While holidaying in Ballito, hubby and I drove down to Ramsgate on the South Coast to spend a couple of very special hours with my cousin, Barry
We are all Rhodesian born and as children, we grew up together … my brothers and I, and Barry and Gavin. I was the only girl ! Playing boys games was a given and I have the most fondest memories of those years. I played with dinky cars, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and many more!! Barry was the one who taught me to drive a car when I was sixteen!! Great times … awesome memories !
He and his family used to live close by and I often popped in for mid-morning tea and a chat, but we haven’t seen each other for about 6 years or so, since they moved to Ramsgate. A visit and catching up was long overdue!
He’s always been a collector of many things .. dinky cars, books and all sorts of other Rhodesian items, but his collection of Rhodesia Military memorabilia is absolutely amazing !!! He has a large room literally filled with memorabilia from floor to ceiling !!! Extraordinary!!! His pub too, is filled to capacity with pub ‘stuff’ as well as Rhodesian memorabilia.
A little background info on my cousin Barry .. to set the scene, as it were, and to understand the relevance of his Rhodesian related passion and incredible collections;)
He was 17 years old when he joined the BSAP as a Cadet in 1968, becoming a Patrol Officer in December of that year. We, as a family, attended his Passing Out Parade and I took these photographs with my little Brownie camera !!
He took part as a Mounted Escort rider to President Dupont at the Opening of the Rhodesian Parliament in April 1969. It must have been held in the morning as only my Mum went and took photographs of Barry on his mount. I think those photos are in a box of albums my brother, Ian, has in his possession. In that same year he was a member of the BSAP Mounted Display Team.
He was posted to Bulawayo .. and was a member of the Police Sub Aqua Team, Police Matabeland Rugby, Swimming and Water Polo Teams. Was a member of the Police Anti-Terrorist Unit, and joined the Support Unit in 1974.
He was wounded in action in 1976, returning to semi-active duty in 1977, and was awarded the MLM (Member of the Legion of Merit Medal) in Oct 1978. After leaving the police force in the early 80’s, he moved down to South Africa.
He has been a staunch member of the BSA Police Association for 32 years and now, in his retirement in Ramsgate, is the ‘Member in Charge’ of the South Coast ‘Station’. In his words, he “co-ordinates functions which include two official large luncheons per year and many braai’s (bbq’s), breakfasts, tea parties and other gatherings so as to keep the camaraderie, friendship and well-being of our now elderly members, strong and meaningful. “
Barry in his pub ..
Our Grandfathers presentation display : Sergeant Major Charles Henry (Jumbo) Thorne (1895-1951) of the 2nd Battalion Rhodesia Regiment (attached to the 1st South African Infantry), receiving the Efficiency Medal and Bar (green and yellow one on right of pic) presented by the Hon. Justice Hudson (Chief Justice of the High Court) at a parade held at the Drill Hall Grounds to celebrate the Kings birthday, June 4, 1934. Our Grandfather was a Territorial Soldier at this time, but served in the 2nd Battalion Rhodesia Regiment for a long time
Barry is a wealth of information and told me some things about our Grandfather I didn’t know. My Mum told me tales of her father over the years but I didn’t know he had been wounded in WWI not once, twice!! Maybe it was mentioned when I was too young for it to make any impression. My Mum was always recounting her youth and family happenings in the past, as well as always keeping in touch with everyone. She was always ‘the glue’ of the family as Barry always says !!!!
Our Grandfather Jumbo (so called because he had large ears:) ) joined the Southern Rhodesian Volunteers Regiment in 1915 and posted to the Rhodesian Regiment in 1916 at the outbreak of the War. He was wounded at Messines Ridge on 10th April 1918 where he was shot both in the left arm and chest. He returned to active service in September 1918 and was wounded again when shot in the right leg at Le Chateau on 12th October 1918. After the War he joined the Territorial Army.
Directly opposite our Grandfathers display, Barry has his paternal Grandfathers display which I sadly didn’t capture .. and there was a lot of reflection on the glass.
This is his Dad .. Uncle Ken .. with his medals and photo of the Mosquito he flew in WWII while serving in the Royal Air Force …
Barry’s BSAP display of the presentation of the Member of the Legion of Merit Medal by President Wrathall in October 1978 ..
I have a small box belonging to my Mum which contains some photos, old petrol coupons, cards and other small keepsakes as well as newspaper cuttings, amongst which, are two articles referring to the decorated police of the Support Unit as well as the programme of awards. Barry’s photograph is on the left ..
Below .. Barry’s paternal Grandfather, Corporal Robert Woan, was awarded the spoon from the Officers of his Regiment when he became a marksman. The spoon, in a small red box wrapped up with the letter, dated 1st November 1915, and then brown paper, was posted to his mother for safe keeping as he was leaving that Thursday for France ..
From the pub – where I could have easily spent a couple of hours (!) – we made our way to his office/study/collectors paradise!
I spotted a very familiar tallboy on the way. It used to stand at the end of the passage in his Mum and Dad’s home and I remember it so very well. In fact, whenever I have dreams of being in their childhood home (which I do and have done over many years) I am always walking down the passage with the tallboy at the end. It used to be Aunty Paddy’s sewing cupboard 🙂 When I stayed with them, I used to sew, on occasion, with her old hand-operated Singer sewing machine. I loved using it as I used a Singer Treadle machine in my sewing classes at school. All the threads, bobbins and needles were in there. Fantastic memories 🙂
And now for the office/study .. where I also could have spent hours and hours ..
Umpteen display drawers filled with badges, pips etc. One drawer interested hubby .. and me .. as it was filled with Artillery memorabilia . Hubby was an officer in the Rhodesian Artillery whilst doing his National Service, and my Dad served in the Rhodesian Artillery during WWII ..
My Dad’s name is mentioned in the Gunners book ..
Barry has co-written a book on ‘Motoring Memories of the British South Africa Police’ .. with the 2nd edition about to be published. He is presently writing a book on the history of the BSA Police Support Unit “The Blackboots”
And then there is the collection of cars .. more cars .. and even more cars !!!
We then went for lunch, with his daughter Sharon, to the Waffle House, an institution in Ramsgate and the South Coast. I must add here … many years ago on our last holiday in Ramsgate, 27 years ago (!!!) my hubby bribed me with waffles if I went through with my wish to pierce my ears!!! I wanted to do it but I am rather squeamish and kept putting it off. So, I plucked up the courage to have it done in Margate ( the next town) only if I could have a waffle! I duly had it done, feeling as though my ears had been stapled to my head, and off we went to the Waffle House. I ordered a waffle with baked apples and cream. I felt quite weak and feeling sorry for myself having had my ears-stabled-to-my-head that I didn’t finish my waffle-with-baked-apples-and-cream.
That’s what I ordered this time. I finished what I had not done so 27 years ago !! It was awesome !!
Love you Barry xxx I’m so proud of who you are. I’m proud to be your cousin. You are very special xxx
Enjoy your fabulous holiday !!