Mission: Destroy U-Boat 240 Miles South of Cape Recife

These are the reminiscences of Denis Glendinning, one of the first pilots posted to 6 Squadron RAF based at 42 Air School, Port Elizabeth. Denis is well known in Port Elizabeth having served as a City Councillor. Apart from being a war story, it highlights the fundamental difference in the martial activities of the Allies and their German opponents whereby the SAAF placed its members in extreme danger in order to rescue the crew of a U-Boat after it had been sunk. 

This depiction of a flight in atrocious weather encapsulates the pathos of the situation. This his personal story in Glendinning’s own words.

 Main picture: Avro Anson over Cape Recife in November 1942

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Earliest Motor Vehicles

It is probably no consolation for Port Elizabeth to claim that it was the first town in South Africa through which a motor vehicle was shipped. It is only Pretoria that can rightfully make the more prestigious claim that it was first town in which the first car was driven in South Africa. This occurred in 1897 at Berea Park. 

Nevertheless, Port Elizabeth would not be far behind.

Main picture: Mr William Adcock, Mayor of Walmer, in his 1896 Benz Velo with his passenger Mr Charles Lovemore

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Tolls

The Authorities always have to find a source of revenues to cover the costs of the maintenance of the roads. In the case of vehicles and animals using them, they always have a ready solution: charging a service fee in the form of a toll. In Port Elizabeth, the first toll was installed within four years of Port Elizabeth being established. It was located in Queen Street, just beyond the future Russell Road and commenced operation in August 1824. 

Main picture: The old Toll house at the Sunday’s River Bridge on the Grahamstown Road

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Seaview Hotel

This well-known hotel has operated under numerous names over its life. Amongst its guises was a naval training base during WW2. For some unknown reason, the hotel never attracted sufficient clientele to be able to be financially viable. Nevertheless, it is an icon for many of the older generation who would attend functions there, including myself. 

Main picture: The art deco swimming pool in its heyday

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Working in the Vehicle Manufacturing Industry

Just as important as the industry dynamics, ownership and physical infrastructure are the working conditions, demographics and wages in the motor vehicles industry. This importance to many residents is predicated on the fact that they had a strong connection with the industry being dependent upon it directly by working in one of the plants or alternatively in one of their suppliers. So too did our family as a number of my relatives worked directly in an assembly plant as well. 

This blog deals with the human factors within this industry.

Main picture: Tractors ready for export Continue reading

The Uninvited Guest Who Stayed – Part 1

Herbie arrived uninvited at our house one night in 1973 when Dean rocked up with a buggered 1961 1200cc VW Beetle.   We didn’t actually name it Herbie but that name had been made famous by the 1968 movie, The Love Bug, and so I shall refer to it thus from time to time.   The family all trundled out into the dark to watch proud Dean show off his new little baby.  Dad was aghast as, with his superior experience, he knew that it was a piece of junk and washed his hands of it.  Dean’s friend, Michael Baker, owned one and it was he who had convinced Dean to buy it for R90.  I was in Standard 9 and this was a lovely, real life challenge for me.  I had done my apprenticeship on Mom’s sewing machine and Dad’s lawnmower.  Now for the big time.

Main picture: 1960-1969 Volkswagen Beetle – Not my vehicle as only one photo exists of it

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