Detailed TOC
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26

Chapter 16 - Another World War

Inevitably effects of War showed themselves in the affairs of the Milnerton Estates which, on December 13, 1939, contributed £25 to the South African Mayors' Fund, £50 to the Union Unity Fund and five guineas for "Comforts for Naval Men".

Within a few more weeks, in February 1940, came an enquiry from the Defence Department for five morgen of land required for some unspecified purpose. That ill-starred year ran on, with the launching of the Blitz in Europe, the collapse of France, and the entry of Italy into the struggle.

Ever since World War I the military authorities had owned a battery site in Milnerton, purchased in 1914 and transferred on April 7, 1915.

Not without reason did the Secretary on June 17, 1940, report that the military authorities "required to take across the weir two guns of say four tons each". The execution of the plan was semi-comic, for a 12-ton Army crane stuck in the mud and was disinterred only after many hours of effort!

Apart from the steady growing list of subscriptions by the Company to War charities, including Comforts for Naval Men, The Merchant Navy Fund, the Netherlands Relief Fund, the Finnish Relief Fund and the Y.M.C.A. War Fund, other items in the Company's minute books showed the local effects of the conflict. In July 1940 for example 10 guineas went to the Civilian Protective Services for the Milnerton area, the local equivalent of Britain's Air Raid Precautions. Fresh negotiations with representatives of the Defence Department occurred in 1942 about an area, 350 yards square, required for "military purposes" again with no further explanation, while, surprisingly enough, even the Milnerton Railway came into the picture when, on five or six occasions, it was required in association with Messrs. Mann George & Co. "in connection with the salvage of a certain shipwrecked vessel".

Since the death of his father and the passing to him of the Baronetcy title, the traditional family link with Milnerton had been maintained by Sir De Villiers Graaff, who came into the news, in December 1939, for catching "two European men shooting at wild fowl on the lagoon" and duly handing them over to the police. Almost immediately afterwards Sir De Villiers was in the Army, sent up North and, alas, was taken prisoner by the Germans and fated to spend a long time in the hands of the enemy. Substantial numbers of men and women from Milnerton were likewise in the Forces, or otherwise contributing to the War effort. Yet somehow or other life continued in the township and there was even a certain amount of development, more particularly in connection with the new National Road to Malmesbury. "Defence requirements", it was reported on June 26, 1942, "have created unexpected difficulties and delays in these impor­tant matters and much detailed negotiation has been and will still be needed with particular reference to the Marine Drive. . ." So too came reports that, for defence purposes, "the Government may in the near future construct a bridge across the Diep River".

As for the Milnerton Local Board, this became involved during 1940 in a dispute with the Cape Town City Council and the Divisional Council on a proposed Joint Town Planning Scheme, bad feeling being caused by the decisions of the last-named two larger bodies to work out the details on their own, without consulting any of the landowners, including the Milnerton Estates. Arguments continued to rage right through the war period.

According to a return prepared in 1940, the Milnerton Estates holdings in the area of the Local Board now covered 1 171 acres, of which nearly half, namely 525 acres, located on Jan Biesjes Kraal, was still available for sub-division. Beyond the Golf Course, covering 221 acres, were the 199 acres (excluding the roads and public spaces) of the General Township Area, and the 127 acres of Race Course. Though officially classed as a section of Paarden Island, another 88 acres lay within Milner­ton and 14 were used as a park.

One unforeseen and by no means trifling emergency confronted Milnerton in 1941 when, owing to some obstruction at the weir, the flood gates jammed and the entire area fronting on the river was suddenly submerged, with the prospect of a real disaster to most of the town. Unable to cope with this unaided, the officials had to call in the Army ­and the South African Engineering Corps appeared with praiseworthy speed. So urgent was the position that they were obliged to blow up the Eastern section of the weir, and the accumulated waters escaped in the nick of time and Milnerton was saved.

Hints of prevailing troubles were given on June 15, 1942, when an en­quiry was lodged with the Cape Town City Council as to whether, "in view of the extreme difficulty in obtaining building materials, owing to the War", the Council might grant certain concessions.


The Weir during the floods- 1940.


Damage caused by the floods in 1940.


The palm site under water – 1940

On November 6, 1942, the Military authorities asked the Divisional Council to proceed with the survey of the long-hoped-for coastal road past Milnerton. Indeed, on a small scale a certain amount of house-building was still in progress, there being mention of a group of five dwellings financed by the Company, but at a cost stated to be 60 per cent above the estimate. So too the Golf Club complained about "unprecedented diffi­culties due to war conditions", one of them being the fact that the proposed widening of the Marine Drive would radically interfere with its operations. As a result the Milnerton Estates set a new precedent in 1943 by making a further grant in aid to the Club of £250.

Major-General F. H. Theron – as seen by the official British Army portrait painter in Cairo during the Second World War.


Strangely enough it was at the height of the War that one of the best ­known personalities in the South African Forces became a landowner, when, on April 14, 1943, it was noted that Lots Nos. 137 and 138 in Milnerton Extension No. 1, had been sold to General Frank Theron for the sum of £414. Several years were still to pass, however, before this famous military leader could fulfil his ambition to retire. Not long after another outstanding Milnerton personality passed away - Fred Botha, for many years Secretary to the Turf Club.


Following his elevation to the position of Administrator of the Cape Province, Major G. B. van Zyl had to resign from the Chairmanship of the Milnerton Estates, though he still lived in the township, but the idea of

electing Sir De Villiers Graaff as his successor had to wait his release from an enemy prison camp. During the long years of detention in Germany, the place of Sir De Villiers was taken on the Board by his mother, the Dowager Lady F. de Villiers Graaff, while, only a few days before the end of hostilities, his brother D. P. de Villiers Graaff became a director.

All this while, though on a very reduced scale, activities at the Milner­ton Race Course continued, even if, in consonance with the policy of the South African Railways, both the fares for passengers and the charges for conveying horses were in September 1944 increased by 10 per cent.

Significant of the approaching end of hostilities was the action of B. Porzig, a member of the "Ex-Servicemen's Aid Committee". In April 1945 he requested facilities for the men returning from up North to buy land and build houses at Milnerton, plus a relaxation of the rule requiring a minimum expenditure on construction of £2000. But as to Mr. Porzig's suggestion that the figure be reduced to £1500, the Company regretted it was not possible to depart from their policy. "To break this rule," he was informed, "would be to open the door to many similar requests and would also be contrary to the arrangements made with many earlier purchasers of land."

Scenic view of Table Mountain, looking across the bay towards Table Mountain.

A typical Milnerton residential area.

The apartment blocks overlooking the Milnerton lagoon.


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