SKELETON COAST
by John H Marsh

AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO RE-ISSUE
This is the most amazing shipwreck-and-rescue story that I have come across in my 50 years of reporting about ships, their crews and the sea. If history held another to equal it, my researches could not have failed to dig it up.
For the rest, I cannot improve upon nor omit any of what I wrote 34 years ago in the preface to the first edition.
Whether this story proves again that truth can be stranger than fiction, the reader may judge for himself.
I have done my utmost to ensure that the story as related is historically correct in every particular. I have been given every assistance towards this end by all the authorities concerned.
Besides having full use of all the official records relating to the affair, I was fortunate in obtaining personal interviews with, and thereby first-hand accounts from most of the principals in the story, including Captain Naude, Lieutenant Doms, Major Uys, Major Smit, Lieutenant-Commander Finlayson, Captain Dagleish, Dr Burn Wood, Captain Brewin, Captain Smith, Senior Cadet Jimmy Thompson, Air Mechanic A.V. Rudman, Leading Signalman Scully, Messrs Cox, Lemiere, Richardson, Russell, and the chief radio operator of the liner, Mr C.H. Kilpatrick.
To them must be added many others who assisted me in one way or another, including, particularly, Major-General I.P. de Villiers (O.C. of South Africa's Coastal Command); Vice-Admiral Sir Campbell Tait (late Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic); Brigadier-General H.S. Wakefield (Deputy Chief of the General Staff, U.D.F.); Commander J.F. Dean (Commander, Seaward Defences, S.A.N.F.); Lieutenant-Colonel W.S. Long (Acting Deputy Commissioner of the South African Police); Brigadier H. Lenton (Chief Censor of the Union); Brigadier H.G. Willmott, S.A.A.F; Lieutenant-Colonel F.M. Bramall R.M., Staff Officer (Intelligence), and Lieutenant-Commander C. A. R. Charnaud, Naval Press Officer, at Combined Headquarters, Cape Town; Major Geoffrey M. Hussey; Captain Ian Heathfield-Elliot; Mr Louis Esselen; Mr Henry Cooper (Private Secretary to Field-Marshal Smuts); Mr C. M. Hoffe, General Manager, and Mr A. van Lingen, Public Relations Officer of the South African Railways and Harbours Administration; Mr A.N. Wilson (Director of the Union Bureau of Information); Mr Lawrence G. Green; Mr B.L. Hand; my sister, Miss Joyce Marsh; Mr and Mrs Walter Schulze, of Pinelands and formerly Maribogo; and Mrs J. Burn Wood (who kindly lent me her husband's diary of the survivors' experiences).
To these and others who gave me kind help and encouragement, I express sincere thanks.
Johannesburg
J.H.M.
POSTSCRIPT ADDED NOVEMBER 1978
THE account of what happend in 1942/43 is a complete book in itself, and it occupies first place in this enlarged re-issue. It is presented unchanged except for the addition of many photographs taken at the time but never before published.
Nobody reading that account can form any other conclusion than that the Skeleton Coast is a land to fear and keep away from.
So it was.
But it is no longer
The new second part of this book not only up-dates the first insofar as it relates what happened subsequently to many of those who played prominent parts in the story, but it shows Skeleton Coast today to be an intriguing land, opened up by communication and transport services, inviting visitors, and filled with a fascinating variety of interest. The profusion of recent photographs tell their own story.
For their help in obtaining information on what happened after the drama of 1942/43 to individual participants, I want to thank Capt. Jimmy Thompson, the former cadet and acting fifth officer of the Dunedin Star; Mr E. Johnston, the former assistant purser of the Dunedin Star; Capt. J.E.H. Grobler of the S.A.D.F. Documentation Service, Pretoria and his staff, particularly Miss Walker; Capt. Harry Brewin, ex Sir Charles Elliott, East London; Mr Klasie Havenga of the personal staff of the General Manager of the South African Railways and Harbours Administration, Johannesburg; and Major Miller of the office of the Commissioner of Police, Pretoria, and his staff, particularly Miss Anneliese le Roux. And all the other unnamed persons who helped.
J.H.M.

Copyright Mike Marsh(2006)

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mike@rapidttp.co.za