I emigrated to South Africa in 1962, worked to 1996, then retired to Sedgefield, on the Cape South Coast.
Living nearby is a fellow ex-POW, Nicholas Beech, confirming that "we are everywhere"! Anyway, Nick passed on to me a
copy of your newsletter, dated early 2005, so that's how I found you.
Firstly, I believe that the photograph below should answer your query about my nickname "Tidalwave". It was taken around
1960 or 1961, when I was 16 or 17, at a time when that hairstyle was popular. Although the school was strict about "short
back & sides", we would test the limits regarding the front --- I seem to remember that not many others managed the size
of quiff that I did, hence the nickname!
--- isn't it funny that when one drags up old memories only the good times come through? I know that there
must have been the not-so-pleasant circumstances (& people!), but all the memories that readily come to mind make those
4 years seem like heaven.
I progressed from Nairobi Primary School (in 1958), where I been a boarder for 7 years already, so sometimes the memories
from one school to the other become confused. I think the keenest memory is the expression "for the Chapel Fund". When I
started at the PoW there was no church facility as such & each Sunday there would be columns of kids being escorted to
the local Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc churches, which gave us all sorts of chances to get up to mischief
en-route, including disappearing for the day! Obviously this was an unsatisfactory arrangement for those responsible for
our conduct & the major decision was taken to build a multi-denominational Chapel on the school premises. From then on
there was a concerted, ongoing drive to raise the necessary funds & it seemed as though not a single activity happened at
the school that wasn't in one way or another related to this objective.
So, "for the Chapel fund" became a catch phrase, one that I have carried with me throughout my life. I have found myself
voicing the phrase at the most unusual occasions, especially while I was involved in raising funds for charity as a Round
Tabler, resulting in my having to explain my comment. Anyway, suffice to say that the fund raising was successful,
with the inaugural service being held at the new Chapel in +/- 1961.
--- well, I notice that you were also in Clive, so you were probably also involved in mid-night
climbs of the clock-tower, ostensibly to ogle the girls across the valley in the showers at the "boma" (Kenya Girls High
School) with a telescope. None of those attempts was complete without wrapping a towel around the bell clapper, resulting
in the entire school oversleeping the next morning! Then there were the inter-dorm, & even inter-house raids. Mostly they
were intended to be in good spirit, but could become rather too rough, especially when some guys stuffed a cricket ball
into their stocking instead of the usual extra socks & swung the end round at head height several times before connecting
with an unfortunate opponent. Actually, my younger brother, Roy ended up in hospital after one inter-dorm raid!
Of course SPORT will always remain a strong memory from the PoW; if you at least participated, things were considerably
easier. Then, the better you were at a sport, the better your quality of life became.I was blessed to be fairly athletic,
especially at swimming & hockey, so maybe that's why I have many positive memories of the 'Patch'.
And then there were the staff members: after 45 years some of them still remain clear in my mind ---
Ken Fyfe: Clive Housemaster --- strict but fair, & an ability to get 5 out of 6 cuts one over the other!
Peter Caswell: Physics/chemistry teacher --- we swore he had eyes in the back of his head, as he missed nothing. He
was ambidextrous & would stand at the blackboard with his back to the class, a chalk stick in each hand , and, starting at
the = sign would write the formulae on the left & right hand side simultaneously. This would fascinate us, but if anyone
got up to mischief in the process, suddenly the eraser would come flying at the offender!
Mr (Johnny) Riddel: Gym Master, with his mini cricket bat named Horace. If you mucked about or if he though you
weren't trying your hardest, then Horace was brought to bear, on your rear. Once you'd been whacked on 6 separate
occasions you earned the right to sign the bat --- yippie! I struggled to find a space to sign.
As I said, one could go on for ever, but you've probably heard most of it previously, so I'll end the reminiscing for now.
With Uhuru already scheduled for the end of 1963, I concluded that I would probably make a better career elsewhere & came
to South Africa in 1962. Work was actually scarce, & after undergoing an aptitude test & a fitness test was offered a 3
year training course as a mining engineer on the gold mines. I was quite stunned, as I would never have seen myself
working underground, let alone as a trainee engineer. Anyway, as there was no obligation to complete the program, & as I
was completely broke (free board & lodging was included in the offer), I signed on, thinking I'd stay only until something
better came along. Well, 34 years later, at 51, I retired! But it wasn't quite as simple as that, really. Although I
managed to qualify after the 3 years, I then decided to specialise & started the course to become a Mine Surveyor. This
took until 1970, when I passed the Govt. Mine Surveyor's Certificate of Competency & was promoted to Section Surveyor.
I remained in that capacity until 1974 when I left the industry for 5 years & worked for a large Civil Engineering company.
One highway & one Freeway later I realised that I needed to be more stable, with my firstborn ready to start school. So, I
rejoined my old mining house, which saw me through to retirement at the end of 1995.Most of my time was on the company's
gold mines, but the final 15 years was spent in the platinum division. By then I was the Survey Manager - Platinum
Division, & had no thoughts of retirement.
But South Africa was experiencing "the winds of change", & industries were
required to make certain staff adjustments, & I was offered the chance to take a package & retire somewhat early.
At first I thought it could not work, but closer examination showed that it probably could, so here I am. Fortunately at
that time we had no debt & the children were all out of the house, so we were able to move to SA's premier retirement
area, on the Garden Route, Southern Cape. Being still young & in good health, we realised that we would need to find
something to keep us busy, so my wife (Norma) runs a B'n'B , using our garden cottage & two bedrooms in the main house.
I discovered an afinity for woodwork & I make unique clocks, barometers, lamps, signs, etc, using the indigenous
hardwoods from the local forests. I exhibit at two Craft Fairs a month & from my showroom on our property, finding that
this is enough to satisfy me.
On a personal note: I married the first time in 1966 & have two sons, Christopher (37), & Stuart (35). Norma & I married in
1981 & I 'inherited' 3 more sons, Paul (39), another Chris (also 37), & Andrew (33). They have all done us proud, praise
the Lord, & we also have 3 grandchildren.
(Registered - 1st April 2006) (Updated - 25th June 2006)
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