The First Naval Fraternity Get-Together


The First Naval Fraternity


23 February 2013


On the 23 February 2013 we enjoyed a coming together of some of our old shipmates and partners.


The idea was born about March 2012.


I put out some feelers on the SA Naval Fraternity Facebook group – and had an outstanding response from the group. This led to planning of a suitable date.


Cameron Kinnear offered his services to help launch the get-together as he and Steve Johns had over many months put together the 30th Anniversary Memorial Service (February 2012) for those that lost their lives during SAS President Kruger’s sinking. His experience on getting groups together was to be invaluable to me.


The first important part was the WHEN part.


Cameron put a month/year grid on the Facebook group which yielded responses from many of the members – out of which came the date 23 February 2013 a date which was after Christmas and before the Naval Festival.


The second important thing was setting up a committee.


Help was sought and we had volunteers from Verrall Knott, Coral-Ann Viviers, Cameron Kinnear, and myself Don Ruffels.  Our first meeting was held in Verral’s home – Cameron had flown out from the UK on business and to attend this meeting, out of which came area/places/costs/catering, and best of all the idea of having a Naval Veterans organisation on the internet; once again Cameron stepped forward and launched the SA Naval Fraternity’s non-profit website. From that we had the means of communicating to a wider group. And the means of setting up a bank account and committee; The committee was formed from interested persons, Alicia MacLachlan (Treasurer) Coral-Ann Viviers (Secretary), Cameron Kinnear (Vice-Chair), Don Ruffels (Chair).



The third important aspect of the Get-Together was the WHERE part.


We had the date, we had the website, and we had regular advertising going out on all the naval groups on Facebook, we had a bank account, we had and EVENTS page on our website to take bookings.  Now we had to find a suitable place to host this all important get-together.


I contacted Captain Glen Knox who helped us set a meeting up (8 October 2012) with Cdr Greyling van den Berg (Naval PRO Simonstown) and Cdr Phillip Schoultz (Naval Base Simonstown’s caterer) and Captain Glen Knox who offered his office and sat in the meeting. Once again Cameron came out from the UK to attend this meeting – The important outcome was that we had a positive response from them and the venue was set SAS Hugo Biermann, Ship visits were proposed, Catering was in place, cost per person attending set; but the venue and ship visits and catering all had to be approved by FOC (Naval Base Simonstown). I wrote a letter to FOC emailed it to Cdr Schoultz who passed it on to him and ultimately we received Naval HQ approval to have our show at SAS Hugo Biermann’s wardroom.


Every thing now in place – but we needed numbers of persons going to be attending.


Booking through the SA Naval Fraternity website went off well and ultimately we had 96 who booked – we were hoping for about 110+. We informed those that had booked that the cost will be R110 pp (maybe this frightened many off) for as the events date was nearing only 47 booked person had paid. Cost of Catering, venue insurance, stewards was R5000 for 47 persons.


The forth and last important feature of our Get-Together was the Get-Together


My disappointment was that all the planning and work only yielded an attendance of 47.


BUT to my gratification and happiness the coming together at SAS Hugo Biermann’s Wardroom turned out to be a group of very happy people. We had some that even travelled from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ermelo all enjoying themselves, interacting together and thanks to Cdr Greyling van den Berg the visit to the frigate was a highlight, ably managed by Seaman Maggie Tshbangu.


Unfortunately due to his commitment with the SA Legion UK and the UK Mendi and PK Remembrance Parades Cameron could not attend the reunion. He provided a donation to the submarine museum SAS Assegaai, formerly the SAS Johanna van der Merwe, one of three Daphne-class submarines. This also covered the cost of the visit to the submarine; money well spent and for a good cause. Many thanks to Arnie ‘Angel’ Soderlund and our tour guide.


Thanks to Cdr Schoultz, the catering turned out to be a tasty success. Of course I cannot thank the SAS Hugo Biermann’s Wardroom President enough for the use of the Wardroom, and the Barman, waitress for their time to make our refreshments and nibbles a needed ingredient in keeping all suitably watered.


Many thanks to Cdr Stan Slogrove, Andrew Imrie and others who snapped away with their camera’s and giving permission for the photographs to be used on the SA Naval Fraternity website as well as on our Facebook group SA Naval Fraternity.


Here is hoping that at our next re-union many others will come and enjoy camaraderie and interaction with their old and new shipmates and partners.



Finally Proof  – One Happy Looking Bunch


(Full image gallery here)


 Planning for the next event(s) is alreaady underway; please let us know your thoughts by completing this poll.


Submitted by

Don Ruffels

(Retired Naval Warrant Officer of Signals)