Hospitality

by Rod Smith

I loved it when I heard a British Naval cruiser or aircraft carrier had docked in Durban Harbour. 

I’d hear that The HMS Eagle – that’s one I remember – was at T-Jetty and I knew my dad would take me down to “the docks.” 

We’d be waved through the security booms, park the car, walk along the side of the ship until dad caught the attention of sailors peering down at us.

“Can take four,” dad would yell, “make it five.” 

Within a short while 6 or 7 sailors would come off the ship and make their way over to us and we’d all squeeze into the car and the sailors would stay at our home until they had to report back and head for England.

As a young child it felt like dad and I were doing the Queen of England a favor. 

We were giving her dedicated sailors a break while they visited Durban. 

While the visits were brief, just a few days at a time, they were many. British war ships docked often.  

I knew dad was offering radical hospitality to men he considered brothers having himself served on the HMS Dorsetshire and having survived her sinking.

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