South African Military History Society



Some 110 members and their guests attended this very successful evening. The weather was perfect, the food was excellent, and for entertainment we had renderings on the pipes by Pipe Major Mike Stanton.

Our chairman, Maj. Darrell Hall thanked everybody who had helped to make the evening a success, in particular Col Duxbury and the Museum staff, Dr Felix Machanik who masterminded the catering and refreshment side.

There were some very smart people present, some sporting tartan minis! I spent the whole of the next day getting grease blobs off my tie!

November meeting

This was a pot pourri anecdotal evening. Three speakers became two and ended up as four.

To begin with Bill [G]arr gave us an impartial view of that controversial character, George Armstrong Custer, born in Ohio in 1839.

It would seem that his career became note-worthy when he was the worst cadet in the history of Westpoint, a poor scholar and extremly slovenly, the only saving grace being his horsemanship.

Whatever his academic qualifications he became known for recklessness and courage and during the Civil War rose to the rank of Maj General at the age of 23.

Later as Lt Col he commanded the 7th U.S. Cavalry during the time of the great spread of europeans with their railway into territory of the Sioux Indians. This unruly, non-drinking, non-smoking individual by the very nature of his character, managed to antaganise many of his seniors as well as brother officers.

In the expedition of 1875 against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse it is not clear whether he acted out of bravado, an underestimate of Indian strength and stratogy, or plain foolhardiness, but he led his force of 216 officrrs and men to extinction. He should however not have left base in the first place; disobedience of instructions plus personal antaganism with other commanders of the tripartite force may have been important contributions to the fiasco.

Whatever the white men thought about him then or subsequently, the Indians had some respect for him as his body was the only unmutilated one on the field.

Our next speaker Dr G.A. Christidis had more personal anecdotes from his experiences as Adjutant, 13 Bomber Squadron situated on the Gaza (air) strip in Palestine as part of the contribution of the Royal Greek Air Force. Wartime can have its humerous moments especially with a Greck flavour.

The next unadvertised speaker was our Chairman (into-the breach), Maj Darrell Hall. He spoke of four components in military history research. These being: digging into things, hard work, luck and coincidences arising from the former two.

One thing leads to another, past and present, central and parallel themes.

Finally Mr Nick Kinsey had similar findings and coincidences to tell or arising out of his deep (sic) interest in military cemeteries as a member of the War Graves Commission. He had to do with exploding shot guns, missing hands, finding a trigger guard (possibly from the same shot gun), paintings, Mick the dog as a dog and as a puppy. It seemed to end there but one could think of other possibilities!

The vote of thanks was ably delivered by Mr Will Carr in four-fold.

There were no prizes for pointing out the typographical errors in the last news sheets, we hope to go more easily to press this time.

Next Meeting: Thursday 8 December 1983.

South Africans on the Western Front 1914-18 by the Chairman Maj Darrell Hall. This will be the first meeting in the new auditorium and Col Duxbury will introduce the Society to the new vennue giving some historical background to the Museum.

Durban : No meeting in December.

Capetown : Contact Mr Garshagen tel no 72-6854 for details.


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