The village at the bottom of the pass - the Upper Telle Village - is spread out over the hillsides and soon a junction is reached which marks the northern end of the pass. Here we took a right and drove for 8 km all along the Telle River (the border between RSA & Lesotho) to a spot named Dangers Hoek. A short, steep (unnamed) pass took us to a a level plateau area where we were able to safely park all the vehicles and enjoy the phenomenal views. Another 4 km along the same road gets you to the Telle Falls, which we elected not to go to as the rivers were mainly dry and time was running short.
Driving back over Lundean's Nek is a completely different experience as the views have a new perspective. Soon we were back in the Wartrail valley and looking for a suitable place to enjoy a lunch break. The Wartrail sports club have a nice big level open parking area surrounded by tall trees, which made it an easy choice. The only person there was a local cleaning lady who welcomed us with a big smile and gave us permission to make use of the toilets.
There is a shield inside the clubhouse and the oldest plaque dates back to 1914! The club is apparently THE social meeting place for the local farmers and the tennis courts were in immaculate condition. If you pass there on a Saturday, do stop in as you will be made to feel most welcome.
Next week we tackle the ascent up Volunteershoek Pass.
South African History - Chapter 23
World War II
On the eve of World War II, the Union of South Africa again found itself in a unique political and military quandary. Whilst closely allied with Great Britain, being a co-equal dominion under the 1931 Statute of Westminster with its head of state being the British king, the South African Prime Minister in September 1939 was J.B.M. “Barry” Hertzog, who was both pro-Afrikaner and anti-British.
Hertzog's problem was that South Africa was constitutionally obligated to support Great Britain against Nazi Germany. When Adolf Hitler's forces attacked Poland on 1 September 1939, a short but furious debate unfolded in the parliament of South Africa. It pitted those who wanted to enter the war on Britain's side, led by Jan Smuts, against those who wanted to keep South Africa neutral, led by Hertzog.
On 4 September 1939, the ruling party caucus refused to accept Hertzog's stance of neutrality in World War II, and deposed him in favour of Smuts. Upon becoming Prime Minister on the 6th of September, Smuts declared South Africa officially at war with Germany, and immediately set about fortifying the country against any possible sea invasion, given South Africa's global strategic importance in controlling the long sea route around the Cape of Good Hope.
The declaration of war on Germany had the support of only a narrow majority in the South African parliament and was far from being universally popular. Indeed, there was a significant minority actively opposed to the war and, under these conditions, conscription was never an option. The expansion of the army and its deployment overseas depended entirely on volunteers.
In September 1939, the South African Defence Force numbered only 5,353 regulars, with an additional 14,631 men of the Active Citizen Force which gave peace time training to volunteers and which in time of war would form the main body of the defence force. Pre-war plans did not anticipate that the army would fight outside of Southern Africa, and it was trained and equipped only for local warfare. But South Africans emanate from a long and proud tradition of fighting men, and about 334,000 of them eventually volunteered for full-time military service in support of the Allies.
Given the country's attitudes to race at the time, the enlistment of fighting troops from the much larger black population was hardly considered. Instead, in an attempt to free up as many whites as possible for the fighting and technical arms, a number of corps were formed to provide drivers and pioneers, drawn from the more acceptable Coloured and Indian populations. These were eventually amalgamated into the Cape Corps. A Native Military Corps, manned by blacks, was also formed for pioneer and labouring tasks. For some of their tasks, individuals were armed, mainly for self-protection and guard duties, but they were never allowed to participate in actual combat against the Germans and Italians.
During World War II, South Africa's ports and harbours, such as at Cape Town, Durban, and Simon's Town, were important strategic assets of the British Royal Navy. South Africa's top-secret Special Signals Service played a significant role in the early development and deployment of the radio detection and ranging (“radar”) technology used to protect the vital coastal shipping route around southern Africa. By August 1945, South African Air Force aircraft had intercepted 17 enemy ships, assisted in the rescue of 437 survivors from sunken vessels, attacked 26 of the 36 enemy submarines operating the vicinity of the South African coast, and flown 15,000 coastal patrol sorties.
South African ground troops fought with the Allies in many different operations and locations, including Madagascar, Italy and North Africa. A number of South African fighter pilots served with distinction in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain, not least of whom was Group Captain Adolph “Sailor” Malan, who led 74 Squadron and who personally destroyed 32 enemy aircraft. The top South African pilot ace during the course of the war was Marmaduke “Pat” Pattle, credited with more than 50 victories. He was shot down and killed whilst engaged in a dogfight over Piraeus Harbour in Greece, on 20 April 1941.
Total South African casualties during World War II amounted to 12,046 dead (including 4,347 killed in action or died of wounds), 14,363 others wounded, and 16,430 captured or missing. More than 7,000 South Africans were decorated or mentioned in despatches. Located far away from the main theatre of the war, the country itself suffered no civilian casualties or physical damage.
Jan Smuts was the only non-British general whose advice was constantly sought by Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and he was invited to join the Imperial War Cabinet in 1939. On 28 May 1941, Smuts was appointed as a Field Marshal in the British Army, becoming the first South African to hold that rank. When the war ended, Smuts represented South Africa in San Francisco at the drafting of the United Nations Charter in May 1945. Just as he had done in 1919, Smuts urged the delegates to create a powerful international body to preserve peace; he was determined that, unlike the League of Nations, the UN would have some teeth. Smuts also signed the Paris Peace Treaty which resolved the peace in Europe, thus becoming the only signatory of both of the treaties which had ended World War I and World War II.
FEATURED PASS OF THE WEEK
Hidden in the mountains near Wartrail and New England is a delightful gravel pass which is often overlooked by the majesty of the 10 challenge passes. This was one of several bonus passes which we included in our recent Ben 10 Tour.
* * * * * B A L L O C H S P A S S * * * * *
New passes added this week:
Sprinkaannek - a very minor gravel pass in the Free State
Telemachus Poort - a scenic tarred poort on the N6 near Jamestown in the Eastern Cape.
Words of Wisdom: "The goal is to die with memories not dreams” - Unknown