Page 1

1


WELCOME ......................................................................................................................................................................... 3 FRONT PAGE...................................................................................................................................................................... 4 SOUTH AFRICA: ANGLO BOER WAR, NATAL, CAPE, OFS & TRANSVAAL ........................................................................... 4 RAILWAY HORSES ............................................................................................................................................................ 13 HARDSHIP WITHOUT THE RAILWAY................................................................................................................................ 14 KAKAMAS STATION ......................................................................................................................................................... 16 1947 ROYAL TRAIN .......................................................................................................................................................... 16 WATERVALBOVEN: FOUR LIVERIES ................................................................................................................................. 18 LIVERIES ON BOSVELD TRAIN SAFARIS: BOON BOONZAAIER ......................................................................................... 19 CRANES............................................................................................................................................................................ 19 GA 1469 ........................................................................................................................................................................... 21 SAR Magazine: May 1923: 426........................................................................................................................................ 21 GF GARRATT .................................................................................................................................................................... 26 RHODESIA........................................................................................................................................................................ 27 1947 SAR MENUS: PROF GC OLIVIER .............................................................................................................................. 28 PRETORIA PIETERSBURG RAILWAY ................................................................................................................................. 31 ROVOS: PRIDE OF AFRICA ............................................................................................................................................... 34 Class 1A 1295 .................................................................................................................................................................. 38 CLASS 11 .......................................................................................................................................................................... 39 CLASS 14 CR..................................................................................................................................................................... 40 STORMBERG .................................................................................................................................................................... 40 STORMBERG AS MONUMENT ......................................................................................................................................... 41 CLASS H-2 ........................................................................................................................................................................ 42 STEAMHEATING CARS ..................................................................................................................................................... 42 NAMIBIA .......................................................................................................................................................................... 45 The Dune Express ........................................................................................................................................................ 45 Armoured Personnel Carrier for SA Railways Police ................................................................................................... 48 Desert Express (DE) ..................................................................................................................................................... 48 SAR TROLLIES .................................................................................................................................................................. 50 GSWA RAILWAYS AND WW1 .......................................................................................................................................... 53 VAKARANDA: FINAL CHAPTERS: RICHARD CLATWORTHY .............................................................................................. 54 THE OLD WHITE TRAIN: COACH NO 2 ............................................................................................................................. 73 LA MECHANICAL REFIGIRATOR: BLOEMFONTEIN ........................................................................................................... 73 RAILWAY HISTORY GROUP .............................................................................................................................................. 74 VOTE OF THANKS ............................................................................................................................................................ 75

2


WELCOME Welcome to the “final” monthly edition. After nearly six years of publishing this magazine I have to answer the call to a new adventure. Life is full of high adventure and surprises. Passion is not easily doused! We hope to publish “special editions” on specific railway subjects e.g. The Royal & White Trains in future.

Also, I have years and years of “filing” to do. I will be donating my “Railway Archive” to a university; I have already the donation-contract. In order to complete my archive I have to do a lot of “cyber” filing. The way I collect my images is like a stamp collection: Take the “A”-type of goods truck. There are many diagrams and many photographs for the various classes. I first like to place the official diagram followed by the photograph(s) of the subject. I then also furnish, if possible and available, all the respective truck numbers. Then again: take C-22 type of passenger carriage. They have variants and there are various liveries – Brown (various shades), Orange Express (chocolate, cream & silver), Indian Red/Gulf Red and Dove Grey, Orange, white and blue, etc etc. The same applies to our locomotives; there are various classes of steam, electric, diesels and other types. All items of rolling stock, nonrevenue earning stock and locomotives were duly numbered because it was government property. Everything was accounted for in the annual SAR-report. I have a high regard for the SAR and its antecedent railways authorities. I do research into our former four colonies, IMR, CSAR, then SAR, Rhodesia and SWA; it is also part of our Africana to look at the Belgian Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland and Tanganyika. (Our SA forces fought in Tanganyika during the WW1 and I have many pictures of our troops in German East Africa involved on the railways there. During WW2 North Africa, Palestine and Italy is also of importance as our Union Defence Force Railway Construction Companies were active in those areas. They performed sterling work.) The strategic role of the railways in the Anglo Boer War, the 1914/15 Rebellion and in WW1 is of great historical importance. A railway line from Upington to GSWA was built to help with the war effort. 3


The History of Railways and National Security in Southern Africa is a fascinating subject. One will also have to look at the role of various liberation movements and their attacks on the railways in South/Southern Africa. Here the South African Railway Police and the South African Police played an important role in combating the onslaught on the railways. Our once great South African railways still has an important part to play in the development of our country. Look at the influence of railways on the South African platteland. Little town existed just because the railways: Waterval Boven, Waterval Onder, Van Reenen, Alicedale, Bethlehem and many other places. Railwaymen were councillors and mayors. In days of old you could send a parcel of cartridges from the Quartermaster in Pretoria to the most outlaying outpost! Mail, goods and passengers were taken where they wanted to be or had to be! My primary focus is on locomotives and rolling stock from the 1860’s onwards, but also railway personalities and photographs of stations etc.

FRONT PAGE Photographer: Dylan Knott Place: Culemborg, Capetown. Subject: “Katie”.

Class

16DA

879,

Filler Read the book: “We fought the Miles” on the SAR’s role in WW2.

4


SOUTH AFRICA: ANGLO BOER WAR, NATAL, CAPE, OFS & TRANSVAAL

The first shots in the war were fired at Kraaipan where an British Armoured Train was captured

5


NGR No 1813: 4-7 Gun

Stormberg Another subject for further study is the strategic role of the railways during the Anglo-Boer War. The railway telegraph service was also of great importance on both sides.

6


HMS Terrible

HMS Forte It’s interesting to note that the Royal Navy also took part in the war – they applied their guns in various battles.

7


Lt-Col Sir EPC “Percy” Girouard OC of the Imperial Military Railways [Nongqai Jan 1945 page 9] & Ambulance Train 2, Kitchen & Pharmacy

8


Ambulance Train No 2 & Unknown

Above & Below: British Armoured Trains. Presumably taken at Durban Point and the second was taken at Estcourt the day Churchill was caught.

9


10


Boer Women & Children from Harrismith Concentration Camp to Ladysmith CC. (I wonder if Oupa as young penkop and his Mother & his siblings were there that day. They were also relocated to Tin Town, Ladysmith – HBH)

Pretoria: (No info on coach No 249) Below: Supply train derailed

11


Armoured Train “John Bull” – Although it played havoc with Gen CR de Wet the British never caught him. He was arrested by South African forces during the 1914 Rebellion. 12


NGR: Boer POW’s leaving for home Above: The end of the War and we Boers (and Brits) have to start afresh – My Great-grandfather was murdered by the “Klaas-bende” and my Great-grandmother with small children returned to a burnt down farm and destroyed homestead. (One daughter died in the Harrismith CC.) The slept under corrugated iron sheets placed along the homestead wall. Widowed Mrs Heymans broke her leg when a cart & horses overturned ... you can just imagine the struggle the widow and children experienced to start again ....

RAILWAY HORSES

13


HARDSHIP WITHOUT THE RAILWAY There is hardship without a railway!

14


15


KAKAMAS STATION

1947 ROYAL TRAIN

During the 1947 Royal Tour the South African Railways & Harbours’ Police as well as the South African Police were deployed during the visit. The SAR & H Police were responsible for safety & security of the train and the railway stations. The SAP had to provide five orderlies for the King and the Royal Family on the Royal Train. The Commissioner of the SA Police and other officers as well as the King’s Personal Bodyguards from Scotland Yard also attended to the King and Royal Family.

16


The white-gloved SAP-orderlies served on the Royal Train and elsewhere where the Royal Party went. Royal Protection: South African Police & Scotland Yard

These men also served aboard the Royal Trains - (From L to R): Inspector AE Perkins*, Maj G Diedericks, MVO, Deputy Commander L Burt*; Maj Gen RJ Palmer, CVO, KPM, OBE, Supt Cameron*, MVO, Maj HJ du Plooy, MVO and Capt J van Wyk, MVO. (* Denotes Scotland Yard.)

17


WATERVALBOVEN: FOUR LIVERIES

(I could not take down the ‘yellow coach’ numbers – HBH)

18


LIVERIES ON BOSVELD TRAIN SAFARIS: BOON BOONZAAIER

On the way to Calvinia – (The Late) Boon Boonzaaier

CRANES

Windhoek’s Crane: Crane - Windhoek 07-10-2003 - H B Heymans

19


Cranes @ George SAR museum 3-11-2003 H B Heymans

Filler: The Ubiquitous Sgt Van der Merwe and the White Train:

20


Natal Government Railways: 1909: If I look at the steam crane I see a “disselboom” – so it was an “ox-driven” steam crane

GA 1469

SAR Magazine: May 1923: 426 21


22


1925-03-211/212

23


24


25


GF GARRATT

GF photo: SA Last Stronghold of Steam

GF @ Voorbaai by H B Heymans 26


GF driver Petrus Jacobus van Schalkwyk @ ‘Blink Piet’; Capital Park loco: Photographer Unknown.

RHODESIA

27


1947 SAR MENUS: PROF GC OLIVIER

28


29


30


PRETORIA PIETERSBURG RAILWAY

Daspoort

Pienaars River

31


Pienaars River Station

32


Skinner Spruit

Vyeboompoort

Vyeboompoort Cutting

33


PPR 'Pietersburg' 15-2-2004 HB Heymans 3

PPR 'Nylstroom' 16-2-2004 HB Heymans

ROVOS: PRIDE OF AFRICA 34


5E’s in their petticoats

The 5E’s after they arrived at Rovos with Lourens Sturgeon 35


Working Steam at Rovos

Rovos Caboose 36


An old guards van now a power car

Lady in waiting ‌ 37


Class 1A 1295

Class 1A No 1300 38


CLASS 11

Class 11 No 944 at Bloemfontein c 1933 by D F Holland

39


CLASS 14 CR

STORMBERG

“Stormberg” without a lamp and without a cowcatcher.

40


“Stormberg” with a lamp but without a cowcatcher.

STORMBERG AS MONUMENT

“Stormberg” without a lamp

41


CLASS H-2

The above is from the second series of South African locomotives that appeared in the BRANDWAG. The first series was published in the late 1950’s. The other day my dentist presented me with an original album in which the first series were pasted into. I had pasted the first series into my schoolboy’s scrapbook.

STEAMHEATING CARS

8 ZNR 182-781

42


NS-1 94-005-435 Braamfontein on 30-10-2003 - H B Heymans

15-9-2003 at Braamfontein - H B Heymans

43


37-044 Sun City Livery by D Parsons

44


23904 @ Cape Town on 28-12-2003 by H B Heymans

NAMIBIA The Dune Express

45


88003 @ Windhoek on 7-10-2003 by H B Heymans

88025 @ Windhoek on 7-10-2003 by H B Heymans

88026 @ Windhoek on 7-10-2003 by H B Heymans

88100 Windhoek, 24-3-2004 HB Heymans 46


88301 @ Windhoek on 7-10-2003 by H B Heymans

S E Logo @ Windhoek on 7-10-2003 by H B Heymans

47


Armoured Personnel Carrier for SA Railways Police

'Kobus' used by the SARP in SWA now Namibia by G Sevink on 24-9-2001 @ Windhoek

Desert Express (DE)

33-208 met Desert Express, Swakopmund, 27-3-2004 HB Heymans 48


01 “Starview”, @ Windhoek on 7-10-2003 by H B Heymans

DE # 10 “car-carrier” and my friend from Security who took my around the place unhindered on 7-10-2003 by HB Heymans 49


SAR TROLLIES

Electrification carrier truck

50


Gas suction car

Gas Suction Locomotive (Experimental) SA Railway Magazine, April 1924 page 358.

51


52


IMR: December 1926: p1993. De jure the General is inspecting the line but de facto I think it’s a hunting ‘trippie’

GSWA RAILWAYS AND WW1

Keetmanshoop, German Southwest Africa, Union Defence Force POW’s, Sept. 1914 53


Lunch at Keetmanshoop

VAKARANDA: FINAL CHAPTERS: RICHARD CLATWORTHY VAKARANGA IX The Inquest into the deaths of 21 persons dying in Bechuanaland in consequence of and at the scene of the Vakaranga collision opened in the Court House at Francistown on Monday 11th April 1938 before Mr. W. E. Mangan, District Commissioner and Magistrate of Francistown. Mr. M.T. Low of Bulawayo watched on behalf of the Railway Administration. First to give evidence was Dr. Austin Morgan, RMO at Francistown, who formally listed (in terse phrases such as "crushed chest") the cause of death of 19 bodies examined by him (guard van der Heever and fireman van Rensburg had not then been discovered). Mr. P. S. Kloppers, Chief Steward, then described the succession of retardation shocks, his observation at the front end., the incipient fire in the dining saloon and the call for brandy. Dr. Morgan returned to describe his arrival at the scene, and Dr. Squires followed with his account of the following morning's discoveries. Mr. Benjamin Weakly, outgoing Station Master from Plumtree, described the jerks preceding the impact, his trip to Ramaquebane, the phone calls to Plumtree, Francistown and Bulawayo timed at 4.35 p.n., and his return to the scene with S. On concluding this evidence, Mr. Weakly was 54


congratulated by the Magistrate. Guard Sutherland of the goods train recounted bow he awoke amidst the wreckage of his caboose and assisted Mr. Weakly. Jose Isaacs, the coloured ganger, told of hearing the noise of the accident, the speculation re the dynamite trucks, and his discoveries. After taking Mr. Weakly to Ramaquebane he returned to help protect the scene. This last point might have been elicited by Mr. Low - several witnesses rounded off their depositions with evidence that after the event the stable door was conscientiously secured.

Mr. J. A. Ludick, Permanent Way Inspector, had boarded the train at Plumtree and on hearing a whistle thought it was for Mr. Isaacs. His reported description of "engines banging and carriages cracking, and found myself on top of a piece of plank" was probably translated literally from Afrikaans. (“Maschine botsing en ek het myself op n stuk hout gevind�?) Rounding off his evidence, he stated that a portable phone was brought into use, but probably not effectually as the first definite confirmation appears to have come from Weakly at Ramaquabane. Harold Botha, the guard of the goods, described his train order, saying that the Tsessebe Station Master told him to tell his driver to get a move on. Having picked up a passenger at Ramaquebane, he was attending to the ticket at the time of the collision. J. J. van Wyk, the passenger guard, said that the Plumtree Station Master gave him a crossing order for Ramaquebanc - the normal crossing place was Tsessebe but they had an "out of course" crossing as the goods was early.

55


C. J. Grove, the Ticket examiner, explained that he was not party to the crossing arrangements. He was thrown out of the train by the shock of the collision. Mr. Harry Moolman, an off-duty guard who was in fact assisting Mr. Grove, wan initially knocked unconscious, then went and helped. He recorded driver Reyneoke’s dying statement that the brakes were hard on. After lunch, proceedings were delayed pending the arrival of the Plumtree Station Master on the train at 5.15 p.m. Mr. S. C. J. van Niekerk then outlined how the crossing had been arranged for Ramaquebane and this transmitted by telegraph, which Tsessebe acknowledged. He gave the passenger guard an order for Ramaquebane, together with a return order authorising the goods train to proceed from Ramaquebane to Plumtree. After 4 o'clock, C. had phoned to enquire about the creasing order, saying that the telegraph said Ramaquebane but the order copy read Vakaranga. He told C. to ascertain from S. what was happening, and on learning that the train had been despatched to Vakaranga, instructed S. to get a car and run out. Mr. Mangan intervened, to get the point clears: "S. must have made out two orders?" "Yes - two separate orders:” Mr. van Niekerk believed both orders wore for Vakaranga, but only by hearsay - in this he was actually mistaken. In response to a further question, he opined that Tsessebe was not a very busy station. That concluded the evidence - it will be noted that S., charged with Culpable Homicide, was not required to give evidence at this inquest and C. was no doubt also missed out to avoid prejudicing later proceedings. Mr. Mangan’s verdict was simply that the death of the deceased persons was due to the severe injuries described, sustained in a collision between two trains. On completion of the inquest the SAR Board of Enquiry left Francistown for Johannesburg. This inquest naturally related only to those dying at the scene of the crash (in Bechuanaland) and actually missed one person out — fireman Esterhnysen who, I am given to understand, collapsed and died after the other bodies had been despatched to Francistown so his body was transported to Bulawayo - he was one of the five subjects of a Rhodesian enquiry, the others being Mr. and Mrs. Birnie, Miss Loufia Barger and Mr. C. R. Jenkin. The formal enquiry was held before Mr. V. C. Robertson in Bulawayo on Tuesday 26th April — Mr. A. Marston, Public Prosecutor appeared for the Crown and Mr. H. T. Low again held a brief for the Railways Administration. Evidence was given by Drs. C.D.R. Hart, P. Baron, J.R. Strong and R.K. Morris. Dr. Hart had succeeded in reaching the scene of the crash and had returned with the train; the other doctors testified to attending the deceased individuals in hospital. The enquiry was adjourned for the evidence of Dr. Heuff who was away in Northern Rhodesia, and if its resumption and finding was reported In the press, I did not see that report. This provided another interesting parallel with Quintinshill, Britain's most fatal railway incident ever (227 deal, 201 more than Vakaranga): here also the accident occurred close to a national border, and the removal of the injured from Scotland to England (Carlisle), with some dying there, led to a second inquest under a different legal system. In fact the Signalmen responsible there actually lived in England and their arrest involved an informal extradition; S. was under Bechuanaland jurisdiction throughout.

56


This chapter about the direct deaths from the accident may be rounded off by mention of an indirect near-fatality. Mr. Lionel Archell, the Plumtree Master who had guided in helpers, went down shortly afterwards with Tick-bite fever, almost certainly acquired from a Bechuana tick. In contrast to the dramatic action of some prevent-day antibiotics, there was at that time no specific treatment for the disease. Mr. Archell recalls hearing a specialist, summoned to his bedside, telling Dr. Knight "There's nothing you can do; they either live or die, and this one looks pretty far gone!" However the patient survived and now runs a riding school in Bulawayo. VAKARANGA X The Chronicle of Wednesday 13th April reported that Leslie John Stewart of Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia, who had been travelling on the Mail train involved in the collision, had been married in Johannesburg. It will be recalled that Mr. A. N. Wilson had been travelling on the same mission when he met his death. A third passenger travelling south for the purpose of getting married was fated to become involved in another railway accident. The "Sunday News" of April 17th, Easter Sunday, carried under the headline "TERRIBLE TRAIN DISASTER IN UNION", a report of the derailment of a passenger train at Bank, 44 miles from Johannesburg on the main line to the Cape. Five people had been killed; amongst the people travelling on the train were two who had been in the Vakaranga smash — a dining car steward named Meyer, and a Miss Catherine Elizabeth Burger of Bulawayo. The latter, no relation of the Figtree family, was engaged to marry a Bulawayo resident at Montague in the Cape Province on the 11th of May. The next day being Easter Monday there was no newspaper, but Tuesday's, paper filled in the detail, with a photo of three derailed coaches, the second telescoped into the third. The crew of the locomotive, which had turned over, had been killed, along with three passengers. Twelve people were injured in this "second accident involving a Cape-bound train this month." The subsequent enquiry reported that the train, which normally had a straight through run, had on this occasion been routed through a crossover which it had entered at grossly excessive speed. Amongst the trains consequently stacked, a further rear-end collision between two goods trains occurred at Middelvlei, a few miles on the Johannesburg side. Miss Burger had been staying with friends at Melville, Johannesburg, to whom she returned by car after being cared for by the Bank Station Master, also named Burger (so I am told). She was quoted as refusing ever to board a train again — however I am informed that she did in fact complete her nuptial journey by train, in company with her fiancé. The characteristic status of the Bechuanaland section lent itself to picking over a bone of contention. The first protest was voiced by Mr. Digby V. Burnett in the Rhodesia Herald of Wednesday 13th April, pointing out that while most newspapers in the Union referred to it as a Rhodesian railway disaster, in fact it occurred in Bechuanaland under the control of the South African Railways, this protest was made more vehemently in the Bulawayo Chronicle the following Wednesday, the 20th, in a letter from Walter Howard of Bulawayo. "Why has it always been alluded to as in Rhodesia? It occurred well outside our borders. The trains are run by the SAR system and are entirely under their control . . . Why therefore has it been broadcast as a Rhodesia Railways accident?” Apart from stretching the few miles from the Rhodesian border to "well outside'' he had a valid point which was never rebutted, though Saturday's Chronicle bad a rather rambling letter from "LOOKER ON": "Surely every person with normal understanding knows exactly what was meant by the term (Rhodesia Railways accident). 57


What everybody was concerned about was the welfare of those unfortunate individuals who happened to be involved directly and indirectly . . . Why should such a statement call for criticism? Have not other countries experienced worse and sadder distracters. Are we rot all exposed to mishaps? . . ." Of course we are, but LOOKER ON did not touch en the annoyance of having one's agent’s errors ascribed to oneself. In the Rhodesia Herald of April 15th Mr. A. E. Pomeroy had written "I have wondered for a number of years, is it not possible for Rhodesia Railways to take over the running of the section?" One wonders whether Mr. Pomeroy survived to see the realisation of his ideal, in 1959. In the Herald of April 22nd "Humanity" suggested that every Railway Telegraph Office should b equipped with a wireless transmitter /receiver, and every guard’s van similarly equipped. The former ideal has to some extent been carried out, but the limited application of on-train radio has been for communication between driver and guard. Perusal of newspaper file naturally reveals the full spectrum of contemporary events and one discovers much of interest in related and non-related topics. Relating to Rhodesia Railways, the same Saturday's Chronicle reported the completion of the colony's first flyover rail crossing, carrying the Dynamite spur to Bulawayo's Explosives tidings over the "south line", in reality the Victoria Falls line. In conjunction with this, the "south line" had had three curves eliminated by cuttings, the first steps in what was to be a complete relocation of the line as far at Pasipas. It was understood that within 12 months the Railways would begin work on a subway at a point where this same "south line" crossed the Khami road. It was interesting to read this at a time when this then projected "subway", actually a road over rail crossing, had since been left high and dry by further relocation of the railway, and now constituted a bottleneck in an otherwise widened Khami road. In the general field, a fortnight later (7th May) much of the paper was devoted to the completion of the highest building in Bulawayo, the six storey Chilham Court on the corner of Main Street and Eleventh Avenue. Now as one passes what appears to be a commonplace block of flats, one can appreciate its claim to fame, and one is reminded of the tragedy with which its triumph was contemporary. VAKARANGA XI The next event consequent on the accident was the committal of S. for trial on a Culpable Homicide charge, on 25th May, 51 days after the collision. It will be recalled that S. had originally been arrested on the day following the collision, but had been unconditionally released the following morning. It is not clear when he was rearrested and whether he had been in custody or on bail since. On his committal for trial — which I may as well report now in view of its obvious inevitability — bail was set at £100 but this may have been formal statement of an already existing arrangement. The hearing was again before Mr. W. E. Mangan at Francistown and the evidence was led by Assistant Inspector J. Masterman of the Bechuanaland Police Force. Sergeant de Lorne testified to the arrest of S. Mr. J. F. Seymour, Senior Clerk in the Office of the General Manager at Johannesburg, described the system of telegraphic control, and Mr. E. A. Yates, District Engineer at Mafeking, set the scene with a technical description of the site at which train 66 (the Mail) and 45 (the goods) collided. This was in a cutting 2700 ft. long and 12 ft. deep (not throughout its length, but I have verified that most of it in at a constant depth of that order) which ran straight for 1900 ft. from its southern end. The remaining; 900 ft. were on a curve of 1980 ft. radius. Visibility in this curved portion would be 58


about 300 ft. The gradient was reported as one in seven, which is an obvious misstatement of 1 in 70. Trains were subject to a speed limit of 45 m.p.h. for passenger trains and 35 for goods trains. Mr. van Niekerk, the Pluntree Station Master, went through the sequence of events at his end. At 2.25 p.m. he had first phoned Tsessebe re the crossing. Subsequently the crossing was arranged for Ramaquebane, which was confirmed by telegraph and again over the phone. The goods was running about 70 minutes ahead of schedule. At about 4p.m, he received an enquiry from C. at Tsessebe as some doubt had arisen about the orders and S. said the goods had an order for Vakaranga. Guard Botha testified that his train arrived at Tsessebe at 2.30p.m. He was given an order for Vakaranga — an out of course crossing order — which was handed over in the station office. S. told him to tell the driver to get a move on, on which statement I shall comment in a later chapter. Having picked up a passenger at Ramaquebane, and attended to the ticket, Botha had just returned to the van when the collision occurred; he heard no whistle. Dirk Johannes Crafford, as C. can now be identified*, was the incoming Station Master. He described how he started taking over at 11a.m. and how at 2.30 p.m., as he was occupied with cash and books, S. undertook to arrange the crossing of the two trains. S. handed over the order and the goods train left at 2.45p.m. Later, with the handing ever completed, S. went to say goodbye to his friends. C. went up to the points to admit the Mail. At 4.20 p.m. he returned to the office and drew S.'s attention to the lateness of the Mail. S. suggested that it might have been delayed at the crossing place. Just as he mentioned the crossing place he seemed to be struck by something. He went into the office and inspected the orders. At once he noticed they were made out to Vakaranga. C. confirmed this and checked with the telegraph tape which clearly showed Ramaquebane — at once he phoned Plumtree. Shortly after, they discovered another order in the waste paper basket, for Ramaquebane. S. drew attention to the fact that this order preceded the operative one. The "not running advice" had been left out so S. had thrown it away. The goods was normally booked to cross several trains in the Tsessebe -Plumtree section. S. did not say how the second order came to be made out. J. J. van Wyk, the guard of the passenger train, stated that he left Plumtree at 3.12 p.m. Shortly after Vakaranga the train entered the cutting; he heard two whistles and the crash occurred. In response to a question he stated that out of course crossings were an almost daily occurrence. It will be appreciated that a considerable degree of flexibility must inevitably be needed in the changeable circumstances of train operation over a section like this, but it is understandable that following a major accident the term "out of course crossing" would have a most sinister ring to the ears of an outside enquirer. S. understandably reserved his defence and was committed for trial on the charge. As we have seen, bail was net at £100. While we wait for the trial, another rail accident featured in the newspaper. On Thursday June 2nd the Chronicle had a photo of a collision at Viviers, near Beaufort West. On the right of the photo a pair of locomotives, double-heading, lay on their sides - the left of the photo showed the axles and wheels of another locomotive upside down. Clearly the South African Railways were going through an unhappy phase. On May 19th a head-on collision had occurred between the Lourenco Marques to Johannesburg Mail train and a goods train at a place called Dryden, killing the two drivers and injuring the two firemen and a passenger. On May 27th two goods trains collided at Pretoria West. 59


Reviewing contemporary resorts of Railway accidents, one further notes that on 17th May a rearend collision occurred on the London Underground, on the District line between Charing Cross and Temple, which killed six people and injured 40, the worst accident in that system's history. Subsequently it was reported that a wrong connection had been made in wiring the signals, and that transmission of a verbal message had been entrusted to an inexperienced porter - even with sophisticated technology, faults could be compounded by human failure. On June 1st Dr. Aylmer May retired, and was succeeded as Principal Medical Officer of RR by Dr. Hart - both had attended at Vakaranga. * Messrs. Crafford and van Niekerk will continue to be referred to as C. and v.N. for convenience although identified - S. will retain anonymity.

VAKARANGA XII The trial of on a charge of Culpable Homicide opened in the Special Court of Bechuanaland at Lobatsi on Monday 6th June, on which morning the Bulawayo Chronicle reported: "The trial of (S.), former Station Master of Tsessebe, on a charge of Culpable Homicide in connection with the Plumtree railway disaster has brought over a dozen people — Counsel, legal authorities and the accused himself — to Lobatsi, and once again the village has been found incapable of accommodating all who visit it on the business of the Special Court of Bechuanaland which sits at Lobatsi. Unable to obtain accommodation at the local hostelry some visitors have been forced to be satisfied with bunks in second class compartments in a coach drawn up on a siding in the station." The Case was heard before Mr. Justice C. E. Berry, as President of the Court, and Mr. V. F. Ellenberger, District Commissioner of Serowe, and Captain J. W. Potts, District Commissioner of Kanye. The Prosecutor was Major E.R. Roper, K.C., Chief Prosecutor of the Bechuanaland Special Court, while S. was defended by Mr. M. Franks, K.C., with Mr. J. F. Ludorf, briefed by the "Spoorbond" of which S. was a member. Mr. L. P. van der Vyfer also watched for this body and Mr. P. A. Fraenkel watched for the Locomotive Engineers Mutual Aid Society. The SAR. were represented by Mr. J. A. Lord of Johannesburg and Bulawayo agent Mr. Jim Heath. The charge was that on the 4th of April S. "did wrongfully, unlawfully and negligently make and deliver to Harold Botha and Bernardus Rudolph Coetzee, guard and driver of goods train 45 down*, a token authorising them to conduct the said train to Vakaranga, by reason of which the train proceeded beyond Ramaquebane and a collision occurred with passenger train 66 up which was proceeding from Vakaranga to Ramaquebane," (In accordance with RR practice, trains running inland from Beira were "up" and those running toward Beira were "down”.) Rather surprisingly, the charge does not appear to specify any deceased individual by name. S. pleaded Not Guilty. The first witness was Station Master van Niekerk of Plumtree. He testified to the 'phone conversation in which S. suggested that as train 45 was 70 minutes early (the report says lste (sic), but the error is obvious) the crossing should be at Ranaquebane instead of Tsessebe, to which he agreed. The telegraph tape and a certified transcript were put in evidence. After 4 p.m. he received another phone call asking him to repeat the station to which he had ordered train 66. 60


He also testified that he had worked Tsessebe Station himself and had found no difficulties. On cross-examination by Mr. Franks he explained that he had phoned Ttessebe first - S. had said he would prefer to wait until train 45 was in, when he had in turn phoned Plumtree. The second witness was Derick Johannes Crafford, the Station Master taking over at Tsessebe. He testified that he had been working in the office while the crossing was being arranged - he had heard the phone conversations. At about 4.20 p.m. he reminded S. that the train was overdue. S. appeared to be struck by some thought and went into the office to inspect the orders. After a time S. told him that the wrong orders had been issued, upon which he (C.) phoned Plumtree. S. had drawn his attention to the discarded order in the waste-paper basket, which he said he had made out first but on account of forgetting to insert information of trains which were not running he had thrown it away and made out another. The discarded order was correctly made out for Ramaquebane. On cross examination by Mr. Franks, C. said that he had arrived at Tsessebe at 2 a.m. and had told S. that the Administration was anxious that he should leave for his new station that afternoon, on the train at 4.05 p.m. In reply to further question he said that he had gone to the station at 8 a.m. and told S. then that he was to leave that afternoon - insofar as the 6 hours difference in imparting this news affected the issue, S. appears to have been given the benefit of the doubt and the later time appears to have been accepted. C. began taking over at 11 a.m. after moving in his furniture, a discrepancy of 2s. 3d. in the books had not been traced by the time they took lunch, S. returning earlier to the station. Mr. Franks took the opportunity to emphasise the haste of handing over. C. further stated that due to partitioning arrangements, members of the public were in the same room where train movements were being arranged. Outside, the goods train engine was letting off steam about 50 yards from the Office. (Mr. Franks: S. says the distance is only 25 yards. C: I don't know: it may be.) Consequently it was necessary to close the door to obtain comparative quiet. On re-examination by Major Roper C. reported that he had been employed by the Railways for 12 years. He stated that stations had been handed ever in two to three hours but this was not normally done. The staff at Tsessebe was ample for the running of the station. The next witness was Harold Botha, the guard of the goods train. He had taken over at Tsessebe, where S. gave him an Order for Vakaranga, S. apologised for keeping him waiting and said that he had made out a wrong order first - he told him to tell the driver to get a move on. At the time of impact he could not see the engine due to the curve in the cutting. He estimated the speed on the upgrade as 21 to 25 m.p.h. J. T. van Wyk, the guard of the Mail train, identified the order he received at Plumtree (the driver's copy was never recovered from the wreckage) and said his train was travelling at 35 to 45 m.p.h. Mr. E. A. Yates, Railway District Engineer of the Mafeking section, having given a detailed description of the site, testified that if the drivers saw each other at 100 yards range, at 40 and 20 m.p.h. respectively, then 3 to 5 seconds would elapse before the collision. It was impossible to pull up the train in that time. Clearly this evidence was elicited with intent to forestall any defence suggestion of contributory' negligence on the part of the drivers. Mr. J. T. Seymour, Senior Clerk in the SAR General Manager's Office in Johannesburg, detailed the regulations for crossing trains in section and handed in a diagram of the arrangements, and Mr. John Leopold Enslin, District Engineer for the section, stated that he had made a special 61


enquiry into the amount of work handled at Tsessebe on 4th April: goods, articles, Postal Orders and Stamps, and cash in hand. He gave his view that there was not much extra work and that one day was ample for the handover. On cross-examination by Mr. Franks, he said two hours should be sufficient. In reply to Mr. Franks suggesting that thin meant two hours over and above ordinary duties, Mr. Enslin said that at Tsessebe they could easily find two hours - one could go on duty for ten hours but might only work seven. Mr. Franks explained that S. thought he was leaving two days later, but learned at 8 a.m. that ho wan going the same day. Mr. Enslin agreed that that would put an extra strain on S. as private things would alto have to be arranged. In reply to the Court he said that he would have expected the handover to start at 9 am instead of 11 - a rather snide dig at C. which one feels was not Justified. Thin exchange concluded the Crown case. VAKARANGA XIII The defence case at the trial of S. on a Culpable Homicide charge opened with the accused himself giving evidence. The formal details of his career were gone through: he van 34 years old and had been at Tsessehe, his first station ion, for 18 months, being in charge of the station for the last 8 months to April. Outlining the nature of station duties, he identified Monday and Wednesday as his busiest days on account of mails - on Mondays he commenced duty at 6 a.n. and finished at 6.30 p.m., with two breaks for breakfast and lunch. He lived across the tracks from the office. He kept all the books and he detailed his other duties to the Court. There were normally 5 or 6 trains passing through during his period of duty. It was quite usual for out of course crossings to be arranged. Train 45 usually ran ahead of time. He often made arrangements to cross trains at Ramaquebane. He had learned of his transfer a week or ten days before but expected to leave on Wednesday and had booked m place on train 106 (the Johannesburg Mail) on Wednesday. He knew C. was coming on Monday. On learning of his advanced departure he had told C. "If Head Office wants me to do it do I’ll it." A discrepancy of 2s. 3d. was reconciled in the afternoon when it was discovered that it had been entered twice. Re had hurried over lunch in order to sort out the matter and to see if he had overlooked anything else. When v.N. first phoned he had arranged to phone back when 45 had arrived. At 2.30 p.m. he had phoned and suggested crossing the trains at Ramaquebane, to which v.N. agreed. Having never been north of Tsessebe himself, he had never been at Ramaquebane or Vakaranga, which were thus just names, of which he did know the meaning, to him. At this point the Court adjourned for lunch, on the resumption S. described how he wrote a red (crossing) order but on discovering that he had not put a mark through the "not running" section be made out another order and threw the first the waste-paper basket. In response to Mr. Franks he said that he had made the mistake because he was in a hurry. The second order, with the “not running� section correctly filled in (train numbers and the sidings they would have crossed 45 at, copied from the, working time table) was for Vakaranga. He also made a return order for the Mail to proceed from the crossing place to Tsessebe, and also put Vakaranga on that. He intended to write Ramaquebane but did not know how he made the mistake. He thought they were correct when he handed them to the guard. He told the guard "Jong, jy moet gou maak" ("Man, you must hurry up.") It will be recalled that Botha had repeatedly testified that S. told him to tell the driver to get a move on; as quoted, this injunction was to Botha 62


only with no third party involvement. S. said that he knew the train could reach Ramaquebane in time to cross the Mail there. However if Botha's evidence is accepted, and I see no reason for questioning it, the suggestion is very strong that at the time of handing up the order S. had formed the subconscious impression that 45 was to proceed to the further of the two available crossing places - hence the need for speed. Having finished the handing over just after 3 p.m. he went to say goodbye to the ganger and pumpman. He changed out of uniform and returned to the office at 4 p.m. Outside the office he told C. that the train would arrive 5 minutes late because of the crossing. When the train became overdue he went into the office and checked the orders, as it was his habit to do, and discovered the mistake. Major Roper new rose to cross-examine and subjected S. to a barrage of questions, the answers to which may-be listed: Vakaranga and Ramaquebane, besides being just names, conveyed the idea of crossing places. He had had to shout on the phone and thought he made himself clear. It was impossible to remember all the non-running orders, he had to refer to a book. If he thought he hadn't enough time to hand the station over he could have made representation to the authorities but he thought he had plenty of time. On that day he had not been very busy and had finished at 3 p.m. and had an hour to say goodbye and organise his luggage. The cross examination now became more aggressive, with S. unable to fend off the withering attack to which he was subjected: "You admit that in the orders you gave to the guard you failed in your duty?" - "I know of cases in which wrong orders have not led to accidents." Major Roper seized on this evasion: “You had that in your mind when you handed that wrong order to the guard?" - "No - when I found the mistake afterwards.” "But you did not fail in your duty when you handed the wrong order to the guard?” - "Not in my mind - I thought the order was correct." S. asserted that it was a habit of his to check the orders when a train was late. Although C. had said that a thought seemed to strike him, that thought was not that the orders were wrong. He realised that only when he saw the first order and compared it with the second. On re-examination by Mr. Franks, S. was able to make the point that in his 18 months at Tsessebe no complaint had been made about his work. In reply to a question by the President, S. explained that the “not running” order having been left out of the first order, on making the second order he had referred to the list only for the “not running” trains. This concluded the acccused’s evidence - a frank admission of incontrovertible facts laying stress on what mitigating circumstances there were. VAKARANGA XIV

63


The first and only defence witness was Dr. W. A. Willemse, Professor of Psychology at Pretoria University. Engaged in practical studies in psychology, he had been consulted to try and find the cause of the error, and interviewed S. He explained that S. was rushed and worried; Ramaquebane and Vakaranga were only names to him, to a certain extent similar, that he did know personally or know the meaning of, and they were not "senseful" names. In explanation of this last point he said "They are senseless - that is they don't make sense together; they can be read backwards as well as forwards. By a senseful group of words I would mean groups which could only be read forward such as 'I go to my house' which makes sense." At the risk of appearing presumptuous, I feel the good Professor could have made his point more clearly and forcefully by analogising with names such Highflats and Modderrivier, which indicate geographical features that can be visualised - or, nearer to home ground, trees such as Marula, Figtree, Syringa and Plumtree. Continuing, Prof. Willemse said that in S.’s mind the name Vakaranga was lifted out of Ramaquebane and used instead of it. "My attempt to see how these processes wore brought about showed me that an ordinary reasonable man could have made this mistake. I don't say that he ought to in the same circumstances, but that it is possible that a reasonable man could make the mistake that S. did." S.'s error was "a slip of the pen" and he would submit that a reasonable person doing his duty could make the same mistake. Now followed Major Roper’s opportunity to cross examine this Expert Witness for the defence. In reply to his first question Prof. Willemse said that in his opinion S. was a normal man with full capacity for applying his mind to work. Major Roper said that they knew S. might have been tired as he had been up at 2 a.m., and was perhaps hurried when he made the wrong order but nevertheless that did not excuse the mistake. “Do you agree with me, Doctor?" Prof. Willemse declined to be drawn: "That is not for me to say." Prof. Willemse further said that S.'s correcting attention was distracted when he corrected the omission of “not running” advice on making out the second order, and his attention might not be so much on the alert again for the latter part of the second order. Major Roper: "Would a careful man allow his mind to be distracted this?" - "I cannot reply to that. You see I am trying to explain how the mistake came to be made." "But when a careful man allows his attention to wander, does ho not become careless?" - "That too I cannot reply to." "Do careful and careless men then not exist for psychologists?" - "Oh yes, but we have different descriptions for them." The press report it merely a transcript of the verbal exchanges and unfortunately gives no indication of the Court's reaction. Whether Major Roper threw up his hands in exasperation or not, he concluded his examination without asking another question. The President, Mr. Justice Berry, now had some questions to direct to Prof. Willemse. The Professor said, in reply to the first, that when S. made out the second order it would appear that his mind was set on the part of the form he was to fill in correctly, and was not concentrated to such an extent on the other part where the mistake was made. The President then asked Prof. Willemse if he would not expect an ordinary man to devote most of his attention to the moat important part, that is the crossing place. Prof. Willemse replied that one might expect that but as a scientist he was investigating the causes of an action and that was all. This rather evasive reply is, to me, the decisive point in the trial, as clearly indicating the limit of the Professor's 64


preparedness to actually condone his subject's lapse. Mr. Franks did not re-examine, this closed the Defence case, and the Court adjourned for the night. VAKARANGA XV The next morning, Tuesday 7th June, Counsel made their addresses. Major Roper claimed that this was a clear case of negligence and that no evidence led by the Defence about the amount of work handled that morning explained or justified the mistake. S., by the Defence's admission, two not sick or mentally preoccupied, and the little weariness arising from rising for a short time at 2 a.m. was not sufficient to prevent proper attention. Professor Willemse's evidence did not affect the question of legal liability for the mistake - it only suggested how the error came to be made. Major Roper read from authorities to support his submission that the test for liability for negligence was the sums in a criminal case as in a civil case, namely the standard of what a reasonable man would do. In this case a breach of regulations was a breach of reasonable conduct and thereby constituted negligence. Mr. Franks said in his closing address that there was no dispute of any material facts in the case, but the question was whether S. was guilty of a degree of negligence sufficient to convict him of the crime with which he was charged. On April 4th a concatenation of circumstances entirely differentiated that day from any other Monday on which he had performed duties as Station Master at Tsessebe. On all other Mondays he had performed his duties to the satisfaction of the Authorities, but after a full day on Sunday he had got up at 2 a.m. to welcome C. and his family and show them to their lodgings, and then at 8 a.m. he learned of his advanced departure. In spite of this advancement C. did not commence the takeover until 3 hours later at 11 a.m. - out of courtesy S. allowed this. At lunch S. spent only ten minutes away, while C. remained behind. When S. made the crossing arrangements he knew that in a short time he would have to board the train with his family and all his belongings. (This is the only reference I found to S.'s marital status.) Mr. Franks submitted that the man who came to make the crossing arrangements on that Monday was not the same S. who had made arrangements on every other Monday. To find legal culpability the Court must conclude that by some default of his own, S.'s mind had fallen into the condition in which it was when he made the mistake. "In this case one must take a reasonable man subjected tc precisely the same stress and circumstances as S. had been subjected to that day, when judging the conduct of a reasonable man as the test in his case." The time was now 12.10 p.m. and the Court retired to consider its verdict. After a 13 minute absence it returned and pronounced its verdict. Reviewing the evidence, the President said: "It seems there can be no doubt from this evidence that the facts raised a strong prima facie case of negligence by S . . . Among his duties was that of taking care that trains were crossed in his section, at the same time taking certain precautions laid down in the regulations to avoid all possibility of collision. He was familiar with the regulations . . . It seems to me that S. must be taken to have been familiar with these two crossings; not that they were merely native names with similar syllables, but that they were considerably more — they wore points at which he had often crossed two trains traversing his section. . . .In carrying out his duties which were not only to the Administration but, what is more serious, to the public, this man is I think, shown by the evidence to have been negligent."

65


Mr. Berry said that in law negligence was sufficient to convict a man. Lawyers had a different approach to Doctors and Psychologists. The evidence of Professor Willeme could only endeavour to explain the mistake, not to excuse it. Accordingly the Court found that S. had been careless in the execution of his duties and guilty of the crime with which he had been charged, i.e. Culpable Homicide. Mr. Franks then addressed the Court in mitigation, saying that S. had lost his employment and all pension rights as a result of the Departmental enquiry. The Court now recessed for lunch prior to the passing of sentence. On the resumption the President, making plain his personal sympathy with the convicted man, said: "It is clear to me that I am not entitled to take into consideration the magnitude of the disaster which resulted from your mistake. What I am concerned with in the degree of negligence . . .the duty you had to perform . . .was a duty you had to carry out with care. In that duty you failed in that particular action. But while negligence is there are circumstances which I think I am entitled to take into consideration. There is the fact that you were being relieved and that in the process you were somewhat hurried in carrying out your duties. I think these circumstances go a considerable distance towards understanding the error. While I have some difficulty in deciding the sentence, I think that I am entitled not to send you to prison." Sentence was then passed — S. was fined £50 (or 6 months including hard labour), which, at the request of Mr. J. F. Ludorf, was permitted to be paid in £5 instalments, as S. had lost his employment on South African Railways as a result of the accident. The Bulawayo Chronicle of Wednesday 8th June, reporting all this en its news pages, also commented editorially under the heading: “THFRE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD”: “Of the verdict and sentence there is no occasion to say anything; (nothing) could possibly inflict on him anything half so appalling as the mental anguish which he must have suffered on realisation of his mistake and the terrible consequences which followed. To most people two thoughts are likely to occur: one is that it is a matter for regret that there cannot be introduced some system on the railways which would relieve the ever- prone- to-err human of the responsibility . . . (and the) danger of constant repetition blunting one's sense of the need for the utmost care. . . . The second thought . . . (for) . . . most of us is one which will produce a feeling of thankfulness that fate has cast our lot in a position where a slip of the pen or an error of judgement on our part involves no such appalling consequences as in the case of S.” Thus ended the affair, as far as it was reported in the press. A faint echo was sounded on June 22nds in a letter to the Editor in the Bulawayo Chronicle from “Just a Housewife” of Ndola. She said she was "greatly surprised that no vote of censure was passed on the railway authorities . . . any servant of the railways should have, at the least, one week in which to prepare for transfer". In a womanly way she was not quite on target — she would have done better to specify actual departure instead of just transfer — but one can only endorse her sentiments. VAKARANGA XVI Visiting the accident site, one is struck by the cruel twist of fate that contrived the meeting of the two trains on that blind curve. Standing on the outer bank, one looks southward straight along the 66


track for about a mile; to the north-east the line curves gently across an open hillside for a similar distance. On either of these stretches the drivers could have braked to mitigate or even avert the collision; if only 45 had not stopped for a passenger at Ramaquebane, or had spent longer doing so. The site being near the foot of the bank, the Mail was at full gallop, while the ascending goods would still have had a good turn of speed on, charging the bank. One would have expected the latter to be making smoke, visible even over the spur of higher ground, but an assortment of circumstances would have concealed it from the Mail's driver - the line curved to the left while he sat on the right, a high wind would have dispersed the smoke, and probably there were dark clouds to the west to camouflage it. One may wonder at the tricks of fate which claimed some victims who had no need to be where they were, and spared others. Loco Inspector Marshall's ascent to the footplate at Plumtree proved to be indeed a farewell trip; if Francistown had had a jewellers shop, Mr. Bennett and Miss Ensor- Smith might not have made the trip to and from Bulawayo. The presence of the four Burger daughters was dictated by the beginning of term at Mafeking School. Mr. Lennox MoEwan was probably unnecessarily persuaded to leave his car at Plumtree. Mr. A. N. Wilson advanced his journey by two days at short notice, possibly to travel with Mr. Llewellyn Austin whom he no doubt knew. Mr. I. Klein was also travelling two days earlier than he needed to; he recalls that shortly before departure from Bulawayo, luggage was removed from the subsequently unoccupied compartment next to his (this would not have been Mrs. and Miss Scott who, as stated, would have been in the Johannesburg portion behind the dining car.) Years have passed, much water has flowed seasonally down the Ramaquebane, and in the minds of readers two thoughts (to echo the Chronicle's editorial) will be uppermost: What has happened since, and Could it happen again? To attempt to answer the second question might be presumptuous and comment should come from a professional railwayman. On the first question I feel emboldened to essay a brief review. Locos 153 and 241 were adjudged beyond repair and scrapped, though no doubt many components passed into the spares pool and saw further service in other engines. Possibly the tenders could have been salvaged to replace the smaller-capacity tenders of two of the first-series 10th class locos, but they might have been regarded by the enginemen as spooked and the frames may have been twisted anyway. A number of RR drivers, including Messrs. Hunter and Read, underwent a special course in SAR procedures to enable them to work anywhere on the section should similar need arise again. In the event it never did, although the section suffered another spectacular accident in 1940 when explosives vans blew up on Foley bridge (the cause was never determined), destroying the bridge and most of the train, claiming several lives and indicating the horror that could have compounded Vakaranga bad the explosives in the load of 45 been detonated. I do not intend to recount further the subsequent histories of individuals — the discerning reader will recognise those episodes which are obviously the account of surviving participants rather than press reports. In 1959 the South African Government exercised their right to take over the line from Vryburg through Mafeking to the southern border of Bechuanaland at Ramathlabama. It was further arranged that SAR would operate the line to Mahalapye, about half-way to Bulawayo, and RR would take over operation northward to Bulawayo, 21 years after Mr. Pomeroy's wishful thinking. 67


This agreement was to have lasted 20 years but in 1966 the SAR withdrew from independent Botswana and RR took over operation of the southern section to Mafeking. This reintroduced through locomotive working, but with home base at the other end. To supplement the 10th class, now depleted by two, 12th class locomotives had been introduced to the southern section during and after World War II. In an effort to find a solution to post-war congestion, three SAR class 19D locomotives were tried on the section, resulting in RR ordering 20 locos to this design, which conveniently came into the RR classification as 19th class. During the period of partition referred to above, the 19th class worked from Mafeking to Mahalapye, and the 12th class from Bulawayo. It is now necessary to return to the time of the collision; in the late '30's RR sought a heavier, faster locomotive for Mail trains on the southern section and, encouraged by the success of "Garratt" articulated locomotives on the eastern and internal main line, they designed a double 46-4 locomotive of this type. Four were delivered in 1940 but necessary bridge strengthening was forestalled by World War II, and the locos worked on the Salisbury-Gwelo section, on which the war generated much additional traffic. Their performance was so successful that after the war the type was chosen as RR's standard main-line loco, and 70 more were built - the well-loved 15th class Garratts. They worked throughout Rhodesia (and Zambia) except for the south lines until 1965 when, displaced by diesels in the east, they (including the first four) were introduced to their originally intended run. However the wind of change continued to blow - in view of water supply problems, particularly in Southern Botswana, they have been withdrawn, and now the growl of diesels echoes from the hills flanking Vakaranga bank. VAKARANGA – UPDATE Unfinished business from Chapter XXVI: I never did get professional Railway comment on train control procedures, but will give my knowledge and view. No doubt with heightened awareness and vigilance by staff, the paper order system continued operating safely for many years. In the 1970s, under RR rule, a Facsimile system was introduced which printed identical copies of the orders generated by the controlling station on machines at both ends of the section, eliminating any transcription errors. On “RR proper”, east and north of Bulawayo, Centralised Traffic Control, (CTC) with power-operated points and colour-light signals and a high level of interlocking security, was installed and operated safely until disabled in recent years by lack of maintenance and theft of cables. A point regarding train movements – in 1953 the system of Cape and Johannesburg trains running close together through Bechuanaland, to arrive at and depart from Bulawayo on a morning three times a week, was replaced by trains for the two destinations running on alternate days, each arriving in the afternoon and departing the following morning, so on five days of the week there was a Mail train in each direction, running to the same daily schedule, and on the other two days an arrival or a departure. There was also a daily “All stops” mixed each way. Regarding system changes: following UDI Rhodesia Railways was split with Zambia Railways being formed in 1967. The system in Rhodesia was technically renamed New Rhodesia Railways (NRR) but in practice the name Rhodesia Railways persisted. At Independence in 1980 Rhodesia Railways became National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). In 1987 Botswana Railways was formed and took over the line within Botswana; Plumtree became an exchange station, with extra tracks and a triangle for turning locomotives (NRZ had re-introduced steam). At the southern end 68


the Botswana Government declined to recognise the Independent-State-Former-Homeland of Bophuthatswana and BR crews were unable to work through to Mafeking – SAR shuttled traffic to the border where an exchange yard was hastily laid at Ramathlabama. With the coming of the “New” South Africa the objection fell away and BR locos worked trains through to Mafikeng. By this time Mail trains from Bulawayo to the Cape had long ceased, with only irregular Johannesburg passenger services. In 1974 a rail link through Beitbridge, via Rutenga and Somabula, had been opened and in the late 1980s and ‘90s passenger services between Johannesburg and Bulawayo and directly to Salisbury operated on that route. In 1999 the gap between Beitbridge and West Nicholson was filled to provide a direct link to Bulawayo and the north. BR concentrated its passenger operation internally, from Lobatse to Francistown, but has recently closed down its passenger services and sold what coaching stock it had. I believe NRZ has a daily or tri-weekly service between Bulawayo and Francistown, in so far as they are able to operate at all. In 2002 I was contacted by Mr. Vincent Ward, living in Texas, and corresponded with him. In 1938 he was the 16 year-old son of a Bulawayo taxi operator, with his driver’s licence and carrying out driving assignments. On Monday 4th April, presumably home from school for lunch, he was called to drive a man from Suburbs to the station to catch the train, in a hurry. The passenger said he was travelling to get married. No Bulawayo resident of that status was reported. It could have been A.N. Wilson from Bindura or L.J. Stewart from Luanshya. The former was travelling with Mr. Llewellyn Austin, who might have had a house in Suburbs, but then Master Ward would have had two passengers. One would expect any arrival off the overnight train from Salisbury or Northern Rhodesia, visiting someone in Suburbs by taxi, to have booked a return trip at the time of the outward journey. Possibly the urgent call for a taxi was necessitated by failure of the host’s car. The following morning Vincent was called out of School (Technical College) and sent home. There he was assigned the task of driving the outgoing and incoming (another handover situation) General Managers of Rhodesia Railways to the accident scene, in a Chrysler Imperial. After Plumtree and the border they came on people at the roadside marking the access point and walked in. While the GMs were being shown round Vincent studied the locomotives: “I turned my attention to the goods unit and was transfixed for what I saw was total commitment and loyalty. The driver Mr Coetzee had both arms above his head with his hands clasped tightly round the grip of a long horizontal lever probably the brake handle [In fact the regulator RC]. The body hung directly in line with his arms down to his lower abdomen with the head thrust forward. The pelvis was not visible because the tender had jumped the cab floor and crushed the lower part of his body up against the Firebox.” This provides an insight into the reaction of the colliding vehicles. The Mail’s locomotive, travelling at speed but with its wheels now severely retarded by the brakes, would have pitched slightly forward, lowering the front end. With the tremendous forces of the collision any lateral or vertical reaction will provide an escape route – the slight difference in coupler heights would have lifted the nose of the goods loco while knocking it back, fractionally lowering the cab to allow the tender to override the cab floor. In turn lowering the rear of the tender elevated the leading end of the caboose and dropping of the rear end of this allowed the immediately following vehicle, a steelbodied van, to rear up over the caboose, no doubt damaging the rear wall and roof, but allowing 69


survival of the occupants. By contrast the tender of the Mail probably dipped below the cab floor, while pitching the coal into the cab; the driver and fireman survived (for a time) while Loco Inspector Marshall was probably buried by coal. However the corresponding lifting of the rear end of the tender allowed the caboose frame to pass underneath it with the wooden bodywork disintegrating, killing the relief fireman and guard and caboose attendant and trapping the bodies of the first two. How the relief driver survived (with injuries) is a mystery miracle. The first few coaches, with their wooden bodies telescoped and over-ridden, similarly broke up, killing and injuring many of their occupants while at the same time, like the “crumple zone” of a modern car, protecting those further back in the train by absorbing energy and allowing tolerable deceleration. On the subject of wooden- vs. steel-bodied coaches: we have in recent years seen some remarkable demonstrations of the strength and integrity of modern steel bodies. However most of these accidents have been high-speed derailments with rolling and jack-knifing rather than collisions with lengthwise compression inducing telescoping and/or over-riding. In general I would consider a wider distribution of injuries a fair price to pay for lower mortality. Only after completion of “the book” did a point occur to me regarding SAR management practices, from a point given in evidence. S. testified that he had never been to Ramaquebane or Vakaranga, they were just names to him. He had been at Tsessebe for 18 months, in charge there for the last 8 months. He would have come up from South Africa and may have gone back to Mafeking or beyond on holiday or Railway business – but he had never been north of Tsessebe. One might expect a person in his position to arrange a trip to Plumtree for terrain familiarisation and to meet his working colleagues there (ideally on the footplate to learn the gradient and speed restriction challenges to the loco crews, or at least in the guard’s van) but he had not done so. (If he had ever gone up by car, the road is alongside Ramaquebane siding though it then diverges widely until Plumtree). I would suggest that SAR (or any transport organisation) should require any controller to have physically travelled the whole section which he or she covers – but that is a bit late now! It is tempting to speculate that S. originally considered that train 45 could get to Vakaranga without delaying the Mail but had been over-ruled by Plumtree, but van Niekerk’s evidence did not include such a suggestion – only Ramaquebane appears to have been mentioned. Yet there is the puzzling fact that S. appeared to show awareness that he was sending the train to the further of the two available crossing points with his exhortation for speed in telling guard Botha “Jy moet gou maak, jong!”. There was no call for particular haste in getting to Ramaquebane, as events showed. That point remains a mystery. [Google Earth reference: 20-30-46S 27-01-04E] During a spell of Police Reserve “brightlighting” on a farm in 1978 I wrote several pages of text modifications with the intention of incorporating them. I had acquired some photos, one from Bert Mead, several via a friend from a driver at De Aar, and a couple I took on a visit to the site. I have the negatives of the last-named for reproduction. In the 1990s, with apparently no prospect of a publisher and knowing that the Railway Institute at Mafeking held some artefacts, I felt that this was a fitting archive to add my collection to, and organised a courier chain to get the material there. Now, thinking that I might be in with a chance of publishing it, I would like to reclaim it but the Institute has closed. I am in contact with Mr. Galefele Molema of The Mahikeng Society who has established that the documents are in the

70


archives in Johannesburg but the photos cannot be traced. Negotiations appear to have ground to a halt, with no reply to my e-mails. In 2014 some highly interesting evidence came to light. On a railway-orientated Facebook group a Mrs. Francine Stephanie Coelho, daughter of a Rhodesia Railways engine driver Jacob Johannes (Japie) van Greuning, posted a number of black and white (actually sepia) photos of a disastrous railway collision. It was clear from the position of the two locomotives, wedged against a cutting bank, that this was Vakaranga. The significant point was that along the tops of the cutting banks stood lots of people – the photos were obviously taken immediately after the collision, with the passengers still present. Mrs. Coelho is unable to indicate the origin of the photos – as a Rhodesia Railways employee her (late) father would have had no operational role – was he a passenger or was he subsequently given the photos? The most striking photo, to me, was one from the north-west cutting bank looking along the line of the mail’s loco (241) to where its smokebox was impacted against that of 153, fast against the south-eastern bank. The cab of 241 is ripped away and not visible in the picture, revealing the boiler back-plate (another photo shows that the upper “spectacle plate” is folded over the top of the last portion of the boiler). Further, to the left of the exposed footplate is the shovel-plate (front) end of the tender, which is jack-knifed against the firebox. Reconstructing events at the moment of impact: the compressive force diverted the nose of 241 to the left, that of 153 going right, to wedge up against the south-east bank of the cutting. The rear end of 241 was consequently displaced to the right, taking the front end of the tender with it, and the momentum of the following train swung the tender through 180 degrees, at the same time lifting it, allowing the frame of the following caboose to pass underneath it, demolishing the wooden body and crushing some of its occupants. Other photos showed the frames and body panels of following coaches on either side of the wreckage, as I had seen long previously in the papers in the (Bulawayo) Chronicle’s archive. Prior to the collision, on the commencement of the downhill slope, fireman Esterhuysen would have ceased firing but Locomotive Inspector Marshall was doubtless occupying his seat on the left hand side of the cab. He would therefore most likely have been standing behind driver Reynecke on the right. In the impact the two would have been carried away with the ripped-off cab, landing on the ground with mitigated forward velocity and fortuitously not in the path of further wreckage. Driver Reynecke survived, conscious and articulate, for a while – fireman Esterhuysen, apparently not severely physically injured, was able to assist with rescue operations until he relaxed, when he succumbed to shock and exhaustion. Loco Inspector Marshall was trapped in the cab, buried under the coal which would have been catapulted from the tender, and one hopes he was knocked out on impact. As recounted by Vincent Ward, the tender of 153 ploughed forward into the cab, crushing and trapping the bodies of driver Coetzee and fireman van Rensburg. The escape of steam from the fractured washout plug would have effectively “cooked” the body of the driver, hence the initial impossibility of removing it without risk of disintegration. Typing the above spurred me into checking some details not previously covered in sufficient detail – the exact number and disposition of the train crews. 26 people were killed of which 8 were railway employees. On the Mail, in the cab were: 

Loco Inspector Marshall – killed 71


 

Driver Reynecke – died at the scene Fireman Esterhuysen – died later at the scene

In the caboose:   

Guard van der Heever and fireman van Rensburg – killed. Caboose attendant – killed. No mention made of a driver.

In the guard’s van:  Guard van Wyk. On the goods train, in the cab:  Driver Coetzee and fireman Combrinck – killed. This totals 8 fatalities In the caboose:  Guard Sutherland – survived without serious injury.  Caboose attendant – fled the scene but returned.  No mention of driver or fireman so must have survived. In the van: 

Guard Botha.

The Chronicle’s report on Wednesday 6th April had listed: Missing: Fireman Comberlinck (Combrincke), Guard van der Heever, two saloon natives, 15 passengers. Injured were Drivers du Toit and Rausch, fireman van Wyk. The last-named was clearly on the goods train. Thus it would seem that both relief drivers survived, the one on the Mail having had a remarkable escape. Later, funerals were reported at Mafeking of Loco Inspector Marshall, drivers Coetzee and Reynecke, firemen Combrinck and Esterhuysen and guard van der Heever. Fireman van Rensberg was buried at Lichtenberg. With the unreported caboose attendant, that makes 8. it seems strange that Loco Inspector Marshall’s body was not returned to Kimberley, unless his roots were around Mafeking, or so far away as to make transportation of an unembalmed corpse impracticable. For the 18 passengers who died, I can find the following names: Llewellyn Austin, Margaret Barham, Taffy Bennett, John Birnie, Mrs. Birnie, Caroline Burger, Loufia Burger, Muriel Ensor Smith, C.R. Jenkin, Captain Percy Jones, S. Kay, Sergeant Mackay, Mrs. Margaret Malcolm, Lennox McEwan, Mrs. Pinder, Florence Pullen, Mrs. Rudolph, A.M. Wilson. One wonders what subsequently happened to the hapless S. – I was told that he did apply to RR for a job but could not be considered, and that his hair turned white. Acknowledgements My initial sources of information were the archives of The Chronicle in Bulawayo and The Herald in Salisbury, now Harare. At that time the Chronicle had dropped Bulawayo from its title but The Herald retained Rhodesia. In listing personal sources of information I recognise that most of them are probably now deceased, those known to be so are marked with an asterisk*. They are Bert Hunter, Bert Mead*, Reg Wright-Ingle, Cecil Smeaton, Lionel Archell. George Pattison* provided valuable information through access to files during his “gap year” as a Railways clerk in Bulawayo, in particular the fact of Station Master Burger’s “hijacking” of Driver Wayne/Waine’s locomotive to 72


get to Plumtree, something I would not otherwise have been aware of. More recently Vincent Ward contributed to the narrative and photos posted on social media by Francine Coelho showed the scene immediately after the accident.

THE OLD WHITE TRAIN: COACH NO 2

I have collected a few recollections of Senior Police Officers who were assigned to Royal Protection duties on various White Trains in South Africa.

LA MECHANICAL REFIGIRATOR: BLOEMFONTEIN Who can furnish me more information on this LA-truck?

73


RAILWAY HISTORY GROUP

Bulletin No. 128 April 2015

The main road to Paarl was still a corrugated dirt track when, earlier on the same day as photo 10, Bill made another great photograph of 2821 cl 15CA on the Union Express tackling Klapmuts bank, which begins in earnest at Kraaifontein. Note that contrary to general SAR practice the mail and baggage vans were marshaled behind the locomotive. This was to accommodate a rear-end observation car in the Union Express set introduced in 1927/28 when a dramatic improvement was made with the introduction of the type C-22 articulated sleeping saloons featuring enclosed vestibules, hot and cold water, a valet service and roomier day/sleeper compartments. It seemed that the CME (by now Col Collins) was at last taking a leaf out of the CSAR’s coach-design manual of almost 30 years previously.

Photo: C.P.Lewis collection

74


VOTE OF THANKS A word of thanks to all our correspondents and friends who so freely gave their advice and shared their photos and anecdotes with us on this magazine. Finally to our patron, Oom Les Pivnic, who acted as our mentor and friend. He always pointed out my mistakes and I think I speak for the whole SA Railway fraternity when I say he is one of the doyens of South African railway history.

Until the next special issue,

Hennie Heymans Please use this email in future: heymanshb@gmail.com

75

Profile for Hennie Heymans

Sas sar vol 6 no 5  

The FINAL MONTHLY issue of SAS-SAR. Thematic issues will follow periodically - when ever.

Sas sar vol 6 no 5  

The FINAL MONTHLY issue of SAS-SAR. Thematic issues will follow periodically - when ever.

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded