In the Curator’s Choice display of edged weaponry at the Ditsong National Museum of Military History, are Chinese double or paired swords from the early 19th Century. The swords are decorated with dragons that have five claws symbolising high rank. The museum’s Chinese paired swords may have belonged to either a Prince of the first rank or qinwang (Prince of the Blood) or a Prince of the second rank or junwang (Prince of the Commandery).
A 1:48 scale model of the Type VIIC German U-boat “U-96” was donated to the Museum in September 2019. The model is a true representation of the original submarine used in the Second World War (1939 – 1945) and was constructed by the donor, Mr Brian Echstein (see image above).
The Importance of the Donation
Below is the epilogue of Mel Baker's remarkable story. It covers his return to Wernersdorf on two occasions and his reunions with fellow POWs over the years. It also highlights the powerful commemorative events that he has been part of.
Below is Part 3 of Mel Baker's extraordinary account of being a Prisoner of War during World War II. Click here to read Part 2 and here to download the full account including detailed footnotes. The photo above shows the main gate of Stalag XVIII A (Prisoner of War Camp in Southern Austria).
Below is Part 2 of Mel Baker's moving account of being a Prisoner of War from 1941-45. Click here to read Part 1 and here to download the full account including footnotes and a bibliography. The photograph above shows Mel Baker and Lex Macrae in the back row and Freddie Webster, Len, Lofty Shepherd, George Bennet and Andy Andreason in the front.
Mel Baker was a crew member of the HMS Gloucester which sank near Crete in 1941. He was one of only a handful of survivors picked up by the Germans. Below is Part 1 of his powerful account of being a Prisoner of War for most of World War II. He was 21 when he was taken prisoner and returned to Port Elizabeth in 1945 aged 25.
“Be quiet and calm, my countrymen, for what is taking place now is exactly what you came to do. You are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the drill of death. I, a Xhosa, say you are all my brothers, Zulu, Swazis, Pondos, Basutos, we die like brothers, for though, they made us leave our weapons at home, our voices are left with your bodies.”
A city steeped in military history gives locals and visitors a glimpse into the past. The abundance of museums and memorials ensure that the city’s military past is remembered.
This month it was my pleasure to visit Sappersrus. The occasion was a gathering of the tourism association of the Hartbeestpoort Dam/Magaliesberg area to meet and learn about Sappersrus and its history and attend a small memorial ceremony. We enjoyed excellent hospitality and a lunch in the well-designed lapa close to the water. I was asked to deliver a short talk on the Battle of the Somme, Delville Wood and memorialization. Our hosts were Irene Small and Ashley Williams, who run the Sappers facility and Foundation.
The following article on the history and restoration of the landmark Martello tower in Simon's Town appeared in the September 1973 edition of Bulletin. Thank you to David Erickson from the Simon's Town Historical Society for providing many of the museum photographs. See comments section for more recent details on the Tower.
We are honoured to publish this in depth article by Dr Robin Lee on the history of radar in the Overstrand area during World War II. Robin is a retired academic and founder member of the Hermanus History Society which is dedicated to the identification and preservation of heritage sites in the area.