Postcards From Durban

Views of Durban - 29 September 2005

A while back I was lucky enough to acquire a letter card which had been sent home by one of the troops who passed through Durban on his way to fight during WWII. The card is a small cheaply produced item due to the wartime circumstances, but it contains a strip of six views of Durban and would have been just the thing for a soldier to send home to his family to show them what the city looked like.

I was lucky enough to be able to trace the sender, Lance-Bombadier William Wright of the Royal Artillery, and correspond with his son-in-law Tony Thompson. It turns out that William had embarked on a troopship in th UK on 31 May 1942 on the way to fight with 8th Army in North Africa. The ship stopped in Durban to give the men a break and William bought the card to send to his wife. It was posted on 4 July, at the cost of one-and-a-half pence, at the war canteen being run at St Paul's Church in the centre of the city.

Views of Durban

<= Click on the picture to view an enlargement of the front of the card and check out the really cool stamp.


<== L-Bdr William Wright
Picture courtesy Tony Thompson


<== Click the image to view the pictures inside the card. Warning: File size is 300Kb.

Tony Thompson wrote to me that the family still has William's diary in which, although he is normally quite terse, he waxes enthusiastic about Durban. Quotes from the diary include: "Wonderful and beautiful place, everything set on a vast scale, like to live here - charming people - very charitable to us".

The troops probably had had instructions not write anything in their diaries that might later be useful to the enemy. For that reason, most likely, William wrote Durban as D**b*n, a move which would doubtless have given given the German codebreakers many sleepless nights before they worked it out. ;-)

Mitchell Park - 10 October 2005

<== Click to view enlargement.

Town Gardens & Post Office - 16 November 2005

This card is undated and unused but the City Hall driveway is visible in the right foreground meaning that it must have been published after 1910 when the City Hall was completed. Not too long afterwards, I would think.

<== Click to view enlargement.

Twenty Eight Views of Durban - 2 January 2006

This little booklet is not strictly speaking a postcard but it is a printed souvenir of Durban produced during WWII. It contains a map showing the location of the servicemen's canteens which were run in the city during the war. I have put some details and a selection of pictures on its own page here.

The lighthouse - 05 February 2006

Here is a lovely view of the original lighthouse on the Bluff. I'm not sure of the date but it would between the time radio was introduced to Durban in 1910 and when the lighthouse was half-demolished at the beginning of WWII.

Click image to view enlargement.

View of West Street - 13 March 2006

This is a good view of West Street looking East from the Field Street corner. The card is udated but must from before the building of the present city which began in 1905 and ended in 1910. The clock tower of the Town Hall (now the Central Post Office) is clearly visible as as the bushy area across the street where the City Hall now stands.

Click image to view enlargement.

Town Hall view - 26 June 2007

This is nice view of the Town Hall. The card is undated but the building was completed in 1910 and it looks as if Smith Street was still dirt at that stage. Note the waiting line of rickshas.

Click image to view a wallpaper-sized
(1024x768px) enlargement


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