Corporal Chloe

(Article by Chris Teale, Images by Irene McCullagh – Article originally appeared in All About Cats magazine in December 2010)

The armed forces of the world since time immemorial have always seemed to have an affinity with various animals both wild and domestic. They seem to cheerfully join the ranks and fit in with the military way of life at little inconvenience to themselves and their chosen comrades.

Chris Teale and Corporal Chloe

In the days of sail, the ship’s cat was a mandatory member of the crew with many duties relating to the control of vermin and invariably companionship to many a lonely sailor.

With the advent of more modern warfare throughout the 20th Century, the role of animals as pets and soldier’s companions was more accurately documented; there is a photograph of a German Regiment going off to the front in the First World accompanied by a miniature German dachshund, fully kitted out with a uniform, a specially made helmet and kit bag.

There are many tales to be told of the South African Air Force’s involvement with a huge menagerie of animals ranging from cheetahs with 2 Squadron in East Africa in 1940 to lionesses, ostriches, and assorted animals in the Bush from 1966 – 1989, some of whom achieved some degree of notoriety for antics they got up to including enjoying the benefits of the bars and pubs at many of the SA Air Force Bases in the then South West Africa. (Namibia)

Names given to some of these animals, including a gigantic cat and his “wife” are not mentionable in family magazines.

Chloe on guard duty

And so to Chloe van Ysterplaat who was promoted to Corporal at the SAAF Museum Air Force Base Ysterplaat, employed as erstwhile tour guide, vermin hunter and NCO on Duty when the Museum closes.

A generous soul, she regularly offers a morsel that she has caught and half devoured, including; mice, moles, the occasional cockroach and once in a while, a feathered species.

Once in a while, she commits the occasional breach of discipline that results in her being Confined to Barracks due to being found guilty of being Absent With Out Leave (AWOL), usually when there has been a party at the Officer’s Mess where due to her rank she is most unwelcome at these affairs.

These days she is less boisterous and besides playing with her many toys, her favourite, a catnip flavoured toy mouse, she demands her brush several times a day and can then usually be found fast asleep on a wing of one of the Museum aircraft.

A clever little soul, she loves the attention of the tourists and will happily pose for photographs. Recently she posed for Sam Bausch of the Africa Aerospace and Defence Expo and featured in one of their newsletters.

Many visitors to the Museum and enquire of her whereabouts and subsequently find her somewhere about the Museum and she will happily chat away to them in cat talk.

She is well looked after by the Museum staff and enjoys the benefits of a healthy diet as recommended by her Veterinarian Doctor. She is well known on Air Force Base Ysterplaat and is quite often visited by Senior Officers from the Base who come and enquire after her wellbeing.

When next visiting Air Force Base Ysterplaat, Corporal Chloe van Ysterplaat will more than likely be somewhere around the Museum waiting to greet you most affably and accompany you around Museum describing and pointing out her favourite spots in the Museum.

Sikorsky S55 Whirlwind (HAS 22)


A5 (cn 55-959) (Image by Gunter Grondstein)


The S-55 was introduced into the SAAF in 1956, with further airframes arriving in 1956 and 1957. These were assembled at Ysterplaat, and joined an S-51 as the Helicopter flight at AFS Langebaanweg. This flight was later re-established as 17SQN.


1953 – Built by Kaiser Corporation and delivered to Sikorsky on 26/05/53 after making an acceptance flight on 11/02/53. WV224 arrived at Gosport, UK on the 26/09/53 and issued to 706 Squadron (coded 733/gj) Fleet Air Arm on the 14/10/53.

1954 – Transferred to 845 Sqdn. On 01/03/54 and coded “s”, whilst with 845 Sqdn WV224 would almost certainly have taken part in the Suez operations of 1956 flying from HSM Theseus, the first British amphibious assault using helicopters.

1957 – Sent to RNAS Lee-On-Solent on 01/04/57 and passed onto Westland Helicopters at Illchester for cat 4 reconditioning on 29/05/57.

1958 – Returned to Lee-On-Solent via RAF Shawbury on 27/04/58 from Westlands and issued to 848 Sqdn coded “354” on its formation on 15/10/58, departing to Malta on HMS Victorious.  NOTE:  Code 354 is reported but can not be confirmed.

1960 – Transferred to RNAS Hal Far SAR Flight Malta 01/01/60 and may have been coded “958”.

1962 – Returned to the UK (details unknown) and arrived at Westlands, Weston-Super-Mare for cat 4 reconditioning on 21/05/62.

1964 – Sent to NARIV?  Lee-On-Solent for UHF installation on 04/11/64.

1965 – Issued to 728 Sqdn at Hal Far Malta for SAR duties on 23/03/65 to replace WV203 and coded “961”.  WV224 was flown back to the UK from Malta on 30/08/65 arriving back at Fleetlands on 04/09/65.

1966 – Joined 781 Sqdn at Lee-On-Solent on 23/02/66 and was sent to NARIV for installation of MAD gear (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) still coded “961”.  Returned to NARIV on 14/09/66, presumably for MAD gear removal, moving to Fleetlands on 28/09/66, rejoined 781 Sqdn at Lee-On-Solent on 20/10/66 on a temporary basis and sent back to Fleetlands on 17/11/66 for storage.

1970 – Sold to Autair Helicopters on 19/11/70 and departed on 01/03/71 to be used as a spare source for other Autair helicopters.  WV224 arrived at Port Elizabeth with  3 other ex RNAS S55 airframes.

It’s believed these were flown by Autair to Grand Central Airport in Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth .


The only information we have is that they languished in a hanger and in due course given to the SAAF Museum at Swartskop with WV224 finding it’s way to Ysterplaat.


706 and 845 squadron Oxford Blue. It is believed it was refinished in extra dark sea grey with upper surfaces and sky lower surfaces while with 848 squadron.

Back to Oxford blue when it was transferred to SAR Flight, Malta.

829 squadron RAF blue grey.

This particular airframe is another volunteer project, and is being restored under the  guidance of Richard Woodard, who became particulary intimate with the type when  he was posted to RAF Kuching in Borneo, serving with 225 SQN.

Jeep towing the S 55 prior to restoration.
Restoration complete

Thomas Roberts Millar


Flying Officer Thomas Robert Millar, RAAF
AWARDS : 1939-45 Star; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-45; Australia Service Medal 1939-45.
Polish Home Army Medal 1939-1945; Warsaw Insurgents Cross 1944.
COMMEMORATION : Panel 16, Col 1 of the Malta War Memorial, Malta.

Bob was born in Narromine NSW, Australia, and educated in Sydney becoming Dux of his schools in 1932 and 1934. He graduated from Sydney University in 1939 with a Bachelor of Economics degree and then obtained an administrative position with the Sydney Gaslight Company.

In January 1942 he married Elizabeth Grace Thompson before enlisting in the RAAF on 22nd May of that year as a volunteer for flying duties. Their daughter, Anne Elizabeth , was born on 3rd February 1943.

His initial training was at Bradfield Park, Cootamundra, Sale, Nhill, and in due course he was commissioned on 4 February 1943. One month later on the 6th March he embarked at Melbourne and travelling via Canada he arrived at 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, England on 18th April.

In England he undertook further training commencing at 4 Air Observer School, West Freugh, Wigtownshire, Scotland (the unit changed its name on 11.6.03 to 4 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit). Afterwards he proceeded to Upper Heyford, Swinderby and Moreton-in Marsh in England.
In May he spent some time with the PEDDER family of Kenilworth whilst on ‘local’ leave. The family kept in touch with the Millars including sending Christmas cards with a picture of their house. Nearly 60 years later Bob’s daughter Anne was able to identify and visit the house using this picture. Subsequently Anne spoke with the two daughters Susan & Pru.& son all in their 70s.

In January 1944 Bob was transferred to Italy joining 205 Group 104 Squadron RAF until July 1944. He was stationed at Foggia Main air base ,west of Bari and took part in sorties to Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary and Roumania.

In August he was seconded to 31 Squadron, South African Air Force and stationed at Celone air base , Foggia. Very soon he was flying to Warsaw dropping supplies to beleaguered partisans who had risen against the German occupation forces. Supposedly Russian armies were approaching Warsaw to relieve the city but they held back at this point leaving the Polish citizens to fend for themselves.

The Warsaw operation was dangerous. Flying time to Warsaw was 5 hours and on arrival aircraft were obliged to fly at a height of not more than 500 feet and sometimes as low as 100 feet taking care to avoid high buildings. According to Neil Orpen’s ‘Airlift to Warsaw’, published by W.Foulsham & Co., and where there are references to Bob on pages 74 and 77, there were 186 sorties from Italy to Warsaw in a six week period and 31 aircraft were lost. Hence Bob was fortunate to survive, and the skill of the experienced South African pilot, Major Urry, and his crew no doubt helped the survival.

On 12 October 1944 16 Liberators of 31 Squadron and 4 of 34 Squadron SAAF took off on a supply dropping mission to Italian partisans in the mountains of northern Italy. There were 4 different dropsites with five planes allotted to each site. Each plane had 8 crew. They took off in late afternoon knowing that they would be flying in the night as they approached the north. Bob was aboard the Liberator KH158 piloted by Major Urry, SAAF [with drop zone “Morris” ENE of Genoa]. The crew was truly representing the Commonwealth being composed of 5 SAAF, 2 RAF & 1 RAAF as follows:.

Major S.S. Urry SAAF, age 29 born South Africa, 1st Pilot
Lt G.A. Collard SAAF, age 19 born South Africa, Navigator
2 Lt P.J.Lordan SAAF, born South Africa, Air Gunner
WO 1 L.B. Bloch SAAF, born South Africa, Air Gunner
Lt N.W. Armstrong SAAF, born South Africa, Air Gunner
F/O G.E. Hudspith RAF, age 29 born England, 2nd Pilot
Sgt R.C. Fitzgerald RAF, age 19 born England, Sgt Air Gunner
F/O T R Millar RAAF, age 28 born Australia, Bomber/Navigator

Warsaw Flight KG 838 H [or 858 smudged typing

Crew : L-R front row Lt Meterkamp ,Maj Urry ,Lt Collard ,F/OMillar
L-R back row W/O Bloch ,Possible 2Lt Lordan ,Lt Armstrong .
Only 7 men as Sgt Lockey RAF is thought to have joined at the last minute

The weather was bad with poor visibility and few crews were able to see the drop site fires so many drops were aborted. Of the 20 planes that set out 6 failed to return. Four crashed high in the mountains, one crashed near Cantalupa but the sixth disappeared without trace. The wreckages of the crashed planes were eventually found but there was no news of the sixth Liberator. The crew members of the sixth Liberator, KH158, with Bob among the crew members, were officially posted missing – a sad ending for brave men. The disappearance of KH158 has yet to be solved.

The citizens of the Italian towns have been most appreciative of the heroic actions of those lost in this operation and a commemorative service was held in Bra ,northern Italy on 25th April 2001. This was attended by the citizens and ex-partisans of Bra and relatives of the crews. The Mayor welcomed and offered hospitality to the relatives and, at a dinner held in the evening, Anne Storm was asked to read the letter her father had written her on her first birthday.

1/2/44 F/O T.R.MILLAR RAAF Aus 422612 – 104 Squadron RAF CMF Italy

My Dear Daughter,
This is the first time I have written to you and although you are as yet too young to read it perhaps mother will save it up until the time comes when you can read it yourself. In 2 days time it will be your first birthday anniversary-a great event for your parents. My regret is that I cannot personally be there to help you blow out your single candle but believe me lassie I will be there in spirit.

I am writing this from a place called Italy which is far away from our fair land-a place where I would not be by choice so far away separated from a wife & daughter so dear to me. But I am here ,precious one , because there is a war on caused by certain people who wished to rule the world harshly & despotically, imperilling an intangible thing called democracy which your mother & I thought all decent people should fight for. You will understand as you grow up what democracy means for us & how it is an ideal way of life which we aspire to put into practice.

All I ask of you, Anne dear is that you stay as sweet as your mother & cling tight to the subtle thing we call Christianity, which has been the core of her way of life & her mother’s & mine. I hope that you will love & respect me as I love & respect my father.

That’s all young lady. Have a happy birthday -may they all be happy birthdays. I hope to be home again one fine day. In the meantime lots of love to you & to mother

From Dad
Bob Millar

The wreckage of KH158 has never been found. If you know of any further information regarding this mission, we would very much like to hear from you. Please contact us.


UPDATE – 21st May 2011

On Sunday 15th May a memorial plaque for the 12th October 1944 missing in action crew of Liberator KH158 of 31 Squadron SAAF was unveiled, in a ceremony high in the Ligurian part of the Apennine mountains, ENE of Genoa, Italy.

The plaque is in place on an old “round house” wall in the grounds of a 1944 partisan meeting house, Faggio Rotondo. This is in the vicinity the 1944 partisan supply drop zone area code “Morris ” and near a regular mountain hiking trail.

The ceremony was attended by my family for my father ,F/O T R Millar RAAF-the bombaimer, also family of the pilot, Maj SS Urry SAAF , British , Australian and South African Embassy officials in Rome and Genoa plus the Italian Ligurian officials, Member of Parliament, Mayors from the nearby towns and local people. The event was covered by the Genoan press.

All of this was made possible by an Italian friend who suggested the plaque in remembrance of my father, F/O TR Millar RAAF and approached the local Mayor with his suggestion. He and another friend, who was involved in a earlier airforce commemoration, put most of this event together, with input from myself.

Liberator KH158 is still missing but I feel that this plaque is a culmination of 10 years of research into my father’s wartime life and disappearance .Now more local Italian people and officials know about the loss of the plane and one day someone just might find out information about it’s whereabouts .

The crew were —
Maj SS Urry -SAAF
F/O G E Hudspith -RAF
F/O T R Millar RAAF [my father]
Lt GA Collard -SAAF
Lt NW Armstrong -SAAF
2/Lt PJ Lordan -SAAF
W/O LB Bloch -SAAF
Sgt RC Fitzgerald -RAF


Mustang P-51D-20NA

Category : Aircraft , Features , Posts , Publications

Mustang '325' at Swartkops, 1999

Serial Number 44-72202 was delivered to the USAAF in September 1945

12/21/46: Delivered RSwAF 26112 F4, later F16
1952 Dec: Delivered Dominican AF FAD 1917
1984: (Johnson Av.)
1987: SAAF Historic Flight -restoration
1993: SAAF Museum -restoration
1998: Flying again as SAAF 325
2001: suffered a wheels up landing (repairs began)

The airframe was acquired for the SAAF Museum by Lt Col Tony Smit in 1987 from the USA and
it was shipped to Cape Town. It was found to be very corroded and stripping commenced immediately
after the crated aircraft arrived at AFB Swartkop. It is recorded that bad luck, missing parts, stretched
cables and a lack of funds resulted in the restoration taking some 12 years of work.

The aircraft had a mishap when one side of the undercarriage failed to rotate and  the aircraft was damaged. The pilot was Lt Col N. Thomas.

General Characteristics

Length of 9.8 metres, wingspan of 11.28 metres, height of 4.08 metres.

Powerplant is a Packard V-1650-7 liquid cooled supercharged V-12.

Aeromacchi Atlas MB326M Impala Mark I and Mark II

Category : Aircraft , Features , Posts , Publications

Impala 531, in Silver Falcons scheme, taken at Hoedspruit in 1997.
Impala Mk II #1027 taken at Bloemspruit in 1997.
Impala #524 taken at the SAAF Museum at Swartkops in 2003.

An Italian design, the South African versions are known as Impalas. The dual seat prototype first flew in 1957, with the single seat version’s first flight occurring in 1970.

The power plant is a Rolls Royce Viper Mk 540 turbojet offering 1547kg’s of static thrust.

The principal dimensions include a wingspan of 10,56 metres, a height of 3.72 metres, and a length of 10,65 metres.

Top speed at sea level of 770kmh, with a service ceiling of 12500 metres and a range of 1665 kilometres.

North American Harvard

Taken at Swartkops in 1997.
Taken at Swartkops in 1997.

The first prototype flew in 1937, the T6G had a top speed of 341 kmh at sea level with an operational ceiling
of 6500m.

A batch of 9 Mk I’s were delivered between 1940 and 1942, and the SAAF took delivery of their first batch of Harvard Mk II’s in 1942, with deliveries continuing until four Harvards were purchased from the Belgian Air Force in 1961.

The SAAF operated a number of variants, including the MkII (Designated in the US as  AT-6C), Mk III’s (designated in the US as AT-6D or SJN-4) and the T-6G, the rebuilt version of World War II vintage machines.

Super Frelon 321L

Super Frelon #314 is cared for in a running condition at the Museum at Ysterplaat Air Force Base.
Frelon #314 dwarfs the Ford Canada CMP truck.

The first prototype flew on December 7th, 1962, and the first production model flew on November 11th, 1965.

This French aircraft was powered by three Turbomeca Turmo IIIC turbo shaft engines rated at 1320 shp (985Kw) each. The fuselage is 19.4 metres and the rotor diameter is 18.9 metres. The gross mass is 13 000 kilograms.

The aircraft had a maximum speed of 275kmh at sea level with a range of 820 kilometres. The service ceiling was 3150 metres. A crew of pilot, co-pilot and engineer, and 27 passengers could be carried.

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

The first prototype flew in 1936, and the aircraft became one of the greatest recconaissance aircraft of all time.

Powered by an Argus AS 10-C eight cylinder air-cooled piston engine of 176 kW, the aircraft has a wingspan of 14.22 meters, a height of 3 meters and a length of 10 meters. The maximum speed is 175 k/mh. The SAAF aquired it FI 156C-7 in 1946.


Louis Trichardt, 1999.
Image by Neil Commerford

The first production F.1 flew in 1973, with South Africa receiving it’s first delivery in 1975. Powered by a Snecma-Atar 09k-50 turbojet rated at 5035 kg (7166 kg on afterburner) the Mirage is capable of Mach 2.2

The length is 15 meters, the height is 4.5 meters and the wingspan is 8.4 meters.

  • -

C-47 6832 Accident Summary (The coelacanth Dakota)


(Reprinted by kind permission of Clinton Barnard – Aviation & Safety Magazine)

NOTE: This is the same aircraft that was involved in the coelacanth flight in December 1952

Occurrence Date: 26 January 1966

Aircraft Involved: one Douglas C-47A Dakota Mk III NAV (serial 6832)

Aircrew & Aircraft Home Unit: Station Flight, AFS Ysterplaat

Accident Root Cause: human error (groundcrew error)

Aircraft Damage Classification: undamaged

Total Human Involvement: 3

Total On-Board Human Involvement: 2

Total Human Attrition: 1 injured, 2 OK

Identities of Involved: pilot, Lt John Gerald Thompson (01504935R) OK;

co-pilot, 2/Lt Erasmus Johannes Pienaar (05570494R) OK;

other, A/Sgt Edward Alfred Smith (05203179E) injured

Major (Maj) AP Rich was Officer Commanding (OC) Flying at Air Force Station (AFS) Ysterplaat, which fell under the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) Maritime Group. On January 26, 1966, he was also OC night flying for Station Flight during their continuation training and, as such, also authorised all the flying that night. All participating aircrews had signed documents to the effect that they had carried out self briefing. The Maj authorised Lieutenant (Lt) JG Thompson and 2nd Lieutenant (2/Lt) EJ Pienaar, both from Station Flight, to complete two back-to-back periods of circuits and landings commencing at 21H30 in Douglas C-47A Dakota Mk III NAV serial 6832 under visual flight rules conditions. During the first 45-minute period, 2/Lt Pienaar would be the aircraft commander and Lt Thompson the co-pilot, and, after a full-stop landing, they would switch seats and roles for the second 45-minute period. It would appear as though no flight engineer had been assigned for this flight.

While initial take-offs and final landings would occur at Ysterplaat, the actual circuits and landings and crew change-overs were to take place at nearby DF Malan International Airport (later Cape Town International Airport).

Air Sergeant (A/Sgt) EA Smith was a member of 17 Squadron based at AFS Ysterplaat. Over and above his usual duties with this unit, he had also been briefed from time to time regarding the servicing of Station Flight’s Dakota transports and performed duty as part of the Duty Crew for Station Flight.

As such, on the night of January 26, he was tasked by the NCO in charge of the Duty Crew, A/Sgt AN Sergeant, to collect a torch and proceed to DF Malan Airport in order to perform undercarriage and tyre checks on the Dakotas performing training there that night. A/Sgt Sergeant was fully satisfied with A/Sgt Smith’s competency in performing this task, which would require the A/Sgt to marshal the Dakota to a dead stop into wind on the South African Airways (SAA) tarmac, switch off the marshalling torches and approach the aircraft midway between the port engine and port wingtip. He would then have to proceed under the port wing to the port undercarriage and inspect it by torchlight for any apparent damage and wear and tear. He also had to examine the wheel bay for any leaks, before proceeding straight across to the starboard undercarriage and repeating the whole procedure.

During this time, the pilots would be engaged in swapping their seats in anticipation of their second flying period. He then had to backtrack, take up the marshalling torches and marshal the aircraft forwards for half the radius of the tyres in order to repeat the inspection as before, but this time on the section of tyre that had previously been in contact with the ground during his initial examination.

Lt Thompson was born in 1943 and had 859.35 total flying hours achieved on all types thus far in his SAAF service career, 796.35 hours having been accumulated on C-47s alone, of which 622.45 hours were as aircraft commander on the Dak. Instrument flying experience consisted of 7.45 hours on the Link Trainer, 51.40 hours simulated and 72.45 actual hours. He held a green instrument rating and his most recent assessment of flying proficiency achieved an average rating at Ysterplaat on March 31, 1965.

2/Lt Pienaar was born in 1944 and had 477 total flight hours, 379 having been on type with 180.15 hours as flight commander on the Dakota. He presently held a white instrument rating with a total of 20 instrument Link hours, 40 hours simulated and 17 hours actual instrument flying. His most recent flight proficiency assessment was an average achieved at Ysterplaat on May 10, 1965.

Neither pilot had any previous record of accidents due to pilot error.

Dakota 6832 lifted off as scheduled from Ysterplaat and, at the conclusion of the first period at 22H13, 2/Lt Pienaar taxied the aircraft onto the dispersal at DF Malan Airport. The aircraft marshaller was a civilian employed as an airport assistant, Mr PC Esterhuysen, who turned the transport into wind and brought it to a complete stop heading north to south. 2/Lt Pienaar activated the parking brake and completely closed both engine throttles to ground idle. The pilots undid their safety harnesses, unplugged their earphones and microphones and swapped seats in anticipation of the next flight period.

As Lt Thompson got comfortable in his seat, he noticed the marshaller indicating ‘chocks in’. While still busy plugging in their microphones and earphones, both pilots experienced a sudden jerk on the aircraft. Believing that one of the engines might have cut due to a fuel shortage, instinct was to first check the fuel pressure gauges, but these indicated nothing untoward. All other cockpit indications were normal. The Lt then looked out of the port cockpit window towards the port (No. 1) engine and was alarmed and concerned by what he saw….

While Mr Esterhuysen kept watch from in front of the Dakota, A/Sgt Smith moved in beneath the aircraft to perform his inspection. After having completed his inspection on the port undercarriage, the A/Sgt straightened up and stepped back from the wheel, his back being towards the engine propeller and the marshaller. The next instant, the propeller struck the A/Sgt from behind and flung him to the ground directly beneath the propeller. As Mr Esterhuysen watched, the A/Sgt attempted to stand up. The marshaller immediately indicated to the flight crew to cut their engines and then he ran forwards to help pull the injured A/Sgt from under the still rotating propeller.

From the cockpit, Lt Thompson saw someone in a SAAF uniform lying on the ground. He immediately cut both engines and both pilots hastened outside to see what had happened. As they arrived at the scene, they found the marshaller attempting to assist a bloodied A/Sgt Smith. Mr Esterhuysen then used his mobile radio to inform the control tower of the accident and to request the presence of the necessary emergency services. At  22H14 the aircraft docking assistant at DF Malan, Mr NJ le Grange, ran into the office to inform Mr PJB Oppel, the senior airport assistant at DF Malan, of the accident. The men rushed to the accident scene to find an A/Sgt lying on the ground about 6 ft (1.8 m) away from the aircraft propeller. Due to the patient’s extensive injuries, sustained from behind, the men present kept him lying on his back while Mr Oppel applied pressure to help keep the artery in the injured man’s neck closed.

The doctor and ambulance arrived within 12 minutes and the patient was conveyed by ambulance to Carl Bremer Hospital where he was diagnosed with a single laceration on the right side of the skull, an extensive laceration of the right shoulder, a fracture of the right collar bone, with approximately 1.5 inches (5 cm) of the collar bone missing, fracture of the right shoulder bone, pneumohemothorax of the right lung, while the coupling of the right lung was also torn open. After stabilisation, at 15H00 on January 28, the A/Sgt was transferred to Wynberg Military Hospital. In the opinion of Maj CF Scheepers, a medical officer who treated the A/Sgt, there could possibly be some future permanent restriction of movement to the right shoulder, the degree of which would only become evident with the passage of time. He anticipated that the degree of permanent disability would eventually not be very severe.

Maj Rich was informed of the accident at about 22H20, whereupon he ordered the Dakota to be locked, the aircraft’s pyrotechnics to be removed and that the aircraft be guarded. At approximately 09H00 the following morning, the Engineering Officer at Ysterplaat, Captain (Capt) FD Jooste, examined the port propeller of Dakota 6832 prior to the aircraft being moved from the scene of the accident. He performed a blade tracking check and found all three blades within limits. He also pulled the propeller through about five revolutions to establish freedom of movement, following which he declared the engine and propeller fully serviceable for flight. After photos had been taken of the accident scene, on January 27 the aircraft was flown back to Ysterplaat since an SAA aircraft required the use of that particular tarmac for operations. Capt Jooste stated that Dakota 6832 had subsequently flown 4.30 hours since the accident and had given no trouble.

A Board of Inquiry was ordered by the Chief Commandant of Maritime Group to investigate the accident. There were no civil claims and no damage to any property except for the individual involved who was found solely and directly to blame for not keeping clear of the rotating propeller. The fact that it was night time was considered by the Board as a contributory cause.

The Board found all the witness evidence to be credible and recommended that the procedure for the checking of tyres and undercarriages be reviewed by the relevant departments involved in the light of this accident. The Station Commander agreed with the Board’s findings and recommendations, but added that the practice of checking undercarriages and tyres on both Harvards and Dakotas had now ceased, except where a pilot reported a hard landing. In this event, the engines would be switched off for the necessary examinations to be safely performed. The Air Staff Aircraft Accident Board (ASAAB) concurred with the findings of the Board and classed the accident as an avoidable major ground accident and the cause down to human error, specifically groundcrew error, due to inadvertence.

At the time of this occurrence, Dakota 6832 had flown 622.50 hours since its last major servicing and had accumulated 7 240.45 total flying hours since new. It continued to serve with the SAAF until becoming one of only two Dakotas transferred to the SAAF Museum for preservation purposes. By the time of its last service flight with 35 Squadron at DF Malan Airport on March 3, 1995, it had achieved a credible 16 282.2 total airframe flying hours.