Hereby is I believe an exclusive photo of the operational team manning the Operational Post at Southern Air Command (Silvermine) on the evening of the sinking of the Oceanos. In this photo is a photograph of a Shackleton in the cockpit. Maybe you would like to “cut” that out as they were not used during the S&R.
As you can imagine, that time of night, the Command Centre was manned mainly by skeleton staff. Most of the others were called out away from their braai’s and parties they were having at the time!
Silvermine was in command of Maritime events. I recall receiving a call from the Ops clerk on duty and stating that we have a ship with about 600 people on board and that it was sinking! Well I must say that for a Saturday evening and after a great party, it was thought to be some proverbial joke! However when she said “ Hold on for Colonel Hallowes please”, I thought well here comes the CPO of the navy to have a chuckle! You can imagine by immediate surprise and utter amazement when Col Hallowes calmy pronounced this as a fact! With hazards on and armed in the clothes I was wearing there was no hesitation, I still had to pick up a colleague along the way. We arrived at Silvermine and immediately proceeded to task the relevant aircraft and put into place the necessary co-ordination with the Sa Navy (Divers), Army for ground support, Medics etc. I think we left work the following day about 2 hours after the “Oceanos” had sunk. The Tv crew who came to Silvermine to film events as they had unfolded after the sinking were surprised at the enactment. We were not actors. Everything was calm as it was on the night of the sinking. Each person knew what was required of them and we did our work as we had been trained to do in emergencies.
I do not recall all the names here, but here goes;
Front row: (L to R) Maj Van Wyk, Col ……., Col Tiny Hallowes, Lt Col Jinx Botes, Capt Willie Nel.
Standing (L to R) Sgt Piek,Maj Gerry Everard, Capt Erwin Kotze, F/sgt Danie Theron, Sgt Kitley, unknown, unknown,unknown,unknown, Cpl Dumas, F/sgt Ismail Abrahams, F.sgt Johan v.d Berg.
Kate Mathieson not in the photo.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further information.
Ex SAAF employee.
Safari Cargo Systems