Tag: South Africa

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor VC, MC*, DFC, DSO

Andrew Frederick Weatherby Beauchamp-Proctor (04/09/1894 – 21/06/1921), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his  actions between 8 August 1918, and 8 October 1918 while serving with the Royal Flying Corps.  

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 31042, Page: 14204, reads:

Lieut. (A./Capt.) Andrew Weatherby Beauchamp-Proctor, D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., No. 84 Sqn., E.A. Force.

Between August 8th, 1918, and October 8th, 1918, this officer proved himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destroying twelve enemy kite balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four other enemy aircraft completely out of control.

Between October 1st, 1918, and October 5th, 1918, he destroyed two enemy scouts, burnt three enemy kite balloons, and drove down one enemy scout completely out of control.

On October 1st, 1918, in a general engagement with about twenty-eight machines, he crashed one Fokker biplane near Fontaine and a second near Ramicourt; on October 2nd he burnt a hostile balloon near Selvjgny; on October 3rd he drove down, completely out of control, an enemy scout near Mont d’Origny, and burnt a hostile balloon; on October 5th, the third hostile balloon near Bohain.

On October 8th, 1918, while flying home at a low altitude, after destroying an enemy two-seater near Maretz, he was painfully wounded in the arm by machine-gun fire, but, continuing, he landed safely at his-aerodrome, and after making his report was admitted to hospital.

In all he has proved himself conqueror over fifty-four foes, destroying twenty-two enemy machines, sixteen enemy kite balloons, and driving down sixteen enemy aircraft completely out of control.

Captain Beauchamp-Proctor’s work in attacking enemy troops on the ground and in reconnaissance during the withdrawal following on the Battle of St. Quentin from March 21st, 1918, and during the victorious advance of our Armies commencing on August 8th, has been almost unsurpassed in its Brilliancy, and as such has made an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around him that will not be easily forgotten.

Capt. Beauchamp-Proctor was awarded Military Cross on 22nd June, 1918; D.F. Cross on 2nd July, 1918; Bar to M.C. on 16th September, 1918; and Distinguished Service Order on 2nd November, 1918.”

He was killed on 21 June 1921 in a training accident in preparation for an air show at RAF Hendon. His aircraft went into a spin after performing a slow loop, and he was killed in the ensuing crash. He was originally buried at Upavon, Wiltshire, but in August 1921 his body was returned to South Africa where he was given a state funeral and buried in Mafikeng Cemetery.  

The grave of Capt. Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor VC

The grave of Capt. Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor VC

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor was born 4 September 1894 in Mossel Bay,  South Africa.  He served with  The Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles as a signalman in the GSWA Campaign, and later enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in March 1917 . 

Inscription on the grave

Inscription on the grave

Memorial Stone at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Memorial Stone at the National Memorial Arboretum.

DRW © 2004-2020. Created 01/11/2014, updated 05/04/2015. Edited 15/05/2017. The images of the grave of  Flight Lieutenant  Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor VC, DSO, MC, and Bar, DFC was photographed by Terry Cawood and is used with his permission.

Updated: 05/01/2020 — 14:12

South African Connections to the Titanic

The recent on-line access to the Titanic’s passenger list has revived interest in this tragic event. Some of the Titanic’s passengers had connections to South Africa. The following are a few of them. There may be other passengers with South African connections, as yet undiscovered. This list is reproduced with permission, and special thanks must go to Anne Lehmkuhl for permission to use it.

Thomas William Solomon Brown

Thomas William Solomon Brown (60), his wife Elizabeth Catherine (née Ford) and their daughter, Edith Eileen, were from Worcester. Thomas was the son of Thomas William Brown and was baptised in Cape Town on the 25th August 1851. Thomas registered various mortgage bonds at the Cape between 1884 and 1904, while Elizabeth registered one in 1904. Thomas was a successful hotel owner but business had declined, so he decided to start again in Seattle, USA, where Elizabeth’s sister, Josephine, lived with her husband Edward Acton. Elizabeth was much younger than Thomas, and was his second wife. His first wife, Isabella Gracilla/Greceilda (née Willoughby) died at the Cape in 1889. Elizabeth was born in 1872 at the Cape. Thomas’s first marriage produced 4 children – Lilian Henrietta (later married to Woolf), Harriet (later married to Bosman), Thomas Ralph and Ernest. The second marriage produced two daughters, but one, Dorothy Beatrice, died at the age of eight, from diphtheria. Edith was born on the 27th October 1896.

The family were 2nd Class passengers. Elizabeth and Edith were rescued by the Carpathia. They stayed in New York for a few days before going to stay with Josephine in Seattle. Soon afterwards, mother and daughter returned to South Africa. Elizabeth married a Mr Parrott and moved to Rhodesia, where she died on the 29th June 1925.

Edith married Frederick Thankful Haisman, an architectural engineer, in South Africa on the 30th June 1917. They had 10 children, including Dorothy (married to Mr. Kendall) and David. David later served as a lookout on the White Star Lines and wrote a book, I’ll See You in New York: Titanic – the Courage of a Survivor. Edith was an honorary member of the Titanic Society of South Africa and the oldest Titanic survivor until her death on the 20th January 1997 at the age of 100 at a nursing home in Southampton. She appeared in the 1994 TV movie, Titanic: The Legend Lives On, as herself, as well as in Titanic: Secrets Revealed (1998). In 1993 Edith was presented with the gold watch that her father was wearing when the ship went down. RMS Titanic Inc of New York City, a salvaging company, found the blackened watch. Her life story was published as A lifetime on the Titanic – the biography of Edith Haisman.

Charles Henry Chapman

Charles Henry Chapman was born in Cape Town. He was the son of James Chapman (explorer) and Catherine Cecelia Roome (daughter of Capt. William Roome and Catherine Cecelia Bushnell). Catherine was born in Virginia, USA, and her father was a sea captain who settled in Nova Scotia, Canada. Charles was an exporter and lived in the Bronx, New York. He was 52 years old when he died on the Titanic, as a 2nd Class passenger. He had the Bushnell family Bible with him. His body was recovered and in his suit pockets, the following were found: silver cigarette case, garnet tie-pin, garnet ring, papers, gold mounted cuff-links, $200, gold studs, fountain pen, knife and pipe. JJ Griffin of New York City claimed his body. Charles was buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx.

Nathan Goldsmith

Nathan Goldsmith was a boot maker in Cape Town (possibly also Johannesburg) before the Anglo-Boer War. He was originally from Russia. After the war, he moved to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA. He was married and had two children. Nathan was 41 years old and a 3rd Class passenger when he died on the Titanic. At the time of his death, his family was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sydney Samuel Jacobsohn

In 1902 Sydney Samuel Jacobsohn was an attorney in Cape Town, living at 16 Wale Street. He registered mortgage bonds in 1898 and 1906. He later moved to London. He married Amy Frances Christy Cohen on 6th September 1910. She was born in London. They boarded the Titanic as 2nd Class passengers, on their way to Montreal, Canada. Sydney (42) did not survive. Amy (24) was rescued by the Carpathia. She returned to England onboard the Megantic.

Samuel Beard Risien

Samuel Beard Risien and his wife Emma, from Texas, USA, were on their way home, after spending about 14 months in Durban, visiting relatives. They were 3rd Class passengers and did not survive. After the death of his first wife, Mary Louise Lellyet, Samuel married her sister Emma, of Durban, South Africa. There were no children of the second marriage.

Austin Blyler van Billiard

Austin Blyler van Billiard (35) and his sons, James William (10) and Walter John (9), were 3rd Class passengers on their way to South Wales, Pennsylvania, USA. None survived. Austin was a part owner of a diamond mine. He left Cape Town for England, with his wife Maude and children – James William (born 20th Aug 1901 in France), Walter John (born 28 Feb 1903 in France), Dorothy Jane and Donald. He had several diamonds cut in Amsterdam and decided to go to New York where he might get a better price. His father and brother, Monroe, lived in South Wales, Pennsylvania. Maude became ill and it was decided that she remain in England with the youngest children, until she was well enough to travel. Austin’s body (found with 12 diamonds in the pockets) and Walter’s body were found and buried at Union Cemetery, Zion Lutheran Church, Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

Austin was born on the 9th February 1877, the only son of James V van Billiard, a successful marble merchant. He moved to England where he met Maude Ellen Murray and married her on the 3rd November 1900. The family spent 10 years in South Africa. In 1906, Austin applied for letters of patent at the Cape, for his invention – a mechanical suspension conveyancer. In 1912, he decided to return to the USA. Maude eventually moved to South Wales, Pennsylvania, with her two remaining children. She never remarried and died in a nursing home on the 17 January 1968, aged 94.

Henry Sutehall

Henry (aka Harry) Sutehall was born on the 23rd July 1883 in England. He started a round-the-world trip on the 1st January 1910 and purposefully waited to return home to the USA on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. His family had immigrated to the USA in 1895 where they settled in Buffalo, New York. Henry became a trimmer, installing and repairing upholstery in carriages and early cars. He met Howard Irwin at work and they decided to do a world tour, while working wherever they could find employment. During 1910, they travelled all over the USA. In mid-1911, they left for Australia. While in Sydney, Henry won a sweepstakes that helped fund the rest of their trip. The two friends wanted to visit different places and at this stage, they each went their own way. They met up again in Durban and made plans to meet in England early in 1912 to conclude the voyage home together. While in Durban, they entered a talent contest and won a trip. Henry played the violin and Howard played the clarinet. Howard most likely used the prize to fund his travels, arriving in England a week before Henry.

On the day of their departure from Southampton, Howard did not show up. Henry already had put Howard’s steamer trunk onboard the ship, but Howard never showed up. Henry did not survive the voyage. In 1993, during recovery efforts at the wreck site by RMS Titanic, Inc. Howard’s steamer trunk was found. Among the contents was a diary that Howard kept for 1910. The diary and several of Howard’s possessions can be seen in museums in St. Petersburg and Boston. Howard Irwin died in 1953.

Henry Forbes Julian

Henry Forbes Julian was born on the 9th May 1861 in Cork, Co Cork, Ireland. He became a metallurgical engineer and in October 1886 travelled to Natal. He became a consulting engineer and mine manager in Natal, Barberton, Johannesburg and Kimberley. Henry stayed in South Africa for seven years, during which time he invented and patented an extracting apparatus for the mines. In 1893 he moved to Germany. By 1902, he was living in Torquay. He was booked to travel to the USA on another ship but because of the coal strike he was transferred to the Titanic. Henry was to attend a meeting in San Francisco. His wife, Hester Pengally, stayed home as she had influenza. He did not survive.

Herbert Gifford Harvey

Herbert Gifford Harvey was born on the 3rd February 1878 in Belfast, Ireland. He volunteered to serve in the Anglo-Boer War and joined the 46th Company Imperial Yeomanry. He earned the Queen’s Medal with three clasps and the King’s Medal with one clasp. After his return, he joined Harland & Wolff and later went to sea as an engineer with Lowther, Latta & Co before leaving to join the White Star Line. He lived in Southampton. Junior Assistant Second Engineer Harvey did not survive.

William Jeffery Ware

William Jeffery Ware was born in 1889 in Gunnislake, Cornwall, to Samuel Ware and Ann / Annie Louisa (formerly Witheridge). Samuel was a blacksmith at one of the copper mines near Gunnislake. William became a blacksmith and married Cecilia. Six weeks prior to sailing on the Titanic, he had been in South Africa visiting his father. He was a 2nd Class passenger on his way to Butte, Montana, but did not survive.

Francesco Celotti

Francesco Celotti was a sailor from Cape Town. He was a 3rd Class passenger and did not survive. He applied for a passport at the Cape and was granted one on the 16th February 1911. He was originally from Italy and was age 24 when he boarded the Titanic at Southampton.

Robert Hichens

Robert Hichens (possibly also spelt as Hitchens) was born in Newlyn, Cownwall, on the 16th September 1882, son of Philip Hichens and Rebecca Wood. On the 23rd October 1906, he married Florence Mortimore in Manaton, Devon. He worked aboard mail boats and liners of the Union Castle line. Prior to sailing on the Titanic, he was living in Southampton with his wife and two children. He was one of six Quartermasters on the ship. Robert was at the wheel when the warning came from the lookout that an iceberg had been spotted ahead. He swung the wheel as far as possible. Later that night he was relieved by another Quartermaster and he was put in charge of Lifeboat 6. He testified at the US inquiry into the accident. Afterwards, he returned to England and testified in the English inquiry.

It is claimed that he became a harbour master in Cape Town, according to one Henry Blum in a letter to a Thomas Garvey. Henry was an acquaintance of Robert, and was a Quartermaster on a British ship that docked in Cape Town in 1914. According to him, the harbour master who met the ship was Robert Hichens. Henry claimed that he and Robert had a talk in which he was told that Robert had been set up in South Africa in return for his secrecy regarding the Titanic. So far, no research has found this part of the story to be true. His family members stated that he did spend some time in Durban and Johannesburg.

Robert’s brother, William, lived in Johannesburg in 1915. William returned to England in 1918 and married Penelope Rouffignac Cotton in Newlyn. They had 2 children, Penelope and William, in South Africa. Penelope died in Johannesburg in 1959.

Robert served in the Royal Naval Reserve in the First World War In 1919 he was working as a Third Officer on a small vessel out of Hull. In the late 1920s, he was living in Torquay, Devon, where he did boat chartering. In 1931, the family moved to Southampton. Robert had a run-in with the law and was released from prison in 1937. His wife lived in Southampton until her death in the early 1960s. The couple had six children – Edna Florence, Frances, Phyllis May, Robert, Ivy Doreen and Fred. He is buried Trinity Cemetery in Aberdeen after dying of heart failure on the English Trader vessel near Aberdeen on 23rd September 1940.

Samuel Emest Hemming

Lamp trimmer Samuel Ernest Hemming lived in Southampton. He was married to Elizabeth Emily Browning on the 4th June 1903, and they had several children. He was picked up by Lifeboat 4. He died in Southampton on 12 April 1928, age 59, at the Blighmont Nursing Home, of cancer. Two or three of Samuel’s brothers had immigrated to South Africa, where they started a law firm.

Mary Griffin

Mary Griffin (née Webber) is buried at Braamfontein Cemetery in Johannesburg. She was from Kea, Cornwall. Mary was 33 years old when she married the widower, James Griffin on the 5th November 1863. They moved to South Africa. Mary died on the 17th June 1897 in Johannesburg. Her brother, James was on the Titanic on his way back to his home in San Francisco, to the USA. He was 62 years old and did not survive. In 1914 a Mr J Griffin of Kenwyn Cottage in Port Elizabeth purchased the private rights to Mary’s grave and a stone was erected commemorating Mary and James. James’ estate was left to Harriet Julian, wife of Edmund Julian.

William Bull

Margaret Charlesworth of Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, found that her grandfather, William Bull (37), worked in the Titanic’s kitchens. He did not survive. William was born in Hampshire. He married Margaret’s grandmother, Edith, and is commemorated on her grave stone. Edith later married a Mr Skeats. She died in 1937. In 1912, William was living in Southampton.

The following South African connections have not been proven:

A man, who became the Bishop of George circa 1950s/1960s, spent his honeymoon on the Titanic. Different lifeboats picked up the newly-wed couple and they were separated for three weeks, neither knowing that the other was alive.

WH Welch was an assistant cook on the Titanic. He had a brother who settled in South Africa.

According to Frans van Wyk, author of Riversdal 150 Jaar, a resident of the town was on the Titanic and did not survive.

Reginald Hardwick,  Husband of Elsie S. Cobb (formerly Hardwick), of 22, Railway Avenue, Creswell. Born Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa. Survived the sinking of The Titanic. Served as a kitchen porter on The Titanic. Hardwick was rescued (possibly in lifeboat 13). This may however be a case of an assumed identity as there are a number of contradictions in this case.

Sources:
National Archives of South Africa
Titanic Society of South Africa
Official list of Titanic passengers and crew:
http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/
http://hometown.aol.co.uk/houghian/myhomepage/brown.html (no longer active)
http://www.titanic-titanic.com/

Anne Lehmkuhl was born on the island of Madeira, and immigrated to South Africa at the age of two years. In the early 1980s, she started tracing her family history. In later years she has been the editor and/or publisher of family history newsletters and has written two e-books on South African genealogy. She has been a professional genealogist since the 1990s, specialising in South African genealogical and historical research.

Updated: 07/01/2015 — 14:09

Constitutional Hill

This gallery really consists of 4 separate areas because there are really 4 distinct places to see at Constitutional Hill. Starting with the Court, then moving onto The Fort, Number 4 Jail and finally the Womens Jail.

“The Constitutional Court is the home of the Constitution, the highest court in the land. Like the Constitution itself, the court was designed to be open, accessible and transparent. The court is built around the remaining stairwells of the old awaiting trail block. The foyer of the court is a light filled area populated by slanting columns, an architectural metaphor for trees under which the African villagers traditionally congregate to discuss matters of social importance to the elders. Any member of the public may attend court hearings, or may enter the building to view the many individually commissioned artworks on display…”

[ Page 1 ] [ Page 2 ] [ Page 3 ]
[ Page 4 ] [ Newtown ] [ Braamfontein ]
The Flame of Democracy

The Flame of Democracy

Shadows

Shadows

Constitutional Court foyer

Constitutional Court
foyer

Unveiling Plaque

Unveiling Plaque

Entrance Doors

Entrance Doors

1910 Constitution

1910 Constitution

Constitution Court Building

Constitution Court
Building

Constitution Court Interior

Constitution Court
Interior

Interior artwork

Interior artwork

The ramparts of the old Fort were built by Paul Kruger from 1893 to protect the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR) from the threat of British invasion, and to keep watch over miners flocking to the village below. Reverting to a jail after the Anglo Boer War, all male prisoners passed through the foreboding tunnel beneath the ramparts, but only whites were held in the fort itself. The luckless African male prisoners being held at the “Number Four” jail not too far away. The sloping entrance tunnel was the last view that many prisoners would have of the outside world before being taken into the buildings behind the earthen ramparts.The rooms under the ramparts were used as magazines, stores and sleeping quarters but not for cells.

Interior gate facade

Interior gate facade

Heritage Plaques

Heritage Plaques

Front entrance

Front entrance

Inner courtyard

Inner courtyard

The ramparts

The ramparts

Under the Ramparts

Under the Ramparts

Under the Ramparts

Under the Ramparts

Interior Buildings

Interior Buildings

Rampart tunnel

Rampart tunnel

Number Four is the jail where thousands of male African prisoners were incarcerated and brutalised, many of whom were guilty of minor infringements of ridiculous petty legislation, others for political views, and some were hardened criminals.

Interior Courtyard

Interior Courtyard

Ablutions

Ablutions

Cellblock

Cellblock

Cell door

Cell door

Restraints

Restraints

Solitary

Solitary

Visitors entrance

Visitors entrance

Solitary gate

Solitary gate

Interior yard

Interior yard

Cell interior

Communal Cell interior

Solitary cell interior

Solitary cell interior

Communal Cell interior

Communal Cell interior

The Womens Jail was built in 1909, and is next to the old fort. Many of the women held here were guilty of minor infringements of ridiculous petty legislation, others for political views. The jail was segregated by race and based on a panopticon design where cell blocks radiated off a central hub.

Street Entrance

Street Entrance

Ground floor hall

Ground floor hall

1st Floor hall

1st Floor hall

Cellblock

Cellblock

Cell interior

Cell interior

Cell door

Cell door

Interior offices

Interior offices

Cell block

Cellblock

Cell block

Cellblock

© DRW 2012-2018. Created 15/03/2012. Moved to blog 14/09/2014

Updated: 08/01/2018 — 07:41

The Union-Castle Line Sepia Postcards

© DRW 2005-2018. last updated 14/01/2008, edited 11/09/2012. Moved to blog 08/04/2014

Updated: 06/01/2018 — 15:16

Oranjemund Antarctic Adventure

Oranjemund Antarctic Adventure
By RA Young.

Returning to her homeport Durban within the next few days on completion of a remarkable record-breaking voyage is Unicorn Shipping’s smallest and oldest vessel, the 2,000 dwt mini-tanker ORANJEMUND.

The diminutive tanker was chartered to refuel and re-provision Greenpeace vessels in Antarctic waters where the environmentalists are engaged in harassing Japanese whalers shooting hundreds of whales purportedly for “research” purposes. Departing Durban on 20 December the assignment took the Durban-built ship through the “roaring forties” and “screaming fifties” to sixty degrees south – the highest latitude ever visited by a Unicorn vessel – and by few merchant ships not specifically designed and outfitted for polar operations. Her homecoming also represents the ship’s longest non-stop voyage – some 5,750 miles port-to-port and one month duration, during which the ship also celebrated her 30th anniversary.

ORANJEMUND safely negotiated probably the most severe weather and sea conditions of her long career as she twice transited the “weather factory” latitudes of the vast Southern Ocean. Force 10 gales and swells higher than the ship’s masts enduring for days thoroughly tested both ship and crew, and sub-zero wind-chill temperatures and snowstorms and dodging of icebergs were in stark contrast to the conditions normally experienced at this time of year by the ship and her long-serving Master, Capt Gaston Albergaria, his crew and ship’s cat Tommy. However, the ship and her 14-man complement were well-prepared for their adventure.

Prior to accepting this extraordinary charter, Unicorn officials and the ship’s Officers conducted a thorough risk assessment analysis. All likely hazards involved in such an undertaking were identified and counter measures and contingency plans were debated and put in place.

oranjemund02As ORANJEMUND was not built for such extended voyages her limited fuel and fresh water capacity had to be supplemented by carrying additional fuel in her cargo tanks while fresh water was loaded into her ballast tanks. Temporary pumping arrangements were provided to enable their safe transfer during the voyage. One each additional Navigating and Engineer watch keeping Officer were embarked for the voyage. For added drinking water security an evaporator was installed in the engine room to produce fresh water from the sea using waste heat from the main engines. To accommodate extra perishable provisions not only for consumption by the ship’s own larger complement but also for supply to her Customer vessels, additional chest freezer units were installed on the ship’s bridge-deck. Extra spare parts for engines and other critical machinery were stowed in the engine room. Stores, sacks of potatoes and other fresh produce were stashed in every available nook and cranny including the ship’s small office. Emergency repair materials such as quick-setting concrete, steel plate, piping, angle-iron, plywood and timber were put on board in case of need, as were portable pumps and hoses and tools.

Every member of the crew was provided with suitable polar work wear while polar-fleece sleeping bags supplemented the duvets on the beds. Everyone was issued with a survival immersion suit. Even Tommy the cat received a knitted woollen overcoat. Although portable electric heaters were supplied to the ship for the voyage, surprisingly they were unnecessary as the ship’s living areas were remarkably warm – testimony to good quality of insulation built into the ship by her Durban builders. Originally it was intended to leave the engine room internal doors open to permit the warm air to permeate the accommodation areas, however resort to even this simple expedient was not required.

Before departure the ship’s radio equipment and navigation gear were thoroughly checked. The original autopilot was renewed and an additional satellite radio communication system was temporarily provided. All safety and survival equipment was carefully checked and serviced.

Regular reporting and emergency communication procedures between the ship and Unicorn were agreed. By using the ship’s regular satellite-based security alerting system Unicorn officials were able to continuously track the ship and monitor the ship’s speed and heading from their office and home computers.

In contrast to the earlier weather mayhem and chaos, the conditions at the ship’s eventual rendezvous locations were as calm as the proverbial mill-pond and the ship-to-ship refuelling operations were conducted expeditiously without spillage or other incident, and with ORANJEMUND receiving a signal of commendation from the Greenpeace flagship ESPERANZA for a job professionally executed.

Navigation in the ice called for extra vigilance and extreme caution as low-floating “growlers”, bergy-bits and huge icebergs pose great hazard to the vessel, particularly given reduced visibility by radar as well as by eye on account of snow, sleet, fog, rough seas and high swells. On one occasion ORANJEMUND had to retreat northwards on account of advancing ice. Numerous icebergs were encountered including one estimated by Capt. Albergaria as larger than Robben Island and on the homeward passage icebergs were still being encountered as far north as 49 degrees latitude, not far from Kerguelen Island.

Originally delivered to Unicorn from Dorman Long’s Bayhead yard in January 1976, the ship spent the first 25 years of her life engaged almost exclusively on the company’s Cape Town – Port Nolloth trade for which the handy ship had been purpose-designed and built with a shallow-draught, twin screws, twin rudders and bow thruster. Following the phenomenal natural silting-up of the desert port some eight years ago and its subsequent inaccessibility to vessels any larger than fishing craft, ORANJEMUND kept Luderitz supplied with diesel oil out of Cape Town, and refuelled diamond-mining dredgers and trawlers at sea off the Cape and Namibian coasts in so-called STS (ship-to-ship) operations – the same method that was used to refuel the ships in the Antarctic. The versatile ORANJEMUND also assisted with a number of local salvage operations involving grounded ships, more recently those of the tanker NINO on the Transkei coast and the container ship SEALAND EXPRESS on Milnerton beach.

oranjemund04

© DRW. 2006-2018. Original article is  courtesy of Rob Young of Unicorn. 16-01-2006. Special thanks to Deene Collopy. Moved to blog 16/03/2014

Updated: 06/01/2018 — 15:07

South African Roll of Honour: Union Buildings, Pretoria.

These photographs were taken in September 2009 and in 2012 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Sadly, like so many things in South Africa it had been vandalised. In 2009 I noted that plaques had been prised off the wall in the one cupola, in 2012 it had still not been rectified. I believe even more plaques had been stolen since then.

The ROH covers casualties from both World Wars as well as South African Air Force casualties from The Korean War. Images of individual plaques are available on request.

Also present on the site is the Delville Wood Memorial, with the Police Memorial close by. The Union Buildings may be found at the Google Earth co-ordinates   -25.740731°,  28.211792°

World War 1 vandalised plaques

World War 1 vandalised plaques

 

© DRW 2009-2018. Created 12/01/2011. Updated 03/06/2012. Moved to blog 01/02/2014

Updated: 06/01/2018 — 12:44

The Police Memorial at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The South African Police Memorial at the Union Buildings is easily overlooked, but its lines of names and plaques proves that being a policeman in South Africa is a very dangerous job.

At the time of writing 5689 policemen and women have lost their lives in the course of their duty. The full list of names is available at the South African Police Officers Memorial website

The cornerstone of the memorial was laid on 20 May 1983 by the Commissioner of the South African Police, Genl. MCW Geldenhuys. The architect was Maree and Sons, and it was unveiled by the State President, Mr PW Botha, on 17 October 1984.

The memorial is accessible from the parking area in Government Ave, between the Union Building and the terraces below. it is located across from an amphitheater that hosts an annual memorial service to commemorates the sacrifice of the members of the police force.

It may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates 25°44’30.95″S,  28°12’49.62″E.

© DRW 2009 – 2018. Created 14/09/2009, edited 03/07/2012. Moved to blog 27/01/2014

Updated: 05/01/2018 — 21:00

The Campanile in Port Elizabeth

The Campanile in Port Elizabeth

The Campanile in Port Elizabeth was built and completed in 1923 on the landing beach where the British Settlers landed in 1820 in commemoration of the centenary of their arrival.

It is 51.8 meters high with 204 steps to the top and it has a carillon of 23 bells.

The Campanile in Port Elizabeth

Situated in Strand Street, it is open from Tuesday to Sunday. (Google Earth co-ordinates 33° 57.650’S 25° 37.512’E). These photographs are courtesy of Ronnie Lovemore.

Recently the bells of the Campanile were removed from the structure and cleaned and returned where they belong.

© DRW 2011-2018. Created 08/06/2011. Moved to blog 18/01/0214

Updated: 05/01/2018 — 20:48

The great Betsy Ross debacle

Durban to Durban 10/12/1988 – 12/12/1988

The whole episode starts in early 1988 when it was announced that an “upmarket” cruise ship with the unlikely name of “Betsy Ross”, would be calling during the December 1988 season, doing cruises to the Indian Ocean Islands.
 
A short Durban to Cape Town voyage was offered for January 1989 and I decided that I needed a holiday and that was as good an excuse as any to have one. So I booked my cruise, later changing my booking when an additional Durban-Cape Town-Durban voyage was offered, these were Voyages 2 and 3 respectively.
 
Admittedly I had never heard of the ship before and it took much research before she revealed herself as the 1952 built ex-Bergen Line ferry TS Leda.
 
She was now owned by Dolphin Hellas Cruises, operating as Betsy Ross under the American Star Cruises banner. Unfortunately she was definitely NOT an “upmarket ship”, if anything she was a really tired old lady in dire need of repair.
Leda in happier times

Leda in happier times

CM Models 1/1250 Leda Model

Two of my fellow ship enthusiasts decided to join me on this voyage and we all started counting the days. We had booked into one of the sleazier hotels in Durban and with only a week to go before we sailed, disaster struck. The Betsy had been delayed in leaving the Med, hit a massive storm and missed her Suez convoy. Our voyage had become Durban to Port Elizabeth instead! By now we were in a frenzy and by the time we left for Durban we were all speculating about our shortened voyage. Once in Durban we were informed that the delay was even greater than before and we were now going to East London instead!

What followed was a week of frustration with three of us stuck in a sleezy hotel room with dwindling finances and ever increasing tension between us all. The unexpected arrival of the French cruise ship Mermoz did more harm than good as we tried to move our bookings to her. All to no avail. The ship had called at Durban to offload the body of a passenger that had died on board, and had been due to call only at Cape Town en route to Rio.  Watching the Mermoz sitting at her berth was so frustrating as we were unable to even get a visit to the vessel, in spite of pulling every string that we knew. We watched her sail at midnight, muttering vague threats against the odds which had messed up our voyage. 
Postcard given out by TFC

Postcard given out by TFC

The day before the Betsy was due to arrive we were transferred by the tour operator to a better hotel with a sea view where we proceeded to watch anxiously for our ship to come in!

 

At roughly 06H30 she limped into port, followed by the Achille Lauro which was due to sail the same day. Packing our goodies we rushed off to the harbour and nearly missed seeing her because she was so small! It was the first time in at least ten years that two passenger liners were in port at the same time. Ominous bangings were emanating from the innards of the listing cruise ship and a lifeboat was lowered to the quayside where its rudder was being panel-beaten. A generator thumped from a container which had been lowered onto her foredeck and to top it all the  weather was taking a turn for the worse. We were relieved to finally get on board but then we were informed that “Sorry you are only going to be doing a “cruise out to the blue” and not East London after all!” There were loud shrieks of dismay.

As sailing time came and passed so the hammering and panel-beating continued, until eventually a white uniformed port official finally shrugged his shoulders and everything was packed away and we singled up! We were finally off! The Achille had sailed over an hour ago and even the people on the quayside had gone home, it was going to be an altogether dismal sailing.

Actually something inside the ship smelled off too, it was evident that there were plumbing problems on board as the vessel stank badly, the air conditioning was not working properly and there was a long queue of irate passengers at the pursers office demanding refunds.

We duly sailed after 6pm and from the start the Betsy proved to be a fine sea boat, there was a moderate sea running but she took that sea like a ship should! Driven indoors to supper we watched the amount of diners get smaller as the sea grew rougher. Later, we all congregated in the main lounge for the cabaret which was rudely interrupted by a total power failure on board!

Wallowing about 20 kilo’s outside Durban, the NUC lights were hoisted and a small fishing boat came alongside, playing her search light on us. Immediate panic as some woman remembered that her kids were still in the cabin and assumed that we were about to be attacked by a VLCC/UFO or similar, and she was quickly bustled below deck with a handy tranquilizer. We bobbed about for an hour or so as they tried to get the engines going again, her emergency generator seemed to be in her funnel and each time they attempted to start it sparks would fly out of the funnel onto the deck. It was potentially a hazardous situation, sitting in a sea lane in a ship with no power and the lights of Durban twinkling in the distance. The water slapping under her counter, sending gushes of spray upwards to drench those curious enough look over the side. Soon the decks started to throb again and we were underway, heading for who knew what!

My friend and I had a lovely 2 berth outside cabin with working plumbing! the biggest problem with the ship was blocked drains compounded by people flushing beer tins down the toilets. Our other friend who had a cabin elsewhere, and he spent most of the night in the one stairwell, prostate with sea sickness.

The next day dawned with working air conditioning and a rapidly dissipating smell. The sun even put in an appearance to cheer up our green friend who had seen quite a bit of the ships side. By that evening the spirit on board was amazing, the food, service and atmosphere were brilliant and in spite of all her problems the Betsy was a great little ship. I even won a bottle of plonk at one of the functions on board, unfortunately it was awful stuff.
 

The next morning saw us arrive safely back in Durban but by then we were very unhappy that we had to get off. We disembarked to be greeted by hordes of anxious soon to be passengers. Many of whom in turn walked off the ship before it even sailed, complaining and dragging the Betsy’s name through the papers. However, my one friend was only too glad to get back onto dry land. 

 

 

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Those who finally made the voyage to Seychelles were uniform in their praise for her, however, ever increasing fears about safety and continual generator failures quickly caused the cancellation of the remaining cruises and eventually the Betsy slinked out of Durban one afternoon en route to Venice. There is no doubt that the Betsy Ross debacle seriously affected the already wobbly cruising market in our waters, it took a long time for passenger loads to increase and just as things were looking up again, the Oceanos went down off the Transkei coast.

I met many ex passengers the next year on the Oceanos, that ill-fated vessel did not quite compare as far as they were concerned. The cruise director, himself an Ex Betsy fan; still considers  her to be one of the best ships he has ever sailed in, so do I for that matter.

I tried following her career, and it was very difficult to keep track of that little ship, she passed from one owner to the next,  until 1991 when she incurred fire damage while lying at Venice and was transferred to Vanatu registration and renamed Star Of Venice by her owners. Repairs were undertaken at Rijeka. She briefly served a stint as a floating hotel, and was then laid up at Venice until being reactivated on Mediterranean Cruises in 1998, with disastrous results stemming from her poor mechanical condition. She was last used as an hotel ship at Ravenna (near Venice) in 2000. Eventually the end arrived and she was scheduled to leave stationary status at Ravenna, Italy under tow for Aliaga between 5 and 10 August 2001 for scrapping. Maybe it is not too late to have a tee shirt made…. “I survived the Betsy Ross!”

 

Images courtesy of Bestshipimages. Photographs taken by Selim San
 
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Updated: 22/07/2019 — 05:37
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