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                                                                IN-FORMATION
                                                                 NEWSLETTER OF THE DURBAN BRANCH
  PO BOX 441, UMHLANGA ROCKS, 4320    TEL/FAX 031- 561-5806   NUMBER 58                               January 2010
      e-Mail : boardman@webafrica.org.za


               STOP PRESS - STOP PRESS - STOP PRESS - STOP PRESS
                      Annual SAAF Prestige Awards for the Year 2009

At the SA Air Force Parade held in Pretoria on Friday 29th January the annual SAAF Prestige Awards
were presented. It is our pleasure (and pride) that we pass on that “Our” units featured prominently, as
indicated below:

Best Air Force Base of the year – AFB Durban (A repeat of 2008).
Best Air Force Permanent Flying Unit of the year – 15 Squadron (A repeat of 2007 & 2008)
    (This means that 15 Sqdn has scored a “Hat Trick”) – has this ever been achieved previously ???)
Air Force Sword of Peace for 2009 – 15 Squadron placed second. (They won this award in 2008)
Best Base Fire & Rescue Services Section – AFB Durban 2nd.
Best Air Force Protection Squadron of the year – AFB Durban 3rd.
Overall Air Force Prestige Unit of the year – No 2 ASU LBWG 1st, 15 Squadron 2nd and AFB Durban 3rd.

The award for the best Dog Section in the SANDF was awarded to AFB Durban, with Cpl Majola being
rated the best dog handler in the SANDF. Not to be outdone by their handlers, the dog “Aero” from AFB
Durban was rated the best patrol dog in the SANDF.

Our congratulations to Col Steve Bekker, Lt-Col Alec Kitley, Maj Raymond du Plessis, WO2 Glen Pillay
(Fire Chief), and their respective teams.


                                                    NEWS AND EVENTS
                    The Sunset Call                                               Annual raffle

Since the publication of our previous newsletter it is        The draw for our annual raffle took place during our
with sadness that we report that Charles (Choots)             Xmas lunch on 11 Dec. The winners are:
Taylor and Jean Townshend have been called to                 First prize        R500 Mr “JD” Fouche
Higher Service. May they rest in peace.                       Second prize R250 Mrs Claire Graham
                                                              Third prize        R100 Mr Kevin Roberts
  At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will     (Kevin donated his prize to our welfare fund – thank
                      remember him                            you Kevin)
                    New Members.
                                                              Our congratulations are extended to the winners. The
                                                              net income of R 2 396 was placed into our Welfare
A warm word of welcome is extended to our 4 new               Fund. We would like to thank all those who
members, namely: David Bennett, Donald Dyke-                  participated and also a special word of thanks to those
Wells, Albie Gotze and Johann von Bargen. Also                members who actively sold tickets. Vic Stow managed
welcome to Ernest & Monica Venter, who have                   to sell 11 full sheets – thanks Vic.
moved to Durban from Cape Town. We trust that
you all will enjoy many hours of camaraderie with
us.
                                                                              Xmas Lunch 11 Dec

              Members Transferred Out                         WO Brendan Schmidt and his team once again
                                                              provided an outstanding meal. We however offer our
During the latter part of last year we bade farewell to       apologies to those members who had to wait until we
Carol Siedle who has moved to Mooi River, and we              could get extra seating sorted out.
also say farewell to Maj Trevor Williamson who has
been posted to Hoedspruit.

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           SA Air Force – 90th Anniversary                                      Luncheons

This year the SA Air Force will be celebrating it’s 90th    Our monthly lunches for the next three months will be
Anniversary. The SAAF is the second oldest                  held on the dates as tabulated below. Time is 12h00
independent Air Force in the world with the RAF being       for 13h00 at the Combined Mess at the Air Force
the oldest. Both these air forces were “fathered” by        Base. The cost of the lunch is R50p/p.
the same person – Gen. Jannie Smuts. A brief outline        12 Feb. No speaker - AGM
of the events leading to the formation of the SAAF          12 Mar. Speaker to be announced
follows.                                                      9 Apr. Speaker to be announced (Members from
                                                            the Lower South Coast Branch will be raiding us)
Having recommended to the British that they establish
an Air force as a separate arm, it was only natural that    Contact Tony Warren at 031 709 1198 at the latest on
Gen. Smuts would want to do the same for South              the Monday preceding the luncheon to make a
Africa. This decision was taken in 1919 and Lt. Col.        booking. Also, if you have booked and need to cancel
Pierre van Ryneveld was commissioned to evolve the          your booking please do so as promptly as possible.
organisation and procure the necessary equipment.           NB !This also applies to members on Tony’s
Earlier that same year van Ryneveld and Major               “Regulars” list. The list of names that Tony has on his
Quinton Brand carried out their epic flight from            “Regulars List” appears below – So if you want your
England to the Cape, pioneering the air route down          name to be added to, or removed from the list please
Africa.                                                     inform Tony accordingly.

The Imperial Government gave 100 aircraft (including        Ruby Armstrong                  Ted Hodgkinson
30 Avro 504K's, 22 SE.5a's and 48 DH.9's), together         Roy Bass                        Mike Hutchons
with spares, tools, hangers, etc., as a gift to start the   Alex Bell                       George Knights
Empire's newest air force. The first batch arrived in       John Boardman                   Basil Letherbarrow
September 1919 and on 1 January 1920 the Aircraft           Val Boardman                    Sybil Letherbarrow
Depot was established at Roberts Heights, near              Ken Bremner                     Ian Mackintosh
Pretoria, under Capt. I Welch. It became known as           Hinton Brown                    Iris 0ldfield
the Aircraft and Artillery Depot. As a suitable airfield    Hilary Cadle                    Reg Sweet
was required, the farm Zwartkop, near Roberts               Colin Celliers                  Angela Sweet
Heights, was acquired in April 1921, thus becoming          Ann Dimbylow                    Vic Sylvester
South Africa's first air force base. Swartkop is now        Dave Dimbylow                   Cecil Van Vuuren
the headquarters of the SAAF Museum which still             Prop Geldenhuys                 Tony Warren
uses the original Imperial Gift hangers as exhibition       Rina Geldenhuys                 Alex Wishart
halls.
                                                                          Snippets – Past & Present
In June 1920 van Ryneveld was appointed Director of
Air Services with the temporary rank of Colonel, which      In one of our past issues we published the story of
was backdated to 1 February 1920, with it's HQ at the       Jack Spencer and his experiences at Stalag Luft 3.
present SAAF College Officers Mess, VTH. This date          We have had various feed back – but how is this for a
is acknowledged as marking the official birth of the        co-incidence?
SAAF.
                 Members Accounts                           Member Alan Hankinson (now residing in Underberg)
                                                            wrote the following regarding the article on his raffle
It is that time of the year again. Accounts are             entry sheet:
attached for your attention and payment. Please             - He joined the SAAF on 5th May 1941 – so did I.
complete the form and post or e-mail it back to us and      -He was posted to Course 15 at Lyttelton – so was I.
then transfer the applicable amount to our bank             -He got his wings at Vereniging on 4th July 1942 – so did I.
account. The banking details are given on the               -He had a terrible life as a POW- I didn’t, thank God.
account.
Please give your name as deposit reference.                 I spoke to him this morning!! - A small world !!!
                                                                                       -oooo-
                                                            In this issue we have an (amusing) story by Reg Sweet
              Food for thought                              regarding the establishment of 10 Squadron SAAF in
  Behind every successful man is his woman.                 Durban during the early days of WW2. – See page
 Behind the fall of a successful man is usually
           another woman. - Anon                            Monster Wilkins has also given us some feed back on a
                                                            recent trip to Kosovo – See page
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              Anti Hijacking Measures                      house alarm has a remote control, take it with
                                                           you, so if you observe something suspicious – trigger
We were very fortunate to have Johann von Bargen           the alarm.
as our guest speaker at our January lunch. Johann is
the well known 'The Traffic Guy' on East Coast Radio.      Keep your verges clear of places where a hijacker can
He is the Managing Director of Pro Driving Tactics,        hide. Cut bushes “up” from the bottom. (Makes for
and has been on the forefront of the fight against         easier visibility)
hijackers for some years. With his seminars on anti-
hijacking techniques, the message has been delivered       Footnote.
to tens of thousands of people around South Africa.
He also presents seminars on other important               We had seen from Johann’s CV that he had done his
subjects such as defensive driving tactics. Detail can     Citizen Force training in the SAAF (At AFB Durban).
be found on his web site www.trafficguy.co.za .            So – after his talk Johann was “hijacked” and made a
                                                           member of SAAFA and presented with a cap, tie,
During his talk some interesting facts were mentioned:     membership card and name tag.
        30% of hijackings occur at the victims own
        residence (either when leaving or returning                         A Tea Room Story
        home).
        Victims suffered injuries in 0.5% of cases –       (This tea room story was uplifted from the SA
        most of these triggered by the victim resisting.   Veterans Newsletter as told by Dan Lamprecht in his
        So – if you are unlucky enough to be               tales of incidents from the time that he served on the
        hijacked, do not resist or verbally abuse the      staff of Lt Gen J.N. Bierman, SSA,SM,CBE)
        hijacker. Your life is more valuable than your
        vehicle.                                           “Brig H.J. Martin CBE, DFC, was the Deputy Director
                                                           Planning and Operations (DPO) for Gen Bierman. He
Johann provided the following as to what can be            was known as ‘Kalfie’ and he also played prop for the
done as a daily routine to assist us in cutting            Springboks, partnering Nick Bierman in the 1933s.
down the possibility of being hijacked?                    Kalfie was transferred to Chief Air Force Staff from
                                                            01 May 1965 to 30 Jun 1966, after which he was
Routine changes, (routes and times). It confuses them      appointed as Chief of the SA Air Force where he
if they don’t know which route you will be using.          served from 01 Jul 1966 to 30 Nov 1967.

Observation far ahead. Minimise your risk of being         Kalfie’s memorable story in the tea room was
hijacked by identifying a potential hijacker before he     accompanied by a physical enactment as he related
gets to you. This gives you time to preplan any            the episode. Kalfie told how he was flying a Dakota
evasive action.                                            with a group of civilian VIPS, most of who had never
                                                           flown before. During the flight Kalfie emerged from
Time your traffic lights, so that you keep yourself        the cockpit holding two pieces of string in his huge
moving as much as possible. (The same goes for stop        hands. He was hunched forward with his large frame
signs).                                                    and was gently moving backwards, milking the two
                                                           pieces of string that disappeared into the cockpit. He
Keep your doors locked. It gives you a few seconds to      convinced the curious passengers that he was flying
react, while they are still outside the vehicle.           the Dak by manipulating the strings. It was only later
                                                           on in the flight that he called his bluff and explained
Stop at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. You        the function of the auto pilot. As with all Air Force
then have enough space to move out to an alternative       stories there will be another version/variation, but
lane.                                                      seeing the big man, enacting this between the chairs
                                                           in the tea room, was worth remembering and sharing”.
Reverse park. (Or park in a parking bay that will allow
you to drive forward when you leave) It will make it       Editors Note – Could this be called “Fly-by-wire” ?
that much easier for you to see someone
approaching, and that much easier for you to escape.                   Some Alternative Insults
Also when you get into your vehicle don’t fumble           º Are you an experiment in artificial stupidity?
around – start and drive away immediately.                 º If brains were taxed you’d get a rebate.
                                                           º You have the personality of a snail on Valium.
Park parallel to electric gates, wait for the gate to
open and then turn into the drive way. Also if your
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                                                No 10 Fighter Squadron

Among the first draft of pilots of 10 SAAF were Reg Sweet and Gordon Neill of Durban Branch,
SAAFA, and this is their story of the early days of the new squadron. They hailed respectively from the
Cape and Durban. As luck would have it they joined up on the same day, were posted together to ITW
and ATW, together again to EFTS and SFTS and now to 10 SAAF. Only then did their paths diverge, but
in 1986 they were again together at the Spitfire 50th anniversary in the UK

Late in 1941, the webs of war had spread pretty well across the globe. Japan's infamous air attack on the US Navy's
major Pacific Ocean base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, without a declaration of war, had decimated the
US Pacific Fleet and precipitated both countries into the Second World War. Britain, assisted in more than two years
of war by the Commonwealth, now had another major ally.

But for months it seemed the Japanese were unstoppable. The British surrendered Singapore, and strategically this
was an immense blow. Hong Kong fell, too. The Americans suffered serious losses in bitter fighting for Pacific
islands. The Royal Navy lost key battleships and cruisers in the seas south-east of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and with
the loss of the cruiser Dorsetshire in particular many South African sailors perished.

Suddenly the entire Indian Ocean area had become frighteningly vulnerable and with it the east coast of South
Africa, the vital supply artery for reinforcement of the armies fighting in North Africa and now for the Far East as well.
And at Defence Headquarters in Pretoria an alarming truth emerged:

On the East Coast of South Africa there was not a single operational fighter squadron. And the position in regard to
bomber squadrons was only marginally better. There were a few seaward reconnaissance units flying obsolescent
Avro Ansons and a handful of Ju86s which were flying with Union Airways (now SA Airways) until war broke out, and
they were transferred to the SAAF for conversion into military aircraft. Beyond that there was nothing.

The shortfall had to be made good, and very quickly.

Pilots awaiting their postings to the squadrons fighting in the Western Desert found themselves posted instead to
Natal. They were to be part of a brand new unit, No 10 SAAF Fighter Squadron, which would fly out of a new fighter
strip being carved out of the sugar cane at Groutville, near Stanger on Natal's North Coast. It was the first step
toward building up a credible fighter defence on the eastern coastline and a cover for the vital convoys working their
way northward toward the Mozambique Channel.

Ah, the labour pains of the nascent 10 SAAF Squadron!

A favourite wartime acronym was SNAFU - which, being interpreted, represented "Situation Normal, All Fouled Up."
And Groutville was a classic SNAFU.

Somewhere, somehow, someone had got it all wrong. The troop train which carried the 10 Squadron personnel from
Roberts Heights to Durban disgorged its complement of excited, expectant young pilots, their ground crews and their
admin men at the old Durban Station, with its main entrance where Soldier's Way and Pine Street intersect.
Transport carried them and their kitbags and valises up the Berea and beyond Tollgate. Lined up awaiting them on
the sinuous road which winds past Westridge Park tennis stadium, later to become Jan Smuts Avenue, was a long
line of three-tonner transport trucks. The vehicles of 10 SAAF were ready to carry the lads to their brand-new
operational base.

Groutville, in the dark, was not easy to navigate. It was harder still to locate the landing strip from which 10 SAAF
was to fly - bulldozed, they had said, out of the sprawling sugarcane fields. The convoy crawled north and south and
east and west, along every road it could. But the men of 10 SAAF could not find their airstrip.

Which, in the long run, was not surprising. The engineers had not yet begun to build it.!!!
As SNAFU’s go, this one was monumental.


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There was a despairing telephone call to Natal Command Headquarters in Durban. "You'd better bring them
back to Snell Parade," said Command HQ. "We'll accommodate them here."
That was fine in theory. But at Snell Parade the Adjutant said bluntly, "We can take your ground crews, but we have
no place for your officers." Natal Command was left with one option only... Beachfront hotels were telephoned.
Could they take a block booking for some 15 junior officers for a week or so?
"No," said the first hotel - and the second, third and fourth. But "Yes," said the posh Hotel Edward on the Marine
Parade. And 15 brand-new fighter pilots, one-pippers all of them, gratefully flung their weary selves onto 15 state-of-
the-art beds on the second floor of the superbly appointed Edward. True, they had not yet found a landing ground.
But by courtesy of the SAAF they now had a week "on the house" in one of South Africa's great hotels.

Oh, what a war!

In the near future 10 SAAF was to fly Curtiss P75 Mowhawk 1Vs, had been decided. The Mohawks had been used
in the recent East African campaign where 1 SAAF and 3 SAAF Squadrons, flying Mk 2 Hurricanes, had decimated
the Squadrigliae of Italy's Regia Aeronautica. Toward the end of that campaign 1 SAAF was posted to the Western
Desert where the Germans were advancing and 3 SAAF, exchanging their weary Hurricanes for Mohawks,
completed the job in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). It was those Mohawks which were now being refurbished for 10 SAAF.

The new squadron would fly from Stamford Hill aerodrome in Durban, adjacent to the Durban Country Club. Its
north, south, east and west boundaries were Walter Gilbert Rd, where King's Park's international rugby stadium now
stands, Argyle Rd, Snell Parade and Umgeni Rd. Stamford Hill had been a commercial airport before the war and its
control tower, now the headquarters of the Comrades Association of the Natal Mounted Rifles, stands as the sole
reminder of those days. The remainder of the area now comprises an Olympic size swimming pool, a big casino and
a lot of parking for the customers. And now also the new soccer stadium.

While the Mohawks were awaited, the pilots, having exchanged the luxury of the Hotel Edward for standard Army
pattern bell tents pitched in between the permanent bungalows at Natal Command, began taking shape as a unit. In
the meanwhile they converted onto the Harvard Mk I advanced trainer from the United States. Three Harvards were
now in South Africa for evaluation and 10 SAAF became the first squadron to fly them. The problems with the Miles
Masters had already begun and the SAAF urgently needed a replacement advanced trainer in large numbers.

The Mk 1 Harvard proved a splendid aircraft, and the rest is aviation history. The Harvard II would become available
from the North American assembly plants, and they were ordered in their hundreds for the Empire Air Training
Scheme. They were to serve the SAAF with distinction for more than 50 years. The young pilots of 10 SAAF, flying
day and night, converted happily.

Now the balance of the new squadron was drafted in. It comprised pilots recently returned from the squadrons in the
Western Desert, where they had completed an operational tour, and they would now pass on the experience gained
in action.

All of them liked the Harvard from the start. It was a sturdy aircraft, and dependable. There was not one forced
landing due to engine failure while Harvards 3001, 3002 and 3003 flew with 10 SAAF, and the pilots were sorry to
see them go when the Mohawks flew in and the Harvards left for the Central Flying School, where instructors were
trained – initially at Bloemfontein, later at Dunnottar,

The Mohawks were a delight to fly. Fitted with Wright Cyclone radial engines, behind which they rolled superbly and
were highly manoeuvrable, they responded willingly to the controls. But there were two problems.

They had started life with the French Air Force, and these particular Hawks had been based on Madagascar when
France surrendered in 1940. They were taken over by the Allies following the brief campaign in Madagascar, and
were flown to East Africa to be allocated to 3 Squadron SAAF. But because they had been manufactured in the US
for the French Air Force, all operating tags in the cockpit were in French on the controls themselves or on the
instrument panel. Thus, two similar tabs low down on the right offered either freins or debloquers and you had better
have your wits about you for one operated the undercarriage and the other the flaps, and to operate the wrong one
coming in to land would leave a nasty mess on the ground.


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Secondly the Mohawks started crash-landing with seized engines immediately after take-off, and this was
equally serious. One morning two of them blew up in quick succession and their pilots made wheels-up forced
landings on Durban's South Beach, scattering terrified holiday bathers in their scores.

When the Squadron Engineering Officer got to the root of the problem, he found that the wrong grade of engine oil
had been prescribed!

The flying went on, and good news was on the way. The squadron was to be re-equipped with the new P40E
Kittyhawk, also from the Curtiss stable in the States and already performing with distinction in the Western Desert
fighting.

And there was to be a change of landing ground, too. South of Durban at Isipingo, where the Isipingo and the
Umlaas rivers flow into the Indian Ocean, the runways for a new fighter base were being built in the sugar cane
plantations at Reunion. At last the pilots would have clear take-off and landing runs which would make the circuit
area a lot more acceptable than it could ever be at Stamford Hill, hemmed in as it was by the city environment on
three sides. But they were not yet clear of Stamford Hill, and when the Kittyhawks had to be flown in and out of that
landing ground the safety margins were almost nil. For when Stamford Hill was built, there was no such thing as high
performance fighter aircraft. Fortunately, 10 SAAF completed their tenure without damaging a single "Kitty." The
patrols went on and the training too, and from time to time there were "scrambles" ordered to investigate unidentified
aircraft which had appeared on the radar screens at operational headquarters. Most of them turned out to be
friendly, identified by the intercepting Kittyhawks. The remainder simply disappeared from the radar screens. It was
part of 10 SAAF's duties to provide a continuous "standby" facility with two aircraft at immediate readiness.

Thus it happened that Reg and Alan Harrington were the standby pilots one evening when a "scramble" order came.
They were airborne smartly and vectored out to sea. There followed several changes of course and altitude which
revealed nothing. With the light deteriorating, Ops called off the search and the Kitties set course for Stamford Hill.
They made landfall just south of the Bluff. With the wind from the north, that made the approach to Stamford Hill a
turn-in over Durban Harbour to line up on finals. Among the vessels cramming the harbour lay a cruiser of the Free
French Navy, in Durban to take on stores.

The two Kittyhawks turned for their final approach. On the cruiser a French gunner decided they were hostile aircraft
and let fly with three bursts of 40mm anti-aircraft fire. The Kittyhawks, now below 600 ft with undercarriage locked
down and flaps out were, in the hackneyed phrase, sitting ducks.

But the French gunner's enthusiasm was not matched by his ability. He failed, if not by much, to find his targets and
two thoroughly shaken young 2nd Lieuts thankfully squatted their Kittyhawks down on the grass of Stamford Hill.

Next morning The Natal Mercury carried the following report on its main news page:

 "An unidentified aircraft was reported over Durban late yesterday”.
"Fighter planes of the SAAF were scrambled to investigate”.
"No contact was reported and the aircraft made good its escape."

The final cliche was amusing. Not a word about the fact that the two SAAF fighters had been fired upon, the targets
of a Free French gunner who had decided they were "hostiles." In the circumstances, perhaps that was
understandable.

And then there was the small matter of the old Athlone Bridge over the Umgeni River. One day, a young pilot
displaying a degree of stupidity that was near incredible flew a Harvard up the Umgeni River and under the road
which the bridge carried across the river to Durban North. He lived to testify that he had done just that. A few days
later a second pilot performed the same thoroughly irresponsible manoeuvre. And then there was a third.

Perhaps it was inevitable. A fourth pilot was heard to say that he would do likewise – but at night.
Thankfully, the word got around. In fact it reached the Commanding Officer, and the young hopefuls of 10 SAAF
received the dressing-down of their lives. Very quietly, but very firmly, the CO informed his pilots that the next man
to try the Athlone Bridge caper would not only never fly again. He would also be cashiered and drummed out of the
SAAF. So sanity at last prevailed.
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There was also the case of the rhinoceros in the Officers' Mess:

At Natal Command, where they still slept in their bell tents, the young officers of 10 SAAF were permitted to take
breakfast and their evening meal in the Officers' Mess. They sensed that they were there under sufferance, and
probably they were right. Ancient officers who had used that Mess for years would eye them from behind their
newspapers with a degree of disapproval which left no doubt about that. They would tolerate these young whipper-
snappers, but only just. They made ghastly noises with their infernal aeroplanes at all hours of the day and night,
they had pitched their tents between the permanent bungalows, and when they were going on duty they would walk
through the Mess in those outrageous flying boots. It was an invasion of privacy!!

In a corner of the Officers' Mess lounge stood a stuffed rhino. It had been there as long as any officer could
remember, and its pride and joy was a magnificent curved horn some 3ft (about one metre) long. As time went by
one night and the elderly officers, Army types all of them, drifted off to bed, the 10 SAAF "Sprogs" got into their
stride. They decided on a game of "Bok-Bok," the traditional roustabout in which two teams took turns in bending
forward, man crouched behind man with his head inserted between the legs in front of him and arms clutching the
thighs ahead, rather like a rugby scrum with all the forwards in a straight line. They pushed against a "cushion" of two
players facing them, also in single file, backed up normally against a wall or a tree trunk. The opponents, one at a
time, would race toward the rear of the crouching line, make a hands-assisted leap, sail through the air and, as they
lost momentum, plunge down and lock splayed legs around an opposition back, hanging on with grasping hands as
the remaining jumpers followed. In this case they selected the head of the stuffed rhino as the backing for their
"cushion," and battle commenced. Inevitably a seething mound of bodies built up along the line of the opposing
backs. Very often the whole tangled mass would collapse and tumble to the floor. Then, automatically, the two teams
switched and the crouchers now became the jumpers. But the object was to hold on precariously, hilariously, until
every jumper had made his leap. Then the leader would hold up a hand displaying a finger or fingers, and lay it on
the back of the croucher beneath him. "Bok, Bok, staan styf " he would call, "hoeveel vingers op jou lyf?"
The opposing No 1 would make his guess. If he was correct, the game restarted with the roles reversed. If not, the
jumping ritual would remain unchanged. Bok-Bok was a boisterous game. Sometimes, players got hurt. And always it
was noisy. This time, no one was hurt. But as the game built up to its rowdy climax there came a resounding "crack"
and the players tumbled to the floor in a noisy tangle of arms and legs. One by one they disengaged, got to their feet
and stood back. And the awful truth emerged. They had snapped off the horn of the stuffed rhino. Now was the time
to find their tents and tumble into bed...
Commanding Officer's Orders appeared, as usual, on the main Natal Command notice board the following day.
Order No I was brief and to the point:
"The game known as 'Bok-Bok' will in future not be played by junior officers in Natal Command Officers' Mess." It
was signed by the Officer Commanding. The Bok-Bok season had been a short but merry one. And the rhino stood in
its comer, dehorned and desolate.

Another day, another drama.

Gus Monzali, one of the ex-North pilots who was passing on operational tips and wrinkles to the 10 SAAF "Sprogs,"
led four Kittyhawks in from a seaward patrol one morning, right down at "nought feet" and straight up West Street in
line astern formation. At the City Hall he pulled up and away, and the formation with him. And at that precise
moment a very senior SAAF officer walked out through the front door of the General Post Office to see four
Kittyhawks roar past at rooftop height. Monzali and his fellow pilots were placed under arrest as they climbed out of
their planes at Stamford Hill. They were to appear before the senior SAAF officer at Command HQ that very day.
What transpired on that occasion remained a mystery to the pilots of 10 SAAF. Gus, somehow, must have talked his
way out of serious trouble. Certainly the four were severely reprimanded. They were fortunate, for they might well
have been grounded for a long time. (Gus Monzali, who drove racing cars for a hobby, sadly lost his life in a car
accident on the Ellis Brown Viaduct, at the Blue Lagoon, some years after the war).

At last came the move to the new landing ground on the Reunion flats. Now the "big squeeze" into and out of
Stamford Hill was a thing of the past. The pilots liked that, though in this period they lost Tony Russell, a good flier
who hailed from Port Elizabeth, when his Kittyhawk flicked into an inverted spin from which he was unable to recover
some 15 miles out to sea.
Editors Note – We will continue with stories by Reg Sweet in our next newsletter.

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                                           Monster Wilkins Meanderings

Monster recently visited Kosovo (Previously part of the old Yugoslavia before it’s collapse and faction wars) –
So something like 65 years since SAAF crews operated in that part of the globe, we have an (ex) SAAF pilot
again in that part of the world – Monster kindly provided us with this feed back.

Three of us from Starlite went on a recce of Pristina in Kosovo, as we have a Puma starting on a contract there in
January 2010. We wanted to find out what sort of accommodation, hangar space, customs rules etc applied so we
can do proper planning.

The flight to Kosovo was long - 9½ hours from JHB to Istanbul, then another 1½ to Pristina (plus the Durban - Joburg
hour!). The takeoff from Istanbul was nice in that it paralleled the city and I got to see the Bosporus bridge, Blue
Mosque etc before turning out left for the Balkans! The weather there was nice, but overcast and drizzling in Pristina!
We were pretty busy running around seeing people and things, like the airport and the Eulex Mission headquarters in
Pristina. Eulex is the so-called EU "Rule of Law" Mission here, assisting Kosovo as regards Justice, Policing and
Customs. NATO's KFOR looks after the military side of things, so we will not be involved in that at all. We did see
some of their helis, like Blackhawks , Super Pumas and Hueys flying around.

The area is nice looking, although grey and low overcast until now! Evidently it can go down to -20°C (-4°F) in
January but the Winter is shorter than elsewhere and he Summer is warm and dry! There is a new road, not yet
finished between the town and airport which currently takes 25 minutes for about 18 km! When the last bridge is
finished (soon) it will be quicker. We looked at a house for our crew, 4 bed roomed, very modern and smart, so will
probably rent that at Euro 1000 per month. It does include rates, lights and water, central heating, fully furnished and
with alarm/security/reaction, generator (sounds like Eskom works there!) so is supposedly a good deal. It is currently
around 20 minutes from the airport - we didn't want to be right in town as the traffic is heavy and slow.

The guy who is looking after us here is a German (ex Border Guard Police in Germany) and has been here 17
months. He is ready to go home and thinks it is terrible here. But then he hasn't seen African places so we think this
is nice!! It may not be first world like Germany, but it certainly is a few cuts above the likes of Khartoum, Lusaka or
Abidjan!! There are proper shops and no pavement hawkers, plus myriad good places to eat out. A number of the
locals speak English too! We stayed in a small hotel above the town which was comfortable enough, with nice food!
We went to a local Italian restaurant the first night and it was very good.

However, it is East European which means old Communist, so a lot of houses are somewhat derelict and quite a few
abandoned or seemingly unfinished. There has been a lot of growth since the war here, but many houses are
unfinished as they just need to go to roof height to get a government subsidy, meaning by then they’re bankrupt and
“slow down” so the house could take a dozen years to complete! By the shabby look of the place they probably need
the likes of Tito back to sort it all out once more!! The locals are Kosovan/Albanian and to the NE, Serbia does not
recognise Kosovo so that border can be "troublesome". In Kosovo at building sites and weddings or other
celebrations etc the Albanian flag is flown as the “Kosovo” flag is a UN invention and not popular! Yet Albania
doesn’t really want to have anything to do with Kosovo, whereas Serbia claims it as part of Serbia …! Official
languages are Albanian, Serbian & English.

 It is strange to see folk who look like "normal" Europeans yet are Muslims! So there are a number of mosques
around. But the females do not wear burkhas - they all wear jeans and there is an inordinate percentage of them that
are knuckle-bitingly good looking!! A good posting for single guys! Not many fat folk either – perhaps as they are
poor! All things are marked in Euros which is the common currency, although they are not part of the EU (yet).
Because the Euro is so strong versus the Rand, it still seems expensive to us, although our German friend thinks it is
cheap here! A normal meal is around Euro 8 (R110) or so and fancier is obviously costlier.

We were finished by Thursday lunchtime, so returned 14:20 from Pristina, via Istanbul – this time with great weather
and views across Montenegro and the top of Greece, all the way to Istanbul. JHB was around 09:30 Friday and an
11:15 Boeing to Durbs!



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