Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Albie Louw of Hermon

Born 5 November 1919

Albie was born in Brooklyn in the Western Cape, and despite his longevity, has a wonderful sparkle of life in his eyes, and amazing power of recall, down to small detail.

One of his most vivid recollections is that of active service in World War II. In December 1940 he volunteered, and was transported to Kimberley for initial training. It only lasted from 11-29 December at the Du Toits Kloof Mine before they were mobilised.

The route for Coloured troops was by road (for the Whites by sea) and traversed a route through the British Colonies to Kenya, then north again. It was the rainy season so the journey was tortuous, with many stops necessary to dig out vehicles. The overnight camps consisted of about 250 men and they subsisted mainly on a monotonous biscuit and beef diet.

Eventually they arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, where they boarded ships that sailed via the Suez Canal to Port Said for disembarkation. Next stop was Cairo to prepare for battle and the South Africans eventually joined the 8th Army under General Montgomery, for the assault against German troops led by Rommel.

Albie remembers specific times, dates and places, and can describe in detail events and scenes from battles. He has carried these images for a long time. His pride today is the medals he received for the campaigns.

After the war he returned to the Cape and worked for what was then South African Railways. In 1956 he was transferred to Hermon, and has lived in the same house since, in what would have been the only street for much of the time. He retired in 1979.

He refers to the village as a single street where everyone knew of all the goings on. If not employed as he was the others worked on local wheat or sheep farms. A simple life, unchanging, until now.

Albie is seated left in the picture, next to his old friend

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