South African Military History Society

News-sheet No. 88. DURBAN BRANCH October l980


Knowledge about the British South Africa Police, whose name was, and possibly still is almost a household word in many South African circles, seems to have become dimmed with the passage of time. Captain A.A. Winter, guest-speaker at our October get-together, did much to refresh the memories of our members and to touch up the lustre attaching to this famous unit when he addressed the meeting on "The B.S.A.P.". Having been born in Ceylon (now Shri Lanka) Capt Winter spent the war years in England, then joined the B.S.A.P. in 1949 and served in this force until 1979, only a few months short of thirty years. He is now an officer in the SADF.

Under its charter, granted in 1889, the British South Africa Company had authority to establish its own police force, which absorbed large numbers of the Bechuanaland Border Police, formed in 1885, soon after the occupation of that country. Units of the B.S.A.P. accompanied the Pioneer Column in 1890, and began work immediately after the founding of Fort Salisbury. They did gallant service, not only in normal duties but in the Matabele war, the Mashona Rebellion and in the Boer War, when 300 men took part. During WWII the B.S.A.P. gained additional fame in association with the Northern Rhodesian Police. This tradition was maintained in WWII.

Captain Winter gave an interesting insight into the life of troopers in the force which, in nature, was virtually a Mounted Infantry Regiment doing police duties. Their training, duties, daily life, both tough and pleasant, and an indication how the escalation of the terrorist war, over the years, changed the routine of the B.S.A.P. and its relationship with the public; all came in for some absorbing comment, emphasized here and there by photographs passed from hand to hand, and by humorous anecdotes. Thus, for instance, at one station the "jail" was so hot that two trees in the open nearby were "designated" as part of the jail and prisoners were free to move between the building and the shade-trees. On one occasion a prisoner did run away. The others were so incensed at this breach in trust that they asked to be given a few days leave in order to pursue and catch the culprit. Captain Winter also brought along a record made by the B.S.A.P. Band (+- 30 black musicians) and played for us the B.S.A.P.s famous regimental march for mounted infantry, "Kum-a-Kye".

Capt Winter was accompanied by a fellow officer, Capt Geoff Watson (formerly Selous Scouts), who spoke briefly, supplementing some of the comments on the terrorist war. From a beautifully polished cabinet ho also displayed a magnificent set - in miniature - of all Rhodesian decorations, awards and medals: Army, Airforce, Police and Prison Services, and explained the more interesting features of some of them, such as the Rhodesian equivalent of the "VC", a decoration for valour of which only two awards were ever made.

Major Ian Copley, who from time to time had served in Rhodesia in a voluntary medical capacity thanked both Captains, on behalf of the audience, for their interesting contribution.


We extend heartiest congratulations to fellow-members LYNN and HARRY BOURQUIN on the birth of their son RYAN, on 21st October.


Attention is drawn to the centenary of the First Anglo-Boer War and the battle of Majuba which will be commemorated over the period 27 February - 1 March 1981. As details were contained in the last news-sheet they are not repeated here. Will interested persons please make their own accommodation arrangements in good time.

Members are also advised, although this still a long time off, that the Society's Johannesburg Branch intends visiting Durban from Friday 29 May to Monday 1 June, 1981, in order to participate in the Republic Festival celebrations. At this stage it has been suggested that as many members as possible from the Durban Branch should join our follow-memhers from "up-country" at an informal sundowner party at the Umhlanga Sands Hotel on the Friday evening, and that we should participate in a historical sight-seeing trip on the Saturday. Further details will be made known in a news-letter early next year.


Programme of Monthly Meetings
NOVEMBER 13thFellow-member, Victor Conrad, will present a talk entitled "Massacre in Katyn Forest".
December 11thDr. Angus Allen will give a talk on "The Jacobite War in Ireland, 1689-1691 - Bantry Bay to the Boyne"

The venue will be the Lecture Room, 'SB' Bourquin Building, (the Port Natal Administration Board's head office) on the corner of Jan Smuts Highway and Buro Crescent, Mayville, commencing at 8 p.m. Glasses and ice will be supplied so please bring your own bottled or canned refreshments. Friends and interested persons are welcome to come along.

(Mrs) Tania van der Watt,
Secretary, Durban Branch,
S.A. Military History Society,
Box 870, HILLCREST 3650
Tel 742970< (HOME)p>

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