Bernard Friedlander - George Medal
L/Cpl Bernard Friedlander (born1918) served with South African 3rd Transvaal Scottish Regiment during World War II.
On 23 November 1941, he was captured during the Battle of Sidi Rezegh during the North African campaign, when a large number of volunteers from the U.D.F (Later SADF) was taken Prisoner of War by Axis forces . More than 2 000 of these men were being transported to Italy on board of the S.S. Sebastiano Veniero, an Italian cargo ship.
On 9 December 1941 it was torpedoed and damaged by a Royal Navy submarine HMS Porpoise, off the south coast of the Peloponnese about 5 nautical miles south of Pylos, Greece.
Many of the PoWs were in her cargo holds, two of which were quickly flooded by the torpedo explosion. The holds were opened to release trapped PoWs and the damaged ship was beached close to Methoni Castle on Cape Methoni.
Many PoWs jumped into the sea and took their chance to swim to the rocky shore. Lance Corporal, Bernard (Bernie) Friedlander, swam ashore with a rope, which took him 90 minutes. The rope was then used to haul a cable ashore, which was made fast on land. Nearly 1,600 survivors then used the cable to reach safety. More than 300 PoW were killed.
A German officer saw Friedlander's heroism on the 9 December and recommended him for a UK bravery award. In July 1945 Friedlander was awarded the George Medal.
In 1947 when King George VI toured South Africa he personally decorated Friedlander at a ceremony in Johannesburg on 31 March 1947.
Before WWII, Friedlander started out as a learner farmer on the Crocodile Valley Estates. Upon his return from the war and marrying Peta Brozel, he returned to the Crocodile Valley Estates in 1956 with his family. He was the production manager of the pack house. He lived and worked on the estate until his death in November 1986. He was survived by his wife and daughters Sheila and Judy.