South Africa National Museum Of Military History, Johannesburg

by Kojo Pocu

The South Africa National Museum of Military History houses about 44, 000 artefacts from both world wars and the anti-apartheid civil struggle.

The South Africa National Museum of Military History, located on Erlswold Way in Saxonwald, Johannesburg – literally next door to the Johannesburg Zoo – is a must-see for anyone interested in weapons, military aircraft, medals, uniforms, and other war artefacts.

During the First World War, many of the fighting countries devoted time gathering and maintaining records of their soldiers’ actions. For example, the Imperial War Museum was built in Britain, but South Africa failed to establish any kind of museum, and most of the period’s memorabilia was lost. Shortly after South Africa’s entry into WWII, attempts to preserve papers and artefacts began, and a Historical Research Committee was formed.

Surprisingly, the state appointed seven combat artists who were on the front lines. Following that, a collection of over 800 works of art was assembled as a nod to South Africa’s role in the conflict.

The South African National War Museum was the first museum to open in 1947. The name of the museum was changed to the South African National Museum of Military History in 1975. It houses nearly 44 000 pieces from both world wars and the civil fight against Apartheid, arranged into 37 categories that include photos, art, and some of the world’s most valuable aeroplanes.

The Museum of Military History also features a library with a rare collection of journals, archives, and books, which attracts over 80 000 visitors each year.

South Africa National Museum Of Military

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The Anglo-Boer War Memorial

A massive memorial created by Sir Edwin Lutyens stands on the museum grounds.

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, lay a commemorative stone at the memorial on November 30, 1910.

Originally known as the Rand Regiments Memorial and dedicated to British soldiers who died during the Second Boer War, it was renamed the Boer War Memorial on October 10, 1999 and rededicated to all persons who died during the Second Boer War.