South African Military History Society



The MGH Military Magazine opened the evenings proceedings with an interesting selection of slides illustrating aspects of the Western Front, David (the horse that would qualify for Boer War and First World War campaign medals) and the "missing" Lifeguard.

Colonel Duxbury then informed the Meeting of his experiences at the Conference of Military History Museums in Scandinavia. He praised the excellent facilities provided and expressed pleasure at the lack of anti South African feeling. Highlights of the conference included visits to various fortresses and their excellent collections of early weapons, the actual firing of some of these weapons and being toasted by a Russian General. Colonel Duxbury also stated how impressed he was at the accuracy of these early firearms.

Colonel Duxbury also advise the Meeting of the details of the forthcoming battlefield tour being organised by the Museum. The tour will cover the Ladysmith battlefields from midday 23rd November until Sunday 24th November. Full details have been sent to membors by the Museum.

Prof. Deon Fourie, the Main Speaker for the evening, then presented his lecture - "First Shaba War, Zaire". The war began with the invasion of Zaire by between 2 to 9 000 men in March 1977. The invading force consisted mainly of Katangese Gendarmes.

The Zairean army collapsed at the outset of the campaign. The troops were poorly paid and fed and leadership was virtually non-existent. Their main object appears to have been to avoid fighting. A further problem was the fact that many soldiers actually stole army vehicles and equipment. The collapse of his army prompted President Mobutu to fire the entire army staff and to request assistance from other African states, France and Belgium. Morocco came to Zaire's aid by sending troops. The French assisted with air support and President Carter organised non lethal military support.

The Moroccans succeeded in driving back the invasion by the end of May and the war was over.

It appears that the intention of the invaders was to capture Kolwezi and set up a government and base for future operations. President Mobutu alleged that the Russians and Cubans instigated and supported the invasion through Angola, but, there is no actual proof of their participation. However, the invasion certainly could not happen without Angolan knowledge. Three lessons were learnt about the invasion, namely, the importance of air transport, the necessity of speed of outside response and the need of friends African countries having good armies. The need for fundamental modernisation and political reform was also recognised.

Dr. Ian Copley thanked the Speaker for an extremely interesting lecture.

Future Meetings

Johannesburg - Thursday, 8th November - 20h00
'U.S. Naval Aviation Involvement in the Vietnam War"
Commander Royce L Caplinger (US Naval Attaché)

Thursday, 13th December - 20h00
Quiz Evening

100 Years Ago This Month - November 1884

Southern Africa

Major General Sir Charles Warren leaves England for Bechuanaland to restore order following Boar raids and the establishment of the Boer Republics of Stellaland and Goshen . Amongst Warrens officers were several men who would achieve prominence in later wars - Col. F. Forestier-Walker (who was later Commander of the British garrison based at the Cape during the Boer War), Lt. E.H.H. Allenby (afterwards Field Marshall Lord Allenby of Megiddo), Col. Paul Methuen, Col. F. Carrington and Lt. Col. C.E. Knox.


The food supply situation in besieged Khartoum becomes critical with only 4 weeks supply left at the end of November. Meanwhile, the advance guard of the Gordon Relief Expedition consisting of the Camel Corps arrive at Dongola some 500 kilometres from Khartoum.

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