THE FATE OF THE DUNEDIN STAR

go! Namibia - - 4X4 SKELETON COAST & KAOKOVELD -

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.”

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