61 strong contingent of South African Air Force aboard Rangitata when it left Cape Town on the 2nd of September 1943
December 11, 2010
I was very interested in the information on the Rangitata and your comments on Tristan da Cunha. I don't know when the stamp was printed but the Rangitata left Cape Town on the 2nd of September 1943 bound for Liverpool. I am not sure how many passengers the ship carried on that voyage but there was a 61 strong contingent of South African Air Force pilots on board. My late father was one of them and his logbook entry records that the Rangitata sailed via Tristan da Cunha, Montevideo, Freetown and Gibralter disembarking in Liverpool on November 7 1943.
This route was sailed to avoid the German U Boats. I have a group photograph of the pilots taken in Montevideo and have over the years been trying to compile all of the names of the pilots in the picture.
I have peiced together just over 40 definites including Major Edwin Swales VC DFC and the sad part is realizing just how many of these brave young men made the ultimate sacrifice . 13 out the 40 identified so far were killed in action.
> Most of the pilots seconded to the RAF and flew aircraft like Spitfires, Hurricanes, Typhoons and Lancaster bombers and although Edwin Swales was the only recipient of the Victoria Cross, my research suggests tht at least 18 members of the group were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
My father died many years ago and as the years have passed there are to the best of my knowledge only two members in the group photograph that are still alive today. The one very sobering aspect of my research comes from a return photograph of four members of the Rangitata contingent on board the Ilse de France returning to South Africa 23 months later at the end of the war and just how the young boys in the Montivideo photograph had aged in 23 months
Hope this may at least solve the stamp riddle
My thanks for taking the time and trouble to E-Mail me, all very interesting.
During WW2 I visited Cape Town on numerous occasions and have fond memories of your area,
Best wishes for Christmas and 2011.