OTD: Commemorating HMSAS Parktown

HMSAS Parktown was originally built for The Southern Whaling and Sealing Company of London by Smiths Dock Company of Middlesbrough. She was laid down and launched in 1929 under the name Southern Sky.  In 1936, she was  bought by the Union Whaling Company and registered in Durban as Sidney Smith for service in the whaling industry until 1940. When war broke out she was requisitioned for service in the South African Navy as a minesweeper on 8 August 1940 under the name HMSAS Parktown. 

HMSAS Parktown Memorial in Pieter Roos Park in the suburb of Parktown

On 10 June 1942, HMSAS Parktown arrived in Tobruk Harbour for magnetic minesweeping duties and for ten days she continued operations off the harbour while the 8th Army were being driven back by advancing German and Italian forces. On 20 June 1942  the Tobruk garrison was attacked from the south and south east and By 18H00, the Allies had been overrun and Allied ships were ordered to embark personnel for evacuation.   At 06:45 on 21 June, the lookouts of HMSAS Parktown sighted what they believed was an Italian “MAS” torpedo boat,  but according to German reports, the ship was engaged by a flotilla of German E-boats based at Derna. The Parktown attempted to fight off the attacks but she was out-numbered and out-gunned by the axis vessels.  Within 15 minutes Parktown was stationary with a hole in the boiler. Half of her crew, including her captain (Lieutenant (SAN) Leslie James Jagger) as well as evacuated soldiers were dead and the ship could no longer move and was on fire. 

The ship was abandoned and the survivors took to the sea. Some were saved by an Allied MTB as well as a tug that had been under tow by Parktown. The wreck was then sunk by depth charges.

The ship is Commemorated on a memorial in Pieter Roos Park in the suburb of Parktown in Johannesburg. 

Roll of Honour.

70457 Able Seaman Peter S  BROCKLEHURST
70265 Stoker 1c John COOK
70016 Lieutenant Leslie J JAGGER (Commander of HMS Parktown)
69686 Steward William A MCEWAN
71109 Petty Officer Arthur P TREAMER

The men are Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in Devon.

Plymouth Naval Memorial

DRW © 2020. Created 15/02/2020. Image: “The Royal Naval War Memorial and Hoe Park, Plymouth Hoe” by Robert Cutts is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Still Musing About The Corona

24/03/2020. A number of things have changed/happened overnight. My sinusitis attack has resulted in me now being isolated for 7 days. Trainline is going to refund my train ticket,  the hotel is busy organising my refund and South Africa is locked down for 21 days. I have to admit that President Ramaphosa does present a very re-assuring speech and I do not really envy him or Boris Johnson for that matter. These are dangerous days and we do not know when the end will be. 

If are in South Africa and are looking for information about covid-19 here please visit the South African online resource below.

The UK is on an unofficial lockdown for 3 weeks and some businesses are closed while necessary ones are staying open but with limited service. I should be OK for food but when we hit week 3 I will probably be staring at empty cupboards. It is no real use going shopping as there is nothing on the shelves to buy. The early birds are catching the worm and bulk buying everything in sight and that is a major problem.  When you work days the only time you have to shop is after hours or weekend. By then it is too late. Let us hope that a solution is found and very soon too. 

The numbers for the UK (24/03/2020) are as follows:  Coronavirus Cases: 6,650 Deaths: 335 Recovered: 135

21/03/20120. Yep, it is true, this continues my musings about Covid19, although Conoravirus is a much easier name to remember. Theoretically the  beastie looks like this:

“This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” (https://phil.cdc.gov/)

The reality is that this seemingly innocuous fuzzball has brought the world to a standstill. At this point disaster has struck the UK as pubs, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close as of last night. This had led to mass buying of last rounds and tears from the harden bar propper uppers. Unfortunately this will also mean job losses in the industry too. 

At work we are still waiting to hear what will happen with us, as we have a busy week and then a quiet week. However there is still a lot of work that has to be processed and we are as busy as usual. Things may change but hopefully we will keep our jobs. I am also concerned about the place where I live, anything can really happen and to be truthful I am quite stressed at the moment. I have also cancelled my London trip as it is too risky to use public transport and head all the way into London which has 1221 confirmed cases. The Daily Express has the following breakdown for 17 March: 

  • England – 2,756
  • Scotland – 266
  • Wales – 170
  • Northern Ireland – 77

the diagnosed cases of COVID-19 across England the cases are as follows

  • London: 1,221
  • South East: 340
  • Midlands: 282
  • North West: 220
  • North East and Yorkshire: 194
  • East of England: 147
  • South West: 140

There is an informative website called https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ with up to date statistics and graphs. Things do not look good.

And, on the subject of not looking good: there is a lot of fake news and speculation doing the rounds too (as usual). The World Health Organisation has busted quite a few of these myths and untruths. Just remember that if you find it on social media that does not mean it is legitimate or true. 

I have just found out that the South African Embassy has closed indefinitely from the 20th so just as well I decided to not go. Fortunately I have had excellent service from Easyhotel where I was going to stay. I have had to cancel my booking twice and they went out of their way to assist me. Guess where I will be staying when/if I get to London again.  Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing about trainline (link not provided on purpose). Their attitude was: reschedule the trip on the same route/train up to 12 weeks in advance and we may forgo the exorbitant associated fee.  I was prepared to loose that money and it was my mistake for using them in the first (and now the last) place. I do believe that the issue may not lay with them though, but with the systems operated by the franchise holders. Trainline has since redeemed themselves, although it could take ages to get the money back.

On the plus side there are still many people out there in the front lines who are doing their jobs under very trying circumstances. Our local postie, the laundry up the road, the retail workers, the NHS staff, police, firemen and other emergency services, care workers, media workers, cleaners, truck drivers, delivery staff, farmers and agricultural workers, members of HM Military Forces and so many others that I cannot name. THANK YOU!!!!!!

And while we all are hiding in our bunkers clutching at our bogroll it is worthwhile considering that nature continues. Trees grow, squirrels collect nuts, ducks quack, flowers bloom, crops grow and the wind just keeps on blowing. The drop in air travel has been good for the planet, and the negative impact of humanity is diminishing as we are laid low by that little virus in the pic. If we all got wiped out tomorrow you can be rest assured that the planet would carry on without us.  

And this is where I shall pause for now. “Keep Calm and Carry On” I guess. 

DRW © 2020. Created 21/03/2020. Image of Cornona Virus: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS. 

Litter Bug!

One nasty side effect of the recent flooding has been the proliferation of litter that is now on the tide marks of the flood water. Where I stay this is particularly true and the majority of litter is plastic bottles. 

Yes, somebody was too bloody lazy to throw their litter into a bin or take it home to dispose of it. Makes you feel proud to be a member of the human race! 

Our town has an active group of volunteer litter pickers that goes around picking up other people’s crap and keeping the streets relatively clean although it is a thankless task and a never ending one too. I occasionally help out but am not a registered picker and don’t really have the bags and place to dispose of the contents in.  This morning I took my handy picker and 2 bags and tried to make a dent on the landscape. I filled 2 black bags with litter, although it was mostly plastic drinks and water bottles. It looks better already!

Before
After

I am not done yet, just after I post this I am meeting up with others who want to tackle the mess. We are going to make a difference, even if it is a drop in the ocean. Unfortunately because of the nature of the floodwater the litter is not really recyclable so it will all end up in a garbage site somewhere. 

Hopefully I will get some pics a bit later today to show what we did. Watch this space and pick up that garbage!! 

Job done…

Before
After

Unfortunately the mess on the other river bank will need to be approached from a different angle and we have not worked that out yet. But things are looking so much better now. 6 bags of litter was collected on the riverbank, and there is probably enough to be found to fill another 3.

Out of interest I worked on a recycling line way back in 2015 and learnt quite a lot while wading through the conveyor belt that rushed past me. A large portion of what went past us was catalogues in plastic bags addressed to somebody that had been thrown away unopened. People throw anything away… from clothing to food, plastic, cardboard, polystyrene, electronic waste and tons of unidentifiable rubbish. We were doing this just after Christmas so we had the additional burden of unwanted gift wrapping and decorations, food packaging, and the normal run of the mill stuff. To help pass the time I used to count clothing items to see how many people I could cloth on a shift from clothing that had been binned;  I seem to remember one evening tallying up enough clothing for 8 people! (including shoes and underwear).  Naturally some things I wanted to save, quite a lot of old family photographs passed along our line and those were sad because one day somebody may ask about them.  They were not mere photographs but often the only tangible reminder of lives that have passed. 

So, having enthralled everybody with my tales from the garbage age I would like to share two photos that I took in Johannesburg in 2012.  

This is the daily slog for many of the informal litter pickers who trudge through the streets in South Africa with their strange cart-traptions, They recycle tins, paper, cardboard and almost anything that has value. White paper is particularly favoured as it does have a high resale value. People like this do not get the full value of their collecting as it is often sold to a middleman at a fraction of the price. As much as they tended to mess up traffic with their huge loads they not only kept our streets cleaner but also performed a very necessary role in the recycling chain.  Where I used to work in Kyalami Business Park there were many cardboard collectors vying for a place in the pecking order, and we employed one to help us clear out our workshop and we even gave him a few days casual work, but his already difficult life was messed up when somebody stole his trolley, forcing him to have to carry his loads by hand, and even at the bottom of society your life can change dramatically overnight. If I had 10 of these guys we could clean this town up in a week, although the odds are 20 more would suddenly appear out of nowhere for such is the nature of poverty and need.  Remember: there but for the grace of God go I.  

Right.. let me grab my goodies and go do my good deed for the day. 

DRW © 2020. Created 14/03/2020