HMS Vanguard in South Africa
Coming alongside at Capetown with a backdrop of Table Mountain
HMS Vanguard arrived at Capetown on 17 February 1947 and the Royal Family disembarked.
In the evening, Table Mountain was floodlit and a civic firework display was given at Greenpoint
Common in honour of the Royal Family.
The King steps ashore in South Africa and is met by Field Marshal Smuts
Vanguards' first spell at Capetown was taken up mainly with social engagements and sport, particularly cricket. One or two South-Easters' made life rather uncomfortable at times. Because of a strong wind the ship was unable to sail for Simonstown on March 6th, but managed to leave Duncan Dock at 0715 the following morning when the wind had calmed down to 50 knots.
The week-end was spent anchored at Simonstown, with most of the ship's company going back 'up the line' to Capetown for farewell feeds of proverbial 'steak eggs and chips' before leaving for Saldanha on 10 March. The half-yearly full power trial and radar exercises were carried out on passage before reaching Saldanha Bay the same day.
The next fortnight was spent in renovating the ship, holding regattas, and meeting S.A.N.F. friends (who dripped morosely that those initials stood for Saldanha And No Further.) Some crew also managed to save money for the next wave of entertainments at Durban and Capetown. Due to the size of the ship, however, it could not anchor in a good lee. Not being protected from the ocean swell, there were days during the fortnight at Saldanha when engagements had to be cancelled.
NIGERIA arrived at Saldanha on a four-day visit; other ships in company were the sloop ACTÆON, and the frigates H.M.S.A.S. GOOD HOPE and TRANSVAAL. The S.A.N.F. base, FIELD MARSHAL SMUTS, was kept busy organising playing grounds fixtures, and transport for the sports teams and must have been glad to see the square stern of the ship finally disappear round Houtjes Point.
The Commander-in-Chief, Vice-Admiral Sir Clement Moody, K.C.B., took passage when the ship left on March 24th. A 5.25 throw-off shoot at ACTÆON was carried out on the way to Simonstown, and VANGUARD suffered from an attack by Venturas from Brooklyn.
Arriving at Simonstown in the evening, the football team disembarked to catch a train for Jo'burg. The ship sailed again at nightfall . A stimulating little night encounter exercise was carried out in the mouth of False Bay and the mighty VANGUARD battled with ACTÆON and TRANSVAAL, under the glare of starshell and rocket flares.
On March 25th, Venturas attacked again. Anchorage was made in Mossel Bay at 11.30am and although the weather was perfect , the swell made boatwork extremely difficult. Most of the local population had to be content with cruising round the ship until 1430 when the ship departed.
A heavy sea breaking on the Bar prevented the ship lying off the attractive harbour of Knysna after tea, so the several hundred sightseers who had gathered on the East Heads had to console themselves with the spectacle of VANGUARD steaming at slow speed about a mile off shore. Greeting signals were exchanged with the Signal Station..
The next day, VANGUARD passed close to Port Elizabeth and steamed through Bird Island passage where it was hoped to anchor off Port Alfred at the mouth of the Kowie River during the afternoon so that the ship could be inspected. History once more repeated itself, as a heavy sea running in the river mouth prevented boats from coming out. VANGUARD therefore had to continue up the coast and anchored off East London at sunset on 26 March.