Hero of the Dunedin Star epic, Signalman Dennis Scully of the Nerine, who swam to the shore with a lifeline enabling the first of the stranded passengers to be pulled to safety

See "Michael O'Driscoll, who was in the Dunedin Star when she struck a submerged object" and "Shipwrecked on the Dunedin Star"

Hello there, or AHOY!!!

I am the son of one of the “heroes” of the Dunedin Star epic, Signalman Dennis Scully of the Nerine, who swam to the shore with a lifeline enabling the first of the stranded passengers to be pulled to safety. My father, now 80, is in the process of trying to produce a feature film about the whole story, with a romantic twist. He apparently enjoyed a brief romance with one of the passengers, and never saw her again - at the tender age of 17!!! The story and script are fantastic, and he has the backing of the SA Navy, Police and numerous other parties vying to raise finance to produce this Epic story. 

A few years ago, a Canadian film company did a doccie for “Great Adventures of the Twentieth Century”, and which may be of interest to you or any of the survivors /families who were involved. Furthermore, a brand new book is just being released in GB which is the most extensive, and most comprehensively researched book yet about the Shipwreck. The author, Jeff Dawson spent years on this process, and his publishers are Orion Books in London. He spent about two months with my dad here in South Africa last year, and I had the privilege of reading the first “hot off the press” copy he sent to my dad. 

This is a long shot, but we are also looking for any parties interested in being involved with the production – as financiers or other. 

Kind Regards
Dennis Scully


What an interesting  story, fascinating to know that your Dad is still going well, my interest in the saga of the Dunedin Star is that is a wonderful epic about a shipwreck on a hostile shore, and I was contacted on my AHOY site by J. Ward seeking to establish if his Dad was on board the ill fated ship.

But he was not listed by Marsh in his Appendix A to his book The Skeleton Coast, but here is a notation about your Dad, I think from a photograph, Dennis Scully, who swam with the life-line through the surf; Corporal Harvey bringing four crew men of the wrecked liner back to civilisation."

I also took passage from UK back to Australia in November 1941 in a Blue Star ship, Tuscan Star, sunk by a German U-Boat on her next voyage.

I note that Jeff Dawson's book is named Dead Reckoning, but I was unaware of it until you mentioned it in your message.

Would your Dad be prepared to write just a few paragraphs about his remembrance of his swim with a rescue line when he served in Nerine as a 17 year old?
I went to sea in WW2 as a 17 year old Cadet Midshipman in August of 1939, and stayed at sea, or overseas, the whole of  the 1939-1945 conflict, so I am now 83, and keeping well, except for Diabetes, kept in check by medication and insulin.
We would love to add your Dad's piece to AHOY, I doubt I could be of any help with either your production or finances, but this exchange will go up on our letters page  on AHOY, and we do get a good many visitors, who knows what the result might be!!

Nice to talk with you Dennis, and I look forward to hearing more from both your Dad and yourself.

Best wishes,
Mackenzie Gregory.

Hello there Mac. What a nice and unexpected surprise to hear from you. Few of us left.

Funnily enough I finished the war in the Pacific, having left Alexandria aboard H M S Salvestor heading south. From Durban we bunkered in Ceylon then moved on to Darwin, Thursday Island, New Guinea, Admiralty Islands, Luzon and finally Hong Kong. Five months later I was flown down to Sydney where I joined the HMS Indefatigable and spent a few days rip-roaring around Melbourne where everybody in sight made us feel wanted. And so home to Pretoria via Fremantle and Cape Town.

My small adventure on the Skeleton Coast did not figure large in my memories since, as you will know,  at the age of seventeen you are quite confident you're never going to die.

However, as a result of this episode I met some marvellous people at the time and quite a few thereafter who influenced my perspectives in the manner which, at the age of 80, is still happening right now.

Jeff Dawson was in Os quite recently. If ever you get the opportunity, look him up. His email address is effdaw@aol.com  A first class fellow.

I am hoping soon to make a trip to the Skeleton Coast just for old times sake. If I make it I'll keep you informed.

Until then,
Denis Scully


Lovely to hear from you. I am continually amazed at the way AHOY connects me up with people around this world of ours. Only yesterday I was contacted by the British Pilot that flew me from Zambia over the Victoria Falls in a Microlite aircraft 11 years before to the very day. One of the best things I have ever done in a long and adventurous life. He was searching for photos of the Falls, having lost his collection, and turned up my site which carries a report of that incredible flight with a picture of said Microlite, taken from its wing tip camera. The power of the Internet is truly amazing.

Your story at 17 was a true saga at the time, but at that age one is and feels indestructable.

I should try and get a copy of Jeff's story of the Dunedin Star, I am sure its a fascinating read, do you have a view on the other book Skeleton Coast?

We live in Melbourne on St Kilda Road.

At the end of WW2, in HMAS Shropshire, a gift to the RAN from Winston Churchill to replace the lost HMAS Canberra ( in which I was sunk at Savo )

I was in Tokyo Bay for the Jap surrender on board the USS Missouri. Denise and I have been invited to Honolulu next September to be on board Missouri for the 60th. Anniversary of that historic event.

It's great to hear from you, keep on enjoying life, and please let me know now and then what you are up to.

Here is another suprise E-Mail.

As a 17 year old from the South African Navy Ship Nerine, Denis Scully, took a line ashore to assist in the rescue of those on board the grounded Dunedin Star.

Here we are talking to Denis many years on through the medium of a piece we did forAHOY about that episode, I sometimes find it all hard to believe, the way that our Site has progressed, and the number of people who find it, and then connect with us. None of it would have happened if you had not thrown out a lifeline to me Terry, its just ALL YOUR FAULT!!

I just trust you as pleased about it all as am I.

This para below comes from an illustration in the book about it all The Skeleton Coast.

Denis Scully, who swam with the life-line through the surf; Corporal Harvey bringing four crew men of the wrecked liner back to civilisation.

Best regards,


Something to make you chuckle.

At the end of it all I was sent back to the wreck along with the crew of HMSAS Crassula to salvage the Royal Mail.

Strange to relate, the Star was carrying a small cargo of whisky for Alex and equally strange was that STRICTLY in the line of duty we salvaged a fair quantity of Johhny Walker.

My share of the loot was one bottle which I intended to give to Skipper Hansen who's surf boat and its crew of Ovambo had been up at the wreck. Hansen was the epitome of the Old Sea-Dog and I hero-worshipped him.

Problem, how to get it past Customs.

Answer to problem, a gas-mask cover with a small substitution which, greatly daring, I carried past Customs under the unfriendly eye of the officer, who stared grimly for about an hour then nodded me through.

About fifteen years later I was at Jhb airport on my way to the UK when a voice rang out, "MISTER SCULLY".

It was the same Customs officer sporting a lot more gold braid.

We chatted until my flight was called and I moved to the gate. Suddenly the voice rang out again, "MISTER  SCULLY".

I turned. It was the same guy.

I looked, as did all the other passengers and half the airport, to hear him shout, 

"TELL ME SOMETHING,.................................................................... ARE YOU STILL SMUGGLING WHISKY?".
Cheers, Denis

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