Visits: 38

The Annual Report is a chance to reflect on all that has been done over the past year – accomplishments as well as disappointments.  It is also an opportunity to consider if we are achieving our goals – and if those goals are still relevant.

At a time when much of our heritage is under threat – and I am not referring specifically to naval heritage or Simon’s Town – how are we doing in the battle to preserve naval heritage?  On that score I feel very confident that we are doing as much as we can.  Successfully.

We have recorded a great deal of oral history.  We have made much of that available through our digests and books. We are accessible through our website and people have used our resources both electronically and in person.  Our Facebook page is very popular and followed by a few thousand people. We have honoured the men and women of the past and preserved their history.  And we have undertaken to manage the unique SAS Assegaai together with the Naval Museum.

I feel that we are realising our goals but let me bring you up to date on specific issues.

Glen Knox, our Deputy Chairman, has provided me with a comprehensive report and I quote:

 

ORAL HISTORIES

The trust presently holds 255 completed Oral Histories. There are unfortunately 14 OH`s which are incomplete due to poor recordings. There are 7 OH`s awaiting completion as well as 6 OH`s being self-written.  There has been an increase of 7 completed OH’ s over the last year.

BOOKS AND NAVAL DIGESTS

During 2022/3 the Trust was able to produce and send out 3 Naval Digests: ND 34,35 and 36. The Trust was also able to complete the latest version of “SA Naval Events 1488 – 2023” and have it available for sale to our members.

The Trust obtained permission to reprint the very popular “Just Nuisance” by Terence Sisson.  This book has been a good seller once again.

Two books on the General Botha were also produced: “Honour and Duty” by Captains Ian Manning and Peter Rogers and “SATS General Botha, War Records 1939 – 1945” by Mac Bisset and Tony Nicholas.

There are now 29 books in the Trust collection for sale and 36 Naval Digests.  All these Naval Digests and books are available for sale in the NHT Office.

In the publication pipeline there are 16 books and ND`s being worked on at present, with some close to completion. The next Naval Digest is ND 37, “The Phoenix Flotilla” by Capt Peter Rogers (Rtd), due out in July 2023.  “The Sea was Kind to Me” by Ronnie Eriksen is due out in October 2023.

NH Society members and the public can purchase the Heritage publications through the NH Web page as well as outlets in the Cape Town area.  These are Clarkes Bookshop, Select Bookshop, STADCO, Enkosi Afrika in Simon`s Town and the Naval Museum. These outlets sell the publication at retail prices.

All paid up members can purchase the publications at the discounted prices.

The Trust was able to obtain a table at the recent Simon’s Town book fair where a few books were sold to the visitors.  Our presence also made the visitors aware of the Heritage Society.

The saga of the Post Office deliveries has reached a stage where consideration is being given for electronic copies of Naval Digests to be made available to members.  It has been tried out with a few members, and with some modifications, it could be a viable option.  During 2023 members will be asked if they would prefer the electronic copy of the Naval Digest.

BOOK COLLECTION

Naval Heritage has a collection of Naval and military books – in excess of 560 and growing. Most of these books have been donated by NHS members. Where there are duplicates, these books are offered to the NHS members at a low price. There are also a considerable number of general reading books which are also available to members at low prices.

The naval cadets have received the duplicate Seamanship and Navigation Manuals as well as other books from the Trust to assist in their training.

Many of the duplicates were sold off at the Simon’s Town Museum book sale in October 2022.

Please remember us when you are thinking of getting rid of your old “stuff”.  It may not appear to be significant or interesting – especially to the younger generation – but it may add to the wealth of heritage that we are trying to preserve.

FACEBOOK SITE

The Naval Heritage Facebook page was started in April 2016 and has been growing each month with new members joining on a regular basis. The membership of this site is now 6931, an increase of 222 over the last year.

The daily Naval Heritage Day by Day is added each evening, and this has continued to draw positive comments and reactions. Historic photos of the events mentioned are included in most of these posts and these bring in many positive responses.

The daily Shipwreck report issued by SAHRA is added which is also proving beneficial to the site.

NH WEBPAGE

Our Web Master is Nicholas Dunn, and he has put together and maintains our attractive Web page. The site covers Membership, Newsletters, Book`s and ND`s, Naval 100 slideshow, History of the SAN, videos and submarine project updates when they are available. The site has had 11047 visitors to date.

Nick provides us with comprehensive information of those visitors: how many visits there have been per day, per week, the last 30 days, the last 12 months etc. He can tell us how many of those visitors have read about SAS Assegaai, the History of the Navy, our books, membership and so on.  It is most valuable information.

NHT VOLUNTEERS

The NHT has enjoyed several years of occupying a room below the Simon’s Town Museum but now they need the space and so we are moving out.  Eddie Wesselo who reports back to Exco on the volunteers writes:

The coffee and scones/muffins are still good and now we face moving the NHT room to a new home.  We will still, no doubt, meet every Monday and Thursday morning.  Thursdays will be short mornings as we go from the NHT room in the Simon’s Town Museum to help Andre Wessels with his mammoth task of organizing and sorting out the Naval Museum library.

Les Gale still does his usual fixing and cleaning of the NHT room which is why it is always spick and span – BZ to Les for all his hard work.  He is also the guide for anyone who wants to come and visit us when we are there.

DATA BASE OF ASSETS

Once again, we have received donations of items for our collection. Glen Knox reports: Naval Heritage has a continually growing supply of Assets (paintings, books of value, trophies, uniforms) which have been either purchased or donated. All the Assets are registered and controlled in the NHT Data Base.

HERITAGE PENS

The pens obtained for the Navy 100 celebration sold well and the line of pens has been continued.  They are still being sold at R20 each.

MEMBERSHIP

According to our membership secretary, Andre Wessels we had

249 members including Honorary members and Trustees.  There are 15 organisations including libraries that have membership.  

Although he hasn’t raised the issue specifically, I am sure that I can repeat Andre’s comment from last year:

The biggest problem I have is trying to decipher the handwriting on Applications for Membership, especially email addresses. It is also frustrating to find members have changed their email addresses and they have not informed the Membership Secretary. This results in trying to find the correct information on the internet or making a phone call if we have a contact number. In addition, on delivering Naval Digests, post boxes are often too small to receive the books!

S A NAVAL MUSEUM

The Museum welcomes many visitors every month.  Leon Steyn has reported that the visitor numbers have almost reached pre-Covid levels.  Our volunteers are working closely with the Museum, as I have mentioned.  

SAS ASSEGAAI PROJECT

News of the SAS Assegaai project is good. A comprehensive Memorandum of Agreement between the SA Navy and the NHT has been signed. I represent the NHT on the Submarine Management Board which meets quarterly.  The Assegaai Submarine Museum Committee meets more regularly.

Arne Soderlund who has driven this project so passionately for many years reports:

All the transporting frames and the base stands have been welded on by Damen staff and are being painted.  Dockyard just need to finalise the replacement of bogeys to shift the boat to where she can be lifted.  As soon as this is completed and the R1 700 000 needed is available, we can start the move to the new site.  Dockyard must first clear the way through all the scrap lying on the route, as well as move Lamda walls using a system devised by Kevin Wise our project engineer.  Leon Steyn will be taking over the site for the Naval Museum, including three sets of buildings once the transport section has moved to Dido Valley.  The move started on 2 May and is being monitored by his staff.

We need more donations and this aspect is being actively pursued. Special mention must be made of Kevin Watson, the naval architect and project engineer who has done so much to ensure the success of the project.

So that is a summary of what has been done. I would like to thank the committee for all their dedication and commitment.  But first I must pay tribute to Adm Andre Rudman who passed away last week. 

R ADM (JG) ANDRE RUDMAN

Adm Rudman was instrumental in the creation of the Naval Heritage Trust which began with a gallant attempt at saving SAS Pietermaritzburg.  That idea failed but morphed into the concept of preserving South Africa’s naval heritage. Andre was one of the first Trustees way back in 1994 and he remained interested in the Trust all his life.

We extend our condolences to his widow, Beverley and their family.

EXCO

Each member of Exco has played a vital role in the Naval Heritage Trust: Capt Glen Knox, our deputy Chairman, R Adm (JG) Arne Soderlund, Cdr Mac Bisset, Cdr Leon Steyn, director of the SA Naval Museum, Cdr Eddie Wesselo, Capt Chris Dooner ,SWO Dave Harrison who digitises our records, WO1 Andre Wessels our membership secretary, WO1 Les Gale, WO1 Harry Croome who fires guns and seems to fix buildings and graves guns and things, Capt Trunell Morom our secretary and Glynnis Helleman our treasurer.  All contribute to making the NHT such a productive society.  Thank you for your involvement and devotion to the preservation of our heritage.

 

MIKE BOSAZZA