The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 14 No 5 - June 2009

Obituary: Professor Christian Johan Barnard
1923 - 2009

It is with much sadness that we pay tribute to Professor C J (Johan) Barnard, who passed away on 7 March 2009, shortly before his 86th birthday. He was well known to many of us, and was one of the very few remaining foundation members of the Military History Society who attended the inaugural meeting on 5 October 1966.

Johan Barnard was educated at the universities of Stellenbosch, London and South Africa, and held the degrees of MA and DLitt et Phil. He was a former Chief Narrator (Land Forces) in the War Histories Section of the Prime Minister's Office from 1950 to 1958, a British Council scholar at London University from 1956 to 1957, and Cultural Attaché at South Africa House, London, from 1959 to 1962. From 1962 until his retirement in 1987, he was on the staff of the University of South Africa, in the Department of History.

Johan served on the Committee of the Military History Society for many years and was Chairman from April 1979 until April 1981. He lectured at a number of meetings during the period 1968 to 1986, as well as during many of the Society's trips to battlefields, etc. He was an Honorary Life Member of the Military History Society and always participated in the Society's activities. His publications included General Louis Botha op die Natalse Front, 1899-1900 and Die Vyf Swemmers, the latter being an account of the escape of prisoners of war near Ceylon in 1901.

I had the great privilege of working with Johan Barnard in the early days, and soon confirmed my high opinion of his personality and his remarkable historical knowledge. Johan was one of Nature's born gentlemen, who behaved impeccably at all times. He had a kindly disposition and people enjoyed listening to him. He had a remarkable way with people, all of whom were fascinated by his knowledge. He had a lovely sense of humour, even sly at times. His historical knowledge, particularly about the Anglo-Boer War, was incredible. He had a very fine library indeed and his knowledge and love of books was quite phenomenal.

Maurice Gough-Palmer and I spent many happy hours with him on our various historical outings and always enjoyed his delightful company.

Johan Barnard was a unique and wonderful person who enriched our lives. We shall not see his like again.

Nick Kinsey

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