Allan Jackson - August 2008
put out by the Durban Publicity Association have been a valuable
resource during my research into Durban's past. One was a
leaflet put out for the benefit of the many servicemen and
women passing through here during WWII. On the cover are drawings
of smiling members of the armed forces and a nurse, and the
texts 'Welcome to Durban', 'Khaki and Blue we welcome you',
and 'Durban is glad to see you'.
Click image to view
leaflet is packed with information, from the location of the
many servicemen's clubs and canteens, to the prices that the
troops would typically have had to pay for meals and transport.
It kicks off with a welcome and then gives a greeting in a
number of languages including American; 'Glad to know you,
Cousin', and Yugoslavian; 'Dobro dosli vojnici u Durbanu'.
statistics were that the city was then 43050 acres [67 square
miles] in size and had a population of 280526. It apparently
enjoyed an average of 2401 hours of sunlight per year and
a speed limit, in most places, of 30m.p.h..
Service personnel were warned against spending too long sunbathing
on midsummer days. The leaflet adds that visitors can smear
Vaseline, or other pomade, on their shoulders, arms and legs,
before bathing. Other potential hazards facing the visitors
were drinking on an empty tummy and trying to board moving
busses; the former resulting in the latter, presumably.
were at least 25 different canteens and clubs where the visitors
could socialise and get refreshments, including Victoria League
Club, at 209 Pine Street, the YMCA in Beach Walk, the Free
French Club at 112a Commercial Road, above Liptons, the Stand
Easy Club at the Pavilion Tea Room on the Corner of Old Fort
Road and Marine Parade, and the American-Canadian Club, offering
Coca Cola and cookies, in Security Buildings at 345-347 Smith
on offer included performances of the Durban Municipal Orchestra,
the Theatre Orchestra, and Dance Band in the City Hall, the
Town Gardens, and the Amphitheatre Gardens on the beachfront.
These entertainments were provided free by the municipality
to members of the armed forces and the merchant navy. Free
dances were put on every afternoon at the Athlone Gardens
Hotel [now Riverside Hotel] and, at 'Tops' Palais-de-Danse,
at 131 West Street, dancing partners could be provided for
visitors without one.
were automatically made honorary members of the Durban Country
Club, the Royal Durban Golf Club, The Royal Natal Yacht Club,
The Mercantile Club, The Southern Club and the Merchant Navy
refreshments were plentiful and un-rationed and I imagine
that the visitors must have gone to town. Tea and coffee would
have cost between four and sixpence, as would Tomango orange
or lemon juice and water. A meal of cold meat and salad or
fish and chips with tea or coffee, typically cost one shilling
and sixpence, while you could get a mixed grill for two shillings
and sixpence. A pint of beer cost a shilling and one-pence
and South African cigarettes cost between a shilling and four-pence
and a shilling and nine-pence for 50..