South Africans in the service of the Royal Navy in World War 2. Here is a great photograph of the members of the South African Division of the Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve on board HMS NELSON posing for the camera between two of the enormous 16 inch guns of A turret. July 1941.
During the war thousands of South African Naval Forces (SANF) members like these were seconded to serve on Royal Navy vessels, almost every large Royal Navy ship had its contingent of South Africans and this is the HMS Nelson’s allocation. This has a lot to do with the fact that Simonstown in South Africa was a British Naval port.
South African Naval Forces (SANF) in World War 2 where either allocated to Royal Navy ships (titled HMS – His Majesty’s Ship) or on South African Navy ships (tilted HMSAS – His Majesty’s South African Ship).
What is lost on South Africans, and even lost on the British today is that every-time a large British naval vessel was sunk or attacked, South African naval personal on it inevitably lost their lives or where wounded. These days, South Africans and also the British, very seldom count the sacrifice and commitment of South African men to the Royal Navy (due to this unique arrangement), especially when remembering the great deeds of the Royal Navy during the war.
Image – Imperial War Museum copyright.