South African Military History Society

NEWSLETTER Cape Town Branch November 1997


"WOMEN IN WAR" was the title of Colonel Ossie Baker's presentation and panel discussion on Thursday evening, 9 October 1997, and he had a bevy of almost forty ladies on stage and in the audience to respond to his questions and comments. He set the scene with the showing of a number of slides, depicting contemporary newspaper and magazine advertisements of that time, from a top-of-the-range Hudson motorcar with a price- tag of 385 pounds, down to dresses, lingerie, underwear and a variety of more mundane items that only cost pennies during the early forties, that had the audience fondly remembering some of the good old days. Tony Gordon, the efficient maitre, interpreted the text, pointed out the finer details, and urged the ladies on stage to do their bit once again. They all participated eagerly, which was to a certain extent due to Mike Rightford's foresight in offermg an "Introductory Sherry" to all. In fact, some of the ladies arrived very early that evening, leading one to wonder how they knew.

In plain figures, the "girls" in the WAAF, WAAS, SWANS and SAWAS numbered about 96 000, plus some 100000 who worked for victory in Technical War Productions. The St. Dunstan's ladies who looked after the war blind, were also mentioned. Among the WAAF's five ladies served as qualified pilots and flying instructors.

We were fortunate indeed to hear so many personal stories and memories, reliving a proud time in the history of service to the country. The SA Nursing Service, the special signals and radar sections, the coastal artillery -with 17 stations in the Western Cape, among a total of 50 stations all along the coast- and the filter room at the Castle were just a few of the detachmnts and postings mentioned in which the ladies worked so successfully and honourably.

It was a fascinating evening, enjoyed by all those present, and all credit is due to Ossie for his in-depth research and masterly handlmg of the subject


THE NEXT TOUR OF COAST DEFENCES will take place after the middle of November 1997. Major Arthony Gordon will contact all those who have already entered their names in his list. Any other members interested in joining such a tour should telephone Tony at (021) 61 4500 asap.

CAPE TOWN BRANCH LECTURE LIST for 1998/9 is now being finalised. Members who have a subject on which they would like to give a talk, or who have a suggestion for a suitable subject, are invited to contact Chairman Derek O'Riley on (021)6892300.

AWARD FOR BEST BRANCH MEETING TALK Your Branch Committee has decided to award a prize for the TALK voted the BEST during 1998. It is a wooden Plaque bearing the Society Crest in colour, donated by the Vice-Chairman. The award will be presented at our branch meeting in January, 1999.

13 Nov 97 THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOUR -1941 Talk by Mr W.C.C. Newton
Dec 97 In recess

16 Jan 98 THE ROLE OF THE NAVY IN THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (Part One: The coastal war.)
Slide-illustrated Talk by Mr Stan Lambrick

Meetings of the Cape Town Branch are normally held on the second Thursday of each month (barring December) at 20h00 (8.00 pm sharp), in the Recreation Hall of the SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, (off Alma Road), opposite the Rosebank railway station, below the line. Visitors are welcome. Donation R 2.00. Scholars and Students free. Tea and biscuits will be served.

The first issue of the South African Military Yearbook (1997) is now available. Compiled and published by the SA Military History Consultants (SAMHC), the 1997 edition contains a comprehensive bibliography of SA Military History, with about 1200 sources being listed. This is complemented by two in-depth articles on military historical writing in SA, and the history of warfare in this country. Also included is an illustrated overview of SA Defence in 1996 and during the first quarter of 1997. The price is R 30.00 including postage. Orders to SAMHC, Box 1595, Silverton, 0127.
Johannesburg Lectures
13 Nov 97 Colin Dean Chinese war strategies as expounded by Sun Tzu.
Hamish Paterson The Battle of Leyte Gulf 1944
George Barrell (Chairman/Scribe) (011) 791 2581

Durban Lectures
13 Nov 97 Bill Brady Hometown VC.
Neil Lee The Bayeaux Tapestry
Tania van der Watt (Mrs). (Secretary) (031) 764 2970

The Vice Chairman of the Cape Town Branch is researching the theme: "The use of parachutes in WW 1" Being something of a taboo subject, since many airmen on both sides disdained to use a parachute, printed records are hard to come by. Any comments from members or references to books would be greatly appreciated

John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167

South African Military History Society /