Military History

Here is an aerial photograph of the heavy cruiser, HMS Dorsetshire at speed: a sleek, silver streak of naval power cutting through the wine dark sea. The caption tells us: She was in Cape Town numerous times between December 1939 and December 1941. She was sunk in April 1942 by the Japanese along with her sister ship HMS Cornwell. The war saw the end of so many huge floating gun platforms as aircraft carriers changed the very nature of sea battles.


This year makes the centenary of the South African's heroic assault on and then defence of Delville Wood in France on the Western Front in July 1916, a 6 day epic of warfare. It was a part of the long battle of the Somme. The losses were horrendous with only 700 odd soldiers of the South African brigade emerging From the wood on the 6th day and over 2500 casualties.

Lionel Crook: Island at War. Robben Island 1939 - 1945  edited and published by the Naval Heritage Trust, Simons Town 2013, paperback, illustrated, 344 pages. Robben Island is a place of scenic beauty rich memory and a fascinating history. This "island of seals" is now a world heritage site and museum because it was an island prison during the decades of the 60s, 70s and 80s. For many years black South African liberation fighters and resisters against apartheid were incarcerated.

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