William Thomas (Bill) Bright, born on the 13th of August 1921, turned 100 this year.

Bill attended DHS …… after which he joined the South African Army’s First Field Engineers in May 1940 to aid the Allies in WWII. He initially trained in Zonderwater in Gauteng and then boarded the SS Rohna in Durban to receive further training in Kenya.  Bright’s duties include volunteering to man assault boats that carried the Carbineers infantry across the Juba River in Somalia as well as being stationed behind the infantry of the first South African Brigade at Gazala in Libya. His duties also included an attempt to detonate an enemy field gun and blow up a pass, to move troops to safety.

As the war raged on in Europe, Bill Bright represented his Company by attending a reception with Pope Pius XII, after Rome was liberated by the Allies in June 1944.  In liberated Italy, Bill was involved with the construction of bailey bridges over rivers and landmine detection.

Towards the end of the war, Bright was captured by the Germans and detained in a POW Nazi concentration camp, in Italy. He escaped under enemy fire, sustaining a gunshot wound to the knee in the process, for which he was hospitalised, once he made it back to Allied lines

After the war, Bill Bright returned to South Africa where he enrolled part-time at the then University of Natal to study a degree in Economics. Whilst studying he also worked for the Railways in Durban. He graduated from University in 1952 and was the only student in the Economics III class. He also took flying lessons with the Durban Flying Services to become an accomplished pilot.

Following his marriage to his wife Shelia Anne Godwin in the late 1950’s they moved to Himeville.  Whilst living in Himeville, Bill Bright became involved in several activities in Lesotho. These included a plane visit to the Letšeng Diamond Mine, the first crossing of the country by car in a Ford Taunus station wagon and a Land Rover transport contract to transport United Nations World Food Programme parcels into Mokhotlong from Underberg Station via Sani Pass.

He also assisted in the building of the Sani Pass road service from Underberg/Himeville to Mokhotlong in the 1950s. Until then the pass was only used by pack animals. With 4×4 vehicles, together with his partners, they significantly improved the pass to allow for movement of goods in and out of Lesotho.

Bill moved to Howick with his family in 1970. He was determined to improve the running and management of the town for its ratepayers. He first became a councillor and later served two five years terms as Mayor of Howick

Bill Bright still resides in Howick with his daughter Sally in the home he built for his family. He is grandfather to Cameron and William Hallows, Nicholas and Sarah Bright, Tyrone Bright, and Leo van de Langkruis. His sons, Martin and Glen, make Durban their home, while his daughter Judy resides in Switzerland.

Bill Bright’s family has maintained the tradition of attending UKZN; his sons completed their studies in Engineering at the institution, and his daughter Judy completed her Bachelor of Science at the former University of Natal. His grandson Tyrone is the third generation of Bright’s to attend UKZN, graduating with his Master’s cum laude in Mechatronic Engineering this year.

‘We as a family are certainly in awe of my Dad,’ said Dean and Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Glen Bright.

Bill Bright is the last surviving member of his army unit.

On behalf of the DHS Foundation and the entire DHS Old Boys’ community we would like to wish William Thomas (Bill) Bright a very happy 100th birthday and we would like to congratulate you on reaching this amazing Milestone.