“Parting with sentimental items, but to still honor the memories of loved ones.” This can be a difficult proposition for many families and one of the most obvious options – to donate historical items to a museum – is often not the most prudent choice. To start with, members of the public has in general, lost their trust in the ability of museums to properly curate valuable items – to safely care for, preserve and ultimately display such artifacts. Spates of theft and the ill advised deaccessioning of items in recent times have scarred the reputation of many museums and with that, the potential for items to be donated or bequethed to such institutions.
The public’s decision to donate personal items to museums should therefore not be taken lightly and generally reflect their trust in a particular museum of choice. The South African Navy Museum in Simon’s Town is therefore very pleased to have seen a steady increase in the donation of items that have relevance on the history and heritage of the South African Navy. Two very significant donations were made during last few weeks.
Seen in the first photo is the daughter of the late Lieutenant Commander David Alfred Hall, DSC & Bar, SANF(V), the first commanding officer of the Loch class frigate HMSAS Natal. Mrs Georgina de Klerk visited the SA Naval Museum on 24 April 2019 to hand over the original group photo (depicting the crew that commissioned HMSAS Natal on the 9th of March 1945 for service during the Second World War) together with the original ship’s crest. A scale model of the anti-submarine whaler HMSAS Southern Maid, which Lt Cdr Hall had commanded in the Mediterranean earlier in the war was also presented. Lt Cdr Hall and the crew of HMSAS Natal famously sunk the German U-boat U714 on the 14th of March 1945. HMSAS Natal’s feat, so soon after commissioning was described at the time as “unique in the annals of the Royal Navy”. See the https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/252.html for more information on this event. Photo of HMSAS Natal in 1945 (Imperial War Museum).
In the second photo the curator of the SA Naval Museum, Commander Leon Steyn is seen in discussion with Lieutenant John Hund, who visited the museum on 12 April 2019. Lt Hund served in the Active Citizen Force (the equivalent of today’s Reserve Force) during the 1950’s and had the distinction to serve in three different “arms of services”. He served as a radar plotter on the 9.2 inch coast defence guns at Scala Battery in Simon’s Town, firstly in 1949/1950 with the Cape Garrison Artillery (2 Coast Regiment). Hund was transferred to the newly established SA Corps of Marines in July 1951, to whom the control of all coast and anti-aircraft units were transferred. The SA Corps of Marines was disbanded in October 1955 and Coast Artillery units (and Lt Hund) transferred to the SA Navy, while the anti-aircraft units returned to the army. In February 1956, the coast artillery function was abolished altogether and the coast artillery units were dis-established in January 1958, effectively ending Lt Hund’s stint in the Active Citizen Force. He presented the Museum with an immaculately maintained SA Corps of Marines uniform and mess-kit. At the time the uniform was held in high regard, as Professor Deon Fourie puts it, “…the Marines were greatly favoured for ceremonial (occasions), owing to their striking dark blue service dress embellished with orange trouser stripes. They frequently found (formed) the guard at Government House when the Governor-General was in Durban or Cape Town…” See http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol011df.html for more information on the history of the South African Corps of Marines (1951-1955).
The accompanying photo shows members of the Cape Garrison Artillery 2nd Heavy Battery in Simon’s Town posing in front of a 9.2 inch coast defence gun. Redesignated to ‘2 Coast Regiment’ and transferred to the SA Corps of Marines in 1951.