South African aces of WW2

Rank First Name Name WW2 Air Service Units Death-POW
SLdr Marmaduke Thomas 'Pat' PATTLE 52 RAF 80Sqn, 33Sqn 20/04/1941
GCpt Adolph Gysbert 'Sailor' MALAN 34 RAF 74Sqn, Biggin Hill Wg, 19FW, 145(FF)Wg RAF  
GCpt Petrus Hendrik 'Piet' HUGO 20 RAF 615Sqn,41Sq; Tangemere Wg; Hornchurch Wg; 322Wg RAF  
SLdr Johannes Jacobus 'Chris' LE ROUX 18 RAF 85Sqn, 91Sqn, 111Sqn, 602Sq RAF 29/08/1944
SLdr Newell 'Fanny' ORTON 17 RAF 73Sqn, 242Sqn, 54Sq 17/09/1941
Maj John Everitt FROST 16 SAAF 3 SAAF Sqn, 5 SAAFSq 16/06/1942
SLdr Albert Gerald LEWIS 16 RAF 504Sqn, 85Sqn, 249Sqn, 261Sq RAF  
  S. R. WHITING 13 RAF    
WCdr George R.A. McG. 'Robin' JOHNSTON 12 RAF 73Sqn, 65Sqn, 122Wg  
Col Andrew Christiaan BOSMAN 11 SAAF 4Sqn, 2 Sqn, 72Sq SAAF; 7 SAAF Wg Tomahawk, Desert,41-42. Spitfire, Italy.
Maj Douglas William GOLDING 11 SAAF 4Sqn, 10Sq SAAF 73Sq RAF  
Maj Kenneth Weekes DRIVER 10 SAAF & RAF 1Sqn SAAF 274Sqn RAF East Africa, 1940. Desert, 1941, POW.
LtCol Malcolm Stephen 'Bennie' OSLER 10 RAF & SAAF 1(SAAF)Sqn,6Sqn,145Sqn,601Sqn, 5 SAAF Wg  
Lt Robert Henry TALBOT 10 RAF & SAAF 274Sq RAF; 13Sqn, 1Sqn SAAF 3/6/1941
FLt Stanley Grenfell 'Stan' GODDEN 8 RAF 274Sqn  
WCdr Henry Patrick LARDNER-BURKE 8 RAF 19Sqn, 46Sqn, 126Sqn, 222Sqn, 1Sqn, Coltishall Wg RAF  
Maj Eric Cowley SAVILLE 8 SAAF & RAF 2 SAAFSqn; 112Sqn, 260Sqn RAF 19/09/1943
SLdr Basil Gerald 'Stapme' STAPLETON 8 RAF 603Sqn, 257Sqn, 247Sqn POW 1944.
FLt Brian VAN MENTZ 8 RAF 213Sqn, 504Sqn, 222Sqn 26/04/1941
WCdr Edward James MORRIS 7 RAF 79Sqn, 238Sqn, 250Sqn, 251Wg  
Capt Robin PARE 7 SAAF 1(SAAF)Sqn, 5(SAAF)Sqn 3/6/1942
SLdr Spencer Ritchie 'Teddy' PEACOCK-EDWARDS 7 RAF 253Sqn, 261Sqn, 131Sqn, 258Sqn, 273Sqn, 30Sqn  
  H. F. SMITH 7 RAF    
FLt Henry John 'Harry' STARRETT 7 RAF 33Sqn RAF 20/04/1941
SLdr Thomas Young WALLACE 7 RAF 610Sqn, 111Sqn, 609Sqn 11/11/1944
SubLt Edward Taylor WILSON 7 SANF & FAA 1844Sqn  
SLdr James Richard Abe BAILEY 6 RAF 264Sqn, 85 Sqn; 1452 Flight; 125Sqn, 600Sq RAF Defiant, Beaufighter, Channel, Italy 42.
LtCol Brian John Lister 'Piggy' BOYLE 6 SAAF 1Sqn, 4Sqn SAAF Gladiator,Hurricane, East Africa, 40-41.
FO Peter Grenfell DEXTER 6 RAF 16Sqn, 54Sqn, 603Sqn, 611Sqn RAF 26/06/1941 Lysander BoF. Spitfire BoB, Channel 41.
LtCol Johannes Morrel FAURE 6 RAF & SAAF 1 SAAFSqn,92Sqn,6Sqn,4 SAAFSqn,324 Wg RAF  
Maj John Henry GAYNOR 6 SAAF 1Sqn, 10Sqn, 7Sqn, 2Sq SAAF 3/3/1944 Spitfire, Italy, 1943-44. KIFA.
Maj Charles James LAUBSCHER 6 RAF & SAAF 274Sqn, 261Sqn, 242Sq RAF; 2Sqn, 10Sqn, 11Sqn SAAF  
Capt Vernon Mearns Lill LINDSAY 6 SAAF 2(SAAF)Sqn  
Lt McClellan Eric S.'Robbie' ROBINSON 6 SAAF 1 SAAFSqn 14/11/1944
Capt Lawrence Robertson Stuart WAUGH 6 SAAF RCAF & RAF 5Sqn, 1Sq; 417Sqn, 601 Sq RAF POW 1943.
WCdr Maurice Clinton Hinton BARBER 5 RAF 450Sqn, 250Sqn Kittyhawk, Desert, 1942-43.
Lt Adriaan Jacobus 'Attie' BOTHA 5 SAAF 1Sqn 14/06/1941 Hurricane, Western Desert, 1941. KIA.
Capt Louis Cecil 'Cookie' BOTHA 5 SAAF 5 SAAF Sqn 17/06/1942 Tomahawk, Western Desert, 1942.
Maj Reginald John CLEMENTS 5 SAAF 236Sqn, 227Sqn, 16(SAAF)Sq Beaufighter, Mediterranean, 1942.
Capt Robert Joseph Peter COLLINGWOOD 5 RAF & SAAF 152 & 81Sq RAF;5, 1, 10Sq SAAF Hurr II, Desert 41-42? Spit, Burma 44.
Maj Andrew DUNCAN 5 SAAF 1Sqn, 5Sq 31/05/1942
Maj John Edward GASSON 5 SAAF 92Sq  
GCpt Geoffrey David Leybourne HAYSOM 5 RAF 79 & 260Sqn; 239 Wing RAF  
Maj John Loch HEWITSON 5 SAAF 1Sqn, 5Sqn, 4Sqn POW 1942.
Capt Rodney Clayton Hojem 5 SAAF 2 and 5 Squadrons was awarded a DFC and survived the war. He died in 2000
Col Daniel Wilhelm 'Johnny' HUMAN 5 SAAF 4Sqn, 5Sqn, 2Sqn, 1Sqn, 7 SAAF Wg  
Maj Dennis Vernon Dold LACEY 5 SAAF 2Sqn, 6Sq 7/8/1942
Col Douglas Haig LOFTUS 5 SAAF 2(SAAF)Sqn, 7(SAAF)Sq  
Maj Peter Carel Rex METELERKAMP 5 SAAF 1(SAAF)Sqn 13/12/1942
Maj John Edward 'Jack' PARSONSON 5 SAAF 3Sqn, 2Sqn, 5Sq SAAF 16/08/1992
Maj Cecil Jack O.'Zulu' SWALES 5 RAF 222, 603, 229, 185Sqn RAF 10SAAF 4SAAFSqn  
LtCol Servaas THERON VAN BREDA 5 SAAF & RAAF 1Sqn, 2Sqn, 3Sqn SAAF 250Sq RAAF; 2SAAFSqn  
Col Laurence Aubrey 'Laurie' WILMOT 5 SAAF 1Sqn, 2Sqn, 258Wg, 262Wg, 322Wg, 239Wg 26/06/1947

Web References: us/history.html

Preparations: The advent of war in 1939 caught the SAAF unprepared for large-scale operational deployment despite the attempts which had been made since 1934 to expand and modernise the organisation. At the outbreak of war the SAAF's 'front-line' strength consisted of about 100 aircraft of miscellaneous types, the great bulk consisting of Hawker Hartbeest, complemented by Hawker Harts, Wapitis and trainers plus a sprinkling of more modern machines.

In terms of personnel, the SAAF had a total full-time strength of 160 officers, 35 officer cadets and 1 500 other ranks.
The first priority was thus to train more personnel and acquire more aircraft. Within weeks of the outbreak of war, new flying schools were established at Pretoria, Germiston, Bloemfontein and Baragwanath, while a Training Command under Lt Col W.T.B. Tasker was established to oversee the SAAF's overall training programme. The training schools were amalgamated and by this time there were a total of ten training schools.

JATS: The real breakthrough came in 1940, however, with the establishment of the Joint Air Training Scheme (JATS) under which the Royal Air Force (RAF), SAAF and other Allied air and ground crews were trained at 38 South African-based air schools. Under this scheme the SAAF began to burgeon and blossom, and by September 1941 the total number of military aircraft in the Union had increased to 1 709, while the personnel strength had leapt to 31 204 - 956 of whom were pilots. The JATS was ultimately to turn out a total of 33 347 air crew, including 12 221 SAAF personnel, during its five year existence.

Coastal Reconnaissance: On the operational front, the SAAF provided a valuable protection service for Allied shipping along South Africa's coastline from the very outset of the war. By the end of the war in August 1945, a total of some 15 000 coastal reconnaissance sorties had been flown by the SAAF along South Africa's coastlines.

The SAAF Coastal Command was gradually expanded and by 1942 the coastal units had replaced their Ansons with Venturas. In April 1943, 26 Sqn moved to West Africa were it re-equipped with Wellingtons and operated from Takoradi and other centres until its disbandment in June 1945 while 22, 25 and 27 Squadrons moved to the Middle East.

The SAAF Marine Craft Unit: In 1939 there was little that could be done to rescue the crews of aircraft which had been forced to ditch in the sea. Accordingly the SAAF Marine Craft Unit was established which operated a number of launches, scows and ferry boats. A total of 45 people were rescued by the unit's crash boats by the end of the Second World War.

The Woman's Auxiliary Air Force: On the outbreak of war in 1939 the Women's Aviation Association offered their services to the South African Government. Plans were laid to train 1 000 women for the SAAF and the South African Women's Auxiliary Air Force (SA WAAF) was established on 10 May 1940.

Over 10 000 women eventually served in the SA WAAF during the war and they were to be found at SAAF stations all over South Africa and in the Middle East. They did useful work in 75 different fields of which 35 were technical. Some of them were storemen, typists, clerks, telephone operators, painters, parachute packers, welders and drivers.

East Africa: In East Africa, however the SAAF's exploits began to hit the headlines. Equipped with a few squadrons of Gloster Gladiators, Hawker Hurricanes, Furies, Hartbeest and JU86s, the SAAF took on an Italian air component comprising nearly 300 modern aircraft. By the end of the campaign, the SAAF pilots had destroyed 71 Italian aircraft in the air and many more on the ground. In addition, the had struck at innumerable railways, convoys and supply dumps in interdiction sorties in support of the ground forces. SAAF losses during the East African campaign were 79 pilots and air crew killed and five missing.

The Shuttle Service: The East African Campaign led to the creation of the Shuttle Service operated by 50 (TS) Squadron under the control of 1 Bomber Transport Brigade. The latter unit became 5 Wing in February 1941 and was responsible for the ferrying of troops and supplies to the war front and bringing back wounded. The service was extended to Cairo as the war progressed and eventually through the north of Africa to Bari and Rome by which time Dakotas were in use.

The Shuttle Service was greatly expanded at the war's end, the intention being the return of all South African troops by Christmas 1945. The Dakotas of 5 Wing were joined by Ventures withdrawn from coastal operations, modified as transports and put into service with 10 Wing at Pietersburg. These two units were assisted by 35 Sqn's Sunderlands which were also fitted out as transports. Additional Dakotas were provided by 28 Sqn when it returned home from the war zone. By 25 January 1946 some 101 676 passengers had been carried.

Transport Operations: The first SAAF Transport squadron in the Mediterranean - 28 Sqn - was formed in May 1943 operation from Tripoli and later Algiers. The second squadron - 44 Sqn - was established in March 1944 and operated from Cairo.

Both units operations Douglas Dakotas as standard equipment although a small number of Wellingtons, Ansons and Beech Expediters were also used.

In October 1945, 28 Sqn was absorbed into the Shuttle Service while 44 Sqn was disbanded in December 1945, and its Dakotas were returned to the RAF.

North Africa: In North Africa, the SAAF fighter, bomber and reconnaissance squadrons played a major part in enabling the Allied 'Desert Air Force' to attain total air superiority over the Axis air forces by the beginning of 1942.

The SAAF's single most memorable feat in North Africa was probably the 'Boston Shuttle Service', during which eighteen aircraft of 12 and 24 Squadrons showered hundreds of tons of bombs on the Afrika Korps as it relentlessly pushed the Eighth Army back towards Egypt during the 'Gazala Gallop' in the first half of 1942. After the Battle of Alamein, too, the SAAF's North African squadrons played a vital role in harassing the German forces retreating towards the Tunisian border.

Between 3 and 20 September 1942 the 'Desert Air Force' supported the 8th Army's advance up the Adriatic. No3 Wing and 15 Sqn attacked strong points at Rimini and harassed the retreating enemy. During the same month No 3 Wing completed its 20 000 sortie.

Between April 1941 and May 1943, the SAAF with a maximum of eleven squadrons operational flew 33 991 sorties and destroyed 342 enemy aircraft.

Madagascar: In comparison to North Africa, the SAAF's part in Operation Ironclad, the Allied invasion of the Vichy French territory of Madagascar in anticipation of the British assault in May. Following the landings and the capture of the Arrachart airfield at Diego Suarez, Beauforts and Marylands of 36 and 37 Flights plus a number of Lodestars were used in conjunction with RAF aircraft. The SAAF flew 401 sorties before and armistice was declared on 4 November 1942.

Europe: By the time the Italian campaign had begun in earnest in early 1944, the SAAF had truly come of age. Indeed, it was the SAAF which played the dominant role in the Allied air operations over Italy as the Allies began to withdraw RAF air crews for deployment in support of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. By this stage the SAAF consisted of no fewer than 35 operational squadrons with 33 types of aircraft. By September 1944, the SAAF in Italy consisted of four wings, while a number of SAAF squadrons were attached to RAF Wings. Together with the maintenance and supply units, SAAF personnel in Italy consisted of 17 271 officers and men.

One of the SAAF's most noteworthy achievements in the air operation over Europe was that of 31 and 34 Sqn, which flew 181 sorties from Italy to supply the Warsaw resistance movement in August and September 1944. The cost of the SAAF abortive 'Warsaw Concerto' was tragically high in men and machines, but the daring and skill of the pilots and crew involved nevertheless earned the SAAF the lasting respect and admiration of the Polish resistance fighters. In 1992, 67 ex-members of 31 and 34 Squadrons were awarded the Polish Warsaw Cross for the role in the relief operations.

The final air assault in Italy, launched on 9 April 1945, was spearheaded by fighter-bombers of Nos 7 and 8 Wings, 5 Sqn, medium bombers of No 3 Wing and the Army co-operation Sqn. Liberators of No 2 wing and Baltimores of No 15 Sqn operated by night. The surrender of the German force on 2 May 1945 brought an end to a relentless pursuit which had taken the SAAF squadrons without a break from El Alamein through Tunis and Sicily to the Alps.

Mediterranean and Balkans: During the war SAAF squadrons also served in the Mediterranean where coastal reconnaissance and transport operations were carried out. In the Balkans a number of SAAF unit served with Balkan Air Force.

SAAF Anti-Aircraft Regiments: By 1942 it was found that the SAAF was drawing more recruits than needed and it was decided that a number of the SAAF personnel would be diverted for anti-aircraft duties. Eventually all anti-aircraft defence systems in the Union were taken over by the SAAF with the exception of those attached to divisions. Six SAAF anti-aircraft regiments (Nos 21 - 26, later changed to 50 - 55) as well as a number of mobile batteries and light anti-aircraft batteries were established.

The SAAF Regiment: The SAAF's excellent recruiting campaign and failure of the Miles Master as a training aircraft led to a huge backlog of pupils. As a result many recruits were diverted to 30 Armoured Commando and 31 Armoured Car Commando SAAF for armoured car courses.
Upon the disbandment of 31 Armoured Car Commando in May 1943, the remaining unit became 30 Armoured Car Commando SAAF. The unit was renamed the SAAF Regiment on 1 August 1943, its task being the defence of airfields and the capture of enemy aerodromes.

The SAAF Regiment moved North soon afterwards and, with the gradual loss of enemy air superiority in 1944, airfield defence became less of a priority. On 25 January 1944 the SAAF Regiment merged with the Natal Mounted Rifles at Helwan to become the NMR/SAAF a liaison which lasted until the end of World War Two.

Statistics: At the conclusion of the war, the SAAF had flown a total of 82 401 missions. During the same period 2 227 members of the SAAF lost their lives, while 932 were wounded or injured.

Members of the SAAF had set up a superb record during the war. Decorations awarded included one Victoria Cross, one Companion of the Bath, nine CBE's 35 DSO's, 26OBE's, 63 MBE's, 429 DFC's, 88 AFC's, 5 MC's, two George Medals, five King's Medals for Bravery, two MM's, 23 DFM's, 13 AFM's and 36 BEM's.

Web References:

In May 1940, the squadron set off for East Africa. Numerous detachments saw action against the Italians, the squadron flying at various times, the Fury, Hurricane and Gladiator II. At the end of the East African campaign, it moved to Egypt in April 1941 to join the battles being fought in the Western Desert. Initially the squadron flew the Hurricane I, and later the IIa, II band I Ic; it then switched to Mk V, Mk VIII and Mk IX Spitfires, flying this type until the end of World War II. By June 1943 No. 1 Squadron had left the desert and was in Malta.

From there it went to Sicily, and September 1943 was in Italy, where it remained until the end of hostilities. With 165 1/2 air victories, No. 1 was the SAAF's top-scoring squadron in the war. The squadron re-formed at Swartkop in 1946, flying Harvards until it moved to Waterkloof to take delivery of new Spitfire Xe's in June 1947. In 1950 these were replaced by Vampires, which were in turn replaced by Canadair Sabre 6s in September 1956. On January 1, 1951, No. 1 Squadron's Citizen Force element of part-time airmen broke away to be formed into No. 4 Squadron, flying Spitfires and Harvards. Late in 1963 No. 1 Squadron became the SAAF's sole Sabre operator when it received all those formerly flown by No. 2 Squadron, which had been re-equipped with Mirage lllCZs. Early in 1967 No. 1 Squadron moved from Waterkloof to AFB Pietersburg, flying a few Impala Mk Is in addition to its Sabres until the latter part of 1975, when it returned to Waterkloof - and was re-equipped with the new Mirage Fl AZs early in 1976. The first Officer Commanding the AZ squadron was Cmdt Willem Hechter. The first deployment to the operational area (SWA) was in November 1978. On January 14, 1981, it moved to AFB Hoedspruit where it remained until the retirement of the AZ in 1997. However, on 8 July 1981, two AZs were responsible for the interception of a Mig 17 of the Mozambique Air Force. The last flight in the Angola conflict was flown by a 1Sqdn AZ on 23 March 1988. During the last deployment to South West Africa (lasting 7 months) the Mirages flew 683 sorties, conducted 144 air raids over a period of 191 days and delivered 3068 bombs. Remarkably more than 100 SAMs were fired at the South African Mirages, with only one fatality.

No 1 Sqdn received 2 awards for Operational Efficiency on squadron level in 1989 and 1994. On 22 September 1994, two AZs piloted by Maj Alan Brand and Capt Chris Pretorious took two examples of the New National flag, through twice the speed of sound. Afterwards the flags were presented to the Chief of the Air Force, Lt Gen James Kriel. One of the aircraft used was no 244. Only three pilots achieved more than a 1000 hours on the F1 AZ, Lt Col Normann Minni in June 1989, Lt Col Dolf Prinsloo in October 1995 and Maj Allan Brand on 20 January 1995.

Web References: squadron.html

During the World War II fighting in the Western Desert in 1941 (while renumbered as 6 Squadron) they acquired their nickname 'The Billy Boys' because whenever successful in combat, the South African pilots would shout 'Jou Bielie!' over the radio (roughly translated as 'You clever chap!').

When the Second World War broke out on 3 September 1939, the Commonwealth had no spare aircraft to sell and aircraft which were purchased or built in South Africa were obsolete, with only six Hurricane Mk1's, a Fairey Battle and a Blenheim Mk1 being current operational types.

The South African Air Force (SAAF) consisted of 160 permanent force officers, 35 cadets and 1 400 other ranks. Technical knowledge was limited to fabric covered biplanes.

The oldest SAAF unit, 1 Squadron had been a Fighter/Bomber Squadron in August 1939, but was renumbered II (Bomber) Squadron in December of that year. 1 Squadron was reformed in February 1940 by renumbering 6 Squadron at Cape Town, and on the outbreak of war with Italy in June 1940 this was the only fighter unit in the SAAF equipped with four Hurricane Mk. Is and six Hawker Fury biplanes.

In May 1940 most of the pilots had been transported to Egypt to train on Gladiators, which were to be supplied by the RAF.

When 1 SAAF Squadron, moved north in May 1940 for active duty in East Africa, it took six of the Furies with it. The Furies was crated and put aboard the SS Takliwa on 26 May and arriving at Mombasa by sea on 1 June where they were swiftly assembled.


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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019