Category: Hobbies and Interests

Past Pics

Once upon a time (and I am talking last century here), cameras could not produce colour images, or should I say that photography was a monochrome activity. Like so many others of my generation I have a whole stack of images of family members who are no longer with us, and all of these images are in black and white. I have to admit I have a soft spot for mono images, they can be extremely atmospheric and their quality seemingly does not deteriorate as quickly as a colour print. Ship photographs in black and white are not as rare as you would think, and even in the time when colour photography was normal a lot of professional and press photography was in black and white. Over the years I have picked up some odds and sods and I want to put them up here for posterity. At some point Google will spider this page and they will become a part of the internet and hopefully survive long after I have popped my clogs.

Royal Navy.

I somehow acquired some images of the Royal Navy in Malta, and particularly prominent were 2 images of HMS Courageous.  She was sunk by U29 on 17 February 1939 with the loss of 519 of her crew. Originally built as a the lead ship of  Courageous-class cruisers she participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917 and after the war was converted into an aircraft carrier between June 1924 and February 1928. How do I know it is Courageous? It was written on the back of the pic. 

HMS Courageous

HMS Rodney and HMS Courageous

 

The fleet is in. This image shows elements of the Royal Navy supposedly in Grand Harbour, Malta. It may also be back to front. Unfortunately I cannot ID any of the vessels. 

The image below is part of a Christmas card that was amongst the collection. The Spithead Review of 1953 was a large one, and our RFA was in “Line H”. A number of the ships names are familiar to me, but notables are: Amerigo Vespucci, Pretoria Castle, HMS Eagle, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Vanguard, Andes, THV Patricia, HMS Sheffield, HMS Maidstone, RMS Mauretania, etc. There is a nice pdf at http://cloudobservers.co.uk/ that shows the ships names and layout of the fleet. 

Quite by accident I have an old Illustrated London News from 1953 that has a section on the Coronation Review of 1953, and there is an image of part of the fleet with the RMS Mauretania steaming between the columns en route for Southampton.  (Image is 1500 x 675 px)  

Not all of the images that I got were from the Navy, a number featured passenger ships too. It is either the Armadale or Kenilworth Castle. 

This is either Winchester or Carnarvon Castle as built, or possibly Warwick Castle. Unfortunately the image did not have a name written on the back.

Two more unidentified Union-Castle ships in Southampton.

The same collection had the following two images:

3 funnel ship in floating dock. Possibly RMS Majestic in Southampton? Unfortunately the image is damaged and  I will see whether I can restore parts of it.

RMS Aquitania in New York.  Unfortunately I am unable to find a larger version of this image in my files.

Many years ago I was given this image of the Queen Elizabeth in Cape Town during the 2nd World War. I was never able to scan it one piece because it was wider than the scanner was which is why it has a definite “join” in the image. 

I was also given this image that they said was of HMS Vanguard, however Vanguard had a transom stern and she clearly does not, It is actually HMS Howe (you can read the name on the ship if you look close enough).

And another that I was given: MV Diplomat. 

I also managed to scrounge some ship images that were taken in Cape Town, the physical images themselves are roughly 50 x 50 mm and they scanned quite well but within the limits of the originals.  They were also scratched and battered, but are better than nothing. I will try clean them up as best I can. (images open are 800×600)

Pendennis Castle

Windsor Castle

Randfontein

City of Exeter

Maasdam or Ryndam

Hamburg

Angelina Lauro

SA Trader,  Transporter or  Pioneer

SA Shipper, ex Clan Robertson.

Simonskerk

Unidentified (Harrisons Line?)

Unidentified Lykes Lines

Mormacsea

Patris Ex Bloemfontein Castle

Arundel or Windsor Castle

Unknown Mitsui OSK ship

   
   

DRW © 2020. Recreated 30/05/2020. Unfortunately I am unable to credit the images to anybody as I do not know the names of the original photographers, however I would like to thank them for recording this slice of shipping history. Special thanks to Ken Malcom for his ID’s of some of the ships.


Remember the War

“Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict.

They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad.

They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.

They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe.

“We should and will remember them.”

 

DRW © 2020 Created 09/05/2020. Excerpt from The Queen’s VE Day speech 2020. 

 


VE Day: 2020

The War in Europe is over.. we have won! Words like that must have been on everybody’s minds when 7 May 1945 finally broke. It has been 75 years since the event and on this day we can give thanks that we are not living in a Nazi dominated world, and the horror that the Soviet Union inflicted on it’s people and satellite states is no more.  For those at home they could go to bed safe in the knowledge that it was all over bar the shouting, although in the defeated Germany there was not much to celebrate over. Thousands of ex-Nazi’s suddenly grew a conscience and after a suitable period of time slipped back into civilian live unpunished and unrepentant. Millions of displaced people tried to return home, thousands of prisoners of war looked forward to repatriation and families everywhere mourned those who never came back.  

My father was one of those POWs interned in Germany when the war ended.  His records indicate that he  was repatriated to the UK on 31/05/1945. How he got there I do not know, and neither do I know where he was housed in the UK between then and when he boarded the ship back to the Union of South Africa on 26/08/1945.  I do not even know which ship he sailed on either, but he arrived in Cape Town on 11 September 1945 and was then sent to Pietermaritzburg. From there he seemed to have been on leave, until he was due to report back on 13/11/1945. Whether that was at Pietermaritzburg or Johannesburg I cannot say, however, the record confirms him as being at the dispersal depot at Hector Norris Park in Johannesburg on 20 November 1945, and he was finally discharged on the 28th of that month with the rank of Lance Corporal. He was one of the lucky ones. 

Unfortunately it would take two atomic bombs to convince the Japanese that the war was lost, and VJ Day was on 2 September 1945. The world however has never been without a war somewhere since then and millions of civilians  have lost their lives in conflict ever since. We have not learnt our lesson yet. The present pandemic has shown that it does not take much to throw a planet into disarray, and even in the midst of the current crisis we are still killing each other. 

The exuberance of victory was well deserved though. It had been a tough fight and the enemy was tenacious and adaptable, but the Allies had completed their task as best they could.  Reams would be written about the mistakes that were made and the armchair generals would pat themselves on the back and beam at the medals that they received, while the ordinary soldier was just glad to be back at home and able to get on with their lives. 

Both my parents lived through the 2nd World War and my mother lost her brother in Egypt in 1944; the passage of time would never heal that wound and the loss of that family member would always be a part of their lives.   

As we celebrate VE day on the Bank Holiday within the confines of our lockdown let us not forget that freedom does not come without a price, and that price is not cheap. 

Winston Churchill made the following speech to the nation:

“God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all. My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole. We were the first, in this ancient island, to draw the sword against tyranny. After a while we were left all alone against the most tremendous military power that has been seen. We were all alone for a whole year.

There we stood, alone. Did anyone want to give in? Were we down-hearted? The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it. So we came back after long months from the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell, while all the world wondered. When shall the reputation and faith of this generation of English men and women fail? I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done and they will say ‘do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered.’ Now we have emerged from one deadly struggle-a terrible foe has been cast on the ground and awaits our judgement and our mercy.

But there is another foe who occupies large portions of the British Empire, a foe stained with cruelty and greed – the Japanese. I rejoice we can all take a night off today and another day tomorrow. Tomorrow our great Russian allies will also be celebrating victory and after that we must begin the task of rebuilding our hearth and homes, doing our utmost to make this country a land in which all have a chance, in which all have a duty, and we must turn ourselves to fulfil our duty to our own countrymen, and to our gallant allies of the United States who were so foully and treacherously attacked by Japan. “We will go hand and hand with them. Even if it is a hard struggle we will not be the ones who will fail.”

Amongst my collection is a letter of thanks from Field Marshal Jan Smuts that was sent to every single South African who served in the armed forces during World War 2.  Unfortunately I do not have a good image of it because it is behind glass. 

DRW © 2020. Created 05/05/2020. “Tribute to the Millions” – written by Bruno Peak – VE Day 75 Pageant Master