PAST MEETING - JOHANNESBURG - NOVEMBER 1984
The evening's proceedings were opened by Nick Kinsey's tale (no pun intended) of Mick the Dog. The story began with Nick's acquisition of a superb painting of a Boer War camp scene which showed a pair of horses and a black and white dog in the foreground. Not being content with just hanging the picture on the wall, Nick delved into his library and came up with the first clues that eventually revealed the exact location, the names of the two horses and the owner, the unit to which they belonged and the military career of Mick the Dog.
The Chairman introduced Commander Royce L. Caplinger as the main speaker for the evening. His subject was "U.S. Naval Aviation Involvement in the Vietnam War". Commander Caplinger, the current US Naval Attaché, served as a carrier based pilot during the Vietnam War.
He commenced his lecture with a brief history of the origin of naval aviation. A superb set of colour slides was then used to explain the various flight deck activities when launching aircraft and to illustrate the aircraft mix on a modern US carrier. Apart from the fighters, bombers and helicopters, specialist aircraft such as early warning, anti submarine and electronic warfare aircraft are also carried.
During the Vietnam War the US carrier based aircraft were used in operations against troop and gun concentrations and supply lines. A limiting factor in their usage was however the severe restrictions that were imposed with respect to target selection, authorisation even having to be obtained on occasion from the President.
The aircrews normally flew 2 missions per day - 1 daylight and 1 night raid. The war was very impersonal to the pilots with only a very occasional glimpse of the enemy. One of the favourite targets was the cargo being offloaded off the coast.
In December 1972 the B52 bombers were used to bomb Hanoi and Haiphong. The devastation caused by these bombers was extensive. The Airforce and Navy attacked the North in the day and the B52s at night. The North Vietnamese were able to sustain amazing punishment, but by the time of the last mission in January l973 there was no resistance at all. Victory was however allowed to slip away and the war dragged on until the eventual collapse of the South in 1975.
Several lessons can be learnt from this war :
a) There is no substitute for victory.
b) Do not start a war unless you plan to win.
c) War is too important to leave to politicians.
An extremely active question time testified to the interest in Commander Caplinger's a presentatian.
Alistair Martin thanked the Speaker for an excellent lecture.
Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand)
The latest newsletter of the Victorian Military History Society reports that, as a result of a grass-fire on the battle site, a team of archeologists and historians 15 carrying out an extensive foot by foot scrutiny of the battlefield site. Numerous artifacts and hundreds of cartridge cases have been found It is interesting to note that, as in South Africa with the Mauser and the British rifles, the different ammunition types of the opposing forces greatly assist in the exact location of firing lines.
100 Years Ago This Month - December 1884
Sir Charles Warren and his staff arrive at the Cape for the commencement of the Bechuanaland Expedition.
Future MeetingsJohannesburg - Thursday, 15th December 20h00
Business : 609-8621
The Museum has announced the postponment of the tour to the Ladysmith area till 22nd - 24th February, 1985.
Members interested in joining this tour should keep in contact with the Museum at O11-646-5513. Mike Marsh
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