The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 12 No 5 - June 2003


Sadly, our good friend Felix Machanik (86) - Lt Col Dr Felix Machanik MMM, JCD - passed away on 17 March 2003 after a long period of ill health. He was a founder member of the South African Military History Society and the longest serving member of the Committee in 2002. Felix was born in Willowmore in 1916 and matriculated at Benoni High School in 1933. He qualified as a doctor at the University of the Witwatersrand with an MB, BCh degree in 1940. During the Second World War, he served as a general and orthopaedic surgeon in the South African Medical Corps and the Royal Army Medical Corps in Egypt and Italy. After the war, from 1946 to 1953, he undertook post-graduate study in the United Kingdom, and obtained a degree as Master of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Liverpool in 1950. In 1967, he joined West Park Commando as Medical Officer with the rank of major.

Felix's father served in the 1st Welch Regiment during the Anglo-Boer War, and this gave rise to Felix's interest in military affairs and history and eventually to his large and varied collection of military history books, war medals, firearms and military memorabilia. With Gen H B Klopper and Col G R Duxbury, he was one of the forerunners who had considered the need for the formation of a military history society of some sort and when the late Neville Gomm put in motion the formation of the South African Military History Society on 5 October 1966, Felix was a founder member. He took an active and enthusiastic part in the affairs of the Society from the very beginning, serving as chairman from April 1975 to April 1977 and as one of the longest serving members of the committee.

Felix's great interest was military historical research and he lectured to the Society on a number of occasions, his most notable talks being 'Fortifications' and 'Naval Medical History', presented in 1981 and 1984 respectively. He was also an Honorary Curator of the Small Arms collection at the South African National Museum of Military History, and a member of the Transvaal Numismatic Society of which he was chairman for a period of six years. He also had a particular interest in maritime archaeology and was of the view that a maritime archaeology foundation should be set up for the purpose of preserving maritime artifacts.

Felix was amost knowledgeable, charming, interesting and enthusiastic person and a great friend to so many of us who regarded him with great affection. We will miss him very much.

Nick Kinsey

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