Sunday 28 October 2012

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker Talks to The Royal Aeronautical Society

Captain and Mrs. Eddie Rickenbacker with Capt. Mike O'Donovan. Whilst in Southern Rhodesia, the Rickenbackers flew to Livingstone and toured the Falls.

 The Salisbury Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society was honoured by a visit from Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the famous American First World War fighter ace who addressed the Branch on Friday. May 15, 1964

 Captain Rickenbacker, who was accompanied by his wife, came to Salisbury via the Continent and East Africa and was going on to South Africa before returning to the U.S.A.

 The reason for his visit, he said, was twofold. Firstly he had never been to Africa before and secondly he wanted to see first hand exactly how "garbled" a story the American press was publishing about affairs on this Continent.

 Captain Rickenbacker went on to describe his early days in aviation and motor racing—his two loves. One amusing incident concerned a visit to England in 1916 when he was arrested as a foreign agent. He related how he would drive over to watch the Wright brothers building their first flying machine, the machine that was to change the face of the world.

 Captain Rickenbacker's first flight took place in 1911 in a Glenn Martin bomber, an open cockpit  machine built for the U.S. Navy. Passing on to World War I he told members that he trained on a Curtis Wright machine powered by an 80 h.p. engine.

 Captain Eddie went to France with 94 Squadron and then came the days of the Nieuport 28. He recalled that such was the temperament of this machine that the French would not fly it. "If you pulled out of a dive too quickly," he said, "the leading edge of the wing came adrift." This in fact happened to him twice.

 From the Nieuport Captain Rickenbacker turned to the Spad 13, powered by a 100 h.p. rotary engine. "To fly these you opened the tap and it stayed open To land you cut the ignition on three cylinders."

 Captain Rickenbacker referred to the transition from 100 m.p.h. to 1,000 m.p.h. interceptors and rockets. The old saying "reach for the sky" was finished. We had now gone through the sky. Air Transport would continue to grow and this was particularly true in the United States as the railways had given up and more passengers were being carried by air over sea routes than were carried by  the shipping companies.

 People were no longer satisfied with subsonic transport, said Capt. Eddie. They wanted supersonic  transport and were willing to pay for it, although it was the taxpayers' problem as no single airline  could afford to pay for it. At the moment the projected American SST would cost in the region of a  billion-and-a-half dollars, but due to inflation the finished cost would probably be between 40 and  45 billion dollars. The whole project, he said, was one of prestige and prestige was a very dangerous thing.

 Captain Rickenbacker told members that the Lockheed A. 11, a study in Titanium, would fill the gap between the I.C.B.M. and manned aircraft. At present, rockets were not the real answer; once released they had gone forever and could not be diverted. With the bomber the pattern was different  as it could be sent anywhere and, in spite of heavy defences, some would return.

 Captain Eddie concluded his address with reference to the rocket race. He said that man was reaching further and further into space and the possibility of reaching the planets was no longer a dream. The whole matter had become a national gamble and it was very evident that the country who controlled the orbit controlled the world. At the end of the evening Captain M. O'Donovan, Chairman of the Branch, thanked Capt. Eddie and presented him with a copper coffee set on behalf of the Salisbury Branch.


 Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris form the June 1964 SCAANER which was made available  by Dave Vermaak (Air Rhodesia). Thank you Dave.

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Where Only Beavers Fly

 (The D.H. Gazette travels the bush routes.)

The Central African Airways solution to the problem of linking remote communities which possess
only strip landing grounds

1950 Central African Airways Corporation sought a means of extending the network of their special air services in Central Africa without increasing the cost of their operation. This network, on which twin-engined aircraft were then being used, linked certain remote districts in Rhodesia and Nyasaland and served the European inhabitants whose numbers were too small to allow for a full- scale commercial operation. Although it had been understood from the beginning that these services would have to run without hope of profit, it was clear that any extension to the system would render costs unacceptably high. Thus it became imperative to find an aircraft which would be capable of carrying the expected traffic at minimum cost, and yet would offer maximum reliability whilst using small, rough aerodromes.

The answer appeared to lie in the use of a single-engined aeroplane, provided that a number of essential requirements were satisfied. These were, basically, that the aircraft chosen should be powered by the most reliable and fully developed engine available: that it should have good handling qualities at low air speeds to enable contact flying to be carried out in bad weather conditions: that the take-off run should be short and the climb-away steep to permit the use of small bush airstrips that the landing speed should be low, and the emergency landing characteristics good: also that the aircraft should be equipped with exits on both sides.

Central African Airways found that the Beaver, built by de Havilland of Canada, and powered by the
well-tried Pratt and Whitney Wasp Junior engine, complied well with all these requirements. The range of the aircraft in standard form, and the cruising speed of 140 m.p.h., were suitable for all stage lengths, and the capacity payload of 1,3201b. which could be carried on any stage appeared more than adequate for the requirements.

After careful comparative study the Beaver was selected. The cabin interior was redesigned by C.A.A., and two rear hammock-type seats were introduced which could be folded to give a greater freight capacity than on standard aircraft: six passengers may be accommodated with this layout if less luggage is carried. The modification work was carried out by de Havilland of Canada before delivery of the aircraft.

The introduction of the first Beaver in 1951 was an immediate success. To-day the Central African Airways fleet of five Beavers, which now operate two separate networks, have brought an end to the isolation of the European inhabitants of 23 remote African towns.

This is another example of operating conditions whose peculiar suitability to the Beaver can best be shown in photographs. The de Havilland Gazette seized a recent opportunity to fly the routes and  report on them from direct experience.

Sesheke, a remote Barotseland village with four European inhabitants, is served twice a week by the Beavers of the Northern Rhodesian network. The airfield, in common with most of the aerodromes from which the Beavers operate, is a rudimentary strip, hacked from the bush in the direction of the prevailing wind. Pilots who stay overnight at Sesheke taxy their aircraft round the perimeter before taking off to frighten away the lion which are frequently to be seen on the aerodrome at dawn.

A herd of buffalo stampedes as a Beaver of the Northern Rhodesian service en route for Barotseland passes low over the River Kafue between Lusaka and Mankoya. Barotseland is native country comprising the major part of Northern Rhodesia, but a handful of European officials live in each of the larger villages: they rely on the Beavers for their food, mail, and personal transport. The distances between these centres are not great, but to build roads linking them would be difficult and uneconomical. In the centre of Barotseland lies the Barotse Plain, 100 miles of the Zambezi valley which is flooded to a width of 30 miles in the rainy season and covered by great areas of marshland when the flood water has subsided.

Mail is unloaded from the Beaver at Mankoya in Northern Rhodesia. The payload on this flight included a theodolite for the Public Works Department and a spring for an immobilised car at Mongu: vaccines for the doctor at Kalabo; despatches for the Government officials at Senanga; and fresh meat, mail, newspapers, and shot-gun cartridges for the Europeans in each of the villages at which the Beaver called. The aircraft carry emergency equipment comprising a two-gallon tank of drinking water and a shot-gun with a selection of cartridges which would enable an unlucky pilot either to shoot buck for food or to defend himself against bigger game.

The fire station on the edge of the aerodrome at Mongu, in the centre of the Barotse Plain. Mongu aerodrome is built on high ground to escape flooding in the wet season: for six months of the year during the floods the Beavers provide the only means of contact, apart from the native canoes, between Mongu and the remainder of the territory. The rainy season in Barotseland brings cumulonimbus cloud, with frequent thunderstorms, but the flying conditions at all times of the year subject the aircraft to hot, bumpy air up to 12,000 or 15,000 ft., causing pilots and passengers alike to remark thankfully upon the sturdy all metal construction of the Beaver

First Officer Church carries out an inspection of his aircraft after a night-stop at Mongu, the provincial capital of Barotseland, which is linked directly by the Beaver services with Lusaka and Livingstone. Mongu is a large village with a European community of 115, who rely upon the Beavers for the prompt delivery of their mail, medical supplies, technical equipment and fresh produce. Travel by road from Mongu to Lusaka, the nearest large town, is possible only in the dry season, and takes two days of hard driving: the Beaver service operates three times a week the year round and covers the distance in a little over three hours. Mongu aerodrome has the only made-up runway in Barotseland: it is built from more than two million bricks, which are held in place by dried mud.

The Beaver arrives at Kalabo, the seat of the most westerly administrative district of the Barotse province. Mongu, the territory's provincial headquarters, and a town with which ready contact must he maintained, lies across the Zambezi, a difficult two-day ride by car but a mere 25 minutes by Beaver. Refuelling and passenger bookings at Kalabo are the responsibility of Mrs. Withers, the C.A.A. agent and wife of the local District Commissioner: the twice-weekly arrival of the Beaver enables her, and the handful of other European inhabitants, to read an up-to-date newspaper and to enjoy a fresh loaf oj bread from the nearest bakery at Lusaka, 350 miles and a morning's flight away. These luxuries, unobtainable by any other means, are brought to her regularly by one of the Beaver captains, First Officer Bill Church: this custom has inevitably become known at Kalabo as " the Church service

The informality of the C.A.A. Beaver services is captured in this photograph of a mid-afternoon halt at Senanga, 80 miles south of Mongu. Fifteen minutes on the ground give the pilot and his passengers time to drink a cup of tea at the aerodrome restaurant — which, at Senanga, takes the form of a chair standing in the shade — before taking off' again to fly along the Zambezi to Sesheke and Livingstone. At the smaller aerodromes in the Barotseland network, where there is no permanent C.A.A. staff, the pilot must take care of all bookings, collect fare money, check load- sheets, and—as the picture shows—pour out the tea for his passengers.

Good forward visibility and a low approach speed are essential when coming in to land at Senanga aerodrome, typical of the short airstrips throughout the C.A.A. Beaver networks. The airfield terminal building, being a small mud hut, is not visible in this photograph: the village jail, however, being more of a place, may be seen on the perimeter of the aerodrome. The airstrip at Senanga is cut from the bush in the direction of the prevailing wind, but frequent cross-windlandings nevertheless have to be made, imposing a further strain on undercarriages already severely tested by the rough surfaces.

A typical Beaver passenger: this little girl, already at eight years of age an experienced air traveller, flew 200 miles in an afternoon to return to school at Livingstone. On board the same aircraft was a French girl missionary who was visiting a Livingstone dentist and returning to Senanga by Beaver on the following day: her round trip might well have taken a week by road. Other regular Beaver users include government servants and public works officials, missionaries on their rounds, and African chiefs travelling from their villages to attend legislative council meetings held in the towns.

The flight from Sesheke to Livingstone, which occupies sixty minutes and costs a modest seventy- one shillings, contains some of the most striking scenery in the whole of Africa and enables passengers to see a wide variety of animal life. Over most of its length the route follows the course of the Zambezi, and the Beaver pilots, quick to locate the game which abounds along the banks of the river, are kept busy pointing out elephants, crocodiles, giraffe and an occasional lion to the eager passengers. The approach to Livingstone Airport, the southern terminal of the Northern Rhodesian feeder-service network, takes the Beavers over Victoria Falls, discernible from many miles away by the cloud of spray which rises 600 ft. into the air as 75 million gallons of water each minute pour over the brink into the river 350 ft. below.
Terminal halt: a Beaver is loaded with freight at Chileka Aerodrome, Blantyre, 2,500 ft. above sea level. The airport restaurant chef looks on. Blantyre, the headquarters of the southern province of Nyasaland, is the terminal of the Nyasaland feeder-service; it was from here, early in J951, that Captain J. A. C. Florence, the local C.A.A. Manager, introduced the Corporations first scheduled Beaver operations, with a weekly run to Mzimba, half-way up Lake Nyasa. This was the first time that regular land or air communications had been extended not towards beyond Lilongwe, near the southern end of the lake, and this new service enabled the pace of development of the country to be substantially increased.To-day the Beavers operate from Blantyre daily to Lilongwe, three times aweek to Mzuzu, and twice weekly up the western lakeside to Mbeya, across the Tanganyika border beyond the northern tip of the Lake. The road from Blantyre to Mbeya is open only in the dry season, and the journey by road takes more than a week: the scheduled Beaver service covers the distance in eight hours and includes a number of stops at the principal villages on the route.

A native village on the shore of Lake Nyasa, on the Beaver's route from the terminal of the service at Blantyre to Lilongwe and Salima. Salima is the principal lakeside tourist centre, and the Beavers bring both guests and their food to the village's two hotels. The Beaver route extends northwards from Salima over broken country to Kasungu and Mzimba, and thence across the 5,000ft. peaks of the Vipya mountain range to Mzuzu. From Mzuzu the aircraft turn eastwards to avoid the high Nyika plateau, always covered by cloud, and after calling at Karonga turn north again to Mbeya, flying alongside mountains reaching up to 10,800 ft. Unpredictable violent lake storms are frequently encountered on this sector, which takes the aircraft over country with an annual rainfall of 145 inches. The aerodrome at Mbeya, in Tanganyika, the northern terminal of the service, is 6,000 ft. above sea level, and this altitude, combined with a high ambient temperature, calls for a brisk take-off performance from the heavily-laden Beavers.

The Beavers call twice a week at Karonga, in Nyasaland. Few aircraft other than the Beaver could use Karonga, which is 1,550 ft. above sea level and one of the shortest airstrips in the area. The pilot attracts the attention of the part-time aerodrome staff by circling the village before landing at the nearby airstrip, and the arrival of the aircraft always draws a crowd of interested Africans. The introduction of the Beaver services has removed the fear of isolation for the eight Europeans living in Karonga, whose mail from England, which previously tool six weeks to deliver, can now arrive in three or four days.

The aerodrome at Mzuzu, the headquarters of the northern province of Nyasaland, which is served three times a week by the Beavers. Now that the European officials resident in such villages as Mzuzu have a frequent link with the large towns they are happier to stay in a geographically remote area, and prospective newcomers are more likely to settle. The flying time between Mzuzu and Mbeya, the nearest town, is less than two hours, and the air fare — £6 10s. — works out at about 8d. a mile, compared with the minimum cost of 1s. 3d. a mile for overland transport.

Frequent veld fires, emitting dense clouds of smoke which rise high in the air, are an additional navigational hazard to flying over poorly-mapped territory in which landmarks are few and radio aids are negligible. The possibility of making a successful forced landing on any of the C.A.A. feeder routes is remote, and under such conditions the aircraft employed must be highly reliable as well as having excellent handling characteristics at low speeds to permit contact flying in poor visibility. The Beavers are always operated under Visual Flight Rules, and C.A.A. have laid down that no flying should take place if the forward visibility is less than three miles or the cloud base lower than 500ft.

Typical of the country over which the Nyasaland Beaver services operate is the 6,000ft. high Livingstonia escarpment, near Karonga, in the northern province of the Protectorate on the route between Blantyre and Mbeya. The only alternative link with civilisation for the 200 European inhabitants of the northern province is the snaky road which may be discerned in the photograph: on this particular stretch it rises from a height of 1,550 ft. to 6,000ft. in one mile and includes numerous acute hairpin bends on which even the smallest cars are forced to reverse. The road journey from Karonga to Blantyre (and the nearest chemist's shop) five days: the Beavers take less than three hours. The introduction of the is bringing about a rapid development of the country's vast natural resources, and the aircraft are always filled with passengers and urgently-required stores in the shape of food, medicine, and motor-car spares: as a Karonga Government official remarked, " People up country exist only through the Beavers."

Six hours and twenty minutes after taking off from Mbeya, 500 miles to the north, the Beaver arrives at Blantyre, having called at six of the principal centres in Nyasaland on the way. The African ground-staff are already busy unloading and cleaning R.M.A. Duiker before the captain has left his aircraft. The C.A.A. Beavers all bear the names of African game animals: others include Eland, Kudu and hnpala. Blantyre, the southern terminal of the Nyasaland Beaver service, is a modem airport which handles also the Viscount, Viking and Dakota aircraft operated by C.A.A. The aerodrome stands 2,500 ft. above sea level, beside a mountain range which rises a further 3,500 ft.: heavy thunderstorms occur during the rainy season, and at other times of the year visibility is frequently affected by the Chiperone, a heavy mist which can remain for several days.


Extracted and recompiled, by Eddy Norris, from the de Havilland Gazette No.98, April 1957 publication which was made available by Dave Vermaak (Air Rhodesia)

Thanks to Dave for sharing his publication with ORAFs. Thanks Dave.
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Friday 26 October 2012

The Horn

By Mitch Stirling

Like the horn of an old rhinoceros, the 'Horn' of Africa has been the focus of some very disturbing  news over the years.

In1936 Benito Mussolini's troops invaded the ancient Kingdom of Abyssinia in the Horn. Halie Selassie's instructions to his troop commander was tragically comical: "One should leave large open roads and wide meadows and march in valleys and trenches and by zigzag routes along places which have trees and woods. When an aeroplane comes to drop bombs it will not suit it to do so unless it comes down to 100 metres; hence when it flies low, one should fire a volley with a good and very long gun and then quickly disperse. When three or four bullets have hit, it is bound to fall down". Hopelessly naive and completely ignorant of the devastating power of aerial bombardment - death from the skies - 'His Imperial Majesty, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings, Elect of God', fled to England.

The Horn hit the headlines again in 1940 when Mussolini's jingoistic posturing from the Palazzo Venezia in Rome became a reality and the fascist 'Caesar reincarnate' made his next move by attacking British Somalia. Anticipating this aggression, No 1 Squadron of Southern Rhodesia Air Force had been moved up to the front line in 1939 for advanced training and acclimatization in Nairobi/Isiolo in support of Allied ground troops. By 22 April 1940 - the date 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron adopted its new name - it was skirmishing along the Kenya/Ethiopia border with an  Italian East Africa force of over 300 000 men and 200-300 aircraft. The aristocratic figure of Amadeo, Duke of Aosta, Viceroy of East Africa was Commander-in-Chief. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Amadeo was a powerful adversary with all the skills of modern tactical warfare at his finger tips and supported by a sophisticated infrastructure of roads and aerodromes and communications. His Regia Auronautica was formidable, with long arms of logistical support. The Italians in East Africa were confident, well-trained and very well-equipped. "Your highness", said one war correspondent when addressing him. "One hundred and ninety six centimetres", came the reply. He  had humour too...!

Ph-1, The Horn
Tail insignia on Regia Auronautica.

Ph-2, The Horn
Commander-in-Chief Amadeo.

Initial encounters along the border were 'hit-and-run' bombing excursions from Italian aircraft which degraded Rhodesian morale. Several Hawker Hardys of 237 Squadron were destroyed on the ground and there was an unfortunate fatal accident when two members of the squadron failed to return from a reconnaissance mission. It was soon clear that the Hawker Audax and Hardys flown by Rhodesians were no match for the Regia Aero with their Caproni and Savoia bombers (the Pipistrello 'bats' and Sparviero 'sparrowhawks') and Fiat CR32/42 fighters. They were out-gunned and out-manouevred. And it was not until the arrival of Gloster Gladiators and Westland Lysanders, striking from the Sudan, that the odds began to swing and Italian aggression waned. The Gladiators and Fiat CR42's were very similar in speed and manoeuvrability, but the Gladiators were radio equipped which made a huge difference in planning aerial combat. Even so, RAF Hurricanes were impressed after five of their Glad's were knocked down in the first hour of engagement.

Ph-3, The Horn

Hawker Hart of Southern Rhodesia Air Force. Most widely-used light bomber of its time. With Audax and Hardy variants.

Ph-4, The Horn
RAF's last British built bi-plane fighter: Bristol Gladiator.

Ph-5, The Horn
SM81 'Pipistrello' and CR42 'Falco's

By January 1941 there were only 67 Italian aircraft left in the sky over East Africa and by October 1941 it was all over. The last big battles took place in Italian Eritrea with the enemy on the back foot and the Allies pushing them hard into the Red Sea. Amadeo surrendered finally on 19 May at his 'impregnable' mountain fortress of Amba Alage. If not for the contamination of his water supply he would have held the fort to the bitter end. Full military honours were afforded him for his gallant resistance. He later died in a POW camp in Nairobi of tuberculosis and malaria. But victory took a heavy toll on the ranks of 'the lost squadron' - a little group of Rhodesians who fought in remote, unfriendly places. Some of them are memorialised on 'Rolls of Honour' in schools and churches around Zimbabwe and South Africa, along with other airmen killed at later stages of the War. Four pilots and five air gunners of 237(Rhodesia) Squadron were lost in eighteen hard months in East Africa. It was a particularly nasty corner of WW11 that is often overlooked in the history books, but it was crucial in defence of the Suez canal. Two DFC's were awarded, two DFM's and five Mentions.  

I am in awe of men who fought so hard for King and Country and in particular... those who paid the ultimate price. What a travesty that the same country today has chosen to turn its back on those individual acts of valour and national sacrifice... in favour of political appeasement. What an outrage that one Mengistu Halie Mariam, mass murderer from Ethiopia, lives in luxurious exile in Gun Hill, Harare!

Sergeant Ken Murrell of 237 Squadron won the DFM as an observer/gunner on a Hardy during the action in Eritrea. His pilot was Ron Christie.
Ken Murrell was Chief Pilot RUAC in 1975 when he won the Pat Judson Trophy. He was a wonderful man and an excellent flying instructor. His civilian career included time with the Department of Civil Aviation and DC3 operations with Hunting Clan. He also flew with Roy Smart at Lesbury Estate near Rusape, that well-known check point between Salisbury and Umtali that every  learner cross-country pilot knew so well. 

The Examiner 26 Feb 1941:
'Two young Rhodesian fliers received the highest honour as the crew of a reconnaissance plane who shot down an Italian bomber and then survived threat of death from a plane crash' Ian Pringle wrote:

Miles Johnson, like John Nettleton VC, went to Western Province Preparatory School (Wetpups). My son did a project at Wetpups on Johnson and came up with the following: 'Flying Officer Miles Johnson and his air gunner Sergeant JGP Burl were flying a reconnaissance mission in a Lysander aircraft near Scipitole in Central Eritrea when he spotted three Italian Caproni bombers. He did not see any escort fighters so he attacked the bombers. He shot one down but suddenly three Fiat CR42 fighter aircraft attacked Johnson’s plane, shooting away the controls, and Burl’s wrist, forcing Johnson to crash land. Despite his pain and loss of blood, Burl managed to drag the unconscious Johnson from the wreckage. Burl carried Johnson on his shoulders for two days before they reached British lines. Johnson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Burl received the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM)'. P.S. Miles Johnson took command of 208 Squadron in North Africa during 1942 and 1943. But he died in an air accident in Italy on 28 September 1944, when flying as a passenger in an aircraft that  had to ditch. Apparently drowned trying to save a passenger from the stricken plane.

Ph-6, The Horn
Vanguard in the Sky we salute you


Thanks to Mitch  for sharing this great article with ORAFs.

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Tuesday 23 October 2012

Grimwood and Harold Cooke

By Anne Cooke (now Shaw)

Ph1, Grimwood and Harold Cooke
Grimwood Cooke

Grimwood Cooke

Born – Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia 6/12/1921

Member of the Territorial Force, attested into the Southern Rhodesian Air Force (SRAF) 17/6/1940 and attested into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR) 16/8/1940. Under went pilot training in Southern Rhodesia. Completed Operational Conversion Unit (OUT) with 16 OCU in the UK and then he was posted to 106 Squadron in October 1941. After completing his first  tour of operation on the 28/8/1942, posted to 1654 Operational Conversion Unit, A Flight 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron. 13/12/1942 posted back to 106 Squadron.

Ph2, Grimwood and Harold Cooke

Awarded Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) 12/3/1942, Commissioned 29/3/1942. Awarded Distinguished Flying Medal (DFC) 6/8/1942. Promoted to Flying Officer 1/10/1942. Killed on operations (shot down returning over northern France)  21/22/12/1942. The Lancaster R5574, Grimwood was the pilot and captain of the aircraft. They were shot down by a German night-fighter on returning from a raid on Munich. The Navigator Pilot Officer P C Moore was the only survivor. Philip Moore became Sir Philip Moore, Personal Secretary to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He was made a Peer in June 1985 when he retired after 20 years from his post of Personal Secretary.
Grimwood and 5 members of his crew are buried in the Church Yard at Beauforte-en-Argonne near Stenay in (Meuse) northern France.
He turned 21 on the 6/12/1942 and went to Buckingham Palace on the 8/12/1942 to receive his two decorations. He was killed on the 21/22/12/1942.

Granty (Florence - (formerly Cooke) Laland – Grimwood’s mother) corresponded with all the next of kin of  Grimwood’s crew who were :-
80346 and 778834 Flight Lieutenant Grimwood Cooke DFC, DFM – Captain and pilot. (the first number is his Officer number and the second one is his NCO - Non Commissioned number)
938106 Sergeant F Morrell – Flight Engineer
1199335 Pilot Officer P C Moore – Navigator – taken POW (Prisoner of War) survived
922010 Sergeant A M Camplin – Air Bomber
623360 Flight Sergeant B G Lough DFM – Wireless Operator – has no known grave – he is listed on the Runnymede Memorial UK
120850 Pilot Officer B G Goodwin DFM – Gunner
658695 Sergeant M Reynolds - Gunner
Grimwood’s crew was the third most highly decorated crew to be lost on Operations – 1 DFC and 3 DFM’s

Grimwood also flew Hamdens

All Rhodesian airmen who joined the RAF VR wore a “Rhodesia” Flash on their left shoulder of which they were justly proud. They were sadly the only Commonwealth country to lose their identity beening absorbed into the RAF VR.

Gimwood’s DFM Citation reads:-

HIS MAJESTY has been pleased to approve of the award of the DISTINGUISHED FLYING MEDAL to Sergeant GRIMWOOD COOKE, No 106 Squadron, RAF Volunteer Reserve. This airman has participated in operational flying since September, 1941. He has captained his aircraft with a high degree of success when operating against targets as Essen, Cologne, Bremen, Kiel, Brest. His determination is such that after bombing he has frequently descended to low levels in order to machine-gun searchlight positions, gun posts and aerodromes. He bombed Kiel from 7,000 feet in the face of fierce opposition and on another occasion attacked Huls from only 4,000 feet. One night in November, 1941 he successfully placed a mine in a Norwegian fjord, then bombed docks at Oslo from 300 feet and machine-gunned an aerodrome nearby. He took part in two daylight raids over North-Western Germany, during which he displayed great skill and courage in accomplishing low-level bombing and machine-gun attacks.
Throughout this airman has displayed out-standing zeal and initiative.
The Secretary of State, London

Grimwood’s DFC citation reads:-

THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS has been awarded to Pilot Officer GRIMWOOD COOKE. As a pilot he is outstanding. Apart from routine raids he has to his credit many outstanding feats of courage, skill and endurance. During raids on Lubeck and Rostock he performed valiant work.
The Secretary of State, London.

Grimwood – was the First Rhodesian on Bomber Command to be awarded a DFM

He was the First Rhodesian to receive both the DFC and DFM. There were only  three Rhodesian’s to be awarded both the DFC and DFM.

He was the first and only member of 106 Squadron to receive both awards on a first tour of operations (30 missions).

Taken from “A Pride of Eagles” by Beryl Salt.

A report in the Rhodesia Herald 11th September 1942.

Pilot Officer Grimwood Cooke DFC, DFM, one of the best known Rhodesian bomber pilots, told guests at Rhodesia House in London, the other day, that he had never regretted choosing bomber-flying, if only because of the comradeship among the crews. His navigator is a New Zealander, his wireless operator a Scot and his gunner a Canadian.

“A bomber gives a wonderful panoramic view of interesting country,” he said., “and an opportunity to study and see the whole drama of the operations. Take that attack on the Renault works in Paris. To time the attack correctly, we toured Paris for half an hour. There was a bright moon and the whole city was lit up with flares from the early arrivals. Flak, searchlights were almost negligible.”

“While watching the earlier squadrons do their stuff I saw the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the famous boulevards. When our turn came, we easily found the target, but the air was so full of our own machines we had to keep a careful watch to avoid collision. After dropping medium bombs, we circled for some time to watch the heavy bombs dropped by the later arrivals. As we left the scene my wireless operator said ‘Gosh! What a lovely sight!’ so we turned for another look. Finally, setting a course home, he started singing ‘The Last Time I saw Paris’. We all joined in.”

“My worst experience was on my fourth raid over Kiel. It was a stormy night with some mist and no horizon. I came down to 11,000 feet but as I still could not see much I went to 9,000 and then saw another aircraft in the searchlights. We went in but half the searchlights turned on us and we flew blind throwing the aircraft about to avoid the flak. My instruments toppled and I asked the navigator, ‘Are we upside down?’ He replied ‘By gosh we are! The stars are below us!’ I dived to 1,500 feet, righting the machine and climbed up again to 8,000 feet but again the searchlights got us. Fortunately, there was cloud just near the target area. We circled it and then made our own attack, dropped our bombs, climbed above the clouds and made for home.”

Prior to the war Grimwood was a clerk in the Public Works Department in Salisbury. Grimwood was educated at Chaplin School - Gwelo and Prince Edward School – Salisbury, S Rhodesia. He won a cup for boxing at school. Grimwood and Harold were at school with Ian Douglas Smith at Chaplin. Ian was later to become the Prime Minister of Rhodesia.

Ph3, Grimwood and Harold Cooke
Harold Cooke

Harold Cooke

Twin brother of Grimwood

Born - Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia 6/12/1921.
Member of the Territorial Force, attested SRAF 18/11/1940, attested RAF VR 1/1/1941. Trained in Southern Rhodesia as an Air Gunner and posted to number 10 OUT (Operational Training Unit) at Morten-in-Marsh 24/3/1942.
He was killed on the Third Thousand Bomber Raid 25/6/1942 on Bremen whilst still under training.
He was a member of the crew (Rear Gunner) of Whitley AD 689 which crashed near Lingen, Germany – where the crew were all buried initially. Later re-interred and buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, near Kleeve, Germany. The cemetery is 4 kms from the German/Dutch border. It lies 5 km South West of Kleeve and 10 km from Gennep in Holland.

Harold’s crew were:-
R56284 Sergeant N M Oulster - Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
1305420 Sergeant S J Webster – Air Bomber
1027321 Sergeant G A Hunt – Air Gunner
1381419 Sergeant D I Parry – Wireless Operator
Rhodesian 778541 Sergeant Harold Cooke – Air Gunner

Harold was an Assayer and Sampler on the Fred Mine, Filabusi, Southern  Rhodesia before the war. His interests were all sports, shooting fishing and mechanics.
Harold was educated at Chaplin School and Prince Edward.

Grimwood’s medals
778293/80346 Flight Lieutenant Grimwood Cooke
DFM, DFC, 1939/45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence  Medal, War Medal – all named.

Harold’s medals
778541 Sergeant Harold Cooke 1939/45 Star, Defence Medal, War Medal – all named

After the war Pilot Officer Philip C Moore had a very distinguished life. He played rugby for England. He was Governor of Sir Lanka.
Sir Philip Moore became Personal Secretary to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.. He was a made a Peer in June 1985 when he retired from his post as Personal Secretary after 20 years.
Lord Philip Moore lived at Hampton Court in a “Grace and Favour” apartment when he retired with his wife Joanna. Peter, son, Grimwood, Pauline (his wife) and Anne visited them in 1994 and spent a delightful and very happy few hours with them. Philip gave us a private very interesting conducted tour of Hampton Court and the gardens. We then enjoyed a delicious lunch with him and Joanna. She was quite a character and had a lovely sense of humour. Philip I think died in 2010 in the UK and I am not sure about Joanna. They corresponded with Peter and I and then with me after Peter passed away in 2001.
Son Grimwood had met and made contact with Lord Moore when he compiled a Diary on Grimwood and Harold whilst living in the UK in 1993. Lord Moore (insisted on being called plain Philip) he invited Grimwood to meet him at the House of Lords in London one day. Grimwood got advice on what he should wear, how he should arrive at the House of Lords etc as he was rather nervous. Grimwood found Philip very friendly and relaxed and they chatted about many things and of course rugby. Philip had done his training in Rhodesia and always spoke very fondly of his time there and the friends he had made. He then invited the Cooke family to visit him and Joanna at Hampton Court. It was arranged that he would present Peter with the completed Diary son Grimwood  had put together. Grimwood had used his Uncle Grimwood’s log book, letters written home which Granty (his mother) had kept together with many other contacts he had made and references to compile the Diary. He also put what ever he could together on Harold’s story which very sadly wasn’t a lot. Unfortunately even though requested to hold onto Harold’s Log Book, photos and papers etc until after the end of the war – this was not done. Everything was lost when the ship carrying them was sunk en-route. We had a few letters and a small diary which were used as a base to work from. Both twins wrote lovely letters home to family and friends.

Philip Moore told son Grimwood about how he had met the German Pilot who had shot them down over France. As part of the Queen’s celebrations for her Silver Anniversary of coming to the throne which they attended at a civic luncheon in a city  in the UK which was twined with the German city of Darmstadt. The Mayor of Darmstadt was seated next to Lord Philip Moore and within about 5 minutes they ascertained that he was the pilot who had shot Philip’s crew down. Philip and the German pilot became good friends and they corresponded for a number of years until he died in Germany.

The Cooke Family, (Grimwood, wife Pauline and son Keegan (5 years old), Peter and Anne visited Beauforte-en-Argonne in 1994 to visit Grimwood’s and his crews graves in the very small village (+/- 50 residents) Church graveyard. This was a very emotional visit for the family. More later on what this sparked off.

From Beauforte-en-Argonne we headed for Muchengladbach (Germany) where we stayed on the RAF military base with dear friends Group Captain Keith and Sue Corrans (ex Rhodesian Air Force) via Belgium to ultimately visit Harold and his crews graves. We drove heading for Kleeve to the Reichwald Forest War Cemetery in a huge oak forest. The land for this cemetery was donated by the German people. This cemetery is set in an amazing setting which exudes peace and tranquillity. An impressive stone arch entrance looking directly onto rolling green lawns and a huge white cross with the words “They Liveth Forever” inscribed on it is a truly beautiful and majestical sight. There are lovely stone arches with wisteria creepers over them which were in full bloom. In fact so lovely is the setting a wedding party were having their photos taken whilst we were there. There are some 7.000 graves – 3,000 being Air Force within the cemetery area covering Air Force, Army and the Navy each in their relevant sections. We naturally visited the Air Force section having looked up the grave reference book in the entrance area. We found Harold’s grave and members of his crew. All graves have a white headstone with the person’s name, date of birth and death and age and country of origin with well maintained neatly planted flowers at the base of each one. The Air Force ones have a lot of red, white and blue flowers. The lawns are like bowling greens.   
The one thing that was really so sad about the cemetery was that very few of the young men, in the prime of their lives reached the age of 24/25 years old. I never ever thought I’d consider a cemetery beautiful and peaceful but I have been proved wrong. Peter expressed the same sentiments about this beautiful resting place for so many.

Back to Beauforte-en-Argonne June 1999.
Peter got thinking after our first visit in 1994 about how in the years to come people could/would ask who and why Grimwood and his crew’s graves are there in this small churchyard in the villiage of Beauforte-en-Argonne  He spoke to Des Richards the “Historian” of 106 Squadron and asked him if he thought it would be possible to arrange to have a plaque with the men’s names and where they came from hung in the church. Slowly after a couple of years of planning this whole idea grew like “Topsy” into an amazing large and formal event spread over two days.
Only a few weeks before the big event a concerted effort was made to locate the actual crash site in an oak forest near the village – metal detectors etc were used and it was found after a few days of searching. We had tried to find it in 1994 without any luck.
Des arranged everything on his side. Alain Chapentier a Frenchman with a passion to know about Rhodesian’s buried in France coordinated the French side. Peter and I had corresponded with Alain for a few years and we had even sent him a copy of Grimwood’s Log Book and information on other Rhodesians buried in France.
It was organized for Des Richards, Alan Smith (both now deceased), Philip Moore and Peter to visit France in June 1999. They would meet up and travel by car to Beauforte-en-Argonne from the UK with a couple of stopovers en-route visiting War Graves Cemeteries etc in Northern France.
One must appreciate that this visit was going to be a very emotional one especially for Philip Moore and Peter.  Philip had never been back to France after having been handed over to the Germans in 1942.
On arrival they were met by the Mayor of Stenay at the Beauforte-en-Argonne village hall where there was a display of memorabilia from the crash site, together with photos, maps etc. Philip Moore – the Navigator was amazed to see his protractor and compass (rather weathered) on display which had been found after all these years, which were presented to him. Peter was given a cigarette lighter (brother Grimwood did smoke) and a broken piston from the aircraft.
That night they attended a gala dinner in Stenay which included the Mayor of Stenay, together with many “Top Brass” French Military personnel, the British Military Attaché and his wife based in Paris, and Alain Charpentier. It was a very memorable and interesting evening.
Sunday morning the Dedication of the Plaque was held in the Beauforte-en-Argonne Church. Lord Philip Moore spoke in French about that fateful night of their crash in the church and about his crew. This was followed by tea and coffee and snacks in the local hall.
Followed by a visit to the actual crash site - which proved very emotional. After which Philip Moore visited the house to which he had walked after having cut his parachute cords from the oak tree in which he landed after the crash. He damaged his ankle falling out of the tree.  He recognized the lady who took him in, but she denied any knowledge of the event. She had handed him over to the Germans for him to become a POW for the rest of WW II.


Thanks to Anne for sharing her personal photogaphs and wonderful article with ORAFs.

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Sunday 21 October 2012

Rhodesia and Nyasaland Airways Engineering Staff 1939

Ph-1, RANA Engineers 1939

Back Row: G. Scott - C. Sherwood - E.T.C. Cunnison

Centre: C.R. Simpson - Jack Hinton - J. Howard - A.C.B. Smith - Unknown - Tyrrell - . J.J. Flote - Unknown - Unknown

Front: ? Neale - H.D. Gray - ? Leopald - F.W. Prentis - K.D. Morten - I.M.C. Hepburn - K.H. Greager - T.W.Posselt

(All names are left to right)

Listing is annotated with Capt. Mc Adam.


 Thanks to Jonathan Pittaway and Craig Fourie for making this photograph available to ORAFs.

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Thursday 18 October 2012

The C.A.A. Technical School (1959)

The introduction of Vickers Viscount Aircraft by the Corporation in 1956, brought in its trail, the necessity for the establishment of a Technical Training School, established by the Engineering Manager.

The Technical School is controlled by;

MR. I.M.C.HEPBURN, Administration and Training Superintendent, assisted by the following Technical Instructors.

Ph4 Moore, The CAA Tech School

Above - MR.S.MOORE, A.M.S.L.A.E. Licensed Aircraft Engineer, who was transferred to the School from Senior Outstation Engineering duties, Salisbury. Joining C.A.A. from S.A.A., he was a former Technical Instructor in the South African Air Force at Lyttleton, part-time lecturer at the Witwatersrand Technical College and Instructor to apprentices in S.A.A.

Pg3 Hood, The CAA Tech School

Above - MR. J. S.HOOD, A. R.Ac. S. Joined R.A. F. as an apprentice in January, 1938, terminated service in 1952 as Fitter I and joined Rolls Royce Ltd., Scottish Group, as Technical assistant in Technical Services Dept. Left Rolls Royce when head of Provisioning Dept. to join C.A.A. in September. 1957.

Ph1, The CAA Tech School

Above - MR .A.J. COE, A.R,Ac.S. Joined R. A. F. as apprentice in January, 1939. Served in French N.Africa, Middle East and Italy. Left Service to join De Havillands in Production Planning and Methods. Later joined British European Airways Training Unit. After sixteen years in aviation, took rest cure with Federation of Malaya Police. Returned to aviation via charter firm and C.A.A.

Ph2 Don, The CAA Tech School

Above - MR.P. DONNELLY. Been in the aviation industry over the past 20 years, 9 of them with the R.A.F. , the remaining 11 in commercial aviation. Joined C.A.A. in 1950.

The operation ot pressurised aircraft with Turbo Prop. Engines required new techniques by trained Engineers, and as the large majority of personnel who had been trained in the U.K., were required for Outstation and flying duties, it was necessary to train more ground staff, to fulfill maintenance requirements and obtain maximum efficiency. The approval, recently, by the Director of Civil Aviation, of the Viscount/Dart Courses run by the Technical School, is reward for the very fine effency  of those concerned, and the ground staff by their success in the examinations set  by the D. C. A. , which are to A.R.B. standard.

It should be appreciated that this means considerable saving to the Corporation in that it is no longer necessary to send personnel overseas to undergo Viscount training.

In addition to the Viscount/Dart training for Ground Engineers, the Technical School runs Pilots Viscount/Dart Technical Courses, Douglas Dakota Technical Courses and refresher courses for the Pilots on these aircraft, which includes all the Electrics.

A basic Gas Turbine Course is a preliminary to all Dart courses and advantage is taken by the Engine Repair Shop personnel of this course, to acquaint them with the theory of the Gas Turbine Engine.

Rolls Royce and Vickers equipment acquired by the Corporation for training is used throughout, supplemented by parts rejected in the Workshops and has assisted greatly in the high standard achieved.

Since June, 1957, the following have passed through the Technical School:
70 Pilots,
4 Flight Engineers,
37 Engineers,
23 Flight Hostesses.

Several Ground Engineers who have been sitting basic Engine and Airframe Examinations, have received tuition prior to their examinations and all apprentices have completed a week's revision course in the School, prior to sitting their N.T.C. Examinations at t he Technical College, Salisbury.

Preparations have been made for 'A' and 'C' Licence Courses on the Dakota, which it is hoped to start early in 1959.

The request by the Engineering Staff of Maintenance and Workshops for further Technical knowledge has been most encouraging, and every assistance is afforded them in their efforts.

The results of technical advancement cannot be assessed in figures, but they most certainly must reflect themselves in the high standard of safety achieved by the Corporation.

The transfer of the apprentices under the supervision of the Administration and Training Superintendent will ensure that the standard of training will be maintained for the future Ground Engineers in the Corporation, and provision has been made to ensure their technical advancement.

Ph5 Lexture, The CAA Tech School

Above - View of the lecture room.


Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris, from the C.A.A. magazine "The
SCAANER" dated January 1959, which was made available by Dave Vermaak Thank you Dave.

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"Viscounts Flight Heralds New Era"

These were the headlines which followed the opening of our new services to Bulawayo on the 5th January, 1959, when for the first time C.A.A. operated Viscounts between Salisbury and Bulawayo, and Bulawayo and Johannesburg.

A tremendous amount of goodwill towards C.A.A. (Central African Airways) was evidenced by the fact that so many prominent people gave their time to take the flight with us to Bulawayo and back. Our guests included such busy people as the Federal Minister of Transport, Mr. W.A. Eastwood, the Mayors and Mayoresses of Salisbury and Bulawayo, the Presidents of Chambers of Commerce and
Industry, the Postmaster General, travel agents and members of the Press.

The City of Bulawayo itself "went to town" in welcoming the new C.A.A. venture by giving a Civic Luncheon to mark its appreciation, at which 137 guests attended. In his speech at the luncheon, the Mayor of Bulawayo paid a warm tribute to C.A.A. Our Chairman, in his reply, was in his best form and was able to give the pleasing news that we are operating within our subsidy figure.

Arrival, "Viscounts Flight Heralds New Era"

Above: Passenger Attendants SHEILA BUCHANAN and ANN WILLCOCK presented corsages to the lady passengers on arrival at Bulawayo of the first Viscount service.  In this picture Sheila hands Mrs. Pocket her corsage and Ann pins another on Mrs. McNeille's frock

While we cannot say at this stage that the Viscount services into Bulawayo will run at 100% load factors, we are quite sure that there will be many converts back to air travel over the coming months.

Readers will recall that the last time a Viscount visited Bulawayo, we had the honour of carrying Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris, from the C.A.A. magazine "The SCAANER" dated January 1959, which was made available by Dave Vermaak Thank you Dave.

In the original copy the title of this article had VICOUNTS, ORAFs made thee change to VISCOUNT.

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