The membership of the Cape Town branch of the Military History Society
remained constant throughout 2001, but member attendance at meetings increased
from an average of 40 to over 50 a month. Equally encouraging was the
increase in the number of guests - an average of sixteen per meeting,
representing an improvement of almost 10 %. The most popular lecture subjects
were those dealing with first-hand war experiences, indicating that the branch's
publicity in local no-charge newspapers has been successful. Apart from the
monthly meetings ofthe branch, members were active in many other
The Castle Military Foundation and Trust. The intention of this trust is to further and protect the aims of the Castle Military Museum, and to conserve valuable artifacts.
Anglo-Boer War Commemorations. These were allended to although the numher of actual sites in the Cape Town area is small by comparison with the Transvaal and Natal.
The development of the Cape Peninsula Military Heritage Trail from the Castle to Cape Point. This trail includes the sites of many old batteries, as well as Robben Island, Constantia Nek, Muizenberg, Simon's Town, Silvermine Pass, and the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
The Hout Bay and Llandudno Heritage Trust. The aim of this trust is to protect the architectural, historical and cultural heritage of the area, including the Apostle Battery and the East and West Forts.
The Cannon Research Project. This project was initiated not only to record and publish the history of muzzle-loading guns in the area - there are 743 in all - but to continue to discover new sites. The latest recorded location is the Chavonne Battery at the Clock Tower development at the Waterfront.
As we enter our 33rd year, the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of the Military History Society can look back with confidence, in that we have gone from strength to strength over recent years. Our membership has grown and the average attendance at all our meetings has more than doubled. We have an ever-widening range of military subjects covered at our monthly meetings and such has been the increasing interest in the Society that our program of speakers is already full for the next two years.
Speakers range from senior military officers to professors and from 'amateur' historians with specialised subjects to celebrated authors and more besides. Many of our guest speakers travel great distances to deliver the results of their research to an always appreciative audience.
This surge of interest has come about as a result of the huge publicity generated by the commemoration of the centenary of the Anglo-Boer War. Members of the society chaired both the provincial KwaZulu-Natal committee and the Durban city committee, as well as all the sub-committees which planned and executed the successful range of events in Durban. This gave massive publicity to the Society, but more importantly it raised interest in all aspects of military history, not limited to the Anglo-Boer War. This has been to our long-term benefit.
The Society meets in the Civil Engineering lecture theatre of the University of Natal on the second Thursday of every month except December. The opening talk is given the title of 'DDH' in memory of Major Darrell Hall, who was a founder and most active member of the branch. He died on 11 November 1996 and although sadly missed by all our members, he is remembered as 'DDH' at the start of every meeting.
In addition to the monthly
meetings, the Society has four
annual events that are highly
popular with all members. These
- The Battlefield Tour. Each year we book a weekend away to visit various KZN battlefields, with a range of speakers who cover various aspects of the historical events that have made the sites famous. We are delighted to have welcomed Society members from both Johannesburg and Cape Town on these tours.
- The Armistice Day Ceremony. On 11 November each year, the Society meets with the MOTHs for a joint ceremony to remember the Armistice. A talk is given on the history and development of Armistice Day from 1919 to the present day and this ends in time for the two minutes silence at 11.00. The ceremony has been held every year since 1994.
- The End of Year Dinner. We meet socially at the end of every year to close another 'military history' year.
The Society continues to offer its members
excellent access to a wide range of military
history topics. The 2001 lecture programme
contained such diverse subjects as the 'Last
Stand of The White Bread Division', 'The
Bayeux Tapestry' and 'Conflict, Weapons
and Warfare in the Rock Art of Southern
Africa'. One of the main achievements of the
year was to provide editorial assistance for
the production of the Military History
Journal. This is one area where the Society,
as the biggest customer and part sponsor of
the journal, can support the South African
National Museum of Military History. In a
combined effort between the Society and the
Chief Curator of the Museum, the journal
editor was provided with a more powerful
computer; lack of computer capacity having
been the major obstacle to the production of
the journal. The journal is now printed in
A4 format which will be a significant factor
in keeping down costs. We look forward to
adding colour and a more modern format to
the journal, cost permitting. The Society
looks forward to an exciting year both in
lectures and publications. Our web site
continues to be vital in promoting our
activities and facilitating our members
access to fellow enthusiasts. We encourage
readers to visit the site at:
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