South African Military History Society


The Society's evening began with a curtain-raiser by Avram Pelunsky, dealing with the Battle of Midway in 1942, presenting interesting facts of the long-range events leading up to the engagement.. Intelligence reports, code intercepts by the Americans and, above all, the unplanned components: the delay in launching an individual scout aircraft, the surfacing of a submarine very close to enemy battleships, contributed to the outcome.

He proved, that coincidences such as these can lead to forced, sudden changes in plans carefully prepared in advance. Midway was a sea battle fought from the air by fighters from both navies, with the Americans eventually gaining the upper hand, sinking four Japanese carriers and 332 aircraft and one cruiser. The US Navy lost one carrier, one destroyer and 150 aircraft.

Thus Midway showed that the Allies, although suffering setbacks in other theatres, could still pack a punch to defeat an enemy.

The main item was the screening of an absorbing Video about the Falklands War, 10 years after. It was subtitled: The unneccessary War, and presented us with much hindsight information, - the scenes were sometimes cut to raise a critical laugh -, and utterances by various politicians and officers about how, why, why not and: What I said to the Prime Minister ...

Comparable to the curtain-raiser, the Video demonstrated how planning, especially insufficient planning for this engagement, especially at a time when the British Government wanted to cut their Armed Forces drastically, endangered the troops on the island.

After listening to the appeasement ministers and factions either wanting to do nothing or wanting to cede the Falklands to the Argentinians to be rid of an irritating nuisance, it was gratifying to observe how the Iron Lady nevertheless managed to stir public opinion into righteous fervor, although the battle did not go well at times. It could perhaps be said that the unwillingness of the Argentinian soldiers, mainly young conscripts, who surrendered in droves, helped the British landing forces who seemed undermanned, partially undertrained and shell-shocked.

Whether or not the battle for the Malvinas was an unneccessary war is difficult to decide. It was perhaps futile for the Argentinians. The outcome gave Mrs. Thatcher not only another term in office but proved that a bold decision to defend a country's sovereignty and honour is never out of fashion.

Despite its length it was an interesting film enjoyed by all and debated at tea afterwards.

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Special Announcements:

Johannesburg: Two one-day outings are planned. Kalkheuvel for 15th Nov., and Rustenburg, early 1993. Further information will be given timeously.

From Durban: S.A. Camping Club Outing to Majuba, Laing's Neck and Schuinshoogte on 3/4th October.

Dundee Battlefields Festival 24/25th October at the Talana Museum. (A "Field Guide to the War in Zululand 1879" is available at the Museum.)

From Cape Town: Mrs. Ute Seeman is researching the history of the Hout Bay torts.. She has found a rubbish pit at the West Fort dating back to WW II days. She would like to contact persons who were stationed there to learn any details availiable.

For any contacts please telephone the Scribe at (011) 453 63 53, who will gladly supply detailed information regarding the above announcements.

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Future Meetings:

8th October. Inside Story. Reminiscences of a POW. - Ike Rosmarin

12th November. Zeppelins. - John Mahncke


8th October. Panel programme to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein.

12th November. Isandhlwana Re-visited. Video-talk.
Ken Gillings (Durban Branch).


8th October. Pearl Harbour.
Major Darrell Hall.

12th November. To be announced.

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The Military History Museum in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, under its Director, General Pretorius, is being transformed on a broad basis into a showpiece of which not only the members of the Society or the Friends of the Museum but the city can be justly proud.

New exhibits are being added, new structures erected, and visitors are encouraged to visit the Museum where they will be gladly taken on a tour by the always helpful and enthusiastic staff members who are assisting in the transformation of the Museum.

Telephone enquiries to Mr. Hamish Patterson, (011) 646 55 13

Fax: (011) 646 52 56

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Late News: A visit to the Anglo-Boer-War Battlefields of Colenso/Spionkop and Tugela Heights has been arranged. It will take place on the weekend 23./25th October. Cost R 280.- p.person all inclusive.
Anybody interested can telephone Wildlife Expeditions 03l 821409 for further information.

John Mahncke (Scribe)
(011) 453 63 53

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