Fellow Moths and Shellhole Friends
Sometime during March 1946, Moth Malcolm Bouwer was inducted into our beloved Order. Unfortunately too weak to attend Shellhole functions in person anymore; we are sure that he will be with us in spirit as we host and entertain a group of visiting Moths later today.
Marshal Smuts Bullsheet November 2010
Born on the 1st of August 1926, Malcolm Bouwer completed the Senior Certificate at Grey High School Port Elizabeth at the age of 16, during November 1942. As a child he had also lived in Windhoek and Cape Town for a while, but Port Elizabeth is the place that he still calls home. Malcolm says: ‘It was in P.E. that I became a member of the Sea Scouts and pretty soon I realised that I don‘t have blood pumping through my veins, but sea water. I can remember that when War was declared during September 1939, we were at a Scout camp outside Johannesburg.’
On the day he finished school, he enlisted at the Recruitment Office at P.E. to join the South African Seaward Defence Force (SDF). ‘I changed my date of birth to 01:08:1925, in the era before computers; no one could pick up on the lie.” From P.E. he travelled to Cape Town by train and started his basic training during January 1943. Malcolm recalls that most of his training was done at HMS Thames and after about four months of training, he was posted to serve on the HMSAS Turffontein (T61), a Whaling ship that was converted into a Corvette.
While serving on the Turffontein, the crew saw convoy escort service from the mid-Atlantic ocean, around Cape Point to Mombasa on the African east coast. After nine months of service, Lieutenant Dougie Clarkson suggested to Malcolm that he should apply for a commission and complete the officer‘s course. Malcolm followed the advice and remained behind at Cape Town. It was unfortunately while he was at HMSAS Unitie, that Commodore Bill Copenhagen OBE found out that he lied about his age when enlisting, and expelled him from the course. To Malcolm this represented the opportunity to transfer to the Royal Navy.
Within two weeks, he boarded the HMS Rockrose (K51), a Corvette class ship at the port of Durban. Malcolm recalls: ”During the war, the Ossewa Brandwacht, used to supply the Nazi German U-Boats with information on the movement of Allied seaborne convoys. It was on my first convoy with the Royal Navy that we encountered a U-Boat in Delagoa Bay near Lourenco Marques. Although they tried to torpedo us, we were able to take evasive action and then dropped depth charges which fortunately sank the U-Boat. We continued with the convoy to the port of Aden and into the Suez Canal. From the Suez Canal we provided escort for a convoy on its way to Colombo in Ceylon and then set sail for Calcutta. Calcutta was used as our home port while we operated within the Bay of Bengal. On many occasions we landed Royal Marine Commandos behind enemy lines on the coast of Burma. At the beginning of 1945 we were sent to Madras to escort Landing craft to Akyab on the Burmese coast. This was the third attempt to successfully land troops and establish a base on the peninsula. Fortunately we succeeded in landing elements of the 14th Army safely.” Malcolm was decommissioned from the Royal Navy in October 1945. For his services during the Second World War he received the 1939/45 Star, Atlantic Star, Burma Star, Victory Medal and South African Service Medal.
After the War he settled in East London, qualified with a diploma in accounting, met his wife of the past 67 years, Patricia and joined our Memorable Order at the now defunct Shellhole of Packdrill during March 1946. He built his own yacht and became a founding member of the East London Yacht Club. During 1951 he took up a position with the British Civil Service in Northern Rhodesia, where he was stationed at Fort Jameson and Ndola. While living in Northern Rhodesia he was a member of the Police Reserve Force and had membership at the Shellholes of Nkangala and Three Arms. When Northern Rhodesia became the independent state of Zambia, the Bouwer‘s moved to the Strand where Malcolm established a successful Estate Agency.
He joined Marshal Smuts Shellhole in September 1965, was a founding member of the Gordon‘s Bay Boat Angling Club, (Life Member), and received his Western Province colours as an angler and Skippered NSRI boats for many years. At the age of 84, he still went out to sea on a regular basis, ―”you see I have sea water in my veins!”
On 17 September 2010, Malcolm Bouwer became a Life Member of Marshal Smuts Shellhole, just reward for a man who has lived his life within the three ideals of our Order!
Subsequently Moth Malcolm has received the Certificate of Comradeship [September 2011] and a special award from Provincial Old Bill Dave Revell for fifty years of service at Marshal Smuts during September 2016. As far as can be verified, Moth Malcolm is the second longest serving member of our Order. An unassuming individual, not naturally inclined to serve as a committee man; a glass or two of the fruit of the vine will be raised in his honour later today.
Yours Under the Tin Hat
Moth Philip McLachlan
0202 Marshal Smuts Shellhole