My baptismal certificate certified that I was born on 31st March 1927, baptised in St John 's Church, Wynberg, on the 24th April 1927, Number 7804. One of my sponsors Roux Nel I remember as a close friend of my father. We stayed in Alphen Hill, Wynberg and my father was a Civil Engineer.
The above information gives me 'clues' as to my father and his, what I would call, semi-contempt for religion. He was not a 'Civil' engineer in the strict sense of the word, he was an Electrical Mechanical engineer ! My feeling about that statement was that his thoughts were; 'let us humour these clerics, it does not matter anyway Be that it may, I was branded as an Anglican, and now hope to be a good Methodistí.
First memories are of Durban, 178 Cowey Road, in the year 1930 when I was 3 years old. Two incidents come to mind, and the strong impression remains to this day. I saw a man lying on our spare room bed, dressed in a suit, with his hands crossed on his chest. I said to my Mother something about,' what is the man doing on the bed in the room mummy? ' When she went to look with me in tow, he had gone! The reader can speculate on this, but I am sure children can see, into a spirit world and grownups cannot. Time-wise for the incident, say 30 seconds.
My mother was a heavy smoker, and as we now know what damage it does to passive smokers. I am sure, as a child up to the age of 10 years my very poor health can be laid at the smoking ignorance door with very little doubt. Four years old saw me in hospital with tubercular glands in the stomach causing torsion. Six months later I had to learn to walk again. Schooling was an 'on/off' event until 10 years old I went to Saxonwold School in Johannesburg, without being able to read or write properly and with no knowledge of maths at all.
Learning was achieved through sitting between two other boys, my pals George Duncan and Grant Cowie, and watching them. Needless to say when the public exam of standard 5 arrived I failed after 3 years of schooling. The basics of spelling escaped my learning pattern and on entering high school, standard 6, with the dire consequences of failure ringing in my ears told to me by my father I was at the bottom of the form. Not quite true as Barnie Meyers and myself vied for last place, and I usually won. Barnie turned out as a top class student, and was head master of the very prestigious Jewish High School, Kind David in Johannesburg when I last heard of him.
Both Saxonwold and high school Parktown Boys High were predominantly 'Jewish' and for many years I could see no difference between a Jew and a Christian. What was all this fuss about? When a minor war broke at Saxonwold school, quickly quelled by the Headmaster Mr Hands I was fighting on the Jewish side ! Date 1939, the beginning of the second world war and the holocaust
It took me three years at Parktown Boys High to climb from last to first place in the form, with a lot of sweat lost on the way. My parents had moved to a farm in Swaziland and my brother Vic and I were at a boarding house in Berea, Johannesburg, and my health could not be any better as a result of sport. Swimming was my top choice. The health angle improved when, at home before the move to Swaziland, my father built a swimming pool.
Leslie Klenerman, whom I could beat in the short sprints of a 100 yards swimming free style, gained a bronze medal at the London Olympic games after the war.
In 1944 I met Yvonne Kruger, and was slain by cupidís arrow. After gaining Matric (first class pass) I enrolled for a Diploma in Land Survey. My father under the misguided impression that I could not 'do' mathematics advised me against Engineering. Four years later, working for Nielsen and Van Der Want, Land Surveyors, Yvonne and I got married, year 1949. I had realised by this time that Survey was not my 'metier', and as I had always proved adept at mechanics and things electrical, I went to work as a motor mechanic for a firm called Swaziland Plantations in Swaziland. After a short period I was called a pupil engineer. This title meant the pupil was required to perform a very broad feats of engineering of all disciplines ! I enjoyed every challenge and learning pattern, so much so that when I applied to sit for the Government Certificate of Competency in Mechanical Engineering I was granted permission in 1959.
Learning the theory of Engineering was not difficult but tiring, as I started work at 6 am, finished at 5 pm Monday to Friday ; Saturday finished at 12 noon. The midnight oil was frequently burnt out, and spurred on by my boss, the Managing director's remarks of 'there is no sentiment in business' I managed to pass the Certificate in 1960. ( Awarded 1961)
By this time Yvonne and I had 5 children, all boys. Life was confusing. Isolated 40 miles from any town of note very little entertainment, long hours of work, and I was stupid enough to make enormous mistakes of living. Adding to all the stupidity, I was told I could never be a Professional Engineer as one had to have a degree. This was to me the last straw. I divorced Yvonne. Somehow she must have understood my pain and stupidity because she agreed. Then I married Pam Hopf, moved to Durban, and enrolled as a first year student of Engineering at the University. Truly, I 'had the full catastrophe'. Two women to support 5 children and a degree to pursue at the University.
There is only one way to drown fear, and believe me I was scared, work ! I was 17 years older than the chap sitting next to me, and the statistics showed a 50 percent failure rate at Varsity Engineering. Chemistry was a mystery! Fortunately only one year of Chemistry, balanced by a love of maths and Engineering subjects. It was only through hard work I was able to pass 'Cum Laude ' in four years.
To try to rectify some of the wrongs (and one can never wipe out the memory of some of the pain ), Yvonne agreed to have me back. We were married, after divorcing Pam in 1961. One can never justify these mistakes of life.
Now followed a search for a suitable job in industry. After working in the paper mills, a food factory where I was a Consulting Engineer for the group, and, for a short time as Inspector of Machinery, I managed to secure a post as a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Natal.
I was at this stage a Professional Engineer with permission to consult in Mechanical, Electrical (heavy current ) and even in some branches of Civil Engineering. I was informed by the Secretary of the Council for Professional Engineers that, due to my large practical experience before and after Graduation that was the situation.
Thus I attempted to bring to the academic world some practice as well as theory, of Mechanical Engineering. As my teaching was in Machines and Strength of Materials I balanced my interest in Engineering with further studies in mass and heat transfer in Thermodynamics. In 1981 I was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Faculty of Technical Science ( in Latin on the degree certificate), that is Ph.D. Natal University. I had no internal examiner for the degree judgement, but three external examiners. Doctors of Engineering from M I T in the United States of America, Technikon Israel and South Africa.
I retired from the University, when I turned 60 years old, and managed to devote since then some of my spare time to Genealogy as a hobby.
My uncle Sydney George David Leibbrandt number 12.2412323, had 'somehow ' drawn up a family tree for our branch only. This version I found to have major errors of dating. Only on consulting correct death notices did I correct these errors, and the old version also differed with names. I decided to expand the tree to try to include all branches of Leibbrandts in South Africa.
No document is without small mistakes. I have tried to confine the mistakes to a minimum.
Douglas Paul LEIBBRANDT, South Africa, 1990.