Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kimberley digitally revisited

This was the ultimate deja vu trip. I've just travelled back 30 years in time to Kimberley's outskirts where, thanks to Google Earth, I have located what was the newly opened 1 Intelligence Unit. It was there that I spent about 21 months from 1979 till 1981 as a military conscript, and where the bulk of the drawings shown on this blog thus far were done. It was bizarre trying to find the place, because I only had a vague memory of it being somewhat south and, I thought, west of the city. It turns out it is not very far south-east. Also, the place looks a lot bigger than I thought, although I'm sure there was plenty of expansion during the military's massive growth phase throughout the 1980s. Clearly the place is still used by the military. Below are two "grabs" from Google Earth.

Those massive bungalows I spoke of seem to be the larger orange-roofed buildings on the left. If I recall correctly, the building with two courtyards above it was the mess, which included offices, kitchen, a shop and bar/games room, where much of our drinking, snooker and so on occurred. The media centre was in a couple of offices around the middle of one of the curved rows of buildings, although the three blue-roofed buildings north of it weren't there. The headquarters, to which we reported, was the U-shaped building on the left of the curved rows. There was a soccer field (yes, soccer!) just south of that, with the main rugby field and stadium visible further south, with tennis courts to the left. In my June 25 posting, Around Kimberley, a watercolour view of the water tower, visible top right, can be seen. I did it while sitting in the stand at the rugby field/parade ground.

I had a recollection that to get to 1 Intelligence Unit you passed I Maintenance Unit, and this seems to be it, north-west of the Int Unit, and across the road from the airport. 1 Int Unit used to be known earlier as 11th Commando, and also the Danie Theron Combat School. Indeed, I recall there was a statue of said Danie Theron, an Anglo-Boer War hero, which was later apparently moved to the site of the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. In fact, I recall then President Nelson Mandela being present on that occasion in a typical show of reconciliation.

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