Our Society evening of 10th June brought us a welcome change in the normal format because this time five members, of which three also belong to the Napoleonic Society, spoke about the battle of Waterloo.
The Napoleonic Society was started in Cape Town in 1992 to further the study of the social and military history, people, battles and personalities of that famous period. Branches have since been opened in Durban and Johannesburg and the membership exceeds 30 country-wide.
Martin Ayres, Kemsley Couldridge and Hamish Paterson took turns in outlining the history which led to Napoleon's escape from Elba, his subsequent rise to temporary power in France and the decisive battle at Waterloo which sealed his fate.
Napoleon once complained about the Fog Of War which hampered his decision-making during battles and how he wished he could look beyond the hills to discover the enemy's intentions.
Our speakers amply managed to convey the confusion of the battles leading up to Waterloo, the orders issued which did not arrive, the desperate situations when everything seemed to hang in the balance. Incorrect or late reports led to wrong decisions on ooth sides, leading even to the exclusion of whole units from the fighting and the heroic deeds which turned the tables.
With the help of excellent maps and slides the speakers followed the course of events up to the final rout of the French forces and Napoleon's flight from the battlefield.
Ian Copley took the stand afterwards and, again with maps, gave us a summation of the events as viewed through the eyes of the Corse, how he made his decisions and why he led his troops as he did.
Jenny Copley brought up the rear of the team by acting as journalistic observer stationed in Brussels, enjoying herself at soirees, teas and official dinners collecting all information, trying to disentangle truth from fiction within the arriving battle reports, while sketching the social life during those fateful days.
The presentations were very well researched and presented and were enjoyed very much by the many members present. The remarks afterwards proved this as well, and many wished that this kind of presentation should be repeated with different subjects.
TOURS: The Magaliesberg Walk - Horn's Nek ot Silkaatsnek will take place on Sunday, 15th August. This is an 8-mile walk over fairly rough terrain and participants should be suitably attired. Any further information can be obtained from the Scribe.
The LADYSMITH Siege Museum has published an impressive list of Study Tours. Anyone interested can contact the Scribe for details.
DURBAN BRANCH has announced firm details of the tour to the Battlefields at ELANDSLAAGTE. It will take place on 18/19th September. For further details contact the Scribe.
Members are kindly asked to support the MUSEUM BOOKSHOP. There are always bargains to be picked up, especially back numbers of our Journal as well as old Index copies. There are also beautiful posters, colour prints, curios of a military nature (suitable for small gifts to send overseas)and even plastic construction kits.
It is once again planned to hold a Society Braai at the Museum later this year Further information will follow in due course. Tickets will be availlable in advance at a price of approx. R 25.- p.p. incl. cold drinks and wine or beer.
8th July. African Wars in the Magaliesberg VINCENT CARRUTHERS
Melton Prior: Boer-War Artist JANE CARRUTHERS
FROM LADYSMITH the Scribe received a copy of the LADYSMITH LYRE (current edition) a most interesting brochure and worthy of a wider readership. It contains a host of information. Any member interested can borrow the copy for photo-copying.
Richard Tomlinson sent the Scribe a copy of his article published in the Historical Society's Journal of Port Elizabeth. It is entitled ALGOA BAY'S DEFENCES DURING WORLD WAR II (1939-1945). It includes a host of information on the various Forts. Any member interested can borrow the copy for photocopying from the Scribe.
Member L. Hellman sent this snippet:
During the Anglo-Zulu war the British used some Swazi warriors to assist them. These Swazis were armed mostly with assegais and about one in twenty was given an old Martini rifle.
The warriors had British officers, and among those was one who fancied himself as quite a linguist as he had picked up a bit of the local language. As a Zulu impi approached his group during one engagement, he wanted his men to charge and so he shouted the order "Balega!" thinking that this was the correct word for attack.
Unfortunately, the word "balega" means "run away". And that is exactly what the warriors did.
MEMBERSHIP FEES DUE: Unfortunately, a number of members (too many for a Society of our standing) have not yet paid their Fees. I would urge them to send off their cheques. R 30.- is a small amount for 12 excellent lectures per year plus the Journal and all the tours and outings available.
Member Dr. F.R. Bradlow from Cape Town sent a short article "The Gazala Gallop". Anyone interested in reading his experiences at Gazala can ask the Scribe for a copy.
Our Journal Editor, John Keene, still needs suitable articles for publication. If any member has material available, he should contact the Editor or the Scribe.
John Mahncke (Scribe) Tel.: (011) 453 63 53
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