Tag: Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole

A Honey of a Tank

A few years back, in 2011 I did the rounds of the usual haunts, hunting down plinthed and preserved tanks, there were three models that fell into my research, namely Crusaders, Shermans and M3 Stuarts. This post deal with one Stuart in particular.  I will not go into the history of these M3’s, suffice to say they were popularly referred to as “Honey’s”.

This vehicle I photographed in 2011 while visiting the Roll of Honour at the Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole in Brakpan.

The history of this particular vehicle is not known, but it is likely that she was a gate guard at a former MOTH Shellhole somewhere in the Springs area and she is currently situated at Google Earth co-ordinates: -26.252307°,  28.446881°. This is a former park, but sadly it is more of the remains of a park. The tank when I photographed her was not a total wreck yet.

Those open doors at the back set off alarm bells in my mind when I saw her, sooner or later somebody was going to get in there and remove parts off her engine, assuming that it had not been done already.

Wind forward to 2017, and Joe Borain from Cosy Corner went to see whether she was still intact or not. rumours were that she was not looking good.  I will post the images more or less in the the same order as the “before (2011)” images.

As you can see, the engine compartment has had lots of attention from the scrap metal thieves.

It also appears as if the open viewing slits have been used to “post rubbish” into. It is only a matter of time before they get organised enough to go after her tracks and idlers. The scrap metal industry is not averse to assisting those who decide to remove steel from monuments and memorials. Remember, watched a whole collection of steam locomotives systematically stripped by illicit scrap thieves in 2010. Anything can happen.

What can be done? According to Joe site has been fenced, although he did manage to get in. And, a local garage was supposedly keeping an eye on her too. But, what really needs to happen is they need to weld the front viewing ports and rear engine doors shut. And ideally get her moved from the spot where she is now. Who does she belong to? probably the SANDF, and getting permission to move her will be quite a rigmarole. Springs city council were supposed to have renovated the derelict war memorial by mid 2015 and that too stalled so there is not much hope of help from them. But the way things are, one day that honey of a tank will be no more. 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 08/01/2016. 2017 Images are by Joe Borain and are used with permission.

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:43

Bakerton and Payneville.

Continuing with my efforts to capture images of the more obscure cemeteries where CWGC graves are to be found, I ventured forth to Bakerton/Payneville Cemetery outside of Springs. My original thoughts were that these were two distinctly seperate places, however, some homework revealed that actually they are a cemetery within a cemetery. Bakerton being the Hindu/Moslem cemetery, and Payneville being the African burial ground. Naturally they are miles from anywhere, but reasonably close to Brakpan to pay a return visit to Brenthurst Cemetery  and pop in at the derelict war memorial in Springs.
My first port of call however was at the Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole in Brakpan to photograph the new Wall of Remembrance, that is now home to the original plaque from the mess that is the former garden of remembrance in Brakpan.
The MOTH Shellhole is a treasure trove of memorabilia and is well worth visiting if you have an interest in Delville Wood. A tree, grown from a seedling from a Hornbeam tree on the battlefield, grows in the grounds. Its a strange tangible link to that terrible battle.
There is a proud heritage at that Shellhole, and by the looks of it, it is a thriving one. There are two preserved tanks on their premises, and that is quite an accomplishment. 
Moving onwards to Bakerton, I had one CWGC grave to photograph,  and he was reasonably easy to find. This area of the cemetery is very well maintained and is still in use. Unfortunately I cannot say much about when it opened, but it must have been open in the early 1940’s at a minimum. The Springs area does have a number of Native Military Corps graves in it, with the beautiful Palmietkuil South War Cemetery just up the road.  
Payneville however was a different ball game altogether. Its not a very large space,  but it is sparsely populated with headstones, and overpopulated with weeds and grass. Mounds and holes are not easy to spot and I nearly saw the ground from close up on quite a few occasions.
I had 2 CWGC graves to photograph, and had a rough idea where they were, but in reality, finding them in real time was a different story. Usually the headstones are very distinctive and I found the one reasonably easily, but the second was nowhere to be seen. I had rough GPS co-ordinates of the graves and changed to pedestrian mode to try find it, but even with a GPS I struck a blank. I did a block search in the area and eventually found the stone, but it had been broken in half. It was only recently that the CWGC graves had been cleaned up, and this was a recent break. There wasn’t much to do but report the broken stone and head off to our next destination. I think that as long as I live I will never understand the logic of somebody that goes around breaking tombstones. If somebody can provide insight into this please drop me a comment.
Springs War Memorial was one of those mapbook finds. I spotted it when I was researching Palmietkuil in 2007, but couldn’t find it on the ground at the time. There was this strange derelict dome structure on an island in the town, but surely that wasn’t the memorial? 
Springs War Memorial in 2007

Springs War Memorial in 2007

My gravehunting companion assured me that WAS the memorial, or should I say, what is left of it. The dome used to cover a tripod of rifles with a helmet, inscribed on the interior walls were the “Their Name Liveth Forevermore” reminders. Upright walls lined the pathway, with name plaques of the fallen, a fountain adding its melody to the tableau. That was then. This is now.
springswm 093
The only purpose that this derelict seems to serve now is to provide a shelter for the homeless, otherwise it is just a travesty that can get consigned to the scrapheap of history. In the nearly 4 years since I had visited here originally, nothing had been improved or done to rectify the situation. And, probably in 4 years time, things will be exactly the same as now. I wonder how many residents even have an idea what this derelict structure actually was? I know one thing, no remembering of the fallen is done in Springs anymore.
In 2014, I was contacted by Joe Borain who informed me that they were stealing the copper off what was left of the dome.  The image below being taken in February 2014. It was also announced that the council would be “restoring” the memorial, but whether that ever happens remains to be seen. 
I did post an update to my original entry on the relevant page of allatsea
A last detour to photograph a Honey tank, and we were ready to head off to Brenthurst Cemetery, but that’s another story, for another day. Unfortunately, between my visit and 2016 the tank has been deteriorating and I did an update on her too.
DRW © 2011-2019. Images recreated 20/03/2016
Updated: 08/04/2019 — 18:55

Preserved Tanks. Shuffling Shermans

The much loved Sherman is surprisingly scarce when it comes to gate guards and plinths. I saw my first plinthed one in Bethlehem and have had a beady eye out ever since.  Unfortunately there are so many variants of the M4A1 that positively identifying them is problematic unless one has all the information at hand.  The Sherman (aka “Tommy Cooker”) had one thing in its favour, they could build them faster than they could be broken! and the result is over 50000 units were built. My handy list says there are theoretically about 24 in South Africa, but I will be honest I never knew there were so many!

Special thanks to Michel van Loon, creator of the afregister.org website. A nonprofit organization that is trying to create a database with surviving armor from around the world. He was able to provide clarity on some of these Shermans in South Africa.

The first example in this page is the M4 Firefly in Bethlehem which is plinthed at the Springbok Redoubt Shellhole.  

Firefly in Bethlehem

There is also a Firefly and what I believe is an M4A2 variant of the Sherman at Pretoria Regiment.  The M4A2 had a 76mm gun instead of the standard 75mm, this example also has a different shaped turret to the run of the mill Sherman, but I am not a tank boffin so cannot provide much more information than that.  (Update: 14 June 2013, apparently this is an M4A1(76) )

Sherman Firefly at Pretoria Regiment. Image by Gavin Spowart

Sherman (76) at Pretoria Regt. Image by Gavin Spowart

I will do some reading and see whether I can provide more information on this variant of Sherman. The other two examples that I wish to mention are the Sherman Firefly at the National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold.

Sherman Firefly at the National Museum of Military History

As well as the Sherman that is on display in the one hall. The nice thing about her is that her hatches are open and you can see inside of her. 
She is probably the same variant as the Sherman at the Cosy Corner Shellhole in Brakpan, based on the gun and turret shape. This is as far as I know the standard M4A1 Sherman. (Update 14/06/2013, this is an M4(105))

Sherman at Cosy Corner Shellhole in Brakpan.

This is probably a Firefly variant, but I did not photograph its information sheet so can’t be too sure.

M4A1 at Dickie Fritz Shelhole in Edenvale.

(Update 14/06/2013. This is technically a Sherman that did not exist. It is an M4 Firefly hull with a 105mm turret on it)
It is evident though, that the many variants of Sherman out there can really be confusing, and when next I visit the War Museum I will see what the plaques associated with the two Shermans say. Hopefully I will be able to track down some of the others in and around Gauteng while I am about it, although they will probably just leave more questions than answers.
Clinton Evangelides sent me these pics of the Sherman on display at Sandstone near Ficksburg in the Free State.
While in the UK I visited Bovington Tank Museum and found a few more Shermans of interest.


This Sherman is designated M4A1, Sherman Mk 2, and is the first lend-lease Sherman and possibly one of the oldest Shermans to survive.


A rare swimming Sherman with its screen up.


A Sherman V “Crab” mine clearing tank (also known as a Flail). 

During the GWR Wartime Weekend, a former Sherman M4A4 rangewreck was also on display.
© DRW 2011-2018. Images recreated 18/03/2016, updated 16/05/2016
Updated: 24/12/2017 — 19:22
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