THE DATE:          Tuesday, 13th January 2015
VENUE:                KwaMuhle Museum, Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
TIME:                   Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
PARKING:           Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance Road [next to the Museum]; security person is present
FEATURE:           Hugh Thompson will examine, “The last Plantagenet King to die in Battle” and do this by showing a video of this crucial event in English history.
What a fantastic way to bring our already memorable SANS year to a close. Sincere thanks are due to those many members who loaded the festive fare table so generously including one lady who came with home baked mince pies and shortbread before disappearing early. And this seems an appropriate time to thank the other generous contributors who helped put together so many Christmas hampers at the AGM.

Killie Campbell Bursary

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Pranitha Bharath with Dr Carol Bertram

Ian Smith then introduced and presented a cheque for R6000 to our Killie Campbell awardee for the coming year, Pranitha Bharath. Pranitha is both a teacher and a student and spoke in depth and with real enthusiasm about her doctoral studies. SANS members look forward to hearing Pranitha address us later in 2015 when her thesis nears completion.

December Meeting Guest Speaker

Patrick Voorma who operates Calypso Dive Centre at Shaka Marine World, was introduced by David Hughes to whom a big thank you for finding such a superb and dynamic presenter talking on a subject that was new to most of us. Patrick is a professional diver with a passion for discovering wrecks on the ocean floor. His enthusiasm and research is revealing much about the many mysterious vessels lying close to our harbour and the many reasons why they lie there.

We were reminded that Durban Harbour and the sea off Durban being so frequently subjected to strong North-easterly winds and very strong currents can be a dangerous place. Over the years Durban has had its share of genuine and sometimes dubious insurance claims. So vessels have been wrecked and scuttled off Durban for over three centuries which provides real potential for the determined and deep pocketed diver.

One of the most recent finds was the SS Namaqua which was scuttled in 1932 and found in March 2013. Patrick explained that these wrecks can be described as an oasis for fish, which can be an indicator that something is there. Sometimes however the wrecks have become covered with sediment and only show as a blip on the sonar as the teams search the ocean floor. Currents and conditions at the time and even the length of time the ship takes to reach the bottom can mean a vessel settles far away from the expected location. Some break up so parts of the hull settle apart causing the anticipated shape to differ markedly from what was afloat.

Members learned that a Padi Open Water 2 does not provide the skills essential for these deep water Technical Dives where the diver goes beyond 60 m depth. To reach these depths special air combinations are required but these in turn place huge restrictions on the time divers can stay below. Helium is one of the gasses used to replace nitrogen whilst the oxygen percentage is reduced to prevent an oxygen high, something similar to having one too many drinks but somewhat more dangerous at these depths. Then time has to be spent ascending exceedingly slowly to allow the helium to leave the body tissues whilst the oxygen level must gradually revert back to normal to avoid oxygen starvation. Using a re-breather to remove carbon dioxide helps extend the life of the air supply but without going into further technical details we heard that R120 000.00 is the cost of the rebreather and the gas costs each diver well over R3000.00 per dive. But follow this Wikipedia link for further information. .

SANS members are fascinated by history so Patrick’s comment, ‘Wrecks are like touching history’ was a splendid description. Imagine you are the first person in 160 years to see that vessel. Members were also most impressed by Patrick’s ability to share Captain Morgan’s rum as this seems to be his standard way of finding the approximate location of many wrecks, all in the interests of history of course.

So after discussing and showing videos of some of his recent discoveries we took a closer look at a February 2014 find. With her engines and batteries removed HMS Otus, a Royal Navy ‘O’ class submarine was sunk off Durban after the 2nd WW as no purchaser could be found. She settled in a deep trench 105 m down. Following some excellent research Patrick discovered and was able to show an early newsreel of the submarine’s launch in 1928. Commissioned in 1929, the subs deadweight was 2060 tons and she was crewed by 58 submariners. So members saw the launch, learned much of her history and how she worked to protect us during WW2 spending the last part of the war off the Cape, Natal and Mozambique before being sent to the bottom of the ocean for her final rest.

Time placed a severe restraint on our learning more so we hope Patrick can be persuaded to make a return visit as he hinted at plans for even more exciting finds and sightings off our coast. But have a look at Patrick Voorma’s Calypso website here where his story of HMS Otus appears in detail.

Patrick Voorma Technical Diver
Patrick Voorma
Technical Diver

NAUREEN CRAIG – Life Vice President

Naureen has stepped down as President following many years as chair and president, so we asked Robert King and Ian Smith to pen some thoughts about Naureen’s immense contribution to SANS.

Ian Smith writes:- There can be little doubt that for the past seven years SANS has revolved around Naureen who was Chairman for five and then President for the past two years. During this time SANS increasingly grew and prospered. This was by no means always plain sailing as she had to deal with many difficulties – including unfortunate attempts to undermine her even in public by people who seemed to put their interests before those of SANS. All this time Naureen sagaciously steered a course which upheld the values of SANS such as ensuring that all races were welcome.

Regular meetings were held, the finances were carefully kept in good order, and the Killie Campbell bursary continued to be awarded to post graduate scholars of KwaZulu-Natal. Throughout these years Naureen continued to write and distribute her informative monthly newsletter to members of SANS which kept them informed of the activities and enabled SANS to keep in contact with other folk she knew. Innovation took place too for a web site was begun. Franco Frescura published the book, Durban: Once upon a time under the auspices of SANS helped in in no small measure by the generosity of an anonymous donor who provided the seed capital.

Robert King’s vote of thanks at the recent AGM was unanimously endorsed by all members of SANS for a task well done.

Robert King has written a mini-biography:- Naureen Craig was born on the 9 December, 1930, in Johannesburg. At the age of four she had polio which affected her right arm. Despite being naturally right – handed, she had to learn to become left-handed. Her parents decided to send her to boarding school for her high school education. Naureen elected to go to the Convent at Kroonstadt as she was determined to travel to school by train. Despite her disability, Naureen became a swimmer and a tennis player. Her ability to swim, on one occasion allowed Naureen to save a child who was drowning. Naureen trained as a teacher after leaving school.

Naureen decided to travel and see the world. She only got as far as Rhodesia when she met her first husband and got married. She had two children, a son and a daughter. Naureen taught in both Salisbury (Harare) and Bulawayo, including schools that catered for pupils who were visually and hearing impaired, both in both Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South West Africa (Namibia).

On the death of her father she moved to Durban in mid-1991 to be close to her mother. Naureen wanted to learn more about Natal. She saw an advertisement in the Natal Mercury about a South African National Society meeting at the Local History Museum in Aliwal Street, with an accompanying telephone number. Naureen joined SANS and made many new acquaintances, including the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, Dennis Slaney, Pat Charlton and the late Canon Fuggle. Naureen particularly remembers the couple of outings she went on with the society. Naureen came to learn a great deal about Provincial Natal through being involved in Peacekeeping with Diakonia and later voter education

Naureen was elected to the SANS Committee but resigned when she moved to a newly developing Retirement Complex and didn’t want to travel all the way into town. Her daughter, Sheila, who lives in Ireland and is a teacher and Anglican priest, came out to South Africa, to assist her mother, as Naureen had undergone an operation on her left hand, which as Naureen puts it, left her temporary handless. It was during this visit that Naureen and her daughter decided that she needed to move into the Retirement Complex. It was here that Naureen met her second husband, Bill Craig. They got married and decided to move back into town.

It was about this time that Naureen met the late Professor Leslie McCracken [father of Professor Donal McCracken]. Leslie McCracken had recently returned from a visit to his family in Ireland. He telephoned Naureen to tell her that Sheila was teaching his two grandchildren in Wicklow Town. Naureen and Bill became friends with Professor McCracken, Snr, and Naureen would take Professor McCracken to SANS meetings [Bill wasn’t interested]. It was Leslie McCracken’s enthusiasm for SANS that inspired Naureen to again stand for the committee. In due course Naureen was elected Chairman of SANS. The society was going through a rough patch with membership at an all-time low and Naureen played a major role in building up the membership, not least because of her popular and informative Newsletters.

Naureen says it has been a great honour to serve SANS as a Committee Member, Chairman and President. Now, as one of SANS Honorary Vice-Presidents, she looks forward to just being an   “ordinary” member of a society which has achieved much since its inception in 1905. The members of SANS would like to thank Naureen for her years of devoted service to the society and wish her every happiness in the future.


Bill Guest (Howard College student 1959-1962 and University of Natal staff member in Historical Studies 1967-2005) has recently completed a “History of Natal University College (1909-1949) – The genesis of university studies in KwaZulu-Natal”. It is due to be published within the next few months by the Natal Society Foundation in Pietermaritzburg.

Bill is currently writing a two-volume “History of the University of Natal 1949-2004” for the same publisher. If you have or had any connection with the University as a student/staff member or in some other capacity he would welcome your input of information and/or memories.

He has spent a year in the University and other archival repositories but these do not tell the whole story and he would welcome your contribution however insignificant you may consider it to be. Your recollections and anecdotes will help to enhance the human dimension of this history in ways that cannot be gleaned from the surviving records.

If you would like to use his questionnaire as a guideline to the sort of information he is seeking, or would like to contribute in a format of your own, he can be contacted by e-mail at:  or you can download the form here A History of the University of Natal-Questionnaire


At the first meeting of the incoming committee held early in December the following portfolios were agreed. Please use these email addresses to contact any portfolio holder whether to obtain information or to help your society develop and grow.

President Robert King
Bursaries-Awards-Archives Robert King
Chairman Ian Smith
Secretary & Catering Jayne Moir
Treasurer & Outings Graham Hammond
Membership Data Bank John Cooke
Newsletter & Website Hardy Wilson
Archives David Hughes
Journal-Bursaries -Awards Theunis Walter Eloff
Publicity Kathrine Fenton-May
Publicity Mikkail John Peppas
Legal Issues Robin Ralfe
Membership Development Everyone


Please encourage your friends to become SANS members. And to make joining as simple as possible there’s a new heading on SANS Home Page which reads Join SANS. Open this and download either an Adobe.pdf or Word.docx membership application or renewal form.

INVITATIONS:        Tours of the Inchanga Railway Museum at the Inchanga Station provide an insight into the early days of both the Natal Government Railways and the SAR. The tour includes a visit to the U.S.R carriage and loco repair workshop but do remember this is a heavy industry environment and you visit at your own risk. The tour costs R30 per adult and R20 per child with a cap of R100 per family. Tours are not possible when the steam trains run so call Bruce on 082 353 6003 to make a booking.

Hardy E Wilson
Newsletter Editor
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