R.J. Armes

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R.J. Armes (b. Kings Lynn, Norfolk, 17/03/1876 – d. Colchester, Essex, 15/04/1948) was an army officer and later a shipping superintendent.


In the S.A. Pictorial of 29 April 1922, a Col. R.J. Armes is credited with making an appearance as the Ship’s Captain in the African Film Productions version of H. De Vere Stacpoole’s novel The Vulture’s Prey (1922), directed by Dick Cruikshanks and William Bowden. He was Col. Reginald John Armes, who was the Officer Commanding ‘A’ Company of the Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire Regiment) during World War I. He is especially remembered for a letter he wrote to his wife, Eleanora, on Christmas Eve 1914 while serving on the Western Front. In it Armes describes a cease fire that he arranged with a German officer that was to last till midnight on Christmas Day, a period during which not a single shot was fired and there was some fraternization between the two opposing sides.

Armes came to South Africa at least three times, namely in 1919, 1921 and 1924, though he had already been in South Africa with the North Staffordshire Regiment during the Anglo-Boer War. Thus he was in the country when The Vulture’s Prey was shot, which was some two years before its eventual release. He was present at the opening of S.A. Aerial Transport on 25 October 1919 at the Baragwanath Aerodrome as one of the Directors of Aviation. In 1920 General Smuts, Colonel Armes and Major Court-Treatt were Vice Presidents of the African Aero Union, while the Chairman of the Legal Section was C.V. Becker. The latter also had a role in The Vulture’s Prey, though he had had ample stage experience. After he left military service, Armes went into shipping and joined Alfred Holt & Co., the firm that operated the Blue Funnel line. The two ships that brought him to South Africa in 1921 and 1924 were the Anchises and the Ulysses respectively, both Blue Funnel vessels.

(Trivia: When his first South Africa-bound ship, the Llanstephan Castle, left England on 2 July 1919, another passenger on board was the South African Prime Minister, General Louis Botha) (FO)


S.A. Pictorial, 29 April 1922


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