South African Military History Society


The Museum Fair "Militaria 94", on 5th June, was a great success. A variety of stalls sold goods from medals, books, uniforms, steel helmets and models to prints and gramophone records. Our Society was also represented; we met quite a number of people interested in our activities, lectures and the Journal, and we signed on new members.

Two military bands entertained the many visitors, and in the afternoon a pipe band took over. I believe the sound of music brought a lot of extra guests.

For the children there were half-sized "penny-farthings" to ride on, and even rides in a "Saracen", plus the usual attractions of food, cool drinks, chips and permitted climbs on exhibits.

Everything was extremely well organized, the visitors enjoyed themselves, and the stall holders were satisfied with the business done.

Special thanks to Terry Leaver, Margaret and Peter Rush and Felix Machanik who assisted with our stall, as well as Fiona Couldridge who painted the large Society placard. We could easily have used more helpers; perhaps they were enticed away by the fascinating goods on display.

We hope that the Fair can become an annual event. This one certainly made the greater public aware of our Museum's existence and activities.

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Our Society evening of 9th June was once again a winner. Despite the freezing cold, many members and guests turned up, and we were privileged to listen to another polished and well illustrated C.R. by Louis Wildenboer. His theme this time was 'The Battle of Hastings. 1066'. He led us through the various stages of the engagement until the bitter end for the Saxons; and Louis' summation of why the Normans won the battle reminded us of Brig. de Vries' lecture last year and his mention of the criteria which made commanders successful and famous. Certainly nothing has changed!

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"The Bismarck" was the subject of our main lecture presented by our "sea-dog" George Barrell. Having patrolled the very area on a light cruiser in 1944/45, where the Bismarck sank three years earlier, he was fascinated by the facts of the seven-day-chase of the German battleship by a superior force of British warships. (20.5. - 27.5.1941)

George gave us a blow-by-blow description of the chase and the engagements, and a vivid account of the torpedo attacks of the "Stringbags" under atrocious weather and battle conditions. The War Diary of the German Supreme Command mentions that three of their torpedos hit the ship. One of them damaged the rudder, disabling the Bismarck.

The last diary entry reads: 'The battleships King George V. and Rodney close up during the morning (27.5.) and shoot the Bismarck to pieces. (schiessen die B. zusammen) which defends itself until the destruction of all guns . . . . The heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire continue to shell the wreck and launch two torpedos. At 10.35 the Bismarck scuttles itself with explosive charges. British ships save 99 sailors, U-Boats another 6.'

A lot of detailed research went into George's presentation which was warmly applauded, while Avram Pelunsky thanked him for a job very well done.

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Forthcoming lectures:

14th July Paterson/Couldridge/Ayres: The Persian Invasion of Greece

11th August Kemsley Couldridge: Napoleon dallies in Egypt
Hamish Paterson: Luederitzbucht to Gibeon 1914-1915

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New Books:
Darrell Hall. LONG TOM. Artillery in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, (Private Publication) 195 pp. photocopied; many illustrations, softcover. R 50.- each. For further information please contact the Chairman or write to the author at Box 22364, Glen Ashley 4022.

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The Johannesburg Historical Foundation offers a full-day tour of the Africana Museum/Market Theatre on 16th July and a guided D-Day tour to England and France in August 94. Anyone interested can contact Alan Bamford at 646-4179 for further information.

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Our photocopying source for reproducing this Newsletter is, unfortunately, not available to us any more, and we urgently need a new supplier. Any member able to assist the Society in this respect is asked to kindly contact the Hon. Treasurer Mike Marsh at 648 16 57 or the Chairman.

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(011) 453 63 53

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