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Webmaster - L/Cpl Bruce Ross Strachan

PPM SAM GSM

 

8 South African Infantry Battalion - Upington

South Base - Oudtshoorn

 

 

Grand Fathers

 

Captain Reginald Dawe (Lt. in Photo)

South African Army Seconded to British Army

Shropshire Yeomanry

KIA Naples, Italy, World War II

Captain George Ross Strachan

WW1, Trenches in France, Indian Army post WW1

WW2 British Army (Sandhurst) Seconded to South African Army, Law Officer

Adjudant, Italian POW Camp, Mogadishu, Somalia

Passed away from malaria, 26 Sep 1943, aged 42 years

 

 

 

 

Compiled by my father, John Douglas Ross Strachan

 

My father, George Ross Strachan, was born on 28th June 1897 and passed away on 26th September 1943. He was a tall man and consequently managed to bluff his age to join up in the First World War. Instead of the regulation age of eighteen years, he was sent to the trenches aged sixteen. One of his comrades was shot dead right next to him in the trenches, and he himself was wounded by a German bullet, but recovered fully.

 

After the war ended in 1918, he enrolled and took a course specialising in military law, at Sandhurst. From there, he joined the Indian Army and spent some years there in India. At the age of twenty one years, he was put in charge of a Turkish prisoner of war camp in Mesopetamia (now Iraq). On one hair raising account, one of the prisoners attempted to kill him through the bars with a hand made dagger fashioned out of aluminium and hoop iron in the camp's workshop. The guards immediately intervened, twisting the dagger out of his hand before confiscating it. The dagger is still in our family today accompanied by it's significant history.

 

He resigned his commission in the Indian Army, electing to rather go into sheep farming in the Beaufort West district. Sadly, drought, followed by economic depression, put an end to those farming plans. Fortunately, he was able secure a clerical job with the Shell Oil company in Cape Town.

 

Then, on the 3rd of September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany as announced by Neville Chaimberlain on the radio, heralding World War Two after only twenty years. Being a professional soldier, he was called up from the Officer's Reserve in London. Fortunately, General Jan Smuts, who was leader of the United Party and Prime Minister at the time, used his connections to have George seconded from the British to the South African forces, as his knowledge of military law was urgently needed there, due to the lack of suitably qualified personnel in that sphere of military law, in the South African Army.

 

With reference to my own memories, at the age of seventeen years, I remember attending a United Party political meeting in 1948, held in the Muizenberg Pavillion in Cape Town, addressed by Field Marshal Jan Smuts. After the meeting, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with Jan Smuts where he asked me my name and I mentioned to him that my father had passed away from malaria some five years ealier in 1943. He informed me that he knew and remembered "Strachy" well, my father's nickname. A proud moment and memory indeed, which I have carried through my life.

 

John Douglas Ross Strachan

 

 

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