"The Friendly Red Hackle"
A Reasonably Irregular Communication from
The Transvaal Scottish Regiment

No 8/2011 -  25 March 2011

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Don't forget the  11th June 2011 - The Regimental Ball

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte

From the Editor:

Quite some time has passed since the last edition of "The Friendly Red Hackle", and in spite of those "doomsayers" who predicted that I would not be able to keep up the momentum - here I am to irritate, educate, hopefully inform, and possibly amuse you!

An old year has gone and the World Cup Soccer with it, and a rather uninspiring new year has arrived with much force and fanfare. We have seen events in North Africa and the Middle East that would have been unimaginable had it not unfolded before our very eyes thanks to the electronic news media, and I think that we are all watching and hoping that there is no nuclear disaster in Japan after the tragic events in that now somewhat shattered country. Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch in New Zealand as they rebuild their lives.

I use the word "uninspiring" with some reserve, and the word choice was motivated by the following rather uninspiring international reaction to the:

  • Egypt crisis by the world community and the UN

  • Libya crises by the UN

  • Yemen / Saudi Arabia / Syria uprisings

  • the nuclear events in Japan

  • Bomb blasts and the ongoing troubles in Israel

HOWEVER - before everyone is put off by my apparent morbidity, what has been incredibly inspiring is the:

  • resolve of the Egyptian people to get rid of a dictator

  • ongoing resistance of Libyan citizens taking on tanks with rocks

  • the ongoing rumblings of unrest in the Middle Eastern counties to get rid of unjust systems

  • the fortitude of the Japanese people in the face of an increasingly uncertain "nuclear" problem

  • the resolve of the Israeli people

For those of you who subscribe to the idea that this is the start of the "2012 End of the World" scenario - click here

And the following story is definitely VERY inspiring (with thanks to Jim Mitchell, and apologies for the politically incorrect humour - but I do think you will get the point)





Just two letters after a name. Post-nominals, we call them.


A lot of countries don’t fancy tags after John Doe’s name - so you don’t always pick up on a Medal of Honor (OK, they can’t spell in the States) winner - but elsewhere those little letters can change a life for ever.


Not always, though. Many years ago in New Zealand I had the honour (see, spelt rite) of meeting Charlie Upham. He was such a down-to-earth, unassuming guy - definitely ‘Charlie’, not ‘Charles - that it would have been bad manners to raise the subject of his incredible distinction… a repeat award of the Victoria Cross. One of only three such cases in history, ever.


But then Charlie was the sort of guy who dropped rank (from sergeant to private) to get overseas and into the war. He also initially resisted going for officer training in case it delayed his getting into action. And finally, at the end of World War II when the local community subscribed to buy him a farm, he declined and directed the money into scholarships for the kids of ex-servicemen. For a deposit on the farm of his dreams, Charlie took a war rehab loan....just like others at the time. I thought of Charlie when I heard that an Australian SAS member had been awarded the supreme distinction for ‘acts of the most conspicuous gallantry’.

The Victoria Cross

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith (Photo Left - didn’t know they had hyphenated Aussies) earned it for charging uphill to take out two machinegun positions. It happened last June during the Shah Wali Kot offensive in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Two men on Roberts-Smith‘s left were pinned down. One ‘was copping a lot,’ as he put it. ‘I know their families, they know mine.’ And so he acted. He broke cover and drew fire away from his mates, then raced to within 20 metres of one machine gunner and took him out with a single shot. Then it was the turn of the others.

The Australians have the largest non-NATO contingent in Afghanistan. Their neighbours across the Tasman are also involved, and then-Lance Corporal Willie Apiata (Photo Right - and See below) of the New Zealand SAS gained his V.C. in 2004 for carrying a seriously injured comrade, under fire, to safety. It wasn’t as though he’d been expecting trouble at the time: Willie had been kipping on the bonnet of his Landy when, in a surprise attack, a blast blew him off (and clearly woke him up to good effect). Three years later Apiata was presented with the ‘Victoria Cross for New Zealand’. (Incidently - the first award of this medal). It looks exactly the same as the one to which good Queen Victoria gave her name back in 1856, but it’s awarded solely on the recommendation of the New Zealand authorities. Likewise with the identical ‘Victoria Cross for Australia’; each is an honour that today has nothing to do with the British authorities.

Though one hasn’t yet been awarded, there’s also a Canadian Victoria Cross. Same design, same crimson medal ribbon, just two slight differences. Where the original carries the rose, thistle and shamrock of England, Scotland and Ireland, this has typically Canadian flora. Also, the wording on the scroll now reads ‘Pro Valore’ instead of ‘For Valour’; the change to Latin made because of Canada’s French/English language hangups (shades of the old South Africa!).

Why the ‘independent’ V.C.’s? Official explanation: All part of the ‘uniquely Australian’ (that country was the first to change) nature of the updated honours and awards system. Unofficially: The Brits kept slapping down the Aussies back during Vietnam War days when they wanted to honour acts of extraordinary gallantry.

Why? Awarding a V.C. to a kangaroo troopie would draw attention to the fact that the Brits opted out of that conflict, refusing to come to the aid of their transatlantic friends the Americans just a couple of decades after the latter had saved Brit bacon in World War II. But it wouldn’t be polite to say that.

The Canadian Victoria Cross

However, when it comes to recognition, rightly, no-one cares about the politics of the matter. Holders of the Victoria Cross tend to get saluted by all ranks, however much brass the latter may be sporting. When the British Army’s Private Johnson Beharry (formerly of Grenada in the West Indies - Photo Left) lined up at Buckingham Palace in 2005 to receive his Cross, Beharry was called ahead of General Michael Jackson, there for a knighthood.


One last thing about this supreme distinction. Winners aren’t always pussycats in civvy street. One Canadian had to be locked up overnight to ensure that he appeared next morning at Buck House sober and unmarked for the ceremony. Bill Speakman, who earned his in Korea (defending against Chinese human-wave attacks during which he ran out of ammo and was last seen hurling beer bottles - thankfully empty - at the oncoming horde) led a rather chequered life. A Brit, he worked as a security officer in Durban for many years.


The rules say quite clearly that for ‘any infamous crime’ the award can be withdrawn. But in practice King George V put a stop to that, writing: ‘Even were a V.C. to be sentenced to be hanged for murder, he should be allowed to wear his V.C. on the scaffold.’


He got the point. Once you’ve earned those two letters, nothing can take away what you’ve done.

From "The Australian" newspaper

A New Zealand commando serving in Afghanistan says his job is to keep the Taliban running and openly taunt them.

"Our job is to get out amongst it," says the sergeant, whose name is a closely held secret. He says he has probably killed 30 Taliban fighters. Few details have been revealed about the way he and his unit fight in Afghanistan's tough Oruzgan Province but it's known that small groups head out alone and act like tethered goats, taunting the Taliban to attack them. The commandos' long-range patrols target the Taliban spotter networks.

The sergeant, a member of the Australian Army's 2nd Commando Regiment, says he has killed 10 Taliban at very close range and called in airstrikes that killed a further 20 in three tours of duty. A father of three, he told the Australian newspaper he never suffered nightmares or any other ill-effects.

He has Australia's second highest medal, the Star of Gallantry (Picture Right), awarded in 2006, and there is a discreet campaign in Canberra to have him awarded the Victoria Cross – the Commonwealth's highest medal for valour – for other covert actions.

The Star citation for the New Zealander was heavily edited by the Australian Defence Department, and like that for New Zealand Special Air Service's (SAS) Corporal Willie Apiata, (See Above) it gives little away of what really happened. The department refused requests for information.

Star of Gallantry

In an interview earlier this month, the Australian has filled out some of what happened to the New Zealander.

He led a night-long fight to rescue a Canadian patrol under attack. After the Canadians were rescued by helicopter, the commandos were caught in a four-hour siege, which included an hour of virtual hand-to-hand fighting. The sergeant narrowly missed being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The citation refers to one incident where the sergeant, "with absolute disregard for his own safety, personally conducted an assault on a machine-gun position not more than 30m to his front". The commandos then drove away, under attack for much of their retreat. Bullets were found in the headrest of the vehicle the sergeant had been driving, straight behind where his head had been.

The citation says he drove "directly through the killing ground without hesitation". While driving, he and his fellow commandos were firing their weapons and using fragmentation grenades. "Bloody hell, we were lucky to get out of it," was the only public comment the New Zealander made of the incident. The sergeant told the Australian that on his latest tour of duty, he found the allied Coalition was making progress.

"We are more mobile, able to establish ourselves and disrupt and get in there and get under their skin," the Australian quotes him saying. He describes the real threat to Afghanistan as political rather than military. The insurgents offer "a shadow government", he says, so the challenge is to convince the people there is a better way.

With its home base at Holsworthy outside Sydney, 2nd Commando has served in Afghanistan since 2003. It differs from the SAS by deploying larger platoon forces. Its mission is to conduct offensive special operations.

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
- Attributed to George Orwell 

From the Editor - Can Anyone Help?

As a small project I am trying to get the cap badges of all the regiments who wore/wear the Red Hackle. At this point I have naturally the badges of the Transvaal Scottish, a very poor copy of one from The Black Watch (RHR), and one from The 51st Highlanders (3BW).

Bill Carlisle from the Toronto Black Watch Association has very kindly sent me a badge from the Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (beautiful piece of work!), and Siegfried Mehlitz sent me the shoulder flashes of the regiment - both pre and post WW2. Rest assured - they will be displayed with pride!

Is there anyone in Australia and/or New Zealand that can help please?

I will be happy to swap out badges with anyone who can help.

The collection will be mounted, framed and presented to our Museum.

Please reply to transvaal-scottish@mantisweb.co.za

The Red Hackle survives in Australia
My appeal drew the following response from "down under" on the 15/11/2010
Ed: Note to the Toronto Black Watch Association  - see comments

Your appeal in the November edition of The Friendly Red Hackle for details of an Australian Regiment affiliated with The Black Watch has been referred to us.

There has been a Regiment affiliated informally and formally with The Black Watch in Australia, and New South Wales in particular, since 1885. From 1885 until the First World War, that Regiment was known as the New South Wales Scottish Rifles. It was disbanded just before WW1. The Scottish affiliation was taken up again with the formation of 30 Infantry Battalion New South Wales Scottish Regiment, a militia regiment, between the wars. Whilst 30 Battalion participated in World War 2 in two units, 30 Battalion AIF (1939-1945) and 2/30 Battalion neither was recognised as an affiliated unit although they carried the traditions of the pre-war 30 Battalion to some extent.

After the war 30 Infantry Battalion was re-formed as the NSW Scottish Regiment, also a Reserve Unit, but was unfortunately disbanded in a major re-organisation of the Australian Army in 1960 and the Regiment ceased to exist. However the tradition was carried by a Company in one of the new infantry battalions and this continues today as A Company of 2/17 Royal New South Wales Regiment.

New South Wales is the only Australian State that has had a unit affiliated with The Black Watch. Other States had Scottish Regiments but they were all affiliated with other Scottish Regiments. The New South Wales Scottish Regimental Association was formed some 12 years ago to ensure that the traditions are carried on.

Up until yesterday we too had Pipes and Drums that were actively supported by us, but unfortunately time has crept up on our pipers and drummers and they have reluctantly been forced to call it a day. The Australian Army is also unfortunately not keen on keeping up some of the old traditions and now has no Pipe Bands which has meant that we have not been able to recruit younger military pipers and drummers.

We have a web site at www.nswscottish.org.au which details far more of our history than the “potted version” above and also contains records of recent events in which the Association has participated.

We had been unaware of the strength of your association until we received “The Friendly Red Hackle” but I have now included a link to your web site on ours.

We would very much welcome setting up a rapport between us as we too have not been very successful at making contact with other Black Watch Associations. We have attempted to make contact with the Canadians but have not been favoured with a reply. I believe that New Zealand once had a Scottish affiliated Army unit but our enquiries have persuaded us that they do not have a very active association.

We have added your address to our mailing list for our Newsletter which is published three times a year, but at the moment are temporarily out of badges. As soon as our stock is replenished we will gladly send you one.

We welcome the opportunity to continue our contact.

Ian Meek
NSW Scottish Regimental Association

Events in The Regiment

OC's Report by Lt Col D. Smythe

Wow what a successful year this has been so far:

1. Operationally, both companies have returned from successful deployments.

2. The number one pipe band in South Africa featured in a command performance at the Chief of the Army Gala Awards evening.

3. More than 30 new members joined the regiment.

4. An excellent start to the Regimental Shooting Calendar, a 303% improvement on the previous year’s SA Army Shooting Competition results and shooting themselves into 1st and 3rd Places at the Gauteng North League individual competition a week ago. The training and integration of the regimental development shottists is progressing well as both Rfn Aphane and Sgt Daniels acquitted themselves in the recent competition. At the beginning of the season, S/Sgt du Plessis said that the 5th slot in the Gold cup would be ours and this proved correct on the day, a far cry from last years performance.

5. All allocated administrative, training, ceremonial tasks completed and the accessible budget fully utilized.

6. Welcome changes rang out from the Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association as WO1 T Wright was installed as the new Chairman.

7. A fabulous Restoration project underway at the View.

8. The Regiments first attempt at the Military Skills Competition was successful in so much as Sgt Leon Daniels achieving a slot in the top 10 with promises of a trip to Poland later this year as incentive.

9. The Scottish Horse memorial renovations are already under way thanks to Mr Eric Itzkin of the Johannesburg City Council immovable heritage and the "I Love Kensington Association".

It all sounds like a dream indeed.

A-Coy did very well indeed. I am very proud of their dedicated professionalism and regret the loss of Major Clyde Thomas as company commander while at the same time I congratulate him on his appointment as commanding officer of Tshwane Regiment. I note some of the B-Coy scores relating to the internal border safeguarding deployment, and see that more than 5,780 foreign nationals from 19 different countries (Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Indian sub continent) were prevented from slipping quietly into South Africa, to wreak havoc on the community and the economy. It is also very encouraging to see how much contraband was confiscated and placed in the care of the customs and excise (SA Revenue Services). The largest of the hauls being over R11M worth of illegal cigarettes and their 27 person smuggling team.

This is the 8th edition of the FRH. I commend the Regimental Command Communications officer, Major van't Hof and his dedicated volunteer team for keeping their faith, soldiering on through thick and thin, mostly behind the scenes in order to communicate on such odd, peculiar, sometimes diabolical facts and figures. Thank you, the reader for taking the time and interest to read through this "bumper" edition and for your support. I trust you will enjoy our communication and look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

Alba nam Buadh

Officer Commanding
Johannesburg, 25 March 2011

The OC presented the following medals and certificates at the Awards Evening:
  • WO D Schoeman
    Tshumelo Ikatelaho (General Service Medal)
  • Lt Col T Hutchinson
    The Maluti Clasp in recognition for participation in the Lesotho crisis response
  • Lt M Mogale
    Best Operational Officer For 2010
  • Maj D van 't Hof
    "Jock of the Year 2010" In recognition of his loyalty, reliability and active involvement as well as the excellent work completed at the Regimental Open Day Project
  • A Band - Transvaal  Scottish  Regimental  Pipes  and  Drums

    Achieving the Champion of Champions, SA Military Champion and Provincial Champion status in 2010

  • B  Band - Transvaal  Scottish  Regimental  Pipes  and  Drums

    In recognition of the loyalty, regimental pride, support and dedication to the Regiment during parades and functions, and during events and funerals of members of the Regiment during 2010  

    Specific recognition to WO1 C Palos and Sgt A Landman

  • WOI A Coetzee

    Services rendered to the Regiment in pursuit of excellence -  specifically in respect of the HR related activities

  • Colonel R van Zanten

    Services rendered to the Regiment in pursuit of excellence - specifically in respect of guidance given to the strategic

    direction of the unit

  • Pte S Cele

    Achievement as Best Improved Shottist  for the year 2010

  • Mr E Molata

    In recognition of his ongoing dedication, to ensuring the equitable welfare of the members of the Regiment

  • Mr E Coetzee

    Services rendered to the unit  -  specifically in respect of the History of the Regiment and the Heritage Project Initiative

  • Mr H Oosthuizen

    Services rendered to the Regiment in pursuit of excellence – specifically in respect of assistance rendered in the Military Skills participants training program

  • Mr J Olivier

    Services in support of the Regiment  -  specifically in respect of photography and marketing and in support of the Command Communications Section

  • WOII T Tlhaholi

    Services rendered towards the efficient running of the regiment and specifically in recognition for his work completed at 21 SA Inf Bn and 4 SA Inf Bn where both these units stock takes and corrective actions were implemented in such a manner as to earn these units their first stock take certificate in 3 and 5 years respectively.

  • Cpl Motaung

    Best NCO 2010

  • L/Corp T P Mfeka
    Services rendered toward the efficient running of the Regiment - specifically in recognition of the improvements in the Pers Section of the Regiment

  • The Transvaal  Scottish Regimental Association

    Support to the Regiment  -  specifically in respect of their support ahead of the overseas visits

  • The Transvaal Scottish Regimental Council

    Support to the Regiment - specifically in respect of The View restoration project and Regimental Uniforms

  • Sgt L Daniels

    Achievement as Best Shottist  for the year 2010 and for excellent achievement during the 2010 Military Skills Competition

"The Americans fight for a free world, the English mostly for honour and glory and medals, the French and Canadians decide too late that they have to participate. The Italians are too scared to fight; the Russians have no choice. The Germans for the Fatherland. The Boers? Those sons of bitches fight for the hell of it."
American General, George "Guts and Glory" Patton

Ex-Transvaal Scottish member Clifford O'Farrel (now with the British Army and serving in Afghanistan) visited us at "The VIew" and gave a briefing on his experiences. He was part of the sniper team that holds the current record for the longest range "kill" - See Issue 5 of the "Friendly Red Hackle" for an account of that bit of military skill!

Apart from it being a very interesting "personal" account of someone who has seen the action there first hand, it brought home to us the difficulties and hardships being faced by the members of the military serving there - and that there is still a lot to be learned about mine-proofing the vehicles being used in that theatre of war!

Ed: Perhaps a few South Africans can help there with the experience we have!

The Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association

We congratulate ex-RSM CWO Trevor (Porky") Wright, HC, MMM, JCD on his election at the new chairman. We wish him all the best (because Porky is the bestest!).

Message by the Chairman of the association:

To all members and prospective members. Thank you very much for your confidence shown by electing me as chairman of your association. I intend managing the affairs of the association by setting quantifiable and achievable objectives. Here are a few for starters.
Improve communication. Target: 1 month.
Make the association more interesting to members and to have some fun. Target: immediate and ongoing.
Raise sufficient funds to support the members serving the Regiment with regards to uniform and any other needs they might have. Target: end of the year and ongoing.
To increase the Association membership by 10% this year.

To those who are reading this message and are not members, I have only one question for you. Why not? There are enough categories of membership to accommodate everybody. So everyone out there reach out and recruit one new member. So please support your association and your Regiment.

Mobilizations, Shooting & Parades

Internationally in Africa - Alpha Company
The company has returned from the Sudan and has been demobilised.
Within South Africa - Bravo Company
B Company has returned from the border and has been demobilised
Within the Urban Environment - Charlie Company
Training programmes have been approved and the training cycle will be starting shortly


12 Red Hackles seen on the Heidelberg Shooting Range - 5th February 2011

"The Jocks" also took the following places at the Gauteng North shoot held on the 12th March 2011

1st Place - S/Sgt L. du Plessis
3rd Place - Cpl. W. Vermaak
10th Place - Rfn. F. du Plessis
26th Place - Cpl. J. Helberg (3rd open sights)
32nd Place - Sgt. L. Daniels (5th open sights)

Chief SANDF Shooting Championships - Bloemfontein
The unit sent two teams to the annual Chief of the SANDF Championships in Bloemfontein over the period 2nd to 5th March.

The A-team was placed 7th overall in the SANDF, and took a 5th place in the reserves.

Ed: it seems that the highest placed "Regular Unit" came in at 10th place! The regulars have gone very quiet!

Ed: Note the Red Hackle - if we can't wear wear it on our Kevlar Helmets - we'll make a plan!

A complete schedule of shooting dates - practice and competitions is available. We have new rifles available for issue to shooting team candidates and hopefulls - please contact Maj. D. van 't Hof or Cpl. W. Vermaak


"The number of medals on an officer's breast varies in inverse proportion to the square of the distance of his duties from the front line."
 -Charles Edward Montague



The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration which is, or has been, awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.

It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. In the United Kingdom, it is usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace. In those countries aside of Britain where the Monarch of the Commonwealth realms is the head of state, the Governor-General usually fulfils the same function. It is the joint highest award for bravery in the United Kingdom with the George Cross, which is the equivalent honour for valour not in the face of the enemy. However, the VC is higher in the order of wear and would be worn first by an individual who had been awarded both decorations (which has not so far occurred).

The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,356 times to 1,353 individual recipients. Only 13 medals, nine to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War. The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sevastopol. Recent research has thrown doubt on this story, suggesting a variety of origins for the material actually making up the medals themselves.

The George Cross

Due to its rarity, the VC is highly prized and the medal has fetched over £400,000 at auction. A number of public and private collections are devoted to the Victoria Cross. The private collection of Lord Ashcroft, amassed since 1986, contains over one-tenth of all VCs awarded. Following a 2008 donation to the Imperial War Museum, the Ashcroft collection went on public display alongside the museum's Victoria and George Cross collection in November 2010.

Since 1990, three Commonwealth countries that retain the Queen as head of state have instituted their own versions of the VC. As a result, the original Victoria Cross is sometimes referred to as the "Commonwealth Victoria Cross" or the "Imperial Victoria Cross", to distinguish it from the newer awards.

The first award went to Lieutenant Charles Lucas for gallantry in the Baltic on 21 June 1854 in seizing a live shell which had landed on the deck of HMS Hecla and throwing it overboard.

The Victoria Cross for Australia was established on 15 Jan 1991 as the highest Australian operational gallantry award. It supersedes the Victoria Cross instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856 but is physically identical and carries the same award criteria.

Tobruk, Libya. 25 April 1953. Group portrait of five Victoria Cross winners, members of the Australian and New Zealand Coronation Contingent, in the Tobruk War Cemetery, during their brief stay while on their way to England to attend the coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

They are, left to right:
Pte F. J. Partridge VC, (Australia)
Pte E. Kenna VC, (Australia)
Sergeant J. D. Hinton VC, (New Zealand)
Pte R. Kelliher VC, (Australia)
Sergeant R. R. Rattey VC.

The photo shows that the men are standing behind the gravestone of Cpl Jack Edmondson VC whose award was posthumous.

"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon"
Napoleon Bonaparte - 15 July 1815. To the captain of HMS Bellerophon.

Upcoming Social Events

The Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association - Annual Lunch

Just a last reminder for those of you who have not yet replied or booked! There are still places open - so just let one of the organizers know that you will be attending - and pay cash at the door!

The Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association cordially invite you and your partner to join us at this function
Place : The Wanderers Club, Johannesburg
Date: 26 March 2011
Time : 12h00 for 12h30
Menu: Portuguese salads, rolls and butter, fish and chips
Sweets (ice cream with chocolate sauce)

Dress: Association Dress or smart/casual
Cost: R 100 per head
Payment: Make cheque or electronic payment to Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association, First National Bank, Northcliff Branch. Branch Code 253-705, Account No. 59636541136.

RSVP: Dave Gould 082-887-7742, or 011-678-1218
or RSVP: Trevor Cock 072-450-4527, or 011-763-4944
or RSVP: Wally Hattingh 083-527-5963

Transvaal Scottish Annual Officers Mess Dinner - 26th August, 2011

Please change your diaries!

Please be advised that due to some double-bookings and general confusion,
the dinner has been moved to the 26th August 2011 - still at The Inanda Club

Price and times to be advised

Transvaal Scottish Annual Regimental Ball - Saturday June 11, 2011
For more details - click here  
The annual Transvaal Scottish Regimental Ball is to be held:
Place: The Wanderers Club
Address: 21 North Street

Time: 18H30 for 19H00

R285.00 per person
If booked and paid by 30/04/2011

R360.00 per person for late bookings

Bookings: transvaal-scottish-ball@mantisweb.co.za
Accommodation: Spend the night of 11th June 2011 at the
for only R475.00 per person sharing B&B
That is over R200.00 per person discount!

Bookings only through the organizers!

The Draw for our combined Open Day / Regimental Ball sponsored prize will be held at this event.  
Two nights' stay for 8 people at Serolo Luxury Tent Camp in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana - valued at over R10,000.00. Accommodation, game drives and walks included.
(Prize is on self-catering basis)

Tickets cost R50.00 per entry - or three for R100.00 - e-Mail to buy

No matter how enmeshed a commander becomes in the elaboration of his own thoughts, it is sometimes necessary to take the enemy into account. - Winston Churchill
The View

Every First Thursday of the month - Eisbein Club

On an informal note - the "Eisbein Club" has has now been in existence for over 20 years! An absolutely informal, unofficial and relaxed get-together every First Thursday of the month. It is for people who enjoy good food, good beer, good Jagermeister and good company, and who somewhere had a military connection (however vague that may be or have been!) The get together happens at:



Douglasdale Village, corner of Leslie Road and Douglas Drive, Douglasdale

From about 12H30. Wear a tie - or you get fined!
Every so often we even get a Piper to play - the expressions on the faces of the other clientele is something to see!

The Club has (eventually) produced a new tie - Jagermeister features on it! - probably because the production needs to increase for every 1st Thursday!


Last Months' Military Trivia

11/11/11/18 - and no, there is not 1x too many 11's!

At this time the armistice, signed several hours before in French Marshall Ferdinand Foch's railway carriage, took effect between the Allies and the Central Powers bringing the First World War to an end.

The costs of the war were staggering:
An estimated 65 million people were mobilised during the war
8,5 million of these died
21 million had been wounded
8 million were being held prisoner when the war ended
6 million civilians also died

Now for the question: In addition to the individuals who died in the war - 4 imperial dynasties also perished during or in the aftermath of the chaos thereby changing forever the face of European politics - who were they?


The Answers are:


German: House of Hohenzollern-1918


Russian: House of Romanov-1917


Austro-Hungarian: House of Habsburg-1918


Ottoman Empire: Imperial House of Osman-1922


Several people got the answer:
Lt Col Edgar  - Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey

Michael Stanton and Rhys Fitter got it completely

Lt Col Dave Leslie - from the Black Watch of Canada (RHR) also got it

Sgt Hutchinson got 3 out of 4

From Maj. Izak Stins: (who also go the answers right)


Some more trivia about the Armistice of 1918:

The Armistice of 1918 was signed in the forest of Compiegne in dining car 2419 of the Orient Express. It was kept there as a museum until it was re-used by the Germans in 1940 for the signing of the French surrender to the Germans. It was destroyed by SS troops in 1945 to prevent its capture by the Allies.


The Armistice was signed at 5AM on 11 November and came into effect at 11AM (Paris time).

The Coat of Arms of:

House of Hohenzollern House of Romanov House of Hapsburg House of Osman

This Months' Military Trivia - Just for Fun

The month of March is in historical terms an interesting one. Just look at some of what happened in March of each year:

  • 44BC - Julius Ceasar is murdered in the Roman Senate

  • 1787 - Ensign A. Wesley joins the British Army's 73rd Highland Regiment - later to become The Duke of Wellington

  • 1831 - The French Foreign Legion was formed

  • 1836 - Mexican General Santa Anna defeats the defenders of the Alamo

  • 1862 - The first battle between "ironclad" ships - the Union ship "Monitor" engages the Confederate ship "Virginia"

  • 1896 - King Menelek of Ethiopia's army of 100,000 men defeats 17,000 Italians at Adwa, thereby securing Ethiopia's independence - until 1935

  • 1922 - The USS Langley, a converted collier, is commissioned as the first US Navy aircraft carrier

  • 1931 - President Edgar Hoover signs a congressional resolution making "The Star Spangled Banner" the National Anthem of The United States - the words has been inspired by an unsuccessful British attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

  • 1936 - In violation of the Treaty of Versailles the German army starts the re-occupation of the Rhineland

  • 1939 - The end of the Spanish Civil War as Madrid surrenders to General Franco

But in keeping with the "Valour Medal" theme of this newsletter - which German medal was instituted  in 1813 by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia? - e-Mail your answers here

”We will either find a way or make one.”
- Hannibal (247-183 BC), 
Carthaginian general.

Some Odds and Sods: (Thanks to Terence Burns for sending me these two items)

Aircraft Detection systems before the invention of Radar!
Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape...

Now, obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end, is a useful and accurate map. One showing, not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-run could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.  Someone in MI-5 (similar to America 's OSS) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever. At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do it's bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item which qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war. Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were situated. When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot -- one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the 'Free Parking' square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWs who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another future war.

The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.

It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free' card!

"If you're in a fair fight, you didn't plan it properly."
- Nick Lappos, Chief R&D Pilot, Sikorsky Aircraft.

Some memories of The Transvaal Scottish visit to Europe in 1995:
Should anyone require a full-size copy of these photos - please e-mail me
Photo Left - the team that competed in the Annual NATO Reserve Officer's Shooting Competition
L to R - Maj. D. van 't Hof, Lt. J. Findlay, †Capt. A. Freeman, Capt. G. Ross, Capt. G. Burgess
In Front - Lt. I. Findlay

Photo Right - The contingent that visited HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother - Clarence House, 25th May 1995
Back Row - L to R - WO II G. Sutherland, MMM; Mr. J. Mitchell; Maj. D. Burnett; Maj. I. Crowther; Maj. L. Fergusson;
†Capt. A. Freeman; WO G. Ferreira; Pipe Major M. Stanton
Front Row - L to R - Maj. C. Hepburn; Lt Col J. Findlay, MMM, JCD; Lt Col T. Page (OC 1TS); HRH Queen Elizabeth;
Lt Col L. Houghton, MMM (OC 2TS); Maj D. van 't Hof; Padre W. Marshall, MMM, JCD

And a somewhat "tongue-in-cheek remembering" from Jim Mitchell about our visit to Scotland:
Fast-forward exactly fifty years from the date of my birth. It’s Thursday 25th May 1995, and I’m waking with a well-earned hangover in Pirbright, some 55 kilometres southwest of London. To refine the pain, Staff Sergeant Mike Stanton is rendering ‘Happy Birthday’ on the bagpipes…not so subtle in a two-man barrack room. The hangover comes from the hospitality of The Black Watch, whose guests we are, plus the fact that Lieutenant-Colonels Trevor Page and Lance Houghton, commanding 1 and 2 Transvaal Scottish respectively, had helped me kill a one litre duty-free bottle of Aberlour the previous night. My only hope of survival is that the British Army still sticks to the traditional greasy breakfast, which might soak up some of the negative brain-buzz.

We - a forty-four-strong touring party from the Transvaal Scottish - had crossed the Channel the day before on the hovercraft ferry, after having visited the World War I battlefields of northern France and the capital, Paris. On the eve of my birthday, in between the liquid diet, a duo of Black Watch sergeants had attempted to polish up our Highland dance skills. This morning, though, I’ve forgotten all the steps, or even what reels we’d worked at.

Thankfully breakfast at Pirbright remains old-style with porridge followed by bacon and bangers and fried eggs, a far cry from the healthy cereals we’d been served by the French Army. There’s time for a stroll around the camp and a shufti at one of the Guards battalions practising ceremonial drill on the square. Probably preparing for upcoming public duties in London. Odd: they’re in summer drill order - shirtsleeves - but with bearskin headdresses atop, no doubt to get the guardsmen used to the weight and balance. Wonder what they feel like in a high wind? No chance to see more, kit’s packed and it’s time to embus and head up to, and through, London for King’s Cross Station, where we’ll board the Inter-City Express to Edinburgh in the afternoon.

The Irish Republican Army is still enthusiastically ‘liberating’ Ulster via bomb attacks on mainland civilians, so there are difficulties about leaving bags at train stations. No problem, the party is splitting up now, with most remaining at King’s Cross and just fourteen of us re-boarding the bus to track back south into central London. I take the tour guide’s place, by the door and low to the left of the driver, but with a great view. Seated, I’m looking straight out at normal head height, rather than down at people on the streets, and after a while I notice the patrolling bobbies - there seems to be one or two on every corner - are peering quite sharply at our bus before dropping their gaze. Checking the number plate, perhaps? Could be, because then they tuck their heads down and appear to mutter into the microphones clipped to their lapels. It becomes clear we’re under surveillance all the way…London is buttoned up tightly. Which is why there’s no formal security check as we roll to a halt outside Clarence House, London home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, off The Mall and but a short walk from Buckingham Palace. With the bus almost empty there’s room to straighten uniforms, check ties and tams, collars and cuffs before being ushered inside.

One of us receives an unexpected greeting. A corgi of the Royal Household doesn’t like the look of the white spats worn as part of his review order uniform by Major Diederik van ’t Hof, and bites down… hard. The major forges onwards, doing his best to look as though he normally appears on parade with an attached short-legged, baby-s**t-brown-and-white hound.

The reception room is a comfortable fit for ourselves, the Queen Mum’s aides and staff and a couple of extra guests. Among them, the Commanding Officer of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada… another Commonwealth regiment that, like the Jocks, shares the Red Hackle of The Black Watch. Various mementoes presented by the Transvaal Scottish over the years are scattered around the room. I note a leather-bound copy of Tartan on the Veld: The Transvaal Scottish 1950-1993 (‘Patron-in-Chief, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Colonel-in-Chief, Transvaal Scottish, 1956-1961’). Staff proffer drinks: spirits only, export proof strength and coming in but one size… not doubles, but trebles. Centre stage sit three chairs ranked side by side, empty. Ma’am enters, walking slowly and sporting a diamond brooch rendering of the thistle ‘collar dog’ of the Transvaal Scottish. She circulates as aides take up the conversational slack.

The Major before the attack - at the
NATO Reserve Officers' Shoot 1995

Soon Ma’am is in the central, slightly more solid chair and it’s time for a more structured word with everyone. One by one we’re brought forward and seated on her left or right. There’s no bowing and scraping; one just waits until she finishes talking to the guest on the other side and turns, while an aide whispers the appropriate name in her ear. And then she leads the conversation so that even the most tongue-tied guest feels at ease. Sure, she’s had plenty of practice at the job, but still makes it appear she’s interested and enjoying herself. Perhaps she really is; we’re soon over the allotted time and nobody’s worrying. Mike pipes away outside. Now comes the traditional group photograph. Ma’am limps haltingly towards the French doors leading out to the garden; only now do I spot that her one leg is bandaged. There’s a doorsill: I cringe at the thought of her taking a header and murmur to the aide nearby: ‘What about giving a hand?’ ‘More than my life’s worth’ is his sotto voce reply. Ninetyfive-year-old royalty doesn’t acknowledge physical frailties.

Photos taken, it’s time for goodbyes. Our hostess stands and has a farewell word… enough to make it clear that gallons of gin over the years haven’t dimmed any faculties and she’s perfectly aware who each of us is. Sergeant-Major Gert Ferreira is gently urged to help some of the officers smarten up their sadly un-tailored jackets. With that frail old hand resting in mine, I’m told with a smile: ‘You will come back when you’re written the next volume in fifty years’ time, won’t you?’ We’re a little silent driving back to King’s Cross: it seems more likely the next Transvaal Scottish visit to London will be for the Queen Mother’s funeral.

On the train and out of the metropolis, a change of pace and time for a reflective, and weaker, drink. Then another change of pace: some of us might have forgotten what is happening back home, but British Rail clearly hasn’t. At intervals, the ‘Train Manager’ - fancy title for conductor - utters through the loudspeakers: ‘For the benefit of our friends from South Africa aboard the Inter-City Express London to Edinburgh, the score in Cape Town at this moment is… .’ For South Africa is playing, and beating, Australia in the opening match of the third Rugby World Cup. This is the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa following the end of apartheid and with the final score of 27-18 comes pandemonium. Complete strangers buy us drinks. Mike Stanton marches the length of the train and back playing ‘Sarie Marais’ and other more traditional airs. The by-now drunk-dry Express has to re-stock at York and we’re late into Edinburgh’s Waverly Station. But who cares? We feel no pain waiting for an extra carriage to be added to the local commuter branch-line train heading north: there’s baggage to be loaded - uniforms, officers’ swords - bulkier than the usual passengers’ briefcases or shopping bags.

At long last we trundle into Pitlochry. It’s late, but still light in these northern latitudes. The two commanding officers are to be billeted, if that’s quite the word, with the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle. The rest of the mob will be accommodated with locals in the vicinity. Some of our designated hosts, aware of South Africans’ addiction to beer and rugby, have both ‘on tap’, having taped the Cape Town match. At least the Pipe Major of the Atholl Highlanders, with whom Major Ian Crowther and myself are to stay, hasn’t gone that far. We’re permitted to stumble upstairs at his Pitlochry home ‘and so to bed’, as Samuel Pepys was wont to write. In my case at least, asleep as head hits pillow.

NOTE: The above was originally written for my children, as part of some disjointed, but hopefully entertaining, autobiographical notes. Hence the personal angle. The reference to ‘the next Transvaal Scottish visit’ likely to be for the Queen Mother’s funeral proved incorrect: the Regiment was represented at her centenary parade in 2000 before paying final tribute at her funeral in April 2002.

Tartan on the Veld

This is the third in a series of books on the history of the Transvaal Scottish.

It is written by J.H. Mitchell who is also responsible for the stories this month on the Victoria Cross as well as the "personal account" of the Regiments' visit to Europe in 1995.

Copies are available for order through our Adjutant Lt Terry King - e-Mail


For those of you who do not understand the word "Veld" - Click!

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. "
- Thomas Jefferson

For Fun - Whatever You Do - Don't Panic!

The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21, 2012, which is said to be the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar. Various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae related to this date have been proposed.

A New Age interpretation of this transition posits that during this time Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggest that the December 2012 date marks the end of the world or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios posited for the end of the world include the Earth's collision with a passing planet (often referred to as "Nibiru") or black hole, or the arrival of the next solar maximum. Scholars from various disciplines have dismissed the idea of catastrophe in 2012. Mainstream Mayanist scholars state that predictions of impending doom are not found in any of the existing classic Maya accounts, and that the idea that the Long Count calendar "ends" in 2012 misrepresents Maya history. The modern Maya do not consider the date significant, and the classical sources on the subject are scarce and contradictory, suggesting that there was little if any universal agreement among them about what, if anything, the date might mean.

Additionally, astronomers and other scientists have rejected the apocalyptic forecasts as pseudoscience, stating that the anticipated events are contradicted by simple astronomical observations. NASA has compared fears about 2012 with those about the approaching millennium in the late 1990s, suggesting that an adequate analysis should preclude fears of disaster. None of the proposed alignments or formulas have been accepted by mainstream scholarship.

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
- Winnie the Pooh


Alba Nam Buadh - And wishing you all the best until next time


Diederik van ‘t Hof





Transvaal Scottish Regiment

Battalion Headquarters


Postal Address


Regimental Headquarters

The Garrison


P. O. Box 66283


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