Sunday, 15 December 2013

Waratah - the story of a rifle lost.

The following is an account from

www.angloboerwar.com/books/.../1392-harris-chapter-x-recollections

Chapter 10 describes two men working for De Beers, the one Franklin and the other 'name forgotten', took three months off to visit family and friends in Australia. This was the year 1909 and they decided to travel together, departing from Cape Town. The one fellow took his rifle with hoping to do some shooting for sport. He registered the rifle with customs in Cape Town which would effectively save him the one pound duty on his return.

Instead of 3 months the two fellows quit Australia after 6 weeks, boarding the Waratah destined initially for Durban. When the Waratah made port in Durban, Franklin suggested to his friend that instead of continuing on with the steamer to Cape Town, they should rather go to Johannesburg and from there to Kimberley, visiting friends en route. This would save time and they could both resume work before their leave time expired. The other fellow claimed that he could not afford the extra rail passage and would complete his journey with the Waratah.

Franklin continued alone to Johannesburg by train. However, before departing each other's company, Franklin entrusted his rifle and customs clearance form for Cape Town with his friend. This unknown man together with the other 210 crew and passengers was lost with the Waratah. Franklin along with a shocked nation became aware of the tragic loss of the Waratah. He was heard to have commented:

"Just my bally luck. Now I've lost my blinking gun!"




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