East Africa 1940-1941

The squadron moved up to Egypt (Abu Sueir) in May 1940 to collect and bring back a batch of new Gloster Gladiators.  At Abu Sueir they flew training flights with Gloster Gauntlet aircraft while the Gladiators were assembled. 

Upon their return to South Africa  they were ordered to remain in the Sudan to participate in the East African campaign in assisting the RAF with operations at the Eritrean border.

During this campaign the squadron flew mainly patrol missions, bomber escorts, ground attacks and recce missions. John saw service in many aerial battles and enemy ground attacks. 

John was involved with the very first aerial combat of No.1 squadron where he shared a destroyed CR-42 together with J. Coetzer on 18 September 1940 near Kassala. He  fired 1000 rounds during this battle. 

With this tour John shot down an Italian Caproni bomber, shared destroyed a CR-42 fighter aircraft and destroyed/ damaged a further eight aircraft on the ground.

John flew Gladiators in 1940 but changed to Hurricanes in 1941.

He returned to South Africa in 1941 at the end of the Eritrean campaign. 

John had a number of good squadron friends. He had a particular close friend, Robin Pare. He named his son after Robin. Robin was killed in 1942.

Close friends of John during the East African campaign seen here on a hunting trip:


Andy Duncan, KIA 1942 

Ken Driver, POW 1941,  killed in flying accident  1947

Robin Pare, KIA 1942

Laurie Wilmot, killed in flying accident 1947

Piggy Boyle, only survivor

 More of John's  pilot friends from L t R:

unknownRAF person

 Lt  B. R. "Bert"  Dimmock, KIA 1941

 Lt  A.Q. "Alf"  Masson, KIA 1941

 Major Schalk van Schalkwyk, shot down and died of wounds 1940. van Schalkwyk was the squadron leader.

 Lt Wells, 

Lt  Servaas Viljoen,

 Lt  W H Morris, killed in flying accident (KIFA) 1940

 Lt  J. J. "Coetz" Coetzer,  KIA 1941

unknown RAF person

 Lt  Leonard le Clues "Polly" Theron,  POW 1942

 rest unknown.

SAAF Gladiators with a Gauntlet at the back ground. Shot most probably taken at Abu Sueir or Khartoum. 

Refueling a Gladiator by hand; some aerodromes did not have refueling vehicles.


"Piggy" Boyle posing with his Gladiator.



Refueling a Gladiator




Hurricane in a bush aerodrome.


Hurricanes fly in a vic formation in the Kassala region with the distinctive Jebel Kassala mountains in the back ground.


Hurricane Mk i, John flew a few sorties of these Hurricanes in Dec1940 and Jan 1941.


a Gladiator with a Lockheed Loadstar in the back ground. John returned to South Africa in a Loadstar after his East African tour.



Most probably the wreck of the Gladiator flown by Lt B R Dimmock shot down by friendly fire in October 1940.


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