MUSEUM, MEMORY, MEMORIALISATION
“When people visit museums, they bring their life experiences with them. Often, their encounter with objects in the museum brings back vivid recollections, half-remembered places and emotions which would otherwise have remained forgotten. It is a commonplace for such memories to be discussed amongst the social or family group taking part in the visit.” (Graham Black, ‘Museums, Memory and History’, 2011, p.420.)
The South African Naval Museum received two very special groups of people on consecutive days. Their visits reminded the curator of the important role the museum plays in remembrance.
On Thursday 15 October 2020, the mother and sister of the late Seaman Henro Ter Borg visited the South African Naval Museum. Their visit has become an annual pilgrimage to Simon’s Town, on what would have been his twenty-fourth birthday. Ter Borg was one of three sailors that died in a gas leak rescue at Naval Base Durban on 17 February 2017.
The next day on 16 October, the wife and son of the late Petty Officer Gerald Middleton visited the museum, accompanied by former curator of the SA Naval Museum, Commander Mac Bisset. PO Middleton was a survivor of the arduous World War 2 Russian Arctic Convoys and after the war he continued to live to the age of 90. Before his passing however, he had donated a number of items to the museum that can now be seen on display.
The visits to the museum triggered memories and also emotions of loved ones lost. The curator was once again reminded of the significant role the museum plays in such remembrance. We will continue to honour them and the sacrifices they made.
Note: The Ter Borg family can be seen sitting next to the updated (temporary) Roll of Honour panels that were unveiled by Chief of the Navy in August 2019. The manufacturing and placement of permanent brass panels in front of Fleet Command Headquarters are currently underway. The updating of the Navy Roll of Honour is an ongoing project that will allow for the edition of names on an annual basis. See https://sanavymuseum.co.za/2019/10/02/the-updating-of-the-south-african-navy-roll-of-honour/