South African Military History Society


The SA Military History Society enters its 30th year in relatively good financial health and with sustained support from the bulk of a slowly-declining membership, but sharing in the uncertainties that face the future of the Museum.

This was the general message conveyed by the proceedings of the Society's 29th Annual General Meeting held on 20th April.

The minutes of the 28th AGM were read by the Hon. Treasurer, Mr Mike Marsh. This was followed with the report of the retiring chairman, John Mahncke. In his report, the chairman thanked all office bearers and committee members, including the Hon. Auditor, Gavin Moore. The Hon. Treasurer, Mike Marsh, presented the financial report for the year. This showed a deficit for the year increased to R2 059 as at 31st December 1994, from R961 the previous year. The bulk of the increased shortfall is accounted for by higher printing costs for the newsletter.

Nominations for a new Executive Committee chairman were called for, and Kemsley Couldridge was elected unapposed. At the end of the meeting the new chairman thanked John Mahncke for his years of outstanding service to the Society, and wished him all the best in his move to the Cape. John has already been appointed to the committee of the Cape Town branch.

Two Executive Committee members have resigned and two new ones appointed. The Committee now comprises the following members:
Mr Kemsley Couldridge (Chairman)
Mr Avram Pelunsky
Mr Mike Marsh (Sec./Treasurer)
Mr George Barrell (Scribe)
Mr Hamish Paterson (Museum Rep.)
Dr John Bleloch
Mrs Jenny Copley
Prof. Ian Copley
Mr Terry Leaver
Dr Felix Machanik
Mr Louis Wildenboer
New members:
Mrs Elizabeth Leaver
Mr John Murray

Museum Director General Pretorius reviewed the many problems facing the Museum in the New South Africa, including the complete absence of any government funding. He outlined his plans for the future, which included the erection of a new facility aimed at expanding the Museum's services to the general public. He once again called on Society members for all possible support and assistance.

* * *

The Roderick Murchison Memorial Prize for the best contribution to the Journal during the year was awarded to G. Swinney for the article "Kursk: The Great Soviet-German Armoured Clash" which appeared in the December 1994 issue. It was accepted on his behalf by his Museum colleague, Hamish Paterson.

Society Founder Member Dr Felix Machanik presented a new prize for the best talk of the year to Dr Stanley Monick for his "War Poets of World War One". As this is the first time the prize has been presented, Dr Machanik explained its origins and significance.

* * *

The talk of the evening was "The Roman Invasion of Britain", given by George Barrell.

Roman political domination of Britain lasted around 500 years, and began even before Julius Caesar's first military expedition in 55 BC. This was in preparation for a much larger venture the following year, when a force estimated at 27 000 men landed against fierce opposition in the neighbourhood of modern Deal in Kent, marched westward to cross the Thames at what is now Westminster, and took the surrender of the predominant Catuvellauni tribe at their capital near Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire. Caesar then withdrew his forces, but left behind a considerable Roman political and economic presence.

The next Roman military invasion was launched in AD 43 by the Emperor Claudius in order, mainly, to acquire a much-needed military triumph. An invading force of around 40000 men, at the core of which were four Roman legions, landed unopposed, defeated a confederation of British tribes in a two-day battle at the crossing of the River Medway, and advanced to a point on the south bank of the Thames opposite what is now the city of London.

There it awaited the arrival of the emperor, who was to lead it in a ceremonial crossing of the Thames and an advance to Camulodunum, modern Colchester, the main military objective and the new capital of the resurgent Catuvellauni. In subsequent campaigns over the next few years the frontier of Rome's new province was established on a line from Brough on the Humberto Exeter in south-west. The legions, however, were continually engaged well to the north and west in operations against the tribes of Wales and northern England.

A major threat to the Roman presence arose in AD 60 when Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe in modern Norfolk was provoked into leading a revolt which led to a rabble army of anti-Roman Britons marching on Colchester, the now rapidly growing Londinium, and the municipal capital of Verulamium, now St Albans, burning, looting and massacring as it went. It was finally defeated by a hastily assembled army under the Roman Military Governor, Suetonius Paullinus and the queen and her two daughters are believed to have taken poison.

The second stage of the invasion began in AD 78 under a new Roman Governor, Julius Agricola. It culminated six years later in the decisive battle of Mons Graupius fought somewhere inland from modern Dundee. The Romans did not attempt the conquest of the whole island, but fell back first to a line of forts between the Forth and the Clyde, and later to the famed Hadrian's Wall between the Solway Firth and the mouth of the River Tyne.

* * *

Mike Hessen would like to remind members that in celebration of VE Day, Central Hotels is offering 14-day, fully escorted tours of battle sights and museums starting in London and continuing through Normandy, Belgium, Holland and north Germany. Cost per person is R5 180. For details contact Mike on his office number (011) 333-7114, or at home, (011) 440-3998. No tour will be undertaken until after the Rugby World Cup.

* * *

Louis Wildenboer will be delivering a talk in Benoni on the 28th May 1995. The talk is entitled "Sannaspos". Details of location can be obtained from Louis at (011) 679-1980.



11th May
Louis Wildenboer - The Fall of Fort Eban Emael, 1940.
Ken Gillings - The Bambatha Rebellion of 1906-the Nkandla Operation and the Battle of Mome Gorge.


11th May - John Mahncke - The Kaiser's Officer.

Cape Town

11th May - Col. Ossie Baker - South African non-whites' contribution in two world wars.

* * *

George Barrell

(011) 787-1524

* NOTE* Fast mirror and backup site      BOOKMARK FOR REFERENCE     Main site * NOTE*

South African Military History Society /