South African Military History Society


Instead of a curtain raiser we were lucky to enjoy a cheese- and wine party under the expert guidance of our Chairlady and this was very much appreciated.

Our guest of honour, Gen. Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, MLITT (Oxon), presented a talk: Is military history relevant? He sketched British military service through the ages, beginning with the obligations of the tenancy to their Lord or King to provide him with ablebodied men to fight for a stipulated period without reward. This was either to assist them in the defensive struggles (Holland and the Spanish crown) or to conduct limited battles. If the King wished to have this service extended, he had to pay his soldiers.

He traced the evolution of democratic powers, with armies becoming larger, wars more extended and more costly. This forced the King to make concessions to the government and its people to obtain the necessary cash. The speaker ended his discourse with the dictum: Cash makes wars go round.

(Sir Anthony, after a distinguished military career, which included service as military adviser to the Queen, is the author of a number of books and articles; he appears on TV and lectures at seminars.)

Gen. P. Pretorius thanked our guest for his address and his presence at our evening.

The main speaker was Mr. Wulf Haacke from the Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, who gave us a vivid and extremely well illustrated talk on his "Search for the Kalahari battle site".

The Hottentot uprising in German South West Africa ended in March 1907, and after Marengo was eliminated by the Cape Mounted Police, only Simon Kopper and his clan, the Fransman Hottentots, were holding out in the Kalahari. Being out of reach of the German mounted troops, he destabilised the border by sending raiding parties back into South West occasionally.

Captain von Erckert, commander of northern Namaqualand, stationed at Gochas on the Auob river, was instructed to push Simon Kopper into the British Bechuanaland Protectorate or eliminate him. Realising that with his horses, Kopper was out of reach, von Erckert converted his troops into Camel riders.

At the end of the rainy season von Erckert decided to go after Kopper and his men. Two detachments assembled at Geinab or Grootkolk in the Nossob river and from there 400 rifles on 700 camels and assisted by 160 non-white non-combatants, followed the tracks of the Hottentots raiding party into Bechuanaland.

The Hottentots, however, became aware of the German approach and Simon Kopper (also spelt Cooper) departed, while the rest of his clan prepared for a possible battle. The Germans surrounded the camp at night and a violent engagement, lasting for about two hours, took place on the morning of 16th March 1908.

Within minutes Captain von Erckert was killed. In total 15 Germans and 59 Nama were killed and 19 Germans wounded. Because of a water shortage, the Hottentots could not be pursued and the Germans had to turn back.

The site of the "Battle at Seatsub" or east of Paul's Kolk is unknown today, as these names are not in use today. The tombstones of the German soldiers are still at Gochas in Namibia about 200 km west of the burial site.

A small group of Kalahari enthusiasts are currently trying to retrace the route of "The Kalahari Expedition of 1908" and to mark the forgotten site of the final encounter of the Hottentot uprising for posterity.

(Any advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated.)

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11th March Convoy P.Q. 17 - Mr. Hamish Paterson

8th April Battle of Imjin River - Col. T. Leaver
Annual General Meeting.

For Information on Cape Town and Durban-Branch forthcoming meetings please contact the Scribe.

The planned Rustenburg tour has to be postponed due to the illness of Lionel Wulfsohn, who was to have been our guide. It is envisaged that the tour will now take place during winter.

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NATAL TOURS: Mrs. Pam Brink offers members special weekend outings. 23/25th April and 20/23 May. They include visits to Majuba-Ingogo-Fort Amiel-Mount Prospect, - Dundee - Biggarsberg-Talane Battlefield and Museum.

For information please contact Mrs. P. Brink at Tel.: 031 821409 or write to P.O. Box 94, Sarnia 3615.

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BOOKS: J.E. Price - "Southern Cross Scots". Australian involvement in the Scottish Horse in the SA War. Price: A$ 35.20 (R 72.-) The book can be ordered from the author at: Villa 7, 16 Barrett Str,. Cheltenham, Victoria 3192, Australia.

Ian Knight - "ZULU". Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift 1879 This excellent book has been extensively advertised and discussed on TV and in the media. It is available from Media House Publications, P.O. Box 782395, Sandton or from your local bookstore.

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MEMBERS CORNER: An American historian wants to contact persons who were interned during wartime in neutral countrtes such as Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland, as well as those who assisted American internees escape from such neutral countries. If you can help please contact Tom Fuller, Box 18911, Wynbwrg 7824, Cape, Tel.: 021 797 1160.

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NOTICE: Members who would be willing to serve on the Committee of our Society are requested to contact the Chairlady before or during the evening of the AGM in April.

For further information please contact the Scribe.

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John Mahncke (Scribe)
Tel.: (011) 453 63 53

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