The Special Signal Services (SSS) Women and Native Military Corps: Operators and Guards at the WWII Secret Radar Stations of the Western Cape, South Africa

  • Lynn Harris East Carolina University


South African radar operators, who played a role in protecting the strategic sea route around the Cape, deserve more recognition and research attention. This rugged and rocky coastline was a supply lifeline for Allied troops voyaging between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Some of the remaining features of this surveillance system are secret observation structures, radar stations, and military barracks hidden and camouflaged in the mountains and cliffs overlooking the ocean. These remote outposts were staffed with “station girls.” At the start of the war, men worked the stations, but by 1941 as the need for men in active service increased, women with university credentials were recruited and trained as radar operators. African men, enlisted in the Native Military Corps armed with traditional weapons like assegais, guarded the outposts.

Author Biography

Lynn Harris, East Carolina University
Lynn Harris (PhD University of South Carolina) has a background in nautical archaeology, terrestrial archaeology, submerged cultural resource management and maritime history. Areas of fieldwork experience and research interest include the American South, Africa, and the Caribbean.