On 06 May 2015 a memorial service was held at the Major Edwin Swales VC DFC memorial at the Durban High School to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Edwin Swales (1915 – 2015), the 70th anniversary of the death of Edwin Swales (1945 – 2015) and the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (1945 – 2015).
The event was organised and coordinated by David R. Bennett, a Durban High School Old Boy and Edwin Swales biographer. During the event the following were presented to the Durban High School:
• A one in thirty-two scale model, in a glass display cabinet, of a Lancaster Bomber Aircraft (a copy of the type of aircraft flown by Edwin Swales on the operation during which he was tragically killed) sponsored and presented by Mile Jacklin. The Model was built by Peter Jacklin.
• The original Edwin Swales Flying Log Book was found in the Archives in the United Kingdom by Paul Kilmartin who has had a copy bound made.
• The personal file of Edwin Swales, a pre-war employee of Barclays Bank DC & O (now First National Bank – FNB) was traced and a copy will be presented by Mr Preggy Pillay.
Numerous persons assisted David with organisation which include Messer’s Pat Goss (a DHS Old Boy) and Preggy Pillay both Directors of FNB. FNB sponsored the event.
Following the welcome by David Bennett the South African National Anthem was sung. This was followed by a short address by Mr Leon Erasmus, the 14th Headmaster of the Durban High School which was founded in 1866. Mr Paul Kilmartin then provided a historical background on Major Edwin Swales VC DFC SAAF and Victory in Europe Day (08 May 1945) where after the presentations took place.
Dr Edwina Ward, niece of Edwin Swales, thanked everyone on behalf of the family followed by the dedication of the memorial events by the Reverend Canon R. N. van Zuylen. Then followed the Last Post, 2 minutes silence, Reveille and the laying of wreaths.
Following the tragic loss of Edwin Swales, Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris KCB OBE AFC Chief of Bomber Command Royal Air Force, wrote a letter to Edwin’s mother, Mrs Olive Essery Swales, saying inter-alia the following: “On every occasion your son proved be a fighter and resolute captain of his crew. His devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own safety will remain an example and inspiration for all of us.”
The documents from the South African Air Force promoting Edwin Swales to Major only reached the British authorities in the United Kingdom after his death and the awarding of the Victoria Cross was gazetted, hence the rank “Captain” on the citation of his Victoria Cross. His headstone and all other official documents reflects his rank as “Major”.
In 2013 Swales was awarded the “Bomber Command” clasp to be worn as clasp on the 1939 – 1945 Star.
On 11 November 2009 the then Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, and Dr Edwina Ward unveiled the memorial to Major Edwin Swales VC DFC SAAF at the Durban High School.
You can watch the short interview by the South African Broadcasting Corporation with Dr Edwina Ward, Paul Kilmartin and David Bennett at
A TRULY SOUTH AFRICAN HERO.
Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross with information and photos provided by David Bennett.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome the following members that were elected to the committee at the 27th AGM of the Friends of the SAAF Museum on Saturday, 7th March 2015.
Robin Meyerowitz: Chairman/Secretary
Norman Larsen: Vice-Chairman/Fund Raising/Librarian
Mike Phillips: Treasurer
Janine Nudblicher: Projects Co-Ordinator/Membership
Dave Smith: Projects Co-Ordinator
Mike von Bentheim: Marketing/Sales/Kiosk
Please contact us should you wish to volunteer for any activities (secretary required), for any info, or just to chat.
Our first committee meeting will take place at 09:00 on the 4th April, 2015 at the Tunnel, AFB Ysterplaat.
(Chairman Friends of the SAAF Cape Town Branch)
Comments or questions are welcome.
The Commanding Officer
Lt Col Brian Bell
Requests the honour of your presence at
22 Squadron, AFB Ysterplaat
at 5 o’clock in the afternoon on Jun 5th, 2015
for a Chopper and Friend Reunion in sight of the one and only Table Mountain.
It’s time to reflect, remember, to re-unite and enjoy the passion, not only for the Chopper Manne, but also for the many friends.
The favour of your reply is requested by May 15th, 2015.
Cost of function R120-00
Tel 021 508 6336/6430 for initial booking
Confirmation of booking will take place once proof of payment is confirmed to
ABSA ACC no 0370980063 –
Ref: CR Initials and Surname, eg: CR PH Surname.
Please FWD proof of payment to above email or Fax to 021 5086371.
Dress: As you are
PLEASE TAKE NOTE
Identification will be required at security gate and entrance will be confirmed against the guest list.
The Chopper Manne will never say No!
THE MTR Smit Children’s Haven and the South African Air Force (SAAF) Museum will benefit from a World War One Centenary Commemoration evening with Rocco de Villiers.
The event takes place on Saturday, February 28, at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth and will boast Rocco’s unparalleled talent, raising much needed funds for the beneficiaries.
The evening will also showcase the extraordinary vocal talent of PE’s Niqui Cloete Barrass and the programme will be run by aviation fanatic and Breakfast Show co-host, Charlton Tobias of Algoa FM.
Tickets cost R250 per person and include a light meal. A cash bar facility will be available. People must be seated by 7pm.
To book call Amoré at MTR Smit on 041 367 1103 or 079 177 5471.
According to Dr Crystal Watson, who heads the MTR Smit Children’s Haven, this institution was founded in Ugie in 1918 as a direct result of the social effects of WW1 (the Haven was later moved to PE).
Watson said support for this project will be much appreciated. “The PE Air Show, which takes place every second year, is our main fund raising event, but with the rapidly escalating cost of living, every cent helps.”
Captain Mark Kelbrick, curator of the SAAF Museum in Port Elizabeth, said a commemoration event of this nature is important, because people tend to forget. “People tend to forget about the sacrifices that were made during World War One in order for us to have a better quality of life.”
Explaining the importance of the SAAF Museum, Kelbrick said the Air Force in the Bay has always played a huge role in aviation and that many firsts for the South African Air Force actually took place right here. “It is important to guard our rich aviation history for generations to come.”
The 2015 Aircraft Raffle has started – Win a Piper Cherokee 180 plus a
PPL course or advance training worth R100,000.00
redeemable from any flight school of your choice within RSA
and a free PPL medical from 24/7 GP.
DJA have, since 1998, been raffling an aircraft and pilot license course each and every year for the Reach For A Dream Foundation, fulfilling not only the children’s dreams who have life threatening illnesses but also many ordinary South Africans whose dream it has been to get their PPL and own an aircraft. In addition to this annual event, DJA also raffle an extra PPL prize around Christmas time each year to raise additional funds for the Reach For A Dream Foundation.
Over the years the proceeds of the Aircraft Raffle has helped many children realise their dreams. Browse through the Reach For A Dream Foundation (RFAD) website for more information.
The winner of the Mirage digital art raffle displayed in the PE SAAF Museum reception during the air show is Sally Soule of Port Elizabeth.
Well done and thank you to all those kind donors who supported the raffle – your contributions have been invaluable.
Willie (Buskruit) Burger
Velddrif Dec 2014
SAAF Boats – Short History
THE NOW ALMOST INVISIBLE BOND BETWEEN THE NAVY AND THE AIR FORCE
By 1940, when the first South African forces were deployed in East Africa, the Mediterranean Sea was under German and Italian control. The Suez Canal was thus an ambush, just waiting to happen. The Cape sea-route was the longest but safest route to East Africa and Egypt. By the middle of 1941, Japanese forces had overrun so much of the Eastern Indian Ocean territory that it was obvious that Australia would fall next. Japan made contact with the Vichy-France government in Madagascar and Japanese aircraft deployed to this “permanent aircraft carrier”. It is a fact that Japanese reconnaissance aircraft flew over Durban on two occasions.
Under these circumstances, it became necessary for the Royal Navy, British ground forces and the South African Air Force to invade Madagascar. The campaign did not last long, but few people realise how close the War came to South African shores. But, German U-boats and surface raiders still sank 153 Allied ships within 1 600 km of the South African coast.
In 1939/40, the patrolling of the sea-route was carried out with commandeered SAA Junkers Ju-86 airliners. When these aircraft were needed in East Africa as bombers, the reconnaissance and patrolling of the long coastline was taken over by Avro Ansons of 32 Flight at Brooklyn Air Station, (now Air Force Base Ysterplaat – Cape Town). The Anson was made mainly of wood and canvas, it had a range of 1 050 km and could carry 4 X 40 kg anti-submarine bombs.
In December 1939 a unit was formed at Youngsfield, to operate a 40 foot (12 metre) armoured target boat in False Bay. The MALGAS was used as a target on the bombing and gunnery range at Strandfontein. Seven tonnes of armoured steel were fitted to the deck and sides to protect the crew and engines. A second armoured boat (MALGAS II) and a high speed rescue launch (MALMOK) arrived at Cape Town in March 1940. The unit was visited by General Pierre van Ryneveld, Chief of the Air Force, who gave the order that the unit should be known as the SAAF Motorboat Wing. The first military craft of this type, to operate on our coast, was thus under the control of the Air Force, and would remain so for almost 30 years.
The Motorboat Wing received 19 “Crash Boats” between May 1941 and May 1944. They were built in Florida, USA, and were 63 feet (19 m) long. They could maintain a speed of 40 knots (74 km/h) for 15 minutes, but their cruising speed was 22 to 25 knots (41-46 km/h). They had a range of 500 nautical miles (926 km), and they were all equipped to handle six casualties/patients. They were numbered R1 to R20. (Superstition regarding the number 13 caused the number to be omitted). The nineteen boats were distributed between Durban, Port Elizabeth, Gordons Bay, Cape Town and Donkergat (opposite Langebaan).
(In 1961 and 1962, two German built, Krogerwerft (29,3 metre) Crash Boats – R30 and R31 were delivered . These were the forerunners of the T-craft, now used by the Navy in the air-sea rescue role.
In 1942, the war in North Africa was at its peak, and the front moved backwards and forwards, as Allied and Axis forces attacked and counter-attacked. All supplies to the Allied forces in Egypt had to pass round the Cape by sea. The antiquated Ansons could not cope with the defence of the sea route any more, and a Royal Air Force Squadron, number 262, started operating from Durban’s Congella Base, using Catalina flying boats for the long flights, to assist shipping against the U-boat threat. Langebaan lagoon was used regularly by the Catalinas, and in 1943 a detachment of Dutch Navy Catalinas was also active in Saldanha Bay. Congella Air Station (Langebaan Detachment) was built in this period, where Langebaanweg is situated today.
The Catalina flying boats needed support boats during daily operations. At Lake St Lucia, Richards Bay and Langebaan, the motorboat squadrons had to operate five other boat-types, to support the flying boats, viz, Seaplane Tenders, (for towing the Catalinas and later the Sunderlands), Safety boats, Refuelling boats, Fire Tenders and Marine Tenders, which were also used as bomb-scows, for the transport and loading of bombs and depth charges.
For the sake of continuity, the term “flying boat” is used throughout this narrative. The British preferred the term “sea-plane”, but the SAAF used “flying boat – vliegboot” in daily conversation. By the American definition, an aircraft with a boat shaped lower fuselage was termed a flying-boat, and an aircraft with added-on floats was regarded as a “float-plane.”
The loss of life in South African waters, as a result of enemy action, was very high. The NOVA SCOTIA was 34 km off St Lucia, when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. 750 people, mostly Italian prisoners of war, went down with the ship. But on the positive side, it is a fact that the crash boats were able to rescue almost 500 lives during the war.
To supplement the search and rescue ability, the Air Force acquired Lockheed Ventura Mark 1& 2 bombers. The first arrived at Brooklyn Air Station in 1942. The Ventura had a range of 3 100 km at a speed of 450 km/h.
Lockheed manufactured a maritime version of the Ventura; the PV-1 patrol bomber. Except for the American forces, the SAAF operated more Venturas than any other country. Between 1942 and 1960, the SA Air Force operated 130 B-34 bombers and 134 PV-1 maritime patrol bombers.
After the war, the number of crash boats was decreased, but the Motorboat Squadron at Donkergat and Langebaan survived. The boats remained under Air Force command and control until November 1969. With the bombing range at Tooth Rock (Jacobsbaai) in daily use, it was necessary to have a crash boat on constant stand-by just outside the danger area. There were accidents and incidents and the crews were seldom bored. The Navy took over the crash boats in 1969, and got rid of all but two of them. This was not because the sea-rescue ability was no longer necessary, but the arrival of the helicopter drastically changed the whole perspective.
The maritime role of the SA Air Force did not change or end after the Second World War. Remember that 262 Squadron (RAF) and the Dutch Navy, patrolled the territorial waters and coastline with Catalina flying boats. As the RAF crews returned home after their tours of duty, more and more South Africans were absorbed into 262 Squadron. Number 35 Squadron (SAAF) was born out of 262 Squadron, (in February 1945) before the end of the War. The new squadron’s 8 Catalinas were supplemented, and eventually replaced by 15 Sunderland flying boats, and anti-submarine warfare remained a priority until the end of the War. The emblem of 35 Squadron was a Pelican standing on the map of Africa. The Motto then was SHIYA AMANZI; which was Zulu for “Rise from the Water”.
After the War, 35 Squadron remained at Congella. The boats which served the Sunderlands, Catalinas and Anson, were Air Force boats, and remained in service until the Sunderlands were withdrawn in the mid–fifties. Yes, the Squadron also had an Anson float-plane. This Anson with floats, was the only one in the world.
The Squadron moved to Ysterplaat (Cape Town), and from there continued its tasks – coastal patrols and search and rescue, using PV-1 Venturas. In 1957/58, the Avro Shackleton MR-3 long range, maritime reconnaissance bomber replaced the Ventura. The Squadron Motto then changed to SHAYA AMANZI; which was Zulu for “Strike the Water”.
ENTER THE SHACKLETON
Eight Shackletons were acquired by the SAAF in 1957/58. Not long after they arrived, they made headline news when one of the aircraft flew non-stop, right around South Africa in 14 hours. In 1958, one of the Shackletons remained in the air for 21 hours and 10 minutes. The Shackleton had a take-off mass of almost fifty tonnes, of which just over 14 tonnes was fuel. The total fuel capacity of a Shackleton was 17 802 litres.
The sight and sound of an approaching Shackleton, must have been the most beautiful thing on earth, to many a shipwrecked sailor. With the bomb-bay doors closed, the Shackleton could carry a SARO 3 airborne lifeboat. The metal boat could be dropped by parachute and it had an inboard engine, mast and sail, supplies and emergency equipment. However, the airborne lifeboat was never used in an actual rescue mission. The drag limited the aircraft’s range drastically, and Lindolm-gear was carried instead. The Lindolm-gear consisted of three rope-linked canisters, each with its own parachute. One canister contained a ten-man dinghy, and the other two contained water, provisions, food and blankets.
In later years, when the Cold War (between East and West), had the World in its grip, no ships, of any country, sailed round the Cape without being observed, photographed and documented by Shackleton or Albatross crews. The twin-engined Albatross was acquired to supplement the Shackleton. The “Trossies” were used for close, inshore work, leaving the Shacks to take care of the long distance calls for surveillance and help.
Willie (Buskruit) Burger
Velddrif Dec 2014
The SAAF Museum extends its thanks to Lionel Barnard and CS AUTO BODY, Vehicle Specialists of note for their kind donation of CIC anti-corrosion products.
These products will be used to preserve & protect the Museum aircraft at the Ysterplaat & PE Museums.
The Museum is growing from strength to strength. This growth is made possible by the kind sponsorship of Individuals, Companies and Associations.
Among the individuals who contribute to this website, the following stalwarts assist with historical and other queries, advice and support:
Regular Advisors: Brig-Gen Derrick Page, Chris Teale, Steve McLean, John Coutts, Greg Pullin, Dean Wingrin, Kirk Kinnear and the late Kevin Furness and Eric Tyler.
Photographers: Jans Schmidtgen, Kirk Kinnear, Nic Wonfor, Greg Pullin. Alan Wienburg, Irene McCullagh, Monique Lyons and Dean Wingrin.
We would like to thank the following companies in particular for their unstinting assistance and support in many different areas:
The South African Aviation Foundation Museum (Association Incorporated Under Section 21) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation and display of the history and aircraft of the South African Air Force (SAAF).
It’s stated Goal is: To promote the SAAF Museum and aviation in general as well as to raise funds to achieve the objectives of the Foundation.
The Foundation is run by civilians and does not receive any funds from the SAAF or the government. Thus, we rely solely on fund-raising activities in order to achieve our aims.
The organisation is also registered as a Non-Profit Organisation with the South African Department of Social Development (registration number 016-007 NPO). The company registration number is 2000/029820/08
Our kind sponsors include:
The professional distributor of Engineering & Industrial Plastics, Signage and Glazing materials,
Digital Print Media, Aluminium Sign Systems and Point of Purchase components to the Southern Africa industry.
ER24 is a national, private emergency medical care provider that provides fast and efficient medical care to everyone in South Africa.
3M – Staunch supporters of the Museum’s restoration projects
Southern X have kindly provided sponsorship for the Team working on the Sabre.
Denel Aviation are proud sponsors of the South African Air Force Museum
Goodyear Aviation have provided a superb sponsorship in the form of tyres for the 6832 Restoration Project.
SABAT have provided batteries and support for our restoration projects.
Duram Paints have kindly provided us with materials to refurbish “The Tunnel.”