South African Military History Society


GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR was the subject of our curtain raiser of 10.2. Terry Leaver gave us a sympathetic, condensed CV of this soldier. He was born on 26 Jan. 1880, the son of a serving Union Army Officer. His mother exercised a profound influence over her son and his career until her death.

MacArthur became a legendary figure in US history. In WW I he won the Medal of Honour, just as his father had won this medal in the civil war. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre, six Silver Stars and many other medals for bravery. Always in the thick of battle, he rose in rank from major to brigadier general in the space of 14 months.

After the war he transformed West Point and updated its curriculum. He served in the Phillipines until being appointed US army chief of staff in 1930. He was offered the post of military advisor to the Phillipines in 1935, and went there to train an army to counter any Japanese threat. In this mission he failed, because, when Japan attacked in March 1942, the country fell, and he fled in a patrol boat to Australia. He left with the words: "I shall return."

MacArthur's style of leadership was "at the front", and this helped him to turn the tide in the East. On 2 September 1945, now a seasoned joint forces operations expert, he represented America at the Japanese surrender. He went on to assume overall responsibility shaping the destiny and recovery of Japan.

In 1950, shortly after turning 70, MacArthur was recalled to serve his own country, and assumed command of all UN forces in the Korean war. Applying his amphibious landings expertise, he mounted the brilliant operation at Inchon, turning the tide of events in the west's favour. However, when China joined the war on the side of the North Koreans, he grew uncompromising and insisted on using nuclear weapons to shorten the war. He also aired his views in public, embarrassing President Truman. As a result, Truman relieved MacArthur of all his duties in April 1951.

After an emotional return, MacArthur retired in New York. His three bids for the presidency all failed. History is left with a great, controversial general who served his own country as well as its major enemy in the dark days of the 20th century.

A lively Q and A session followed Terry's excellent talk.

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Martin Ayres, as the main speaker, gave us a detailed account of the history of the South Wales Borderers, also called Dering's Regiment of Foot in 1689. Their first campaign was during the Irish rebellion, then came the disastrous landing at Cameret Bay. In 1702 they became the 24th Regiment of Foot under John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough.

In 1704 they marched to the Danube and fought at Blenheim, and from then on, the 24th Foot was involved in many battles, from France to Spain, to South America, to Scotland.

They distinguished themselves everywhere, but in the process had to suffer sometimes very heavy casualties. In 1782 the regiment was renamed the 24th Foot, the 2nd Warwickshires, and for the next 17 years found itself in Canada, Ireland and Scotland, with an interlude for the 1st battalion in South Africa, where they participated in the taking of Cape Town in 1806. This battalion remained in South Africa for the next four years.

During the Peninsular war the regiment added many battle honours to their colours. In 1810 the 1st battalion was sent to India, and in 1848 the 24th fought in the 2nd Sikh war. In 1875 the 1/24th fought in the Cape frontier wars, and in 1879 both battalions invaded Zululand. They took part in the battle at Rorkes Drift, with the 24th winning seven VCs in this single action.

In 1881 the regiment was renamed the South Wales Borderers. They fought with distinction during WW I in France, Gallipoli, even China.

During the two world wars they were employed on the NW frontier, gaining the nickname of "The White Ghurkas", and during WW II served in North Africa, in Normandy and Holland, to name just a few countries.

In 1947 the SWB, Royal Welsh Fusiliers and Welsh Regiment were amalgamated to form the Welsh Brigade. They served in the Middle East, the Malasian campaign and Swaziland before finally changing their name to The Welsh Regiment in 1967.

This short resume cannot give credit to Martin's exhaustive research into the subject, but anybody wishing to read or re-read his manuscript is invited to ask for the loan of it from the chairman.

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Forthcoming lectures:

10th March 1994
Louis Wildenboer Magersfontein to Paardberg
Anglo-Boer War 1899/1900

14th April
Annual General Meeting

The May meeting will be held on the THIRD Thursday, 19th, due to the 12th falling on Ascension Day.

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Society Ties are available at R 35.- each

Society Plaques at R 65.- each plus R 5.- for P&P

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WILDLIFE EXPEDITIONS offer a Tour from 12/13th March 94 to sites of the Anglo-Zulu War. Shlobane. Khambula. Ntombe River Drift, Utrecht and other places of interest.

Contact: Mrs. P. Brink for further details on 031-821 409


(Chairman & Scribe) (011) 453 63 53

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