NEWSLETTER No.259 Cape Town Branch AUGUST 1999
Our meeting of 8th July went off well, although we did not quite
get our timing right and one speaker was, unfortunately, unable
to appear for health reasons. But we will offer members more of
the same to spice up our evenings.
Committee Member TONY GORDON showed us a 1960 map of minefields
of part of the North African desert and coast, and pointed out
a few facts about the grizzly items still lying underneath the
Then he quoted a number of famous names from the Bloemfontein-Station Officer's Register of 1900 (it was compulsory for every
officer passing through to sign in) and even mentioned the name
of "Breaker Morant", although he was not an officer. But he had
signed nevertheless and, as the only person to do so, in red ink.
Next came copy of a letter by Maj John Graham, written on 25 Jan.
1806, after the battle of Blaauwberg and the second British
occupation of the Cape, and finally Tony presented an artists folder
showing caricatures depicting amusing incidents which happened
on Bloemfontein station in 1900.
This being an evening of the Artefacts, fellow member WOODY NEL
presented interesting souvenirs from the Anglo-Boer War: a pipe
in a special sheath, a horseshoe, a pocket watch, hand-cuffs used
on Breaker Morant, and even an inkwell fashioned from a horse's
hoof. And like a seasoned raconteur he entertained us with a host
of funny fireside reminiscences about this period.
Fellow member JOHAN v.d.BERG offered us a fascinating and extremely
well researched selection of DOCKSIDE DISASTERS.
- As a result of a collision between two ships on 6.12.1917, one
of which carried explosives, the waterfront of Halifax Harbour
and part of the city were flattened, with great loss of life.
- On 6 April 1941, German aircraft bombs hit an ammunition ship
in Piraeus Harbour, Greece. Fortunately, there was little loss
of life, but the devastation of the harbour was so complete that,
when the Allies withdrew from Greece three weeks later, it was
- Then there was the Luftwaffe bombing raid on Bari Harbour,
Italy, on 2.12.1944, which caused great destruction and exploded
an American ship with a cargo of mustard gas bombs. This resulted
in the wholesale death of soldiers and civilians since the authorities
were kept in the dark by the Allies and treated the wounded incorrectly.
Churchill even had the mention of poison in the official records purged.
- But the worst disaster happened on 16.4.1944, when 1400 metric
tons of explosives went up in Bombay's Victoria & Prince's docks.
Not only were other ships and warehouses destroyed over a wide
area, but many people lost their lives or were injured and the
rebuilding took seven months.
- Thursday, 12th August 1999
- ALL THE QUEEN'S MEN
- Illustrated Talk by FRANK BULLEN from Johannesburg
about the Foot Guards of the Household Division
- Thursday, 9th September 1999
- THE BOER WAR AT SEA, A Talk by PETER HUMPHRIES
- 1) The blockade of Lourenco Marques
- 2) The naval battles of the Boer War
- 3) The loss of "MS Sybil"
- Thursday, 14th October 1999
- A TALE OF Tho SKIRMISHES ON 17.Sept.1901
- 1) Modderfontein,
- 2) Blood River
- Talk by JOHAN VAN DEN BERG
- Thursday, 11th November 1999
- AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS IN THE GERMAN COLONIES 1911-1915
- PLUS: Operations by South African Aircraft in German
South-West Africa in 1915
- Illustrated Talk by JOHN MAHNCKE
December 1999: In recess
WELCOME TO NEW MEMBER: Cdr.Gerry de Vries
A small number of copies of the following folders are available
from John Mahncke:
1)Dockside Disasters. Talk by JOHAN v.d.BERG.
2)1999-2002 Centenary Programme, Anglo-Boer War Museum, Bloemfontein
3)Map of the Battlefields in the Orange Free State
4)The Commando System by Col. Paul Grobbelaar
5)Illustrated, detailed folder: The Anglo-Boer War - Western
Campaign: Centenary Commemoration Tours.
TONY GORDON advises that copies of the next booklet MILITARIA
have been printed and should be posted in the near future.
Fellow Member MIKE RIGHTFORD, who now lives with his family in
New Zealand, sends his best wishes to "the old gang".
His address is: P.O. Box 30-539, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, and his
The KNYSNA ANGLO-BOER WAR FORT from 1901:
Fellow member IAN UYS, who is Chairman of the Knysna Anglo-Boer
War Committee, has supplied us with information and photograph
of the Knysna Fort, also called Thomson's Folly. This has been
proclaimed a National Monument recently. Anyone interested can
contact John Mahncke for further details.
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 3.00. Scholars and Students free. Tea
and biscuits will be served.
John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167
Military History Society /