The Rescue - 1933

20 Jun 2020 13:50 #75852 by GetaPix
The Rescue - 1933 was created by GetaPix
As lover of the Berg, I take special interest in it's history and all that relates to it's beauty. Every living thing, every Rock and pebble. Im sure this is true for most on this site. My wife's family - her fathers side and grandfather (Scottish decent) were all lovers of the berg as well. Through her family i am trying to get hold of information, photos and anything that serves as documented events and of historical interest. Not sure How much there is but recently have been "donated" an old map of the berg.  There are much writings and diary entries of various trips, adventures of her grandfather  - not only in the Berg but all across the country. Being from a wealthy Scottish family their lives looked I suppose different in what they could do and how they traveled.  (Unfortunately I cant relate to that..

For those who wish to do some reading, Im inserting an entry as typed over from George Moir's diary. The landscape I know today looks different than it was for then..heck I can even remember the Hotel at RNNP of which there is hardly any sign of today and That's not so long ago. 
Either way..heres the account of an event  in 1933 - I dont have the exact date but Im going to assume it's summer. perhaps there are people on this forum who can relate to some of the names mentioned and even people that might have been involved here.

 Mont-aux-Sources   1933  -   The Rescue
        “Say Oudu, when thisrain gonna stop.  I guess I’m jest about
sick of it”.
         The guests staying at the Hostel werestanding about on the verandah in various attitudes of gloomy dejection.  Breakfast was just over but a few belated
late risers could be seen through the glass doors of the dining room consuming
quantities of toast & marmalade, as if they were doing it to oblige
somebody, - & not a particular friend either!
         The person who had addressed himselfto Oudu was an American tourist, a small man with weather-beaten features &
a strong accent.   Accompanied by a
friend, a rather mild individual, he had arrived a few weeks previously at the
hostel in the course of a world tour.  He
had only intended staying a week but the day before he was due to leave it had
begun to rain & it had rained continuously with varying intensity ever
since.    On the night prior to the day
fixed for his departure it started to rain & it came down heavily.  Those who for some reason or another had not
retired to bed by midnight or who happened to be awake, suddenly became aware
of a sound, rising above the soft patter of the rain on the soaking thatch,
which they had not heard before.  It was
a deep low rumbling sound which slowly & imperceptibly increased in volume
throughout the night & during the following day.  Permanent residents at the hostel who heard
the noise sat up in bed with a frightened look in their eyes.  It was the river coming down in flood &
the rumbling noise was made by the boulders being rolled along the river bed by
the force of the current.
          In the grey light of morning astrange silence brooded over the hotel & its surrounding buildings;  a silence which seemed to be accentuated by
the soft swishing of the rain on the sunbaked earth & by the low menacing
rumble of the flooded river.
        One by one the occupants of the variousrondavels awoke & standing at the doors of their huts stared with sleep
laden eyes at the fast falling rain & wondered at the strange sound which
they heard.
   After breakfast the whole hostel donned itsoldest clothes & set off in a body through the rain to the drift about a
quarter of a mile away where the Tugela crosses the road.  There a wild & wonderful scene met our
eyes.  The river at this point was about
thirty yards wide & was now a bounding leaping mass of muddy water, with
here & there the point of a jagged rock protruding above the seething water
which broke in clouds of spray over the immovable obstruction.  It was a temporary sight which gripped one
with its fierce beauty.
    The American in a few well chosen words expressedhis intention of delaying his departure from among us until a more propitious
occasion presented itself - & we didn’t blame him.
      Day after day passed & still itrained.  Every day we walked down to the
drift to watch the flood waters rushing swiftly passed.  At last, after about five days of restless
inactivity the rain was reduced to desultory drizzle & the river showed
signs of subsiding.  The American who was
by this time thoroughly fed up saw his long awaited chance & at once rang
up Ladysmith for a taxi.  That afternoon
about five o’clock the taxi arrived having spent the whole day in covering the
65 miles which separated the hostel from Ladysmith.  Arriving at the other side of the drift the
taxi driver got out to survey the position. 
But he hadn’t covered 65 miles of appalling roads for nothing & the
thought of a good meal & a comfortable bed on the other side of the drift
was too much for him.  So through he
comes, the water washing over the seat of the car, all the vulnerable parts in
the engine first having been bound up & rendered water proof with
insulation tape.
    That night the rain came on with redoubledfury & the next morning the drift was higher than ever.  To return was impossible, the net result
being that the band of castaways was increased by one.   By nightfall the rain had ceased & the
river was already beginning to subside. 
The following morning after an inspection in loco the taxi driver
decided that he could get through.  The
decision spread rapidly through the hotel & everyone immediately set
previous engagements on one side & repaired to the drift armed with cameras
& looking forward to a few thrills. 
And we certainly got them!  First
of all the taxi arrived.  A gang of natives
had been engaged all morning working up to their waists in water moving some of
the boulders which had settled on the bed of the drift.  They were instructed to hold a long rope
which had been attached to the axle of the car which was then driven into the
raging river.  Half way across at a point
where the water had gathered in a strong current, water got into the carburetor
& the car stuck.  Immediately the
water began to bank up against the side of the car until it almost reached the
level of the roof.  At this crucial
moment the rope broke.  Immediately
pandemonium broke loose.  The natives
shouted, people on the bank screamed instructions while the taxi driver, beside
himself with rage & fear bellowed incoherent instructions to the
natives.  Acting with amazing rapidity
they just managed to grab & hold the car as the back wheels were about to
drop over the edge of the concrete drift which would have meant the complete
destruction of the car to say nothing of the driver.  But by this time the worst part of the drift
had been negotiated & in a few minutes the car was standing safely on the
opposite bank.
    The means of conveyance being all ready itnow remained to get the passengers across the river and at this stage tragedy
very nearly intervened.   During the
morning, for the convenience of natives who were continually crossing & re-crossing
the river a plank, about nine inches wide, had been placed across the river at
a point where the flow of water was confined between narrow banks about fifteen
feet across.  The plank bridged this in
one span & to hold it down a heavy boulder had been placed on either
end.  It was across this narrow bridge
that the two men had to go before proceeding on their journey.  And beneath the frail structure roared the racing,
madly leaping flood of brown water – an ordeal sufficient to strain the
stoutest nerve.
    The American arrived & without waiting forthe rope which was to be stretched from bank to bank to act as a handrail, he
walked unhesitanting across.  When he
reached the middle, the plank sagged ominously beneath his weight but his slow
even step never faltered & within a few seconds he stood safe on the other
bank.   A long drawn sigh of relief
escaped from the lips of the assembled crowd strung out along the bank of the Tugela.  Number one across & the man certainly had
     Number two approached his ordeal a littleless confidently & looking back now one realizes that it would have been
wiser for him to wait for the hand rope to be placed in position.  He was carrying in his hand a small attaché
case with which he seemed loathe to part. 
Before anyone quite realized what he intended doing he was seen to sidle
on to the plank with a native boy going in front of him grasping his one hand
while in the other he clutched his attaché case.  A sharp intake of breath was heard from those
assembled on the bank, for although they were only a few feet from the bank the
plank was seen to be bending dangerously. 
Slowly foot by foot, hesitating between each step they shuffled towards
the centre of the plank & slowly inch by inch the plank sagged under their
combined weights.  When after what seemed
an eternity of suspended anguish they reached the centre of the plank the
rushing water was within an inch of the underside of their slender bridge.   And here Fortune played one of those tricks
which go to making life such a gamble. 
Right over the middle of the flooded river the second passenger was
seized by a fit of nerves which left him temporarily paralyzed with fear.  He could move neither head nor limb but just stood
staring straight ahead of him.  For half
a minute they stood thus while the wild river with exultant bounds soaked their
feet with spray & a silence like the silence of death enveloped the whole
scene.  In those moments of expectancy
the air was tainted with tragedy.
    It was now the native’s turn to get anxious& his first instinct was to call for assistance.  Before anyone realized what was happening a
native on the other bank stepped on to the bridge in an effort to reach the
outstretched hand of his countryman & so steady him on to the bank.   But his extra weight was too much for the
frail bridge & before he had gone more than a few feet the bending plank
was whisked away by the rushing torrent & its human burden disappeared from
sight in the leaping waters only to appear & disappear again a few seconds
later as they were carried whirling & rolling over & over by the
furiously rushing waters.  It was at this
stage that we witnessed one of those exhibitions of human bravery & courage
which give the direct lie to those pessimists who consider that the decadence
of the human race is well-advanced. 
Acting without hesitation Mr. Zuneel the hotel proprietor, although
stout of figure & well advanced in years, leaped into the raging flood
& throwing his arms round the drowning man managed to struggle with him to
the other bank.  It was a noble deed,
which undoubtedly saved the life of the rescued man.
   Meanwhile pandemonium reigned among thecrowd on the river bank.  One of the
natives clutching desperately to the plank managed to get astride it & was
born at a great speed down the river for about a quarter of a mile where at a
bend in the river’s course the plank got wedged between two ropes.  The natives stoicism was admirable for
although badly bruised & cut he sat patiently in the middle of the river
until a rope was brought, by the aid of which he was dragged to the bank.  Thus ended a thrilling episode which might
easily have had tragic results.
The following user(s) said Thank You: elinda, Stijn, tonymarshall, Grandeur, Papa Dragon, grae22, GriffBaker

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20 Jun 2020 19:20 #75853 by Papa Dragon
Replied by Papa Dragon on topic The Rescue - 1933
Cool Berg history, thanks

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24 Jun 2020 19:07 #75855 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic The Rescue - 1933
Thanks for sharing!

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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24 Jun 2020 20:22 #75856 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic The Rescue - 1933
Thank you for posting this bit of history. 

I wonder if Mr Zuneel could be Zunkel? Otto and Walter Zunkel ran the park then. 
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26 Jun 2020 19:47 #75861 by Papa Dragon
Replied by Papa Dragon on topic The Rescue - 1933

tiska wrote: Thank you for posting this bit of history. 

I wonder if Mr Zuneel could be Zunkel? Otto and Walter Zunkel ran the park then. 

Pretty sure it would be Zunckel
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