1922-4-21 - 2000-11-29
Carey was born in Johannesburg, the eldest of three siblings. His brother Peter and his Sister, Mary both still live in Johannesburg.
Carey attended Jeppe Boys School and matriculated at the age of 16. He worked briefly as a learner assayer on the City Deep gold mine and soon applied to joined the Air Force as World War II was declared in September 1939. He was called to be trained as a pilot in 1940 and went to England with S.A. Air Force wings and also received Royal Air Force wings.
Carey was shot down over the sea near Norway on May15th, 1942. He managed to land the plane on the sea with enough time for his crew to leave the aircraft unharmed. Carey was captured and sent to P.O.W. camp ending up in Stalag Luft III in Germany. He was a P.O.W. for 3 years and had his 21st birthday in the camp!
Stalag Luft III is the famous camp from which the "Great Escape" took place. Carey worked on the tunnel of the Great Escape first as a "penguin" i.e. one who got rid of the sand from the tunnel and then as a digger. In fact, Carey was dressed and ready to escape from the tunnel when it was discovered! After the tunnel had been discovered, Carey and some other P.O.W.s were ordered to go to the exit point to try to close the exit to the tunnel.
After returning home from the War, he married Marjorie Irene Varrie in 1945-9-15. They were happily married for 55 years.
Carey studied at the University of the Witwatersrand and qualified as Electrical Engineer.
Carey and Marge had 2 children, Brenda (1946-10-27) and John (1950-4-12). Sadly John died before his second birthday from complications from measles, which developed into pneumonia. Carey and Marge were changed forever by this tragedy.
Time passed and Carey's job with production engineering took the family all over South Africa and as far as Zambia to work on the copper mines for 2 years. In 1958, the family returned to Cape Town and Carey changed jobs to avoid moving around, as Brenda was to go to High School the next year. He joined Reckitt & Coleman and the family moved to Bergvliet.
During the early years in Bergvliet Carey became very involved in the community. Carey was a member of the M.O.T.H.S. for many years. He was also very involved in many different portfolios in the Bergvliet Sports Club and eventually became the President of the club in 1965.
Throughout his life, Carey was a wonderful storyteller. He loved to go into great detail and embroider enthralling stories. He had a knack of seeing the humorous side of life. He was often asked to recall his war experiences especially to school groups and clubs. This caused him to realize that there was a whole generation of youngsters who were keen to know about the war but had no avenue to find out about this profound event.
Carey retired from Reckitt & Coleman in 1987 and decided to write his memories of life in the P.O.W. camp. He wrote his wonderful book "Heck! What a Life!" (We are working to bring you an electronic version of this book) A feature of this story is that despite all the hardship he encounters, he manages to find the humour in life.
Carey also completed "The Genealogical Tree of the Heydenrych Family in South Africa". (We are working to bring you an electronic family tree on this site. The initial version will be based on the information form Carey’s book.) The feedback he received from both these endeavours gave him great happiness and joy!
Sadly, Carey died of prostate cancer on 29th November 2000, after a 2-year illness during which he soldiered with dignity and great bravery.
by Brenda Gibbs, Daughter