28 December 2008

CHRISTMAS IN EARLY CAPE TOWN

What was Christmas like for our ancestors in bygone days? For starters, there was no Christmas shopping rush! Before 1859 Christmas celebrations in Cape Town were rather low-key.

The English ship Dragon was in Table Bay on Christmas Day in 1607 and its sailors carved one of the earliest English post office stones. Jan VAN RIEBEECK made no mention of Christmas celebrations in his diaries but he did note that he gave each of his men a tankard of Spanish wine for the New Year. His successor, WAGENAAR, noted that on 25 December 1662, Christmas was properly celebrated by hearing God’s word twice. The week before Christmas in 1705 saw stormy weather and on Christmas Day there was a huge rainstorm.

In 1713, the south-easter blew at hurricane force on Christmas Day, with the English ship Great London anchored in Table Bay, signalling for help. The Castle did not reply and so 19 sailors rowed to the shore to get an anchor and cable. On their way back, they were blown out to sea and never seen again. On Christmas Day in 1769, the first horses sent to India from the Cape left on board the ship Duke of Kingston, bound for Madras. In 1849, a Mr. DONALDSON, owner of the Round House, offered his place for Christmas celebrations with skittles, quoits and pigeon shooting.

The Cape Argus was the first newspaper to wish its readers a Merry Christmas on 24 December 1859. In the same issue, Sefton PARRY, owner of the Cape Town Theatre, announced the first Christmas pantomime in South Africa - The babes in the woods. That year the weather was "blazing, flaring, scorching, nose-blistering, red-hot". The week prior to Christmas Day, the paper carried only two Christmas adverts, one suggesting French flower vases as presents and another offering Westphalia hams for the Christmas meal. A fattened pig cost 30 shillings, a suckling pig cost 9 shillings and a chicken was 1 shilling. A turkey was 4 shillings and 6 pence and 100 oranges could be bought for 7 shillings. Robert GRANGER had a grocery store on Castle Street and had just received a shipment of white rice from Calcutta. He also had Lancashire hams, Irish butter, Havana cigars, whisky, and cheeses from England and Holland.

In December 1864, the main attraction in Cape Town was a ride on the new Wynberg railway. The then world’s largest ship, Great Eastern, was in Table Bay on Christmas Day in 1869 and Cape Town residents were allowed to visit the ship. Christmas 1871 saw diamond diggers from Griqualand spending their holidays in Cape Town. They gave their friends champagne parties and treated everyone that crossed their paths. That year also saw Christmas trees for sale in the shops. A Mr. LONG, shopkeeper, had the following advertisement up: "Oh Pa! Oh Ma! Do go and pay Mr. Long a visit and buy me some toys - they are so fine, so unique, and so instructive. Oh do dear Pa! We will be such good children hereafter". Some things don’t change with the passing of time!

24 December 2008

FARM FULL OF HISTORY


Newstead Farm, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, is now producing good old-fashioned soft drinks, under the label Frankies. Ginger Beer, Root Beer, Lemonade, Cola and Cream Soda can be bought at selected outlets country-wide.

The farm was first settled in 1848 by two NAUDE brothers. They lived in a mud hut and felled yellow wood trees in the nearby forests. They later moved to the Transvaal. James Erasmus METHLEY was the next owner, with John LIDGETT. The farm was later divided - 1619ha went to Lidgett (later became the Lidgetton Land and Wattle Company) and 1214ha became Newstead. James built the house on Newstead. He also built Yellowwoods for his son at Shafton, in the Karkloof. James owned seven farms around Natal. Newstead remained in the family for more than 100 years.

James kept diaries, one mentions Winston CHURCHILL being stationed nearby. He played a game of polo against the Karkloof farmers, and afterwards Churchill was invited to dinner with the Reverend. There was also a small fruit orchard on the farm, as well as sheep and cattle. In 1891 the railway line reached the area. His son, Willoughby, expanded the fruit-growing side, specialising in plums - the Methley plum was his development - and exported to Covent Gardens in London.

The next owner of Newstead was Murray ARMSTRONG, a sugar cane farmer. The current owners are Mike and Paula SCHMIDT. Mike grew up in Amanzimtoti and attended school in Durban. He was once a racing car driver and set up a racing school at Kyalami. He met his wife in Britain and the family lived in Wiltshire, before they and their two girls, Emily and Jessica, moved back to South Africa about five years ago.

James Erasmus METHLEY was born on 18 Feb 1826 in Oxford, England, the son of James METHLEY, a Wesleyan minister. James was educated at Woodhouse Grove School. He was apprenticed to a Manchester draper, but his health failed. While at school he was friends with John ARCHBELL and Sam SHAW, both sons of Wesleyan missionaries at the Cape. James wrote to John, who had gone to Pietermaritzburg. John advised him to go to Natal. James arrived in October 1848 for a visit. He returning to England to make preparations to move permanently to Natal. In 1850 he published a book, The new colony of Port Natal, with information for emigrants. Extracts were published in Yorkshire newspapers, which led to many Yorkshire Methodists immigrating to Natal, with the assistance of Byrne's Company and shipowners such as Richard M. HACKETT and John LIDGETT. Before leaving England, James was employed by Lidgett to act as his agent in Natal. Together with a partner, Edwin PARKINSON, he made preparations for the settlers' arrival and helped them settle on the land granted to them when they reached Natal. One hundred and four settlers left for Natal in four ships - the Herald, Nile, Choice and John Bright. They settled at Houtboschrand (later renamed Lidgett's Town). James left England on the Sovereign, sailing from London/Plymouth on 24 Nov 1849 and arriving at Port Natal on 24 Mar 1850.

During his visit in 1848, James arranged for the purchase of 12000 acres of land north of the Umgeni River, relying on the financial assistance of the Wesleyan missionary James ARCHBELL. After his return in 1850 he became a successful farmer, establishing two farms - Shafton named after the Yorkshire village where his family had originated, and Newstead, at Balgowan, where he lived from 1866. James was an early settler in the Karkloof, and became known as "The father of the Karkloof". Shafton burnt down in 1925 and later became the property of SAPPI.

A book, The Journal of an expedition to the Zoola country in the year 1849 by John and Joseph Archbell and James E. Methley", describes a journey from 11 Jan to 05 Mar 1849, to the Zulu Royal kraal.

In 1854 James married Isabella Forster HODGSON at Darlington, England. They had two sons and a daughter. Isabella died in 1917.

During the Zulu War (Jan-July 1879) James fortified the hotel at Curry's Post. In August 1879 he went to England as an agent for the Natal Land and Immigration Board to recruit settlers for the government settlement at Wilgerfontein (Willow Fountain), near Pietermaritzburg. Owing, however, to the superior attractions offered by agents from Australia and New Zealand, he succeeded in recruiting only between 30 to 40 families who arrived in 1880. He died on 04 Feb 1903 in Balgowan.

Willoughby Laidman METHLEY was born in 1868 in Howick, the son of James Erasmus METHLEY. He was educated at Maritzburg College, and later became a farmer in Balgowan. On 08 April 1896 he married Elizabeth Symons ROWE in Harrismith. They had six children, including a daughter born 05 Jan at Newstead. A daughter, Helen Katherine Howard, married Percival Stuart ATKINSON. Her bridesmaid was Joan ACUTT (latter married ALLEN). Willoughby was a Lieutenant in the Natal Carbineers, where he had 11 years of service. Willoughby died in 1952 and Elizabeth in 1964.

Willoughby's brother, Foster Hodgson METHLEY, served with Kitchener's Fighting Scouts during the Anglo-Boer War. He enlisted in Aug 1903 and had been a painter before this. He was born in Pietermaritzburg. On 07 Sept 1880 he married Dora Ann FANNIN, second daughter of the late Thomas W. FANNIN, in Pietermaritzburg. Dora died in Aug 1899, age 39.

14 December 2008

NEW MUSEUM

The village of Magaliesberg has a new attraction - its own living museum. The late Pierre Richard Hartley THERON wanted to turn the local community hall into a museum but was not able to do so before he was murdered on his farm on 07 June 2004. In his memory, a non-profit organisation, the Magaliesburg Historical Association, was founded. The last five years have been spent researching the area's history. On display at the new museum is a coca pan bar counter dating from the 1800s when the first gold was discovered in Goudkoppies / Blaauwbank. The village's original telephone exchange board is also on display. The museum also sells local history books and souvenirs. The museum is situated on Charles GOTTHARD's property - Out of Africa/La Provence - in Magaliesburg on the R24 towards Rustenburg. Tel: Nicola at 083 377 2254.

MUSEUM WINS AWARD

Port Elizabeth's Red Location Museum has won a national award for architectural excellence at the South African Institute for Architects‘ recent awards evening in Midrand. Red Location Museum, in the oldest part of New Brighton, won the World Leadership Award in the Best Architecture and Civil Engineering Category in 2005. In 2006 it received the inaugural Lubetkin Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The museum was designed by Noero Wolff Architects in association with John Blair Architects.

BOOK TOWN

Darryl Earl DAVID is an Indian lecturer in Afrikaans at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He comes from a long line of teachers - his paternal grandparents were teachers, his father was a teacher and most of his maternal uncles and aunts were teachers. His love of books led him to want to create a book town in South Africa - something like Hay-on-Wye in the UK. Now, after five years of planning, the dream has become reality and Richmond in the Karoo is on its way to become South Africa's very own book town. David is no stranger to perseverance - his wife was in his Matric class but it took three years before she agreed to a date. Richmond is on the N1, about 600 kilometres from Cape Town, and its old architecture is quite intact. The first Book Town celebration was held last year with the late Patrick MYNHARDT as guest speaker.

Three years ago, the building Huis van Licht en Schaduw housed a micro-lender and the local ANC office. At night, the verandah was was by prostitutes doing a roaring trade with the passing truck drivers. Now the once neglected old building in Loop Street houses masses of books. There are six bookshops in the building - Richmond Books & Prints, The Book Orphanage, BooKarooz, Diesel & Dust, and Springbok Huis, as well as a sport museum and publisher. Richmond now has an annual book festival - Boekbedonnerd. The next Boekbedonnerd Festival is planned for the last weekend in October 2009.

Richmond's new claim to fame involves three characters. Peter BAKER, a Canadian-born vet, spent less than R20 000 for a Karoo house that now houses the Supper Club, a restaurant and reading room full of Africana. Darryl completed a doctorate on international book towns (there are now 26 such towns world-wide). It was Richard BOOTH who came up with the idea for a book town in Hay-on-Wye in 1961, as a way to revive a small town with a failing economy. John DONALDSON, sports journolist and bookdealer, bought Huis van Licht en Schaduw when his garage in Northcliff, Johannesburg, was too full of books. Since then he has bought a couple more Karoo houses. John grew up in Jan Kempdorp.

21 November 2008

HISTORY IN FISH HOEK

One of the original Fish Hoek mountainside homes was recently put up for sale at R3.3 million. It was one of the first two homes (the other is next door) in the suburb to be declared a national monument. The Government Gazette of 16 July 1982 shows that the original portions of the two cottages dated from 1919. The two properties originally formed part of the farm owned by K.S. DE VILLIERS, a local land baron who died in 1916. The property was subdivided into lots to form the suburb now known as Fish Hoek. The home on sale (the original cottage) has Elsie's Peak as a backdrop and the front facade faces the sea and views of False Bay. The original cottage was sold to Jacob Walter Charles DE SMIDT in March 1919. The home still has many original features, including some of the wooden floors and a recessed cupboard with lead-paned doors in the dining room, thick walls in some places and gables typical of the period in which it was built. On the outside there are two wine cellars under the original veranda.

Fish Hoek or Vissers Baay or Visch Hoek appears on the earliest maps of the Cape. The first grant of Crown Land in Fish Hoek was granted to Andreas BRUINS in 1818. The land was sold several times before being bought by Hester Sophia DE KOCK in 1883, a 51 year old spinster. In 1901 she married a local farmer, Jacob Izaak DE VILLIERS, who moved in with her. She opened her home as a guest house. She also farmed wheat and vegetables. She left instructions in her will that the farm was to be surveyed and the land sold as building plots. After the deaths of Hester and Jacob, the land was sold off, the first sale taking place in 1918. Hester died on 09 Oct 1914. Jacob died in 1916. They are buried in the small graveyard next to the NG Kerk in Kommetjie Road. Initially people built holiday cottages but as the train service to Cape Town was reliable, a more permanent community soon arose. In 1940 it was declared a municipality. The farmhouse on the site of the present Homestead Naval Mess near the railway crossing became an hotel. The original building, known as The Homestead, belonged to the de Villiers family. It burned down in 1947.

The other oldest house is named Uitkyk. It was bought as a fisherman's cottage in 1918 by the MOSSOP family of Mossop Leathers, and is still in the family. There had been a building on that site since the 1690s - a Pos Huis and a whaling station office.

Fish Hoek is well-known for not having liquor stores. This was due to the clause written in the 1818 land grant giving the land to Andreas BRUINS. The clause stated that there should be no public wine house on the property. This clause was introduced when wagon deliveries to Simon’s Town were common and it served to prevent the drivers from stopping off for a drink (or two or three) and arriving in an intoxicated state in Simon’s Town. The clause was carried on through the years, with residents opposing any planned liquor stores. In 1956, after having opposed many license applications they formed an association called The Defenders of Fish Hoek. They succeeded in getting the Liquor Act amended so that no further applications would be allowed. Under South Africa's new Constitution the Act fell away and after consultation with the local Magistrate residents voted for restaurant and bar licenses only.

LARGEST MOSQUE

Durban's 127 year old Jumma Musjid mosque was founded in the early 1880s when Aboobaker Amod (Jhaveri), said to be the first Indian trader to arrive in Natal in 1874, purchased a site, Sub A of Block BB, in Durban. Lot B of Block BB was bought later, as well as Lot D of Block BB, according to the Deeds Office. Today, Jumma Musjid is the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere, accommodating 7000 worshippers. The mosque has also been declared a national heritage building.

OLD MILL TO TURN AGAIN

The old mill at Reichenau Mission, on the Polela River near Bulwer, will soon be in action again, thanks to a few engineers. The mill was built by Trappist monks in about 1896. It was driven by an axial-flow, multi-bladed turbine. In the floods of 1987, the turbinwe was partially destroyed. Over time, the mill became derelict. A Durban man, Peter FROW, a former Eskom engineer, saw the mill when his wife, Jill, ran a literacy group in the area. He contacted other retired Eskom employees Colin HEALEY and Chris BROWN, retired university technician Mike SMITH, and former Melmoth farmer Gavin CHANDLER, to help with restoring the mill. The South African Air Force airlifted the turbine from the mill, placing it on a truck to a Pinetown workshop. Several businesses contributed funds. When operational, the turbine will provide 40kw. On 15 December the Air Force will transport the turbine back to its home.

BOND SHAKES TREES

Did you know that 007 James BOND was once a genealogist? In the 1969 film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond (played by George LAZENBY), poses as a genealogist.

RARE PHOTO COLLECTION

The National Library in Cape Town has a collection of 43 catalogued old portraits of black South Africans, the Grey Ethnological Album. They were taken in South Africa and Botswana by a German anthropologist, Gustav Theodor FRITSCH (1838–1927), for two books that he wrote - "Drie Jahre in Sud-Afrika. Reise-skizzen nach Notizen des Tagesbuchs zusammengestellt (Three Years in South Africa: Travel sketches compiled from notes in a journal), published in 1868, and "Die Eingeborenen Sud-Afrika’s ethnogtaphiseh und anatomisch beschreiben (The Natives of South Africa anatomically and ethnographically described), published in 1872. He left Germany in 1863 and spent three years in southern Africa. Not only was he a physician and anthropologist, but also a photographer.

The collection was discovered by Prof. Keith DIETRICH of Stellenbosch University while working on his doctorate in the 1990s, researching South African travel illustrations from the 16th to 19th centuries. He eventually found six albums at the Berlin Museum, where he scanned them onto 36 CDs. This work was put on display recently at the Sasol Art Museum in Stellenbosch. The 220 portraits that were found feature 113 individuals. The exhibition is also now available in a book - An Eloquent Picture Gallery: the SA Portrait Photographs of Gustav Theodor Fritsch, 1863-1865, published by Jacana Media.

23 October 2008

YOUNG HISTORIAN AWARD

Yumna JACKSON (16), a Grade 10 student at Bridge Town High School in Athlone, has won the 2008 South African Young Historian Award for her research on the United Democratic Front (UDF). The UDF was an anti-apartheid coalition of about 400 civic, church, trade unions and other groups, formed in 1983.

22 October 2008

VANDALISED GRAVE

Saartjie BAARTMAN's grave has been vandalised. She was reburied in the Gamtoos Valley in August 2002. A gold plaque with her details, was stolen. The grave had been neglected, even though it is a tourist attraction in Hankey.

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE LOOKED LIKE?

What would you have looked like if you were a teenager in another time? At YearBookYourself, you can transform a photo of yourself into a stereotypical teenager from anywhere between 1950 and 2000.

LEARNING CHANCE WASTED

Prof. Alan MORRIS, professor of human biology at UCT's Medical School, along with his postgraduate students, was not allowed to examine human remains removed from the former Prestwich Street cemetery site in Green Point. He believes that this was due to heritage authorities bowing to political pressure from activists. This was despite a call from the SA Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) for human biologists and other specialists to become involved in the project, after human bones were found during a Prestwich Street construction project in 2003. The site was later identified as one of Cape Town's 18th century cemeteries. During archaeological excavations more than 1200 skeletons were found. It is believed that those buried there were mostly slaves, free blacks and sailors.

15 October 2008

LORD CHARLES HOTEL REUNION

Former Lord Charles Hotel staff are holding a reunion to celebrate its opening in November 1988. Rob MARCH started as the hotel's front office manager and became rooms division manager before leaving to start his own business. He recalls staff training in pre-fab buildings alongside the building site. The 5-star Lord Charles was built at a cost of approximately R27-million, which included imported cutlery and crockery valued at R1-million. Rob and his wife Tanya, and Debbie SPENCER also an opening team member, are planning the reunion which takes place on 25 October. A dinner will be held at Craig's Casual Eatery, 171 Main Road. The opening team consisted of approximately 200 people. Some now live in Ireland, UK, Dubai, Botswana, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The managing director who headed the team and the Van Riebeeck Hotel in Gordon's Bay at the time, Stuart CHASE, works in Turkey. For more information contact Tanya: tanya.march@bmwdealer.co.za or Debbie: debbie@merand.co.za

14 October 2008

CEMETERY CONDITIONS

The Mayor of George, Flip DE SWARDT, has spoken out about the neglected state of cemeteries in the area. The town's cemeteries were discussed at a recent council meeting. Many graves are no longer marked. His son, Johan, is buried at the York Street Cemetery. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 22, after an accident in Stellenbosch. Another worry, is the lack of safety when visiting cemeteries.

ORAL HISTORY TEXTBOOK

A new book, Oral History in a Wounded Country, is now available and looks at the background, ethics, methods and use of oral history in South Africa. It is aimed at educators at school and university level, archivists and museum curators. Professor Philippe DENIS of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was a co-editor. He is the Head of Sinomlando, which is based at UKZN and is the leader in South African oral history. The book is published by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

SCHOEMANSDAL MUSEUM DESTROYED

The Schoemansdal Museum was recently destroyed by fire. The fire broke out during the night, destroying the information centre and the open air museum. The damage was caused by runaway veldt fires, with damages estimated at R3-million. The open-air museum was dedicated to showcasing South Africa’s pioneering history.

24 September 2008

THE SAAF AND WARSAW

Earlier this month, I was blessed to attend a very special remembrance day - that for the brave young men of the South African Air Force who flew to the aid of Polish citizens in Warsaw during World War II. This article was written to help keep their memory alive. If you have further information on these men, please let me know and I will add it on.

For five years after Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939, Warsaw remained a Nazi-occupied city. Yet the underground Polish Home Army (AK) never stopped preparing for the day when it could rise against the Germans. This day arrived at 5pm on 01 August 1944 and for the next 63 days the men, women and children of the AK fought against the Germans. The AK believed the Russian Army would come to its aid, bit it didn't. Within the first five days, the AK had re-taken most of the city, but without reinforcements and more arms and ammunition, they could not hold out. The Polish government in exile in Britain appealed to Winston Churchill for help.

The quickest way to help would be to drop supplies in, but the most direct route would take the Royal Air Force (RAF) over the most heavily defended parts of the Third Reich. Avoiding these areas would mean a round trip of 3520km. The only other alternative was over northern Italy but this too would involve avoiding most of the heavily defended German cities and a round trip of 3200km. Churchill was advised by his senior RAF officers that the task would achieve little militarily but cost high in life and equipment.

The 205 Group RAF at Foggia, Italy, was under the command of Major-General James (Jimmy) Thom DURRANT, a South African. The Group consisted of four Wings, three of which were RAF and the fourth was No. 2 Wing SAAF made up of 31 and 34 Squadrons equipped with Liberators.

On Sunday 13 August 1944, 10 crew of 31 Squadron were ordered to Brindisi for briefing and loading of special cargo. When they arrived in the Operations Room at Brindisi, they were greeted with a large wall map of Europe, marked with a thick black 3200 km route zig-zagging from Foggia to Warsaw. They were told that their mission was to fly at rooftop height over a heavily defended city and drop much-needed supplies. The flight route was long and zigzagged over a sea, high mountains and six enemy countries. Navigation aides were poor or non-existent, and the weather was usually foul. The four-engined Liberators would be heavily-laden. The supplies were packed in 12 canisters, each weighing 150 kg, on the bomb racks. Each canister was filled with light machine guns, ammunition, hand grenades, radio equipment, food and medical supplies. Each canister had a small parachute to break the fall. The first South African flight included Bob KLETTE (pilot), Lt. Alf FAUL (co-pilot), Lt. Bryan JONES (navigator), WO Eric WINCHESTER (radio operator), WO Herbert BROWN (air gunner), WO Henry UPTON (air gunner) and Smiler DAVIS.

There were 196 11-hour night flights from Brindisi and Foggia in Italy, to and from Warsaw from 04 August to early September. The aircraft crossed the Adriatic to occupied Yugoslavia before traversing Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Carpathian mountains. The low altitudes flights dropped light machine guns, ammunition, medical supplies, radios and food. The pilots flew in almost every night. Along the way, anti-aircraft batteries and German night fighters made it difficult for the heavily-laden Liberators. The most dangerous part of the flight was when the bombers made the drops by flying at rooftop level and at near stalling speed. The aircraft and crew came from two South African Air Force (SAAF) squadrons, 31 and 34; two RAF squadrons, 148 and 178; US Air Force bombers; and the Polish Special Duties Flight 1586. The cost was high - 168 airmen are buried in the Allied Airmen's cemetery in Krakow, southern Poland, all killed in the six weeks of the airlift. Eighty of the graves are of South Africans. Of the 80 aircraft involved, 31 were shot down - 17 during the weekend of 13-16 August. Sixty-nine South Africans never returned. Twenty-five SAAF Liberators were shot down. Fifty percent of the aircraft were
from the RAF, and 36% of the total force was South African. Squadron 31 had 28 Liberators in the Airlift, the largest component. Eight were lost, 25 reached Warsaw dropping 228 canisters - the highest number of any squadron involved. Squadron 34 had three aircraft involved, one of which was lost. Many aircraft were so damaged when they had to force-land. The price was high. Air Marshal Sir John Slessors, the Allied air commander in the Mediterranean, later put the losses at one bomber lost for every ton of supplies dropped.

The uprising was over by 02 October, when the remainder of the AK surrendered. Seventeen thousand members of the underground, 3500 Polish soldiers and 5000 civilians had been killed. Six months later, the war in Europe was over. A Soviet regime took over and the Warsaw Uprising disappeared from Polish history. Many AK leaders vanished into the gulag and prisons.

In 1992 the Polish ambassador in South Africa, Stanislaf Cieniuch, presented the Warsaw Insurrectionary Cross to the 61 South Africans who took part in the Airlift. The presentation was at a parade held at Voortrekkerhoogte. Descendants of 37 of these brave young men who died during the war or afterwards, received the medal on behalf of their family member. One hundred and twenty South African pilots and aircrew were part of the Airlift. In 1992, only 67 of them, of whom 28 were still alive, could be traced. The Polish government in exile, already in 1945, wanted to honour the South Africans and others who helped. The South African government turned down the honour in 1945 and again in 1953, as it did not recognise the Polish government.

In South Africa, there were a number of Poles who had fought for the Allies and were invalided to South Africa to be treated for tuberculosis at Baragwanath Hospital. They formed the founding group of what became the South African Polish Association. In 1947, the first annual flypast and commemoration service commemorating the Warsaw Airlift was held at the Johannesburg Cenotaph. The Polish community in South Africa commemorated the Uprising and the Airlift every year with a Mass at the cathedral in Johannesburg, laying a wreath at the Cenotaph and holding a reception at the Polish Club. In 1981 the Katyn Memorial was erected at the James and Ethel Gray Park in Melrose, Johannesburg, and the annual commemoration moved there. The Uprising and Airlift, as well as the massacre of thousands of Polish professionals, intelligentsia, academics and military in the Katyn Forest in the spring of 1940, are commemorated here each year and organised by the South African Warsaw Flights Commemoration Organising Committee.

It was only in the 1980s that Poland saw some commemoration of the Uprising, when the memorial in Krasinski Square was erected. The bronze tableau shows a charge by the AK, and fighters disappearing into the sewers. It stands in the square which was Lieutenant BURGESS' target drop zone on the night he won the DSO. A statue of a little boy in an oversized helmet with a carbine in his hands, pays tribute to the children who took part in defending their city. There is an Uprising Museum next door. In 1997 a plaque was unveiled at Okecie Airport in memory of the South Africans. A replica is in the SAAF Museum at Swartkop. There are seven memorials in Poland where Allied aircraft that took part in the Airlift were shot down.

Bronislaw Kowalski, on his own initiative and over a number of years, erected a shrine in the forest near the village of Michalin. The shrine marks the spot where a SAAF Liberator crashed on 14/15 August 1944. It honours the memory of Second Lieutenant R.G. (Bob) HAMILTON, and Sergeants Leslie MAYES and Herbert HUDSON. In his garden, Bronislaw built another shrine in which a light burns day and night and has done so for many years.

THE SAAF CREW

1) Captain Leonard Charles ALLEN
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 203161V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 27
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 4112/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of Charles Edward ALLEN (died 1941, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 1455/41) and Louisa/Louise Sophia/Sofia ALLEN (maiden name ZEEDERBURG, died in 1936, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 95119).

2) Lieutenant Peter Herbert ANDREWS
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 542624V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 20
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5498/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of Herbert William ANDREWS (died 1940, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 3115/40) and Frances Emily ANDREWS (maiden name BURRIDGE).

3) Lieutenant John Christopher BRANCH-CLARK
Observer, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 543022V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 18
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12312 Ref. 1921/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Frank and Joan M. BRANCH-CLARK of Plumstead, Cape Town.

4) Warrant Officer (Class I) Douwe Brandsma BRANDSMA
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 206784V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 21 or 24
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MSCE 2052/1945, dated 1944-1946 in Natal. Son of Jacobus Gerhardus Johannes BRANDSMA (born in the OFS, died 1954, Pietermaritzburg, Estate file: MSCE 828/1954) and Martha Ann BRANDSMA (maiden name HOMAN, born in Ficksburg, OFS, died 1966, Pietermaritzburg, Estate file: MSCE 4122/1966).

5) Warrant Officer (Class II) Herbert James BROWN
31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 328832V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 19
Buried at Malta
Estate file: MHG 3412/49, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of James BROWN and Edith Sabine BROWN (died 1965, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 790/1965) of Pretoria.

6) Lieutenant Oliver COLEMAN
Observer, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 328600V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 20
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 38211, dated 1945 in the Orange Free State. Son of Oliver Joseph Raymond COLEMAN (died 1934, OFS) and Angela COLEMAN (maiden name EGAN) of Bloemfontein. Angela's second marriage was to a RICHARDSON. She died in 1972, Estate file: MHG 4788/72, dated 1972 in the Transvaal.

7) Lieutenant Cedric Arthur COOKE
Navigator, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 206267V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 30
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 4888/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Son of Arthur Vernon COOKE (died 1945, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12342 Ref. 2147/45) and Helen Isabel COOKE (died Jun 1955, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/23625 Ref. 2799/55) of Knysna.

8) Lieutenant Percy Gordon COUTTS
Navigator / Bomber, 178 RAF Squadron
Service no. 329180V
Died 14 Aug 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MSCE 2129/1945, dated 1944-1948 in Natal. Husband of Sophia Otilie Konstanz Paula COUTTS.

9) Lieutenant Denis Osborne CULLINGWORTH
Pilot, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 35379V
Died 16 Oct 1944, age 27
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5193/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of William Walter CULLINGWORTH (died 1944, Pretoria, Estate file: MHG 4738/55) and Constance Ellen CULLINGWORTH (maiden name FISHER, died 1974, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 4525/74). Husband of Elena Anna CULLINGWORTH (maiden name MEKISICH) of Pretoria.

10) Captain Eric Arnold ENDLER
Pilot, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 102379V
Died 11 Sept 1944
Buried at Belgrade War Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12251, Ref. 1523/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province.

11) Warrant Officer (Class I) J.B. ERASMUS
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 328250V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 23 or 28
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Son of Johann and Johanna C. ERASMUS of Swellendam.

12) Lieutenant Keith FAIRWEATHER
Navigator, 178 RAF Squadron
Service no. 542974V
Died 15 Aug 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 38146, dated 1944 in the OFS. Son of Alexander FAIRWEATHER (died 1942, OFS, Estate file: MHG 34254) and Margaret C. FAIRWEATHER of Kroonstad.

13) Lieutenant Charles Searle Stuart FRANKLIN
Pilot, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 206256V
Died 16 Oct 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12312, Ref. 1923/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Husband of Francis FRANKLIN (later STOCK) of Great Brak River.

14) Second Lieutenant Robert George HAMILTON
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 542957V
Died 15 Aug 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 1239/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal.

15) Lieutenant Arthur James HASTINGS
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 99671V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 23
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12248 Ref. 1505/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province, and MHG 4387/45, dated 1945 in the Transvaal. Son of Mrs. L. MOODY of Grabouw.

16) Lieutenant Grattan Chesney HOOEY
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 103846V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 25
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5297/45, dated 1945 in the Transvaal. Son of Samuel HOOEY (died 1944, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 4203/44) and Adela Sarah HOOEY (maiden name RICHARDS) of 201 Joubert Street, Volksrust.

17) Lieutenant Eric Ben Horton IMPEY
Observer, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 41252V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 25
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12312 Ref. 1926/45
Son of Ben Horton IMPEY and Hilda F. IMPEY of Cape Town. After packing his personal belongings, he sat down and wrote the Airman's Prayer before going out to Warsaw never to return. He was the reigning South African high jump champion.

AN AIRMAN'S PRAYER
My God, this night I have to fly,
And ere I leave the ground,
I come with reverence to Thy Throne
Where perfect peace is found.
I thank Thee for the life I've had,
For home and all its love,
I thank Thee for the faith I have
That cometh from above.
Come with me now into the air.
Be with me as I fly,
Guide Thou each move that I shall make
Way up there in the sky.
Be with me at the target, Lord,
When danger's at its height.
Be with me as I drop my load,
And on the homeward flight.
And should it be my time to die.
Be with me to the end.
Help me to die a Christian's death.
On Thee, God, I depend.
Then as I leave this mortal frame
From human ties set free,
Receive my soul, O God of Love,
I humbly come to Thee.

18) Lieutenant Walter KLOKOW
Observer, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 109210V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 27
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12309 Ref. 1902/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Lourens Cornelius GREYVENSTEYN and Anna C. GREYVENSTEYN of Molteno, Cape Province.

19) Lieutenant Ray Arras LAVERY
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 329117V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 25
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12312 Ref. 1928/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of James LAVERY and Edna B. LAVERY of Port Elizabeth.

20) Captain Gordon LAWRIE
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 102792V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 27
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5990/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of David Knox LAWRIE (died Jun 1956, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/24029 Ref. 3165/56) and Amy I. LAWRIE. Husband of Isabella Frances Travers LAWRIE (maiden name ALTSON).
At Lysa Gora, in a clearing in the forest, there is a neatly kept grave surrounded by a wrought iron railing. The tombstone bears the names of Capt. Gordon LAURIE and his crew who were shot down there. The nearby primary school twice a year weeds the area and plants new flowers, while hearing the story of the men from a far-off country who helped Poland.

21) Lieutenant Ralph Lawrence LAWSON
Pilot, 178 RAF Squadron
Service no. 328846V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 21
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12349 Ref. 2201/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Arthur John LAWSON (died Mar 1956, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/23941 Ref. 1307/56) and Millwood Grace LAWSON (maiden name LAWRENCE, died 1946, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12769 Ref. 1418/46). Step-son of R. CLARK of Kalk Bay. Arthur and Millwood divorced in 1931, and Millwood married Mr. CLARK.

22) Lieutenant Herbert Henry LEWIS
31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 136470V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 24
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12290 Ref. 1767/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Herbert Benjamin LEWIS (died 1957, Cape, Estate file: MOG Vol. no. 1/1/12 Ref. 226/57) and Ellen J.D. LEWIS of Middleton, Cape. Husband of Beatrice J. LEWIS.

23) Lieutenant James Arthur LITHGOW
Pilot, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 79528V
Awards: D.F.C.
Died 16 Oct 1944, age 23
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5262/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of James Barclay LITHGOW (born in Scotland, died 1957, Natal, Estate file: MSCE 2290/1957) and Violet Bridget LITHGOW (maiden name FRASER, died 1961, Johannesburg, Estate file: MHG 3067/61).

24) Lieutenant Bernard Thomas LOXTON
Observer, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 329109V
Died 17 Aug 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MSCE 2009/1945, dated 1944-1946 in Natal. Husband of Leonore Alice Helen LOXTON.

25) Lieutenant Keith Brennand MACWILLIAM
Pilot, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 117609V
Died 16 Oct 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 6657/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Husband of Elizabeth MACWILLIAM (maiden name RISSIK).

26) Lieutenant Harry Allpress Ruston MALE
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 21586V
Died 15 Aug 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 38378, dated 1945 in the OFS. Son of Harry John MALE (born in the UK, died 1966, Natal, Estate file: MSCE 727/1966) and Emily Anna MALE (maiden name RUSTON, born in England, died 1970, Natal, Estate file: MSCE 4954/1970) of Port Shepstone.

27) Lieutenant Allan Graham McCABE
Air Gunner, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 209194V
Died 11 Sept 1944, age 22
Buried at Belgrade War Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12267 Ref. 1617/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Frederick Liesching McCABE (died 1926, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/3015 Ref. 12342) and Kathleen L. McCABE of Graaff-Reinet.

28) Lieutenant Allan John McINNES
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 157105V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 22
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12290 Ref. 1768/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Allan McINNES and Ethel May McINNES (maiden name BARROW, died 1953, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/21940, Ref. 6961/53) of Cape Town.

29) Lieutenant Kenneth James McLEOD
Observer, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 47943V
Died 16 Oct 1944, age 27
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5232/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of George McLEOD and Johanna McLEOD of Kestell, OFS.

30) Warrant Officer (Class II) Joseph Arnold MEYER
Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 543206V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 21
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5233/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of Adolf MEYER (died 1937, OFS, Estate file: MHG 28573) and Florence Augusta MEYER (maiden name LOMNITZ, died 1974, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 3672/74) of Pretoria.

31) Lieutenant Anthony James MUNRO
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 7011V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 20
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MSCE 892/1946, dated 1944-1946 in Natal. Son of David Butler Bowman MUNRO (died 1970, Natal, Estate file: MSCE 912/1970) and Ellen Alice Queenie MUNRO (maiden name HUNT, born in Port Elizabeth, died 1968, Natal, Estate file: MSCE 2385/1968) of Doornkop, Natal.

32) Major Izak Johannes Meyer ODENDAAL
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 202918V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 28
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Estate file: MHG 1738/46, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of Dirk Cornelius ODENDAAL and Catharina A. ODENDAAL of Harrismith.

33) Warrant Officer (Class I) Terence Desmond O'KEEFE
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 328854V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 20
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12320 Ref. 2003/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Michael O'KEEFE and Jeanette Walterina O'KEEFE (died 1949, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/16141 Ref. 3118/49) of Cape Town.

34) Warrant Officer (Class I) Douglas John PALMER
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 329040V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 23
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 4949/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of John PALMER (died 1943, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 3551/43) and Gladys PALMER (maiden name McINTOSH, died 1961, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 721/61) of Pretoria.

35) Lieutenant Gordon Bruce PITT
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 100685V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 20
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12313 Ref. 1931/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Alexander PITT and Mina G. PITT of Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. His brother, Lieutenant William George Alexander PITT, pilot with 34 Squadron, SAAF, died 23 Nov 1944, age 33. Service no. 206450V. Buried at Budapest War Cemetery. Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12320, Ref. 2004/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province.

36) Lieutenant George RAY-HOWETT
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 337473V
Died 16 Oct 1944, age 30
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 5349/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of Herbert Arthur RAY-HOWETT (died 1949, Transvaal. Estate file: MHG 4740/49) and Frances Dorothy RAY-HOWETT (maiden name KNIPP, died 1972, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 4847/72) of Johannesburg.

37) Warrant Officer (Class I) Reginald Walter STAFFORD
Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 206770V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 26
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12313, Ref. 1932/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Reginald John STAFFORD (died 1935, Cape, Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/4699 Ref. 48406) and Louisa STAFFORD (maiden name HARVEY) of Cape Town. His parents divorced in 1935. Husband of Dorothy F. STAFFORD of Cape Town.

38) Warrant Officer (Class II) John Atholl Campbell STEEL
Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 543216V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 18
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 37986, dated 1945 in the OFS. Son of Robert John STEEL (died 1928, OFS, Estate file: MHG 21276) and Jane STEEL (maiden name CAMPBELL, born in Rogart, Scotland, died 1960, Natal, Estate file: MSCE 1235/1960) of Pietermaritzburg.

39) Lieutenant Brian Henry STEWART
2 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 103573V
Died 11 Sept or 08 Oct 1944, age 24
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery or Belgrade War Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 1368/45, dated 1944 in the Transvaal. Son of Vallance Meikle STEWART (died 1945, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 2504/45) and Edith Annie STEWART (maiden name HORNING, died 1957, Transvaal, Estate file: MHG 1083/58) of Bremersdorp, Swaziland.

40) Lieutenant Alan D'Egville STOTT
Navigator, 178 Squadron, RAF
Service no. 542708V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 24
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12334 Ref. 2093/45, dated 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Dr. William H. STOTT and H.A. STOTT.

41) Captain Nicolaas VAN RENSBURG
Pilot, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 102853V
Died 15 Aug 1944
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery

42) Lieutenant Thomas Tennant WATSON
Weapons Operator / Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 205946V
Died 17 Aug 1944, age 21
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MOOC Vol. no. 6/9/12228 Ref. 1342/45, died 1945 in the Cape Province. Son of Thomas S.T. WATSON and Hendrina M.K. WATSON of Blanco, Cape Province.

43) Warrant Officer (Class II) Ben Nevis WOODS
Air Gunner, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Service no. 543513V
Died 15 Aug 1944, age 36
Buried at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery
Estate file: MHG 4828/45, dated 1945 in the Transvaal. Son of Benjamin WOODS and Charlotte WOODS. Husband of Isobel Reid Ford WOODS (maiden name ANDERSON) of Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland.
Ben came to South Africa in 1939. He looked after the polo ponies of a South African jeweller. He joined the SAAF in February 1942. He attended 64 Air School in Bloemfontien. This was followed by 43 Air School in Port Alfred where he qualified as an Air Gunner on 31 July 1943. He was transferred to 31 Squadron in April/May 1944. Ben next went to 64 Operations Flight 1675 O.C.U in Lydda, Palestine. On 16 June 1944, he was transferred to Celone, Foggia, Italy. His aircraft, flown by Capt. Nicolaas VAN RENSBURG, was shot down and crashed at Goledzinow near Warsaw. All the crew died and were buried at the crash site. Four years later their remains were discovered and they were re-buried at Krakow Rakovicki Cemetery.

SURVIVED

Lieutenant William Frederick (Fred) AUSTIN
He joined the SAAF at age 17 as an Air Gunner, first with 17 Squadron and later with 34 Squadron. Died 21 June 2008. Married to Pat and had a son, Wayne.

Second Lieutenant Robert (Bob) BURGESS
Pilot, 34 Squadron, SAAF
Youngest and most junior SAAF officer to be awarded the DSO. On 31 Aug 1944 he was the co-pilot of a Liberator that was shot on the way back to Italy from a Warsaw flight. The pilot in command baled out. Bob, having never landed a Liberator on his own, ordered the crew to bale out. They refused, so he nursed the crippled aircraft, assisted by Sgt. Alan Bates (RAF - DFM, MBE) and Lt. Noel Sleed (DFC), until they crash-landed in a field, west of Kiev. Bob married Inez, an army nurse. They moved to the Brown & Annie Lawrence Retirement Home in Pinelands, Cape Town, July 2002. Inez passed away on 04 July 2007 and Bob on 14 July 2007. Their son and daughter immigrated to New Zealand. Bob's son has kept his father's scrapbooks, medals and other Air Force memorabilia.

Captain George Laurence COLEY. Lived at Blood River.

Lieutenant John R. COLMAN. Lived in Cape Town. Died 2007.

Smiler DAVIS

J. Pieter DU PREEZ. Awarded the DFC. Lived in Pretoria. Died 2007.

Lt. Alf FAUL. Pilot.

Major I.J.M. (Nick) GROENEWALD
He ordered his crew to jump after his Liberator was hit over Warsaw. While reaching for his parachute pack, the Liberator exploded. He managed to clip his parachute pack to his harness and opened it in time to land but suffered burns. At daybreak, he stumbled into a farmhouse and was taken to a secret hospital where Polish doctors repaired his face and arm burns with skin grafts. With false documents, he worked as a farm labourer before joining the AK. Russian troops found him and took him to Moscow where he was handed over to the British ambassador. Nick contacted his wife who, in the meantime, had been receiving a widow's pension.

Lieutenant Lionel Gordon JACKSON. Lived in Cape Town. Passed away on 28 December 2011 at age 88.

Lieutenant Bryan JONES
Navigator, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Born 29 April. He was 17 when he joined the SAAF in 1942. Shot down over Warsaw in August 1944. His saving grace was hearing a voice telling him, twice, to put on his steel hat. He reached for it on the floor behind him, and put it on. His aircraft, piloted by Bob KLETTE, crashed nose first onto Warsaw airfield and he was knocked out, but all seven crew miraculously survived. They scattered in different directions before being captured. One of the gunners, Herbert BROWN, was mortally hit in the crossfire. Bryan made a promise that day that he would devote his life to God, in thanks for his life. After the war he held a number of senior managerial positions before becoming ordained as a pastor in the Rosebank Union Church. The prisoners were held at a local prison for about a week, before being taken to the Stalagluft POW camp, from where they could see Allied aircraft being shot down. The Russians finally occupied Warsaw in January 1945. The Germans released the South Africans much later. In 1994, Bryan and his wife flew to Poland with members of the Warsaw 44 Club. In 2001, Bryan and Col. Dirk NEL were invited to attend the concert in Atheneum Theatre, Warsaw, to rise funds for the refurbishment of the Michalin Monument. They were also made Honorary Members of the Robert Hamilton Boy Scout Troop.

Robert R. (Bob) KLETTE
Pilot
Attended Grey College. Flew through heavy anti-aircraft fire with three of the aircraft's four engines hit. After dropping the cargo, he turned for home. The control panel was blank, all the gauges and instruments were broken. In the pitch dark night, he managed to make an emergency landing on a Warsaw airfield. The Germans took the crew prisoner. Died April 2001? in Somerset West.

Colonel Dirk Uys NEL
Commanding Officer of 31 Squadron during the Warsaw Uprising. Deemed too senior to fly in the Airlift. He was the youngest Colonel in the SADF history. He passed away at his home in Somerset West on 27 Dec 2008, age 91. He was born on 02 May 1917 and joined the military at age 19. Shortly after his 21st birthday, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. Initially he flew bombers with 24 Squadron. Two years later he joined 31 Squadron, one of the most successful Allied Forces squadrons. After WWII, he joined South African Airways (SAA) where he later became a Flight Commander and flew to the USA to bring back SAA's first Boeings. While flying a SAA Lancaster from Johannesburg to London, Nel saved the day. Refuelling was done at Kano, but on this stop the refuellers made an error. While flying over the Atlantic Ocean, one of the engines became over-heated. Nel wanted to use the fire extinguishers, but found them empty. He brought the aircraft down to about 100 m above the sea, hoping the spray would help cool the engines. It helped and the rest of the flight over the ocean was flown in an up and down manner, until they landed safely in London. Forthis he was awarded a medal by the then Minister of Transport, Ben SCHOEMAN. Nel was married to Annette CONRADIE, a former flight attendant who later worked as a journalist for the Transvaler newspaper. They had a son and two daughters.

Dirk Uys NEL was a descendant of the famous Voortrekker UYS family that was involved in many battles.
His grandfather was Cornelius Lukas (nickname Bloustroom) UYS who was born in 1857 in the Utrecht district and died in 1941. Cornelius was a bittereinder in the Anglo-Boer War. He married Maria Magdalena SPIES (1864-1936). His sons served with Collins' Scouts in South West Africa during WWI.
Cornelius was the son of Petrus Lafras (nickname Piet Hlobane) UYS born 1827 in the Humansdorp district, died 1879 at Hlobaneberg, Zululand, and his wife Maria Johanna VAN NIEKERK (1830-1870).
Piet Hlobane was the son of Petrus Lafras (nickname Piet Italeni) UYS born 1797 in Swellendam district, died 11 April 1838 at Italeni, Zululand, and his wife Alida Maria UYS (1799-1869). He was the Voortrekker leader whose son, Dirkie UYS born 1823, was also killed on 11 April 1838.
Piet Italeni was the son of Jacobus Johannes (nickname Koos Bybel) UYS born 1770 in Bredasdorp district, died July 1838 at Mlazirivier, and his wife Susanna Margaretha MOOLMAN (1777-1850).
Koos Bybel was the son of Cornelis Janse UYS born 1736 in Stellenbosch district. died 1811, and his wife Alida Maria SWART (1746-1811).
Cornelis was the son of Dirk Cornelisz UYS born circa 1698 in Leiden, Holland, died circa 1758 in Stellenbosch district, and his wife Dina Maria LE ROUX (1702-1740).
Dirk was the son of Cornelis Janszoon UYS born circa 1671 in Amsterdam, Holland, arrived in the Cape before 1700, died after 1714, married Dirkje Matthijse WESTERHOUT in Leiden.

Captain William E. (Bill) SENN
Awarded the DFC for flying a badly damaged Liberator from Warsaw to Foggia, while he was seriously wounded. His mid-upper gunner was also injured. The rudder controls were damaged, the elevator control partially cut, and the nose-wheel mechanism was hit. The tail gunner still managed to shoot out four searchlights. Capt, Senn ordered his crew to jump, the crew being unaware that he was hit. His parachute buckle had been shot away, so he knew he couldn't jump.

Lieutenant Russel SEARLE
Died in May 1992. Lived in Great Brak River. Married to Dotsie SEARLE.

Lieutenant H.C.D. STEEL. Lived in Johannesburg.

Robert (Bob) STEELE
Pilot, SAAF. Died Aug 2007.

Warrant Officer Henry UPTON. Air Gunner.

Captain VAN DER SPUY

Major Jack VAN EYSSEN, DFC
In 1987 Jack visited Warsaw for the commemoration service at St Anna's Cathedral, with his wife and Cmdt. Polla KRUGER, then commanding officer of 31 Squadron. He died in December 1999 at the age of 81, in Johannesburg, of cancer. He was made an Honorary Colonel of the disbanded 31 Squadron at Hoedspruit. He was the founding member of the SAAF Association's Stilfontein branch, and a member of the Johannesburg branch since 1981.

Second Lieutenant L. Eric D. WINCHESTER
Radio Operator, 31 Squadron, SAAF
Eric joined the SA Army in 1940 at the age of 17 and was soon posted to East Africa. He wasn't seeing much action and tried to join the RAF but was turned down because of poor eyesight. Two years later, he returned to South Africa where he eventually joined the RAF. He was posted to Cairo with 31 Squadron and was trained as an air gunner. Eric was in the first South African flight with Lt. KLETTE. During that flight, the aircraft lost height due to icing on the wing. A German night fighter flew beneath them without seeing them. Their cargo was to be dropped in the main square, but with 2 engines shot out and a fire in the under-carriage, the plane crashed landed. Eric was wounded in the head and arm. After the crew was captured, they were eventually taken by train to Frankfurt where he was held in solitary confinement for 3 weeks prior to his interrogation and being sent to a POW camp in Eastern Germany. When the Russians arrived, they kept him as a Russian prisoner. Eventually he escaped into the nearby forest. He spent three days in the forest and eventually crossed the Elbe River Elbe, arriving at an American camp. It was nine months since the flight to Warsaw. Eric wondered what had happened to his colleague who had been taken away in an ambulance after their capture. He looked for details and when he attended a memorial service in Johannesburg in 1950 he saw that his friend's name was not listed. Fifty-four years later Eric finally found his friend's grave at Krakow. It had the same name, but the wrong squadron and wrong date. Eric did not give up, and in 1999 the Polish Red Cross finally found the grave at Lodz. Eric became a Senator. Lived in Durban.

NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY - 24 SEPTEMBER

It's National Heritage Day today, as well as Braai4Heritage Day. How can you help preserve South African heritage? Church records are one of the most important sources of information for family historians. South Africa has many old churches. Not all their records are well-preserved, and in most cases, many of the preserved records are not easy to access. Church archives are not centralised, with most of the records kept by individual churches, or where there are archives, these are not easily accessible to all. If you'd like to make a contribution to preserving these records and making them accessible, you can start by asking your local church whether their baptism, marriage and funeral registers are preserved and easily accessible. If they aren't, you can ask whether the church would like to have a digital copy made of their registers. This can be done for free and the church will received a digital copy for their own records. Volunteers are available to help with this work. Another important source of information for family historians, are cemetery or burial registers. These are usually maintained by the local authorities (municipalities). Again, they are not easily accessible to all. If you're interested in making sure that your local church and cemetery records are preserved and easily accessible, please contact me at ZAFamilyHistory@gmail.com for further details.

ALEXANDRA TOWNSHIP HISTORY

Two Wits University academics are writing a book on Alexandra township's history. The township has been in existence for 104 years. The land it was originally for a white residential suburb in 1904, and was proclaimed a native area in 1912. Black people were allowed to own land under freehold titles in urban areas. Doctor Noor NIEFTAGODIEN and Professor Phil BONNER are working on "Alexandra - A History"., which covers the last 90-odd years and also highlights the heritage sites in Alexandra. If you have any photos to share, contact Thabo MOPASI at 082 768 9130 or 073 903 8335.

MASONIC HOTEL, BOKSBURG

The Masonic Hotel in Market Street, Boksburg, is more than 100 years old. In August 1887, businessman F.M. JACKSON, together with six Elsburg residents, bought some land on which to build a hotel in the new town of Boksburg. The town soon became known as Honeymooners' Paradise, shortly after the creation of Boksburg Lake. The Masonic Hotel was the first hotel to open in Boksburg. It was followed by Central Hotel (still in Commissioner Street), Transvaal Hotel, Angelo Hotel (on Main Reef Road) and the Grand Hotel.When coal was discovered in Boksburg in 1889, the town became an important mining town. Between 1888 and 1889, President Paul KRUGER visited the East Rand mines, and stayed at the Masonic Hotel. A return trip between Boksburg and Johannesburg cost 15 shillings, on ox-wagon. In 1906 the hotel was renovated and enlarged. It was used in a number of locally produced historical films. One of the old hitching posts can still be seen outside the hotel. The current owner, Roy DE SOUSA, hopes to maintain the hotel's historical value.

ERPM HISTORY

The ERPM Recreation Centre in Comet Road,Boksburg, is being turned into an entertainment-orientated remembrance village by the current owners, Marius and Lorraine STEYN. The old stables date back to 1890 and 1910. The interior and exterior of the buildings will be maintained to the look of 1910. The old buildings are being restored. A wedding chapel is planned as a new addition. The first phase is expected to be ready in December.

21 September 2008

PHARMACY CLOSES AFTER 98 YEARS

The Midlands Pharmacy in Mooi River has been open for business for 98 years. The current owner, Robin PHILP (75), is closing down but will continue to serve as a locum in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. He has owned the pharmacy for 42 years, and is closing due to unfavourable trading conditions such as pricing regulations and reduced dispensing fees. Robin was a former Round Table chairman, chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa for the Pietermaritzburg region, and a town councillor. He still has the pharmacy's prescription books dating back to 1908. One of the earlier owners was William Henry Wesley PECK. He died on 26 March 1947, aged 77 years, and was buried at St. John's Anglican Church Cemetery in Mooi River. His wife, Rosa Christian HAWKINS, was born in London and died in 1956. In 1966 Robin started working as a manager at the pharmacy, then known as Berg Pharmacy and owned by Willem KROG, a pharmacist in Howick. Before he owned it, it was known as Helletts Pharmacy. In 1973 Robin bought the pharmacy and changed the name to Midlands Pharmacy

SCHOOL IS 100 YEARS OLD

The annual Machado Potjiekos Festival takes place on 26-28 September. Laerskool Machado turns 100 years old on 12 September and will hold a reunion at the festival. Jan SCHEURKOGEL (90) and his sisters Marietjie JEANNES (95) and Miemie SMITH (94) are the oldest surviving former students. His sisters live in Pretoria. Jan lives in Hendrina and still visits his farm, Rietfontein, outside Machadodorp regularly. He attended the school from 1924 to 1932 when Mr. FOURIE (aka Oubaas) was Headmaster. The school went to Standard 6, and later Standard 7 was added. Classmates that Jan recalls are Sewes VAN RENSBURG and Clemens VAN DER POEL.

Laerskool Machodo was part of the Christian National Schools programme started in 1903. Field-Cornet Cornelis POTGIETER of the farm Geluk, was instrumental in getting a school built in Machadodorp. The first Headmaster was P.J. KLOPPER, who moved from Pretoria to Machadodorp in 1903. The school opened in a temporary on the farm Waterval that belonged to Gawie MARE. There were 25 to 30 students. The permanent school building in Machadodorp was opened on 09 November 1903. The first teacher was Miss JANSEN. In 1907 the school joined the government education department and the new school building's foundation was laid in 1908 by Senator A.D.W. WOLMARANS. The old building carried on being used as a church until the NG Kerk was built. A boarding school, Du Toit House, was added to the new school in 1948 and had 50 students who stayed there. The current Headmaster is Skip SCHEEPERS who has been invovled with the school for 20 years. The school has 145 students.

A FAMILY OF HEAD BOYS

Virginia's Volkskool Virginia has quite an interesting achievement. The four LAMPRECHT brothers were students at the school and each one was Head Boy. The youngest brother, Zillen, is Head Boy this year. The boys are the sons of Paul and Madelene Lamprecht. Elmen now lives in Johannesburg where he runs a sports psychology practise. Ruan is a professional rugby player in Witbank and plays for the Mpumalanga Pumas. Janes is a Grade 10 student at Hoërskool Hentie Cilliers.

MULLER BOOK & REUNION

Most of those in South Africa with the surname MULLER are descebdnts of the German soldier Antonie Michael MULLER. He married Adriana VAN ROOYEN (daughter of Cornelis VAN ROOYEN and Jacomina VAN DEVENTER) in Roodezand (now Tulbagh) on 04 May 1746. He settled on the loan farm, Zeekoegat, where he died in 1782. Koot MULLER is writing a book on the family, ahead of the 2010 reunion in Riversdal. If you are a MULLER contact Koot at kootmuller@absamail.co.za or 083-378-9550 or by mail at PO Box 33436, Glenstantia, 0010. He is looking for family photos as well.

100 YEARS OLD

The SOUTHEY family gathered at Hoekwil, near George, earlier this month for the celebration of the 100th birthday of Ruth SOUTHEY, daughter-in-law of the late Fred SOUTHEY of Hillmoor, Steynsburg. The almost 100 guests were mostly descendants of Fred and his first wife, Louise WATERMEYER, and his second wife, Kate ANDERSON. He had six children and 23 grandchildren, all of whom attended school in Queenstown. Some of his great-grandchildren were also at boarding school in Queenstown.

The celebration was arranged by Ruth's daughters, Marylyn and Jeanette. Her sons Jocelyn, Christopher and Timothy were also there. Grandson Richard SOUTHEY came from Melbourne, Australia. The birthday cake was made by granddaughter, Lee-Anne LESLIE.

Ruth was born in Greytown on 09 September 1908. Her father died when she was two years old, and her mother later married Bill BALLENDEN, a civil engineer with the Railways. He designed the bridge between the Wilderness and George. Ruth studied land surveying at Cape Town Training College (now UCT). In 1930 she married Lance SOUTHEY and they farmed near Hillmoor. They had six children. Ruth lives with her eldest daughter, Marylyn and her husband Derek DAMANT. Ruth's sister, Christine BALLENDEN from Montague (age 93) was also at the celebration. Christine was a Sister Tutor at the Frontier Hospital. Another sister, Peggy, passed away in Hermanus a year ago at the age of 89. Christine’s twin brother, Kit, died in Burma during World War II. He was an officer in the Engineering Corps and saved his men when he tried to detonate a bomb. He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. Ruth was a butterfly collector and has a butterfly named after her. Her butterfly collection is in the Queenstown Museum.

DE AKKER ON AUCTION


One of the country's oldest operating pubs, De Akker, at the corner of Dorp and Herte Streets in Stellenbosch, is being auctioned on 27 September. The popular hang-out of countless Stellenbosch University students through the years, is housed in a building that was built in 1802. The current owner, Jose JARDIM, has owned the pub for the last 19 years but said that he cannot carry on because of ill-health.

CEMETERY CRIME

A Port Elizabeth couple was caught last week while they were allegedly vandalising historic graves at St Mary‘s Cemetery in South End. It is believed they were collecting scrap metal. They were expected to appear in court last week.

VALUABLE COINS

Lorence FIVAZ bought a bag of old coins for R1-million. The bag contained 240 Kruger pennies minted in 1898. They might be worth R7-million today. They belonged to Samuel (Sammy) MARKS. Lorence is the owner of South Cape Coins in Mossel Bay. A great-grandson of Marks sold the coins to a coin dealer in Johannesburg earlier this month. The coins are veing evaluated by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. in Sarasota, USA. Lorence will sell them afterwards. In 1998 Lorence sold a Single Nine Kruger Pound for R4,65-million, and in 2001 sold the same coin for R9,8-million. The Single Nine was the result of a wrong stamp being used in 1898. The coins after that were stamped with small double 9s.

In 1868 Sammy MARKS landed in Cape Town, a penniless young man. He became a smous (travelling salesman) before going to Kimberley where he became involved in the Diamond Rush. He moved to the Transvaal and became a life-long friend of President Paul KRUGER. In 1898 Marks was allowed to use the State Mint for one day. He minted 215 golden Tiekies to give his family and friends as gifts. A few months ago, one of the Marks Tiekies sold for R1,4-million.

HEART PROBLEM

A Ravensmead family are claiming that the late Prof. Chris BARNARD "stole" the heart of one of their family members and used it in the heart transplant of Dorothy FISHER in 1969 at Groote Schuur Hospital. Pieter GIER was 39 when he died. Groote Schuur Hospital has stated that he was not the donor. His wife Mavis (80) said that his body had strange cut marks on his chest when the family saw the body after a post-mortem. Gier was flown from Calvinia to Groote Schuur after being in a car accident with three friends, while on their way to Kakamas, eleven days before the transplant on Dorothy. Gier had neck injuries and died on 17 April 1969. The first heart transplant patient, Louis WASHKANSKY, received the heart of Denise DARVALL in 1967. She died in a car accident in Observatory, Cape Town.

01 September 2008

A TRIBUTE TO AN AVIATION PIONEER


Phyllis Doreen DUNNING (maiden name HOOPER) was the first South African woman to be called upon to volunteer for full-time war service on 01 June 1940. She was only 22 years old when became the Officer Commander of the South African Women's Auxiliary Air Force (SAWAAF), with the rank of Major. She was the youngest officer in the British Commonwealth to attain this rank. Prime Minister Jan SMUTS had asked her to join up. On 28 June 1940, the first group of 120 women were taken into full-time service. Five months later there were 800 SAWAAFs proudly wearing the orange flash, signifying they had volunteered for overseas service. Doreen died in Howick, South Africa, on 26 August 2008 at age 91. According to her son, Simon, she died of natural causes.

All SAWAAFs did a three-week basic training course at Valhalla under the command of the SAWAAF Sergeant-Major (Mrs) EDWARDS. The SAWAAF technical personnel did their 1-year advanced training course at the Pretoria Technical College, while other training was done at 73 Air School in Wonderboom. The first female Physical Training Instructors graduated from the Military College in August 1941. Women who were appointed as non-commissioned officers (NCOs) did their NCO course at 100 Air School in Voortrekkerhoogte.

By June 1942 there were 34 SAWAAF camps in South Africa. SAWAAF pilots flew communication and ferry flights and served as duty pilots and second pilots in the SAAF shuttle service. Special legislation enabled SAWAAFs to be employed on combat duty, serving at ack-ack sites on instruments to direct the guns and as searchlight operators.

In December 1940 the first detachment of SAWAAFs were sent up North with Muriel HORRELL in charge. They went to Mombassa in a troopship and from there by train to Nairobi, where a camp was established in a grey stone building. Soon this became too small and they moved to another camp of wooden huts. In September 1940 the SAWAAFs were sent to the Middle East, where their housed in a hotel in Cairo.

During the war, the women performed 75 different types of work. These included metal workers, welders, wood workers, fitters and turners, inspectors, armament instructors, stores, clerical, cooks, despatch riders, signals, Link Trainer instructors, lorry drivers, meteorological assistants and observers, developing and printing photos, parachute packers, P.T. instructors, shorthand typists, and wireless operators.

By 1941, there were 36 A licence pilots in the SAWAAF, of which Doreen was one.

In 1942 a major re-organization occurred within the SAWAAF. Their administrative functions were amalgamated with those of the SAAF. The SAWAAF directorate remained, but with only a few senior officers serving, their function being to direct the policy of the SAWAAF and to maintain the general welfare and well-being of all the SAWAAFs on full-time service.

After the war, Maj. EGERTON-BIRD was placed in charge of the Women's Dispersal Section of the Directorate of Demobilization. By the end of December 1945, 1955 women had been demobilized. In January 1946 alone, 626 women had been through the dispersal camps. The last SAWAAF camp closed on 01 April 1947.

Assistance was provided to enable women to cope with the transition from war to peace. This consisted of grants for educational and vocational training, vocational guidance officers assisting women to choose training suitable to their capabilities, the provision of courses both full-time and part-time (two of the most popular were shorthand-typing and nursing), and assistance for those who wished to establish businesses. All the discharge benefits available to men were also provided for those women with equivalent service. Women who had been artisans during the war found it difficult as there weren't sufficient factories in the country to absorb them.

While the majority of women returned to civilian life, a number of the women went into the Women's Auxiliary Defence Corps and were used in the SAAF. An amendment to the Defence Act was made in 1947, allowing women to serve in the military on a voluntary basis, but only in non-combatant roles, with effect from 03 June 1947. The Women's Defence Corps (WDC) was then established on 28 November 1947.

In 1948, with a new government in power, the Minister of Defence, F.C. ERASMUS, asked for a report on women serving in the Permanent Force. According to the statistics provided in the report, the SAAF had four officers and 30 other ranks in the WDC. In April 1949, women were no longer able to drive military vehicles. The following month, the Minister decided that recruiting women for the WDC Permanent Force was to cease. Only female military nursing personnel and medical officers were retained.

Women were kept out of the Forces until October 1972 when the Minister of Defence granted permission for the appointment of women in the Permanent Force again. The first three women to join the SAAF in 1974 as Permanent Force members were trained at the Civil Defence College in George. On 19 January 1974, 33 women began their basic training at the Air Defence School in Waterkloof. On 21 February 1995, an all-women's parade was held at the SAAF Gymnasium in Valhalla to celebrate 21 years of women's service in the Permanent Force.

In 1996, the SAAF recruited the first six women for pilot training. By October 2004, 15 women had received their wings and 13 were still pilots in the SAAF.

All women who served in the South African Air Force, at any time, have much to thank Doreen for.

Phyllis Doreen HOOPER was born in Johannesburg and attended Boksburg Convent School before completing her education under private tuition. She became interested in flying when, aged nine years old, her parents took her to see a "flying machine" in Barberton owned by Alan COBHAM. People could write their names on the plane's fabric, and Doreen wrote hers.

On the 03 July 1935, soon after her 18th birthday, she started flying lessons with the Johannesburg Light Plane Club, at Baragwanath. She learnt to fly in a Gipsy Moth (ZS-ADW) and her instructor was Captain Stan HALSE who was a RFC pilot in WWI. After two weeks and 9 hours of flying, she earned her A licence and decided to make aviation her career.

In 1936 she took second place in the Vereeniging-Durban-Vereeniging air race, flying a Gipsy II Moth. On 30 October 1936 she obtained her B licence, becoming the first female commercial pilot in South Africa. This was followed by employment with African Flying Services at Rand Airport. In February 1937 she went to England from where she took part in the Oases Race in Egypt. She flew with Captain V. BUDGE in a miles Hawk and finished 23rd in a field of 40.

In 1938, with Mr. CALDERBANK as co-pilot, and flying a Leopard Moth, she placed 8th in the Governor-General's air race. The same year, she placed 2nd in the Round the Reef air race, again in a Gipsy II Moth.

By July 1937 she was studying for her Instructor's rating and working for the Johannesburg Light Plane Club. She obtained her Instructor's rating on 20 January 1938, becoming the first female instructor in South Africa. A few months later she re-joined African Flying Services, now based at Grand Central. Her wire-haired terrier, Starkey, was a common sight at Grand Central and had about 70 flying hours to his credit!

At the outbreak of WWII, she had more than 2000 flying hours. In October 1943 Lt.-Col. Doreen DUNNING resigned on a point of principle affecting her work. Maj. Muriel HORRELL took over her duties. After Lt.-Col. DUNNING had telegraphed news of her resignation to Maj. EGERTON-BIRD, then stationed in Port Elizabeth, the Major flew to Pretoria to speak to Prime Minister SMUTS. A short while later, the Prime Minister made a public apology to Lt.-Col. DUNNING in the Press.

Doreen was chairwoman of the SAWAAA. She married Edwin Keith DUNNING, who was born in Nigel. He died in Natal in 1968. The couple had four children - Richard Edwin Harris, Simon Edward, Judith and Diana.

31 August 2008

THE SAAF AND WARSAW

On 01 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. Five days later, South Africa joined the Allies in declaring war on Nazi Germany. In the many examples of heroism by South African soldiers in World War II, few surpass the exploits of the pilots who dropped supplies onto the streets of Warsaw. These men's bravery lives on in Poland and has never been forgotten. The Warsaw Uprising was from 01 August to 02 October 1944.

I'm researching for an article on this part of our history, and will post once it is completed.

In their memory, here is a poem that one of them wrote. Written by a Liberator observer, South African Eric Ben Horton IMPEY who served with 31 Squadron, SAAF, and was shot down over Warsaw in August 1944. He died the next day, after writing this poem.

AN AIRMAN'S PRAYER
My God, this night I have to fly,
And ere I leave the ground,
I come with reverence to Thy Throne
Where perfect peace is found.

I thank Thee for the life I've had,
For home and all its love,
I thank Thee for the faith I have
That cometh from above.

Come with me now into the air.
Be with me as I fly,
Guide Thou each move that I shall make
Way up there in the sky.

Be with me at the target, Lord,
When danger's at its height.
Be with me as I drop my load,
And on the homeward flight.

And should it be my time to die.
Be with me to the end.
Help me to die a Christian's death.
On Thee, God, I depend.

Then as I leave this mortal frame
From human ties set free,
Receive my soul, O God of Love,
I humbly come to Thee.

23 August 2008

GRAVES FOUND

The upgrading of Garsfontein Road, in Pretoria, has been halted after graves were discovered in the path of the new road. The area, between the entrance to Woodhill Estates and the De Villebois Mareuil Road intersection, has now been fenced. Professional Grave Solutions, a grave relocating company, is trying to locate relatives of the dead. One of the headstones shows the name Mattheu SEHANS and the date 28 November 1908. There are about 15 people buried there. Tommy NKWANA's grandfather is buried there. He said the land used to belong to Piet WOLWAT, and his parents used to work for him. If the next-of-kin cannot be found, the dead will be moved to the nearest cemetery, Pretoria East Cemetery. Families of those buried there should contact Professional Grave Solutions on 086 111 4771.

GARDEN DEPICTS HISTORY

Edward NYAMBI (60) tells South Africa's history in a unique manner. For the past 10 years, Edward has been using his garden to tell tourists our history. He is a bus driver from Zanghoma village, near Tzaneen, but his garden might benefit from the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The garden depicts major historical events, from the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 to the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president in 1994. The Great Trek, the Battle of Blood River, and the 1976 Soweto riots are also depicted. Edward used river stones, which he mixed with cement, to create the scenes. Tourists pay a small fee to enter his home, and he acts as tour guide.

KHOISAN HISTORY IN PORT ELIZABETH

Bayworld Museum, in Port Elizabeth, has a new permanent exhibition. "The First People of the Bay" is made up of original artefacts, and displays the history of the Khoi people. Medicinal herbs, rock art, clothing, musical instruments and Sarah BAARTMANN formed part of the exhibition. Made up of different groups, the Khoi arrived in the Bay over 2000 years ago. The Khoi have been referred to as Strandlopers and Khoi Khoi (men of men).

CHURCH BELL STOLEN

The 200-year-old bell in the bell tower of St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Pinetown was stolen last week. The 15 kg bell was brought to South Africa from Scotland, by A.K. MURRAY, one of the church's founding fathers. Parishioners have searched local scrap yards and pawn shops, without success.

SENSITIVE WETLANDS THREATENED

Ekurhuleni Democratic Alliance councillor Andre DU PLESSIS wants to know how an agreement to build a museum and entertainment centre on environmentally sensitive land changed into a proposal for a town house development. The land is near the Blaauwpan wetlands in Kempton Park, a registered nature reserve. Fredonia Investments offered to purchase the land in 2003 for R10,5-million for the development of the Africa Hall of Fame. This offer was then transferred to Universal Pulse Trading 18 for the development of town houses. As far as he could find out, the land's deeds have not yet been transferred from the council to Universal Pulse Trading 18. The town house development would lead to the loss of habitat and species in the wetlands. One of the conditions of the purchase agreement was that Fredonia would have 45 days from the signature date to apply to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Land Affairs (GDACE) for permission to develop on the property, and provide the department with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The company failed to send an EIA in the specified time frame, yet Ekurhuleni municipality allowed Fredonia to nominate Universal Pulse as purchasers of the land. In the meantime, the Hall of Fame Trust is running a demonstration of the museum from a building in the Blaauwpan area, which is being renovating with a R2,9-million council donation meant for the construction of a new museum building. Lesego wa Lesego is the managing trustee of the International African Music and Film Hall of Fame Trust and owner of Universal Pulse Trading 18. He denied that the townhouse development was new, and that the donation had gone to the creation of the demo museum.

MORE CEMETERIES JOIN UNSAFE & UNKEMPT LIST

East London cemeteries, like most across the country, lack adequate security and maintenance. East Cemetery, opposite Buffalo Park in East London, is a notorious mugging spot. East London has 29 formal and 90 informal cemeteries within its municipality. Cambridge Cemetery has a security guard but he isn't armed. West Bank Cemetery is unkempt, overgrown with grass and there are no pathways for vehicles or pedestrians.

DIAS CROSS VANDALISED

South Africa's oldest monument has been vandalised again. The Dias Cross commemorates the discovery of South Africa by the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu DIAS in 1488. Last weekend, Nico JANSE VAN RENSBURG (20) of Grahamstown, was fishing near Kenton-on-Sea when his sinker became entangled in the rocks. When he waded out, he found a heavy limestone cross - the replica of the Dias Cross. Nic, with help from friends, dragged the cross out and put it at the base of the monument. Nic also found two large pillars and a portion of the broken cross wedged in rocks. The cross was first erected near the Bushman’s River Mouth by Dias in 1488 to mark the spot of two water sources. According to Albany Museum curator Fleur WAY-JONEs, vandalism and the theft of brass plaques was a huge problem in the area. All the plaques at Dias Cross and two large pillars have been removed and the base of the monument chipped away. The original cross was found in 1938 by historian Dr. Eric AXELSON and stored at Wits University. A replica was installed in 1938. The recovered cross was taken to Port Alfred for storage.

LONG TEACHING CAREER

Carol FELTON (67) has taught at Clarendon Girls’ High School in East London for 40 years, and has no plans to retire just yet. For the last 24 years, she's taught English. She was born in Queenstown and moved to East London during her high school days. She attended Clarendon, then called East London Girls’ High School, where her mother was a music teacher. After matriculating in 1958, Carol went to Rhodes University for a BA degree, followed by a teaching degree from the University of Cape Town. Her first teaching job was in 1963 at Kokstad High School.

ANCIENT HISTORY SOCIETY

Port Elizabeth has a new society for history aficionados. The Ancient History Society of Port Elizabeth will offer monthly lectures on topics dealing with ancient times and subjects of history, art, religion and technology. Its founders include Peter LOYSON, professor of physical and analytical chemistry at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; Prof. Nicholas ALLEN, Jaunine TAYLOR and Aubrey BRADFIELD. The first five talks have been on ancient Egypt and Greece. The talk on the technology used in ancient Egypt drew 300 people. Most talks draw about 50 people. The talks are usually held in the auditorium of the NMMU, South Campus.

FEATHERBED RESERVE SOLD

Knysna‘s Featherbed Nature Reserve has been sold to Port Elizabeth-based mining magnate Kobus SMIT. Ecologists are now worried about the reserve's future, which was previously owned by mathematician William SMITH. The 150 hectare reserve is one of the last undeveloped coastal sites along the Garden Route and gets 200 000 visitors annually. William decided to sell as his three daughters would not be interested in running. William's father, ichthyologist and author Prof. James Leonard Brierley SMITH of coelacanth fame, bought the reserve in 1954. Kobus SMIT is a major shareholder in mining company Umcebo, and is also planning to develop upmarket properties near Van Stadens Bridge, outside Port Elizabeth.

MONUMENTS VANDALISED

The police in Nylstroom (now Modimolle) are investigating the vandalism of two monuments in town. The statue of Gen. Christiaan Frederik BEYERs (1869-1914) was vandalised on 31 July. Since then, the statue, along with the obelisk commemorating those who died in the Anglo-Boer War concentration camp, was removed by the town council. The monuments were re-dedicated on 17 August at their new site, the NG Kerk's Heritage Acre, by Rev. Japie VAN DEVENTER. A register of those present at the re-dedication was made. Mentha KRIEL, Prof. Sieg ENGELBRECHT and Pieter PRINSLOO laid wreaths at the re-dedication service. Martie VAN DER WATEREN read a poem, "Die Kampsuster", by Jan F. CELLIERS. Rev. Fanie HOFFMAN read the poem, "Vergewe en vergeet" by Totius. Rev. Len MUNNIK of the Afrikaner Erfenisstigting received a donation from the preservation group, Conservanus, to help with the costs of a palissade fence around the Beyers statue.

The Beyers statue was to commemorate the General who wasin charge of the Waterberg and Soutpansberg commandos during the ABW. It was the idea of the Afrikaner Volkswag, and Prof. Carel BOSHOFF and Maj. Pieter PRINSLOO were in charge of the committee. The statue was created by Phil MINNAAR. Willem NEZAR was in charge of finding an appropriate location. The statue was unveiled on 06 Jun 1987 by Gen. P.W. VAN DER WESTHUIZEN of the then Waterberg Commando.

The idea for an obelisk came about on 16 Dec 1915 when Rev. J.P. VAN DER WALT, Pieter Wynand le Roux VAN NIEKERK, D. BREWIS and Gerrit BAKKER travelled together to the Day of the Vow ceremony at Doornfontein. The obelisk was made from Buys sandstone and was 4¼ metres in height. It was unveiled on 15 Dec 1917 by Rev. J.A. VAN ROOY.

AFRIKAANS BIBLE IS 75 YEARS OLD

The Afrikaans Bible is 75 years old this year. On 27 August 1933, more than 5000 people gathered in Market Hall in Bloemfontein for the first public unveiling of an Afrikaans Bible. The first 10 000 copies arrived in Cape Town from England on 29 May 1933, from the British and Foreign Bible Society. To date more than 10-million Afrikaans Bibles have been distributed.

The campaign for an Afrikaans Bible was started in 1872 when Arnoldus PANNEVIS wrote in "De Zuid-Afrikaan" of 07 Sept 1872 about translating the Dutch Bible into Afrikaans. On 14 August 1875, the "Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners" was founded in Paarl. In 1884 Rev. Stefanus Jacobus DU TOIT (1847-1911) started the translation work. In 1878 Casparus Petrus HOOGENHOUT (1843-1922) translated the book of Mark, which has never been published. From 1893 to 1903 te book of Genesis was translated by S.J. DU TOIT and his helpers. On 16 May 1916 the Free State Synod of the NG Kerk took the decision that the Bible was to be translated into Afrikaans. Soon afterwards, the other three Synods followed suit. By 1923 there was a group of translators working full-time under the leadership of Jacob Daniel (Totius) DU TOIT, Rev. John Daniel KESTELL (1854-1941), Rev. Hermanus Cornelis Martinus FOURIE (1882-1939), Esias Engelbertus VAN ROOYEN and Rev. Barend Bartholomeus KEET. Rev. Willem Johannes CONRADIE (1857-1925) was the author of first Afrikaans Bible for children.

HAPPY 100th TUKKIES

The University of Pretoria (TUKS) celebrated its centenary on 10 February 2008, when the official centenary flame was lit. In 1904 the Transvaal Technical Institute opened in Johannesburg, with classes available in Pretoria. Two years later, the institute was renamed to the Transvaal University College. In 1908 Pretoria became home to the Transvaal University College. The centenary commemorates the year in which academic facilities were established in Pretoria. In 1910 the institute became an independent academic institution, which official university status in the 1930s. In the late 1980s TUKS became bilingual (English and Afrikaans) and was opened to all. The university has planned over 230 centenary projects and events for the coming year, including homecoming events for former alumni. The centenary flame was designed by Tuks alumnus Angus TAYLOR. It will burn throughout the centenary year. A centenary rose was also cultivated.

16 August 2008

R.I.P. ROBERT MCGREGOR

The founder and publisher of the economic publication "Who Owns Whom", Robin McGREGOR (79) was recently murdered in his Tulbagh home. His body was discovered after police on a routine patrol stopped a grey Mercedes Benz in Bellville South. The three occupants could not prove ownership and were taken to the local police station. The car was found to belong to McGregor. Two safes were also stolen from the house. He founded "Who Owns Whom" in 1979. It was a summary of the annual report of every company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, as well as the stock exchanges of Harare, Windhoek and Gaborone. He was born in Durban on 02 Aug 1929. He had no formal business training. After matriculating at Marist Brothers College in Durban, he went to Natal University and Rhodes University but left before finishing his degree. He became managing director of a small Natal sugar company. His next job was in the chicken industry. Robin then became manager of an apple co-operative in Elgin. He got interested in finding who owned large companies and bought one share in every listed company (more than 500 at the time), so he could receive their annual reports. He recorded the information on cards and within a year he had 15 000 cards. In 1982, he and his wife, Anne, settled in McGregor. He became the mayor but later resigned. Seven years later, he moved to Johannesburg but didn't enjoy it and spent more time on his farm near Rustenburg. His wife had Alzheimer’s disease for five years. She died a year ago and he moved to Tulbagh. Robin is survived by five children.

Robin also published "Who Made South Africa" in 2000. It was the first book in a planned series of 25, focusing on the contributions of various nationalities to South Africa. Volume one dealt with the Jewish and German contributions. Well-known South African companies founded by Jewish people include De Beers, Tiger Oats, Liberty Life, Lubners, South African Breweries, Anglo American, JCI and Western Deep Levels. Early Jewish families such as the Solomons and the Mosenthals are discussed. Samuel MARKS, Alfred BEIT, Barney BARNATO, the OPPENHEIMERS, Nadine GORDIMER and Irma STERN are also discussed. Among the German subjects are Carl LICHTENSTEIN, Paulus LUCKHOFF, Hans MERENSKY, Julius JEPPE, Adolph GOERZ, Louis LEIPOLDT and Olive SCHEINER.

TRIBUTE IN BIRTH PLACE

While South African celebrated Women's Day recently, an English town joined in by remembering one of its own. Helen JOSEPH (maiden name FENNELL) was an anti-apartheid activist who helped lead 20 000 women on a march to Pretoria's Union Buildings in 1956. The women then stood in silent protest for 30 minutes, protesting against pass laws. Helen was born in 1905 in Eastbourne Midhurst, West Sussex. She died in South Africa on 25 Dec 1992. Dave RANG, a resident of Chichester, close to Midhurst, was working on his dissertation examining the class, gender and racial issues facing South African women in the 1950s, when he read Helen's autobiography Side by Side. This led to him planning a commemorative service for Helen in St Mary's Church, Eastbourne.

ISANDLWANA STATUE VANDALISED

Scrap metal thieves have vandalised a statue of Zulu warriors at the entrance of Isandlwana battlefield in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Two bronze thorns from the isiQu (bravery necklace) were sawn off. The Battle of Isandlwana took place on 22 January 1879 between Zulu warriors and the British and Colonial forces at the beginning of the Anglo-Zulu War. The battlefield and its memorials have drawn thousands of local and international visitors. Pietermaritzburg sculptor Gert SWART was commissioned to design a statue to the Zulu warriors, which was unveiled by King Goodwill Zwelithini on the 120th anniversary of the battle. The statue consisted of a circular concrete platform symbolising the traditional Zulu home. Four bronze headrests reinforced the idea of final rest, while the bronze necklace of thorns symbolised the bravery necklace given by the king. It also had the horns of the bull - a symbol of the encircling tactics used by Shaka.

DIAS REMEMBERED IN ROGGEBAAI

The crew of the visiting Portuguese Navy ship, NRP Sagres, paid their respects to the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu DIAS, by laying wreaths at his statue in Roggebaai. Dias discovered the sea route between the West and the East, sailing around southern Africa. Rear-Admiraal Koos LOUW of the SA Navy, Domingos de Saldanha E. ALVIM (Portuguese Consul-General), Commodore Luís Pedro Pinto Proença MENDES (NRP Sagres) and Mrs. Ligia FERNANDES (representing the Portuguese community in SA), were also present. The NRP Sagres band and the SA Navy Band took part. Domingos is a descendant of another Portuguese navigator, Antonio DE SALDANHA, after whom Saldanha Bay was named. One of the NRP Sagres band members, Seaman Bruno DIAS, is a descendant of Bartolomeu DIAS.

BRENTHURST GARDEN TOURS

Mrs. Strilli OPPENHEIMER is planning an Insect Route on her family's estate in Parktown, Johannesburg. The estate, Brenthurst, is already part of the Diamond Birdwatching Route. Brenthurst has been in the family's possession since 1922, when Sir Ernest OPPENHEIMER bought the Herbert Baker designed house. His son, Harry, lived there until his death in 2001. Strilli is married to Nicky OPPENHEIMER, and lives at Little Brenthurst, also on the estate. She's responsible for the estate's gardens, with help from Dawid KLOPPER. They have changed the once formal and Victorian garden into a more wild one. As a result, there are more than 30 types of butterflies and 73 types of birds on the estate. Guided tours of the Brenthurst gardens can be booked through (011) 646 4122