Hermanus was the first stop on our trip along the southern tip of Africa. We had left the main N2 to take the coastal road around the Hottentots-Holland Mountain and the views were quite stunning as you can see from the photo on the left.
We arrived in Hermanus around lunch time for a brief visit and to sample some of the excellent local seafood.
The town was originally known as Hermanuspietersfontein, but the name has been mercifully shortened. It was a once a base for whale hunting, but is now a centre for whale watching in their winter months.
South Africa played its part in both world wars and you find monuments to the fallen featuring prominently wherever you go and Hermanus was no exception.
At the base of the monument is a plaque dedicated to Roger Bushell whose parents were residents of the town. He was the officer who organised ‘The Great Escape‘.
Bushell’s parents were English, but had emigrated to South Africa where Roger was born in 1910. Educated in the UK, he joined the 601 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in 1932.
After several escape attempts, he was transferred to Stalag Luft III at Sagan (now Żagań in Poland) where he masterminded The Great Escape in 1943.
He and his escape partner were captured and murdered by the Gestapo three days later.
The character of Roger Bartlett in the film, played by Richard Attenborough, was based on Roger Bushell and you can read more about him on Wikipedia.
The historic former schoolhouse contains a collection of black and white photos and furniture from the town’s booming fishing days. Maybe next time!