Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Diesel Electric Locomotives

By Herb Nolan. 

 The Rhodesian Railways were in negotiations with a British manufacture of diesel electric locomotives at the time of UDI thus severing any further negotiation. The existing locomotives were very old and a new source had to be found. I believe the Rhodesian Government approached Rio Tinto and asked them to explore the possibility of obtaining new locomotives from different sources. Ralph Cockerill headed up a team to investigate other builders of locomotives. They went to Japan, France, Germany and other European manufactures. The main obstacle in these negotiations was to bypass sanctions, the most favorable manufacturer was in Germany.
 
Rio Tinto formed a company called Penahlonga Development Co with head office in Salisbury and the factory in Norton. They company chosen in Germany was Jung who were located near the town of Betsdorf about 120 kilometers east of Cologne.  Jung also made the Leopard Tank used by NATO forces.

I was working for The Central African Power Corp (CAPCO) in Kariba in 1971, a friend of mine who worked for Rio Tinto asked me if I would be interested in a position as Foreman of a fabrication shop with Rio. I was subsequently interviewed and offered the position and told I would have to spend a few months in Germany learning how to build a locomotive. All of this took place after I had signed the Official Secrets Act.
I was introduced to my Boss Peter Sacchi who was to head up the project in Norton. Peter had worked for the Rhodesian Railways and had extensive experience in the making of diesel electric locomotives. We were to travel to Germany together. A major problem was Peter could only obtain a Rhodesian Passport which was not recognized because of sanctions, he was able to travel to South Africa and Switzerland but that was all. We flew to Johannesburg on SAA then to Zurich on SwissAir where we were met by Andrew the Project accountant and a Swiss gentleman whose name escapes me. We spent the night in Zurich, the next morning we motored to the German boarder with the Swiss gentleman.  We crossed the boarder at Lake Constance, the Swiss gentleman telling the guard that we were only going for the day, he dropped the three of us where we rented a car and drove to Essen and met Ralph. The next day we motored to Jung and met the Jung people whom we were to work with.  The man who had designed the Leopard tank, Paul Dhiel had also designed our Locomotive. 


We went to work immediately, Peter to the design office and me to the factory floor where no English was spoken! I had to take a crash course in German if I was to learn anything. The factory workers were very helpful and I was soon able to converse with them in a pigeon mish mash.  The plan was to build the first loco in Germany which was to be shipped to South Africa where it was ostensibly to be shown to the SAR with the hope of them placing a purchase order, however, it would eventually find its way into Rhodesia thereby bypassing sanctions. I forgot to mention that the time frame of all the above happenings was October 1971.  By December most of the work on the main frame and bogies had been completed and it was time for me to go back and start work on the the first locomotive to be built in Rhodesia.  


Somewhere in communications between Jung and our design office the specifications for the crane in the fabrication shop got mixed up and it was found that the crane in the building we were to use was too small, we had to do extensive alterations to the crane to beef it up so that it would be able to make the lifts. Many more major and minor problems associated with a project of this magnitude were found and had to be solved, I had the feeling that any step forward was erased and we had moved two steps back!! The one problem was shortage  of skilled tradesmen, we made a number of trips to South Africa to recruit men. The biggest problem we encountered was some of the engineering work had been farmed out to a number of firms in and around the Salisbury area, as the scheduled date arrived we were informed they were not able to complete the job because of the very tight specifications. Another Andrew, our design engineer ( Andrew was a brilliant engineer) designed a complicated bending press capable of bending the 3/4" steel plate to the specs, the press then had to be built, thus putting us further behind. The Mechanical and Electrical departments also had their problems though nothing as bad as the fabrication depot because the engine and electrics arrived complete from Germany.


The first unit was finally complete and tested and delivered with great sighs of relief, however our problems were not over.  When the locomotive is traveling down hill, the driver bunches the train and the traction motors become generators, all the power generated has to be dissipated to a bank of resistors which in turn must be cooled by the traction motor blowers. The designed system worked perfectly in Europe but in Africa the water from one of our heavy rains was too much for the blowers to handle, thus the resistor banks shorted out.   So it was back to the drawing board where a solution was designed and built.   


The time was now 1974 and our family had planned a trip to the USA to visit my wife's sister who was in Los Angeles. During our visit an interview was arranged with a large engineering firm, I went for the interview and was offered a position as Project Engineer working on the design of a large copper mine in Iraq. I did not return to Rhodesia and so I never saw the completion of the contract.




End


Thanks to Herb Nolan for sharing his memories with ORAFs.

Comments are welcome - please send them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com


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Ref. Rhodesia 


   

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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Another Rhodesian Spook House

By Lewis Walter (Intaf)


The stories about the "Spook House" are very interesting. There was however another another "Spook House".........

This was some miles from Salisbury on the Fort Victoria road, about half-way to the Hunyani River. It was on the right hand side of the road, and on a little knoll. The main structure was basically circular, with other bits and pieces added. It had a very gloomy aspect. I first encountered it as a kid about 1941-42, when we used to cycle out to the Hunyani. (Anyone remember the "Hunyani Queen" which used to take passengers for rides up and down the river ?)

The house was always empty, and the story was that a dreadful murder had taken place in it. I saw it again periodically over the years, the last occasion being on my final visit to Zimbabwe in 2004. I walked through the empty rooms of the abandoned and derelict house. Everything of value had been torn out - light fittings, plumbing, door handles - but surprisingly there was no sign of squatter occupation. Confirmation of its being haunted ?

There must be stories of other haunted houses in Rhodesia.

End

Thanks to Lewis sharing this story with ORAFs.

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Alexandra Rugby Football Club 1st XV 1936

By Chuck Osborne (RhAF)

(Some of the names are intelligible, thanks to a misguided moth, or whatever)

Back row: G.E.W.McKay J.Osborne C.A.Williamson C.O.Kirk A.Fraser
 2nd row: F.Hunter J.F.O'Dea R.A.Crowther S.Schragger J.D.Bredenkamp G.A.Smith H.Schultz
 3rd row: ?? ?? C.O'Donohoe (Captain) Mr.W.Smith (President) M.Payne (Vice-Captain) I.S.Evans W.E.Cawood
 4th row: R.G.McIntyre R.Dennison.
End

Thanks to Chuck Osborne for sharing his photograph and memories with ORAFs.
Comments are welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com

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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Alexandra Rugby Club's 2nd XV 'Winners of Subsidiary Competition, 1932'.

By Chuck Osborne (Rhaf)

I attach a photo of Alexandra Rugby Club's 2nd XV, 'Winners of Subsidiary Competition, 1932'.
Back Row: G.Verwayen. J.Winter. H.Kieser. J.Osborne. C.Green. W.J.Craven. W.Holl.
 Middle Row: E.Vandre. C.Williams. S.Schragger. F.Rich (Vice-Capt) J.Genade. D.Harvey. N.Barnett.
 Front Row: C.McAllister. G.Hough.

Thanks to Chuck Osborne for sharing his photograph and memories with ORAFs.

Comments are welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com

 (Please visit our previous posts and archives)

Ref. Rhodesia 

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Vickers Vikings on the West Coast Route

By Mitch Stirling


Cumulonimbus with anvil.

The Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is an awesome display of weather. It extends around the circumference of the earth at the equator and follows the sun as it migrates seasonally to the north and south. The birthplace of some of the strongest storms on earth, it generates extremely hazardous flying conditions for all things in the air. 

Experienced pilots can spot the early warning signs of its approach — a change of wind direction on the surface, or the tell-tale signs aloft of "mare's tails" riding on high-altitude winds. Up and down draughts of thousands of feet per minute are not uncommon in these towering giants, along with cascading waterfalls of ice and rain and blinding pulses of electricity. From the cockpit of an aeroplane at night Charlie Bravos (Cumulonimbus) can be seen far off, below the distant horizon, sparking and flashing like a gigantic arc welder. As they draw nearer they seem to climb up and up and up, until 50 000 feet and more is reached. Then the fun begins.  "FASTEN SEAT BELTS." 

Of course, many thousands of domestic and international flights penetrate lines of storms of varying intensity during the course of the rainy season. With their on-board Radio and Detection and Ranging equipment (Radar), modern airliners are well-equipped nowadays to detect and avoid storm cells. In fact, it is now a legal requirement for all aircraft above a certain weight, operating in the commercial category, to carry said equipment. 

Not so back in the 1950s, before the advent of airborne weather radar, when Central African Airways was plying between Salisbury and London in their old Vickers Vikings. Long distance meteorological forecasts were very unreliable in those far-off days and METAR and TAF information was completely unknown. Pilots knew they would encounter the ITCZ at some stage on their journey, but they had to rely on years of experience to help them navigate around bad weather and arrive safely at destination. Unhappily, this art of visually spotting areas in a cloud that may be dangerous, or where hail might occur, has been lost to most of today's high-flying pilots. They have become dependent on modern technology. 

Those old boys were experts, but even they could be caught out on occasions, as Radio Operator Ralph Ward describes in an incident when a sneaky, embedded Cb lodged itself on track. "What a noise there was, with rain and hail hammering and banging on the cockpit roof, the undercarriage warning horn yodeling at us (on account of the throttles being retarded and the wheels in the Up position) and the Vertical Speed Indicator pointing up to heaven at 2 000 fpm. After staggering and crashing around in the sky for what seemed like hours, the skipper finally looked out his side window and announced, with an odd sense of humour ... I've got a wing! "

Fortunately the old Vikings were solid machines with two powerful 1 690 bhp Bristol Hercules engines. The passengers travelled in fairly spartan conditions, but they were constantly under the watchful eye and expert care of an air hostess who would attend to their every need, even during en route night stops. Many of them will be remembered affectionately for their skills in caring for travellers of all ages. It was a family affair, where a flight departure might even be delayed because some little girl left her pink handbag in the terminal building (ask my wife!) The front office, which leaked like a seive in the rain, was spacious enough for the two pilots, a flight engineer and a radio operator. There was a Very hatch in the roof in case of any untoward incidents and a length of rope was always carried, to wrap around a prop and pull-start the engine in the event of starter failure. At 210mph (182 kts) they cruised along unpressurized for seven hours at a stretch, at an altitude where all could breathe comfortably. 

Above:Viking interior. There was quite a high step over the spar box in the centre section of the cabin where stiletto heels used to inflict some damage, so ladies were asked to remove heels when boarding.

Above: Viking cockpit with Captain Bob Hill and Cliff Venter at the controls.


photo 4: "It was a family affair", with mail and cargo adding significantly to the load. 

Above: Cockpit news from Captain Duncan Strange.


Flight Paths

The first scheduled flights to London by CAA in 1953 followed the Great Lakes/Nile Valley route through East Africa. But during the Suez crisis of 1956 a new route had to be blazed, up the west coast. The river Congo and the volcanic mount Cameroon at 13 255' (4 040 metres), the Upper Niger, the semi-arid Sahel and the vast emptiness of the Sahara desert were all unfamiliar territory to the crews of CAA. And it soon became clear that a working knowledge of the French language would be very helpful in the French territories of West Africa.

Above: Salisbury in 1956.
     
Above: Captain Alan Morris.

Above: R/O Ralph Ward.

Above: C.A.A. Ticket


Above: Miss Harris (3 years)

Above: Les Booth's map.  

Quotes from Ralph Ward and Alan Morris will help to describe the journey. "The first day would take us to familiar Lusaka and Ndola and then to unknown Luluabourg, somewhere in the middle of the Belgian Congo. Thence to its capital Leopoldville (Kinshasa) where crew and passengers spent the first night in the Sabena Rest House, after nine hours in the air."

Above: at Lusaka. 

Above: RMA Kafue at Ndola.

Above: VP-YJB Luapula, Vickers 614 Viking 1 c/n 138, delivered to BEA before CAA.

Next day's flight included four and a half hours to Doula which was "quite a place, and landing there could be a trifle hair-raising. The runway appeared to be cut from the jungle which consisted of giant trees interspersed with narrow little creeks. And just up the road was Mount Cameroon, sticking up like a sore thumb. As a result the area was generally considered unhealthy."

Above: Douala (Cameroon.) 

"Then to Kano in Northern Nigeria (British territory) for a second night stop in one-bed cubicles at the old RAF barrack block at Kano airport. This was a very interesting place and had quite a history, dating back umpteen centuries and had been the headquarters of the Arab slave traders. The Shell representative there, a South African, was the instigator of many a hectic night stop. Then there was that flock of vultures that used to perch on the kitchen roof at the rest camp. It always made me feel uncomfortable the way they looked us over."
Above: Luapula at Kano with Captain Shorty Rosser, F/O Peter Barnett, R/O Ralph Ward, F/E Harry Newland-Nel and F/H Nan Challenor.

After a 4 am early morning call at Kano, the travellers embarked with the promise of a long, hot day ahead. There were a number of hops en route to get them across the Sahara to Algiers on the Mediterranean coast, so they departed for Niamey in north western Niger, on the river, under the weight of every British gallon of fuel they could squeeze into the tanks. Then to Tessalit for another refuelling stop, if required. Tessalit in Mali was a strategically important French outpost in the mountains and part of the French Sudan until 1959. It is said that whoever controls Tessalit controls the Sahara, even today. With a war of liberation raging across the border in Algeria, the supply of fuel and oil was a major problem in the Western Sahara region. Everything had to be transported by road from Algiers, 2 000 miles away. But the French were highly organized and could refuel the old bird and have them airborne again in 20 minutes.
Above: Tessaret (Tessalit) sand runway and refuelling drums.

It was another two hours to Aoulef, Algeria, in the middle of the Sahara. "There was a huge oasis there — a great, dark green splash in the middle of endless yellow sand. The runway consisted of a flat bit of desert with white markers indicating the landing area and a medium frequency radio beacon was the only radio aid."
Above  "refuelling was done by a jolly Frenchman."

Avove: : endless shifting sands of Algeria.

 "It was always a relief to arrive at Maison Blanche airport in Algiers after staggering along for 12 hours through the bumps and clear air turbulence (CAT) over the desert. We used to creep up to 12 000 feet ... and the passengers who were not asleep by then were airsick. As we approached the capital in darkness for he final sector of the day we could see gun flashes in the mountains to the south — probably the National Liberation Front (FNL) attacking a French outpost. A let down to 800 feet was carried out, with the aid of Radio Range (a long out-dated American system of which we had theoretical knowledge only.) Then touchdown on a long, wet black-top runway, uncomfortably close to a mountain range, with a marvellous ground lighting system and a maze of coloured lights reflecting on the wet taxiways. After a day of 15 hours 30 minutes duty time, 12 hours 6 minutes actual flying time, passengers and crew were ready for a good helping of hebergement ... accommodation, shelter, hospitality. The Hotel San George was surrounded by a magnificent botanical garden. It had been a sultan's palace and used by Army HQ during WW11."
Above: Algiers

On the final day they crossed the Med in comparative comfort and entered a whole new world of climatic conditions and congested airways. Anxious moments were spent watching ice accreting on the leading edges of the wings through frosted cockpit windows, with the de-icing fluid rapidly dwindling away!  Limited VHF frequencies and old type microphones were all they had, so oxygen masks were donned to reduce background clutter. When the cockpit heating was inop the crew resembled an RAF bomber on a mission (not surprisingly as it was, after all, a development of the Wellington bomber!) They would re-join the airway at Marseilles and after a call to London Airways would be greeted, with some relief, by a courteous reply from Air Traffic Control. 

From the early days of the first Viking Coach Class Zambezi Service to London in 1953, big juicy King pineapples from Uganda were always conveyed to Heathrow Approach, as a thank you gesture from Central Africa — small reward for an efficient talk down and a warm welcome. Three nights and four days en route and a journey through three distinct climatic zones — ranging from thunderstorms in the tropics, to the searing heat of the equator, to ice and rain in Europe — was a journey of epic proportions by today's standards. 

But fresh in the memories of all CAA Viking crews would have been the loss of friends and colleagues in the crash of Viking Shangani in Tanganyika on 29 March 1953. Captain Perry St Quinton, First Officer Wally Mollett, Flight Engineer Tommy Ivison, two hostesses and 8 pax were killed in a catastrophic in-flight structural failure of the starboard wing. All Vikings above a certain number of hours were immediately grounded; one in the UK, one in Blantyre, two at Ndola, and the rest in Salisbury. Vickers produced new spars from an alloy, less prone to fatigue, and these had to be replaced in situ in very primitive working conditions ... particularly at Ndola in the open air. The replacement of 22 feet of the lower main spars were carried out by CAA engineers who completed the task in a shorter time than Marshall's of Cambridge ... and with superior workmanship. (Interesting to note that with ultra-sound and X ray tests available today, this tragedy may have been avoided.)


Above: : Tanganyika 1953, wreck of RMA Shangani VP-YEY Vickers 616
Viking 1B c/n 168.

Above: Spar change VP-YJA with Gordon Campbell, – Bob Garrett,
Charlie Wallace, Roy Downes, – Joe Jennesen, –  . 

Joe Jennesen and Bob Garrett later joined the RRAF, with Bob rising to the rank of Wing Commander (Engineering). Bob's son Walter was killed in a Vampire collision in 1956. Roy became a captain with CAA/Air Rhodesia and his son, named after Walter, is a captain with British Airways.

Above: : VP- YEW Zambezi, first delivery in 1946. Vickers 616 Viking 1B c/n 146, with Captain Reg Bourlay in command.

Above:  VP-YEW and the first de Havilland Dove VP-YES at Wisley.

Above: : VP-YEX Kafue, Vickers 616 Viking 1B c/n 159 (written off at Belvedere in 1955.)

Above: The Smoke that Thunders.

Thanks to Nicky (Elphinstone) Pearce for the wonderful old snap shots taken by her mother Jean, and to Chris Bourlay for priceless oldie photies from his father's albums. And thanks to Roy and Walter Downes, Alan Harris, Derek Hill, Tony Ward and Geoff Reid for all their photo contributions and background information. David Stirling's photo of the Sahara desert was taken recently from a Solenta Aviation Beech 1900 while on contract in Algeria. Last, but not least, thanks to Les Booth for the excellent map which showed all of us where we were going. 

End


Thanks to Mitch Stirling for sharing this story and photographs with ORAFs. Thanks Mitch

Comments are welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com

 (Please visit our previous posts and archives)

Ref. Rhodesia



Pineapples and C.A.A.
By Jeremy Boyd

The recent mention by Mitch Stirling of CAA crews buying "big juicy King pineapples from Uganda" in his recent - as always, excellent - story "Vickers Vikings on the West Coast Route” has prompted me to send you this image. 


A CAA crew (I believe it's Captain Rod - or is it Ron ? - (The Iron Man) Mackie plus one other (unidentified) deplanes from Viscount VP-YNA RMA Malvern somewhere down the route with their pineapples already safely and securely on terra firma! Location is unknown - maybe Lusaka - but going by other photo‘s in the sequence it may also possibly be an airport in the Belgian Congo (Stanleyville/Elizabethville). Other shots have Sabena passenger steps at the rear though these might be of later stops on the same flight. Date also unknown but ‘RMA Malvern’ shows the fully painted nose panel that goes all the way to the tip, which is a CAA colour scheme that only appeared on this particular aircraft circa the latter half of 1956.

End

Thanks to Jerry for sharing these memories and photograph with ORAFs.

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Aviation in Central Africa


Above: The old and the new. At the top is seen the first aircraft to land in Rhodesia, a Vickers Vimy bomber named the Silver Queen. This National Archives picture was taken on the race course at Bulawayo in 1920. Below it is one of the world's latest civil airliners now calling at Salisbury airport on regular flights between London and Johannesburg, the Boeing 707.

For the size of its population the Federation is today one of the most developed countries in the world for air transport. Thanks to those who accepted the hazards of flying in its early days and who foresaw its tremendous advantages, the growth of aviation has been remarkable, for it is only 40 years ago that the first aeroplane was seen in Rhodesia. The story, told here by Ted Scannell of the development in the Federation which has made air travel almost as commonplace as a car journey is one of adventure and achievement.

About Ted Scannell

Ted Scannell was a journalist on the Rhodesia Herald and moved on to become the editor of "Horizon" magazine in then Northern Rhodesia. (1959 to 1970.) Horizon was an in house magazine for the RST Group of Copper Mining Companies (no longer in existence). It was awarded house magazine of the year in both Britain and America for three consecutive years, beating the likes of the great Bell Telephone Company America and BICC Cables of Britain.

Horizon was mostly compiled by two men, Ted Scannell, journalist / editor and a brilliant photographer, Peter Winterbach, also ex Rhodesia Herald. Peter was awarded 100% for his photography in the international magazine competitions mentioned above. Because Ted wrote the bulk of the copy for Horizon many of his stories were written under a pseudonym. 



Above: A Blackburn Bluebird of one of Rhodesia's early commercial concerns, the Rhodesian Aviation Company, in the  I930's (National Archives picture.
    LONG DISTANCES with indifferent roads. a rainy season that made quagmires of the roads that did exist, and a lack of adequate water transport made it inevitable that Central Africa should become highly air conscious. But, although many Rhodesians had served as pilots in Europe in the First World War, it was not until February 28. 1920, that the first aeroplane arrived in Rhodesia. It landed in Northern Rhodesia at Abercorn.

A Vickers Vimy bomber, it was flown by two R.A.F. men, Pierre van Ryneveld= and Quinton Brand, both South Africans who were later knighted for their feat of flying from Britain to the Cape. Sir Quinton Brand has since settled in Rhodesia and now farms a few miles from Umtali. The fliers had left Brooklands, in England, on February 4. Their first LONG DISTANCES with indifferent roads. a rainy season that made quagmires of the roads that did exist, and a lack of adequate water transport made it inevitable that Central Africa should become highly air conscious. But, although many Rhodesians had served as pilots in Europe in the First World War, it was not until February 28. 1920, that the first aeroplane arrived in Rhodesia. It landed in Northern Rhodesia at Abercorn.

A Vickers Vimy bomber, it was flown by two R.A.F. men, Pierre van Ryneveld=and Quinton Brand, both South Africans who were later knighted for their feat of flying from Britain to the Cape. Sir Quinton Brand has since settled in Rhodesia and now farms a few miles from Umtali. The fliers had left Brooklands, in England, on February 4. Their first aeroplane was completely wrecked in the Sudan, but neither of the men was injured, and the R.A.F. immediately made available another Vimy to enable them to continue their flight. This aircraft took the same name as its predecessor, the Silver Queen.

After the Silver Queen left Abercorn, three cylinders of the starboard engine failed and the plane began losing height. As Van Ryneveld and Brand were contemplating landing in thick bush they sighted Ndola and managed to bring the plane in.

Rain delayed their departure again, but eventually they left Ndola on March 2 for Livingstone. The two men were teased like royalty at Livingstone, where they were again delayed by rain, but eventually on March 5 they took off for Bulawayo, where they landed on the race course.

In Bulawayo they were given another tumultuous welcome, and two days later the whole town turned out again to cheer the Silver Queen off. The two men climbed back in, waved farewell, and the Silver Queen, its motors giving an occasional splutter, taxied down the racecourse and rose into the air - but not for long. In view of thousands it lost height almost immediately and crashed in the bush between the town and Hillside. The Silver Queen was a complete wreck, but again neither of the men was badly hurt.

Eager that South Africans should be the first to fly from Britain to the Cape, the South African Government flew a DH9 aeroplane, named the Voortrekker, from Pretoria to Bulawayo so that Van Ryneveld and Brand could continue. Van Ryneveld and Brand left Bulawayo on March 17 in the Voortrekker and continued without undue mishap to Cape Town.

The success of this flight involved a tremendous achievement. A string of about two dozen aerodromes had been built with great difficulty down Africa for the Silver Queens or their successor. At Ndola, for instance, 700 Africans worked from April to August in 1919, moving 25,000 tons of earth, much of this being made up of anthills standing 25 feet high and with bases 45 feet in diameter.

Despite the achievement of Van Ryneveld and Brand in flying the length of Africa, trans-continental air travel had not yet really arrived. The Times in London gloomily summed up the historic flight in this way: was completely wrecked in the Sudan, but neither of the men was injured, and the R.A.F. immediately made available another Vimy to enable them to continue their flight. This aircraft took the same name as its predecessor, the Silver Queen.

After the Silver Queen left Abercorn, three cylinders of the starboard engine failed and the plane began losing height. As Van Ryneveld and Brand were contemplating landing in thick bush they sighted Ndola and managed to bring the plane in.

Rain delayed their departure again, but eventually they left Ndola on March 2 for Livingstone. The two men were tesed like royalty at Livingstone, where they were again delayed by rain, but eventually on March 5 they took off for Bulawayo, where they landed on the race course.

In Bulawayo they were given another tumultuous welcome, and two days later the whole town turned out again to cheer the Silver Queen off. The two men climbed back in, waved farewell, and the Silver Queen, its motors giving an occasional splutter, taxied down the racecourse and rose into the air - but not for long. In view of thousands it lost height almost immediately and crashed in the bush between the town and Hillside. The Silver Queen was a complete wreck, but again neither of the men was badly hurt.

Eager that South Africans should be the first to fly from Britain to the Cape, the South African Government flew a DH9 aeroplane, named the Voortrekker, from Pretoria to Bulawayo so that Van Ryneveld and Brand could continue. Van Ryneveld and Brand left Bulawayo on March 17 in the Voortrekker and continued without undue mishap to Cape Town.

The success of this flight involved a tremendous achievement. A string of about two dozen aerodromes had been built with great difficulty down Africa for the Silver Queens or their successor. At Ndola, for instance, 700 Africans worked from April to August in 1919, moving 25,000 tons of earth, much of this being made up of anthills standing 25 feet high and with bases 45 feet in diameter.

Despite the achievement of Van Ryneveld and Brand in flying the length of Africa, trans-continental air travel had not yet really arrived. The Times in London gloomily summed up the historic flight in this way:




Above: Aircraft of the I940's and the present. A Hornet Moth of Southern Rhodesian Air Services( top ), in a picture taken by Jack McAdam, contrasts with a Viscount of Central African Airways.



Above: The second plane to arrive in Rhodesia, the Voortrekker. This DH-9 from South Africa enabled Van Ryneveld and Brand to complete their flight from Britain to the Cape (a National Archives picture).

"The art of flying across Africa is to know how to crash."


   However, in Rhodesia no time was being lost. On April 8, 1920, within three weeks of the departure of the Voortrekker, Airoad Motors, Ltd., was registered as a company in Bulawayo'— the first air undertaking established in Central Africa. But it appears to have acted merely as a selling agent, and it soon folded up.

 On Monday, May 24, 1920, two months after the departure of the Voortrekker from Bulawayo, an Avro, probably belonging to the South African Aerial Transport Company, was brought to Bulawayo by Messrs. Rutherford and Thompson and gave "joy flips" at three guineas for 10 minutes. This was the first direct commercial profit made from the air in Rhodesia.

 The plane then flew on to Salisbury and did the same thing there. It was the first aeroplane seen in the capital.

 Two years later, on May 29,1922, a new company, Rhodesian Aerial Tours, came into being in Southern Rhodesia. It was floated by Major Alistair Miller, a former Royal Flying Corps pilot and a pioneer of aviation in the Union. This was the first active company with a Rhodesian- based machine an old Avro brought from the Union. But the career of the machine and of the company was short-lived. A few weeks later Major Miller crashed into a tree on taking off from the golf course at Rusape. Though Major Miller was unhurt, the plane was a write-off and the company ceased to exist.

 But Rhodesians were now becoming inured to the hazards of flying, and were beginning to realize more fully its advantages. [n the mid and late 1920s several little companies blossomed, wilted and died, some performing valuable services.

 In 1927 the Rhodesian Aviation Syndicate was formed. Four years later the Rhodesian Aviation Company was floated and absorbed the Syndicate. Then in 1933 the Company itself was absorbed by the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Airways — RANA as it was affectionately called by everyone.

 In Rhodesia in the 1920s there was also the Aircraft Operating Company which carried out extensive aerial photographic and reconnaissance work on the Copperbelt. The first company to use an aeroplane for ts own private business in Rhodesia was the London and Rhodesia Mining and Land Company (Lonrho). The air service was started for the operation of the company's expanding interests, but soon built up into a regular public service. By 1938 Lonrho was operating a fleet of aero planes, mainly de Havilland Dragons and Rapides, and carrying hundreds ol passengers a year.

 A pioneer aviation refueller, Mr. R B. Marshall Symons, of Bulawayo, recalls some amusing incidents during the late 1920s. On one occasion a Captain Rod Douglas arrived at Bulawayo to demonstrate the Puss Moth. As he flew over the field he throttled back, opened his window, leaned out and shouted: " Is this Bulawayo ?" " Yes," came the reply - and he landed.

 Another well-known aviator, Bill Wiley, would fly over Bularvayo's Main Street and shout down for a taxi to meet him at the field.

 Flying in Rhodesia was nine years old before the first fatal accident occurred.

 An R.A.F. officer, G. W. Burnett, and his mechanic, F. C. Turner, were killed on March 18,1929, during the annual R.A.F. visit to Rhodesia. Their plane crashed on taking off from Gwelo.

 Nearly three years later, on November 20,1931, the first Rhodesians to be killed in a flying accident in their home country met their death, on Belvedere aerodrome at Salisbury. They were D. S. ("Pat") Judson, Daniel Sievewright and George Speight.

 By 1932 the Southern Rhodesia Government had begun to take a deep interest in the development of air transport, and the Prime Minister, the Hon. H. U. Moffat, was an enthusiastic supporter of the growth of aviation. That year the Beit Trust made a £,50,000 grant for the development of runways, radio installations and other aids.

 Meanwhile, new strides were being made in the down-Africa route. In Britain the Post Office announced on November 11, 1931, that Christmas mail would be sent to Rhodesia and South Africa by air - the first official air mail to Rhodesia. The contrasts with a Viscount of Central African Airways. 



Regular weekly services by Imperial Airways were inaugurated on January 20,1932, when a Heracles aircraft, piloted by Captain A. Touell. left Croydon carrying about 20,000 letters for delivery at various points.

Weather conditions in Northern Rhodesia were appalling and caused considerable delay and dislocation both to this service and the north-bound service that left Cape Town on January 27. The south-bound plane force-landed at Shiwa Ngandu, in Northern Rhodesia, but managed to get airborne some days later.

The north-bound plane was damaged while landing on the sodden aerodrome at Salisbury; its replacement force-landed in the bush 55 miles from Broken Hill and became bogged down; after a long search it was found and its mail taken to Broken Hill. Hill by African runner, from where it was flown on to reach Croydon three weeks after leaving Cape Town.

This was a bad start to the regular service, but no serious damage had been done to aircraft and all the Royal mails reached their destination, even though that classic mode of mail transport, the African runner, had to be resorted to.

However, the new service soon settled down with a regularity which enabled the residents of Broken Hill and Salisbury to set their watches by the arrival of the Imperial Airways machines.

In August, 1932, the Aero Klub du Katanga opened the Broken Hill service, which later became part of the joint Belgian (Sabena) and French (Air Afrique) service to and from Madagascar.

With the establishment of the regular Imperial Airways service from Britain, the need was felt for a coordinated air service for the three territories now forming the Federation. When Rhodesia and Nyasa- land Airways Ltd. was formed in 1933, its capital of f25,000 was provided jointly by Imperial Airways and the Beit Trust, with assistance from the Rhodesia Railway

RANA's first fleet consisted of de Havilland Fox Moths, Puss Moths and the Westland Wessex. In 1935 de Havilland Rapides were ordered and this type of aircraft served Central Africa for many years. Some of these Rapides are still flying today.


Above: A formation of Percivol Provosts of the Royal Rhodesian Air Force. These aircraft are used by the R.R.A.F. as basic trainers.


Above: The aeroplane quickly became popular for children making long journeys to and from school. These young air travel "pioneers" are disembarking from a de Havilland Rapide of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Airways, or RANA as it became known.
     
    In the meantime, the Africa route had become a target for every intrepid flier. The record-breaking Britain-to-the-Cape dashes over a period of years can be said to have culminated with last year's flight by an R.A.F. Valiant bomber. It flew 11 from Britain to Salisbury in ten hours 46 minutes, compared with Van Ryneveld and Brand's time of 31 days from Britain to Bulawayo in 1920.

As flying became more commonplace in Rhodesia the problem arose of providing competent servicing and instruction facilities. The distance to Johannesburg, where proper servicing could be done, was too great for healthy development in Rhodesia.

In April, 1934, the de Havilland Aircraft Company in England agreed to float the de Havilland Aircraft Company (Rhodesia) Ltd., which began operations the following year with a staff of two, a manager-pilot- instructor and a ground engineer. By 1938 the staff had grown to 16 Europeans and the company would service any make of aeroplane.

The company became contractor to the Government for the initial training of military pilots. After instruction with de Havillands they were passed to the Rhodesia Air Unit for further training under service conditions. The de Havilland Flying School gave instruction to about 30 pupils a year, and included instruction in blind flying.

Aviation was now growing apace. In 1933 all the companies combined operated 3 11,708 miles and carried 3,496 passengers.

In 1938 they operated well over 1,000,000 miles and carried more than 15,000 passengers.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the situation in Rhodesia changed drastically. RANA became the Southern Rhodesia Communications Squadron and Avro Ansons were added to the fleet. Under its new designation and organization it carried out valuable work in Central Africa.

The military air force had originally been formed in 1934 when the Southern Rhodesia Parliament voted f10,000 to be used to raise and train an air unit as a contribution towards imperial defence. An air section of the territorial forces had been formed and eight volunteers began flying training in November, 1935, at the de Havilland Flying School at Belvedere.

Then during 1936 work started on the first military airfield at Cranborne. The S.R.A.F. moved to this aerodrome in December, 1937. On August 27,1939, a few days before the war, this unit moved to its station in Kenya -. the first British air unit to cross its borders to take up war duties. Under the command of Flight-Lieutenant Maxwell, three Hawker Harts and three Hawker Audaxes flew to Kenya and were later to become No. 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron of the R.A.F. Together with Nos. 266 and 44 (Rhodesia) Squadrons, it was to build up a proud tradition on many fronts.

No. 237 Squadron, which later switched to Spitfires, fought its way from Kenya through Somaliland, the Sudan, Eritrea and Libya, into Italy and Southern France, Through North Africa and into Europe its spirit of determination earned for the squadron a reputation second to none. It remained until the end almost 100 percent Rhodesian.

No. 266 Squadron, formed on October 30,1939, was first equipped with Fairey Battles, but by January, 1940, was training on Spitfires. Its wartime duties included patrolling, escorting, offensive sweeps along it re French and Belgian coasts and the provision of bomber escorts over the Rhine and France. The squadron was one of the first to be equipped with Typhoons'

Throughout the war the aircrew of 266 Squadron were almost exclusively Rhodesian.

The reverse was true with Rhodesia's bomber squadron - No. 44 Squadron. The country could replace casualties in the fighter squadrons but not, for instance' the 35 men - pilots, navigators, wireless operators and gunners - who failed to return from 44 Squadron's raid on Augsburg After initially flying Hampdens, the squadron was the first to equip with Lancasters.

For the epic raid on Augsburg, to bomb a diesel engine factory that was producing hall the requirements for Hitler's submarine fleet, as well as engines for tanks, army transports and warships, six bombers of 44 Squadron and six from 97 Squadron went into special training.

The attack was to be from a height of only 50 feet. Of Rhodesia's six bombers, led by Squadron Leader J. D. Nettleton, only one returned. Two bombers were lost by 97 Squadron. But the raid achieved its object and Nettleton was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

A week later 44 Squadron helped sink the German battleship Tirpitz.

The squadron's last raid was on April 25,1945. It was the famous raid that devastated Berchtesgaden, Hitler's fortified hideout in the Bavarian mountains.

At home Rhodesians were also making their own valuable contribution. At the outset of the war, the Southern Rhodesia Government proposed the establishment of one training station under the Empire Air Training Scheme. The United Kingdom asked for three — and got them. In the later stages of the war the Rhodesian Air Training Group had no less than 11 stations in Southern Rhodesia, training thousands of fighter and bomber pilots, navigators and air gunners for the R.A.F.

The training schools continued after the war, the numbers gradually decreasing until the last shut down in March, 1954.

Altogether some 2,400 men from Rhodesia and Nyasaland served in the R.A.F. and S.R.A.F. during the war. They were distributed over all Commands and in every theatre. They earned 146 decorations, including nine D.S.O.s, 106 D.F.C.s. eight A.F.C.s, 22 D.F.M.s, and one C.G.M. Their casualties totalled 498 killed and 97 wounded.
(Suggested reading. http://www.ourstory.com/thread.html?t=297112&comments=1)

After the war the S.R.A.F. was to all intents and purposes disbanded, but in 1947 the nucleus of a small communication flight was formed within the framework of the Southern Rhodesia Staff Corps. Its main purpose Was to provide transport for Government officials between various centres. The scope was gradually increased until in July, 1949. flying training of territorial volunteers started. No. I Southern Rhodesia Auxiliary Air Force Squadron was formed and manned by ex-combat pilots living in Salisbury, who volunteered to carry out squadron training in the early mornings, evenings and all weekends.

The deterioration of the international situation over Korea in 1950 led to the need for accelerated training and the Short Service Unit came into being to give pilots a concentrated two years of full-time training. Spitfires were acquired in 1950 to augment the Tiger Moths and Harvards used until then.

In December, 1953, the first de Havilland jet Vampires arrived and in October, 1954, the Queen gave permission for the Royal prefix to be added to the title of the S.R.A.F. It became known as the Royal= Rhodesian Air Force and at the same time adopted R.A.F. ranks in place of the military ranks that had been in use since the war.

Today the R.R.A.F. has five operational squadrons — two Canberra bomber squadrons, two Vampire fighter squadrons and one transport squadron with Pembrokes, Dakotas and Argonaut troop carriers. In addition there is also a light squadron of Provosts.

With its modern, balanced Jet force, the Federation is now a small working partner in the defence of the free world.

In civil aviation, the Southern Rhodesia Communication Squadron, formerly RANA, became Rhodesia Aviation Services after the war and resumed its commerciak activities. In 1946 the Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland Governments decided that this service should become Central African Airways, capital for the new airline being provided on the basis of 50 per cent by Southern Rhodesia, 35 per cent by Northern Rhodesia and 15 per cent by Nyasaland.

The Corporation's first steps were to order Vickers Vikings for its regional services and de Havilland Doves for its domestic routes. Later Dakotas were also used for the domestic routes, and in July, 1956, Vickers Viscount turbo-prop aircraft came into regional service. Meanwhile on remote routes in Barotseland and Nyasaland de Havilland Beavers replaced the Doves.

At the same time charter operators moved in as passenger and freight requirements rapidly grew.

A nostalgic feature of the Central African post-war scene was the regular arrival and departure between May, 1948. and November, 1950, of the 35-ton Solent flying boats at the Victoria Falls. These huge British Overseas Airways Corporation machines cruised at 210 m.p.h. and carried 39 passengers in the utmost luxury and comfort. Their route from Southampton took four and a half days, with four night stops. Faster and more economical land planes, however, forced out these flying boats.

With the opening of an international airport at Livingstone in 1950 new airliners began to call in the Federation. But partly because it was inconveniently situated for the international routes, traffic began to dwindle. With the opening of the inter- national Salisbury Airport in July, 1956. many world-famous airlines started bringing in regular services, and such names as Alitalia (Italian), U.A.T. (French), Sabena (Belgian), became house- hold words in the Federation, together with B.O.A.S., S.A.A., E.A.A. and C.A.A.


Above: Over Victoria Falls flies a da Havilland Puss Moth. part of the RANA fleet in the I930's.

Above: Some years later the Zambezi was to see aircraft like this. a B.O.A.C. Solent flying boat, moored near Livingstone.

End

Paul Changuion Snr was a personal friend of the late Ted Scannell and therefore ORAFs received the article from Paul via Al Bruce (RhAF) Thanks to both the gents. Thanks also to Mitch Stirling for his assistance.
To view this article on-line please click on the image above or on the link below.

Comments are welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com

 (Please visit our previous posts and archives)

Ref. Rhodesia
     

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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

B.S.A.P Rugby Football XV. Winners of the "Lawson Shield" 1926

By Stretch Merrington (RhAF)


Looking at the photo, the chap sitting with the rugby ball on his lap is my God-father and team captain; Jack Collard. Sitting on his right is my father, Trooper. K. C. Merrington.

End

Thanks to Stretch for sharing his photograph and memories with ORAFs.

Does anyone have information on the "Lawson Shield"?

Comments and information can be sent to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com


or visit http://rhodesianheritage.blogspot.com/

 (Please visit our previous posts and archives)

Winners of The Lawson Shield (Salisbury) 
SALISBURY B.S.A. POLICE, 1932.


Back Row: Troopers Gallimore, Bridger, Burne. Constable Robinson. Troopers Gordon. Long, and Constable O'Reilly.

 Centre Row: Trooper Betts, Constables Cluff, Taylor, Smith, Troopers Brown and Booth, and Constable Elley

 Front Row: Cpl. Belton, Maj. J. S. Morris (Commissioner), Sgt. Charles, Lt. H. G. Seward and Capt. J. M. Parr

 On ground: Constable Arthur and Trooper Walshaw.


End

Extracted from J de L Thompson's "Rhodesian Sport" Page 180. Lawson Shield was a Salisbury interclub competition, presented by Deputy Mayor James Lawson in 1912. Material made available to ORAFs by Fred Punter (B.S.A.P.) Thanks Fred. Thanks also to Chris Driver for his assistance
Winners of this Shield
1910-1912 - Salisbury
1913 - Alexandra
1914 - Salisbury
1921 - Salisbury
1922-25 - Alexandra
1926 - B.S.A.P.
1927 - Salisbury
1928-29 - Alexandra
1930 - B.S.A.P.
1931 - Salisbury
1932 - Alexandra
1933 - Salisbury
1934 - B.S.A.P.

Ref. Rhodesia

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