The Dam Brigadier
Brigadier Sir Duncan Law Anderson KBE TD* CEng FICE MIStructE
The Man Duncan Law Anderson was born in Aberdeen on 10th June 1901 son of Mr John D Anderson MA a teacher. He lived at 25 Gladstone Place and educated at Ashley Road Public School. On 25th August 1914 he attended Robert Gordon’s College, where records state that in 1915-16 he was 4th in Science, 1916-17 top in physics, 4th in Chemistry and Handicrafts winning a Robert Gordon’s Bursary and an intermediate certificate in 1917. He left the College on 29th March 1918 and between 1922 - 1939 practised as a Civil engineer on railway, road, bridge and tunnel construction qualifying as a corporate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers. On 29th June 1925 aged 24 he was Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant into the 47th (2nd London) Divisional Engineers, Royal Engineers Territorial Army. During World War 2 he was called up to serve in the RE and was Deputy Director of works on General Eisenhower’s staff in the North Africa campaign and director of works on Field Marshall Alexander’s staff during the Italian campaign. Following the Allied landings he was with the 15th Army Group and Director of Works, Allied Armies responsible for stores and local productions. He was later made Director of Engineer Stores Production co-ordinating demands and allocation of stores between Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Sicily and North West Africa and for production in Italy. He was Chairman of the materials committee of the Allied economics board and Deputy Vice President of the Allied Commission in Rome charged with-
- the rehabilitation of Italian industry. On Wednesday 5th July 1944 he was invited with other officers to an audience with Pope Pius XII and on 24th August 1944 was appointed a Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and on 11th January 1945 was Mentioned in despatches in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy. -On 31st October 1945 he was released from active military duty and granted the honorary rank of Brigadier. For his wartime service Duncan Law Anderson was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-45. He continued working in post war Europe and held a number of positions, among them chairmanship of the joint Anglo-American / Jugoslav economic mission based on Trieste; and vice-presidency of the Economic Sub-Committee in Berlin, a post he doubled up with acting as deputy chairman of the US/UK control office in Frankfurt. On 9 May 1946 he was awarded the Efficiency Decoration and in 1947 Lord Strang chose him as a member of two Foreign Office missions to Washington, the first on rehabilitation of the Ruhr coal industry the second on ways and means of financing and controlling German foreign trade. In this year he also married Edens Alcoyne (Sally) daughter of Wallace McMullen and lived in Nevern Square, Earls Court, London. During the 1950s Sir Duncan became interested in the problems of Central Africa and from 1951-1952, as well as receiving the 1st clasp to his Efficiency Decoration on 1st April 1952, managed the Overseas Food Corporation in Southern Tanganyika where he attempted to salvage the ill fated 'ground nuts venture'.
In 1953 he was awarded Her Majesty’s Coronation Medal and spent a further two years as controller of the Colonial Development Corporation’s interests in the West Indies, Honduras and British Guiana. He transferred to take charge of the Corporation’s developments in Nyasaland, the Rhodesias, Bechuanaland and Swaziland and was appointed as Chairman of Federal Power Board of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which selected Kariba as the site for the great dam and hydro electric project over the Zambesi. From 1955–61 he saw the scheme bought to a successful conclusion with the official opening of the Dam by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother on 17th May 1960. He was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire on 1st January 1960 and in 1961 returned to the United Kingdom to begin a new career as the first chairman of the New Towns Commission. He held this post until 1964 during which time he accepted a number of directorships in industry. He was on the board of BOAC 1964-70, South Durham Steel and Iron Co 1961-67 and the British Oxygen Company 1962-72. He was a member of the Athenaeum Club and lived at Flat 7, 14 Melbury Road, Holland Park, London W14. Little is known of his last eight years except that he died on 28th July 1980 aged 79.
The Story A rather short background story for such an interesting and important group of medals. The group awarded to Brigadier Sir Duncan Law Anderson were purchased from a dealer in December 2004. Although it was possible to gather most of the information on Anderson’s life from the paperwork included within the lot, the most important aspect of which was the fact he was the Chairman of the Federation of Rhodesia & Nyassaland Hydro Electric Board that was responsible for the construction of the Kariba Dam now in Zimbabwe. The research took on a different angle with a detailed look into the history of the Dam itself and E-Bay became invaluable as it allowed various additional items of Kariba memorabilia to be acquired and added to he collection thus bringing much more interest to the group. In September 2007 a visit was made to Anderson’s former to home address in Melbury Road, London where it was discovered that his name still appears on the address board!
The Kariba Dam
The Great Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe
Today, at the Kariba Gorge of the Zambesi Valley in Zimbabwe stands a great bastion, 420 feet high and1900 feet long, a monument to the genius of modern man. The arched dam on the Zambesi River has created a lake 175 miles long, covering over 2,200 square miles of country. A structure which would have been remarkable had it been placed in some industrial centre was erected in one of the wildest and least accessible parts of Central Africa, where there were no roads, power, no facilities of any sort, not even the simple mud and grass huts of a local village. The decision to build the Kariba Dam in the then Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland was made on 1st March 1955. At that time Kariba was almost without form and was void, tenuously linked by a hunter’s track to the Salisbury-Chirundi-Lusaka Road. The main civil engineering contractor work began in August 1956 and by this time Kariba had lost most of its primitive aspect because of the provision of housing and the establishment of a township for the eight and a half thousand Europeans and Africans employed on the project. The dam was constructed to provide progressively greater amounts of electricity for the then expanding economy of the Federation and today serves Zimbabwe & Zambia who export to other countries in the region. In the low water seasons of 1956 a thin arch coffer dam and a diversion channel were constructed on the north bank and a diversion tunnel excavated in the south bank. In the high water season of 1956 and 1957 work began on the flanking portions of the dam wall above flood water level and within the north bank coffer dam on sections of the wall, leaving temporary openings so that, when the time came to breach the cofferdam , the river could pass through the openings and diversion channel in the north bank and through the diversion tunnel in the south bank thus allowing work in the main channel of the river to begin. Lord Malvern emptied the first skip of concrete in the main dam on 6th November 1956. A flood occurred in March 1957 which was the highest recorded since records began to be kept some fifty years before. The cofferdam was flooded and for a time there was anxiety for the road bridge linking the north and south banks. Works commenced as soon as the floods had subsided and the central cofferdam created which were semi circular arches, one upstream and one downstream abutting the already built flanks of the dam. Work went well until early 1958 when word was received that the Zambesi above the Victoria Falls and the rivers feeding the Zambesi below the falls were in wholly unprecedented flood and that the effect of these combined would arrive together at Kariba. his time the flood in February and March 1958 was devastating. The central cofferdam was breached, the road bridge washed away, the foot bridge seriously damaged, the banks eroded and for a short time even the underground works had to be sealed off. Local people and even some of the constructors began to blame the River God Nyaminyami for the calamity as it had been claimed he used to sit on a huge boulder jutting out of the Zambesi where the foundations of the dam now stood! Work increased in its speed to make up for lost time and by the end of the year Lake Kariba had began to form. In November 1958 Duncan Law Anderson the Chairman of the Federal Power Board stated to the press “We are slowly throttling the Zambesi” and on 3rd December he finally gave the order for the dam to be closed thus creating the huge Lake Kariba. Work continued and Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister of the Federation placed the last skip of concrete in the dam wall on 22nd June 1959. A sad by product of the creation of the lake was relocation of a tribe of peoples known as the Batongas, who were forcibly uprooted from their homeland of many years and moved to other parts of the Federaton. The scrub land was cleared and many thousands of animals perished, although Operation Noah did take place to rescue as many as possible. The Dam was formally opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on Tuesday 17th May 1960 and received world acclaim. The dam is still in use today and is almost one of the great wonders of the modern world.
- Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire: Unnamed as awarded.
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Africa Star: Unnamed as issued
- Italy Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued.
- Coronation Medal 1953: Unnamed as issued.
- Efficiency Decoration: 1946 - Clasp 1952.
Page last updated 7 Dec 13