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Thread: Ian Smith's WW2 career in RAF/SRAF - info request

  1. #1
    Chris Scott Guest

    Default Ian Smith's WW2 career in RAF/SRAF - info request

    In the last hour it has been announced that the former Prime Minister of rebel-Rhodesia, Ian Smith, has died in Cape Town, aged 88. He was a fighter pilot in Europe in WW2 - probably with the RAF, rather than the SRAF. Does anyone happen to have access to any service details, please?

    Chris Scott

    PS: I attach Andy Ingham's thread from last month, on the subject of RAF flight-training in South Africa, and the then-Southern Rhodesia. [Ian Smith changed its name to Rhodesia when he declared UDI in 1965.]


    "Posted to South Africa as instructors - Recovered Post"
    Andy_Ingham (229 posts)
    28-Oct-07, 08:25 PM (GMT)
    "Posted to South Africa as Instructors"
    On the 15 September 1943 three members of 127 Squadron were posted to South Africa as Instructors.
    They were:
    Sgt W Y Kinsman
    P/O J A McHarg
    F/S W J Willshaw
    Has anyone ever come accross these men in their research?
    Can someone give me a list of possible EFTS and SFTS in South Africa / Rhodesia so I can check ORB's when I next visit Kew.
    Any information about them much appreciated.
    Regards
    Andy
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    Subject Author Message Date ID
    RE: Posted to South Africa as Instr... galgos 28-Oct-07 1
    RE: Posted to South Africa as Instr... ChrisScott 29-Oct-07 2



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    galgos (238 posts)
    28-Oct-07, 09:33 PM (GMT)
    1. "RE: Posted to South Africa as Instructors"
    Hi Andy,
    A few from my Dad's logbook in Southern Rhodesia:
    No. 28 EFTS Mt. Hampden
    No. 27 EFTS Induna
    No. 25 EFTS Belvedere
    No. 26 EFTS Guinea Fowl (Gwelo)
    No. 20 SFTS Cranborne
    No. 21 SFTS Kumalo
    No. 23 SFTS Heany
    No. 33 FIS Norton
    No. 24 BG and NS Moffat
    Hope this helps
    Regards
    Max Williams
    Portland, Dorset
    www.galgos.co.uk

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    ChrisScott (36 posts)
    29-Oct-07, 01:44 AM (GMT)
    2. "RE: Posted to South Africa as Instructors"
    Those were the days...
    Before my time, but Belvedere was near the Agricultural Showground in a suburb of the capital, Salisbury (now Harare), and was Salisbury Airport until 1956, after which it was closed. (Then the present one opened, and the RRAF established their New Sarum base there.) Mt. Hampden and Cranborne were also near Salisbury. Norton is a bit further out, on the Bulawayo road. Heany is Bulawayo. Don't know of the others, but Guinea Fowl near Gwelo (now Gweru) may have been replaced by Thornhill.
    Andy probably knows that the country's contribution to the war effort cut little ice with the Allies after WW2. Southern Rhodesia was self-governing and the most developed of the countries in the region after South Africa, but was refused independence in the 1960s - unlike neighbouring Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Bechuanaland. This was because the sizeable white population refused to hand over political power overnight to the majority black population.
    By 1966, RAF Javelins were sent to Lusaka, Zambia (just over the border), in an attempt to quell a unilateral declaration of independence by what became known as the Smith régime. (Ian Smith had been a fighter pilot with the RAF.) On the way in, they had to contact Salisbury ATCC for permission to enter the Salisbury FIR. This was duly granted.
    After a long guerrilla war from 1973, financed mainly by the USSR and China, the Rhodesian Government was forced to agree to one-man-one-vote elections. The British Government's preferred peaceful black leader was unsuccesful at the polls, which were marred by intimidation. Mr Robert Mugabe, an ex-guerilla leader supported by China, became the first prime minister of the independent Zimbabwe. The current situation is widely known.

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    Chris, From the LG: 778864 Sgt to be PO (80463) wef 25 Sep 42; FO wef 25 Mar 43; FL wef 25 Sep 44; m.i.d., FO, wef 14 Jun 45. Regards, Terry

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    The Times has just published his obit. It states that :

    "in 1941, he joined the RAF Empire Air Training Scheme at Guinea Fowl in central Rhodesia. He was posted to 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron in the Middle East, flying Hawker Hurricanes.

    Taking off from Alexandria on a dawn patrol in 1943, his throttle malfunctioned, he lost height and clipped the barrel of a Bofors gun. He crashed and rammed his face against the Hurricane’s gunsight. He suffered severe facial injuries, broke his jaw, a leg and a shoulder, and buckled his back.

    Surgeons at the 15th Scottish Hospital in Cairo reconstructed his face and, after only five months, he rejoined his squadron in Corsica. He realised his dream to fly Spitfire Mark IXs, carrying out strafing raids and escorting American bombers. In mid-1944 Captain Smith was leading a raid on a train of fuel tankers in the Po Valley when he made the mistake of going back for a second run.

    The Spitfire was hit by an anti-aircraft shell, caught fire and he baled out. He was soon picked up by the partisans. The five months he spent with them near Sasello, learning Italian, reading Shakespeare and working as a peasant, he regarded as one of the best times of his life.

    Near the end of the war, he and three other Allied fugitives made their way through occupied Italy to the Maritime Alps. At one point the conspicuously tall, fair-haired Rhodesian strode unhindered through a German checkpoint. He led his tiny group over the mountains, walking barefoot on ice, until they reached an American patrol on the other side. "

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article2910986.ece

  4. #4
    Chris Scott Guest

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    Thanks, Terry,
    Silly, but I didn't think he'd be in the LG.

    Thanks, Amrit. Here are two extracts from the Daily Telegraph's offering:

    "Ian Douglas Smith was born on April 8 1919 at Selukwe, Southern Rhodesia (now Shurugwi, Zimbabwe), the son of a Scottish-born butcher and cattle dealer who had emigrated in 1898."

    "Smith interrupted his studies in 1939 to join the RAF, joining 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron. During the North Africa campaign he was stationed at Idcu, an airfield 20 miles from Alexandria where, in 1943, his Hurricane crashed on take-off, smashing his head against the instrument panel. Smith's face had to be surgically rebuilt, an operation which left him with a somewhat menacing stare.

    "In 1944, after his Spitfire was shot down over the Ligurian Alps, he spent five months with the Italian partisans before escaping over the Alps into France, where the Allies had just landed. He finished the war in Germany with 130 Squadron.

    "His war experiences left an indelible impression on Smith, and the fact that Rhodesia had done more than any other colony to help the mother country would become central to his sense of betrayal by post-war British governments."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/news/2007/11/21/db2101.xml

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    I work with a Rhodesian and she was telling me that the Cenotaph in Harare is now known as Unity Square and access is strictly forbidden (to white Zimbabweans, I think she said, but perhaps to all). Every Nov 11, Smith still went and placed a wreath of poppies on the memorial and was never stopped by authorities.

    Having said that, he was stilll forced off his farm.

    Just an anecdote I learnt yesterday!

    Cheers

    Andy

  6. #6
    Chris Scott Guest

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    Thanks for the anecdote, Andy,

    A lot of the diaspora have ended up in the Antipodes. Ironic because, in the early 1960s, Australia was one of the old white-dominated Commonwealth countries insisting that independence for Southern Rhodesia be predicated on universal franchise. That is what persuaded the white electorate to kick out the existing moderate UFP government at the 1962 elections, replacing it with what soon became the Smith-led RF party, leading to the illegal UDI in 1965.

    Ian Smith's courage and steadfastness are admired more widely than his politics. He didn't do appeasement.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Smith

    It would be interesting to hear more of his record in the RAF, other than just his prangs! His autobiography might help, I suppose.

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    Default Ian Smith

    Hello Chris,

    Little bit of pieces cominf from the book"War in the Air Rhodesian Air Force" by Dudley Cowderoy & Roy C. Nesbit.

    "Born in 1919 in Selukwe. Student at Rhodes University. Enlisted in September 1941. Trained in the Rhodesian Ait Traaining Group, first at Guinea Fowl and then at Thornhill. Transfer to Idku in Egypt. At 05h46 on 4 october 1943 took off from Idku in HurricaneIIc serial KZ179, at accident on take off.
    On 10 May 1944 he reported back to 237 Sqn base in Corsica. He resumed ops flying 2 days later. Nine more ops flights followed. On 22 june 1944 he took off for his final mission with the Rhodesian squadron.His Spitfire was hit back Flak and he baled out, evaded German search party he met partisans with whom took part in their expeditions of sabotage. He crossed the mountains and reached the American lines in France 20 days later.
    He went to UK and took a refresher course and on 23 April 1945 he joined the 130 Sqn at Celle in Germany.

    Best regards
    Rene

  8. #8
    Chris Scott Guest

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    Très gentil, merci, René.

    Chris

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