South African Military History Society

News-sheet No. 95. DURBAN BRANCH June 1981.


By way of a change there was no speaker at the June get-together of this Branch; but a star-studded film "BATTLE OF MIDWAY" was shown instead. This film, remarkably accurate in regard to historical detail, provided worthwhile entertainment and succeeded in portraying the vicissitudes of war and the tense atmosphere surrounding this major battle.

Between 3 and 5 June 1942, within a week to the day 39 years ago, the Japanese Combined Fleet, commanded by Admiral Yamamoto, on its way to attack the American base on Midway island, was intercepted and clashed with the American Pacific Fleet under Admiral Nimitz. Four Japanese aircraft carriers, the Akagi, Kago, Hiryu and Soryu, and a cruiser, Mikuma, were sunk, and the cruiser Mogami severly damaged. One American carrier, the Yorktown, and one destroyer, Hamman, were sunk.. On board the Yamato the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Fleet finally confirmed on 5 June the abandonment of operations against Midway and the return to their bases of his several detachments.

This was the end of one of the most decisive battles of WWII, the effects of which were felt beyond the waters of the Pacific. It deprived Japan of her freedom of action and it allowed Britain and America to go ahead with their policy of "Germany first", as agreed between Churchill and Roosevelt.

As well as the ships mentioned above, the Americans lost 307 dead and 147 planes. The Japanese losses of 3 500 dead and 332 planes deprived her of the cream of her naval airforces. The results showed that, though they had been dealt a worse hand than the enemy the American Admirals involved, Nimitz, Fletcher and Spruance, had played their cards better than Admirals Yamamoto and Nagumo, but also that in war chance and fate play an incalculable role, and at times bring the best human plans to nought.


A warm welcome is extended to former Cape Town Branch member Dr. G.A.G. Fuller who has been transferred to Durban, and to new member Mr. Andre Wessels.


Programme of Monthly Meetings
July 9th"SURVIVAL" Mrs. Kay Lander will relate how in 1942 she and her baby son were taken from their home in Manila, the Philippines, and spent the next three years along with more than 4 300 others in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
August 13thIan Player will give a talk on the background to the current conflict situation in the Philippines.
Fellow-member "Midge" Carter will present an illustrated slide talk entitled "The Carrier War: Pacific Theatre 1941 - 1945".
September 10thCmdt Justin Hulme will give a talk entitled "D - FOR DESERTERS"..
October 8thMajor Darrell Hall will present an illustrated slide talk entitled "At the Call of King and Country" which deals with the training and battles of his uncle who served in the 2nd - 3rd London Regiment (Territorial Force) affiliated to the Royal Fusiliers in WWI.
November 12thSee August.

The venue for all meetings will be the Lecture Room, 'SB' Bourquin Building, the Port Natal Administration Board's head office, on the corner of Jan Smuts Highway and Euro Crescent, at the foot of Mayville Hill, on the second Thursday in the month, commencing at 8 p.m. There is ample parking, under guard, in the grounds. Glasses and ice will be supplied so please bring your own canned or bottled refreshments. FRIENDS AND INTERESTED PERSONS ARE WELCOME.

VISITORS TO CAPE TOWN are welcome to attend meetings of the CAPE TOWN BRANCH of this Society which are held monthly(on 2nd Thursday) in the Du Toit Room of the Athenaeum, 154 Campground Road, Newlands. The Athenaeum is a vintage converted dwelling with an unusual spiked spire, and three chimneys, next to Newlands railway station, below the line, at the foot of the bridge, just before the Cricket Grounds and Kelvin Grove. Mr. Paul Lange, Vice-Chairman, (in charge of public relations and publicity) may be contacted at Telephone No. 61-7441 after hours, Alternatively, ring Mr. Garschagen, the Hon. Secretary, at 72-6854.

(Mrs) Tania van der Watt,
Secretary, Durban Branch,
S.A. Military History Society,
Box 870, HILLCREST, 3650.
Tel. (031) 742970.

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