40 Squadron Pilots

 On this page a list of pilots that served in  40 squadron while pilot Capt. Michael was with them from October 1941 to February 1943. The photographs originates from the private photo album of Michael.

 If you are a visitor and can maybe help with further information on these pilots please contact me, Tinus  le Roux, much appreciated.

 Dennis F D Acutt 

28/01/42 joined 40 sqdn

14/05/42 Force landed but OK.

emails received November 2016:

 Barry R W B Acutt 

28/01/42 joined 40 sqdn

09/06/42  A/C damaged by AA fire.

22/07/42 Promoted to Captain

09/02/43 RTU

emails received November 2016:

Good Morning Tinus


My son, Marc James in New Zealand, came across your website with info on the pilots of 40 squadron with Capt Michael.

Are you related to Michael?


My father was Barry Acutt, my uncle Dennis Acutt and a very close family friend was Chick Foulds – godfather to my brother I think.

As a child I used to love paging through my fathers album especially the Gremlin pages – my father’s was ‘Goggles Gus’.


I am not sure where the photo album is now, but I have copied my brother and sister hoping one of them has it.


Kind Regards


Drummond, KZN, RSA

Hi Tinus


Michael must be a very good age!!  My father would have been 104 now...  The other 2 connections that I had -


Dr John Booth practised in Durban with Dr Raymond Mundy for many many years.  Dr Mundy was our family doctor, but we often consulted with Dr John Booth too.  He had had a lung removed, which did not hinder him at all.


In 1965 when I was at Durban Girls’ College we had a new girl in our class, Jennifer Welchman – I remember my Father asking me if she was related to Michael Welchman from 40 squadron.  Jennifers family had moved to Durban from a different country, which country I cannot remember.


My father died in April 1987 age 74 of lung cancer – he had worked until the day before he went into hospital.   Dennis died in June 1988 – he had severe diabetes most of his life.   Indeed my Father was Chair of Acutts Estate Agents, Dennis ran the Durban North Agency.


Kind regards


Peter Andrew 

Seconded to RAAF 451 squadron Oct1941- Jan 1942.

19/11/41 Crash landed and walk back 2 and 1/2 days to get to LG128 where 80 sqdn gave him 2 quarts of beer. 

15/04/42  AC hit by AA, landed safely

13/05/42 Promoted to A Capt, flight commander

06/07/42 RTU 


Chris Beath 

25/05/42 Joined 40 sqdn  

10/11/42 Shot down and taken POW in Sollum area.


Ed  Biden 

Very popular member of the squadron.

He was the OC of 40 sqdn for the first battle period Jan 1942 until September 1942

10/04/42  promoted to Lt Col.

23/05/42 Claimed MC-202 probable

03/09/42 Finished his tour as OC

On a follow-up tour Ed was KIA. 

  Jannie P Blaauw

Very popular member of the squadron.

09/04/42  Force landed near El Adem due to engine trouble, AC retrieved

06/05/42 Force landed and walked to Sidi Azeiz LG next day

01/06/42 Left the sqdn

17/07/42 Returned from East Africa

26/09/42 Promoted to Major and transferred to 7 sqdn as OC

26/09/42 DFC awarded 

13/04/43 Returned to 40 sqdn as OC

Aug 1943 OC of 74 OTU (tac/r)

Jan 44-  March 45 OC of RAF 208   sqdn (tac/r)

Participated in the Berlin Airlift

1951 OC of SAAF 2 sqdn in Korea

Retired as Brigadier


 F E Black

19/07/42 Reported for duty

18/11/42  A/C's pitched over due to soft spots on the taxi path at Martuba

19/01/43 Shot down, force landed, returned to squadron 22/01/42




John H Booth 

19/03/42 joined 40 sqdn

26/04/42 Shot down (Tomahawk) by 109's and 

crashed, died on way to hospital, buried by 

Free French at Bir Hacheim.

 John Borain 

Joined 40 sqdn 8/01/42

01/06/42 Left 40 sqdn for ? fighter squadron because he is "temperamentally not suited for tac/r duty"



A E "Brokie" Brokensha

 14/10/42 joined 40 sqdn

19/01/43 Shot down KIA

 Peter "Pete" Campbell

Seconded to RAAF 451 squadron Oct1941- Jan 1942

25/11/41 Force landed (while evacuating their LG)  without fuel  in mids of a tank battle. Got help from SA armoured cars to refuel with tank petrol and arrived at newly located squadron base.

26/11/41 Again ran out of fuel, force landed in desert, spent night in the desert. 27/11/41 found 1SA div headquarters and refueled AC with vehicle fuel, returned to base.

22/01/42 RTU

01/10/42 Returned to the squadron

09/11/42 Claimed damage to a Ju-87

18/11/42  A/C's pitched over due to soft spots on the taxi path at Martuba

25/11/42 Shot down by AA  Mersa Brega - Agheila area

After the war stayed good friends with Michael

Chris Kavanagh

13/06/42 Joined the sqdn

11/07/42 Force landed due to engine trouble.


Hi Tinus,

Chris Kavanagh was the first husband of my mother (Olive = ‘Mysti’, deceased 2002). He had been a journalist with the Natal Mercury and continued to write pieces for various newspapers while ‘up north’. He also wrote frequently to my mother and their infant daughter Patricia (my half-sister, later a literary agent in London, deceased 2008). 

The letters are summarized as a chapter in A Country at War 1939-1945: The Mood of a Nation (South Africans at War) Hardcover – December 31, 1992

by Jennifer Crwys-Williams (Author).


I have seen a photograph of him climbing into a Spitfire (9?) somewhere in Tunisia. Chris later served in the Italian campaign but I think he was operating more as a war correspondent for the UDF, rather than a pilot.  Chris Kavanagh was awarded the DFC and survived the war but had a close call when he was crew of a Sunderland flying boat that crash landed at sea and sank. Consequently he was a member of the ‘Goldfish Club’. 


After 1945, he was a parliamentary reporter in Cape Town. He divorced my mother, remarried, had another daughter (Julie Kavanagh, subsequently an author and balletomane) and moved to the UK to continue his journalistic career.

Chris Kavanagh died in 1968.

All the best,

 Mike F O'Brien


I subsequently found out that Chris Kavanagh wrote a novel ‘Timid Eagle’ that was based on his wartime flying experiences. It was published by Howard Timmins in the early 1960s but was not a big seller.  I do not have a copy and I haven’t read it, but it might be interesting to get hold of it to gain some further insight into the saga of 40 Sdn.  


Dudley "Cobbles" Cobbledick

23/04/42 Promoted to act Capt., Flight commander.

10/05/42 Shot down and killed



 Stanley Cohen

15/06/42 crashed aircraft while evacuating from Sidi Azeiz due to U/S aircraft

Was transferred after a short term of service at 40 sqdn.


 Trevor Cook

04/05/42 Joined 40 sqdn 

09/02/43 promoted to Captain  



 R R "Dick" de Gale 

27/04/42 Joined 40 sqdn

28/05/42 Swung on landing but OK

12/06/42 Belly landed at Tobruk LG, unhurt, A/C written off


Jimmy  Egner

06/04/42   got shot down and became POW. The sqdn was warned of enemy AC in tac/r area but upper command insisted this flight to take place. Pilots were very unhappy about these events. 



Natie "the Moose"  Flekser

Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

28/03/42 Force landed near Tobruk

10/05/42 Shot down, POW

Natie Flexser's personal war diary has been donated to the IWM




 C L "Chick" Foulds

20/01/42 joined 40 sqdn

08/05/42  A/C badly damaged by AA but returned safely

06/07/42 Promoted to acting Capt. as Flight commander

09/02/43 Transferred to 74 OTU

Charles (Chick) Foulds and his family became good family friends.  His wife was my godmother.  After the war my father, Barry,  persuaded him to join the family property firm in Durban where he remained.

Info from Correen Gorton, many thanks!

 J E Freemantle

15/05/42 Joined 40 sqdn

06/06/42 Crashed a Tomahawk when one wheel came off on landing, unhurt.

05/10/42 Accident with A/C while taxi; cat 2 damage

 26/11/42 Shot down near Agheila by Bf-109's, belly landed, walked 12 miles, picked up by own forces and returned to base.

John Freemantle worked at stockbrokers Max Freemantle and Pollock with branches in Johannesburg and Durban.  

Info from Correen Gorton, many thanks!


 Murray Gardner 

Seconded to RAAF 451 squadron Oct1941- Jan 1942

Obtain DFC on 4/11/1941

12/12/41 Shot down a Ju-87 15 miles from Timini

22/01/42 RTU

28/08/42 Returned as new OC

08/09/42 Collided with his first flight in a Tomahawk to an Egyptian truck on landing, driver killed. 

Email received 1 Jan 2017 from Nicholas Cowell:

Hello Tinus,


I found your site while searching for info on  Charles Murray Shand (Murray) Gardner - your Murray Gardner


I am an Australian, researching Australian cricket during the war, but also at times touching on Kiwis, Saffers, Poms etc who also played cricket during wartime, especially servicemen.


Gardner was not only a 40 Sqn pilot and CO, but he rose to become a Lieutenant-Colonel in the SAAF, was awarded the OBE in 1944, became a senior RAF officer after the war (Wing Commander, temporary Group Captain in 1946)


He was also a good cricketer pre-war, when he played ten first-class cricket matches for Eastern Province (1931/32-1934/35) and for Border (1936/37) as a rich-hand batsman. After the war, he also played two matches for Sussex Second XI in Minor Counties cricket in 1948.


He was originally a lawyer from Grahamstown from Rhodes University.


I hope this is of interest, and thanks for the site and the info on Gardner






Nicholas Cowell

Sydney, Australia


J "Gamat" "Gouwsy" Gouws

 Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

09/04/42  Shot down and became POW

?/?/44  Murdered as part of the 50 Stalag Luft III Great Escape escapees that were caught and executed.

Enail received from Warwick Hojem:

Also, in terms of J "Gamat" "Gouwsy" Gouws who is showing on the Welchman site, Gouw’s death was 29/3/44 (as per CWGC site) … extract below:


Unit: 40 (Tomohawk) Squadron, (SAAF)


GOUWS, Johannes S

Rank: Lieutenant

Trade: Pilot

Service No: 103275

Date of Death: 29/03/1944

Age: 24 - Born: 13th August 1919

Regiment/Service: South African Air Force - 40 Sqdn.

Awards: Mentioned in Despatches

Grave Reference Coll. grave 9. A.


Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Gouws, of Bultfontein, Orange Free State.


Also see http://www.trasksdad.com/PopsProgress/The50.htm for another photo of Gouws and description below.


POW No.: 118


Recaptured: Lindau

Killed: 29th March 1944 at Munich.





Gouws and Cobbledick, 1941, found on internet 

Gouws as POW in Germany


 J G "Joe" Grimes 

27/04/42 Joined 40 sqdn

27/05/42 Hit by AA over Sidi Rezegh and force landed at Gambut.


Seconded to RAAF 451 squadron Oct 1941- Jan 1942

22/01/42 RTU


Jack  H Heald 

10/01/42 Joined 40 sqdn

04/05/42 Force landed at Gumbut, U/C collapsed

15/05/42 A/C hit and damaged by AA

29/06/42 Struck an aircraft that exploded while taking off in misty conditions and Jack was killed. Happened at LG 104 when the squadron was withdrawn.



Cecil D Jackson

14/06/42 Lt Jackson crash landed a Tomahawk, unhurt

06/07/42 Lt Jackson hit by AA fire, force landed, POW




Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight.  

21/03/42 Made suspicious tac/r flight with wrong flight path
23/03/42 RTU under arrest




 C W "Bill" Lambon

02/07/42 Joined the sqdn

10/07/42 A/C hit by shell in cockpit, force landed, uninjured


 Piet A Lategan

Was named "Likewaan"



 B S "Gort" Lazarus 

The name "Gort" was given to him by 

04/02/42 Joined 40 sqdn 

17/04/42 Overboost a Tomahawk, A/C became U/S.

15/06/42 crashed aircraft while evacuating from Sidi Azeiz due to U/S aircraft

10/07/42 Transferred to the Union for compassionate reasons

 C "Clive" le Roux 

13/06/42 Joined the sqdn  

06/03/43 Shot down by AA, returned next day to sqdn


 G Lloyd

22/07/42 Joined the sqdn   

26/11/42 Had a fight with Bf-109's in the Agheila area protecting his shot down mate Lt Freemantle. A/C damaged but returned safely with completed tac/r info.

 J R "Ross" Macdonald 

19/03/42 joined 40 sqdn

He was the joker of the squadron and stayed good friends with Michael after the war.




25/05/42 Joined 40 sqdn

10/07/42 Transferred to SAAF base on medical grounds


 Douglas R "Doug"  "Duggy"  Mellor 

21/03/42 Shot down, aircraft beleive to be seen  landed okay, POW 

 Jimmy H P Miles 

 14/10/42 joined 40 sqdn

 Ronnie G Mitchell

 Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

28/05/42 Force landed at Gambut

11/06/42 Fainted in his A/C at high altitude but recovered at 500 feet

Ronnie was transferred after an incident at a hospital where he was believed also to have a "blackout".

 W A "Tiny" Nel

28/03/42 Promotion to acting Captain, flight commander

26/09/42 DFC awarded

12/10/42 Returned and promoted to sqdn 2 IC


Email received 2018:

Hello again Tinus

Thank you for the page of the SAAF 40 squadron pilots.  There were a number of people that I was acquainted with. When we returned to South Africa in 1962,( I was ten years old) after my father retired from the RAF, we moved to Wartburg and my father went into partnership with Peter Campbell, in a sugar cane farm.  The farm was called Nelscamp.(Nel and Campbell) Peter Campbell was farming sugar at that time in Compensation on the North Coast of KZN.  Jimmy Egner and his wife Wendy were in Schroeders near Wartburg they had two children Jenny and Johnathan whom I was friends with.  Johnathan became a pediatrician and I don't know what happened to Jenny.  Murray Shand Gardner was my boss.  He was running the Natal Law Society and I was his secretary for some years. He was delighted to know who my father was.   I left to have my son, and Murray retired shortly after I left. That was 45 years ago. 


My father spoke very little of the war days, and most of the information I have is what I have researched myself.  I have in my possession an old photo album of the time in the desert mostly photos of the fellows in the squadron and then those great ones of him with Churchill and Montgomery and the King.  I photographed them from the album for my facebook page.  If you would like copies of anything them I can send them to you without any comments on them. 


Due to a very unfortunate incident his medals and original log book were stolen, I discovered through investigation that they were sold to someone via Sotherbys but I could not find out who bought them.  I have his miniatures and a copy of his log book, which luckily I had copied some time before the theft.  I also have a letter entitled "Dropping the Message" with two photos of an oil painting by Kenneth Grant, which was commissioned by Big. Peter Curtis 47 years after the event. I will try to photograph it and send it to you. I also have the flag with the Cat looking through the magnifying glass.


If you could obtain a copy of his service records I would be very grateful for that.  I did contact the Forces War Records in England to try to obtain some information but they want me to pay in pounds for any information and the amount required and the exchange rate prohibits me from doing so.  


Thank you so much for replying to my correspondence with you.  It fills in some of the history of my father which I am trying to obtain for my children and grandchildren to keep his memory alive.  I have attached two photos for you.

Kind regards

Helen Redelinghuys


 R T Nicholson

02/07/42 Joined the sqdn


B H Nicol

Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

21/04/42 Had engine failure, belly landed

25/05/42 Shot down and killed

 Jack J Orpen

13/06/42 Joined the sqdn

Artist for the 40 sqdn "gremlins" 





J Orr

20/08/42 Transferred to squadron

 Sonny Rothman


 Bob Rogers 

Joined the squadron in February 1943 just as Michael was leaving. Bob and Michael stayed friends after the war and stayed in contact. 



C Rose

13/06/42 Joined the sqdn

21/07/42 Force landed, engine trouble.


Norman Ross 

16/04/42 Shot down on tac/r sortie and killed. He was killed on his second sortie.


M C S "Mel" Shepherd 

 14/10/42 joined 40 sqdn

13/12/42 Shot down and wounded in the foot. Crash landed and walked a far way, picked up by friendly forces and sent to hospital.

Thanks to David Shepherd, Mel's son, for sending me photographs and also the paper cutting (2018)


Willie "Smitty" Smith

Seconded to RAAF 451 sqdn Oct 41 - Jan 1942, KIA while serving with them.

Killed on returning from tack/r mission, hit by AA fire over Sidi Omar, crashed in flames 3 miles from their LG.





19/03/42 joined 40 sqdn


 R D Steinbach

22/07/42 Joined the sqdn 

10/11/42 Claimed a probable shot down EA

 Denis N "Sven" Stott

28/12/42 RTU  

Denis ready to mount his Hurricane. THANKS TO BARRY STOTT FOR THIS PHOTOGRAPH!


Ian E I H  "Virg" Sturgeon

07/05/42 Shot down  a MC-202

13/06/42 A Flight (Capt Andrew) took over from ? Flight at Tobruk detachment.

13/06/42 A/C was hit in the fuel tank by a Breda shell, A/C returned



"Tommy"  Thomas 

Seconded to RAAF 451 sqdn Oct 41 - Jan 1942, KIA while serving with them.

Got lost and force landed on  23/10/41; taken back by KDG armoured car.

5/11/41 Force land U/C up due to engine cut-out.

12/11/41 Shot down over the sea, ground forces saw parachutes but Thomas was killed.


 R H van der Poel

02/07/42 Joined the sqdn

09/11/42 Engaged Bf-109's for 25 minutes as his no.1 could do the tac.r; DFC recommended

12/01/43 Aircraft slightly damaged by AA fire

26/01/43 Shot down, returned to sqdn on 30/01/42

email from Clive v d Poel 2018

Morning Tinus,

Found your site and the photo album.

My father was R.H van der Poel lately of Knysna . In fact Bob Rogers said a few words at my  father’s  funeral service.

What was also interesting was the picture of Clive le Roux . I have a similar photo , a few of which my dad still kept.  Clive le Roux was a friend of my father’s and , according to my father , was after whom I was named.

As regards logbooks and other documents  ,  I have very few because all my Dads medals including his DFC and log books were destroyed  at my grand fathers house in Betty’s Bay during that very destructive fire in  60’s  .  I do have two photographs , the newspaper cutting of the DFC award together with the letter from the Airforce referring to the award.  I had seen the various medals as my grand father kept them in a glass display cabinet but do not know the reason for the various citations/awards. . When the matter of trying to replace them was discussed with my father  he never followed up with the SAAF.

I will however assemble what I have and forward it on to you . I appreciate all your efforts in managing this site .  What is however difficult to address with grand children are the stories of North Africa and that is why Iam so appreciative of John Orpen’s writtings.

 Thank you again.

Clive van der Poel





T B van der Riet 

04/05/42 Joined 40 sqdn

05/06/42 Attacked by a Bf-109 while on Photo/r. 

Got wounded and nursed the damaged A/C 

home. The 109 followed and shot him down in 

flames at 50 feet near the drome. He crashed 

but escaped with severe burn wounds. 

Evacuated to Tobruk hospital.


J W "Van" van Niekerk

Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

10/04/42  Shot down and killed

Michael told that the day before van Niekerk was killed he had a conversation with him. van Niekerk said that he had a feeling that he will be killed the next day. He also told Michael that his family rejected him for joining the war effort and this was very hard for him.




13/01/43 joined squadron

25/01/43 Killed in flying accident near Buerat, buried next to his burnt out plane

 Wounded, KIA

Dennis S  Waugh

Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

15/06/42 Lt Waugh wounded in legs by AA shell hit in the cockpit in Tobruk vicinity. He brought the A/C back, was taken to Tobruk hospital.

Dennis was RTU and he recovered from his injuries. Dennis was killed in action with a follow-up tour.


W J A S "Jack" Webb

20/01/42 joined 40 sqdn.

01/04/42  Hit by AA and force landed, walked and found 1 SA div, AC destroyed, lift back to base

07/05/42 Shot down  a MC-202

09/05/42 Force landed in Enemy area, walked and picked up by friendly armoured car.

10/05/42 Walked into camp, 3d time

28/05/42 Claim Bf-109 shot down probable.

19/07/42 Recommended for immediate DFC award

21/10/42 Promoted to Captain

04/11/42 Shot down by AA near Tel-El-Eisa. He force landed in a mine field setting off a mine. His body was found by the Durham Light Infantry regt and he was buried in close vicinity to his aircraft..

Email received 2013:

Jack Webb was my cousin and I have been trying to find information about his death in Egypt for years. From your vidio I find that he was with SAAF 40 Squadron and was with John Sturgeon. You even have a picture of Jack in a dingy/sailboat on the Nile and one photo of Jack next to a plane. How can I get these photos? I was told by my family that Jack was forced to land by the Germans onto a mine field and was blown up. I would love to hear the real facts of his demise. His father Oscar Walter Webb was my father's brother.

I would be so grateful to you for these photos and info

Kindest regards,

Kenn Webb

Yes I noted his flying school pic, but could not copy it. You are right as my mother always told me what a wonderful human he was and loved for it.
As a complete disbeliever in war I must say how terribly sad I find all these pictures. What hell they all went through and all so young. His father leut. Colonal W. O. Webb and my father sgt major H. B Webb both fought in both World Wars. They also were so young and suffered in the trenches in France. My dad was blown up and gassed. Lost the partial sight in one eye and shrapnel rendered his right thumb unuseable.
Let us never go into this carnage again. These photographic reminders should teach the powers to be to avoid war at all cost.
Right now in Mozambique we are going headlong into another civil war only because of not entertaining the other sides complaints.
Cheers for now.
Kenn Webb

 J M "Mike" Welchman

Dec-Jan 1942: was on the trip to Takoradi, Gold Coast West Africa, to do ferry flight of Hurricane aircraft back to the WD but returned without doing a ferry flight. 

02/05/42 Made an accident with a Tomahawk as the U/C folded on landing

15/06/42 crashed aircraft while evacuating from Sidi Azeiz due to U/S aircraft

04/11/42 promoted to acting Flight commander

09/02/43 RTU


 Bert F Welgemoed 

25/05/42 Joined 40 sqdn

20/12/42 Flew to Cairo and returned with six dozen whiskey's and 80 gallons of brandy in the long range tanks for X-mass party

12/01/43 Aircraft slightly damaged by AA fire

09/02/43 promoted to Captain

Make a free website with Yola