The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 9 No 2 - December 1992

(incorporating Museum Review)


by Lionel Wulfsohn

In the 1939-1945 war I was privileged and honoured to serve in the Regiment de la Rey, a motorised infantry battalion in 6 South African Armoured Division. During the course of 1943 we amalgamated with the Witwatersrand Rifles, and were from then onwards known as the WR/DLR or Wits de la Rey.

We were an ordinary group of South African men, but our officer corps was hand-picked by our revered Officer Commanding Lt Col J B Bester DSO and Bar. So it was not surprising that when our MO Captain Fossie Daubenton was recalled to Egypt just prior to the battle of Monte Stanco 13 October 1944, he was replaced by Captain James Craig.

Captain Craig first met me when I was brought on a stretcher into the Regimental Aid Post on 13 October 1944, but somehow I do not remember the occasion. After the war at the annual re-unions of the WR/DLR, I really got to know Captain Craig, who by then was 'Jimmy' to all his old comrades. Jimmy had the precious gift of being able to relate to all men, no matter what their station in life was, and his after-dinner stories laced with humour were a must at all re-unions.

Jimmy, who was a most well-liked medico in the post-war years, decided to specialize in orthopaedic surgery, and in a very short time became one of Johannesburg's leading surgeons. Sadly a rare illness struck him down, and he took on a teaching post at the Witwatersrand University Medical School. After reaching pensionable age he carried on working, and in 1983 became Associate Professor of the Orthopaedic Surgery Department.

Although the war had ended in May 1945 Jimmy was vitally interested in the health and welfare of his old comrades, and if he heard of an old WR/DLR type in hospital he would call on him as expeditiously as possible. If he heard of an old comrade suffering from war wounds he would call him into the General Hospital, and give him a personal check-up. He felt that these men were still his patients despite the fact that the war had ended 45 or more years previously.

As my wife and I were away in early July 1992 I was not aware that our old friend and splendid medico had been called to his last parade.

Jimmy, we old comrades of the WR/DLR salute your memory, and convey our sincerest sympathy to Hilda and the family.

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