Traces of World War 2 
SAAF - No. 1 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

      home - latest update 22 January 2008

SQUADRON - Fighter, Hawker Fury, Hawker Hurricane Mk I

History | Operations and losses | Sources | Links | Books | Questions and/or remarks

When the Second World War broke out on 3 September 1939, the Commonwealth had no spare aircraft to sell and aircraft which were purchased or built in South Africa were obsolete, with only six Hurricane Mk1's, a Fairey Battle and a Blenheim Mk1 being current operational types.

The South African Air Force (SAAF) consisted of 160 permanent force officers, 35 cadets and 1 400 other ranks. Technical knowledge was limited to fabric covered biplanes.

The oldest SAAF unit, 1 Squadron had been a Fighter/Bomber Squadron in August 1939, but was renumbered II (Bomber) Squadron in December of that year. 1 Squadron was reformed in February 1940 by renumbering 6 Squadron at Cape Town, and on the outbreak of war with Italy in June 1940 this was the only fighter unit in the SAAF, equipped with four Hurricane Mk. Is and six Hawker Fury biplanes.

In May 1940 most of the pilots had been transported to Egypt to train on Gladiators, which were to be supplied by the RAF.

When 1 SAAF Squadron, moved north in May 1940 for active duty in East Africa, it took six of the Furies with it. The Furies was crated and put aboard the SS Takliwa on 26 May and arriving at Mombasa by sea on 1 June where they were swiftly assembled.

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Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed; those with fatal losses are.

19/06/1940: Yavello, Abyssinia (Ethiopia). 1 plane lost, 1 KIA

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19/06/1940: Italian air base at Yavello, Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

1 SAAF Squadron flew their first operational sorties on the 19th, when they escorted three Ju86s from 12 SAAF Squadron. Their target was the Italian air base at Yavello. Spotting a group of parked Caproni Ca 133's the two escorting Hurricanes dived down to commence a strafing run.

At this point a formation of Fiat CR32's appeared overhead and attacked one of the Ju86s, severely damaging it, wounding the gunner and observer in the process. One of the Hurricanes was also attacked and 2/Lt B.L. Griffiths was shot down and killed. The other Hurricane pilot Capt St E Truter became involved in a hectic dogfight with the remaining CR32's and finally he was able to put in a burst that caused one of them to crash land on the airfield.

Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: Italian air base at Yavello, Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
Lost: 19/06/1940
Lieutenant Brian L. Griffiths, SAAF 102663, 1 Sqdn., age 23, 19/06/1940, Nairobi War Cemetery, Kenya

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Brief history of the SAAF and 2 Sqdn
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
South African Air Force use of the Hawker Fury
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
Royal Air Force History Section
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
South African Air Force Gladiators
The Second World War - a day by day account

War over Holland

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Air Aces
Airwar over Denmark
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
Armée de l'Air - Order of Battle, 10th May 1940
Australian Wargraves
Axis History Factbook
De Belgen in Engeland 1940-1945 (in Dutch)
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
HMS Cavalier
CWGC Cemeteries Germany
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
Danish WW2 Pilots
Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
'High flight', poem by John Gillespie Magee
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, poem by W.B. Yeats
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
Luchtoorlog ('Arial War', in Dutch, with many photos)
The Luftwaffe, 1933-1945
Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association
Nordic Aviation during WW2 aircraft of WW2
Polish Air Force 1940-1947 Operations Record Books
RAF Battle of Britain
De Slag om de Grebbeberg
Warbird Alley
World War II Aircraft wrecksites in Norway
North East Diary 1939-1945
Wartime Leicester and Leicestershire

The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1

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This page is dedicated to the men of South African Air Force No 1 Squadron.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to