Saturday, November 18, 2017

Souvenir Saturday: Norwegians in Natal

This attractive family portrait was taken by Emil Larsen, the Natal photographer. 
(See more about him elsewhere on this blog.) 
The dates given for his premises, 410 West St., indicate that the photo was
taken between 1900 and 1904. It is likely that the family is Norwegian but
the owner would be grateful if anyone could put names to the people in the  picture.

The owner states: this photo belonged  to my grand-aunt Adolfa Marie Nilsen Øvald (Oevald) from Porsgrunn in Norway, born 1890 and died in 1975. Her father was Halvor Martin Nilsen Øvald, died in 1901 on board his ship Coimbatore.

Comments would be welcomed.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wrecks of Waterloo and Abercrombie Robinson Cape 1842

'So great a loss of life has not happened in Table Bay since the year 1799.' 
Thus reported the South African Commercial Advertiser on 3 September 1842.

The Waterloo under Captain H Ager had been bound for Tasmania but, putting in for water at the Cape near the mouth of the Salt River on 28 August, had encountered a gale-force north-westerly to which she had speedily succumbed, her rotten hull timbers breaking up. 

Only a few hundred metres away, the British troop transport, Abercrombie Robinson, 1425 tons, Captain John Young, on a voyage from Dublin, was wrecked in the same gale. This ship was carrying 700 souls, including detachments of the 27th Regiment and Cape Mounted Rifles as well as the 91st Argyllshire Regiment (numbering 450), but due to the discipline of all on board, everyone was saved. 

This story ranks alongside that of the Birkenhead for human courage and selflessness while in peril on the sea.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Remembrance: World War l Battle of Loos

World War l British infantry advancing at Loos 25 September 1915

 It was the biggest British attack of 1915, the first time that the British used poison gas and the first mass engagement of New Army units. The French and British tried to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement. Despite improved methods, more ammunition and better equipment, the Franco-British attacks were contained by the German armies, except for local losses of ground. British casualties at Loos were about twice as high as German losses.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Remembrance: ancestors' military memorabilia tell a story

Border Mounted Rifles: brass button with BMR and crown.
Boer War period.

Border Mounted Rifles: the famous boot and spur insignia, 
with the motto 'Rough but Ready'
shown on memorials at Intombi Cemetery Ladysmith

In memory of William Dixon Smith who died at Intombi
during the Siege of Ladysmith 1900. Also his stepson
Alick Anderson of the same unit.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Remembering the Fallen in all Wars

The time you won your town the race,
We chaired you through the marketplace;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
As home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.*

"To An Athlete Dying Young" A.E. Houseman 1896

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Great Gale, 1888, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Great Gale 1888: ship foundering in surf while crowd watches on shore.

During a south-east gale, nine vessels were wrecked on the North End beach. The ships were: 'Andreas Riis', 'Dorthea' [sic], 'Wolseley', 'Drei Emmas', 'Elizabeth Stevens', 'Jane Harvey', 'Lada', 'Natal', and 'C. Boschetto'. The Rocket Brigade, life-boat and crews of other ships assisted and only one drowning was recorded.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Souvenir Saturday: maritime treasure in Durban

Bronze cannon salvaged from the sea - Natal Maritime Museum, Durban.