The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 10 No 1 - June 1995

(incorporating Museum Review)

The late W J P (Will) Carr

By H W "Nick" Kinsey

Older members of the Military History Society have been saddened at the death on 2 March 1995 of Will Carr, who was a foundation member and past chairman of the society.

Will Carr was born in Potchefstroom in February 1909 when the Dragoon Guards were the garrison troops there. He was the son of Robert Carr, a Transvaal Republican who, although of Scottish descent, fought in every Transvaal war and was present at the battle of Magersfontein, was a member of General Smut's raiding party into the Cape in 1901 and took part in the German South-West African Campaign in 1914 under Smuts and Botha. Will Carr was a staff member of the Johannesburg City Council from 1925 until his early retirement in 1969 as Head of the Non-European Affairs Department when he could not support the implementation of the government's new policies.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Will Carr joined the South African Artillery in June 1940, attached to the 1st Medium Brigade. He went up north soon afterwards and took part in the attack by the 1st South African Infantry Brigade on Italian Somaliland. He also saw action at Juba River, Kismayo, Harrar, Addis Ababa and Berbera. Thereafter, he returned to the Union on a cadet course and was commissioned into the 1st Medium Regiment. He went up to North Africa with the 7th Medium Regiment where he was seconded to the British Army and took part in the Italian Campaign. He was appointed a member of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia under Brigadier MacLean and was attached to the Yugoslavian Partisan Brigade with the rank of captain. He returned to Italy and was amongst the British troops who captured Vienna together with the Russians in 1944. He was promoted to the rank of major and ended the war in Austria, after which he returned to his civilian occupation with the Johannesburg City Council in 1945.

Will was a foundation member of the Military History Society and, apart from various periods of service on the executive committee, was chairman of the society from April 1971 until April 1973. He also acted as scribe of the society's newsletter for some varying periods. He was a very keen, capable and enthusiastic member and was extremely knowledgeable about military history of which he had made a deep study. He had considerable literary ability and was a first-class lecturer, with a quiet yet superb method of delivery. He lectured to the society at its monthly meetings on at least five occasions as well as in the field on society outings. In addition, he contributed a number of articles to the Military History Journal, the most notable being one on 'Masada' which appeared in the June 1983 issue, for which he was awarded the Roderick Murchison Memorial Prize for the best article appearing in the journal that year. He was also a very active member of the Johannesburg Historical Society and had made a special study of Johannesburg and the 1922 Strike. He was an authority on the Jameson Raid of 1895.

Will was very good company indeed and had a natural gift for 'telling a tale', whilst his whimsical sense of humour was a delight. All in all he belonged to that rare breed of men who place integrity, moral fibre and justice above all else. He contributed greatly to the affairs of the Military History Society and we mourn his passing.


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