South African Military History Society


Past meeting: Johannesburg

Despite the freezing weather and the replay of the F.A. Cup Final, an almost capacity crowd of 85 members and guests attended Mr. Peter Tunstall's second lecture to the Society on the 14th May. Mr Tunstall's lecture was entitled "Colditz" and dealt with his and other's experiences in this special P.O.W. camp kept for troublemakers and where the guards outnumbered the prisoners. Mr Tunstall was well qualified to talk on this subject as he had spent 3 1/2 years in the castle of which 415 days were in solitary confinement with a further 9 months of solitary being cancelled due to the end of the war.

Mr Tunstall gave verbal sketches of the life of a P.0.W. in this camp with the 5 "appels" (roll-calls) a day, the stench of overcooked cabbage and of garlic, the lack of any sunlight, the escapes of the Hollanders from the centre of the park under the very eyes of the Germans (the 70 Hollander officers were such good escapees that the Germans sent them away from Colditz), the bribery and blackmailing of the guards to get the necessary items to make escape "gear", the bars on the windows that were deleted from all photographs as bars on the windows was a contravention of the Geneva Convention, and the pirate distilleries which used dried fruit or jam as their basic ingredient.

Mr Tunstall also spoke about some of the famous people imprisoned there and of some of the couragous escapes made by various P.0.W.s, as well as the elaborate attempts at tunnelling out of the castle (One tunnel started from higher than the 3rd Floor of the castle).

During l980, a reunion of former inmates of Colditz was held at the Imperial War Museum and it was interesting to hear what had happened to some of these people and how they had readjusted to their freedom. Today Colditz is an Old Folks Home, in East Germany.

Mr Fred Wright thanked Mr Tunstall for a most enjoyable lecture on behalf of the Society.

* * *

Future meetings: Johannesburg

11th June - 20h00 - Mrs Janice Farquharson - "Front-Line Experiences of Poets on the Western Front, l914/1918".

Mrs Janice Farquharson is currently engaged in completing a doctorate on this subject. She has toured the battlefields of Western Europe together with Rose Coombes of the Imperial War' Museum, a renowned expert of the First World War. Mrs Farquharson will not be dealing with the poetry of these poets, but will concentrate more on their personalities and their actual experiences on the Front-Line during World War 1.

9th July - 20h00 - Mr Peter Fox - "Airborne Lifeline - Role of the Royal Air Force over Burma 1942/1945"

* * *


At the May meeting Col Duxbury made an appeal to members to submit articles of a high standard to the Journal Editorial Committee for consideration for publication.

* * *

That's all ... Mike Marsh

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

South African Military History Society /