A Happy Camper?

Gervas Hughes and the Wiggins family wallowing at Dutchmans' Pool, Que Que in the early 1930's

Gervas Hughes remembered happy times spent with the Wiggins family wallowing at Dutchmans’ Pool, Que Que in the early 1930’s before marriage, children and  war weighed heavily on him.

A Happy Camper?  

Tim Hughes’ world fell apart when his beloved Aunty Joanie married Brian Freyburg on his return from the war in July, 1944.

A Happy Camper? 

Rosemary Paget arranged for Angela, age seven, to be placed as a boarder at St Mary’s Girls’ School in Salibury.  Only five years old, too young for a boys’ boarding school, Tim, much to his humiliation, found himself the the only boy at Angela’s school.  He had to sleep in an annex attached to a nun’s room.

Unhappy, Rosemary came to the rescue again, arranging private lodging for him with the family of the Salisbury Magistrate, Mr Chataway. John was their only child. The two boys could be friends. For two years Tim and John attended Highlands Day School.

At the Chataways life was regimented. John and Tim were put to bed for the night at 5pm, no talking or reading allowed. On the bright side the Chataways were rich with a swimming pool on extensive grounds. During high jump practice over a rope tied between two trees in the garden Tim broke his left arm in four places. It had to be reset three times, over three months, before the bones were correctly aligned. The boys both contacted whooping cough.

Tim and Angela traveled home by train together on the twelve hour journey from Salisbury to Que Que, for the school holidays on Greenham farm for three weeks in May, and September, and six weeks over Christmas.

At home a strict ancient white nanny cared for them as Gervas found it extremely difficult to work and look after his young daughter and son. When all else failed he took them with him. Tim would vie with his sister for the right to sleep between her and Gervas, reasoning that the one in the middle was less likely to be eaten by a lion.

Gervas’  transport camp was basic, a tarpaulin laid on the ground beneath an old mattress, blankets thrown on top. Gervas slept in his clothes, with his boots on to stop the hyenas nipping off his toes. A log fire was built close to the sleeping father and children, occasionally stoked during the night by an African employee, who would creep over from his own fire and sleeping area. Lions roaring near the camp would sometimes make sleep impossible; when they roared in unison the noise was truly appalling and terribly frightening for Angela and Tim.

Their father snored on regardless.

Many Thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the  picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript  Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.



  • Tristan wiggins

    Reply Reply August 27, 2014

    Found this through google by searching my great grandfather Halford wiggins.I saw the picture of him and family which is great,do you have any stories or photos of the wiggins.I know he was stationed at thorn hill base during the war.
    Many thanks,

    • Diana

      Reply Reply August 29, 2014

      It’s Tim Hughes’ picture. I’ll put you in touch with him…

  • Ruth Paice

    Reply Reply May 5, 2018

    What amazing memories!! Have just visited Dutchman’s Pools for the first time – what a beautiful place! Our family arrived in Rhodesia in 1909 and I appreciate the countless fascinating stories about the earlier, happier days in our country. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the above excerpt . . .

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