The SA Naval Museum has seen a steady increase in donation of items by the public which bodes well for the confidence the public places in the Simon’s Town museum.
The traditional functions of a professionally recognised museum are: collection; restoration and preservation: research; display and education, according to the official SA Naval Museum website.
“Donations of items form part of the collection function. Before these items go on display, they may be in need of some restoration or repairs. And it is also of no use for the item to just go on display without placing it in the necessary context and for that reason the necessary historical research needs to be done to illustrate the item’s use and relevance. Displaying the item presents its own challenges, with many options and display methods available (often dictated by the availability of funds!). And with that the public and visitors are educated – acquiring knowledge of our maritime history, getting in to touch with history, so to speak,” according to the site.
It gives some detail of five new acquisitions. They are:
TYPE VIIC U-BOAT MODEL
A 1:48 scale model of a German Type VIIC U-boat, donated by the late Robin Jackson, it was made by Richard Woodard. This model was placed close to the triple-barrelled Squid anti-submarine mortar off the frigate Loch class frigate HMSAS Natal. Natal gained some fame when it sunk a German Type VIIC U-boat (U-714) on 14 March 1945, only four hours after having left its builder’s shipyard.
JB COASTAL RADAR MODEL
This model represents South Africa’s first secret radar detection station installed in April 1942 above the Cape Point lighthouse. Using the JB system it added some protection to Allied convoys from enemy U-boats and surface raiders. Reutech repaired the model to a running (rotating) state, according to the Museum.
100 YEAR-OLD CROCHETED PILLOW CASE
Donated by Mrs Glynneth Carrington. The pillow case was crocheted by Mrs Emma Shirley, Mrs Carrington’s grandmother, during the First World War (1914-1918) and depicts either a dreadnought or battleship in fine detail. The detail on the pillow case reveals features closely resembling the King George V-class dreadnought battleships built for the Royal Navy in the early 1910s and which saw service during the First World War.
ADMIRAL DURNFORD UNIFORM
This Royal Navy uniform was donated to the SA Naval Museum by the great-nephew of Admiral John Durnford, Patrick Durnford and originally given to him by the Admiral’s son, Fred Durnford. Admiral Sir John Durnford was Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station, at Naval Base Simon’s Town from 1904 to 1907.
MAE WEST LIFE PRESERVER VEST
Donated by Mrs Betty Spencer, whose husband Louie Spencer wore the Mae West on 5 April 1942 when the cruiser HMS Cornwall was sunk in what was known as the “Easter Sunday Raid”. Many South Africans who served on the cruiser lost their lives when the ship was sunk. Louie Spencer survived the ordeal – thanks to his Mae West!
Published with acknowledgement to the SA Naval Museum.