Guy Hallifax, the most senior African Naval officer lost during WW2

29662349_2114964258732561_5863672511395231607_oThis Easter we also remember Rear Admiral Guy Hallifax, the most senior South African Naval officer  to lose his life during World War 2.  His contribution to the Navy is significant as he literally is one of the founding fathers of the modern South African Navy as we know it.

Guy Hallifax served in the Royal Navy from 1899 to 1935, and ended his RN career on the staff of the last British Governor-General of South Africa, the Earl of Clarendon.  Remaining in South Africa, at the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, he was recruited by the South African government to form a Navy, which was to be named the ‘Seaward Defence Force’.

As the first Director of the Seaward Defence Force, he established a small fleet of minesweepers and anti-submarine vessels for coastal defence, and organised naval detachments in the major ports.  In his work, the South African seaward defence forces became a formidable institution by 1943, please take the time to watch this short Pathé newsreel which captures it.

In March 1941, Guy Hallifax flew in a small de Havilland Dragon Rapide to Walvis Bay, a small South African naval territory in South West Africa (now Namibia), for a staff visit to the base.   Uncomfortable with the old bi-plane Dragon Rapid, he elected to return in a heavier, modern and more powerful Loheed Lodestar.  This is Dragon Rapid he flew to Walvis Bay in – courtesy the SA Naval Museum.


The de Havilland Dragon Rapide used by Guy Hallifax to fly to Walvis bay

On the 28th March 1941, when Rear Admiral Guy Hallifax returned from his staff in a civilian registered South African Airways Lockheed 18-08 Lodestar, Registration ZS-AST en-route to Cape Town, which tragically flew into the high ground near at Baboon Point near Elands Bay (Elandsbaai) in dense fog. All on board were killed which including Rear Admiral Guy Hallifax and three civilians.


Similar SAA Lockheed 18-08 Lodestar to ZS-AST

They are all buried in a mass grave in the Plumstead cemetery, the grave is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Here is his final resting place.


Written and Researched by Peter Dickens.  References Wikipedia and the SA Naval Museum, with thanks to Glenn Knox.  Video copyright Pathé news , also referenced is Day by Day SA Naval History: By Chris Bennett.

The ‘Dune’ that forged men!

Starting out with a leopard crawl at the bottom and its a very very long way to crawl the top of this particular sand dune. Any “bokkop” (Infantry) who trained at 2 South African Infantry Battalion (2 SAI) will immediately recognise this infamous feature … Dune 7 … Walvis Bay … men where forged by this sand dune.

This giant 383m high dune was used by the South African Defence Force (SADF) time and again to train troops on and test their stamina, especially young conscripted National Servicemen.

2sai2 SAI was established on January 1, 1962, at Walvis Bay, at the time an enclave of South African territory, surrounded by South West Africa (Namibia).  It was about the most furthest and remote training base to get a call-up from, a conscript here was truly a ‘long way from home’.

After Namibia’s first democratic elections and as part of the peace process, South Africa formally transferred sovereignty of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands to Namibia on 1 March 1994.  Prior to official transfer of the Walvis Bay territory to Namibia, 2 SAI re-deployed back to the Republic of South Africa in 1993 and since 1998 has been based at Zeerust.

2 SAI leaving its South African enclave in Namibia meant leaving three decades of training legacy and leaving this mighty Dune to adventure tour companies in Namibia.  Its memory as a training instrument now only emblazoned in all who spent time in the military at 2 SAI running up and down it.


Written by Peter Dickens