My cousin Barry

My cousin Barry

While holidaying in Ballito, hubby and I drove down to Ramsgate on the South Coast to spend a couple of very special hours with my cousin, Barry


We are all Rhodesian born and as children, we grew up together … my brothers and I, and Barry and Gavin.  I was the only girl !   Playing boys games was a given and I have the most fondest memories of those years.  I played with dinky cars, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and many more!!  Barry was the one who taught me to drive a car when I was sixteen!!  Great times … awesome memories !

He and his family used to live close by and I often popped in for mid-morning tea and a chat, but we haven’t seen each other for about 6 years or so, since they moved to Ramsgate.  A visit and catching up was long overdue!

He’s always been a collector of many things .. dinky cars, books and all sorts of other Rhodesian items,  but his collection of Rhodesia Military memorabilia is absolutely amazing !!!   He has a large room literally filled with memorabilia from floor to ceiling !!!  Extraordinary!!!   His pub too, is filled to capacity with pub ‘stuff’ as well as Rhodesian memorabilia.

A little background info on my cousin Barry .. to set the scene, as it were, and to understand the relevance of his Rhodesian related passion and incredible collections;)

He was 17 years old when he joined the BSAP as a Cadet in 1968, becoming a Patrol Officer in December of that year.   We, as a family, attended his Passing Out Parade and I took these photographs with my little Brownie camera !!


He took part as a Mounted Escort rider to President Dupont at the Opening of the Rhodesian Parliament in April 1969.  It must have been held in the morning as only my Mum went and took photographs of Barry on his mount.  I think those photos are in a box of albums my brother, Ian, has in his possession.  In that same year he was a member of the BSAP Mounted Display Team.

He was posted to Bulawayo .. and was a member of the Police Sub Aqua Team, Police Matabeland Rugby, Swimming and Water Polo Teams.  Was a member of the  Police Anti-Terrorist Unit, and joined the Support Unit in 1974.

He was wounded in action in 1976, returning to semi-active duty in 1977, and was awarded the MLM (Member of the Legion of Merit Medal) in Oct 1978.  After leaving the police force in the early 80’s, he moved down to South Africa.

He has been a staunch member of the BSA Police Association for 32 years and now, in his retirement in Ramsgate,  is the ‘Member in Charge’ of the South Coast ‘Station’.   In his words, he  “co-ordinates functions which include two official large luncheons per year and many braai’s (bbq’s), breakfasts, tea parties and other gatherings so as to keep the camaraderie, friendship and well-being of our now elderly members, strong and meaningful. “

Barry in his pub ..






Our Grandfathers presentation display : Sergeant Major Charles Henry (Jumbo) Thorne (1895-1951) of the 2nd Battalion Rhodesia Regiment (attached to the 1st South African Infantry), receiving the Efficiency Medal and Bar (green and yellow one on right of pic) presented by the Hon. Justice Hudson (Chief Justice of the High Court) at a parade held at the Drill Hall Grounds to celebrate the Kings birthday, June 4, 1934.   Our Grandfather was a Territorial Soldier at this time, but served in the 2nd Battalion Rhodesia Regiment for a long time


Barry is a wealth of information and told me some things about our Grandfather I didn’t know.  My Mum told me tales of her father over the years but I didn’t know he had been wounded in WWI not once, twice!!   Maybe it was mentioned when I was too young for it to make any impression.  My Mum was always recounting her youth and family happenings in the past, as well as always keeping in touch with everyone.  She was always ‘the glue’ of the family as Barry always says !!!!

Our Grandfather Jumbo (so called because he had large ears:) ) joined the Southern Rhodesian Volunteers Regiment in 1915 and posted to the Rhodesian Regiment in 1916 at the outbreak of the War.  He was wounded at Messines Ridge on 10th April 1918 where he was shot both in the left arm and chest.  He returned to active service in September 1918 and was wounded again when shot in the right leg at Le Chateau on 12th October 1918.  After the War he joined the Territorial Army.

Directly opposite our Grandfathers display, Barry has his paternal Grandfathers display which I sadly didn’t capture .. and there was a lot of reflection on the glass.

This is his Dad .. Uncle Ken .. with his medals and photo of the Mosquito he flew in WWII while serving in the Royal Air Force …


Barry’s BSAP display of the presentation of the Member of the Legion of Merit Medal by President Wrathall in October 1978 ..


I have a small box belonging to my Mum which contains some photos, old petrol coupons, cards and other small keepsakes as well as newspaper cuttings, amongst which, are two articles referring to the decorated police of the Support Unit as well as the programme of awards.  Barry’s photograph is on the left ..

Copy of IMG_2442

Copy of IMG_2444

Below .. Barry’s paternal Grandfather, Corporal Robert Woan, was awarded the spoon from the Officers of his Regiment when he became a marksman.  The spoon, in a small red box wrapped up with the letter, dated 1st November 1915, and then brown paper, was posted to his mother for safe keeping as he was leaving that Thursday for France ..


From the pub – where I could have easily spent a couple of hours (!) – we made our way to his office/study/collectors paradise!

I spotted a very familiar tallboy on the way.  It used to stand at the end of the passage in his Mum and Dad’s home and I remember it so very well.  In fact, whenever I have dreams of being in their childhood home (which I do and have done over many years) I am always walking down the passage with the tallboy at the end.  It used to be Aunty Paddy’s sewing cupboard 🙂  When I stayed with them, I used to sew, on occasion, with her old hand-operated Singer sewing machine.  I loved using it as I used a Singer Treadle machine in my sewing classes at school.  All the threads, bobbins and needles were in there.   Fantastic memories 🙂


And now for the office/study .. where I also could have spent hours and hours ..







Umpteen display drawers filled with badges, pips etc.  One drawer interested hubby .. and me .. as it was filled with Artillery memorabilia .  Hubby was an officer in the Rhodesian Artillery whilst doing his National Service, and my Dad served in the Rhodesian Artillery during WWII ..

IMG_1646My Dad’s name is mentioned in the Gunners book ..



Barry has co-written a book on ‘Motoring Memories of the British South Africa Police’ .. with the 2nd edition about to be published.  He is presently writing a book on the history of the BSA Police Support Unit “The Blackboots”



And then there is the collection of cars .. more cars .. and even more cars !!!




We then went for lunch, with his daughter Sharon, to the Waffle House, an institution in Ramsgate and the South Coast.  I must add here … many years ago on our last holiday in Ramsgate, 27 years ago (!!!) my hubby bribed me with waffles if I went through with my wish to pierce my ears!!!  I wanted to do it but I am rather squeamish and kept putting it off.  So, I plucked up the courage to have it done in Margate ( the next town) only if I could have a waffle!   I duly had it done, feeling as though my ears had been stapled to my head, and off we went to the Waffle House.  I ordered a waffle with baked apples and cream.  I felt quite weak and feeling sorry for myself having had my ears-stabled-to-my-head that I didn’t finish my waffle-with-baked-apples-and-cream.

That’s what I ordered this time.   I finished what I had not done so 27 years ago !!  It was awesome !!

Blog stuff - collages  IMG_1672 (2)

Love you Barry  xxx  I’m so proud of who you are.  I’m proud to be your cousin.  You are very special xxx


Enjoy your fabulous holiday !!

10 Replies to “My cousin Barry”

  1. I have so enjoyed this post. I loved seeing the photo of Ken & Paddy Woan and their grown up sons. I didn’t know that Ken had flown Mosquitos during WWII, although I knew he had been in the RAF. He was always so positive and I will never forget him singing around the office “Happy Days are Here Again”! It was one of the popular hits in 1956/7!

  2. All i have to say is ………………………….. incredible, amazing, i could go quite mad in there, a rare opportunity. I also know someone who served in the BSAP (Errol Wharton lives in JHB Rank of Sgt i think) Thanks

  3. Lovely to find this. We lived in the suburb of Caerleon near the Hillside Dams in Bulawayo and had Barry and Gavin as near neighbours in the 1960’s. I remember cycling and climbing in the bush with the neighbourhood kids and as we got a bit older playing spin the bottle and giggling when we were dared to kiss a boy. Good memories of the McNairs, Kirtons, Agnews and Phillip whose surname escapes me. Innocent times in a lovely country.
    Jeanette Gerber (now Jenny Liebenberg)

    1. Hi Jenny .. how lovely to hear from you!! I will let Barry know of your contact on my blog. He will be delighted and I’m sure would be interested in knowing where you live now. He is an amazing person, keeping up with friends and acquaintances all over the world, and dedicates his time helping fellow ex-BSAP members. Kind regards Avril de Montille nee Keay

      1. Hi Avril,
        Lovely to get such a quick reply. I couldn’t easily find your name on your blog and was scrolling through some of your lovely meanderings having a most enjoyable read. I’m sure we must have met if you visited Barry and Gavin regularly, were you a Bulawayo girl? I was at Hillside and then Townsend, but left Caerleon in 1967 and moved to South Africa in 1968 and lost touch with everyone.
        It looks like you are having a lovely life and I’ll enjoy popping on to your meanderings every so often.
        My mother died last week and that led me start thinking about neighbours and friends from our younger days and it was lovely doing a search for Barry and Gavin and getting your information.

  4. Hi Jenny … so sorry to hear of your mum’s passing. A very sad time which brings many wonderful memories flooding back.
    Yes .. born in Bulawayo and went to Tennyson. Our families were very close and I can imagine we must have spent time together as I remember the Woan’s neighbourhood children. Barry and I were reminiscing during our last visit to him in Ramsgate recently. Our family moved to Salisbury in 1963 and after marrying my hubby, we left for Joburg in 1974 where we still live.
    Barry was delighted to hear you had made contact with me via my blog (saying the Phillip you referred to is Phillip Guernier). I have told Barry you have a Facebook page .. he will no doubt contact you through FB.
    Lovely having comments on my blog posts 🙂 Sadly my WordPress blog is running out of space rapidly and need to create a new one. I don’t want to lose my followers or my archives and not being techie savvy I have no idea what to do. My very busy daughter Jeanette has promised to set one up for me .. watch this space (when she has time )
    Kind regards Avril

    1. Hi Avril, thanks for passing my comments on to Barry. If you moved to Salisbury in 1963 I would have been 12/13, I can’t remember if Barry was same or a year older.
      I hope Jeanette (not that common a name) can sort out your blog as it would be sad to lose any musings or not be able to add to them.

      1. Hi Jenny .. Barry was the same age as you (b.1950) as was my brother Richard. Gavin and I were similar ages, he being a year older. I was 10 in 1963. We frequently visited the Woans after we moved and have remained close since those days.

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