WORLD WAR II HISTORY

During World War II Saldanha Bay assumed great importance.  The occupation of the Suez Canal by Axis forces early in the war forced the allies to rely on the Cape sea route to pass between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.

Saldanha Bay was identified as a convoy staging point. In 1942 the 8th Heavy Battery of the Coastal Artillery set up coastal defence guns at South Head, Baviaansberg, Malgaskop and Elands point. A boom defence system was laid between Hoedjies Point and Marcus Island and Elands Point and it was administered by the SA Naval Forces.

A magnetic loop either side of a minefield gave warning of submerged submarines trying to enter the bay.  Controls and detection equipment were manned by members of the South African Women Auxiliary Service (SWANS) in two fortified buildings against Malgaskop above the North Bay houses.

In 1948 the first naval training base in Saldanha, HMSAS FIELD MARSHALL SMUTS, was opened on the present site of SAS SALDANHA.  It was later moved with the rest of the SANF to Salisbury Island in Durban.

In 1951 it was decided to open Gymnasia in all arms of the SADF.  The Navy opened the SA Naval Gymnasium at SAS SALDANHA to provide voluntary naval training for young men who wished to discharge their military obligations by doing one year full time voluntary training.  In 1954 it was renamed SAS DROMMEDARIS and in 1956 SAS SALDANHA.  SAS SALDANHA presently conducts training to all non-commissioned officers of the SA Navy.

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One Response to WORLD WAR II HISTORY

  1. Liz Broekmann says:

    I am fascinated to see these old pictures as my father was at the naval base at Saldanha during the war and was involved in laying the mines in the bay. I have just been reading his account of the time he was there and the work they were doing. These pictures help to put it into context.

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