Educated at Diocesan College, then at the University of Cape Town where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, England, where he achieved his Master of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees and a Blue for boxing.
During the 1939-45 war he was captured as an officer in Libya by the Germans after the fall of Tobruk in June 1942. Although he tried to escape he was recaptured and then spent three years as a prisoner of war.
He was selected as United Party candidate in 1946 for the Hottentots Holland constituency and won the seat in May 1948. Eighteen months after his election as Party Leader he lost his seat on April 17, 1958, because of boundary changes but re-entered Parliament on June 3 as unopposed candidate for Rondebosch, Cape Province.
Throughout the 1960s he led his party into challenges mainly over infernal affairs because he found little for differences on international issues. He concentrated his attack on fhe denial of liberty under the Sabotage Bill of February 1964 and various other security measures which he said were feminiscent of “the system under Stalin”. Yet by the early 1970s he still had not found a big enough challenge capable of ousting the Nationalists from Power.
His pragmatic, stolidly conservative racial policy was enshrined in a phrase on June 21, 1958: “We need the natives and the natives need us.” While condemning Nationalist Bantustan schemes as “clap trap” he took a stand which appeared to rule out further purchases °f land for supplementary Native Reserves and caused a significant number of resignations from the party in August 1959.
The strongest challenge to the Nationalists came a year later over the nioves to turn the country into a republic. He regretted the break with the monarchy in Britain but his bitterest attack was launched on the Verwoerd government for causing the withdrawal of South Africa from the Common-wealth: “The Premier has brought South Africa to the greatest tragedy of her history. We have no friends because of his inflexible, rigid race policy which is incapable of fulfilment,” he said on March 28, 1961.
Voice of moderation, presenting an alternative option to the Whites who have hardened their political attitudes into regular majorities for the Nationalists since 1948. Barrister, pedigree dairy farmer, company director, and above all a politician of great integrity and loyalty.