The Military History Society had another successful year with a full programme of interesting lectures and slide presentations. At the beginning of many of the meetings, which were well attended during the year, Major Darrell D. Hall gave a series of short informative slide shows on a variety of topics of military history interest. The Durban and Cape Town branches continued to flourish with their lecture programmes and other activities.
Mr H W (Nick) Kinsey concluded his two-year term of office as Chairman of the Society at the Annual General Meeting held on 21st April, 1983, when Major Hall was elected to the Chair for a second time.
Two highlights of the year’s activities were the ‘do it yourself’ visit to Mafeking on the week-end of 5th to 7th August, and the Society Braai on 28 October, 1983. The Mafeking visit was well attended by over sixty members and friends. Mr Spencer Minchin, a well-known Mafeking resident, his wife Connie, both experts on local history, and Mrs Audrey Renew, Curatrix of the Mafeking Museum, made everyone most welcome and took the party on a conducted tour of places of interest connected with the history of Mafeking (or Mafikeng as it is now called) and the Siege. Places visited were the Museum, the fort at Cannon Kopje, the Warren Fort (known as the B.S.A.P. Fort during the Siege), Christopher Bethell’s grave, the Montshiwa Church built by the Royal Engineers under Colonel Arthur George Durnford at the time of the Warren Expedition of 1885, St. John’s Anglican Church, designed by Sir Herbert Baker and built as a memorial to those who had lost their lives in the Siege, the town cemetery containing the graves of the military and civilian casualties of the Siege, as well as the grave of Lt A.W. Beauchamp-Proctor, VC, DSO, MC (Bar), DFC, the Concentration Camp cemetery, and various others. Members were also able to visit Mmabatho, the new capital of Bophuthatswana, to view the imposing new civic buildings there. The talks by Spencer Minchin and Audrey Renew were supplemented with additional information provided by Darrell Hall concerning the guns used by both sides. Richard Dey, Pat Irwin and Nick Kinsey also contributed to the talks. This most successful and interesting visit was enjoyed by the members, who were accommodated at the Mmabatho Sun and the Fish Hoek Hotel at Rooigrond where all assembled for a farewell lunch on the Sunday before returning home. The visit was followed by an informative slide show presented by Major Hall, assisted by Maurice Gough-Palmer and Nick Kinsey, at the monthly meeting held on 8 September, 1983. Those members who had not been on the trip were thus enabled to learn something about Mafeking.
The Braai held in the Museum grounds on Friday evening, 28 October was attended by over 100 members and their friends, and proved to be a very pleasant social event. Members were able to meet in convivial surroundings and enjoy a good chat. The proceedings were enlivened by the piping of Mike Stanton, a former Pipe Major of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment. Our thanks go to Colonel G.R. Duxbury, Director of the Museum, for allowing us the use of the Museum grounds for the evening, to Mr John Keene of the Museum staff who, with his two helpers, Messrs Alan Kirby and Richard Henry, did so much to make the party a success, and to Dr Felix Machanik who did much of the organizing.
Major Darrell Hall was the winner of the Roderick G. Murchison Memorial Prize for 1982 for his article ‘At the Call of King and Country’ which appeared in the December 1982, issue of the Military History Journal. This prize, donated by Mr Rod Murchison in memory of his late father, who was a member of the Society, has been established as an annual award for the best contribution to the Journal in any one year commencing with the year 1982. In this connection we must express our regret at the departure of Rod, the Society scribe, to work in the United States; to thank him for his contribution to the activities of the Society, and to wish him well in his new sphere of work.
H. W. KINSEY