missed mentioning in my recent article on the Flying Boats
in Metrobeat magazine, that 35 Squadron SAAF had flown its
Short Sunderland flying boats between Egypt and Durban, helping
to bring South African troops back home from the fighting
after WWII. Bob
Fraser reminded me about the episode and was kind
enough to share some of his experiences of the trip with me.
a look in Ivan Spring's book Flying Boat and saw that the
squadron flew a survey of the proposed route, leaving Durban
on 1 September 1945 and arriving in Cairo on 9 September 1945.
It was decided to use Kasfareet as the northern terminus of
the shuttle flight because the Nile at Cairo was choked with
BOAC Flying Boats. Kasfareet was also very handy for the Helwan
Transit Camp where the passengers could be accomodated.
stops on the route were Durban, Beira, Kisumu, Khartoum and
Kasfareet. Arrangements were made to provide 45 000 gallons
of fuel per month for the Sunderlands at each stop. The aircraft
had six crew and were to carry 36 passengers from RAF AIR
HQ in East Africa to Cairo and 40 passengers from Cairo to
service began in mid-November and, by the end of December,
1022 passengers had been landed in Durban, while 72526 lbs
of Christmas packages had been transported to the troops still
The last Sunderland left Egypt on 26th February, carrying
Major General Evered Poole, who had commanded the South African
6th Armoured Division in Italy, and arrived in Durban on 2
not yet entirely clear to me how troops qualified for a seat
on the shuttle but my Uncle, who was with 6th Division in
Italy, tells me that they were usually allocated to people
who needed to be back in South Africa in a hurry, to attend
university for example.
A story I have not been able to check, but was told by an
informant is that General Poole smuggled his pet dog into
the country by making it swim to shore after the flying boat
landed and picking it up later after all the fuss and furore
Fraser (as told to Allan Jackson)
one of the troops fortunate enough to get a place on the flying
boats and flew from Kasfareet to Durban sometime at the end
of 1945 or the beginning of 1946.
the abiding memories Bob has of the trip is flying over the
Serengetti with Mt. Kilamanjaro in the distance, as perfect
as a picture postcard, and the troops lining up at the open
window to photograph it. He also remembers the heat in Mombassa
which, he said, was extremely thirst-provoking, and the fact
the water was like a millpond, making it very difficult for
the aircraft to take off.
Eric McTeer had told the passengers that the flying boats
tended to stick to the water like glue unless it was a bit
choppy. The water being flat, Eric positioned the aircraft
for the longest possible take-off run with the tail actually
over the beach at one end. He then gave the plane full throttle
and roared off across the bay and only just made it into the
air with Bob later claiming that he could have leant out of
the window and picked a leaf from a passing palm tree.
Durban had had a major storm just prior to the flying boat's
arrival and the bay was choked with debris including logs
and large items which could have damaged the aircraft on landing.
The flying boat had to fly many circuits around Durban while
crash boats buzzed around clearing the debris in the landing
channel. On one circuit, Bob caught sight of his family home
in Overport with a servant hanging washing on the line, oblivious
that he was circling overhead. Many Durbanites must have been
worried that there was something wrong with the flying boat
as it circled overhead, but it landed safely as soon as the
channel had been cleared.
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