View Full Version : Cairo to Cape Flight, 1920 - awards and non-awards

8th January 2022, 13:02
Early in 1920 Lieutenant Colonel Pierre van Ryneveld and Major Quintin Brand attempted to make the first England to South Africa flight. They left Brooklands on 4 February 1920 in Vimy G-UABA, named Silver Queen. They landed safely at Heliopolis, but as they continued the flight to Wadi Halfa they were forced to land due to engine overheating with 80 miles (130 km) still to go. A second Vimy was lent to the pair by the RAF at Heliopolis, and named Silver Queen II. This second aircraft reached Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia, where it was badly damaged when it failed to take off. Van Ryneveld and Brand then used a South African Air Force Airco DH.9 to continue the journey to Cape Town. The South African government awarded them 5,000 each. Both were made a KBE (Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire) as per London Gazette dated 14 May 1920.

At least one other man was honoured for this venture, viz. Flight Sergeant Ernest Frank Newman, awarded the Air Force Medal, 14 May 1920 and reported in Aeroplane of 19 May 1920; No.58 Squadron, "in recognition of valuable services rendered during the recent successful flight to Cape Town." Public Record Office Air 2/110 has recommendation made by a Squadron Leader I.T.Lloyd, probably about March 1920, for work in No.70 Squadron (late 58).

Flight from France to Egypt, May-June 1919. Work on the flight particularly deserving of mention. Indefatigable and cheerful worker. Has subsequently performed very good work on the Cairo-Cape flight when flying as passenger to Wing Commander Van Ryneveld on the Silver Queen.

A civilian, Frank William Sherratt, Rolls Royce Limited, received the Air Force Cross ( London Gazette dated 14 May 1920 and reported in Aeroplane of 19 May 1920;, "in recognition of valuable services rendered during the recent successful flight to Cape Town."

Public Record Office AIR 2/110 has a number of recommendations for awards to personnel involved on the ground in the planning and execution of this operation. All were raised in Cairo on 3 April 1920 by Air Vice-Marshal W.G.L. Salmon. Though not finally approved, they are herewith transcribed for the historical record:

BAILEY, Leslie Charles, Flying Officer - Formerly 6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. Recommended for an MBE when he was with No.2 Air Stores Park, Nairobi during Cairo to Cape Flight of 1920.

For consistent and conscientious devotion to duty in spite of ill health and trying climatic conditions.

BLISS, R., Leading Aircraftman (47206) - No.2 African Survey Company - recommended for Meritorious Service Medal by S/L E.C. Emmett.

For conscientious and valuable work in spite of ill health. Has shown a splendid devotion to duty under trying circumstances.

COOK, Brian Herbert, Flying Officer - formerly King’s African Rifles (from 4 October 1914). Recommended for an MBE when he was with No.2 Air Stores Park, Nairobi.

For valuable services under trying conditions in very difficult parts of Southern Tanganyika territory and North-East Rhodesia, chiefly in Tsetse fly areas.

EMMETT, Edwin Cheere, Flight Lieutenant, MC, DFC; Member, South African Defence; recommended for OBE when he was Officer Commanding, No.2 Air Stores Park, Nairobi. A founding member of the South African Air Force; died in Durban, 2 August 1940.

This officer, commanding No.2 ASP operating over the most difficukt area on the route, viz from Southern Sudan to Northern Rhodesia, showed determination and ingenuity which alone made his task possible.

FERRIDAY, D.R., Aircraftman Second Class - No.2 African Survey Company - recommended for Meritorious Service Medal by S/L E.C. Emmett.

For valuable assistance to Officers surveying difficult areas and specially giis work in managing Motor Transport under extremely adverse conditions in Tanganyika Territory.

GLEN, John McGowan, Flight Lieutenant, MC - formerly Highland Light Infantry, 14th Royal Scots, RFC from 4 October 1916 onwards (France and in Egypt/Palestine). Recommended for an MBE when he was Staff Officer 3, Headquarters, RAF, Middle East. Submission as follows:

Flight Lieutenant Glen has been in charge of Aerial Routes for the past eighteen months. The whole of the very successful arrangements made are due to his initiative, activity and ability. I have no hesitations in saying that, without his work at Headquarters, the establishment of the Cape-Cairo route would have not been as successful as it proved to be.

KENNY, A.V., Civilian - recommended for an MBE for service with No.3 Air Stores Park, Pretoria, as follows:

For the wholehearted assistance he rendered No.3 A.S.P. in their difficult task. His technical knowledge was found invaluable.

MacINTOSH, George Cheyne, Flying Officer (demobilized) - recommended for an MBE for service with No.2 Air Stores Park, Nairobi, as follows:

For conscientious good work in Uganda including long and difficult journeys on foot in sleeping sickness and other unhealthy areas and constructing under adverse famine conditions the most difficult aerodrome in the section.

MACLAREN, John Frederick Feverell, Lieutenant (Acting Captain) - formerly Ayrshire Yeomanry - recommended for an OBE for service with No.2 Air Stores Park, Nairobi, as follows:

This officer rendered valuable assistance through carrying out his work both in survey and administration in a conscientious and able way.

MARCUS. Stephen Percival, Flying Officer - Formerly Westminster Dragoons (commissioned October 1915); to RFC, May 1917. Killed 15 August 1921in Bristol Fighter C761, 6 FTS, RAF Manston. Nose-dived off low turn after engine failure and caught fire at RAF Manston, Kent. With No.3 Air Stores Park, Pretoria. Recommended for MBE as follows:

For constructing an aerodrome in primitive forest under great difficulty and insisting on carrying on with work whilst seriously ill with fever.

TREATT, Chaplin Court, Major - Officer, Royal Order of George I (Greece). On the outbreak of the World War he joined the infantry with the Loyal North Lancashire regiment and went to France but in 1915 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps flying as an observer until he was injured in a crash in 1916 in which the pilot was killed. After a period of recuperation he was sent to Egypt where he had a staff posting until the 1918 armistice. His first peacetime job, though still as an RAF officer, was with a survey team in Africa planning and mapping for the opening of an air route from Europe to South Africa. He was in charge of No 3 party responsible for the Abercorn (now Mbala, Zambia) to Cape Town section, around 2000 miles. This work was finished in 1922 but rather than return to England he stayed in South Africa. He undertook several more expeditions in Africa before moving to the United States. On the outbreak of the Second World War II he obtained a passage to England in a cargo ship and was taken on by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, working for the Ministry of Aircraft Production doing experimental photography. In 1944 he flew along side incoming V-1 buzz bombs photographing them and the associated "flak". At the end of the war, he returned to the United States. Died 11 July 1954 in Los Angeles. Recommended for an OBE 3 April 1920 as follows:

As Officer Commanding, No.3 Air Stores Park [Pretoria] this officer displayed administrative ability above the average and his tact in dealing with civil administrations and authorities contributed largely to the successful preparation of the Cape to Cairo Aerial Route.

WALKER, Henry Edward, Flying Officer - Captain, MC, DFC - Formerly Artists Rifles (16 September 1916). To RFC, 14 April 1917. Served in No.111 Squadron, Egypt. Recommendation for work in connection with No.2 Air Stores Park, Nairobi; text as follows:

This officer’s work necessitated travelling all over the section under construction by No.2 A.S.P. He rendered valuable services throughout and the best aerodrome in the section was constructed by him.