WWII Sea Point

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A historical investigation into the Sea Point beachfront as a public open space throughout the 20th century with special reference to memories of growing up along the Sea Point Promenade by Leila Emdon.

Chapter Two continued – The growth of a suburb: the Development of Sea Point in the late 19th century to the 1950s

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World War Two and Sea Point

Many older Sea Point residents remember the War as it was greatly part of their lives and their youth. South Africa was, in those days, part of the British Empire and many felt loyal to the Queen. Not only did young men go and fight in the war, but also women and people in Sea Point helped the war effort in some way. Sandra was a child during the war but remembers: “When the soldiers came from the war they used to come through the Cape and we used to take them into our homes for lunch, there was always a sailor or a soldier that you would bring home for a meal. You would go down to the harbour and meet them. We made them feel at home, these guys were tired and desperate for a home cooked meal. That was a very important part of my childhood, it was nothing to have a stranger sitting at the table, and sometimes they would keep in touch. I was born in 1934. I was about eight or nine years old. We put on shows of dancing for the soldiers; it was such an important part of my life.”39

Sheila was also young when the war started but old enough to play a pro-active role. “War started when I was thirteen and ended when aged eighteen. I was doing telegraphy and coded message work in the post-office. I didn’t think of it as a foreign war because we were a British Colony and had to aid Britain as much as we possibly could. We were all very patriotic at that time. South Africa helped with men, thousands upon thousands, ammunition, food etc. South Africa also did all that was possible to guard the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope and to keep it open and a safe passage for Britain and American ships.”40 A plaque that is up on the wall remembers the locals at Rocklands who never returned home from the war. The plaque lists the names of those who are remembered. After the war, the Queen came to Cape Town to visit. Ursula Vaughan remembers the excitement, “When the Queen came to visit in 1947 all the Ellerslie girls made a big welcome sign out of their bodies on Signal Hill, I was the first girl in the “W”. It was very misty so they could hardly see us but we received a telegram that she was very happy about it.”41

39 Sandra Sheinbar, 31st August 2008, recorded interview
40 Sheila Vaughan, July 2008, written testimony
41 Ursula Vaughan, October 2008, recorded interview

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