Walvis Bay Battery

1962

 

 

 


The '60s were a time to fear Communism. America was jailing it poets, playrights and actors - anyone who was thought to be involved in anything that wasn't American or capitalist. In South Africa die rooi-gevaar was also a huge political and social issue. There were, in fact, real fishing trawlers off the coast of South West Africa - said to be spying on us (see large pic below, with tug). And of course the Nationalist government at the time was very proud of its mandate to look after SWA.

 

In 1962 my father, then a Lieutenant in the SA Navy, and a gunnery officer, was sent to Walvis Bay to build guns on the coast. He had to first build a road to get there. Here are some pictures, and a little information that I can remember - I flew there and back on a Dakota to spend time with him. I remember the treks into the desert where we picked up boxes of semi-previous stones (one of which I still have), the camp itself, and some of the men I recognise, even now, in the slides I have digitalised.
 


        


Above LEFT: My father, Lt. Peter Klerck, 1962. Here near or at the construction site of the gun.

Above RIGHT: I remember my father saying that before he could build a gun on the sand dunes, they had to build the road to get it there; more difficult.


 

  

 


ABOVE: "Sonny Reynolds" - these are the words on the back of the slide itself. I vaguely remember him, or perhaps it is just my memory of the slide; I might have boarded the boat with my father - he was clearly a buddy as I remember my Dad repeating his name with fondness over the years. Was the boat some form of coastguard - perhaps the boat that tracked the Russian fishing trawlers?

 

I wish I had paid more attention to my father's stories....


 

  

 


TRAWLER: I was unsure if this trawler was Russian or one of ours.

 

While receiving wonderful feedback on this page from various people, I received this email with these comments:

Many thanks for the pictures. Certainly brought back memories. The trawler is definitely Russian. Just look at her aerial arrays. I remember those lengthy patrols up and down the Skeleton Coast onboard SAS GOOD HOPE. The trawlers were much faster than Good Hope, so we had a lot of fun!!  We used to tape their Morse code signals on a tape recorder and then play them back slowly. The Russians used what the Sparkers called “side keys”, which were much faster than our old up and down Morse keys. Oh, those were the days! If I recall in later years they mounted a gun on a railway carriage so that they could move it up and down the coast near Walvis Bay. Regards, Ivan.


 

 

 

 

 


 

    

 

 

 


 

 


This giant of a man in the middle is vaguely familiar - difficult to remember things from 52 years ago! He was probably called Shortie...


 

 

 

 


I was just seven years old, and remember staying here with my father at the main camp - I assume in the prefab bungalows above. Have often wondered how long it took to place these 44-gallon drums on top of one another to build that wall.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I also remember my father saying that the guns were fired only once; and the tolerance in the sand was well within prescribed limits (imagine the doubts they had building on sand dunes), and that the hotel windows shattered. I don't think the guns were ever fired again.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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