Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Dunedin Star - An Amazing Rescue Story

This post is a follow-up to a previous entry, Namibia's Skeleton Coast - The Gates Of Hell.

This page is a dedication and synopsis of a truly amazing rescue operation on Namibia's Skeleton Coast in 1942:

"...Fearing that the Dunedin Star may break up Captain Lee made the decision to put the passengers and crew ashore.

The launch was disabled by the heavy seas, cast upon the beach, and left there useless for further operations.

Nobody was injured, but 63 people, including eight women, three babies in arms, and a number of elderly men, were left on the open beach, without shelter of any kind, with only the food and water in the lifeboat to share between them, and no help likely to reach them for at least two days ... "

Wiki also has an entry of the grounding and rescue:

"... A Ventura bomber dropped supplies on the beach, then later, in an attempt to rescue women and children, landed on a nearby salt pan. However the landing gear broke through the crusted surface of the salt, damaging the aircraft and getting the aircraft stuck in the sands.

After performing on site repairs and a four day digging effort, the aircraft finally took off again, only to crash into the sea approximately 43 minutes after taking off. The crew not only survived the crash, but managed to swim ashore and later find their way to the overland rescue convoy as well ...

... Her grounding became famous because of the perilous conditions facing the survivors after they landed on the desolate Namibian shore. The coastline is completely inhospitable, being guarded on one side by the fierce surf and on the other by the almost completely barren Namib Desert that runs almost the entire length of the coast and varies in width from 50–160 km ..."

The Dunedin Star Shipwreck was the subject of a book, Skeleton Coast, by John Marsh and published in 1944:

"...The story of the wrecking of the big British passenger liner Dunedin Star and the eventual rescue of her more than 100 passengers and crew, at the cost of other lives, another ship, a big aircraft, a number of army trucks, etc., has become known to millions since the book was first published, and is generally accepted to be the peer of true adventure stories so far to come out of Africa ..."


Namibia's Skeleton Coast - The Gates Of Hell
MV Dunedin Star
Wiki Article
The book
Blue Star Line



  1. Great post, I know about the skeleton coast but did not know this story. Glad so many survived, also the air crew with their double trouble. Diane

  2. I'll definitely will go find the book. I read your first post and thought the picture was unbelievable.

    I have never heard of this story and thank you for highlighting it.

  3. They made 'em tough back then... amazing tale that I did not know anything about, thanks for teaching me!

  4. Thanks Friends - can you imagine the sense of isolation the survivors felt? - and as if one shipwreck in a lifetime is not enough, some of the Dunedin survivors perished in another disaster ...