Friday, September 18, 2009

Members who went to War

Durban Esplanade 1940's

Members of the Association, who had during World War II volunteered for war service, were granted honorary membership while on active duty. The Government of the day had a responsibility of ensuring that ex-servicemen were integrated back into society and equipped with skills that would hold them in good stead.

This was achieved in terms of the Training of Artisans Act popularly known as the COTT scheme. Many returning young servicemen received intensive building industry skills training, and were absorbed into the local building sector during this period.

Some went on to become well known entrepreneurs in the industry, such as Bob Stevenson who became President of both the Association and BIFSA. Charles van Eck became a respected civil leader serving as Mayor of Pinetown and Chairman of the first KwaZulu Natal Provincial Housing; he was also a prominent member of the National Housing Boards.

In 1944 when the war had finally come to an end, the joy of the occasion was recorded in an Association report as follows:

"No words can describe the joy and relief which the victory brought us and it is hoped that the great lesson of the War, which has shown that everything possible can be gained by mutual co-operation and unity, will not be lost in peace."

Ernest Roper
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