ORIBY Military Hospital at Pietermaritzburg in Cape Town

Discussion in 'South African' started by denboy, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. denboy

    denboy Member

    Can anyone tell me about this Military Hospital during 1942 - my father was wounded and ended up here. I would love to see any photographs of the place, is it still called this or is there another more upto date name?
    Any info would be appreciated.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. denboy

    denboy Member

    Thanks Owen
  4. Heather Keehner

    Heather Keehner New Member

    Just found this post whilst going through some old photos, one of which I attach. It is the original of an item that appeared in the Natal Witness 23 October 1942 , the article I also enclose.
    My Father is the tall chap on the right whilst the blonde chap on his right he has labelled as George and the next one along as Sparks. Wish I knew more though

    Attached Files:

  5. Philip Edwards

    Philip Edwards New Member

    My father was also there after the battle of Madagascar 1942 he was with 2 Batt RWF I think it still is a hospital. The first sea born landings prior to D day 1944.
  6. Garrowby Turnoff

    Garrowby Turnoff New Member

  7. Yvonne Fletcher

    Yvonne Fletcher New Member

    Oribi Military Hospital closed after the war, I'm not quite sure which year as there were no doubt convalescents there for quite a while after the war.
    The buildings were used from 1948 to house the newly established University of Natal (now part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal) Agricultural Faculty (AgFac) staff (few houses had been built during the war and staff came from all over South Africa and some from overseas) and University of Natal men students.
    The drill hall was used for lectures. In the 1950s an AgFac building was built on the campus but men students were still housed in Oribi for a couple more years.
    In the 1950s the South African Government brought in a means test and Oribi Camp/Village as it was known gradually became a sub-economic housing area.
    Today the village is just known as Oribi but the shale sentry boxes built by the Italian prisoners of war are still there although cemented in and starting to crumble. I doubt the people living there have any idea of the history of the village.
    There are many romantic stories that were told to baby boomers like me of the hospital and the wounded being hosted to concerts almost every night out at Hay Paddock (now the suburb Hayfields of Pietermaritzburg) where troops were encamped waiting to embark on ships in Durban.
    The young women dancers were told to pick an officer in the front row and make eyes at him throughout the dance because this amused the troops. One couple Marge and Charles still very much in love in their fifties when they told me that she, one of the dancers made eyes at Charles an officer in the Rhodesian Artillery because he was easy to single out in the front row with his arm in a sling.
    There was an agreement amongst the women entertainers that they never gave out a name or phone number to any of the men but Charles was so persistent that a friend of Marge's gave him her name and phone number. After the war he came back to find her and they married and settled in Harare initially but moved to Durban in the 1960s.
    Troops waited for ships at Hay Paddock because Durban may have been bombed. Certainly there were plenty of ships sunk by U-boats in South African waters.
    Troop movements are of course secret and the men were taken by train to Durban in the middle of the night to embark. Women would party with their soldier husbands, fiancés and boyfriends and go back the next night wondering if they were still there or if they would ever see them again.
    My brother's Polish father-in-law was in Oribi Military Hospital and subsequently married a South African woman.
    Sorry this is rather long.
    Yvonne Fletcher
    Owen likes this.
  8. Yvonne Fletcher

    Yvonne Fletcher New Member

    There was quite a large swimming pool there which I am sure would have been used for rehabilitation as well as to cool off in the very hot and humid Pietermaritburg summers. The winter days here are generally clear and sunny but with the clear skies the nights can be bitterly cold.
    An Oribi is a small buck which must have roamed in the area. The grass aerodrome that bordered on the village was called Oribi Aerodrome. Today it is Pietermaritzburg Airport.
    The AgFac staff were housed in what had been nurses quarters. The wall between every second cubicle was knocked down to make bigger rooms.
    There was no running water in these "bungalows" - one had to walk up a long covered corridor to the bathrooms etc.
    My father who founded the Agricultural Economics Dept of the AgFac in 1949 used to keep his books on the shelves where the nurses had kept the medicines.

Share This Page