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SAS President Kruger Commemoration Events

Wreath Laying Service at Navy Fleet Headquarters

Saturday 18th – 15h00

Dress: Smart Casual for civilians and dress for naval personnel according to Navy Communiqué

Access: Entrance to the naval base is through The East Yard Gate only. (Go past Cole point to the old gate)

Parking is arranged and you will be shown where to park.

Donation: A minimum donation of R30 per person to contribute toward costs (including organist, wreaths

receptions etc) is requested, but any larger amount would be very welcome.

This will be collected on entrance to the reception, as names are checked against the guest list. Any surplus will go to the SA Navy Museum.

Seating: Seating is limited and is reserved for Naval representatives, ceremony participants, the infirm and the elderly.

Reception: This will be held after the wreath laying at Hugo Biemann, and due to demand is open only to SAN invited guests and those previously booked.

Ceremony Format:

Welcome and Introduction: – Steve Johns

Prayer – Padre Galant

Address – Capt Forrest (Rtd)

Wreath Laying

1st Wreath – On behalf of the Families of the 16 – Cherylynn Wium

2nd Wreath – On Behalf of the S A Navy – Rear Adm Jamieson

3rd Wreath – On behalf of the Survivors – Cameron Kirk Kinnear

Guest Floral Tribute Opportunity

Piper of the Cape Town Highlanders

Scripture reading – Padre Galant

Last Post – SA Army Band Bugler

Reveille – SA Army Band Bugler

Guest Departure, Invited Guests proceed to the reception.


Commemoration Service at the Dockyard Chapel

Sunday 19th – 10h00

Dress: Smart Casual for civilians and dress for naval personnel according to Navy Communiqué

Access: Entrance to the naval base is through The West Yard Gate only.

Parking is arranged and you will be shown where to park.

Seating: Seating is first come first served in the Chapel, reserving the first few rows, on either side, for dignitaries, those lighting candles, and ceremony participants.

Welcome and Invocation

Hymn – Padre Errol Sadler

Reading of the Roll of Honour – Cameron Kirk Kinnear

Lighting of the Candles of Remembrance

Prayer and Readings – Padre Errol Sadler


Sermon – Padre Errol Sadler



Floral Tribute Opportunity

Period of Silence and Reflection


Last Post


Departure of guests, invited guests to the reception.

 Image by Anton Crone

You can view this film here


See another article on this production here.

In the last Great War, South Africa committed 120,000 soldiers to the battlefields of North Africa & Europe.

11,900 soldiers did not return.

The Fallen is a short film in memory of those brave soldiers who lost their lives and a tribute to the families they left behind.

The Fallen, a film by Bauke Brouwer.

You can view this film here




HMS Sheffield (D80) was a 4100 ton Type 42 destroyer, launched on 10th June 1971 and commissioned on 16th February 1975. She was the second Royal navy ship to bear this name.


An explosion during construction killed two workers, and the damaged section of hull was replaced with another section from an identical design, but in a twist of fate this ship (Hercules) was being built for the Argentine Navy.


HMS Sheffield was part of task Force 317 sent to the Falklands during the Falklands War. On the 4th May 1982 she was struck by an Exocet air-launched missile fired from an Argentinian Navy Super Etendard aircraft. She sank on the 10th May 1982.


On the morning of the 4th may HMS Sheffield was at defence readiness, and one of 3 Type 42 Destroyers operating as a Anti-Submarine Patrol for the Task Force. The other two Type 42 destroyers were Glasgow and Coventry. The Argentinian type 209 Submarine, which was the model originally slated to replace the South African Navy Daphne class submarines, was deemed to be a serious threat.


HMS Glasgow (D88), one of the other Type 42 destroyers, detected two Argentinian Super-Etendard aircraft over 70km away and issued the warning code word “Handbrake” to all ships in the Task Force. In another twist of fate, HMS Sheffield had previously assessed the Exocet threat as over-rated, and assessed this new threat as another false alarm.


As a result HMS Sheffield did not go to Action Stations, launch chaff or conduct any other readiness actions. Captain James Salt was not informed of the reported threat.


Communications with HMS Sheffield were suddenly interrupted. The Exocet missile fired from a ‘point-blank’ range of 6 miles by Captain Augusto Bedacarratz hit HMS Sheffield amidships, creating a 15ft by 4ft hole in the ship’s starboard side. The crew had less than 20 seconds warning. A second missile missed the target. In yet a third twist of fate, it was later concluded by a Board of Enquiry that the warhead did not detonate. This is disputed by members of the crew, and a subsequent re-evaluation in 2015 concluded that the warhead had indeed detonated by using advanced analysis tools which were not available in 1982.

HMS Sheffield was now ablaze, and certain ship systems had been knocked offline, and one of the systems affected was the ventilation. The water main was also damaged, resulting in the fire mechanisms from operating at their full capability, thus effectively sealing the fate of the ship.


Captain Salt ordered that the ship be abandoned due to concern over the fires reaching the Sea Dart magazine. As the crew prepared to leave the ship, they sang Life of Brian “Always look on the Bright Side.”


For the next six days not only were systems evaluated for salvage, but damage control attempted to shore the hull breach. HMS Yarmouth, a Rothsay Class Frigate similar in design to the SA Navy’s President Class took the ship in tow.


However the sea state during the tow caused further flooding and HMS Sheffield finally sank on the 10th May 1982.


As a result of the attack, 20 members of her complement of 281 were lost, most of them asphyxiated. A further 26 were injured.


Discussion points about the the superstructure and the aluminum content having a lower melting point than steel were incorrect, as her superstructure was entirely steel. There was also a shift in the Royal Navy away from nylon and synthetic fabrics that melted onto the skin, causing more severe burns.


SAS President Kruger survivor Cameron Kirk Kinnear with HMS Sheffield survivor Chris Purcell



Chris Purcell’s account of the incident:

Further reading:

The Narrative of the Attack

Official MOD Report

Badge of H.M.S.A.S. Southern Floe which was picked up in an Italian dugout in the Desert by a sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the North African Campaign. (SA Military History)


11 February 1941


HMSAS Southern Floe was sunk by a mine off Tobruk with the loss of 27 men, with 1 sole survivor, Stoker C J Jones

A number of whalers were converted to anti submarine roles and commissioned into the South African Navy for service, they were part of the South African Seaward Defence Force anti-submarine flotilla.

Some of them were sent to the Mediterranean and based at Alexandria, Egypt – the HMSAS Southern Floe, the HMSAS Southern Sea and their sister ship the HMSAS Southern Maid – which is seen in this rare photograph in Alexandria Harbour (In the foreground is the South African Navy’s HMSAS Protea, a Flower-class corvette).


In 1941 – the HMSAS Southern Floe (Lt J E Lewis) and HMSAS Southern Sea arrived at Tobruk on 31 January 1941 to take over patrol duties from two of their two sister ships.


Although submarines were not a threat in the first six months of the Western Desert campaign, numerous floating mines pointed to the existence of extensive moored mine fields. Except for the sweeping of the narrow coastal traffic route and harbour entrances at this stage there had not yet been time to locate these fields with any accuracy, much less to clear them. The main duty of the two Southerns was alternately to patrol the nearest section of the swept channel and to escort shipping along it. The port at that time was subject to air raids, littered with sunken wrecks and possibly active ground-mines. On patrol, the duties were complicated by sandstorms that strong off-shore winds extended for many miles out to sea, resulting in low visibility, heavy cross-seas, and much discomfort to personnel. To these conditions were added the menace of the mine fields on one side and an ill-defined and unlighted coast on the other.


On the morning of 11 February Southern Sea arrived at the patrol rendezvous, two miles east of Tobruk, but found no sign of Southern Floe. This was reported but caused no concern at first; it had blown hard enough all night for the ship to find herself far from her station at dawn. However that evening, a passing destroyer picked up one man clinging to some wreckage – all that remained of Southern Floe and her company.


This sole survivor was Stoker C J Jones, RNVR (SA), lent from HMS Gloucester to fill a vacancy just before Southern Floe sailed from Alexandria. He was almost insensible after 14 hours in the water, but afterwards stated that he had been in the stokehold when, at about 04:00 there had been a heavy explosion and the ship had filled rapidly. In the darkness, he had found his way into the flooded engine-room and struggled out through the skylight as the ship sank. He had seen a few other persons in the water at that time and later had done his best to support a wounded man. In the absence of other evidence there is little doubt that a mine, either floating or moored, was the cause.


The loss of the ship, although but a trivial incident in a world war, came as a sudden and grievous blow to the flotilla and to the SDF. The ships had spent a bare month on the station and at home few were aware that they had arrived and had been in action. The casualties were the first naval losses suffered by the South African Seaward Defence Force and the sense of loss in the service was profound.


A relic of Southern Floe was brought to South Africa long after, in the form of a small brass ship’s badge, found amidst the other debris of battle 70 miles inland from Benghazi. Supposedly it had floated ashore, attached to a wooden fragment of the ship’s bridge, and been carried thence by an Italian souvenir-hunter.


After the war Stoker Jones, the sole survivor placed a memorial notice in the Cape Town newspapers. He continued to do this for many years until he also passed away.


Information from Naval-History.net

Southern Floe (SANF), ship loss
ANDERS, John, Steward, 69637 (SANF), MPK
BOWER, Robert, Stoker 1c, 69935 (SANF), MPK
BRAND, Leslie A, Able Seaman, 69828 (SANF), MPK
CAULFIELD, Patrick, Steward, 69802 (SANF), MPK
CHANDLER, Charles R D, Cook (S), 69613 (SANF), MPK
CHENOWETH, Richard, Stoker 1c, 67420 (SANF), MPK
FAIRLEY, Alexander E, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
FARRINGTON, Charles E, Stoker Petty Officer, P/KX 81373, MPK
FRIEDLANDER, Cecil A, Able Seaman, 114703 (SANF), MPK
GARDINER, Elliott, Able Seaman, 67260 (SANF), MPK
GREENACRE, John H, Leading Seaman, 69677 (SANF), MPK
HEASMAN, Gratwicke E E, Engine Room Artificer 4c, 69784 (SANF), MPK
HOGG, Roy S, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
INNES, Ian McK, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
MARSH, Reginald H Y, Able Seaman, 69911 (SANF), MPK
MITCHELL, William N, Able Seaman, 69787 (SANF), MPK
NEL, Eloff R, Able Seaman, 69635 (SANF), MPK
NICHOLSON, Douglas O, Able Seaman, 66833 (SANF), MPK
PUGH, John R, Able Seaman, 66877 (SANF), MPK
ROBERTSON, William M, Able Seaman, C/SSX 25307, MPK
RYALL, David R, Able Seaman, 69999 (SANF), MPK
SHIMMIN, William, Leading Stoker, 69661 (SANF), MPK
SIENI, Joseph F, Able Seaman, 69788 (SANF), MPK
SNELL, Harold W, Leading Telegraphist, 69827 (SANF), MPK
STANLEY, Gordon J, Able Seaman, 66963 (SANF), MPK
WALTON, Dudley N, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
YOUNG, Reginald A J, Able Seaman, D/J 87257, MPK




On the 5th February, 1963, the SAS President Kruger, under the command of Captain M.R. Terry-Lloyd, was engaged in her working up, or training period while based at the Portsmouth Naval Base.


The SAS President Kruger went to the assistance of a disabled Norwegian freighter, SS Johan Collett. The ship’s captain refused the offer of a tow, preferring to wait for a tugboat already en route. The frigate stood by and illuminated the freighter with her searchlight as the crew was taken off by the Saint Peter Port lifeboat of the RNLI.


In this painting by maritime artist David Cobb, the frigate’s searchlight illuminates the St Peter Port lifeboat which rescued the freighter’s crew. The original of the painting was lost with the President Kruger in 1982.

Image by: Artist David Cobb, Sunday Times





Excellent PKR Memorial Service held at MOTH Shellhole ‘Field Marshal’ at Irene, Pretoria 061000B Mar 16.

Some Type 12 faces here, from left to right: Stompie Williams (who had his 21st on 18 Feb 82), Frank van Rooyen, Alan Forrest, Adeel Carelse, Steve Artman, Lofty Henning.

3 x PKR survivors, not too shabby for a Pretoria gathering!

Thanks to ‘Field Marshal’ Shellhole for a well-arranged, well-attended service (about 30 on parade, 25 spectators, padre Mrs Calvary i/c of matters religious), wreath-laying and tea-and-stickies and exchange of salty-seadog yarns…

Thanks to Johnny Demetroudes (exTO(R)) for photo and a big hand in event management!

Image by courtesy Frank Charles van Rooyen (FB)

The Annual Three Ships Service, ie the Mendi Service, was once again held at the St Paul’s Church, Tucker Street, Parson’s Hill PE on the 22 February 2015.

The Service was conducted by the Reverend Marc Barth, the Rector of St Paul’s. The Rev Barth has graciously agreed to become the Chaplain for the Legion in Port Elizabeth, replacing the Rev Fr P F Vietri CO who has been transferred to Bloemfontein by his church.

Some 80 Legionnaires, MOTH, Sea Cadet,RAFA/SAAFA, Naval Officer Association, Royal Society, St John Ambulance members and other Friends of the Legion attended the service. A further coincidence of note was that Mrs Lesley Moore, the granddaughter of CPO MacTavish, a member of the SS Mendi crew who went down with the ship, was among us to pay her respects on the day.

After the Processional Hymn and the welcome, Lgr Brian Klopper (Chairman) read the Legion Prayer – which incidentally he composed! Thereafter followed the Lesson by Legionnaire Wolfaardt. Lgr Declan Brennan gave an excellent address, his theme embraced 3 ships which has permeated our history from the time of Jan van Riebeek who arrived with 3 ships; the battle of Muizenberg in which three Royal Navy ships took part, and so on up to the three ships involved in the SAS President Kruger tragic sinking in 1982. The address was enjoyed by the congregation and informative to them as well.

At that point our visitor from the United Kingdom, Mr Nick Ward, rose to give a 10 minute address on his archaeological work on the SS Mendi. Mr Ward has taken a keen interest in the SS Mendi tragedy for some 7 years and flew from London to attend our service. He will shortly be publishing a book titles “SS Mendi – The Long Voyage Home” wherein he recounted not only the story of the sinking but also some of the unhappy decisions by both the UK and South African Governments of that time. We were grateful to him for his flying visit and we thank him for his input.

The Three Candles of Remembrance were lit by three senior SA Sea Cadets from the Port Elizabeth Training Ship Lanherne. The Memorium was performed by Lgr Tertia Morton after which the Service ended with the Recessional Hymn.

Much good harmony and camaraderie was enjoyed in the Church Hall courtesy of the Church Ladies, who put on their usual excellent spread – Thank you ladies and to all those involved with the planning and execution of this annual event.

Article for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross based on the article by Waldie Bartie.

The photos used in this article were taken by Mr Mike Rands of St Paul’s Church

The SA Naval Museum had a fascinating visit from a SAS President Kruger survivor today.  What is more amazing that it was Hendrik’s first visit to Simon’s Town since Feb 1982.


After the incident he was posted to Pretoria, where he spent the rest of his National Service and CF camp commitments.  Sea Hendrik Jan Landsberg was one of the few National Serviceman on board when she went down.


On vacation with his family, all the way from Tzaneen in Limpopo, he brought along the watch that he carried at the time.  It is stopped at 04:19am when he jumped into the water.


Cdr Leon Steyn, SA Navy Museum


Hendrik would welcome contact from any PK survivors:

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.




SAS President Kruger and HMS Alliance


Britain’s last surviving Second World War
submarine HMS Alliance reopens its hatches after £7m makeover


HMS Alliance – the only British surviving Second World War-era submarine – has reopened its hatches following a major £7m restoration project.


The 281ft sub, based at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, has been completely restored with new interpretation, lighting and soundscapes to form one of three major exhibitions marking 100 years of untold stories at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.


Tours on board now begin with a new film narrated by British Hollywood star Ian McShane, highlighting life on HMS Alliance from WWII through the Cold War until the 1970s.


Read more here:

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I am beginning a 1:72 scale build of the SAS President Kruger.

At this point I am collecting the fittings and other items needed, but will update this page as I progress.

In the interim, here are some images of the items in stores.





The SA Legion Annual Three Ships Service to commemorate the SS Mendi, HMSAS Southern Flow and SAS President Kruger (affectionately known as “PK”)   – all lost during the month of February, was held on 24th February 2013 at St Paul’s Church.

The Service was well attended, with some standing at the rear of the church. The Sea Cadets took centre stage, and as usual, were impeccably turned out.

A candle was lit for each ship in a sad and nostalgic moment, especially for the survivors of the “PK”. Treasurer Bartie gave the address:


Good morning Friends of the South African Legion.  Welcome to this most important service and thank you for making time to share with us as we honour South Africa’s lost Sons.

Firstly a thank you to our chaplain, Reverend Ruthell Johnson, for once again allowing and encouraging us to use the Church for this service, and to the ladies behind the scenes who put the service sheets together and assisted with the technical set-up in the presentation, as well as those who will supply sustenance to us after the service in the Hall.

Indeed February is a sad month in the annuals of the South African maritime history. It is at this time that we gather to pay homage to those Son’s of South Africa who paid the supreme sacrifice at sea during the month of February. The Port Elizabeth Branch has elected to pay homage each year to those who died at sea – while most of the other Branches have chosen to commemorate a land battle.

Over the years we have dealt at length with the sinking of the SS Mendi, which sank after being rammed by a vessel twice her size, in the English Channel in the early hours of the 21st February 1917, whilst enroute to France with the last contingent of troops from the Native Labour Corps. As you will remember the vessel sank in 20 minutes taking over 600 troops to their deaths in the icy waters of the Channel.

Just before the service last year, a letter appeared in the EP Herald concerning a grave which had been found. The writer was Mr Nick Ward of Littlehampton, he is a World War 1 Battlefield Tour Guide and a Researcher. I was able to contact Mr Ward but the story he had to tell arrived too late for that service.

In the course of some research he was doing, he came across a headstone in the Littlehampton Cemetery. This headstone recorded the burial place of three African men who were victims of the Mendi sinking. This headstone had been raised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but unfortunately they only recorded the full name of one victim, Smith Segule and the other two as Pte Jim and Pte Simon. The full names of the three men are Simon Lingansio, Jim Mbombiya and Smith Segule all identified by the ID tags during the coroners investigation before the burial.

Mr Ward has negotiated with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to have a new Headstone erected recoding the full names of the three men who were interred in the grave. This will take about 18 months. It is hoped that when the official blessing of the new Headstone takes place it will be in the presence of the South African High Commissioner. Mr Ward will lay three poppies at the grave today in memory of these three men. Mr Ward told me a couple of days ago that national press interest in the UK has been stirred up about this grave head-stone and could receive a national press airing this week.

We also remember the brave little HMSAS Southern Floe, a converted whaler which was serving as a minesweeper in the Mediterranean Sea during World War 2. She sailed from Tobruck on the evening of the 10th February 1941 to carry out an anti- submarine patrol off the swept channel. It is surmised that sometime in the early hours of the morning of the 11th February she hit a mine and sank almost immediately with the loss of all but one of her crew, Stoker C J Jones – he was not even one of her permanent crew but had been drafted in the place of a stoker who was ill. He clung to some flotsam for 12 hours before being rescued by an inbound warship.

But our main theme today relates to the sinking of the SAS President Kruger, and we are privileged to have a number of survivors with us today.

In 1955 the South African Government decided to modernise the South African Navy with the purchase of a large number of new warships, including 3 Type 12 Frigates.

But even at the beginning of its life, the President Kruger suffered a twist!

The 1st keel was laid down at the Alexander Stephen and Sons Shipyard in Glasgow in 1958, whilst the second keel was laid 11 months later at the Yarrow & Co Shipyard in Glasgow. The South African Government decreed that the first hull to be launched, at Stephen and Sons, would be named the SAS President Kruger and that the second hull to be launched from Yarrow & Co would be named the SAS President Steyn. The third hull would be named the SAS President Pretorius.

As time for the launch drew near, the labour union declared a strike at Alexander Stephen and Sons thus delaying the building of the President Kruger hull, and it became obvious that the first hull to be launched would in fact be the one at Yarrow & Co – the President Steyn. But the Government was adamant – the first hull to be launched would be called the President Kruger and thus at somewhat short notice the hull at Yarrow & Co was renamed the President Kruger – the hull at Stephen and Sons became the President Steyn.

Upon the completion of her acceptance trials and working up procedures, the President Kruger set sail for South Africa.  The President Kruger arrived in Simon’s Town harbour to a tumultuous welcome on the 28th March 1963.  And so began a new era in the history of the South African Navy.

On the 15th February 1982, the President Kruger and President Pretorius in company with SAS Tafelberg, the Navy replenishmentvessel, sailed for a 5 day exercise with the submarine SAS Emily Hobhouse.

Part of the exercise was for the two frigates to “screen” the Tafelberg from the Emily Hobhouse. But because the speed of the frigates was such that they out-ran the Tafelberg, they carrier out a manoeuvre which reversed their course. They had a choice of turning inwards or tuning outwards. The inward turn was much more delicate than the out-ward turn. The President Kruger chose to turn inwards.

The inward turn manoeuvre was not well executed. The situation was also complicated by the “loss” of the image of the Tafelberg on the radar due to the heavy sea clutter. When the error was detected, corrective action was taken but too late, and at 03.56 on the morning of the 18th February 1982, the ice reinforced bows of the Tafelberg cut deeply into the President Kruger, mortally injuring her. The collision took place directly above mess 12, where most of those who lost their lives were sleeping. At 04.40 the Captain took the decision to abandon ship. At 05.29 the President Kruger plunged beneath the waves to the bottom of the South Atlantic nearly 4000 metres below.

Yesterday 30 years ago this terrible tragedy took place!

The Roll of Honour of those who perished on that dark and tempestuous sea reads as follows:

Chief Petty Officer J Booysen

Chief Petty Officer H W Smith

Chief Petty Officer W M G van Tonder

Chief Petty Officer D Webb

Petty Officer S P Bothma

Petty Officer G A F Brind

Petty Officer R C Bulterman

Petty Officer G W de Villiers

Petty Officer E Koen

Petty Officer H Lotter

Petty Officer R A Mc Master

Petty Officer R F Skeates

Petty Officer W R Smith

Petty Officer M B R Whiteley

Petty Officer C J Wium

Able Seaman G T Benjamin

In all of these tragedies, there is a strong indication of the frailty of mankind. Frailty includes the way we as humans make decisions. In all these tragedies the decisions seemed to have been inappropriate; a decision was made on the SS Darro to travel and high speed in fog conditions; perhaps the navigator on the HMSAS Southern Floe took an inappropriate decision as to where the swept channel was; the decision taken on the SAS President Kruger on the execution of the inward turn was inappropriate. Yet through this frailty, human will to survive was also manifest in those who simply refused to die but fought for survival and did not lose faith in God. This will to survive, this faith in God can be paraphrased in the reading today that neither death nor life shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Whom we trust.

This service, friends, is our commemoration of those who perished and our celebration of those who survived the tragedies of the SS Mendi, HMSAS Southern Floe and SAS President Kruger, irrespective of their ethnicity, colour or religious beliefs, those men of courage, those men of valour, all sons of South Africa

“At the Going Down of the Sun and in the Morning,

We Will Remember them”.

 W M Bartie

19th February 2012