Info request

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Friend of Fad William Paterson is collecting information for a book set in Zululand and Durban during WWII. He wrote:

I am gathering material for the third novel in the Kirkwood trilogy and would welcome receiving very short notes  from people on their experiences at the time (that is, if they don’t mind my [possibly] cannibalising them with due acknowledgements). Focus strictly on Durban and environs and Zululand. Personal stuff, not heroic tales.

There is already quite a lot of material on the site but William would be grateful if you could help with more info he can use to add colour to his book. Please leave a comment below or drop me a line at the address on the contact page.

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Remembering a forgotten World War hero.

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I wonder how many picked up this Memoriam notice that appeared in The Mercury Friday 5th April 2019. Newspapers these days do not having the large sales that they used to enjoy, and on my part are only occasional purchases. The one I bought on Saturday albeit being a day old, had a very interesting notice which is the subject of this post.

The Second Edition of Allan Jackson’s Facts about Durban has this entry on Durban’s timeline.
“ 1944 On the night of 24th March 1944, 76 allied Prisoners of War including a Durbanite and ex-Glenwood High School pupil, Neville McGarr escaped from Stalag Luft III prison camp in Sagan, Poland. This became to be known as The Great Escape. Fifty of the escapers, including McGarr were executed by the Gestapo on being recaptured. Only three of the 76 eventually reached safety.”

Glenwood High School 1st XV 1935.

In his book “The Great Escape” written by Paul Brickhill in 1951, the authors writes in his preface:
“ Several years have softened the memories but they have not faded. Nor, I think, they ever will. This is the first full account of the greatest prison-camp escape of them all.” The film made of this event in World War Two remains one of the best ever made.

I did a bit of research on the escape and have the book but found the book lacking in some detail and is not definitive. In retribution to the escape and the enormity of it, the Gestapo were ordered to kill 50 of the escapees that had been captured although the majority were officers. After their execution by firing squad details, the bodies of the men were cremated.

It would appear that McGarr was amongst those captured, re imprisoned then executed. His was amongst the 10 bodies cremated at Breslau Concentration Camp.
The names of those cremated at Breslau are: WJ Grisman, AD Gunn, SZ Krol, JL Long, CAN McGarr, H Milford, DO Street, P Tobolski, E Valenta, JF William.

The memorial to the 50 escapees executed.

The newspaper memorial is a reminder. Lest we forget.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Alan Brooker R.I.P.

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Alan Brooker 25/11/1942 – 26/3/2019.

There is mention in the Cookie Look post on this site of Alan Brooker being the leader of a well known 1960’s Durban rock group called The Knights. Sadly on Saturday, I attended his funeral. Alan passed away after a long sickness. He was well known amongst the musos in Durban and post this for general information. Below is the link to the Cookie Look posting. https://www.fad.co.za/Resources/memoirs/cookie/Brian.htm

I managed to down load images of a Parlophone LP that the band produced. I noted that an old friend of mine Billy Gaugain was the drummer for the group. I knew Billy through the Durban Regiment and if my memory serves me correct he played for a band called A Group called Blue. The Knights consisted of Alan as Lead and Vocalist, Paul Janssen and Dennis Scott-Williams guitarists and Billy, drummer.

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St Joseph’s School

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St Joseph’s School was situated on the corner of Broad and Smith Streets. It was adjacent to the Convent of the Holy Family Nuns which stood behind the school. When the school closed, the Durdoc Centre was built on the site.

I received the following letter from Michael McCann who started his schooling there in 1957. He sent the 1957 Class 1 photo as well. Unfortunately he cannot remember his fellow class mates and so I post this here with the hope that someone can respond.

” This is the Class 1 St. Joseph’s School photo taken in 1957. I’m the little tyke at top, second from right. I remember my first day – so exciting until I got teased for having the wrong socks. I must have created a little for the next day I attended class with the proper attire. Nothing much has changed it seems! I still have my class 2 schoolwork book wherein I practiced my alphabet amongst other class exercises. I remember there being a pedestrian crossing in Smith Street adjacent to the school entrance over which we were sometimes marshalled to attend ‘music appreciation’ in the hall opposite. Peter and the Wolf sticks in my mind. It is fascinating reading the shards of memories posted by those remembering those far off times. I will send more class photos in the future, perhaps someone in your blog group will recognise faces. Unfortunately I made no notations on the reverse and I can’t recall names of my class mates.”

Click on photo to enlarge.

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Durban Photos 1968

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I was clearing out some old CDs and found one I had saved these pictures of Durban taken in early 1969. In 1968 I had just bought myself a new Minolta SRT 101 35mm Single Lens Reflex camera from a firm called Modisons, 239 Grey Street. At that time Modisons were General Dealers but on the side they had a photographic counter and were agents for Minolta. It was a small shop with general goods, some pharmaceuticals, and groceries. An unpretentious camea shop.

I had been told of them through a friend, Derek Brown. I still recall I was in three minds what camera to buy as my budget was limited. There were three choices an Asahi Pentax K1000, a Nikon Nikkormat and the Minolta SRT. The Pentax fell away because the lenses had a screw in mount and the trend was towards bayonet coupling. Between the other two I ended up going for the Minolta because I fancied its features, had a mirror lock, nice feel, CLC light metering and I was offered a good discount. The Saturday I went to buy the camera, the Minoltas in their dull gold and black boxes were piled up on the top shelf of a shop cabinet.

Too high to reach by hand, the assistant had a dowel stick which he used to tip the box towards him, let it fall and catch it on the way down. Well he tipped one but somehow managed to let it slip his grasp and it fell to the floor. “Thank you ” I said “I will have the next one”. Read More

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Mandarin Room

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Reader Rob Caweg noticed a contribution from Bob Gooderson which included a menu from the Mandarin Room at the Edward Hotel. That menu dates from 1981 and Rob recalled that his father, a Dutch sea captain had dinner at the Mandarin Room about 10 years earlier and kept the menu from that occasion. At that stage the complete dinner cost a princely R3 per person which had gone up to R4 by 1981.

Rob kindly photographed the menu and sent it along.

Mandarin Room menu circa 1971 image
Menu from the Edward Hotel’s Mandarin Room circa 1971. Picture courtesy Rob Caweg.
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Tongaat locomotive

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Arthur Gammage has asked if anyone knows where the Tongaat Locomotive that used to stand in Bulwer Park is now or if you have a picture of it. Arthur tells me that Eric Lupke obtained permission from the Parks Department to remove the loco in order to restore it to running condition. Eric died not long after after his retirement from City Electricity Department and Arthur doesn’t know if the project was completed or what happened to the engine.

I’d also be very interested to hear what happened to the locomotive seeing that I spent countless hours playing on it on walks around Bulwer Park in my youth.

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