So far, 1929 had proved to be a disastrous year for shipping on the South African coast. To add a liberal dose of salt to that wound, at 8:30 on a foggy Monday morning, the American freighter, the 5,779-ton SS Western Knight, would be added to that tragic total.
In the impenetrable fog and along this treacherous coastline, the vessel blindly groped its way past Schoenmakerskop, a disaster waiting to happen. Then my grandmother, Elizabeth Daisy McCleland, granny Mac to us, heard the death shriek of a ship’s siren.
Main picture: Salvage operations underway on the SS Western Knight
While reading this piece, it is obligatory to hum the tune of the song entitled My Woman from Tokyo. According to Deep Purple, “She was so good to me, Dancing in an Eastern Dream, My Woman from Tokyo”.
That evening, Monday 15th January 1934, was not going to be a good one for the ship from Osaka, Japan en route to Cape Town. An angry south easter was gusting as this steamer left the protection of the recently completed Charl Malan Quay at 19:00. Unlike the days of the sailing ships, when the wind from this direction could be a death sentence for ships at anchor in the bay, the conversion to steam had long since tamed that menace. After exiting the harbour and entering the choppy waters of the Bay, the ship veered to starboard and headed for Cape Recife to meet its fate.