DELVILLE WOOD

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIR FORCE

FIRST WORLD WAR

In April 1914, six South African officers were sent to Great Britain to attend a pilot formation and training. When the War broke out, these men received the authorization to serve in the Royal Flying Corps. Nearly 3000 South Africans served in the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service then in the Royal Air Force during the Great War and 260 lost their lives.

The South African Aviation Corps was formed in February 1915 and two BE2a and six Maurice Farman F27 took part in the German South West Africa campaign. The Corps continued in this aerial reconnaisance role in German East Africa until mid-1918.

The most famous South African pilot is the Captain Anthony Frederick Weatherby BEAUCHAMP PROCTOR, who, in ten months, achieved 54 victories, and was awarded the Victoria Cross.

A.F.W. Beauchamp-Proctor

SOUTH AFRICAN ACES OF THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS, ROYAL NAVAL AIR SERVICE

AND OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE

Rank/Name

Claims

Units

Aircrafts

Captain Anthony Frederick Weatherby BEAUCHAMP PROCTOR

54

84th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Samuel Marcus KINKEAD

35

3rd Wing, 1st (Naval) Sq., 201st Sq., 47 Sq.

Bristol Scout, Nieuport, Sopwith Camel

Captain Thomas Sinclair  HARRISON

22

29th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Douglas John BELL

20

27th Sq. 78th Sq., 3rd Sq.

Martynside G 100, Sopwith Camel

Captain Charles Gordon ROSS

20

29th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Walter Alfred SOUTHEY

20

48th Sq., 84th Sq.

SE 5A

Captain Horace Dale BARTON

19

24th Squadron

SE 5A

Lieutenant Arthur Eden REED

19

29th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Cristoffel Johannes VENTER

16

29th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Edwin Tufnell  HAYNE

15

3rd (Naval) Sq., 203rd Sq.

Sopwith Camel

Captain Andrew Cameron KIDDIE

15

74th Squadron

DH5, SE 5a

Captain Hugh William Lumsden SAUNDERS

15

84th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Jack COTTLE

13

45th Squadron

Sopwith Camel

Major Christopher Joseph QUINTIN-BRAND

12

1st Sq., 112th Sq., 151st Sq;

Nieuport, Sopwith Camel

Captain Roy Williamson CHAPPELL

11

27th Sq., 41st Sq.

Martinsyde G100, SE 5A

Lieutenant Edgar Oxenham AMM

10

29th Squadron

SE 5A

Lieutenant Herbert Bolton REDLER

10

40th Sq., 24th Sq.

Nieuport, SE 5A

Captain John Henry TUDHOPE

10

40th Squadron

Nieuport, SE 5A

Captain Hector C. DANIEL

9

43rd Squadron

Sopwith Camel

Lieutenant Basil Henry MOODY

9

1st Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Thomas Mellings WILLIAMS

9

65th Squadron

Sopwith Camel

Lieutenant Gerald Frank ANDERSON

8

88th Squadron

Bristol Fighter

Captain Albert Stewart HEMMING

8

41st Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Henry MEINTJES

8

60th Sq., 56th Sq.

Nieuport, SE 5A

Lieutenant Hector Omdurman MACDONALD

7

84th Squadron

SE 5A

Lieutenant William Joseph Baynes NEL

7

84th Squadron

SE 5A

Captain Leonardo Horiatio SLATTER

7

SDF, 13th (Naval) Sq., 213th Sq., 4th ASD, 47th Sq.

Sopwith Pup, Sopwith Camel

Lieutenant John Pierce FINDLAY

6

88th Squadron

Bristol Fighter

Lieutenant Cecil Robert THOMPSON

6

84th Squadron

SE 5A

Lieutenant Philip Murray TUDHOPE

6

46th Squadron

Sopwith Camel

Captain William Graham WESTWOOD

6

88th Squadron

Bristol Fighter

Captain D'Urban Victor ARMSTRONG

5

60th Sq., 78th Sq. 39th Sq., 151st Sq.

Nieuport, Sopwith Camel

Captain Robert Norwood HALL

5

40th Sq., 44Sq.

Nieuport

Captain Neil Ritz SMUTS

5

3rd Squadron

Sopwith Camel

Lieutenant Ian Oliver STEAD

5

22nd Squadron

Bristol Fighter

The South African Air Force (SAAF) was formed on the 1st February 1920 with Colonel Pierre Van Ryneveld as leader.

SECOND WORLD WAR

   At the outbreak of the War, the SAAF had 1837 men in its ranks. At the end of the War, 44569 volunteers had served in its units.

The SAAF carried out the first South African action in the War when Junkers 86 of the 12th Squadron bombed Italian objectives at Moyale in Somaliland on the day after Italy declared War, on the 11th June 1940.

The SAAF played a very important role in North Africa where its fighters, bombers and observation squadrons formed one-third of the Desert Air Force. From April 1941 to May 1943, the eleven South African squadrons carried out 33 991 missions, destroying 342 ennemy aircrafts. Their heaviest losses were in May-June1942, incurred trying to protect French troops at Bir-Hakeim.

P40 fighters of N2 and N4 Squadrons, SAAF, taking off.

The SAAF continued to support the Allied armies when the fighting moved to Italy and the Aegean (1943-1945). The hardest and most heroic missions made by South African airmen during this campaign was in attempting to supply the Polish Home Army in Warsaw. Flying 1700 miles through several night-fighter areas and braving heavy anti-aircraft fire at altitudes of 200 feet above the city, they gave their best to no avail, for Germans crushed the uprising before the Red Army resumed its advance. The Warsaw Concerto operation (August-September 1944) cost the SAAF nine out of twenty B24 commited to the operation.

Warsaw Concerto Roll of Honour

Many South Africans served in the RAF, the most famous being Marmaduke Thomas Pattle credited with 51 victories.

The SAAF served on the following theatres of operations :

South Africa

1939-1945

Anti-submarines patrols.

East Africa

1940-1941

2nd Wing, against Italians in Somaliland and  Ethiopia.

North Africa

1941-1943

3rd and 7th Wings, operations against Italians and Germans in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

Madagascar

1942

One detachment, operations against Vichy French Forces.

Atlantic

1943-1945

Two squadrons, patrols over the sea route offshore of West Africa and of Gibraltar.

Sicily

1943

3rd Wing.

Italy

1943-1945

2nd, 3rd and 7th Wings.

Yougoslavia

1943-1945

7th Wing, support to the Partisans.

France

1944

One detachment, in support of the Liberation of the South of France.

Balkans

1944-1945

Some squadrons served into the Balkan Air Force overs Rumania,  Hungary and Albania.

Warsaw

1944

2nd Wing, supplying of the city during uprising.

 

Greece

1944

2nd Wing, support of the British operations during the Liberation of the Greece and the anti-communist struggle.

Edwin Swales

THE BERLIN AIRLIFT

The SAAF took part in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, commiting twenty crews flying on Dakotas of the RAF. They flew 2500 supply missions without loss.

THE KOREAN WAR

As a founder and stalwart of the United Nations during its formative years, South Africa decided to give its support to South Korea in that country's struggle against North Korea and Red China. The 2nd Squadron of the SAAF, nicknamed The Flying Cheetahs, was attached to the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing and had more than 800 men during its three years in Korea. Flying on Mustang then on Sabre, the Squadron established a fine reputation and, although rough conditions, maintained a high daily average of missions. From November 1950 to July 1953, its pilots flew 12 405 sorties. They were credited with destroying 18 tanks, 160 field guns, 615 vehicles, 4 locomotives, 200 railway trucks, 46 road and rail bridges, 49 petrol and oil dumps and 3 021 buildings. The Squadron lost 79 planes and sustained 36 men killed.

South African Mustang in Korea