African Military History Society /