The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 14 No 6 - December 2009

Obituary: Lionel Wulfsohn
1919 - 2009

It is with very deep regret that I pay tribute to another gentleman member of long standing of the Military History Society, namely, Lionel Wulfsohn, who passed away on 6 August 2009, in the presence of his dear wife, Eithne, and members of his family. He was ninety years of age and had suffered with ill health for some long time.

Lionel was born in Rustenburg on 14 January 1919, a son of a well-known family and, in due course, he joined his father's business, which had been established in 1897. During the Second World War, he joined the Wits/De la Rey Regiment and was very seriously wounded at the Battle of Monte Stanco in northern Italy, on 13 October 1944. Most of the members of his platoon were killed and he was eventually rescued and spent many months in hospital thereafter.

After the War, Lionel developed his great interest in military history, with particular reference to the two Anglo-Boer Wars. With the help of members of the local MOTH Shell hole in Rustenburg, of which he was the founder, he set about the restoration and care of military cemeteries all over the western Transvaal. He spent all his spare time on this work, and received an award from the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I feel that too few people were fully aware of the enormous amount of work involved, or the deep feelings he had for the soldiers he remembered in this way. He gave unstintingly of his time and labour for the preservation and upkeep of military cemeteries. We are indebted to him for the work he carried out.

I had the great pleasure of accompanying him on many outings in the western Transvaal and I remember well his delightful way of showing me so much of the military cemeteries and battlefields of the Anglo-Boer Wars. I was impressed by his deep knowledge and the vast extent of his interest and work. This was exhibited in the issue of his two books, Rustenburg at War, published in 1987 and 1992. These books are of great interest and historical value, and give some indication of his extensive knowledge of Rustenburg itself, and the history of the First and Second Anglo-Boer Wars in the western Transvaal. The books are, in themselves, a monument to him.

Lionel was a most enthusiastic and interesting man. He was a natural born gentleman with a very happy sense of humour. I count myself very fortunate to have enjoyed his wonderful friendship. He enriched my life, and it has been a great pleasure to have known him.

Nick Kinsey

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