Climbing Mount Longonot

Climbing Mount Longonot

Soon after the outbreak of World War II we boarders from the Prince of Wales School were moved to the old Sparks Hotel at Naivasha because the military required our school building at Kabete for a military hospital. We boys regarded our time at Naivasha like a long holiday, but they required us to work at our lessons as well. The spacious school grounds extended down to Crescent Island Lake. Sunday afternoons we could roam where we wished – only the dukas in Naivasha town were out of bounds. One Sunday afternoon three of us decided to climb Mt Longonot. As soon as lunch ended, we left the school grounds and crossed over the South Lake Road. We headed across a vast empty plain for Mt Longonot, miles away on the horizon. We set off at a fairly fast but sustainable run. There were no roads or tracks to follow but the grazing Tommies, Grants, and zebra had kept the grass down and the going was easy. By mid afternoon we reached the base of Longonot. We looked up the bush-covered slope and decided to give it a go to the rim. We climbed up a steep ridge following a game track. We paused near the rim when we heard the crashing of bushes. Several buffalo galloped down past us on an adjacent ridge a few yards away from where we stood. Soon we stood on the rim of the crater and looked down its bush-covered walls. We didn’t spend long there but turned our attention to the return journey. We couldn’t see the school, but we made out...
A Kenya Heroine from World War II

A Kenya Heroine from World War II

Phyllis (‘Pippa’) Ada Latour Doyle was awarded France’s highest honour, the Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur, on 25 November 2014, by the French ambassador to New Zealand. What prompted this gesture? An extraordinary story has emerged of an ex-Kenya girl, now 93, and her derring-do during World War II. Phyllis Latour was born on 8 April 1921 in Durban, with a British mother and French father, a doctor. Both her parents died when she was a child – her father as a victim of tribal wars in the Congo and her mother, who had then married a racing driver, when she crashed a racing car. Phyllis grew up speaking fluent French. She moved to Kenya and attended the Kenya High School from 1936 to 1938, in Nightingale House. At school she had a dreadful stammer, which she later conquered. She moved to England in 1939, to continue her education there, and on leaving her studies in 1941, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, to train as a flight mechanic. Realising the potential of her fluent French, the Special Operations Executive, the secret force Churchill wanted to ‘set Europe ablaze,’ soon recruited her. She was happy to co-operate because she wanted revenge for the imprisonment by the Nazis of her godmother. She was trained by a cat burglar, released from prison for the purpose, to climb drainpipes, get in high windows, and clamber over roofs. With the code names of Paulette, Genevieve, Plus Fours and Lampooner, she was parachuted into the Vichy area of France in 1942, from an American B-24 bomber, with a small spade strapped to her...