Category Archives: News Updates

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Steve Stevens, DFC (SAAF Beaufighter Pilot)

Steveandkay

Steve Stevens, DFC, is frail, bedridden and in pain. However, there is no doubt that this man is a force, a man who has packed more into his 96 years on Earth than most of us, and who is firmly committed to his goals and his religion.

When I call him to arrange the meeting, he answers the phone himself. We juggle dates; he has an appointment for a radio interview, and I am keen to come and see him at 10h45 on the 11th November so we could pay our respects to the Fallen together. Eventually we settle on a plan.

Early Life

Steve Stevens was born on 27th August 1919 in Amesbury, Dorset. His father George was gassed in Salonica during WW1 and was sent to a special medical facility in Aberdeen for mustard gas victims, and he met and married Dora, one of the VAD’s.

Steve’s father was not expected to live past 40. However, in typical Stevens fashion George Alexander Stevens took no notice of this pronouncement and his health improved enough for him to take up a new assignment in the Army of Occupation in Germany. The family was billeted in a huge house complete with stables, and young Steve was delighted to be placed in the care of a beautiful young fraulien. Steve adored her, and from her learned to speak German better than he could speak English. Steve’s father had improved in health to the extent that he bought a string of polo ponies and a racehorse called Capitas, which he bought for £9 and rode to victory on local army races.

However, George’s health deteriorated and he was given a year’s sick leave, and the family went to live in Switzerland. There, a 7 year old Steve became proficient in skiing, jumping and skating.
With an improvement in health, the family moved to San Remo in Italy, but Steve’s father was soon recalled to his regiment, and made his way to Ireland and The Troubles. Within a year or so the West Yorkshire Regiment was required in India, but medical advice was that Stevens Senior would not survive the climate, and it was recommended that he was invalided out of the army and moved to somewhere warm and dry.

So it was that the family left for a life on a farm in South Africa in November 1929. George’s health improved, but Steve’s mother Dora suddenly fell ill and died of a brain tumour when Steve was only 14.

When WW2 broke out Steve was at the Bible Institute of South Africa. With the decision to close the college for the duration, some of the students joined the Ministry, and Steve joined the SA Air Force. Steve is convinced that the prayers offered three times a day by his father and stepmother kept him safe during the war. Steve joined the SAAF as a trainee air photographer, but soon re-mustered as aircrew.

The Visit

I arrive at the house, and using the information I have been provided, I left myself in. Steve is on his own in the house, and I make my way to his bedroom.

The blue eyes quickly examine me, and I feel thoroughly vetted and I note a long look at my SA Legion tie and blazer badge. We exchange greetings, and we discuss his interest in photography. Then we pause at 11h00 to commemorate the Fallen.

After some reflection Steve informs me that the radio team that came to interview him was despatched through the house to inventory some books he wanted to donate. They had, under his steely gaze, created a list for my perusal so I could choose which books I wanted to pass on to the SAAF Museum and the SA Legion. However, he then decided that we should take all of the books, and I politely declined as I already had a good number. I was informed that on my next visit more books would be provided.

World War Two

This photograph is widely recognised as one of the most famous Beaufighter air- strike photo of WWII. It shows my plane attacking the Nazi-held medieval walled town of Zuzenberk. That attack by 8 of our 19 South African Air Force Beaufighter squadron resulted in the Yugoslav Partisans recapturing their town that very day. (Steve Stevens)

This photograph is widely recognised as one of the most famous Beaufighter air- strike photo of WWII. It shows my plane attacking the Nazi-held medieval walled town of Zuzenberk. That attack by 8 of our 19 South African Air Force Beaufighter squadron resulted in the Yugoslav Partisans recapturing their town that very day. (Steve Stevens)

During the War Steve flew air strikes over Yugoslavia with 19 Squadron, based at Biferno. These strikes included the daring raid on the occupied walled town of Zuzenberk. The image of Steve firing his rockets is one of the two iconic Beaufighter images of the war. It is astonishing to realise that Steve could accurately hit a target as small as a 44 gallon fuel barrel with his rockets.

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Steve photographed Major Tilley attacking the armed German warship SS Kuckuck as Tilley’s number two. It was a desperate sortie which Steve and his fellow pilots fully expected to be a suicide mission. The rockets holed the target under the waterline. The pilots had been briefed by the Partisans that they would face the fire from 140 anti-aircraft guns. Remarkably all four planes returned safely.

60th Anniversary Plaque

Steve and I discuss many topics, and he instructs me to look at a small colourful plaque on a bookshelf. Steve was invited to attend a number of events in Italy, through the efforts of Guiseppe Morini. These events culminated on the 8th May 2005 in Campomarino.

“The ceremonies were in the open air, with a military band, rousing speeches and a fly-past.

Dignitaries from all over Italy were present, while huge flags of all participating countries blew in the wind. The chief of the Italian Air Force, General Leonardo Tricario, was there and a fifty-strong guard of honour marched into the square in our honour. The Italian Air Force also brought in another fifty men – bandsmen who played rousing music.

The warm-hearted Italians responded most generously, and as I put it later to our local newspaper, I’d never been kissed by so many women – and men!”

plaque

When we, Second World War airmen who had flown from Termoli in 1944/5 were presented with these VE Day commemoration plaques, I told them I would value this as much as my DFC because it was a plaque of PEACE. A woman hears the drone of a plane and is in fear of being bombed yet again. But as she looks up she sees it is a PLANE OF PEACE. That’s just what I, and my wife Kay, became involved in Africa with our Mission Aviation Fellowship planes.

Until next time.

All too soon it is time to go when Steve’s team get there to take care of him.

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I reluctantly leave, but not before I present him with my own beret, which he wears with pride, and when I leave he instructs me to hang the beret on the hat peg next to his SAAF cap.

I leave with a solemn promise we will visit again, and he is looking forward to receiving a membership to the SA Legion UK on our return.

I look forward to meeting him again.

Information with kind permission – Steve Stevens. Article by Cameron Kinnear for the South African Legion – UK & Europe.

(First published on the SA Legion UK website)


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Museum Stalwarts

 

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F Sgt Elna Hadfield is a museographer and a jack of all trades, from managing the SAAF Museum “Ops” Room to running 110 Squadron.

She says that nothing is impossible and is responsible for all staff matters to ordering a pot of paint of paint.

She is married to Lt Col Pierre Hadfield and has a daughter, Nikita who is also involved in Military Heritage.


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Invitation to a Fund Raising Evening with Rocco

Category : News Updates , PE Updates

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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.

Rocco PE Express Press Cutting

 

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.”


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2015 Aircraft Raffle

Category : News , News Updates , Sponsors

RFAD Small NEW

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.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER


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Alan Weinburg – RIP 13.06.2014

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It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Alan passed away this morning.

Alan dedicated many years to the SAAF Museum as a fundraiser, shop manager, long standing committee member amongst a host of other activities.

Very few people have spent the amount of time and effort that Alan contributed to the Museum.

A candle will be set up in the SAAF Museum this afternoon in his memory.

The funeral will take place at the Jewish cemetery in Pinelands on Sunday morning at 11h00.

Your support to Jon and his family will be highly appreciated.

 

The Shackleton Ground run on 28 June will be dedicated to his memory.

 

Our condolences to the family from the SAAF Museum Staff,

 

Chris Teale, Elize Grobbelaar, Elna Hadfield, Barry Pieterse and Lt Col Peter Smith as well as the 2014 Crew of Shackleton 1722.

 


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6832 Restoration Committee

The Friends of the South African Air Force Museum, Ysterplaat, have appointed the following committee to manage the Friends involvement in the restoration of C-47 6832:

David Owen Smith (Chair)

Michelle Viljoen (Secretary)

John Coutts (Treasurer)

Norman Tinkler

Darrell Ackermann

Peter Elrick

Campbell Lyons

Bernard Schaffer

Reggi Leader

Kirk Kinnear

Project 6832 is a Friends of the South African Air Force Museum Society initiative.


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Beaufighter KV-930 of 19 Squadron based at Biferno, Italy

SAAF No 19 Sqn Beaufighter over the German occupied town of Zuzemberk

QUESTION:

Dear Sir or Madam,
I research to find any information about the following crashed-ditched.
0n 12 September 1944 a Beaufighter KV-930 of 19 (SAAF)Squadron,crashed near to the shore of Ithaki Island (Greece).Both crew members survived the crash.
My interest is in discovering further information.Any details that you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Yours Sincerely
Pavlos Lykoudis

 

ANSWER:

Beaufighter KV930 code ‘V’ of 19 Squadron South African Air Force, based at Biferno (Italy).
Reported missing on 12 September 1944 following attack on a Siebel ferry off Ithaki Island. Struck in starboard engine by anti-aircraft fire and forced to ditch in sea one mile off Ithaki Island, on west coast of Greece at 1705hrs.
15879V Lt RA Geater (pilot – SAAF) and 153915 F/O SWG Dellow (observer – RAF) both reported safe on 23 September 1944.
Steven McLean
Research Assistant to SAAF Museum, AFB Ysterplaat
Cape Town
Rep. of South Africa
.

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CT Friends February Meeting

 

Dear Friends

You are cordially invited to the February meeting of the Cape Town Friends on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 19.00 for 19.30 hrs. in the Tunnel.

Our guest speaker (health permitting) will be Mr Victor Martin, who will give a talk on his wartime experiences with the SAAF, Vic flew with 2 Sqn SAAF (fighter-bombers), on active duty from 11/1942 to 5/1944.

 

 The usual cold refreshments will be available.

Guests are very welcome!!

 See you all there.

Kind Regards

John Coutts.

 

PS For those who have still not paid their subs. Please settle with me at the meeting. There will be a Committee meeting at 18.00 hrs sharp.

 

Can anybody please assist here?

We urgently need to acquire a fridge/cooler for the tunnel/braai area. Please contact me.

Thanks

John.


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Royal Air Force Officers’ Club (RAFOC) Lunch – 7th October

Category : Contributors , News , News Updates , Posts

Royal Air Force Officers’ Club (RAFOC)

Lunch Friday 7 October

By Gordon Dyne

Members of RAFOC are reminded that this coming Friday 7 October sees the monthly ‘get together’ of many of the ‘crème de la crème’ members past and present from the SAAF, RAF, RRAF,SAA, SAS, French Foreign Legion and countless other military organisations.

The lunch will be held as usual at the graceful Wanderers Club in Johannesburg 12h00 for 13h00. After the usual splendid lunch accompanied by some fine wines from the Wanderers’ extensive cellars the Annual General Meeting will be held. It will be chaired by the present incumbent Bruce Harrison who will as usual bring some humour to the serious matter of electing a committee for 2011/2012.

Let us please have a record turnout for this yearly necessity.

Thank you.

For more information on RAFOC please refer to RAFOC’s web site http://www.rafoc.org/ .


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