South African Military History Society

September 1981 NEWSLETTER

Past meeting - Johannesburg - 13th Aug 1981

Metro-Goldwyn-Hall productions will he well known to all patrons of previous lecture/slide shows presented by Maj. Darrell Hall and "At the Call of King and Country" proved to be a real blockbuster. In tracing the events which led to the death of his uncle, 2nd Lt Hugh Wilfred Hall, at the second battle of Bullecourt on 15th May l915, Darrell made use of twin slide projectors, the invaluable tape recorder (also stereo?) and two assistants.

Starting his research last year, he enlarged photographs which had been Wilfred Hall's, and examined each in detail. A signature on one of the prints prompted his writing to all the "Aarons" listed in the Johannesburg telephone directory, which eventually led him to a Mr de Pinna, still resident in England and very happy, at age 88, to reminisce about his friend Wilfred Hall and their wartime experiences. Tape recordings of conversations between Darrell and Mr de Pinna formed an interesting part of the lecture, particularly for a grandson of the latter who was present in the audience. Research in libraries and archives was complemented by tours of the battlefield and cemeteries as they are in 1981.

The first battle of Bullecourt led to the British occupying a portion of the Hindenburg Line, while the second was the (unsuccessful) attempt of the Germans to regain this "English Nest".

Peter Fox gave a brief out line of the war time experiences of the German Lehr division which was the immediate enemy on that fateful day, while Ian Fletcher gave a neutral commentary.

Wilfred Hall has no known grave, and his name is among the 35 942 inscribed on the memorial at Arras. A German officer killed on the same day, possibly only a few hundred metres away, led Darrell to the relevant Lehr division, and the story of the research (which is still ongoing) could almost form a self contained lecture.

Major Hall's personal quest in search of his uncle's last resting place allowed nearly 100 members and guests to journey back to the horror and camaraderie of the Western Front and an impromptu thank-you from Mr Joe Horner conveyed much of the emotion felt at the end of the lecture.

Maurice Gough-Palmer was upstaged in his formal vote of thanks by another of Darrell's slides, proclaiming "Another Metro-Goldwyn Hall Success"
Need we say more ..... (JM.)

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Future Meetings - Johannesburg

Thurs 3rd Sept - 20h00 - Prof J.C. de Villiers - "Medical services during the Anglo-Boer War: 1899-1902".

This talk will deal with aspects of medical organisation on both the British and Boer sides and the practical problems to be overcome.
Prof. de Villiers will illustrate his talk with slides.

Thurs 8th Oct - 20H00 - Dr. F. Machanik - "Fortifications"

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Future Meetings: Durban - (Contact Tania van der Watt 031-74-2970)

Thurs 10th Sept - 2OH00 - Cmdt J. Hulme "D for Deserters"
Thurs 8th Oct - 20H00 - Maj D.D. Hall "At the Call of King and Country"

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Future Meetings: Cape Town - (Contact P Lange 021-617441)

Thur 10th Sept - 20H15 - Major Fritz Reitz - "A Somehow Soldier"

Major Reitz (in WW2) was one of South Africa's last cavalrymen, and general staff officer (intelligence) to General Manie Botha when the First Mounted Commando Division was formed in 1940. His duties brought him into touch with many unusual individuals including the legendary Major Pretorius, locator of the German cruiser, the "Koningsberg" up the Rufiji River in Kenya in WWl. After subsequent postings Major Reitz was seconded to the British Army in 1943 and joined AMGOT (Allied Military Govt. of Occupied Territories) with whom he saw service in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He was the first Allied Military Governor in Occupied Germany. (P.L.) Thur 8th Oct - 20H15 - Annual General Meeting, followed by film show

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Braai - 30th October, 1981

Your Executive Committee wishes to arrange a hraai on Friday evening, 30th October, 1981 at 7p.m. in the War Museum grounds, but it will be necessary to ascertain how many members and their friends will attend. Accordingly, you are requested to signify on the appended tear-off slip if you wish to attend and the number of guests in your party and to return this as soon as possible together with your cheque to the Secretary/Treasurer, so that it will be possible to gauge reaction and announce in the October newsletter whether there has been sufficient response to warrant the arranging of the braai. (In the event of the braai not being held, all cheques will be returned). The cost will be R6-00 per head, and all members and their friends are invited. Meat, rolls, beer, wine and soft drinks will be provided, and the event will be a social get-together for a very pleasant evening.

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Tour to Heidelberg - 15th November 1981

Whatever of military historical interest happened in Heidelberg???? If you too would like to find out, join us on a one day tour on Sunday 15th November at which Mr Ian Uys will be our guide. Members will be required to provide their own transport, lunch and liquid refreshment and will meet in Heidelberg. Details of the meeting place will, follow in a later newsletter, but diarise it now!!!

That's all .... Mike Marsh (H648-1657)

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BRAAI - 30th October, 1981

Hon Secretary/Treasurer,


P.O..BOX 52090,Saxonwold,Johannesburg,2132

NAME: Please PRINT your surname, followed by initials, etc.


Address .....................................................


Persons attending at R6-00 each= R ........... (cheque enclosed)

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