Reader Michael Traynor has been in touch with a question about two intrepid aviatrixes who settled in Durban and may have been involved in the founding of the Women’s Aviation Association which has been mentioned on this site before. Michael wrote:
I have just discovered your web site and that is a terrific job you are doing. I was delighted to see a reference to the Women’s Aviation Association that you suggest may have been formed in Durban about 1948.
I am currently researching the aviation careers of two Irish sisters, Mabel & Sheila Glass, born near Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1913 & 1914 respectively. They learned to fly in England in 1934 and took part in Air Races and some long distance flights before WW2.
Mabel joined the Air Transport Auxiliary at the start of the war in 1940. Their father died in London in 1947 and his widow also called Mabel, and the 2 daughters emigrated to Kwazulu Natal in 1947.
If you think the WAA was formed in Durban in 1948 I would suggest the Glass sisters had a key role in its formation. Mabel died at 5 Melrose Avenue, Westville on 4 November 1967. I’m unsure if her sister Sheila continued flying when she emigrated to South Africa in 1947.
There are pictures of Mabel in the National Library of Australia presumably because the WAA also had a branch or branches over here. Here is a link to one of them but I can’t put up on this site until I have received permission from the library to do so.
Alan Taylor from the SAAF Museum has been in touch with a few questions of his own. He wrote:
I am working on two research projects and hopefully there are Durbanites who can help me with information so that I can add to what I already have.
During WW2 there was a club-based organization called the “Junior Air Force”. This was run under the auspices of “Wings” magazine – the official organ of the SAAF at the time.
Some 270 clubs were established around South Africa – many in the Durban area – and there were nearly 2 000 school-going boys and girls who joined the JAF. Between mid-1942 and mid-1945, when the JAF was disbanded these childeren were exposed to many different facets of aviation and air force culture.
The JAF had its own emblem and each club had its own distinct badge.
Are there any out there who remember this largely forgotten organization, or who were involved in some way. I am looking for information to write an article on the JAF.
I am researching the history of the Air Force Cadets and would like to contact any ex-members or find details of schools in Natal who might have had Air Force cadets.