South African Military History Society

News-sheet No. 100. DURBAN BRANCH November/December 1981.


There was no guest speaker at the November get-together; but a large number of members and guests forgathered to see the film 'Zulu Dawn', which had been hired for this occasion and which was enjoyed by all. Midge Carter, who had been involved as historical advisor in the making of this film, was invited to comment on some of the historical "inaccuracies", and pointed out that any commercial film, which costs a fortune to make, will invariably contain for a variety of reasons, a considerable amount of artistic licence.

The intention is not to produce a documentary film, correct in every detail, but rather to entertain the public with a story with an historical background, which has been dramatised to make an impact. It is this spectacular and emotional impact, not its historical accuracy, which will 'sell' a film. Midge felt that considerable credit had to be given to this film, because, although it had achieved this popular impact, it had nevertheless retained considerable historical accuracy. The existing inaccuracies had to be attributed to the whims of the film directors, to technical considerations, and to the spectacular and dramatic reasons already mentioned and had to be accepted - bearing in mind that he had succeeded in scotching many other artistic licences provided for in the original script.

Among some of the existing inaccuracies Midge drew attention to the appearance of the Lancers at the crossing of Rorke's Drift when in fact they only reached Natal four months later, in April 1879. For technical and photographic reasons the invasion was filmed as taking place in the opposite direction, that is from Zululand into Natal and up the slopes of Oscarberg. Trader Fannin was a compldely fictitious character, so were the Zulu captives in the camp at Isandlwana. Vereker, although an historical personality, was cast in a fictitious role which compounded numerous characters of that fateful day - ending as Lieut Higginson, NNC, at the Buffalo River. The dramatic way the Colours reached the river was another compromise.

With these thoughts in mind Midge expressed the hope that viewers would look upon "Zulu Dawn" as a considerable achievement and as a film which does credit to part of our turbulent past. If the generosity with which the silver collection to defray expenses is taken as a yardstick these hopes have been realised.


Although the festive season will be over by the time this news-letter reaches our members, we do hope that it has been a blessed and happy one and that the year which lies ahead will be a happy and prosperous one for all, This is also an opportune occasion to say "Thank you!" for the support this Branch has had from its members in the past. A special word of thanks goes to Col Frank Coulter for his untiring efforts in having the lecture room prepared for our monthly meetings, for setting up props and equipment, and for ensuring that the room is cleared up and rearranged after our meetings. We do not take this service as a matter of fact and for granted, but we are conscious of it and appreciate it.

FUTURE EVENTS Programme of Monthly Get-togethers


February 11th March 11th April 15th May 6th (Please note that this is the first Thursday in the month). June 10th 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, on the second Thursday in the month, (unless otherwise announced), commencing at 8 p.m. Glasses and ice will be supplied so please bring your own canned or bottled refreshments. FRIENDS AND INTERESTED PERSONS ARE WELCOME.


Fellow-member Mr. André Wessels who is at present on active military service, is anxious to purchase the following back-numbers of the S.A. Military History Journal which are now out of print and unavailable from the National Museum of Military History:
Vol. 2. No's. 2, 5, 6,
Vol. 3. No. 1.
If anyone is able to assist would they please contact his father, Mr. Wessels, Snr, at Box 4646, Durhan, or TELEPHONE 21943O (Home).


A warm welcome is extended to new member Mr. G. Liguori.

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

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