South African Military History Society

January 1984 NEWSLETTER

Seasons Greetings and Best wishes to everybody in 1984

December Meeting

This was a gala occasion, being the first meeting in the new J C Lemmer Auditorium after 180 in the museum library. Before the meeting upwards of seventy five people were the guests of Col Duxbury for drinks.

Moving across to the Auditorium we were able to admire the splendid mural sculpture by Robert Wishart. For the uninitiated the motif is an exploding gun breech with parts of the gun spreading outwards. Well, the gunners had to get in on the act somehow since the other main attraction was electronic gagetry which allowed the environment and audio visual apparatus to be control led from the rostrum. It seemed as though one had to learn to fly the thing. I don't know how many hours our Chairman and main speaker Maj Darrell Hall, spent on dual instruction, but his first solo went very well. This, in fact was a prelude to the main event of the evening as Maj Hall gave a brief illustrated account of the history of the museum since its formation and of the society's activities and chairmen since inception and of the part played since the beginning by Col Duxbury. In recognition and appreciation Maj Hall then presented Col Duxbury with an inscribed carriage clock from the members of the Military History Society.

In reply Col Duxbury outlined the formation of the buildings in which the meetings have been held up to the present time and the facilities available in the present hall. As it takes 42 seconds for the cinema screen to descend from the ceiling a good programmer always has to find something worthwile to say in the 'spot 42' as occurred on this occasion.

The second solo was complete with sound, 3 dimensions and a time warp & was entitled 'South Africans on the Western Front, 1914-18'.

Delville Wood was not the only place where South African gained distinction. They were prominent in the air as well as at sea many serving as individuals in British units, up to 50 % in some units as well as specifically South African groups. Not to be forgotten were a large number of black, indian and coloured South Africians serving in the lines of communication.

We saw aerial views of progressive devastation of the countryside in areas such as Ypres, Boullecourt and Gonnecourt. We saw the destruction at close quarters. There were photographs of the men who had to live and survive under these conditions and of those who didn't survive whose only memorial is a cross or stone, many without a name, many names without a place of rest. There was music of that time and voices from the past sharing their experience. Photographs from the past matching those taken to-day. Nature and agriculture has obliterated the scars. Traces of the conflict exist but you need a 1917 map to sort them out.

Ian Uys handled the question time and vote of thanks. A polished presentation of the usual Metro Goldwyn Hall standard and a fitting exposition to start of the New Hall (not related to Metro Goldwyn).

Next meeting : Thursday 12 January 1984. Sam Mirwis. "Reminiscences of a Military Observer in N. Africa and Italy WWII."

Durban : Contact Tania van der Walt (they did have a meeting in December after all) at 031-742970.

Cape Town : Contact Mr Garshagen 013-726854.


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