This page was put up to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Horace Dainty who was one of the original FAD informants. This extract from an email I wrote to Brian Austin exaplains how I first came to meet Horace:
I initially met Horace and got to know him quite well from a time when I did some website work for the Stock Owners cooperative outside Pietermaritzburg. He was the resident sheep expert and we met quite often for tea and lunch after that. I did discover something about his role in radio manufacture and wrote about that on this website and in the book.
I also discovered that he'd been in some of the same places with 6th Armoured Division in Italy that my uncle had been with his artillery regiment. Horace told me that the gunners from that regiment delighted in waiting for his canvas-covered radio trucks to pass by in front of the guns before firing them off so that the muzzle blast would blow the canvas about. Anyhow, I lost touch with Horace but he and his wife Kay were immensely likeable people and I enjoyed my many visits to their flat. He was apparently a keen ham radio operator and I remember him having an elaborate setup in home office.
From the diary entry of April 3, 2004.
The following text was moved from the diary page on this site where it originally appeared and it contains some details about his exploits in Durban and beyond:
Picture courtsey Horace Dainty
Radio lorries destined for the South African Airforce are parked outside the Radio Electro Equipment premises in Broad Street sometime after the beginning of WWII. The people in the picture are, from left, Stan Reeve, Horace Dainty, Pat Barrett, Lawrie Crossleyand Jumbo Norton.
<== Click picture to view an enlargement.
My informant Horace Dainty was the owner of S.M.D.Manufacturing and Radio Electro Equipment, which operated from the same premises in Broad Street in Durban in 1939. Radio receivers and transmitters were built there and all manner of electronic components were sold in the shop in front. South Africa was ill-prepared technically-speaking to fight a war so, on the the day after she declared war, Horace sent a terse telegram to the Postmaster General. It said: 'Can make transmitters'.
Within a week the authorities commissionrd him to build a high-powered transmitter to enable communication with Royal Navy ships in the Indian Ocean. Within a month it was built and installed in Port Elizabeth. The business then undertook a number of other war-related projects including one which began with a telephone call from Major Robertson of the South African Air Force. He said he would be in Durban in a few hours and asked to be picked-up at Stamford Hill Airport saying that he would announce his arrival by flying low down Broad Street.
After being fetched from the airport, the major handed Horace three pages torn out of a manual for RAF mobile airport radio installations and asked him to begin work on a South African equivalent. Each installation consisted of three three-ton Ford lorries with one being the signals office, one being the transmitter van and one being the power unit. The lorries were too big for the Radio Electro Equipment premises and were fitted-out in Broad Street under the watchful eye of a detachment of the Essential Services Protection Corps [a home-guardey type of organisation]. The staff worked long hours and were brought tea during the nights by residents from the apartments in the vicinity. The firm ended up building nine of the three-vehicle units before business was scaled-back and many of the staff members, including Horace, joined the army.
Click for Brian Austin's more detailed article on Horace's career.