musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: August 2012

The Captain and others first.

This past month of August saw the anniversary of the sinking of the MTS Oceanos off our coast. This disaster was characterised by many interesting things. For starters the behaviour of the captain of the ship made headlines all around the world, and the fact that no lives were lost made even bigger headlines.  I sailed on this luckless vessel in 1989  and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was even offered this particularly disastrous voyage by a travel agent friend, but it would have been too expensive to get to East London and back from Durban, so I declined; fortunately.
Oceanos in happier times. (purchased on board)

Oceanos in happier times. (purchased on board)

I recall being woken up by one of my fellow ship enthusiasts at some ridiculous hour of the morning of Sunday 4th August 1991 and being told that the Oceanos was going down off the Wild Coast. My friend was not the sort who did practical jokes easily, so I immediately turned on the TV and radio. I remember going through that day with my ear tuned to radio broadcast wherever I heard them, and I even tried to make some sort of minute by minute report as it happened. 

Oceanos alongside in Seychelles. 1989

When things like this happen in broad daylight you tend to not really believe what you are hearing, and TV footage of the stricken vessel and it’s passengers had that strange surrealistic look about them, much the same way World War 1 footage does in monochrome.  
The biggest concern was for the passengers and crew, and they were in the very capable hands of the TFC staff and entertainers, as well as the South African Air Force, and the many merchant vessels that had arrived to offer assistance. The captain was “elsewhere”. The rescue went on for a long time, probably even longer for those who were on that heaving deck waiting for their chance to leave. But eventually the abandoned ship was left to her fate, and she foundered some hours later.  
The recriminations and blame game started almost immediately, and there was a lot of explaining to be done by Epirotiki Lines and the captain.  The media, unused to such drama off our coast had a field day, after all, it is not every day when you can attend to a sinking ship with so much drama attached and all in broad daylight. Ships tend to have this tendency to sink at night, and far from anybody with a camera. The headlines were soon screaming about “Structual Failure”, “Negligence”, “bombs”, “heroes” and “Titanic”. And it took some time before things settled down to what was considered “normal” in South Africa in 1991.   


What was the cause of the disaster in the first place? The chief engineer admitted that there was a problem with the ventilation pipes in the area of the main generator. The pipes had been removed to see if they were blocked, but had not been replaced. The rough weather that the ship experienced while en route to Durban caused water to enter the ship through the sea chest on the starboard side, it then entered the generator compartment and started flowing through the disconnected pipes and started to flood the lower decks. Originally it was said that a piston had burst through the hull. 

Oceanos alongside in Durban 1989

Oceanos alongside in Durban 1989

There were heroes and there were villains. The sinking of the Oceanos was particularly bad news for our tottering cruise industry, especially after the Betsy Ross debacle in 1988. We also had to contend with the problem that it seemed as if South Africa had become the place where old and tired cruise ships came to live out the years before they were broken up.
The Oceanos was has been dived on many times since her sinking, the first images on TV showed the usual murky water and tables still standing upright, it was a haunting view of a ship I had once been on. Fortunately she is not an easy dive or she would have been plundered a long time ago. The survivors have moved forward with their lives, and Epirotiki Lines eventually closed down. TFC Tours closed it’s doors too, re-emerging as Starlight Cruises.  I know of at least two books that have been written about the disaster, and one evening the Titanic Society of South Africa had a meeting where we met some of the survivors and saw some of the video footage of what was a very frightening experience.  I did not give give up cruising either, and did eight cruises on other ships afterwards. We lost the Achille Lauro in 1994 to a fire, and a number of smaller ships have foundered, taking many of their passengers and crew with them. The most recent disaster, that of the Costa Concordia,  also had a Captain seemingly oblivious to the safety of his passengers and crew.
As long as we venture into great waters there will always be a risk, the sea is a very large and scarey place, and is so much bigger than the seemingly invincible ship that you stand on. However, they are safer than driving a car down the M1 North at peak hour. Occasionally though we need an Oceanos to remind us of just how fragile we are, and how easily things can go wrong. One day one of these modern cookie-cutter ships will meet with a disaster, and that will really be a disaster. The only winners will be lawyers.
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated and links fixed 25/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:48

Walking on the Moon

It was one of those jarring moments when I read about the death of Neil Armstrong on 25 August 2012 on the internet. I cannot say I knew him personally because it would be a lie, but I do know that in non-conspiratorial eyes he was the first man that walked on the moon. (Conspiracy lovers, do NOT read any further). 

I sat trying to think about how it would feel to be the first man on the moon, and for once my often overworked imagination was not able to assist. To stand at the foot of the LEM and make that tentative first step must have taken a lot of courage. However, reading about the man I suspect he viewed it very differently.  Maybe once he returned home safely he was able to look back and say “I was the first…”  It is a very elite club to belong to,  and he is the one we remember the most.

NASA Photo ID S69-31741

I have always tried to tell people that the moon landings were not only about the physical accomplishment, but rather about the era, the courage, determination, and often sheer lunacy of the achievement. You had to be alive at the time to really understand it. Anybody born after  20 July 1969 missed the pinnacle moment of the space race. 
 My own memories are strange, I was in Grade 2 (second year in school)  and the rumour went around the school that when they landed on the moon it would come crashing down to earth, so we were all a  little apprehensive. I do not recall listening to it live on the wireless, although it is probable that I heard about it on the news on Springbok Radio. It  was more of an event that we read about in the Sunday papers. They would have these huge double page spreads in colour with all the views from space and the rockets and the men who were going out there. 


The first visuals I saw were probably at the bioscope where the story would feature on “African Mirror”. And the actual moon landing and walking were really not what a heap of bloodthirsty youngsters wanted to see, we really wanted to see that Saturn V climb the tower and we wanted to see the command module as it floated into the Pacific at the end of its parachutes. I suspect we also wanted to see aliens swoop down and shoot it all out of the sky! But that’s another story. 
Space related toys were all the rage too, and quirky battery driven rockets that spun and hissed and sparkled were a definite want to have. I had this strange console affair with a toy LEM and Command module that rotated around a central pillar with a tin moon it it. By twiddling a button it was possible to “dock” them. Strange, Now where did I leave it??


It was only later that it would dawn on us that we had lived through one of the crowning achievements of our time. The whole space race from the early Gemini to the last of the Apollo flights were always the highlights of our newspaper reading though, and we all wanted to be astronauts! 
The end of Apollo and the entry of the Space Shuttle into service  really heralded the “routineness” of space flight. And unless something went wrong shuttles tended to only garner a mention in the media.  My only real live encounter with the space race was in 1999 when I saw the Apollo 15 Command module at Wright Patterson AFB in the USA. All I have is a poor quality grainy image to remind me of it; I really should have taken a closer look…
I was also able to see the Apollo 10 Command Module at the Science Museum when I was in London in 2016.
However, the men that landed on the moon had done something that was in the realm of science fiction. And Neil Armstrong is probably the most well known astronaut from the moon landings. Nobody remembers the second person to walk on the moon (Buzz Aldrin). 
Rest in Peace Neil Armstrong.
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 25/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:48

61 Mech AGM

It was August last year that I seem to have started this blog thang, and my fourth post dealt with the 2nd AGM of the 61 Mech veterans Association. I served with the unit from December 1980 till December 1981 and consider it to be my “home unit”. 


As in previous years, the AGM was held at the Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.  The museum is home to the 61 Mech Memorial as well as a display room dedicated to the unit and it’s exploits. The weather was turning to summer on the day of the AGM, and it was reasonably well attended, although I had seen more members in previous years. 

First on the agenda was the AGM which was quickly dispensed with, and it was good to hear that the definitive 61 Mech book is still on track. It is long overdue, and should be a good read when it appears, possibly in 2014.  From there we held the Memorial Parade with all the pomp and ceremony that goes with it. 
Guard of Honour

Guard of Honour

Placing the Standards

Placing the Standards

The message was delivered by the former commander of the unit during my era: Gen Maj Roland de Vries (SD, SM, MMM, SA, st C).  

If anything, a memorial parade is always an occasion for reflection, I knew 3 of the men who names on the memorial, and while we who are left behind get older, they will always be young.   My old company “Bravo Company” is reasonably well represented,  although there are always people that you wish you could see once again. 
Following the service by Chaplin Pieter Bezuidenhout it was time for the two minute silence and the laying of wreaths.
Once the wreath laying was completed, we all attended a briefing on Operations Makro, Meebos and Yahoo in the Lemmer Auditorium.  I always find it interesting to hear the many stories that get told. This year Jan Malan spoke about the loss of a Ratel in an ambush during Ops Yahoo. And, as a war grave photographer many of those names are familiar to me, but understanding the way that they died is a different story altogether when it is told by somebody that was there.
Our South African War Graves Project Border War List  only provides the following information on these casualties: “Whilst on patrol the Lt sent out a section (1 Ratel) to follow a couple a tracks that the tracker had picked up. The Ratel hit an ambush just after 10am. By the time backup had formed up and went to their aid a group of soldiers had been killed.
We were also given a briefing on the logistical side of some of the operations, and two things came out of it: 61 Mech was extremely efficient when it came to logistical support, and that our Tiffies were the best on the border! 
For the first time though, Roland De Vries was not able to complete his words, when he described the death of one of  the men involved. We all forget how the deaths of so many of these men have stayed with those who were in command of them, and how the deaths affected the families and futures of those left behind.  It was a poignant moment, and one that will stick with me for a long time.
Then it was over, and after some quick photography I was heading back home. On the way I remembered what the national co-ordinator of SAWGP had said about 61 Mech; “While we were at war 61 Mech was a fighting unit, but during peace it lost it’s reason for existence”     
The unit was disbanded in March 2005, today it is part of history, but what a proud history it has. 
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 25/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:49

Johannesburg Park Station. A 2012 view.

On 2 January 1980 I started to work for what was then known as “South African Transport Services”, it was only for 2 weeks though as I departed shortly thereafter for my 2 year sojourn in the SADF. But, being a member of SATS, I was now entitled to all the privileges that went with working for a bloated organisation that was responsible for moving large amounts of people in various states of comfort or discomfort. I was employed as an “apprentice telecommunication electrician” in the Telecoms department, my depot being on Johannesburg Station in what was then the telecoms building. The theory was that we would do our practical training there until we qualified and would then be posted to the depot as a fully qualified artisan.  The Telecoms building was part of the North Station complex and had a large South African coat of arms on it.  Access was gained through a lift tower on an island just outside where the plinthed steam loco was. 
The Telecomms Building (aka North Station Building), with Paul Kruger Building behind it

The Telecomms Building (aka North Station Building), with Paul Kruger Building behind it

The building housed a 10000 line electro-mechanical exchange as well as a telex exchange that served the many railway and SAA offices that were scattered around Johannesburg city.  The local section I eventually ended up working at had offices in 22 buildings. There were also dedicated technicians at Airways Centre, Union Square and Paul Kruger Building. Between when I qualified and when I came out of the army I learnt a lot about the interior of the station, but never really viewed it as a place of interest. 
Many of the offices were  old dingy spaces, and the concourse was a cold impersonal place that we used to catch trains from. The best part about catching a train was when you caught a main line train at platform 15, 16 or 17, but that only happened on rare occasions.  
The image above is interesting because parts of the concourse have not been built and the platforms not been decked over, neither has the steam engine been plinthed outside the North Station Building. I do know that by 1972 the engine was in place so this image pre-dates 1972.
Rissik Street runs past the station as the western boundary with the South Station Building entrance facing Eloff Street. Wolmarans Street formed the northern boundary of the station precinct, and Wanderers the eastern boundary.     
Rotunda and Airways Centre were on the opposite side of Rissik. These were home to South African Airways and Rotunda was also the main booking area. Towards the end of my days at SATS they also acquired Airways Centre which was on the corner of Wolmarans and Rissik.  
The main “entrance” to the station was at South Station building, which was somewhat of an odd building, its original use no longer in context with what it was at the time. Part of the original Park Station was a wedding cake of glass and steel that can still be seen in Newtown.  
The original vision of the architect was of a grandiose structure festooned with themes depicting animals and transportation, but the finished structure really ended up as being somewhat of a tired hodge podge instead. Granted, it may have been a different story when the original station existed. But from 1955 till 1959 a whole new platform and station complex was built which rerouted lines and  must have caused havoc. The end result was what I grew up with, and which is still a close approximation of what can be seen today. 
Strict segregation was in force and the “European” concourse was generally a very quiet spot except during rush hour when hordes of white passengers descended onto the islands that led down to the platforms. The general hubbub being punctuated by the voice of the heavily accented announcer who would breathless announce: “dietreinopplatform5isdietreinnaflorida“. The “Non-European” concourse must have been chaotic all the time, with thousands of Africans trying to catch their overcrowded 3rd class suburbans to Soweto and environs. These trains departed mainly from Platform 1 and 2, and were sometimes overflowing with humanity in transit. 
The main “European” concourse hall was a large open space punctuated by the islands for the platforms and a “restaurant” on a small mezzanine that had a spiral staircase situated in a wishing well, leading up to it. “Pie gravy and chips” being a house specialty. 
Postcard view of the "European" concourse

Postcard view of the “European” concourse

Of course, being the “old South Africa” the whole station would literally die as the country stopped work at 1pm on a Saturday. The only people to be seen were those who came into town to visit the bioscope, catch a train or who may have been working weekend shifts. The irony is that the biggest user of some of the trains were railways workers and we got our tickets cheap. 
The station precinct also was home to Tippet Building, and the Systems Managers Offices, as well as Railway Police,  “Taal Bureau”, Stores and many other minor departments and their offices. All manner of functionality could be found if you knew were to look amongst the many hidden nooks and crannies.  
Tippet Building and the System Managers Offices

Tippet Building and the System Managers Offices

There are portions of the station today that have not changed in years and a recent discovery of old  travel and advertising posters in an unused tunnel makes me wonder how much is still sitting there waiting to be found. 
Between the Systems Managers offices and South Station Building is a courtyard that now houses a KFC as well as an office of the police. In my day the display cases were often used to showcase exhibits that were used in recruiting potential employers to work for SATS. There was also a pedestrian subway that crossed under De Villiers Street and came out next to what is now “Attwell Gardens”, a park that is now used by the many children that live in the area. The subway is boarded shut and an informal market is now found at its exit.

The one interesting artefact we found was one of the station clocks that had been manufactured in 1870 and removed from the original station in 1933 and re-erected in 1958. There were 2 sets of these clocks, but the one on the corner of Rissik and De Villiers is gone. These clocks, like all the clocks on the station, would have been controlled from the master clock in the exchange in the telecoms building.    

The original station building (pre-1955) was the work of Gordon Leith and Gerard Moerdyk, and the foundation stone was laid on 11 December 1928.   The ornamental facade and original South Station building still survives today, but the facade seems lost, and the three closed entrances lend this long structure a desolate look.
If you could go in through this entrance you would find a staircase that leads downwards into what used to be the old concourse that connected to the original 1930’s station.

The modernisation of the station rendered this area obsolete, and it became the home of the Museum, Tea Room and Blue Room. This area is beautiful in spite of its emptiness and feel of abandonment.

When I was young and we had time to kill we would come down here and stare at the contents of the museum. There was something exotic about this area, it had an otherness that was quite different to the feel of the station.

The Museum used to be on the right of the staircase and the tea room on the left with a preserved heritage locomotive sitting in the area between the two fountains. This locomotive, the Emil Kessler,  was the original locomotive that ran as the “Rand Tram” between Johannesburg and Boksburg from 1890 until it was withdrawn in 1903. 

Emil Kessler. Photograph by Ronnie Lovemore.

Emil Kessler. Photograph by Ronnie Lovemore.

She still exists today but is now located at the OuteniquaTransport Museum. 

The area of the lower concourse is devoid of anything except dust and shafts of sunlight that penetrate the gloom. The tea room with its blue and white tiles is empty, as is the museum and the bar and toilets.

It is a fascinating area to explore, but a space that realistically would be very difficult to re-open given the change in demographics of the station 

The problem with this particular building is that you could demolish it and nobody would really notice. It’s original use has been superseded a long time ago, and many of the offices could easily be accommodated in other station buildings. My memory of the offices here was of cramped “government issue” styled rooms with poor ventilation and lighting, occupied by rude clerks and minor functionaries.

Bidding this almost Moorish area a farewell, we headed back to the concourse, and from there homewards. Photography is not allowed inside the concourse, although you would struggle to find signage that tells you this if you entered from the parking lot. Today the platform islands are gone, the old ticket office no longer exists, and the train departure board stands empty.  There more people here now, and there is quite a buzz. The old CNA still stands where it did when I was young, but the wishing well is gone, and there is a new mezzanine level around the sides. The former main line booking hall is no longer there, and today people queue for inter city buses or to travel on the Shosoloza Meyl or Premier Klasse.  The old steam loco that used to be plinthed outside the telecoms building was removed to the Outeniqua Transport Museum and the whole outside parking was finally decked over. 

The former “non European” concourse now houses the Metrorail concourse and it is no longer segregated.

On the other side of the Rissik Street Bridge, the old Rotunda stands empty and silent. Today it is easier to book a flight on-line.

The original lettering is still visible around the roof edging

Close to the old Telecoms building is the Gautrain station, and the Reya Vaya stop is within walking distance of the old station and Gautrain. The old gulf red and quaker grey trains are all gone, repainted yellow and grey and many are still in service under a new guise, but a shade of their former selves.

Mainline trains still leave from here, but the service is a shade of its former self too, although some of the original coaches are still in service, as are the 6E electric units.

I left SATS in 1986, and made 3 more trips by train from Park Station, my last probably around 1988. The station is not quite the way I last saw it, it is the same station, just different.

Rissik Street looking south. (Station on the left) (1500×523)

The tour was organised by Past Experiences who operate walking tours in and around the city.  

© DRW 2012-2018 Images recreated 27/02/2015. More images added 14/04/2017, 02/02/2018
Updated: 02/02/2018 — 07:34

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

At the end of June I posted an entry about my first snow, little expecting that the 7th of August would bring snow and icy conditions to South Africa.  I live out on the West Rand and generally the wind just blows like mad, but yesterday was to prove to be an interesting day. 
Suddenly everybody was talking about heavy snowfalls in Vereeniging and the Free State, but all I could see out of my window was a layer of dirty clouds and birds trying to fly while being blown backwards. I was secretly hoping that my nemesis, the mad pigeon, would head South too and never return. I kept watch for most of the morning and not a flurry was to be seen until about 1 pm when flurries started. Grabbing my camera I dashed outside and nearly blew away. Light puffs that could also have been severe dandruff, were flying haphazardly through the air, but there was no real coverage at all.
But by 1.30 it was a different story altogether as the flurries became much more than the occasional puff or 2. 
The wind was still howling though and it was seriously cold. I went down to our parking and everything was turning white. The usual view across Kloofendal was of a large white lake, although that was mostly mist. Our “lawn” was looking good though, rapidly disappearing underneath a blanket of snow.


The wind was still screaming and it was decidedly unpleasant to be outside and  I was about ready to pack it all up and head indoors again and mutter sweet nothings to my heater.


This whole escapade had taken the grand total of 10 minutes! That was the end, and probably in 20 years time we may hit snow once again. But, it was fun and when I ventured out just after 3pm there were only small patches of ice in corners and on objects, but no sign of any more forthcoming snow.




What fun! but the real drama was still to come as our power went phut! and from then on we were on and off until I gave up later that night. Even my UPS quit on me and this fine morning I was unable to make my usual excursion to Pretoria. A visit to Westgate revealed large puddles inside the hyper, and teams with mops working themselves into a sweat. 

The weather person assured us that no more snow was forecast, which was a pity because it was a great seeing those white flakes hurtling downwards once again after so many years I believe in some areas snowmen were being built and traffic was standing still on some of the main roads, (although that is the usual state of traffic), and I am just grateful I was not on the roads yesterday,  it’s hard enough driving on our roads when it isn’t raining.
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 25/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:05

War Books

Reading here and there on the web I bumped into Commando Comics; and that got my mind working again. Many years ago, when I was a lad in short pants, I was an avid reader of “War Picture Library” and “Battle Picture Library”. In fact most of my friends were too, and we used to horde vast collections of them, often swopping at the local book shop (1 for 1 and 5 cents). 


I hate to admit it though but some of those stereotypes must have remained in our psyche. Germans troops running around shouting “Die Engelander Schwein” and Japanese soldiers shouting “Banzai!’ and reporting to “Captain San” before one last suicidal dash across the jungle straight into gunfire from the platoons Bren. Fixed bayonets and all! It was a very simplistic view of warfare that we lapped up because frankly there wasn’t much else in the way of entertainment for blood thirsty young boys, apart from the wireless. I hate to say this but Enid Blyton and her ilk did not quite compare.

Of course the reality of war is a different thing altogether. Many of  our fathers and grandfathers were ex-soldiers from both World Wars, and I suspect they looked on at our antics with amusement, knowing that the things they faced were very different from the black and white drawings that fascinated us so much. When we went into national service ourselves,  we soon discovered how different the military was compared to our idealised vision of it. I can safely say I had a whole new view of the Bren so beloved of Private Smith as he fought off the Germans and Japanese.  I trained with the Bren in Platoon Weapons during my National service, and frankly found it heavy, unreliable, and very prone to stoppages. We had 1942 vintage 7.62mm chambered versions, which were slightly different to the 303 version below.

I also was able to handle a Sten Gun when I was in Southampton in 2013, and speaking to the person at the stand her showed me how to hold it properly, and how easily things went wrong with it. Now why did they not tell me this in War Picture Library?

My own particular “genre” was the war at sea. Naval versions of these books were reasonably rare, but I collected and horded them the most.  Not for me the glamorous existence of Battler Britton and his squadron “somewhere over England”, I was too busy reading about “Kapt Schmidt” and the U12345 in the North Atlantic, torpedoing hapless merchant vessels while being pursued by an outdated destroyer with a crew of has-beens and a commander with a death wish/personality quirk.  Again the reality of the war at sea was light years apart from how I envisioned it. My first trip “out to sea” happened in 1986 and I remember waking up to seeing nothing around me except sea.  The deep sea is a big and often scarey place and the convoys must have been a nightmarish existence. 

Eventually I would grow out of my war book phase, and move onwards to other things. War Picture Library ceased publication in 1984, and the genre seemed to disappear completely in South Africa, apart from the occasional appearance at a book sale. I suspect many wives and mothers can be blamed for destroying vast amounts in their quest to throw away little boys collections. I also expect that war books eventually gave way to pornography or “mens magazines” or even “Scope”.

Because of my interest in  the past I have always tried to find copies of war books, and when I do I always read them and shake my head at the often atrocious stereotypical stories in them. Did I really read this stuff? The problem is, you need to look at the era that we were living in. In my case we were roughly 15-20 years out of World War 2, and the memory of the war was still relatively recent. Neither did we have the internet to feed our fascinations;  television only came to South Africa in 1976, and before that heaps of Euro-centric radio shows or American comics were all we really had. 
Today children have a wealth of different ways to keep themselves amused, although often the tactile experience of a book/magazine is missing. The Germans and Japanese are no longer the bad guys, and the Japanese have spawned a whole new industry with Anime and Manga.  Even the much loved comic died, and moved into the collector or enthusiast realm. Maybe that was a good thing? I do however think that much of the stuff available today is much more dangerous and influential on young minds than anything we were reading when I was young.
I guess the reason behind this somewhat disjointed diatribe is that those books are part of my past, and my present too.  I have 13 in my current collection and prices ranged from 13c to 21c, 37c and finally 45c.  I look back at the many hours laying on my bed reading them with affection, and that is a part of me I cannot give up and I kind of miss it.  Given our odd weather today I am tempted to haul out the few war books I have  and head towards the bedroom to refight a few battles. Now where did I put my Bren? 
A postscript.

In 2013 while in the UK I was fortunate enough to find this heavy beaut on sale at my local charity bookstore. I agonised over it for a long time because of its link to my past. Finally, I bought it for the princely sum of GBP9.99. (usual price GBP14.99 (about RZA225.00))

And, as the blurb says “12 of the best War Picture Library comic books ever”. Yes, I did read it, and yes I will probably reread it. I know it is cheesey, and I know that it is not politically correct, however, this is “quality literature”, all 776 pages of it!  I know there is a volume 2 out there as well, but I will not pursue it because if I look at it rationally, this monster book may just take up half of my baggage allowance on a possible flight back to South Africa! I say, where did we leave the Spitfire? 
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 25/03/2016, enemy tanks destroyed: 7, U-boats sunk: 3. 15 ME109’s destroyed for the loss of 1 Hurricane, Private Smith last “seen in the bag” heading for a POW camp controlled by the SS! 
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:10
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