The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 8 No 2 - December 1989


by H W Kinsey

Once again the Society has had a busy round of activities during the year with a series of excellent lectures at the monthly meetings in Johannesburg delivered, as usual, by competent and knowledgeable speakers. A list of these lectures appears elsewhere in this issue of the Journal. Similar regular meetings were held by the Durban and Cape Town Branches, both of which continue to flourish. Many of the lectures at the Johannesburg meetings were proceeded by Major Darrell Hall's slide shows under the heading of 'Military Magazine' and produced by 'Metro Goldwyn Hall'. Cmdt O E F Baker gave a slide show at the July meeting on the Involvement of Blacks in the South African Armed Forces during World War II, whilst a video on the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was shown in two parts prior to the lectures at the September and October meetings. The Society is also indebted to Maj Gen Philip Pretorius, the new Director of the SA National Museum of Military History, for the very informative Museum evening on 11 May, when members of the Museum staff lectured on Military Art, Uniforms and Ordnance.

As the Society's Vice-Chairman, Dr Ron Sinclair, moved to Pietermaritzburg, Professor Ian Copley was appointed to act as Vice-Chairman until the next Annual General Meeting.

Two very successful 'do it yourself' day trips were arranged during the year. The first one was to Frederickstad near Potchefstroom on Sunday, 25 June, when upwards of about 100 members and friends in a convoy of about 30 or more motor cars visited the Danie Theron Monument on the Potchefstroom road and then proceeded to Frederickstad. During the day the whole party assembled at three separate stands in various parts of the battlefield where both the Chairman, Mr Stewart Stiles and Major Anthony Gordon of the Cape Town Branch, whose father had been present as a Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Fusiliers at the Battle of Frederickstad from 20 to 25 October, 1900, lectured on the various actions and pointed out features of the battle area.

Lunch was taken at the Boskop Dam in the Naturama Pleasure Resort where the usual social pleasantries were exchanged over picnic lunches which are a feature of these outings. The day's events closed at the small cemetery near the Frederickstad Station, where the Burghers who were killed in the battle are buried, and as members enjoyed the beautiful highveld sunset much thought was given to all those on both sides who had lost their lives in this conflict of so long ago.

The Chairman is to be congratulated on the considerable amount of research and travelling he had carried out to structure the day's events, whilst thanks are also due to Major Gordon for coming up from Cape Town to lecture on the battlefield. All in all a most interesting outing, although the day did prove a trifle strenuous for many of the ladies in view of the extent of the climbing and walking involved.

The next outing took place on Sunday, 15 October, when over 60 members and friends in about 25 motor cars visited Heidelberg. The day's proceedings were taken up with visits to the Heidelberg Concentration Camp cemetery, the SA Corps of Signals Museum at the Army Gymnasium, where Mrs Lynn Fordred, wife of Cmdt I R Fordred, the second-in-command at the Gymnasium, spoke on various aspects of the Museum's collection, St Ninian's Anglican Church, and the Heidelberg Kloof cemetery where many soldiers and notable local personalities are buried. Various historical buildings and old houses in the town were pointed out to those present as the convoy of cars moved through the town. Talks at the various places visited were given by Jan Uys and Nick Kinsey.

The usual informal picnic lunch took place in the grounds of the Transport Museum at the old Heidelberg Station, where members were addressed by the Mayor of Heidelberg, Alderman Ernst du Preez and by Mr 'Spanner' Pretorius, the Curator, in the course of a conducted tour of the Museum.

The Society is indebted to Ian Uys, ably assisted by members of his family, for the way in which he had structured the visit, and for his lively and informative talks, which were made more interesting by virtue of his local knowledge of the history of Heidelberg and its early inhabitants.

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