Wednesday, 6 April 2016

THE POLICEMAN WHO SAW THE WARATAH GO DOWN?

One of the most intriguing components of the Waratah mystery hinges on an eyewitness account. A man by the name of Noel Staples Martin claimed that his uncle witnessed the Waratah founder off the Wild Coast. His uncle was a mounted policeman, patrolling the coastline at the time (? Coffee Bay) and claimed he saw the last moments of the Waratah, which was heading in the direction of Durban. It has been a difficult process corroborating this claim or finding out more about the alleged account. With the help of Robin Griffiths, the following list of uncles has been compiled. But which one is he?


- Arthur Richard Edwards
- Cornelius Du Preez

- Edward Reginald Gaylard, was at one time a Captain in the Border Light Horse. He later acquired a trading store, Ndabakazi, Butterworth, 1905. He could have filled a part time position as mounted policeman, but this would limit his activities to the mouth of the Kei River, beyond the Bashee River 'boundary'.

- Clifford French Dixon
- George James Edwards
- James Jay Allwright
- Charles Alfred Edwards
- James Henry Edwards
- Edwin John Edwards
- William Thomas Edwards
- Albert Field Edwards
- Henry Edwards
- Arthur William Edwards
- Mortimer Eva

I spoke to a close friend of Noel Staples Martin about his account. Unfortunately the man in question could not remember anything specific about the Waratah, but when I asked if Mr. Martin had an uncle, mounted 'police' / riflemen, Transkei, circa 1909, he said without hesitation that the man was Hilton Edwards. Hilton Edwards, however, does not appear on the list above. He might have been Oom (form of respect) Edwards, no family relation. Oom directly translated = uncle.

I then went back to Noel Staples Martin himself and established that he was born 1889, Gemsbokfontein, Transvaal. He was the son of William James Martin and Annie Eliza Staples. According to one source he was a police constable in Transkei, 1909. This in itself is strange - was it not he who saw the 'Waratah' rather than an alleged uncle? Noel Martin was 20 yrs old at the time. It is quite possible that his uncle (?) was also in the police. 

It would be very helpful to find out more information on this man and his story. Do any readers have more information on this?




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