BOSMAN Andrew Christiaan, COLONEL, SAAF No. P102696V
Andrew Bosman was born on 16 May 1917 in Bloemhof, Transvaal.
EARLY MILITARY CAREER
He joined the South African Permanent Force before the war, going to the SAAF.
One can say the Bosman’s aviation career was framed by two aircraft crashes. Both with large loss of life. He survived the first, but, alas not the second. The Vickers Valentia was a large twin-engine bi-plane transport aircraft, capable of carrying 22 troops and was powered by 650hp Pegasus 11 engines. Mclean has Vickers Valentia 269 of 50 Squadron SAAF flown by Capt AC Bosman as crashed near Dodoma killing six on 4th August 1940 whilst Brent gives the date of the crash as 2nd August 1940 and Bosman’s rank as Lieutenant. According to Schoeman the Valentia was flying in bad weather and Bosman was going down to low level, possibly to get his bearings when the crash occurred.
On 23 November 1941 whilst flying a Tomahawk IIb in North Africa, Bosman recorded his first claim when he shot down a Bf109E. Brown provides more detail of the encounter: ‘At the very time when the German tank and vehicle avalanche fell on 5th Brigade, 15 South African fighters of Nos. 2 and 4 Squadrons were fighting it out with 10 Me109’s which came out of the sun. The South Africans turned 180° to meet them, so close that one Messerschmitt hacked Lt. D. W. Golding’s Tomahawk with his wing and spun in. Golding landed his badly damaged aircraft safely. Capt. Bosman swung round to find two directly above him; he gave one three bursts and saw it disintegrate. Warrant Officer R. Jackson bagged a third coming out of its dive but Lt. P. A. du Plessis was shot down and killed.’ Orpen confirms the details of this combat. Schoeman gives more detail of Captain Bosman victory. Bosman was leading Blue Section when they heard the call “Duck”. The whole Squadron turned and Bosman saw 4 Bf109s. One of the Bf109s manoeuvred in on F/L Christmas but in so doing place himself 90m above Bosman, who was turning easily inside the Bf109. Using the “Ring and Bead” iron sights Bosman fired a quick burst “which seemed to slow him up,” With the reflector sight now switched on, Bosman fired again, and when directly behind the Messerschmitt, gave it a final burst- having expended a total of 160 rounds of .30 and 56 .50 ammunition. The target seemed to disintegrate; the engine going one way and the rest in small bits all over the sky.
On 13 December 1941 Shores, Massimello and Guest record that Lieutenant Bosman’s Tomahawk was damaged in combat. Schoeman adds that the damaged was inflicted by a Bf109.
On 16 January 1942 Bosman flying Tomahawk IIb, AN315, over Benghazi downed a Ju88 of 1(K)/LG1. Shores and Massimello & Guest record the Luftwaffe as losing two Ju88s, one from 8./LG 1 and the other from 2./LG 1. Bosman was on patrol with Lt Jackson when they intercepted a Ju88 on reconnaissance. They pursued it out to sea, Lt Jackson turning back when his ammunition was spent and Bosman, then 30 miles at sea, bringing it down after the German had attempted to ram him. Bosman got his damaged Tomahawk back over land just as the engine seized and crash-landed in a small lake ten miles north-east of Benghazi. He swam ashore from the Tomahawk which sank immediately.
On 23 March 1941 Captains Moodie and Bosman took off at 16:45 to escort a DH86 biplane on a rescue mission. Lt Col Jack Mossop of 24 Squadron had been shot down two days before, crash landing his Boston in the open desert. A RAF crew member had left the wounded pilot at the wreck and has gallantly set out to find help. This was at last on the way, the evacuation being successfully accomplished.
AWARDED THE DFC
Bosman rapidly proved to be the unit’s leading pilot and the news of his and Lt Golding’s awards of the DFC reached 4 Squadron on 8th April 1942. These were the unit’s first decorations. They were published in the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 7 April 1942.
Below is the signal received by 4 SAAF Squadron from HQ Middle East Command.
On 24 April 1942, 2 SAAF Squadron received a new commanding officer, Major Andrew Bosman, late of 4 SAAF Squadron. Exulted the record book: “…he is acknowledged not only by us, but by the RAF as not only one of the best, but the best fighter pilot in the Western Desert!”
On the morning of 2 May 1942 Major Bosman took off early with three other Tomahawks of 2 Squadron to strafe an enemy airfield but this operation was frustrated by poor visibility.
The first operation by a Kittyhawk-equipped SAAF fighter squadron in a war zone was a dawn “recce” by 3 fighters of 2 Squadron led by Major Bosman on 21st May 1942 at 06:10.
On 23rd May 1942 at 09:30 5 Squadron took off as close escort to Bostons of 24 Squadron to bomb Derna satellite airfield, with 4 Squadron as medium cover while Major Bosman led 11 Kittyhawks of 2 Squadron on their first full-strength mission in their new mounts, in a climb to the top cover slot, with the bombers at about 4, 200m. This was the first time that a wing of three SAAF fighter squadrons had taken off to cover a SAAF bomber squadron on an operation.
Following a period off operations, he was attached to 72 Squadron during December 1943, although Voss and Schoeman have him taken part in an operation on 29th November 1943, then becoming ‘sweep leader’ (Wing Commander Flying) Of 7 SAAF Wing from January 1944. He continued in this role until October, when his second tour ended and he was awarded a DSO.
On 16 December 1943 Major Bosman flew two ops with 72 Squadron RAF including an escort of 36 Bostons to the South of Ella. The Desert Ace was back and flying on a temporary supernumerary posting with the RAF before going to 7 Wing SAAF.
On 21 December 1943 Major Bosman carried out a sweep with six Spitfire IXs of 72 Squadron to north of Rome with 30 gallon tanks. On their return Bosman and Sgt Street strafed enemy aircraft at Viterbo airfield. Later in the day Bosman flew a bomb line patrol in Spitfire JL176, a Mk.Vc, despite bad weather.
On 27th December 1943 Major Bosman was carrying out a patrol in Spitfire Mk. Vc JK878 with 72 Squadron, in the area of Ceccano, when it was noticed for the first time that Fw190s were giving high cover to Bf109s, instead of the other way round, but the enemy were too far out or avoiding contact.
On Monday, 3 January 1944 7 Wing SAAF welcomed a new wing leader, Major A C Bosman, DFC, who had been commanding 72 Squadron in the west, arriving to take over the post.
On 8th January 1944, both Col Loftus and Lt-Col Bosman flew with 12 Spitfires of No 1 Squadron SAAF. Sections of three flew at angels 8, 12,14 and 16 respectively, and 4 aircraft of No. 2 Squadron went ahead of the formation to try and flush out the enemy by firing irritating bursts on the Mostar aerodrome in Yugoslavia. Tommy van der Veen threw out an old pair of boots, with a note attached reading, “Come up and fight.” It was to no avail. All they got for their trouble was intense and accurate flak.
On 25 February 1944 due to execrable weather Lt-Col Bosman had to take over air traffic control to bring in 18 stray aircraft on to Trigno’s restricted runway.
SOME ADVENTURE WHILST SERVING ACTING AS AIRSTRIP CONTROLLER
Stewart ‘Bomb’ Finney relates the following amusing tale about Bosman duty as airstrip controller in Bagshawe
The 2 Squadron Spitfires were bombed-up for a dive-bombing mission. Finney takes up the story: ‘As we taxied out along the dispersal track, Colonel Bossie who was one of the SAAF’s greatest fighter pilots, took up his position as controller, halfway along and just off the airstrip. He stood in the control pit surrounded by a low wall of sandbags, a microphone in his hand and on my request authorised the squadron to take off. I rolled forward, turned down the runway and opened the throttle. After my Spit had run about 100 yards, my No 2 turned down the runway, paused a few seconds and then roared after me. Soon it was Puck’s turn and when his aircraft was just short of the control pit, the drama began. Part way down the runway, Puck decided to open the throttle wider to increase speed. As he did so his thumb squeezed the bomb release button which for an unknown reason had not been countersunk in the throttle lever. Consequently, one bomb was released but didn’t explode when first hitting the PSP. All this happened as Puck’s Spitfire was nearing the control pit. When Colonel Bossie saw the bomb bouncing along behind the aircraft, he hastily ducked behind the sandbags and started burrowing through to Australia! A few seconds later the bomb exploded and fortunately Puck was situated a short distance ahead of it. He didn’t hear the explosion which was deafened by the noise of the aircraft’s engine, but he couldn’t understand why the Spit had lifted into the air so quickly and abruptly. The right side of the airstrip was a mangled mass of steel plating.
‘After a while Colonel Bossie tentatively stuck his eyes above the sandbags and to his horror saw Barrie Haynes had commenced his take-off run. He had already turned up the airstrip, his Spitfire’s nose blocking his view of the events taking place ahead of him. Colonel Bossie grabbed the mike and yelled: “That aircraft yus taking off, throttle back,” an order with which Barrie complied, but Puck who had just become airborne and was over the swamp at the end of the airstrip, thought the order was addressed to him and that Colonel Bossie had said, “That aircraft yus TAKEN off, throttle back!” Puck obeyed the order and throttled back. Bossie heard his engine crackling and backfiring as the Spit wallowed over the swamp and he shouted: “That aircraft yus taken off, open up, open up,” which Puck did. Barrie, still on the airstrip, heard the order as, “That aircraft yus taking off, open up, open up,” so he continued his take-off. Believe it or not there was still time for Bossie to give one more order and he yelled: “That aircraft on the runway, keep lef, man, keep lef!” As Barrie swept past the control pit he kept left, his starboard wingtip just missing the twisted PSP – and then he throttled back and braked, for there was not enough runway left for a take-off. Unaware of the events which had taken place during Puck’s takeoff, the four of us who were already airborne, including Puck, made a wide circuit of the airstrip waiting for the rest of the squadron to join up, but Colonel Bossie gave instructions that we were to proceed to the target and after the operation, not to land back at Trigno. ‘Commander’, the area controller, would re-route us to another airstrip.’
As a convenient base for German attacks on Tito’s forces, especially round Drvar, the one-time Bosnian capital of Banja Luka continued to attract attention, and 43 enemy aircraft were gathered on the airfield there by 6 April 1944. The weather had made raids impossible on 27 and 30 March, but conditions were now clear. Col Loftus led 13 Mk IX and 1 Mk VIII Spitfires from 2 Squadron SAAF, each with 250 lb bombs, with medium cover being provided by 12 Spitfire Mk Vs from 4 Squadron SAAF to attack the aerodrome, Banja Luka, with top cover provided by 4 Mk VII and Mk XI Spitfires of 1 Squadron SAAF under Lt Col Bosman. Excellent bombing by 2 Squadron left at least three enemy aircraft in flames, the main hangar received a direct hit and caught fire, the control tower was put out of action, and an ammunition dump blew up. Then 4 Squadron came in on the first of nine strafing runs, followed by a repeat by 2 Squadron against no opposition other than light machine-gun fire. Aircraft on the ground burst into flame, and through the smoke at least 20 fires could be seen as the Spitfires left the scene, with black clouds billowing up to 2400 m behind them and the ground littered with wrecked aircraft. Every pilot was questioned as to what he had done and also what he had observed. Between 10 and 15 Fiat CR42s – which the Germans at this stage were pressing into service as night-fighters in Italy – six bomber-reconnaissance Hsl26s, two Reggiane 2001 fighters, two Macchi 202s, two Bf 109s, a Stuka, a He111 bomber, a Me210 fighter, a three-engined Italian SM82 and another unidentified aircraft were destroyed A further six aircraft were damaged. The Spitfires, only one of which was slightly damaged, had expended 21600 rounds of .303 ammunition and 4226 20 mm cannon shells during the attack, with only two stoppages, and a film confirmed the destruction of 30 enemy aircraft on the ground.
Shores & Massimello also describe the day’s events:
“Intelligence information and reconnaissance indicates a presence of about 43 German aircraft at Banja Luka airfield in Yugoslavia which clearly required a fairly major attack to be carried out. This was given to 7 Wing SAAF to organise and undertake. It was some 370 kms from Trigno to this target, so long rang tanks would be a necessity. The attack planned was to include a strike force lead by Col Doug Loftus, comprising of 13 Spitfire IXs of 2 SAAF, each carrying two 250lb bombs, and 12 Mark Vcs of 4 SAAF. Top cover was to be provided by seven more Mark IXs of 1 SAAF led by Lt Col Bosman, two of these borrowed from 2 SAAF.
“Twenty kilometres out of target the two elements of the strike force split and the top cover climbed higher while 4 SAAF aircraft took the middle slot and 2 SAAF’s aircraft dived on Banja Luka landing ground 1, 26 bombs falling fairly close to the hangars and dispersed aircraft. The main hangar took a direct hit and was set ablaze, at least three aircraft being seen to blow-up or catch fire. Complete surprise was achieved, and all Spitfires then spread out to strafe. A lot of light Flak and small arms fire was met initially, but 4 SAAF aircraft quickly silenced this and only one Spitfire suffered slight damage. After a quarter of an hour there was a heavy explosion which was thought to be the detonation of a fuel dump or an ammunition store.
“Assessing the damage in such circumstances was not easy, but Capt Dawson-Squibb attempted to keep some score, which was subsequently considered to included 27-32 aircraft on fire or assessed as destroyed plus six more damaged.”
The table below compares the claims of the various sources. They are for all practical purposes identical. The Me210 and Bf110 could easily have been mistaken for each other.
On 27 May 1944 Lt Colonel Andrew Bosman announced that he had received permission to take 5 pilots of 1 Squadron on a sweep over Rieti, Terni and Foligno Airfields. Everyone wanted to go. To the flight commanders fell the unenviable task of picking the lucky five. Lt. Wake ‘em Wallace was to be the CO’s No. 2, this pair being the “strikers”, while cover was made up of Captain Don Bredner with Ceil Boyd, and Bill Keyser with Doug Judd. 5 Spitfire MkIXs and 1 Spifire MkVIII flown by Lt Col Bosman took off at 18:55.
Martin and Orpen give a comprehensive view of the events of 27 May 1944. The formation took off at 18:55. Rieti and Terni Aerodromes were passed without a sign of enemy aircraft. Bosman was leading the six Spitfires on their sweep in the Foligno area late that afternoon, when they ran into a dozen or more Bf109s and what they took to be FW190s ‘with in-line engines’. Outnumbered two to one but taking full advantage of this rare meeting with the enemy, who were already finding it very difficult to muster experienced pilots for the Italian theatre, the South Africans went into the attack unhesitatingly. Bosman and his No 2, Lt Wallace, had sighted the Germans taking off from Foligno Main, and dived out of the sun, but they lost the enemy and had to climb again. Meanwhile, the other pilots spotted more enemy circling the satellite airfield and coming in to land. Lt D. M. Brebner did a steep diving turn on to a Focke-Wulf and scored a number of strikes before the Fw190 burst into flame and its pilot baled out. Almost simultaneously, Capt D Judd and Lt Bill Kayser, dropping their tanks, attacked two other enemy aircraft and Judd saw one hit the ground and explode. He took it to be a FWI90, but Lt C Boyd – recording the presence of the Fascist Republican Air Force for the first time in contact with the SAAF – did a wing-over on to a Bf109 (as he thought) with Italian markings. The Squadron Records record that the aircraft had both German and Italian markings. It may well have been one of 10 Gruppo’s Macchi 205s, which so closely resembled the Bf109 that US Lightning pilots had reported them as such as early as January.
Lt-Col Bosman himself, in a head-on attack on a Bf 109, had to swerve to avoid colliding with it, but saw it crash into a tree below him before he and Wallace dived on to another which had just landed on the satellite field and burst into flame as they passed over it. When another pair of Bf109s separated, the two SAAF pilots concentrated on chasing one of them till Bosman closed up on it and gave it a final burst which sent it diving into the ground.
Without loss or more than superficial damage to any of the Spitfires, the elated 1 Squadron pilots had accounted for two Bf109s and a FW190 shot down, another of the enemy destroyed in the air, one on the ground and two or more damaged. The Fascist fighter Gruppo, which had been transferred from the Veneto to help against Allied tactical aircraft, now had its headquarters at Reggio nell’Emilia under Maggiore Adriano Visconti, and that day they recorded the loss of Capitano Sergio Giaco-mello and Sergente-Maggiore Giorgio Leone. Their squadrons were having increasing difficulty in replacing losses of Macchi 205s and Fiat G55s.
In Bagshawe, Donald Brebner gives the following description of this operation: ‘One of the last sweeps in Italy was a typical Lt-Col Bosman ‘hush hush’ affair. Colonel Bossie as he was known was the 7 Wing sweep leader, and an extremely clued-up fighter pilot with incredible eyesight and a proud record in the Desert War. He approached me, almost clandestinely, to select four pilots including myself to join him on an unusual but exciting operation. He’d flown solo on many occasions, not only to test the latest modifications which had been fitted to his aircraft, but at the same time to reconnoiter the Foligno area where he had discovered that enemy aircraft were active just before dusk. We set course for Foligno at 1900 hrs heading north into the darkening evening. I led the top cover comprising four aircraft, with Colonel Bossie and his No 2, Trevor Wallace, below, and sure enough on approaching Foligno, eight ME109s and FWl90s could be seen flying around the main and satellite airfields with four more circling above. The game was on and we went in for the kill with a vengeance. During the mêlée Colonel Bossie destroyed 2 ME109s and along with Trevor Wallace flamed another on the ground. Douglas Judd and I each claimed a long-nosed FW190 fitted with a Daimler Benz engine from which both pilots baled out, and Bill Kayser claimed a 109 damaged. It was a highly successful operation and full marks to Colonel Bosman!’
In Summary, Bosman flying a Spitfire F MKVIII JG616 “F” in the Foligno area shot down 2 Bf109s and shared in the destruction of one on the ground. At least one was a Bf109G of 1° Gruppo CT, RSI. The Bf109 was flown by7 Serg Magg Giorgio Leone of 2a Squadriglia, who was killed.
In Bagshawe Donald Brebner gives the following description of the visit of the king: ‘I was a great admirer of Colonel Bossie. He was always on the go, eager to try anything, but at the same time he was very excitable and when in this state of mind, was difficult to understand. In July 1944, six of us were chosen to escort King George VI on his Italian tour. The King’s UK Beaufighter escort advised us not to fly too close to the Avro York or we could be placed under close arrest for dangerous flying. As a result, we flew so far away from it that an interception couldn’t fail! However, the King was happy with our performance and sent congratulatory messages every evening. On the occasion when the King visited our base at Foiano, the York landed and taxied to a spot which happened to be next to a typical desert ‘loo’ surrounded by a low sack cloth where Col. Bossie was sitting enjoying his morning constitutional! Over a couple of drinks that evening Colonel Bossic told me what happened. “Well, Don, old boer, what could I do? My pants were around my ankles and if I stood up it would be rude, but to sit in the presence of the King of England would be even more disrespectful, so I just sommer bobbed up and down! To crown everything the King bent forward and shook my hand!” Colonel Bossie would have made a first class ambassador for South Africa had he lived, for he loved royalty in any form.’
Lt-Col AC Bosman, Sweep-Leader in 7 Wing, left on 14th of October 1944 to return to the Union of South Africa. It was said that once during a lively exchange with the A.O.C., Bosman had, in his excitable way, addressed him as “Ou Swaar”. He had done fine work in 7 Wing and was awarded the D.S.O. in recognition. The award of his DSO was published in the London Gazette dated 14 November 1944. Bosman was however only invested on Monday 31 March 1947 at Voortrekkerhoogte. The wait was probably worth it as King George VI pinned the medal to his chest!
In July 1945 he was promoted Colonel and given command of 7 SAAF Wing, which he was supposed to lead in the Far East. The intention was for the Wing to sail for Ceylon in the middle of July. It was reported that the ship that they were due to sail in had struck a mine in the Mediterranean Sea, and therefore their departure was delayed. Colonel Bosman and several of his senior officers were flown over from Egypt to Ceylon.
The portion of 7 Wing that was in Italy moved by road, rail and sea to Egypt, reaching Port Tewfik in the Norwegian liner Bergensfjord on the night of 13th August, with the 7 Wing personnel at S.A.A.F. Base Depot, Almmaza, left by train for Port Tewfik on the 14th August 1945. The Bergensfjord sailed that evening for Ceylon.
The Japanese surrendered unconditionally on 15th August 1945.
Colonel Tasker, S.A.A.F., H.Q., Ceylon, accompanied by Colonel AC Bosman, came on board to welcome 7 Wing. It was learned that the A.O.C. in C., South East Asia Command, Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park, G.C.B., K.B.E., M.C., D.F.C., D.C.E., had offered 7 Wing occupational duties in Singapore or Japan. Signals were exchanged with the Union, with the outcome that 7 Wing was to return to the Union and not partake in such duties.
One amusing incident during this time is related in Bagshawe by Donald Brebner: ‘Another amusing incident was when he and I drove up to Kandy from Colombo in Ceylon for an interview with Lord Louis Mountbatten in an attempt to persuade him to arrange a ship back to South Africa, for the Wing had been refused permission by the SA Government to act as an occupation force in Japan. Lord Louis was in short sleeves when we visited him, for the heat and humidity were almost unbearable. He was charmingly co-operative in solving our problem and after thanking him profusely for his help and understanding, we returned to Colombo. On the journey back in the jeep over a long, winding road, Colonel Bossie remarked: “Don, did you look at Lord Louis’s arms closely? If you did, you would have seen the blue blood coursing through his veins!”’
However, through the offices of Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park, consent was obtained for the Bergensfjord to convey the Wing back to South Africa. The ship steamed out of Colombo harbour on 31st August 1945 at 17:00.
The ship arrived in Durban on 10th September 1945. As it drew closer to its berth, Perla Siedle, the Lady in White, (Mrs Gibson), who had met troopships during the war, could be seen waving her flag. She sang Sarie Marias and the airmen on board replied with A troopship was leaving Bombay. The exchange of songs went on until the ship was docked at 17:00.
The Wing was met by, amongst others, Brigadier Daniel, Colonel Doug Loftus, Lieutenant-Colonel Geoff and the Mayor of Durban. The following day four troop trains carried them off to the four corners of South Africa.
Wing Commander Bosman was once described by Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham as the finest pilot in the Middle East.
POST WAR CAREER
Reverting to the rank of Major after the war, he commanded 1 Squadron, SAAF from September 1946.
Donald Brebner was best man at Bosman’s wedding. Bosman had a son.
Bosman’s Death and the Court of Inquiry
On 17 April 1947 a Ventura carrying several leading SAAF pilots to collect Spitfires from the RAF crashed at Khartoum with the loss of all aboard, including the 29-year-old Andrew Bosman.
On 30 April 1947 Sir Pierre van Ryneveld, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., M.C., General Officer Commanding, Union Defence Forces issued Routine Order No. 1314. The order required that a Court of Inquiry be constituted on 2 May 1947, at 09:30 hours at the General Headquarters, Pretoria, and at such other places and times as the President may determine.
Brigadier HC Daniel, C.B.E., M.C., A.F.C., S.A. Staff Corps was appointed President. Lt. Col J Hutchinson, S.A.A.F., Major GT Moll, D.S.O., S.A.A.F., Major GN Robertson, S.A.A.F., and Capt RWS Cheetham, S.A.M.C., A.C.F. att P.F. were the four other members. S/Ldr PGJ Cranley RAF, stationed at RAF HQ, Khartoum was present at the Court of Inquiry as a RAF observer. He was given every opportunity of cross examining the witness and expressing his opinions. He was a qualified Wireless Specialist.
Brigadier HC Daniel then put out the Court of Inquiry’s terms of reference. There were two.
Firstly, the Court will inquire into the circumstances surrounding the crash of Aircraft Ventura 6501 between Malakal and Kartoum on the 17th day of April 1947 which resulted in the death of Major AC Bosman, Capts P Welgemoed, HC Liebenberg and TRJ Taylor, Lts HG van Rooyen, RC Hirst, HJ Kritzinger, PH Nicolay, JS Gericke, JJ Landran, NF Prinsloo, PD Nelson and RL Crisp, A/Cpl LD Case, No. P8777 and A/M PA Burger, No. P7985.
Secondly, Court was also asked to inquire into and report on the full particulars of the occurrence; whether any person was directly or indirectly to blame; whether the occurrence was in anyway due to negligence or irregularity or lack of discipline or failure to comply with orders, on the part of any person or persons; whether any undue strain was placed on members of the crew; the adequacy or otherwise of night flying arrangements on this particular night with special reference to radio communications; the cause of death of members killed; and the extent of the loss or damage.
Evidence before the Court indicated that the group of pilots were on their way to Fayid to pick up Spitfires and fly them back to the Union. The order was issued on 14 April 1947. It was intended that a B.34 and PV1 6051 of 60 Squadron should leave on 15 April but owing to the unsatisfactory VHF the departure of the PV1 was delayed. The B.34 however left on the morning of 15 April. On the evening of 15 April, the VHF was still found unsatisfactory and the D.G.A.F. postponed the flight until 17 April. During the morning of Wednesday 16 April, however, pressure was brought to bear on Major Jones, acting O.C. 7 Wing, by Major AC Bosman to arrange for the PV1 to leave on the 16th as a system of visual signals had been arranged between Captain Welgemoed (pilot of the PV1) and the Spitfire pilots for the return journey.
The PV1 took of at 14:30 and night stopped at Salisbury. Early on the 17th the aircraft left Salisbury bound for Khartoum via Kasama, Tabora, Kisuma, Juba ans Malakal. The Aircraft arrived at Malakal at 15.20 Union-time, 17:20 local time. Capt Welgemoed asked for a quick refuel as he had received permission to proceed to Khartoum and do a night landing there. The aircraft left Malakal at 18:00 local time without establishing contact with Malakal or Khartoum. The aircraft was heard at 19:00 by Tendeini. An hour after ETA action was taken by Area Control.
At 22:08 Northbound SA Airways Skymaster ZS-AUA contacted the PV1 and had a very bad Morse signal with parts missing. Nothing more was heard of the aircraft until 16:00 on 18th of April when a message was received from Khartoum that the crashed aircraft was found burnt out 60-70 miles S.S.W. of Khartoum, and all occupants were dead.
Findings of the Court of Inquiry
Four watches found indicate that the aircraft crashed at 22:45 local time and had therefore been airborne for 4¾ hours, the normal maximum endurance of this type. It was the opinion of the court that the cause of this accident was an error in judgement by the pilot, Capt Welgemoed, in that he became lost at night between Malakal and Khartoum. In an endeavour to locate a suitable landing area he flew low and the aircraft hit the ground. The court stated that Capt Welgemoed was to blame and there was negligence in that the aircraft had left the Malakal area without communications being established with either Malakal or Khartoum. The Court also felt that no undue strain or fatigue was suffered by the crew up to the time of the ETA. After ETA they both must have played a role and could have impaired Capt Welgemoed’s judgement at the time of the crash.
The Court considered the night flying arrangement adequate. The PV1 should not have departed without establishing communications. Khartoum monitored the frequency requested by the PV1, which was not the night frequency. The PV1 however seems to have switch to the night frequency, as that was the frequency on which the SAA flight communicated with her.
The Court was of the opinion that death in all cases was instantaneous due to the severe injuries suffered. It was considered that the burning of the bodies occurred after death.
The loss was £42,000 comprising the total wreck of Ventura 6501, a Lockheed PV1 – Ventura MkV, c/n 237-6304 with the US code BU49488, the RAF serial JT881 being assigned the number 6501by the SAAF and flown with the code letters JS-P.
With thanks to Marshall and Van Schalkwyk
Bosman did most of his work against the enemy with the Tomahawk whilst in 4 SAAF Squadron with at least 6 enemy aircraft destroyed and several damaged.
Thanks to Schoeman
Badge worn on aircraft with thanks from Marshall and van Schalkwyk
Thanks to Schoeman
The thought is that Bosman chose code letter “F” because it represented ‘Flying Wingco”.
Thanks to Schoeman
Thanks to Phil Listemann and Bill Dady
A brief history of JG616 from Air Britain’s Spitfire International
Spitfire F.VIIIc (Merlin 63 engine). Taken on charge by the RAF on 9 November 1943. Was in Casablanca on 22 December 1943 – transferred to the SAAF MTO, No 4 Squadron SAAF (KJ-F). On 26 April 1944 was sent to RAF but was returned to the SAAF No.1 Squadron AX-F. Flown by Lt Col AC Bosman (No.7 Wing) on 27 May 1944 this aircraft destroyed two Fw190s in the air and one on the ground. (Interestingly Shores et al list them as Me109s). Flown by Lt Col GC Krummeck 21 July 1944 and 23 May 1945. Returned to RAF and struck of charge on 31 December 1946.
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- Schoeman, Michael, 2011. Springbok Fighter Victory SAAF Fighter Operations 1939-1945 – Vol4 – Fighters over Sicily, Italy and the Med – 1943-1944, Freeworld Publications CC, Nelspruit.
- Schoeman, Michael, 2011. Springbok Fighter Victory SAAF Fighter Operations 1939-1945 – Vol5 –Victory On All Fronts – 1942-1945, Freeworld Publications CC, Nelspruit.
- Shores, Christopher and Williams, Clive 1994. Aces High, Grub Street, London.
- Shores, Christopher 1999. Aces High Volume 2, Grub Street, London.
- Shores, Christopher, Massimello, Gionanni wit Guest, Russell, 2012. A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945 – Volume One: North Africa June 1940 – January 1942, Grub Street, London.
- Shores, Christopher and Massimello, Giovanni with Guest, Russel, Olynyk, Frank, and Bock, Winfried, 2012. A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940 -1945, Volume 2, North African Desert February 1942 – March 1943. Grub Street, London
- Shores, Christopher and Massimello, Giovanni with Guest, Russel, Olynyk, Frank, Bock, Winfried, and Wg Cdr Thomas, Andy, 2018. A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940 -1945, Volume 4, Sicily and Italy to the Fall of Rome 14 May, 1943 – 5 June, 1944. Grub Street, London.
- Szlager, Tomasz, 2007. P-40s in the Mediterranean, Kagero, Lublin
- Terbeck, Helmut, van der Meer, Harry and Sturtivant 2002. Air-Britain Spitfire International. Air-Britain Publication, Turnbridge Wells.
- Van Rynveld, General Sir Pierre, 1947. Routine Order 1314 – Establishment of Court of Inquiry – Circumstances surrounding the crash of Aircraft Ventura 6501.
- Voss, V 1952. The Story of No. 1 Squadron, S.A.A.F., Mercantile Atlas (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town.
- AIR 54/38 – 4 SAAF Squadron. The National Archives, United Kingdom. Retrieved 12 January 2013 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/browse/C2109
- AIR 54/107/1 – 7 SAAF Wing. The National Archives, United Kingdom. Retrieved 12 January 2013 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/browse/C2109
Newspapers and Gazettes
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 7 April, 1942. Retrieved 18 March 2014 http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/search
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 of November, 1944. Retrieved 18 March 2014. http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/search
National Archives – United Kingdom
- Register of the Distinguished Service Order, Book 11, Sept 1943 – Dec 1944. National Archives WO390-11-0-2. Retrieved 1 November 2013. Index A-Z, pages 1-251.