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"The Dambusters Raid - no South Africans?" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

redcoat17 May 2023 4:00 a.m. PST

Hi all,
Just a quick query – might anyone help?
This list of the aircrew who took part in Operation Chastise…
PDF link

…lists numerous Canadians, Australians and Kiwis – but no South Africans. May I please ask: were there not South African RAF personnel within Bomber Command who would have been eligible for inclusion in the raid? If so, why did not participate?

Any pointers would be most gratefully received – thanks in advance!

CVA31bhr17 May 2023 8:23 a.m. PST

Probably because the the SAAF was committed to North Africa and the Med. And seems the bulk of SAAF aircraft were fighters, or twin-engined light bombers/attack aircraft. There were some South Africans in Bomber Command, like S/LDR John Nettleton, VC, but seems they weren't as numerous as the Canadians, New Zealanders or Australians. There were Commonwealth aircrew sprinkled through the RAF, the RCAF had No 6 Group of Bomber Command, the RNZAF had No 75 Squadron, and the Australians had a few squadrons with hopes of forming an organization like 6 Group for the RAAF. If you look at deaths in Bomber Command, you might surmise that the fewer losses probably indicates fewer personnel involved. The RCAF lists 9880 dead. The RAAF lists right around 4000, and the majority of the 3285 RNZAF dead in Europe were lost in Bomber Command. The total SAAF casualties runs less than 100 in Bomber Command, and that includes ground crew, POWs, WIA. link That indicates there were few South Africans in Bomber Command for Gibson to consider.

redcoat17 May 2023 8:40 a.m. PST

That was very comprehensive and extremely informative! I thank you very much indeed, CVA31bhr.

Choctaw17 May 2023 8:54 a.m. PST

No Choctaws either. We were busy code talking.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2023 6:52 p.m. PST

Just to add, an often overlooked commitment for the SAAF was maritime patrol. A lot of crew that could have flown with Bomber Command were needed at home.

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