The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 14 No 4 - December 2008

Obituary: David Panagos

David was a long-standing member of the South African Military History Society, serving for a long period on the committee and contributing many articles to the Military History Journal. David was born in Pretoria of a Greek general merchant father and a South African mother. He was educated first by the Christian Brothers and then by the Marist Brothers in Durban, where he developed a keen interest in shipping ..

He joined the Active Citizen Force in the late 1940s in time to occupy an armoured car as a signaller in the funeral parade of Jan Smuts. As a signaller, he had an abiding interest in the subject, particularly concerning the South African War (1899-1902). He married Ann in 1956 and they had two boys and a girl. Initially, David worked as an engineer with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), then at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and later at the satellite tracking station at Oliphantsfontein during the moon landings, and, finally, at ISCOR.

He made a mid-life change to archaeology and palaeontology at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, where I remember him taking me to a walk-in safe and handing me 'Mrs Pies'. David was a mine of information on the subject, from the Iron Age to the South African War in particular. When we visited the battle site at Witpoort, he impressed Prof Carman Miller of Montreal, author of Painting the Map Red, with his knowledge of the Canadians' role in the battle and the terrain. Accompanying David one afternoon to visit the fortifications at Klein [Pampoen] Nek in the Magaliesberg, we noticed a man, accompanied by a woman with a load on her head, taking the path over the Nek, only to discover later that we had witnessed the departure of Dave's car battery!

His enthusiasm was demonstrated when we were able to locate three new forts in relation to BadenPowell's HQ camp at Rietfontein, Hartebeespoort. Having located 'South Hill' from the Lincolnshire Regiment's records, a road was discovered leading to two otherforts. Apart from surveying the forts, David used his famous long pole to take mast-head or bird's eye views of the foundations.

His erudition, enthusiasm and pleasant personality will be sadly missed.


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