THE FATE OF THE DUNEDIN STAR
Ever since seafarers started venturing this far south, ships have sunk along the Skeleton Coast. One of the shipwreck stories that stands out concerns the Dunedin Star, which ran aground at midnight on 29 November 1942 near Angra Fria.
More than half of the ship’s crew made it to shore before the lifeboat was damaged. The Sir Charles Elliot tug boat was deployed from Walvis Bay and rescued the remaining 32 sailors still aboard the ship.
So far so good, but on its return to Walvis Bay, the tug boat also ran into trouble, at Rocky Point, about 100 km south of the wrecked Dunedin Star.
The stranded sailors built shelters on the beach and waited for a convoy of trucks to arrive from Windhoek. To help them survive, the South African air force dropped supplies from four Lockheed Ventura aeroplanes.
One of the aircraft pilots, Immins Naudé, took matters into his own hands. In an attempt to pick up some of the shipwrecked sailors, he landed on a salt pan, but was unable to take off again. Eventually the trucks arrived and rescued the stranded crew from the Dunedin Star. Another team returned to try and salvage Naudé’s aircraft. After a four-day struggle they managed to get it airborne, but soon after take-off the engine failed and it crash-landed into the sea. Somehow both pilots on board survived.
About 20 km from the wreck of the aeroplane, a bronze memorial glitters in the desert sun. It marks the spot where a certain Matthias Koraseb is buried and also commemorates the life of Angus Macintyre whose body was never found – both were crew members aboard the Sir Charles Elliot tug boat that ran aground when it was sent to rescue the Dunedin Star sailors.
Before the memorial was erected, Koraseb’s grave was just sand and stone. The survivors engraved a piece of wood and laid it on top: “M Koraseb who died so his shipmates may live.”