Gysbert Malan

Gysbert Malan


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Gysbert Malan was born in Wellington, South Africa, on 3rd October, 1910. After leaving school he joined the ship General Botha as a cadet.

In 1924 Malan joined the Union Castle steamship as a junior deck officer. In 1935 he moved to England where he joined the Royal Air Force. Posted to 74 Squadron he soon showed he was a talented pilot and in 1939 was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

Malan was involved in covering the evacuation at Dunkirk. During May, 1940, flying his Supermarine Spitfire, he shot down three enemy aircraft, damaged three and shared in the destruction of two more during the fighting over the Channel and northern France. As a result of this action he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Malan also had considerable success during the Battle of Britain. Appointed commander of 74 Squadron on 8th August 1940 and by the end of the year had 18 confirmed kills.

Along with Douglas Bader Malan was selected to carry out what became known as the Big Wing strategy. Developed by William Sholto Douglas, the new head of Fighter Squadron, this strategy involved large formations of fighter aircraft deployed in mass sweeps against the Luftwaffe over the English Channel and northern Europe. This enabled Malan to add ten Messerschmitt Bf109to his score.

Malan now had 32 victories, placing him in third place behind Marmaduke Pattle (51) and Johnny Johnson (38). In July 1941, Malan was showing signs of combat fatigue and he was sent on a lecture tour of the United States. When he returned he was given command of the Central Gunnery School at Biggin Hill.

At the end of the war Malan held the rank of group captain. He retired from the RAF in 1946 and returned to the South Africa where he joined the staff of Oppenheimer's Diamond Training Company.

In 1950 Malan purchased a farm in South Africa. Upset by the election victory of the Nationalist Party he led a protest march of 8,000 ex-servicemen against the proposed apartheid system.

Gysbert Malan, who suffered from Parkinson's Disease in later life, died in South Africa on 17th September 1963.

1. Wait until you see the white of his eyes. Fire short bursts of one to two seconds, and only when your

sights are definitely 'on.'

2. Whilst shooting think of nothing else. Brace the whole of the body, have both hands on the stick, concentrate on your ring sight.

3. Always keep a sharp look-out. 'Keep your finger out.'

4. Height gives you the initiative.

5. Always turn and face the attack

6. Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not of the best.

7. Never fly straight and level for more than thirty seconds in the combat area.

8. When diving to attack - always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as top guard.

9. Initiative, aggression, air discipline and team work are words that mean something in a air fighting.

10. Go in quickly - Punch hard - Get out!


REVIEW: SAILOR Battle of Britain Legend: ADOLPH MALAN by Mark Barnes

The American author Philip Kaplan is right at home with the Battle of Britain and his writing appeals to me very much. He brings a warmth to it like many Anglophiles appear to do and he has become immersed in it. This latest work finds him retracing the life not of an Englishman, but of the South African Adolph Malan, one of the conflict’s greatest leaders and aces. Even as the battle unfolded, Malan exuded a power, a hold on others, through his no nonsense leadership, his will and his strength. He liked to shoot down and kill Germans, but just as much he liked to send their bombers home with crew members dead and the pilot shot to bits, his body oozing life so they would get the message loud and clear – DON’T COME BACK.

This is no rosy soft filter look at a brutal battle. People die and burn. They crash and break. Here today and gone tomorrow. It was gallant but it wasn’t pretty. What I really like is the bigger picture, the use of poetry and the words of the immortal Ernie Pyle to put us in a place as my home town burns. I can picture the spots I know so well in another time and here the stories my parents told of a London on fire. In many respects this is a very modern and slightly unconventional biography, not one just of dates and places – but a spirit of the times. It is immensely rewarding and goes deep into the age. There are bonuses – one chapter takes us to the making of the movie Battle of Britain where Robert Shaw was a virtual Sailor Malan in all but name. It all rings true, and I can see myself in my seat at the Dominion Tottenham Court Road being told off for talking through the first half with my primary school mate Chris Scoggins… whatever happened to him? I still have the souvenir programme.

But the biggest bonus is Sailor himself, the hero who went home to a country about to be at war with itself as his distant relative Daniel Malan set it on route to Apartheid, a step the fighter ace could not stomach. He had fought fascism abroad, he could and would not see it at home – or so he hoped. And so he joined the Torch Commando a political organisation seeking to halt the rise of Apartheid and maintain equality. It failed. The rest is history. Adolph Gysbert Malan DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar died of Parkinson’s disease on the 17 th of September, 1963. With the world focused on the dignity of Nelson Mandela in these his twilight days, it is good to record the life of Sailor Malan, the farmer who went to sea and became a fighter ace. You could argue he spent his life fighting oppression and what a great man he was. I have no idea how strong his memory is held in the modern South Africa, but in the pantheon of the Royal Air Force he remains supreme. This wonderful book evokes the memory of him and many of his contemporaries. Philip Kaplan scores again.

Mark Barnes

SAILOR
Battle of Britain Legend: ADOLPH MALAN
By Philip Kaplan
Published by Pen & Sword Aviation £19.99


Military History Journal Vol 1 No 3 - December 1968

The first two articles in the series "South African Air Aces of the 1939-45 War" appear below. Doug Tidy, who contributes this series would welcome photographs and information on those listed in Vol.1 No.2 of this Journal. Michael Schoeman (one of the keenest of our younger air historians, at present serving in the SAAF), kindly points out that Squadron Leader A. G. Lewis's name was omitted from the list. With a score of 18 (some sources indicate 21) he should of course have appeared at No.5 in the list. He served with Nos. 616, 504, 65, 249 and 261 RAF Squadrons and was awarded the DFC and bar.

Michael Schoeman also considers that the name of Group Captain C. P. Green, DSO, DFC, should appear in the list. He was not originally included as his South African background was not appreciated, it having been believed that he only came to this country after the war. His 14 victories would place him at No.7 in the list, and he served with Nos. 601, 92, 91 and 600 RAF Squadrons. For the same reason the name of Wing Commander M. N. Crossley, DSO, DFC, was omitted as it was believed that his 22 victories were scored before he settled at White River, and that he did not have a South African background.

Sincere thanks are extended to Mrs. M. Montgomery of Swakopmund for the picture of Squadron Leader Pattle. She knew him when he was a boy when she stayed with his family in Luderitz in 1920. The photograph of Group Captain Malan is a hitherto unpublished snapshot belonging to Doug Tidy.

No. 1 - Squadron Leader M.T. St. John Pattle, DFC & Bar

Without doubt, E. C. R. Baker's "Pattle -- Supreme Fighter in the Air" (William Kimber) is the last word on Tom Pattle. Had it not been for this author it is probable that the efforts of this great South African fighter pilot might have been left at the former officially credited 34 confirmed victories. After nearly three years of research involving many interviews and much correspondence with scores of pilots and airmen, and a very thorough investigation of many flying log-books, diaries and personal letters, Mr. Baker is certain that Squadron Leader Pattle (Tom to his family and South African friends, but Pat to the RAF) destroyed at least 40 enemy aircraft. This opinion is borne out by Chris Shores and Clive Williams in their most comprehensive book "Aces High" (Neville Spearman) who also consider that his final score was over 40 and may have been much higher. They say that some who survived the Greek campaign consider it to be nearer 60, and that there is no doubt that he was the highest scoring pilot of the RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces.

He scored his victories in less than nine months of active warfare, and for about half of them he was flying an obsolete biplane - the Gloster Gladiator. This gives some idea of the almost incredible ability of this great fighter pilot, of whom his friends said: "He flies like a bird". Like Sailor Malan, he was a magnificent shot, and a master tactician, far too sensitive and full of imagination to be careless in the air and he had perfect vision. Such were the prerequisites for the great fighter pilot.

Squadron Leader M.T. St. John Pattle, DFC.

Marmaduke Thomas St. John Pattle was born on the 23rd July 1914, in Butterworth, Cape Province, South Africa. He matriculated from Grahamstown in 1931, having already applied to join the South African Air Force, but it was not until March 1933 that he was interviewed, only to be rejected. He took a job as a salesman for a month or two and later in the year went into the assay office at the Sheba Gold Mine at Barberton. In January 1936, just as Sailor Malan was entering the Royal Air Force, Tom Pattle became a cadet in the Special Service Battalion which had been formed in South Africa. By April, 1936 he too was on his way to England to join the RAF. He arrived at RAF Station Prestwick in Scotland on 29th June, 1936, and promptly became "Pat" Pattle, in the same way that Malan became "Sailor".

Early in September 1936 he was posted to No. 10 Flying Training School at Ternhill, Shropshire, in England. After Armament Training Camp at Penrhos in Wales his instructor reported: "Pattle was a phenomenally good shot. Most of the trainees were very indifferent performers and the air men stationed on the range had very little to do in the way of patching holes in the air-to-ground front-gun targets but Pattle was the exception and the airmen used to pretend to curse whenever he was on a detail, because he used to cut the target to shreds as he got such a high percentage of hits with the bursts he fired. Quite apart from his skill as a marksman he was also a well-above-average pilot". This fact was borne out by his assessment -- "Exceptional", and he was posted to No.80 (Fighter) Squadron.

Originally formed on 1st August, 1917, the Squadron had been disbanded in Egypt on 1st February, 1920. On 8th March, 1937, it had been re-formed with Gloster Gauntlet 2s, and by May began to re-equip with the Gloster Gladiator which at that time was the newest and fastest fighter (although it was a biplane) in the RAF, with a maximum speed of just over 250 mph. Pat Pattle flew Gladiator K7913 on May 1937, and the Squadron moved to Debden in Essex in June, Pat becoming Adjutant in October. By April 1938 he was on his way to Egypt with the Squadron which had been presented with its badge, a gold bell in a white circle with a thin blue edging (Major Bell had been the Commanding Officer in 1918).

The beginning of World War II on 3rd September, 1939 found Pattle at Helwan in Egypt. No.80 Squadron had one Hurricane which he flew from time to time, but mostly his flying was confined to one of the 22 Gladiators. It was not until June 1940, when Italy entered the war on the side of Germany that Pat first flew to intercept a suspected enemy aircraft. Like Sailor Malan's first sortie in search of the enemy it proved abortive, the "enemy aircraft" being an Egyptian civil airliner.

No. 80 Squadron received 6 more Hurricanes and Pat became deputy Flight Commander of "A" Flight ( the Hurricane Flight) for a time. Two others in the Flight (Flying Officers John Lapsley and Peter Wykeham-Barnes) later became Air Marshals. Pat returned to his Gladiator flight before joining No. 33 Squadron in a Hurricane for a detachment to Mersa Matruh, and eventually returned to assume command of "B" Flight's 8 Gladiators at Sidi el Barrani, 60 miles from the Libyan border. On 4th August, 1940, in his first action, fighting against 27 Italian aircraft, with only three other Gladiators, he shot down two (one Fiat CR42, one Breda Ba 65) but was himself shot down, and walked back to the Egyptian border to be picked up by the British Army. He and Peter Wykeham-Barnes were the first members of the "Late Arrivals Club", which was founded much later in Cairo. The members of this Club used to receive a badge depicting winged flying boots and a certificate saying 'This airman when obliged to abandon his aircraft on the ground or in the air as the result of unfriendly action by the enemy, succeeded in returning to his Squadron on foot or by other means long after his estimated time of arrival. It's never too late to come back". Pat, on that occasion, was over 48 hours late.

On the 8th August, 1940, the Squadron shot down nine confirmed and six damaged (Pat getting two Fiat CR 42s) for the loss of two Gladiators. On 15th September, as Sailor Malan was leading his Squadron in the Battle of Britain over South-East England, so Pat Pattle led "B" Flight against the Italians over Libya and damaged a Savoia SM 79.

No.80 Squadron was by then at Sidi Haneish and "B" Flight was detached to Bir Kenayis in October, getting Mk 2 Gladiators by November, and moving to Abu Suweir en route to Greece on 9th November 1940, arriving at Eleusis, 15 miles from Athens on the 18th. They made their first Greek sortie from Trikkala on 19th, shooting down nine confirmed and two possibles, of which Pat got two CR 42s.

Torrential rain kept them grounded until 25th November but thereafter they continued to shoot down Italians almost at will, and Pat took command of the Squadron at Yiannina, the CO being still at Trikkala. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and with his score at 11 confirmed, plus a share in two, held the Middle East record at that time. The official citation read: "In all his engagements he has been absolutely fearless and undeterred by superior numbers of the emeny.''

Pat flew Hurricanes from Paramythia from mid-February 1941, and on the 28th with 19 Gladiators and eight other Hurricanes helped shoot down 27 confirmed and eight damaged (of which he personally accounted for five). This brought his successes to over 20, as well as many probables, and No. 80 Squadron's score to over 100. Pat however, was not concerned with scores: his concern was for the efficiency of his Flight and safety of his pilots. His superb leadership resulted in his promotion to Acting Squadron Leader on 12th March, 1941, to command No. 33 Squadron at Larissa.

Hawker Hurricane on view at the S.A. National War Museum. A great deal of Squadron Leader Pattle's flying and fighting was done in Hurricanes. Over 14,000 Hurricanes were produced. The prototype, No. K5083, flew on 6 November, 1935, and the last, No. PZ865, was handed over to the RAF in September, 1944. A series of tests carried out during the Battle of Britain revealed that the average speed of 6 Hurricanes was 305 mph.

No. 33 Squadron had been formed on 12th January 1916, disbanded on 13th June 1919 and reformed on 1st March 1929 it had served in India and Egypt since 1935. It was composed of a tough bunch of individualists and had already scored 91 victories in the Middle East. Pat's reputation and his capabilities as a pilot and a leader of men won them over. His views on air fighting stimulated them and gave them complete confidence in him as a pilot and as a leader. On 23rd March 1941 he led the Squadron for the first time, shooting down a G 50 confirmed, another probable, and destroying three on the ground. He was awarded a Bar to his DFc and was Station Commander at Larissa as well as being CO of No. 33 Squadron.

On 6th April 1941 the Germans attacked Greece and Pat destroyed two Messerschmitt Bf 109s. On 7th he destroyed a CR 42 and on the 8th two Bf 109s on the ground. He continued to destroy enemy aircraft almost daily Ju 88, Bf 110, Bf 109, He 111, Do 17 and SM 79 all fell to his superb gunnery and airmanship.

The Squadron fell back to Eleusis, and he probably destroyed many further aircraft during this period his surviving comrades insist that he did, but due to the confusion and destruction of war it is not possible to prove this from RAF records. Pat was exceptionally fatigued by almost non-stop operational flying by this time he was worn out, suffering from influenza and had a high temperature and had lost much weight. He could easily have gone sick but he knew that this would have lowered the Squadron's morale he was determined to fight to the end.

On the morning of the 19th April, 1941, he shared in the destruction of a Henschel 126 and shot down two Bf 109s. He was tired, mentally and physically, but he would never give in. The Medical Officer refused to let him fly again that day, allowing him to remain on standby only in the event of an air raid. Sure enough, there was a raid Pat flew yet again, sick and tired as he was, and shot down a Ju 88.

On Sunday, 20th April 1941, Hitler's birthday, he still had a high temperature and was undoubtedly a very sick man. Despite this, he insisted on taking off to follow the remnants of Nos. 80 and 33 Squadrons to meet more than 100 enemy aircraft. With 15 other Hurricanes, which were the only fighters left in Greece, he swept into battle and was about 1,000 feet above a defensive circle of Bf 110s when he saw a single Hurricane climbing towards them, and then a single Bf 110 peel off from the circle to dive at the Hurricane. Pat swooped through the Bf 110s to protect the lone Hurricane's tail. He must have known that the 110s would follow him, but he pulled up under the first 110 which was firing into the Hurricane and shot it down in flames, thereby saving the life of Timber Woods (who after shooting down two 110s was himself shot down and killed later in the day). Pat pulled his Hurricane up and round and dived into a space between the 110s, shooting down another 110 in flames as he did so. He was last seen diving in flames, slumped forward across his instrument panel, and his aircraft fell into Eleusis bay.

Pat Pattle was the most successful fighter pilot of the RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces in the 1939-45 war that he has never been officially acknowledged as such is due to the fact that the British Ministry of Defence is not in a position to confirm his victories. His last official score was 23 in the citation for his Bar to the DFC in March 1941. All official records of the last few weeks in Greece were destroyed. The operations record book of No. 33 Squadron RAF, written from memory and intelligence summaries, confirms that he destroyed many more enemy aircraft during those few weeks in which he commanded that Squadron (which command, and even his posting to the Squadron, are not recorded officially).

There is no doubt that he was the highest scoring pilot of the RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces he would have cared nothing for this. That he died, trying to save his friend, would have been enough for Tom Pattle, one of South Africa's greatest air heroes and leaders, and one of the most modest and charming of men.

No.2 Group Captain A.G Malan, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar

Adolph Gysbert Malan was born in Wellington, Cape Province, in 1910 and joined the Royal Air Force in England after some years as an officer in the Union Castle Line of the Mercantile Marine, from which service he derived his nickname "Sailor". His initial seafaring training he received at the South African Merchant Navy Academy "General Botha", and was thus one of the many famous "Botha Boys" produced by that fine training ground for quiet heroes.

His wife Lynda always called him John, and it was by this name that he was known to a few of his closest friends, but to his Squadron as a whole, and to the world, he was, and always will be, "Sailor".

He was one of that splendid batch of young men who came forward in their hundreds at the end of 1935 and early 1936 to meet the rapid expansion of the R.A.F. when, at last, the danger signs from Nazi Germany were recognized. Between then and 1938 the number of squadrons available for the defence of Great Britain was multiplied threefold. It was in this atmosphere of urgent expansion that "Admiral", as he was at that time nicknamed, began his R.A.F. career.

He learned to fly on Tiger Moth aircraft at an Elementary flying Training School at Filton, near Bristol, in England, where he first took to the air on 6th January, 1936. From there he graduated to No.3 Service Flying Training School at Grantham in Lincolnshire, where he flew more advanced types of aircraft and learned the first steps of his new profession. While at Grantham he left the ranks and was commissioned as an Acting Pilot Officer, the commission dating back to the beginning of his service in January 1936. He duly passed the course and received his pilot's wings, and on 20th December, 1936, he was posted to No. 74 (Fighter) Squadron, then stationed at Hornchurch, in Essex. It was his first and only squadron, and was the most famous fighter Squadron of all time in the opinion of all those who served in it.

The Squadron had been in XI Wing in France in 1918 when that Wing had been commanded by another great South African pilot, Sir Pierre van Ryneveld, whose brother had also been a member of the Squadron at its formation in 1917. This brother was unfortunately killed in a "Sopwith Camel" with another formation later in the war.

In 1918, No.74 Squadron flew S.E. Sa aircraft, which will be familiar to anyone who saw the film "The Blue Max". Edward Corringham Mannock, VC, DSO and two bars, MC and bar (better known as "Mick"), "Taffy" Jones, DSO, MC, DFC, MM and the South Africans "Swazi" Howe, "Dixie" Kiddie, "Zulu" Savage, and L. Harrison helped the Squadron to shoot down 225 enemy aircraft and 15 balloons in less than eight months in 1918.

This was the great Tiger Squadron (so called as recorded in Vol. 1, No. 1, because of its fierce fighting record and its badge, a tiger's face surmounting the motto "I Fear No Man") which the young Malan heard about when he reached Hornchurch, on the muddy estuary of the River Thames to the southeast of London. Few dreamed then that under his leadership the Squadron would achieve even greater fame in the desperate years to come.

In December 1936 when "Sailor" (as he began to be known as soon as he reached the Squadron) arrived, the Squadron had been reduced to about one-third of its normal strength owing to the drain on existing squadrons to meet the formation of many new ones. He was one of about a dozen of the new "expansion" intakes who arrived at the end of 1936 and early in 1937. They were all straight from their training schools untried, but magnificent raw material, as events were to prove in the years following 1939.

Group Captain A.G. Malan, DSO, DFC, with his usual Spitfire Aircraft ZP-A (1940).

In January, 1937, Sailor was promoted to Pilot Officer and while in that comparatively humble rank was appointed in August, 1937, as acting Flight Commander of "A" Flight for the good reason that there was at that time no officer in the Squadron of higher rank, other than the Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader D. S. (Brookie) Brookes. This was a fairly common state of affairs at that period of the expansion of the R.A.F., and it brought Sailor into the position previously occupied by the great "Mick" Mannock in 1918.

The men who formed the R.A.F. in the 1930s were of a great breed. Hector Bolitho in a book of much feeling, "Combat Report", published by Batsford, wrote of them:

"One fights shy of words like sincere, just and kind. Yet these are words I should use. I think the chief attraction of the pilots lay in their lack of humbug, their ruthless contempt for pretence in others and their passionate belief in the Royal Air Force. . . The pilots and airmen lived in a faith in each other and this seemed to segregate them from other men . . . Those who watch the Service at a distance, without knowing the careless nonsense, the loyalties that are bred, the thrill of living at double speed the dazzling fun and the deep-rooted theme of truth and affection that binds all these things together, have missed the gayest and yet the saddest world: a complete world in itself. For the Air Force draws you into its secrets and fills your life, even if you live on its edge as I have done, wearing no wings."

Even in such exalted company Sailor stood out. He quickly showed that he was an outstanding marksman in air firing practices and, as a Flight Commander, soon developed qualities of leadership which were amply demonstrated when, in November, 1938, he trained and led his Flight to win the Sassoon Flight Attack Trophy, which was then the most coveted award in the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command. This he achieved in obsolete Gauntlet bi-planes in the face of competition from twenty-three other squadrons, several of which were equipped with the new eight-gun Hurricane monoplane, some hundred miles an hour faster than the elderly "Gauntlet". Thus, when the war started, "Sailor" was already established as a first-class shot and a fine leader.

He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant just before the war began, and at ten minutes to three on the morning of 4th September, 1939, fifteen hours after war had been declared he led Red Section of "A" Flight into the dawn sky. He was flying Spitfire K9864, and was ordered to patrol to intercept an enemy raid approaching the British coast from Holland. The "raid" was later identified as some friendly bombers returning to Britain and the frustrated "Sailor" landed just after four in the morning. However, 74 Squadron had been into the air with attacking intent for the first time since 1918 they were at war once again.

In the evening Sailor wrote a rare letter to his parents in Golden Valley and turned in early. There followed a lull in the fighting known as the "Phoney War", but after the fierce fighting over France in the summer of 1940 came the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for Sailor and the "London Gazette" of the 11th June, 1940, read: DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

Flight Lieutenant Adolph Gysbert Malan. (37604), Royal Air Force. "During May 1940, this officer has led his flight, and on certain occasions his squadron, on ten offensive patrols in Northern France. He has personally shot down two enemy aircraft and, probably, three others. Flight Lieutenant Malan has displayed great skill, courage and relentless determination in his attacks upon the enemy".

The bitter struggle over Dunkirk left all R.A.F. pilots in a state of near collapse from fatigue. When Sailor landed for the last time for the day on 27th May, 1940 his eyes were so tired that the airfield was in a sort of haze and he just threw his Spitfire on to the ground. He said afterwards that he did not know why he had not crashed.

His almost unbelievable calmness in action was demonstrated in his laconic report of his shooting down of a Heinkel 111 three days before: "I was leading four aircraft of Yellow Section on offensive patrol, Dunkirk -- Calais -- Boulogne. Spotted anti-aircraft fire at 12,000 feet over Dunkirk when at 500 feet off the coast, west of Dunkirk. Climbed in line astern to investigate and saw three vics (approx. 9-12-9). (That is to say that the bombers were flying in vee-shaped formations of 9, 12 and 9 -- D.P.T.) Intercepted second vic at 12,000 feet and passed through very heavy and accurate anti-aircraft barrage. Attacked starboard flank in echelon port from astern as Me 109s and Me 110s were observed above and into the sun, turning on to our flank for attack. Observed about eight of these, although probably more were about. Delivered three one-second bursts at both engine and fuselage of He 111 from starboard flank, 250 yards to 150 yards. I was then hit on starboard mainplane and through fuselage by anti-aircraft fire, which severed electrical leads near my seat and extinguished reflector sight. As I broke off I observed one Me 110 coming up on the starboard quarter and one Me 109 astern. I executed some very steep turns into the sun and lost sight of the two fighters. I changed bulb in reflector sight, but as it failed to function I concluded that the wiring had been cut. By this time the battle had gone out of sight and I hadn't enough petrol to give chase. Whilst climbing into the sun I observed crew of He 111 I had shot take to parachute and aircraft gradually lose height on zigzag course. Whilst climbing up to the attack I observed one bomber badly hit (presumably by AA) (AA -- anti-aircraft fire from artillery -- D.P.T.) with port engine stopped and left wing well down and dropping out of formation .

The calm care with which he changed his reflector sight bulb, even in the height of combat, damaged and attacked as he was, was typical of his whole professional approach. His coolness, and complete confidence and efficiency were admired infinitely by the rest of us. "Bill" Skinner, who won the Distinguished Flying Medal with 74 Squadron and flew right through from the outbreak of war until he was shot down in March 1941 and taken prisoner, says of Sailor with whom he flew so often: "He was a born leader and natural pilot of the first order. Complete absence of balderdash. As far as he was concerned, you either did your job properly, or you were on your way. He inspired his air crews by his dynamic and forceful personality, and by the fact that he set such a high standard in his flying. Weather never bothered him. He would frequently take off when the birds were grounded. On occasion, notably at Rochford, he would give a spontaneous display of aerobatics fully equal to the demonstrations of Supermarine's own test pilots, who were acknowledged to be in a class of their own. Another example of Malan's supreme flying ability and powers of leadership was shown by the fact that when occasion presented itself at Hornchurch or Manston he would take off and land the whole squadron in perfect formation. When it is realised that the twelve machines in vics of three occupied the whole width of the aerodrome, and the complicated cockpit drill allied to the high landing speed of the Spitfires, it will be appreciated that, to put it mildly, a very nice sense of judgement and timing was involved".

John Mungo Park (who succeeded Sailor as Commanding Officer of 74 Squadron) said before he was tragically lost in 1941: "What I like about Sailor is his quiet, firm manner and his cold courage. He is gifted with uncanny eyesight and is a natural fighter pilot. When he calls over the R/T, "Let 'em have it!", there's no messing. The so-and-so's are for it, particularly the one he has in his own reflector sight. Mannock and Malan have made 74".

To read Mungo's words is almost to hear Sailor's quiet strong tones calling: "Let's cut some cake. Let 'em have it!" as if the 25 years and more had not slipped away, and as if his mortal remains did not lie beneath the Kimberley sun, so far from the English skies in which he fought so well.

On 18th June 1940 he took off at twenty minutes after midnight at his own request in Spitfire K9953. His combat report for that night tells what happened far more vividly than any words of mine. "During an air raid in the locality of Southend various E/A (enemy aircraft) were observed and held by searchlights for prolonged periods. On request from Squadron I was allowed to take off with one Spitfire. I climbed towards E/A which was making for coast and held in searchlight beams at 8,000 feet. I positioned myself astern and opened fire at 200 yards and closed to 50 yards with one burst. Observed bullets entering enemy aircraft and had my windscreen covered in oil. Broke off to the left and immediately below as E/A spiralled out of beam. Climbed to 12,000 feet towards another E/A held by the searchlights on northerly course. Opened fire at 250 yards, taking good care not to overshoot this time. Gave five two-second bursts and observed bullets entering all over E/A with slight deflection as he was turning to port. E/A emitted heavy smoke and I observed one parachute open very close. E/A went down in spiral dive. Searchlights and I followed him right down until he crashed in flames near Chelmsford. As I approached target in each case, I flashed succession of dots on downward recognition light before moving in to attack. I did not notice AA fire after I had done this. When following second E/A down, I switched on navigation lights for short time to help establish identity. Gave letter of period only once when returning at 3,000 feet from Chelmsford, when one searchlight searched for me. Cine camera gun in action .

Blenheim aircraft got five more that night, and as soon as Sailor got down he telephoned a nursing home in Westcliff-on-Sea to see how Lynda and his new son Jonathan had fared. They had slept through it all.

King George VI presented Sailor with his DFC on 28th June, 1940, and Oliver Walker related that Sailor commented: "The first letter of congratulation that I received came from an insurance company, a firm whose correspondence used to frighten me because the only time they ever wrote me was when I was behind with my premiums. This time they never mentioned a word about any money owing".

He was given command of 74 Squadron, with the rank of Acting Squadron Leader, at the height of the Battle of Britain on 8th August, 1940. Three days later the Squadron attacked and damaged or shot down 38 enemy aircraft. The day became, for ever, "Sailor's August the Eleventh". 11th August 1940 was a Sunday, if my memory serves me correctly, and it dawned fair and became cloudy later. 74 Squadron was operating from the forward base at Manston in Kent, and at twenty minutes past seven the order was received to intercept a hostile raid approaching Dover, and Sailor, leading for the first time since his promotion, slashed the 12 aircraft into a climb to 20,000 feet into the sun, and then turned down-sun towards Dover. Sailor later reported: "I climbed on an east north east course to 20,000 feet into the sun and then turned down-sun towards Dover. I ordered the Squadron to attack. Some of the enemy adopted the usual German fighter evasive tactics, i.e. quick half-roll and dive. On this occasion, as the air seemed clear of German aircraft above us, I followed one down and overtook him after he had dived 2,000 feet, opening fire during the dive at 200 yards range with deflection. He levelled out at about 12,000 feet, when I gave him two two-second bursts at 100 yards range. He was in a quick half-roll and dived towards the French coast. I closed again to 100 yards range and gave him another two or three two-second bursts, when he suddenly burst into flames and was obscured by heavy smoke. This was at 4,000 feet, one mile north west of Cap Gris Nez. I did not watch him go in, but flew back as fast as I could. I did not see the engagements of the rest of the Squadron. N.B. Normally I have strongly advised all pilots in the Squadron not to follow 109s on the half-roll and dive because in most cases we are outnumbered, and generally at least one layer of enemy fighters is some thousands of feet above. It was found that even at high altitudes there was no difficulty in overtaking E/A on diving apart from the physical strain imposed on the body when pulling out".

The second combat in which he fought on 11th August, he recorded thus: "I climbed on a north-easterly course to 24,000 feet and did a sweep to the right, approaching Dover from the sea. I saw a number of small groups of Me 109s in mid-Channel at about 24,000 leet, and as we approached most of them dived towards the French coast. I intercepted two Me 109s and dived on to their tails with Red Section. I delivered two two-second bursts at 150 yards, but as I was overshooting I went off and the remainder of the section continued the attack. I immediately climbed back towards the spot where Blue and Green Sections were waiting above and tried to attract their attention, but owing to R/T difficulties did not manage to get them to form up on me. I proceeded towards Dover by myself. I attacked two Me 109s at 25,000 feet about mid-Channel, delivered two two-second bursts with deflection at the rearmost one and saw my bullets entering the fuselage with about 15 degrees deflection. He immediately flicked off to the left, and I delivered two long bursts at the leading one. He poured out quite a quantity of white vapour. Eight Me 109s, which had previously escaped my attention, dived towards me and I climbed in right-hand spirals, and they made no attempt to follow me. I proceeded towards Dover on the climb and saw ten Me 109s at 27,000 feet in line astern with one straggler, which I tried to pick off, but was unable to close the range without being turned on to by the leader of the formation. I circled in a wide sweep with them for about ten minutes whilst I attempted to notify the remainder of the Squadron by R/T. This proved to be impossible owing to heavy atmospherics and in the end I gave up and returned to Manston".

The third combat of the day started at 1145 when 11 aircraft took off to patrol a convoy about 12 miles east of Clacton. About 40 Messerschmitt 110s were sighted approaching the convoy from the east in close formation, just below cloud base. They formed a defensive circle but the Squadron followed Johnny Freeborn in a dive into the middle of the circle. This attack was very successful and resulted in 11 E/A being destroyed and 5 damaged.

The Squadron, weary, sweaty and oily, took off for a fourth time just before two o'clock, with eight aircraft, to patrol Hawkinge at 15,000 feet, and subsequently north-east of Margate where enemy raids were reported. Sailor climbed through 10/10 cloud (thickest cloud -- it was measured in tenths from 1 to 10) with the eight Spitfires in two sections of four. On emerging from the cloud he spotted about 30 Junkers 87 aircraft in long lines of small vic formation, and about 15 Me 109s about 2,000 feet above and half a mile astern. He reported: "On sighting us, the bombers dived towards a gap in the clouds whilst the Me 109s closed their range with the bombers. I ordered Freeborn's Blue Section to attack the bombers whilst I attacked the fighters with Red Section. I closed the range with the fighters and attacked an Me 109 as he dived through a gap. I opened up at 30 degrees deflection at 200 yards and closed to 100 yards dead astern. After the third two-second burst he burst into flames and went into the sea approximately off Margate. I immediately climbed towards the cloud and then dived towards another group of four Me 109s and delivered 30 degree deflection bursts of about three seconds at about 200 yards. I saw no results. As my ammunition was now expended, I returned to Manston."

He said later, in one of his masterly understatements: "Thus ended a very successful morning of combat". For the first day of action under his command it was successful even by 74 Squadron standards.

He relinquished command only when promoted to Wing Commander on the 10th March, 1941, to become Wing Leader of the Fighter Wing in which 74 Squadron flew.

In the meantime, on Christmas Eve, 1940, the London Gazette had recorded:

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER

Acting Squadron Leader Adolph Gysbert Malan, DFC (37604), Royal Air Force, No.74 Squadron.

"This officer has commanded his squadron with outstanding success over an intensive period of air operations and, by his brilliant leadership, skill and determination has contributed to the success obtained. Since early in August 1940, the squadron has destroyed at least 84 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. Squadron Leader Malan has himself destroyed at least eighteen hostile aircraft and possibly another six.

BAR TO DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER

Acting Wing Commander Adolph Gysbert Malan, DSO, DFC (37604) Royal Air Force.

"This officer has displayed the greatest courage and disdain of the enemy whilst leading his Wing on numerous recent operations over Northern France. His cool judgement, exceptional determination and ability have enabled him to increase his confirmed victories over enemy aircraft from 19 to 28, in addition to a further 20 damaged and probably destroyed. His record and behaviour have earned for him the greatest admiration and devotion of his comrades in the Wing. During the past fortnight the Wing has scored heavily against the enemy with 42 hostile aircraft destroyed, a further 15 probably destroyed and 11 damaged."

In addition, "Sailor" was awarded the following decorations by Allied Governments:

The Belgian Croix de Guerre with bronze Palm

The Czecho-Slovakian Military Cross

The French Legion of Honour, in the degree of Officer

The French Croix de Guerre

He was the outstanding fighter pilot of the 1939-45 war, and by the end of June, 1941, was the top scorer with 29 enemy aircraft destroyed, a record which he held for three years. But he was much more than an individual performer. He had assimilated, with others of that fine first batch of "expansion" pilots the fierce and fanatical "tiger spirit" handed down from the great days of Mannock, VC in World War I, and this spirit he inspired in others so that he carried the Squadron to great deeds with him.

Sailor's "Ten Rules for Air Fighting" are the classic tenets for successful air fighting for as long as there are manned fighters. They were pinned up in their shortened form in many crew rooms, and those who followed them often lived. This short version, so well-known to all of us who ever spent any time in the crew-rooms of Fighter Command in 1941-42 was as follows:

TEN OF MY RULES FOR AIR FIGHTING

There followed his neat, firm signature, so typical of the man himself. To see it was to obey.

Instrument Panel from a Heinkel Bomber shot down by Group Captain A.G. Malan, DSO, DFC.

Later in the war, after returning from a trip to America, partly technical, partly propaganda, Sailor was sent to the Central Gunnery School, Sutton Bridge, where, Oliver Walker says he ". . . could demonstrate to youngsters the fatal art of making a gun-platform out of a Spitfire flying at 400 m.p.h. . . . 'The German fighter' he told pilots, 'pays a lot of attention to tactics. That's a good fault. But unfortunately for Hitler he seems to lack initiative and guts. His fighting is very stereotyped, and he's easily bluffed. Part of his reluctance to stay around and mix it is, of course, due to the fact that his aircraft is less manoeuvrable. As for tactics he insists on using the same old tricks without any imagination. For instance, one gag is to detach a pair of decoys which dive past in front of a British formation, hoping someone will be fool enough to follow them, and they can do a surprise pounce on the rest. Despite warnings, some of our pilots, I'm sorry to say, have been caught by this. The old saying from the First World War: 'Beware of the Hun in the sun' is truer today than ever before and for three reasons:

  1. The Hun seldom attacks from any direction except the sun.
  2. The modern machine, with its clean lines and good camouflage is more difficult than ever to spot against the sun.
  3. Modern high speeds give you even less time than ever for evasion before your opponent has you in range. It's a well-known fact that the man who knocks you down in air combat is usually the one you did not see. A fighter pilot should approach the problem of teaching himself how to shoot and fly in exactly the same way as he would learn to use a shot-gun. First your shot-gun instructor would show you a shot-gun, the various parts of it, its trigger action and safety gadgets, so your flying instructor shows you your aeroplane and explains the flying controls and knobs in the cockpit. Then you handle the shot-gun and get familiar with it. The instructor shows you how to hold it, and use it, so that you get used to the feel of it and forget how the barrel appears when you want it in a flash of time. So you learn to fly and how to handle your aeroplane so that you can get your sights in the right place in the quickest possible time. When you can handle the gun instinctively your instructor will tell you the ways and wiles of ducks, and how you can find them and approach them. So you will learn the tactics of fighter operations and how to fight. Your Spitfire is nothing but a gun with a couple of wings and an engine to keep it in the air. Your job is to use it as a gun and fly it as a part of you with your attention outside of it, until you have something in your sights when your whole concentration is along the sight and on the target. Taking my own experience as a standard, if every fighter pilot had had an adequate shooting training, as I had not, our scores of enemy aircraft destroyed would be exactly four times what they are. Unless you take a tremendous grip on yourself on operations you're certain to fire at twice the range you ought to. It feels easier to shoot when the range is great the contrast between the size of the enemy aircraft from the speck it was when you first saw it, and the size of it when you feel close enough to shoot makes it look as if it is two hundred yards away when it is six hundred. It is only by kicking yourself that you won't shoot out of range. Sheer determination alone will make you hold your fire. There are two ways of judging range. One is to learn by means of the range bar, or by knowing how much of the ring the target should fill at say, three hundred yards - and never shooting when it is smaller. The other is to notice at a particular range how much detail of the aircraft you can see - the crosses, the oil streaks, the pilot's canopy - and never shoot when you can see less.' Reverting to the shot-gun simile in judging line of flight he said: 'Whatever kind of attack you're making always bring your sight up to the target from behind it, and carry it through the target along its line of flight until you reach the correct deflection then fire. Don't hold the sight ahead and wait for the target to meet it. Unless you do this it is impossible to hold a steady aim without skidding and making the shooting phenomenally difficult for yourself. This is infinitely more true with an aeroplane than it is with a shot-gun because an aeroplane is slower to handle and you are firing a continuous burst, and even with a shot-gun you must always swing through from behind . . .' "

Taffy Jones, who was no mean shot himsell, was a great admirer of Sailor's ability and writes of a visit he paid to Biggin Hill in 1941 when Sailor was there: ". . . he asked, do you like jugged hare Taffy?' I replied: 'Very much.' Well, drive my car,' he said. 'I know where there is a hare on the aerodrome. I saw it when I was flying this afternoon.' Into his car we got. Sailor, armed with a double-barrel gun, opened the sun-roof and guided me to a certain spot on the aerodrome. Suddenly a hare got up near the centre of the drome and about 40 yards ahead of us. I put my foot on the accelerator and went flat out after it.

When we closed up with the hare, it began to zigzag. I followed, keeping formation with it. When I got to within 25 yards of the target, I was doing between 50 and 60 mph and the car was jolting a good deal. Sailor lifted the gun to his shoulder. There was a bang - and in front of us was dead hare. Having picked it up, Sailor said: 'Taffy, I think there is another one over there.' He pointed out the direction in which I was to drive. Sure enough, we got onother hare, and I did some more dirt-track driving. Again Sailor waited until we got within 30 yards before firing. And once more we picked up a dead hare.

We were now at the far end of the aerodrome, the opposite one from the officer's mess. As we were driving back, Sailor asked: 'Do you like plovers, too?' Smiling, he pointed up at a small covey flying across the aerodrome. I knew by the twinkle in his eye that he wanted me to drive under them. I obliged. Believe it or not, he got a left and a right!

I was so amazed by the exhibition that all I could say was: 'Good God, Sailor! How do you do it? I just can't believe it.

When we got back and carried our 'bag' into the mess, Al Deere said: 'Where did you get those?' 'On the aerodrome,' Sailor replied with his pleasant smile 'We've been ferreting.'

I then knew one of Sailor's secrets as an air fighter - a steady aim and good deflection shooting. I used to think I was quite a useful deflection shot, but I was 'not at the races' compared with Malan." (from 'Tiger Squadron')

Sailor left the Royal Air Force and returned to South Africa in 1946. He died on 17th September, 1963, from the rare Parkinson's Disease about which little is known. It is a mark of the esteem in which his fellow countrymen hold him, that they set up a "Sailor Malan Memorial Fund" which raised R20,000 to promote bursaries at the University of Witwatersrand for the study of this malady.

To those of us who served with 74 Squadron during anytime between 1936 and 1945 he was the greatest leader of them all. As the smallest token of our esteem, 28 of us who remain presented a ceremonial sword to the Squadron in July, 1966, at Headquarters Fighter Command, in proud memory of Sailor and in honour of his exceptional service to the Squadron. It is intended that this Sword should serve as an inspiration to those coming after, so that his high standards of courage, determination and leadership shall live on. He was, perhaps, a man who, more than any other, could quote the motto of 74 Squadron, and say in all truth: "I Fear No Man."


Author Guest Post: Dilip Sarkar MBE

The legendary Group Captain Adolph Gysbert Malan, universally known as ‘Sailor’, is rightly remembered as possibly the RAF’s most outstanding fighter pilot and leader of the Second World War. He was, though, so much more than that. Deeply opposed to injustice and benefiting from a worldview, upon return to his country of birth he became heavily involved with anti-apartheid activism, a true freedom fighter and amongst the most outstanding South Africans of the Twentieth Century.

Group Captain Malan in his Spitfire at Biggin Hill. Colorised by Daniel Rarity. ‘Sailor’ Malan in action. Reproduced with permission of the artist, Steven L Heyen.

Adolph Gysbert Malan was a South African mercantile marine and naval reserve officer who took a Short Service Commission in the RAF during 1936 – an experienced leader of men, well-travelled and with a worldview.

By the time the Second World War broke out he was a flight commander on 74 ‘Tiger’ Squadron, flying Spitfires at Hornchurch. Shortly after war was declared, he was involved with the so-called ‘Battle of Barking Creek’, in which 74 Squadron, which Flight Lieutenant Malan was leading in the air at the time, mistakenly intercepted and shot down two friendly Hurricanes – the pilot of one of which was killed. Although all involved were exonerated at the subsequent Courts Martial, Malan’s involvement in this tragedy remains controversial and emotive – and clarity a long way off given that the Court of Inquiry report is closed for 100 years. More recent research, however, suggests that this may have been because of a radio-location device called ‘Pip-squeak’ automatically blocking transmissions for fourteen seconds of every minute. This is not the place to forensically examine ‘Barking Creek’, but suffice it to say, for ‘Sailor’ to have lied would be contrary to everything we know about his character and integrity.

The international RAF and Biggin Hill’s 1,000th aerial victory. The South African Group Captain Malan, the Station Commander, poses with the Wing Leader, Al Deere (to Sailor’s left), a New Zealander, and Squadron Leader Jack Charles (fifth from left, British) and Commandant René Mouchotte, Free French, who shared the historic kill. Colorised by Daniel Rarity. Group Captain Malan in conversation with the Jamaican Spitfire pilot Flight Sergeant Vincent Bunting of 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill. During the war, Malan served alongside men and women from all over the world, cementing his worldview.
Colorised by @Reneecolours

Over Dunkirk, Malan opened his account, and was subsequently awarded the DFC for his efforts covering the evacuation. On the night of 18/19 June 1940, he scored the Spitfire’s first nocturnal victory, minutes later destroying a second bomber – earning a Bar to his existing decoration. During the subsequent Battle of Britain, Malan was promoted to lead 74 Squadron, the ‘Tigers’ seeing action flying from Hornchurch, Rochford and Biggin Hill. For his outstanding leadership, Squadron Leader Malan was appointed to the DSO on Christmas Eve 1940.

Sailor Malan’s ‘Ten Rules for Air Fighting’.

After further combat successes, in March 1941 Malan became the first Wing Leader at Biggin Hill, leading a three-squadron Spitfire wing during that year’s ‘Non-stop Offensive’ over north-west France. In just two months, Wing Commander Malan claimed the destruction of twelve Me 109s – leading to a Bar to his DSO in July 1941. By then, after such a protracted period of such demanding operational flying, the signs of exhaustion were evident and Malan, at his own courageous request, was rested. After a lecture tour in America, Malan commanded the Central Gunnery School – where he was able to pass on his immense combat experience to fledgling fighter pilots and impress upon them his golden ‘10 Rules of Air Fighting’. Then, on New Year’s Day 1943, Group Captain Malan was appointed Station Commander of his old base – Biggin Hill. He later commanded Spitfire wings in the 2nd Tactical Air Force, flying on D-Day. He scored no further victories, however, and ultimately his tally of some thirty-two enemy aircraft destroyed, with eight probables and fourteen damaged, was exceeded only by Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson, in 1944, who finished the war as the RAF’s officially top-scoring fighter pilot with thirty-eight-and-a-half kills. After spells at the Advanced Gunnery School and Cranwell, immediately post-war Group Captain Malan returned to South Africa.

Group Captain Malan with Lynda and the children, Jonathan and Valerie, on return to Capetown in 1946.

Deeply opposed to any kind of injustice, back home, Malan became heavily involved with anti-nationalist politics, deeply concerned regarding contraventions of the country’s constitution and human rights. As President of the Torch Commando – ex-servicemen against Apartheid – Group Captain Malan, South Africa’s greatest and most charismatic war hero, galvanised support and became a great embarrassment to the racist government – the Prime Minister of which was a distant relative. Tragically, however, Malan was struck by Parkinson’s, that vile and incurable disease taking his life prematurely on 17 September 1963, aged 52. Denied a military send-off by the Nationalist government, nonetheless his civic funeral in Kimberley was attended by thousands of people.

Group Captain Malan, complete with iconic Irving flying jacket and medals, President of the Torch Commando and speaking at an anti-apartheid rally in 1948.

Officially, the story of Group Captain ‘Sailor’ Malan was erased from the white South African narrative. Without doubt, ‘Sailor’ belongs to the history of white opposition to apartheid but he has also been written out of the black narrative – which claims victory over apartheid for black activists.

So, ‘Sailor’ Malan really was very much more than the decorated fighter ace he is best-known as, at least outside South Africa. A man of immense moral courage, whilst surprisingly soft-spoken, bordering on being shy, he was arguably a model human being in every respect. In sum, Group Captain ‘Sailor’ Malan was a global South African and a true freedom fighter – no matter the odds – deserving his place in history and story told.

Prolific and best-selling author Dilip Sarkar with his latest book!

© Dilip Sarkar MBE FRHistS, 2021

You can order a copy here.

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Unless otherwise indicated all photographs accredited Dilip Sarkar Archive.


Gysbert Malan - History

Adolph Gysbert Malan was born in Wellington, South Africa. A natural leader and driven individual with a totally positive outlook, aged fourteen Malan became an officer cadet in the South African Merchant Navy, before being commissioned into the Royal Navy Reserve. Well-travelled and worldly-wise, aged twenty-five the intrepid adventurer applied for a Short Service Commission in the RAF. Universally known as &lsquoSailor&rsquo in the RAF, Malan became a fighter pilot.

Shortly after war was declared, Malan was involved in the infamous &lsquoBattle of Barking Creek&rsquo, in which 74 Squadron mistakenly destroyed friendly Hurricanes. Then, over Dunkirk in May 1940, Malan&rsquos exceptional ability was immediately demonstrated in combat and a string of confirmed aerial victories rapidly accumulated. The following month, Malan scored the Spitfire&rsquos first nocturnal kill. By August 1940 he was commanding 74 Squadron, which he led with great distinction during the Battle of Britain.

In March 1941, Malan was promoted and became the first Wing Commander (Flying) at Biggin Hill, leading the three-squadron-strong Spitfire wing during operations over northern France. After a break from operations, Malan went on to command a succession of fighter training units, passing on his tactical genius and experience, and producing his famous &lsquoTen Rules of Air Fighting&rsquo which are still cited today. By the war&rsquos end, Group Captain Malan was the RAF&rsquos tenth top-scoring fighter pilot.

Leaving the RAF in 1945 and returning to South Africa, he was disgusted by Apartheid and founded the &lsquoTorch Commando&rsquo of ex-servicemen against this appalling racist policy. This part of Malan&rsquos life is equally as inspirational, in fact, as his wartime service, and actually tells us more about the man than just his RAF record. Tragically, in 1963, he died, prematurely, aged just fifty-three, of Parkinson&rsquos. Written with the support of the Malan family, this biography is the full story of a remarkable airman and politician.


Adolph Gysbert "Sailor" Malan

Born in Wellington S. Africa 3 October 1910
In 1924 he boarded the ship General Botha as a cadet
Jr. deck Officer, Union Castle Steamship Line - 1927
Applied for an RAF short service commission late in 1935
Started training in England - early 1936
Becoming "Sailor" to his new RAF mates
Posted to 74 Squadron in December 1936
Promoted to F/L in March 1939
Saw 1st combats over Dunkirk in May 1940
Took command of 74 Sq. on 8 August 1940
Penned his famous "10 Rules of Air Fighting" (* below)
Continued on combat operations until mid 1941
As Wing Leader at Biggin Hill
Joined 58 OTU in August 1941
Did a lecture tour in the US with some other RAF pilots
- October, November & December 1941
1942 - CO of Central Gunnery School at Sutton Bridge
Promoted to Group Captain in October 1942
Returned to Biggin Hill on January 1st 1943 as CO
Took Command of 19 Fighter Wing 2TAF Oct. 1943
CO of 145 Free French Wing in March 1944
CO of Advanced Gunnery School Catfoss in July 1944
Attended RAF Staff College in 1945
Had a change of heart and left the RAF in 1946
Was involved in politics after the war fighting against
- S.A. Apartheid until he died of Parkinson's in Sept. 1963

* "My Rules for Air Fighting"

1) Wait until you see the whites of his eyes. Fire short bursts of 1 or 2 seconds and only when your sights are definitely &lsquoON&rsquo.
2) Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of the body, have both hands on the stick, concentrate on your ring sight.
3) Always keep a sharp lookout. &lsquoKeep your finger out&rsquo!
4) Height gives YOU the initiative.
5) Always turn and face the attack.
6) Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.
7) Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.
8) When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as top guard.
9) INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE and TEAM WORK are words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.
10) Go in quickly &ndash Punch hard &ndash Get out!

Distinguished Flying Cross

London Gazette, June 11, 1940. The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the undermentioned awards, in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Flight Lieutenant Adolph Gysbert MALAN (37604)

During May, 1940, this officer has led his flight, and on certain occasions his squadron, on ten offensive patrols in Northern France. He has personally shot down two enemy aircraft and possibly three others. Flight Lieutenant Malan has displayed great skill, courage and relentless determination in his attacks on the enemy

Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross

London Gazette, August 14, 1940. The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the undermentioned awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Flight Lieutenant Adolph Gysbert MALAN, D.F.C. (37604) -

Since the end of May 1940, this officer has continued to lead his flight and, on many occasions the squadron, in numerous successful engagements against the enemy. During the Dunkirk operations, he shot down three enemy aircraft and assisted in destroying a further three. In June 1940, during a night attack by enemy aircraft, he shot down two Heinkel 111&rsquos. His magnificent leadership, skill and courage have been largely responsible for the many successes obtained by his squadron.

Companion of the Distinguished Service Order

London Gazette, 24 December, 1940. The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Acting Squadron Leader Adolph Gysbert MALAN, D.F.C. (37604) No. 74 Squadron

This officer has commanded his squadron with outstanding success over an intensive period of air operations and, by his brilliant leadership, skill and determination has contributed largely to the successes obtained. Since early in August, 1940, the squadron has destroyed at least 84 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. Squadron Leader Malan has himself destroyed at least eighteen hostile aircraft and possibly another six.

Legless Flyer Heads List of Leading British Aces Bags Are From 15 - 30 Huns

London, Jan. 9, 1941 &mdash (UP) &mdash The Royal Air Force disclosed today the identities of its ten leading aces. One is a former financial clerk in a newspaper office, another, a former South African sailor. One has artificial legs one is only 22 years old one shot down six German planes in six hours.
Each has shot down from 15 to 30 German planes. All have been decorated, some three times. They are veterans of the battle of France, the evacuation of Dunkirk and of countless air fights over south England. All but one are still active.
Scores of other R.A.F. men have shot down from five to ten German planes, but these are the top ten:
Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, thrice decorated leader of the Canada squadron. He lost both legs in an accident two (ten) years ago and learned to manipulate artificial legs before the war started.
Squadron Leader Roland Tuck, thrice decorated, has 23 swastikas and two Italian flags painted around the cockpit of his plane, signifying that many victories. He also has an Iron Cross, the gift of a wounded German pilot he had shot down.
Pilot Officer H. M. Stephens, thrice decorated, formerly a financial clerk on a London evening newspaper he and a colleague shared a pool for shooting down the 600th German plane destroyed by their squadron.
Squadron Leader Adolph Gysbert Malan, thrice decorated, formerly a South African sailor.
Flight-Lieut. John Ignatius (Iggy) Kilmartin, an Irishman, formerly attached to the advanced air striking force in France, credited with having shot down 15 German planes.
Flight-Lieut. J. S. Dundas, recently posted as missing and believed dead, credited with 15 German planes, one of which he chased from Winchester to Cherbourg, France, before destroying it.
Pilot Officer Geoffrey Allard, formerly a sergeant-pilot, commissioned because of his outstanding fighting, credited with 15 German planes.
Flight-Sgt. George Cecil Unwin, credited with from 15 to 20 enemy planes last September, flying alone, he charged into a formation of 15 German bombers escorted by 30 German Messerschmitt fighters and shot down two Messerschmitts before he ran out of ammunition.
Flight-Lieut. J. H. Mungo-Park, veteran of Dunkirk and sharer with Stephens of the 600-plane pool.
Pilot Officer Albert Gerald Lewis, of South Africa, who shot down more than 20 German planes, including six in six hours.

Bar to Distinguished Service Order

London Gazette, 22 July, 1941. The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Acting Wing Commander Adolph Gysbert MALAN, D.S.O., D.F.C. & Bar (37604)

This officer has displayed the greatest courage and disdain of the enemy whilst leading his wing on numerous recent operations over Northern France. His cool judgment, exceptional determination and ability have enabled him to increase his confirmed victories over enemy aircraft from 19 to 28, in addition to a further 20 damaged and probably destroyed. His record and behaviour have earned for him the greatest admiration and devotion of his comrades in the wing. Recently the wing has scored heavily against the enemy with 42 hostile aircraft destroyed, a further 15 probably destroyed and 11 damaged.

One of Great Aces of War, Malan, South Africa, Bags 35 of Hitler's Luftwaffe Only Pilot Who Has Bars to D.S.O. and D.F.C.

London, July 24, 1941 &mdash (CP) &mdash One of the great aces of this war is Wing-Cmdr. A. G. Malan, D.S.O. and bar, D.F.C. and bar, whose confirmed record of 35 enemy aircraft destroyed is the highest of any man in the Royal Air Force.
A South African who holds a ship's second officer's certificate, Malan joined the R.A.F. six years ago because he wanted to earn enough money to be married. He has been flying steadily since then and is the first pilot of this war to win a bar for both his decorations.
Malan leads a wing, composed of three squadrons, and takes Spitfires and Hurricanes into battle in sweeps across the channel. He was in the thick of the Dunkerque fighting last year and in the Battle of Britain, led the crack No. 74 Squadron.
No. 74 was as famous in the last war as in this. Its leaders then included Major Edward Mannock, who shot down 75 (61) German planes, and "Taffy" Ira Jones with 40.
Malan is a close friend of Wing-Cmdr. Douglas Bader, who led the famous all-Canadian squadron in the Battle of Britain. Both men are 30, old for fighter pilots, and in appearance are somewhat alike &mdash not tall, thick set and well featured.
Bader, who lost both legs while rehearsing for the Hendon pageant 10 years ago, is at a different station from Malan, but often the men get together, swap experiences and plan new tactics. The Englishman's score is not as high as the South African's but he has brought down more than 20 planes.
Neither Malan nor Bader puts much moment on the total bag of pilots. They are strictly team commanders and their motto is "You've all got to fight as one."

AFRICAN AIRMAN BLASTS 32 NAZIS OUT OF SERVICE Wing-Commander Malan Is Ace Sharp Shooter of Royal Air Force OTHER HIGH SCORES

London, Sept, 18, 1941 &mdash(CP)&mdash A cool-headed young South African, Wing Cmdr. A. G. Malan, holds individual scoring honours in the Royal Air Force with an official tally of 32 German aeroplanes blasted out of the sky.
In announcing that the fighter command's leading pilot had shot down 32 machines, the air ministry news service did not name him. But previous references to Malan's achievements make it safe to assume he is the individual ace of Britain's flying sharpshooters.

Has High Awards
Malan, who joined the R.A.F. six years ago, has been awarded the D.S.O. and bar and the D.F.C. and bar for some of his outstanding exploits in the air. He also holds a ship's second officer's certificate.
Four other pilots have individual scores of more than 20, said the news service, issuing an impressive summary of the losses inflicted by the fighter command on the Luftwaffe in two years of sky warfare. They also were unnamed, but are believed to be Squadron-Ldr. J. Mungo Park, D.F.C, Squadron-Ldr. M. T. St. J. Pattle, Squadron-Ldr. Roland Tuck, D.S.O. and D.F.C. with two bars, and Flight-Lieut. E. S. Lock, D.S.O., D.F.C. and bar.
Mungo Park and Pattle, both officially listed as missing, have shot down 27 machines each. Tuck's total was 27 last July and Lock, also missing, has 25 to his credit. Wing-Cmdr. Douglas Bader, D.S.O. and bar, D.F.C, former leader of the R.A.F. all-Canadian fighter squadron, is believed to have shot down at least 20. The curly-haired Briton who flew with two artificial legs was himself shot down over northern France in August and taken prisoner.
The leading squadron of fighter command has accounted for 175 German aircraft since the war began. Fifteen squadrons have each topped the century mark, and three of them have shot down more than 150 machines.

Every Time Jerry Pops Up, R.A.F. Knocks Him on Head

London, Sept. 20, 1941 &mdash (CP) &mdash Constant cross-channel sweeps by the Royal Air Force "have got old Jerry rattled," said Wing Cmdr. A. G. Malan, ace South African fighter pilot, writing in London Calling, overseas publication of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
"Every time he pops his nose up in the area in which our bombers are operating there is a whoop of delight, and Spitfires shoulder each other out of the way to knock him on the head," Malan proceeded.
"In about 30 seconds the scene is transformed into Messerschmitts screaming down toward the ground with Spitfires on their tails pumping lead into them as fast as they can, and then there is the usual little circle of disappointed British pilots patrolling the areas where the Huns had been, and cursing their luck for not being in the right place at the right time."
Malan knows what he is talking about. He holds both the D.S.O. and the D.F.C., and his official total of enemy planes shot down is 32. Unofficially he is credited with 35 Nazi planes for certain and five more "possibles."
Keenness of the R.A.F.'s younger pilots is illustrated by this story Malan told:
"A few days ago we saw three formations of Messerschmitts approaching us . . . Some one called over his radio: &ldquoTally-ho, 10 o'clock &mdash surely they must be friendly?&rdquo And then some one else said: &ldquoBy heaven, they're Huns. Come on and cut yourself a slice of cake.&rdquo That is the spirit among our pilots on these offensive operations. That morning we peeled off down on them and beat them up, destroying at least three before the rest escaped into a cloud."

Britain's Greatest Fliers In U.S. for Conferences EDWARDS. TUCK. MALAN.

Ottawa, Oct. 26, 1941 - (CP) - Six of the top aces of the Royal Air Force are on this side of the Atlantic. They left Canada by plane today for the United States where they will be attached temporarily to the United States Army Air Corps.
Their names are household words in the United Kingdom, for one holds the coveted Victoria Cross, two are the first and second ranking fighter pilots in this war and all wear decorations for their leadership and personal exploits in the Battle of Britain.
"Make no mistake, these chaps are the absolute cream of the R.A.F." said one Canadian officer who welcomed them.
They are:
Wing Commander H. I. Edwards, 27, V.C., D.F.C, day bombers, who won the V.C. for a brilliant attack on Bremen.
Wing Commander A. G. Malan, 28, D.S.O. and bar, D.F.C. and bar, fighters, credited with shooting down thirty-five enemy planes.
Wing Commander R. R. S. Tuck, 25, D.S.O., D.F.C. and two bars, fighters, credited with twenty-nine enemy craft.
Group Captain Harry Broadhurst, 35, D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., fighters, who had downed fifteen opponents.
Wing Commander J. N. H. Whitworth, 29, D.S.O., D.F.C, A.F.C., night bombers.
Group Captain C. Boothman, 40, A.F.C., bombers.

Here for "Bit of a Rest"
Typically reticent, the veterans disliked talking about themselves. Edwards shrugged noncommittally when asked about his V.C.
"There wasn't much of anything special about it, just a daylight raid on Bremen," he said.
One of his companions said, however, that he pressed home a difficult attack in the face of tough opposition and carried it through with "extremely good results."
Malan and Tuck became famous during August and, September of 1940 and at Dunkirk, when they knocked down plane after plane to amass their outstanding records.
Tuck, a slender and handsome figure who bears a facial scar from his temple to his chin, said the group had come over for a &ldquobit of a rest.&rdquo
"We'll be attached to the United States Army Air Corps for a while," he said. "The idea is that we'll more or less swap ideas with them."
Asked about Dunkirk, he admitted he got "nine, I think, in the four or five days we were busy there." He also admitted to having been forced to bail out of three fighters and having had others "pretty badly shot up" at various times.

Canadians "Bloody Good"
Broadhurst, a member of the R.A.F. since 1926, commanded a squadron at the beginning of the war and led a wing in France during "the blitz." Recently, he said, he had commanded six fighter squadrons based on the Thames Estuary.
"Two of them were new Canadian squadrons," he said. "And they are bloody good considering their experience.
"That is just about the busiest spot of all, you know, and every day there is any kind of flying weather we go out on those sweeps of the invasion coast, Northern France and the Low Countries.
"The Canadian squadrons, one of Hurricanes under Squadron Leader Corbett and one of Spitfires under a British leader, have been doing close escort duty with bombers on those sweeps. Yes, and they are doing a grand job of it, too &mdash only lost two or three planes before I left."
Questioned about their mission in the United States, Broadhurst said, "We're going to give them all the information we can and probably pick up some ideas ourselves. We'll give talks and lectures and let them cross-examine us on operations, tactics training and all that sort of thing."

Paper Raids "Waste of Time"
Whitworth had been leading a night bombing group ever since the beginning of the war.
"Our group has been bombing Germany right from the start," he said. He laughed as he caught himself up.
"I shouldn't have said "bombing' for we were dropping pamphlets for quite a while and looking back it seems such a waste of time. However, we've been fortunate in having had targets from Norway to Italy. We've often been assigned to Berlin or the Rhineland."

Must Have Numerical Superiority, Aces Say on Visit to New York DISCUSS TACTICS

New York, Oct. 28, 1941 - (AP) - Six, veterans of the Royal Air Force, one with thirty-five victories to his credit, refused to talk about their exploits today, but did agree that warplanes, particularly fighters, must have more guns to be effective.
The fliers, here for a few weeks to exchange information with the United States Army and Navy and aircraft manufacturers, were presented to reporters at the offices of the British Information Service.
The six were Group Captains Harry Broadhurst and John Nelson Boothman, and Wing Commanders H. Idwal Edwards, John Nicholas, Haworth Whitworth, Roland S. S. Tuck and Adolph Gysbert Malan. All have been decorated. Malan is credited with bagging thirty-five enemy aircraft, and Tuck twenty-nine. Broadhurst is credited with shooting down at least four night raiders. The others have bomber commands.
They expressed the opinion that, as air warfare progresses, more types of airplanes will be developed for specific duties. There will be, for instance, both low-altitude and high-altitude fighters.
"The Hun isn't permitting himself to get into a dogfight now," one of the men remarked. "Unless he has great numerical superiority, he runs."
They conceded the Germans had pushed fighting limits beyond 35,000 feet, but only, they said, at the expense of reducing the amount of armor protection for the pilot and the number of guns Carried.
The Bell "Airacobra" fighter, United States-made, they described as faster than anything abroad, but said that at present, it lacks ceiling. It won't climb to heights at which combat now is taking place.
In the last series of raids over London at night the Germans, they said, lost 10 per cent of their planes.
The fliers are here on an exchange basis, United States airmen having gone to Britain to gather developments in tactics and aircraft manufacture. They expect to be away from their commands about six weeks.

RULE OUT NAZI DAYLIGHT RAIDS R.A.F. Aces Claim That Huns Cannot Launch Mass Attacks

Ottawa, Nov. 22, 1941 &mdash Heroes of hundreds of air battles over England and the channel, two Royal Air Force aces said last night they were confident that the badly-battered German air force would never again try a full-out daylight assault on the United Kingdom.
They called German pilots "goose-step flyers" who flew well "according to the book, but are stupid when their formations are broken up and they have to fight as individuals."
The men who judged the German air force and its flyers were in a position to know. They were W/C A. G. Malan, D.S.O. and bar, D.F.C. and bar, credited with downing 35 Nazi machines, and W/C Roland S. S. Tuck, D.S.O., D.F.C. and two bars, credited with 21 victories.
Both said they wished the Germans would try an air assault in strength again as they did in 1940 when the R.A.F. turned back tremendous odds.
"I just wish they'd come and try it," said Malan. "With our new machines and our increased air strength we would give them a welcome they would never forget.&rdquo
Both airmen laughed when asked what odds they had encountered over Dunkirk as British forces were evacuated after the fall of France and in the Battle of Britain.
"Well, I've seen one British plane against 30 Germans," said Malan.
"Once a sergeant-pilot and myself both flying fighters, got mixed up with 70 Germans," said Tuck. "They shot down the sergeant."
The youthful wing commanders have been in the United States with four other British top-ranking pilots demonstrating to American airmen the tactics used by the R.A.F.

Echoes of Two Great Battles Heard at Brantford Flying School Trades School Men Send Thanks

1 December 1941 - Echoes of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain were heard at No. 3 Service Flying Training school at Brantford last week, when Wing Commander Malan, D.S.O. and bar, D.F.C. and bar, addressed assembled officials and flying students.
A veteran of five years in the Royal Air Force, during which he had won distinction and rapid promotion in the fighter command, Wing Commander Malan has just concluded a visit to the United States, where he has held conferences with officers of the U.S. naval and army air services.
Wing Commander Malan described the typical German fighter pilot as a man "who flies like he goose-steps &mdash almost like a robot." The enemy, he said, were excellent tacticians, good at formation flying but sadly lacking in individual initiative. Their formations were not hard to break up with the right methods, Wing Commander Malan said, adding that he had seen so many shot down at one time that the air seemed full of parachutes.
"The typical German pilot," he said, "never attacks unless he has some advantage. But this gets monotonous, because in time you know what to expect, and it is not difficult to combat him."
Although there was no foundation for news reports that the R. A. F. was in a "bad way" during the Battle of Britain, Wing Commander Malan recalled particularly days when British fighter pilots were averaging five two-hour patrols per day. Now, however, the situation was greatly improved, with Britain holding command of the air over England. At the sight of Hurricanes and Spitfires, German raiding planes now dump their bombs and race for home. Morale in the R.A.F. has been unimpaired throughout the entire war, he said.
The distinguished visitor was introduced by Group Captain B. F. Johnson, commanding officer of the station.

Top Scoring Pilot Back With RAF

London, Jan. 4, 1942 &mdash (CP) &mdash The top-scoring fighter pilot of the Royal Air Force, the South African, Adolph G. Malan, is hack in the front line of Britain's air war, which has already yielded him the D.S.O., the D.F.C. and bar and 32 officially-recognized victories &mdash one for every year of his age.
As one of the youngest group captains in the service, "Sailor" Malan, who left the merchant navy to join the R.A.F. in 1936, takes over command of the fighter station in which he fought in the Battle of Britain successively as a flight-lieutenant, squadron leader and wing commander.
Pilots from this station, which is in southeast England, have brought down nearly 1,000 enemy planes. Malan visited Canada and the United States in 1941, when he appeared at a number of public functions.

R.C.A.F. HONORS FALLEN HEROES

London, Oct. 6, 1943 - (CP) - A simple service was held recently to mark the unveiling and dedication of a memorial and chapel to the pilots of the famous Biggin Hill sector who gave their lives in aerial combat, the R.C.A.F. said tonight in an overseas press release.
In an unpretentious building on the battle-scarred Biggin Hill airfield, oak panels behind the altar bear the names of more than 200 pilots, including many Canadians, who took off in Spitfires and Hurricanes from Biggin and did not return.
The memorial was unveiled by Fighter Command's top scoring ace, Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, D.S.O. and Bar, D.F.C. & Bar.
The names include those of men from Canada's first overseas fighter unit, originally known as No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron. Among them are these names: F/L James R. C. Tyre, Westmount, Que. F/O John Richard Tucker, Winnipeg P/O John Randolph Patton, Barrie F/Sgt William D. Hagyard, Perth F/Sgt Frank Alex Duff, South River, Ont. Sgt. Gerald Francis Clarke, Winnipeg Sgt. Morton H. Buckley. Fonthill, Ont. F/L James Witham, D.F.C, Edmonton P/O J. K. Ferguson, Victoria P/O Liman E. Hokan, St. Catharines.


Vincent Bunting of 611 Sq. speaking with Biggin Hill's C/O - 'Sailor' Malan - January 1943

IMPORTANT POST FOR RAF HERO Highest Scorer in Service Given Promotion

London, Jan. 17, 1943 &mdash (CP Cable) &mdash Group Capt, A. G. (Sailor) Malan, the highest scorer in the R.A.F. - with 32 German planes to his credit - has taken up what is described as an important new appointment in the Air Ministry.
Malan, South African fighter ace, has been in command of Biggin Hill, famous Battle of Britain fighter station, planes from which have shot down more than 1,000 enemy aircraft.
Flight-Lieut. George (Buzz) Beurling, of Verdun, Que., formerly in the R.A.F. but now a member of the R.C.A.F. serving overseas, with 31 planes to his credit is the closest among active flyers to Malan's score of enemy destroyed.

"Buzz" Beurling Still Top Pilot Verdun Flyer Leading New Group in R.C.A.F.

London, March 23, 1944 (CP Cable) &mdash A cocky Canadian with a killer's eye, Flight-Lieut. George ("Buzz") Beurling, of Verdun, Que., is top-ranking R.A.F. - R.C.A.F. fighter-pilot of the war still on operations with 31 planes to his credit, according to the latest tabulations by air correspondents.
But chasing closely is an unidentified Polish pilot, an R.A.F. sergeant whose identity cannot be divulged until after the war, and who has knocked down 28 planes. [But no longer in the chase because, the "Pole" mentioned was actually Czech pilot Josef Frantisek, KiFA October 8th, 1940]
Beurling, now flight commander in a Britain-based R.C.A.F. Spitfire squadron, is the youthful leader of a new group of straight-shooting aces who are rapidly taking over the spots vacated as Battle of Britain pilots are killed, taken prisoner or leave operations.
The Canadian, whose left breast is covered with medal ribbons, is only one short of the top figure of 32 hung up by such colorful dare­devils as Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, who is now off operations, and Squadron-Ldr. Paddy Finucane, youthful Irishman who survived hundreds of flights and fights only to fall to a chance bullet over the French coast.

R.A.F. and U.S. Fliers Reach Upper Ace Class

London, April 13, 1944 (CP) &mdash Wing Cmdr. J. R. D. Braham joined the upper brackets of the Empire's fighter aces today when he destroyed his 26th enemy plane, a twin-engine German machine which he shot down during a Mosquito intruder patrol over Denmark.
The 23-year-old R.A.F. ace, holder of the D.S.O. and Bar and the D.F.C. and two Bars, now is the fourth highest scorer among Empire airmen still on operations.
Flt. Lt. George (Buzz) Beurling of Verdun, Que., heads the list with 31 victims, but the greatest living R.A.F. ace is Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, with 32 German planes to his credit. He now is off operations.
Braham, known as "The Destroyer" to the R.A.F., is Britain's deadliest night fighter. Nineteen of his kills were made in the dark.
Capt. Don S. Gentile, top United States fighter ace in the European theatre, with 23 planes destroyed in the air and seven on the ground, was badly shaken when forced to crash-land his fighter at his home base after a recent mission, it was disclosed today.
Meanwhile, at Allied Headquarters in the Southwest Pacific, it was announced that Capt. Richard I. Bong, Poplar, Wis., has shot down 27 enemy planes in aerial combat to become the highest ranking United States ace in this or the last war. Bong's 26th and 27th victories were achieved in raids over the Japanese base at Hollandia, New Guinea.
Neither air commanders in the Southwest Pacific nor the R.A.F. credit pilots with planes destroyed on the ground, and these fliers still have a long way to go to reach the mark of 72 planes downed by the Canadian, Air Marshal W. A. Bishop, V.C., from 1916 to 1918.
A special release announcing Bong's achievement said all of his 27 victories were scored while flying fighter planes over enemy territory. He was ordered to duty in the Southwest Pacific in September, 1942, later went on leave to the United States and returned to active duty early this year.

&lsquoCanadian&rsquo Destroys 30th German Plane

With the R.C.A.F. in France, June 23, 1944 &mdash (CP Cable) &mdash Wing Cmdr. "Johnny" Johnson, of the R.A.F., commander of a Canadian Spitfire wing, destroyed his 30th German plane in the air yesterday to bring him within two of the record held by the R.A.F.'s leading ace, Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan.

RCAF Shoots Down 26 Enemy Planes in Normandy Between Dawn and Dusk

By P.O. H. R. McDONALD, A Canadian Airfield in France.
June 29, 1944 - (CP) - Canadian fighter planes, in one of the most brilliant achievements in the history of the R.C.A.F., shot down 26 out of a total of 34 enemy aircraft destroyed over the Normandy front between dawn and dusk yesterday.
In addition, R.C.A.F. pilots chalked up a number of enemy planes probab1y shot down and a number bf others which were damaged.
Four pilots scored double kills. They were W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English–born commander of a Canadian fighter wing operating from an R.C.A.F. base in Normandy, and F/Ls. H.C. Trainor, Charlottetown W.T. Klersy, 14 Harcroft Rd., Toronto, and R.K. Hayward. St. John's, Nfld.

Destroys Two, Damages Third
Hayward destroyed two FW-190's and damaged a third, which gave him the highest R.C.A.F. individual score of the day.
Earlier reports indicated the Canadian airmen had downed 18 enemy planes in yesterday's daylight operations.
The complete figures were reached by intelligence officers today after a period of aerial operations which exceeded in intensity anything since the Allied Normandy beachhead was opened June 6.
Besides the toll of enemy planes, which included all fighter types, R.C.A.F. pilots also strafed transport on the roads.

Final claims on two aircraft are being sifted
Among the R.C.A.F. Spitfire pilots contributing to the total with one Hun each were: F/Ls Irving Kennedy, Cumberland, Ont. G.R. Patterson, Kelowna, B.C. J. McElroy, Kamloops, B.C. Henry Zary, New York R.M. Stayner, Saskatoon A.F. Halcrow, Penticton, B.C. G.W. Johnson, 102 Beechwood Ave., Hamilton, Ont. D.E. Noonan, 146 Willingdon Ave., Kingston, Ont. J.B. Rainville, Montreal and Flying Officers W.J. Banks, Leaside, Ont. and G.H. Farquharson, Corbyville, Ont.
W/C Johnson's score of two brought his total of enemy planes downed to 32, equaling the mark set by G/C A.G. (Sailor) Malan, a South African, now on ground duty.
Among the R.C.A.F. fliers scoring probables were F/O A.C. Brandon, Timmins, Ont. F/O J.B. O'Sullivan, Vancouver and P/O J.M. Flood, Hearst, Ont.

Nine Others Damaged
At least nine others wire damaged by fliers of the R.C.A.F.
Of the wings comprising G/C W. (Bill) MacBrien's R.C.AF. sector, the one led by 22-year-old W/C George Keefer, D.F.C. and Bar, Charlottetown, was high scorer of the day with 13 confirmed victories. Johnson's wing was second with seven, in a close race with a unit led by W/C R.A. Buckham, Vancouver.
The margin for Keefer's wing was established in two dusk operations in which seven enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged. In the first action Hayward sighted more than 25 Nazi fighters and led his formation in pursuit. He damaged one.
Later the same Spitfires became embroiled with a dozen FW-190's and Hayward got two of them. The first fell out of control and the second burst into flames and crashed after Hayward had followed it down to tree-top height.
"The Huns were like bees,” said W/O Murray Havers, 1 Lloyd St., Hamilton. Ont. "They seemed confused and acted as though they did not know what they were doing."
The Canadian airmen said the Germans did not put up much of a fight despite their numerical advantage.
Other Canadians credited with kills during the day were F/O G. R. Stephen, Montreal F/O Larry Robillard, Ottawa F/O W. A. Gilbert, Dartmouth, N.S. F/O Don Goodwin, Maynooth, Ont. and F/O Tommy Wheler, 10 Beauford Rd., Toronto.

JOHNSON GETS 33RD PLANE, SETS RECORD

London, June 30, 1944 (CP) &mdash Canadian fighter pilots accounted for 13 of 17 enemy planes destroyed in aerial battling over Normandy today and among them was Wing Cmdr, J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English leader of a crack Canadian Spitfire wing operating from French bases, who shot down his 33rd German plane to become the leading Allied fighter ace in this theatre.
Johnson's 33rd Nazi cracked the long-standing record of 32 held by Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, built up mainly when the South African ace was the R.A.F.'s outstanding fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain. Malan is not now on active operations.
Today was the second day in the last three that Canadian airmen have led all other Allied air units in knocking the Luftwaffe out of the: sky. On June 28 they shot down 26 of 34 German planes destroyed over the Normandy front.
Johnson bagged two in Wednesday's aerial battling and his record-breaking today came with a three-second burst at 200 yards range. Johnson went after him when No. 2 in his wing spotted the Nazi making for the safety of clouds. He got him and followed the enemy plane down until it crashed
"I was leading a flight of six aircraft when control called us to say that another of our flights was being rather heavily engaged 20 miles within the enemy lines around Argentan," Johnson said after he brought his flight back to base.
"We hurried as hard as we could and right away saw Spitfires, ME 109s and Focke-Wulf 190s having a great dogfight among the clouds. There was only one flight of Spitfires against about 20 or 30 of the Luftwaffe. We soon were among them, and the boys of my flight knocked down three."
Clouds made it "rather fun," said Johnson, adding: "If you got into trouble and found some one getting on your tail you had clouds to help you get rid of him. Then you could come out of the clouds again to look for another to tackle."
Johnson took over command of the wing March 16, 1943. Although an Englishman, he wears a "Canada" flash on his flying clothes as a mark of fellowship with the Canadians he leads. Re recently returned to active flying operations after a period of ground duty.
In cracking Malan's record, Johnson equaled the score set by Brendan (Paddy) Finucane, who had 33 German planes to his credit when he was lost in action last year.
Leading United States flier in this theatre was Capt. Don S. Gentile, who downed 23 planes in combat and destroyed seven on the ground, and who now is in the United States. Leading Canadian ace is F/L George Beurling of Verdun, Que., who destroyed 31 enemy planes, most of them over Malta when he flew with the R.A.F. He now is in Canada on flying-training duty.
Major Alexander Pokryshkin, a Siberian, is Russia's leading ace. He is credited with shooting down 53 German planes.


Sailor talks with Jack Charles & Al Deere

Beurling Ranks Fourth Among European Aces

By FRED BACKHOUSE
London, July 15, 1945 (CP) &mdash Group Captain J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English-born, former leader of a crack Canadian Spitfire wing, has been officially recognized as "ace of aces" among Allied fighter pilots who fought over Europe.
Final scoring records, compiled by The Canadian Press from figures supplied by the RAF, RCAF, and United States 8th and 9th Air Forces, put this peace-time accountant from the Leices­tershire town of Loughborough at the top of the list with 38 German planes destroyed.
Group Capt. Johnson, who so closely identified himself with his otherwise all-Canadian squadron that he wore "Canada" on his shoulder, has often given much of the credit for his success to the Canadians who flew with him. "It's all a combination play," he said. Many of his men themselves became "aces."
Of the first 16 places supplied by the air forces, fourth is held by a Canadian &mdash Flt. Lt. George (Buzz) Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar, of Verdun, Que. &mdash and 11 by RAF pilots. For the record, only those with more than 24 "kills" were offered by the three services as their top men.
Official final scores are:

Group Capt. J. E. Johnson (RAF), 38
Group Capt. A. G. Malan (RAF) - [no score given]
Sqdn. Ldr. P. Finucane (RAF), 32
Flt. Lt. G. Beurling (RCAF), 31
Wing Cmdr. Stanford Tuck (RAF), 30
Wing Cmdr. J. R. D. Braham (RAF), 29
an anonymous Polish sergeant [Czech pilot Josef Frantisek] (RAF), 28
Wing Cmdr. F. R. Carey (RAF), 28
Lt. Col. F. S. Gabreski (U.S. 8th), 28
Maj. G. E. Preddy (U.S. 8th)
Wing Cmdr. C. Caldwell (RAF), 27½
Capt. R. Johnson (U.S. 8th)
Flt. Lt. Mungo Park (RAF)
Sqdn. Ldr. J. H. Lacey (RAF), 27
Flt. Lt. E. S. Lock (RAF), 25
Lt.-Col. J. C. Meyer (U.S. 8th), 24½

[some of these numbers have been modified since the war]

Victories Include :


18/19 June 1940
12 July 1940
19 July 1940
24 July 1940
25 July 1940
28 July 1940

17 Oct 1940
22 Oct 1940
23 Nov 1940
27 Nov 1940
2 Dec 1940
2 Feb 1941
5 Feb 1941
17 May 1941
21 May 1941
17 June 1941
21 June 1941
22 June 1941
23 June 1941
24 June 1941
25 June 1941
26 June 1941
28 June 1941
30 June 1941
2 July 1941
3 July 1941
4 July 1941

5 July 1941
6 July 1941
23 July 1941
24 July 1941

one He111
one Ju88
one Ju88
1/4 Ju88
one He111
1/6 Do17
one Me109E
1/2 Do17
two Do17s
two He111s
1/3 He111
one Me109E
1/4 Do215
one Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
two Me109Es
one Me109E
one Do17
one Do17
one Ju88
one Ju88
one Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
1.5 Me109Es
one Me109E
one Me109E
1/4 Do17
one Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
two Me109Es
one Me109E
two Bf109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109E
1/2 Me109E
two Me109Es
1.5 Me109Es
two Me109E
one Me109E
one Me109F
one Me109F
one Me109

unconfirmed,
destroyed &
damaged
destroyed
destroyed &
destroyed
destroyed,
unconfirmed &
damaged
destroyed
destroyed
unconfirmed
probable
damaged
destroyed &
damaged
destroyed &
damaged
destroyed &
probable
destroyed &
damaged
probable
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
damaged
damaged
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
probable
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
damaged
destroyed &
damaged
damaged
destroyed
damaged
damaged

Sailor Malan with his dog Peter. Unfortunately, I can't remember why Sailor was given that little statue. I do recall it (the statue) does have some historical significance though . big help

29.5 / 6 / 16

(2.5 kills are unconfirmed & go in the probable pile)

If you choose to count them as kills, you get

Stats from Aces High vol 2 & Aces High 2nd Ed. - C. Shores
for more details on claims, see the above mentioned books

MERE HANDFUL OF PILOTS ALIVE TO TELL STORY

London, Oct. 13. 1945 - (AP) - Fewer than 50 of "the few" Battle of Britain fighter pilots who saved this island from German invasion in the gloomy autumn of 1940 are alive today.
All the rest of the 375 top-flight fighters of the battle were killed in action. The last one went down six weeks before the war ended.
Almost all of those whose luck kept them alive through five years of war still are serving in the R.A.F., Air Ministry records show. Many of them, too young to have had civilian professions when they joined up, plan to make the air force their career.
Most widely known among the survivors is legless Group Capt. Douglas Bader, 35, who led the "all-Canadian" squadron of the R.A.F. into the Battle of Britain.

Turner High On List
Among the men who flew with him and lived to see the war through are Group Capt. P. S. (Stan) Turner, born in Devon, England, but who lived most of his life in Toronto. Taciturn and superstitious, Turner would never pose for newspaper photographers. "Bad luck," he said succinctly.
Turner was one of the young Canadians who went to England before the war to join the R.A.F. and was posted to Squadron 242, which became the "all-Canadian" unit, and which numbers among it, survivors Flt.-Lt. R. D. (Bob) Grassick, of London, Ont. recently returned from Egypt.
Bader fought the Battle of Britain from the cockpit of a Hurricane using a set of artificial legs. He previously had made flying history with a comeback after a flying accident in 1931 cost him both legs.
Bader was shot down over France after the crucial battle and spent four years in German prison camps before the United States 1st Army set him free last summer.

Defies Hun Captors
He had broken his artificial legs in his parachute jump to German capture and a new set was parachuted to him by Flight-Sgt. Jack Nickleson, of Toronto, since lost. Bader attempted to escape four times so the Germans took away his legs.
He now is second in command of the R.A.F.'s famous 11 Fighter Group, the same outfit with which he fought in 1940.
The commander of No. 11 Group during some of the hottest days was Sir Keith Park, now Allied air commander of the Southeast Asia command. He is an air chief marshal.
Little Art (Sailor) Malan was one of the most publicized pilots in the Battle of Britain. He now is a group captain at R.A.F. Staff College.
F. R. Carey, another one of the original few, has a desk job in the same office with Bader. Wing-Cmdr. P. M. Brothers, veteran Hurricane ace, is one of the top men at the R.A.F. Cadet College.
Among other old-timers holding staff jobs are: Wing-Cmdr W. Crowley-Milling, Keith Lofts, Bill Drake, Joe Ellis and Tom Vigors. All those names once were virtually household words around London.

Released, Serves Again
Al Donaldson, who knocked down three Germans in one afternoon, now, is stationed with the R.A.F. in Calcutta. Stanford Tuck, who gained almost as much attention as Bader and Malan, spent two years as a prisoner of war, but now is back with old Group 11. How the few hundred pilots contrived to give the Luftwaffe the thrashing they did in the Battle of Britain is one of the miracles of the war.
The superior morale of the pilots, their skill, the fact that they were fighting over and for their very homes, the excellence of the Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, good organization in the control rooms and the invaluable secret of radar &mdash all were factors contributing to victory.
It has been admitted officially that in July, 1940, the R.A.F. Fighter Command had only 640 aircraft available daily for the battle. These were being supplemented at the rate of 130 new planes a week.

Terrible Toll of Life
This was little more than enough to make up for heavy losses. But it was the high toll among the best pilots, more than the loss of aircraft, that almost cost them the decision. In the four months from July to October, 1940, the fighter command lost 481 pilots killed, captured or missing plus 422 injured.
The turning point in the Battle of Britain came on that historic Sunday of September 15, 1940, when a gallant little band of dog-tired Pilots, outnumbered ten to one, went up for a desperate last-ditch stand and shot down 185 German Planes in a nightmare battle which lasted all day over London and southeast England. The pilots fought in relays that day, each coming down only long enough for a cup of tea and for refueling his plane.


Top 10 RAF Fighter Aces of WWII

Cuthbert Orde oil painting of Adolf “Sailor” Gysbert Malan

Often called Sailor Malan and hailing from Wellington, Cape Colony, South Africa, the number 10 Royal Air Force flying ace of World War II had 27 confirmed single kills (enemy aircraft shot down). Serving with 74 Squadron, Malan he was promoted to flight lieutenant six months before the start of the war.

At the Battle of Dunkirk on June 28 th , 1940, Malan racked up 5 kills and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). His 74 Squadron became one of the top British fighter squadrons of the war. After his service, retiring with the rank of group captain, Malan became a fierce anti-fascist and anti-apartheid activist back home on South Africa.

9 – James Harry Lacey

Nicknamed Ginger, Lacey has 28 confirmed kills. Not just highly decorated with British awards, however, he also earned the Croix de Guerre from France for his action in the Battle of France.

Between Germany’s invasion of France and their Attacks on Britain, Lacey was forced to land planes damaged while he fought the enemy nine times. On operational duty the first and last days of WWII, Lacey also fought from a posting in India which began in March 1943. After the war, he became the first pilot to fly a Spitfire over Japan.

8 – Brendan Eamon Fergus Finucane

Known to his comrades as Paddy, the Irish-born Finucane racked up at least 28 confirmed kills. This number could be as high as 32 as official reports do differ. He joined the RAF in 1938 at the age of 17, the bare minimum required.

In May, 1941, at the age of 20, Finucane had already earned the DFC and now was the well-liked commander of 23 pilots and over 100 ground crew. He was also decorated with two bars on his DFC and received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) before his death on July 15 th , 1942 when his plane crashed into the English Channel and he disappeared.

7 – John Randall Daniel Braham (right)

“Bob” Braham brought down 29 enemy aircraft during WWII. Defending his homeland during The Blitz, he received the DFC at the age of 20. Less than two years later, he was a wing commander and would become the highest decorated pilot in RAF Air Command by the time he was captured by the Germans in June 1944 after being shot down.

On top of being the best British pilot in a twin-engine craft (the De Havilland Mosquito) Braham was also one of Britain’s most successful nighttime fighter pilots.

6 – Robert Roland Stanford Tuck
A Cuthbert Orde oil painting of Robert Stanford Tuck

With 29 confirmed kills, Tuck comes in at 6 on the ace list. Born to Jewish parents in Catford, Southeast London, Tuck was serving as an acting pilot officer when war broke out.

In his first combat patrol, flying over Dunkirk on May 23 rd , 1940, he shot down three German fighters. He shot down two more planes the next day and his success only continued. Within a month’s time, he had earned the DFC, which was presented to him by King George VI himself on June 23 rd .

After being shot down and captured by German troops on January 28 th , 1942, the men who captured him noticed that one of his 20mm machine-guns had gone right down to the barrel of a similar-sized weapon on the ground, causing a banana peel effect. This was because he had fired so many rounds. The Germans were so impressed, they congratulated him heartily before shipping him off to a POW camp.

5 – William Vale

“Cherry” Vale served as a pilot in the RAF mostly flying out of Egypt and Crete. With 30 enemy craft down, Vale reaches number 5 on the ace list. Ten of these kills were in a Gloster Gladiator, a biplane, no less.

Noted for his valor, Vale received the DFC. In 1942, he was moved to Britain, promoted to flight lieutenant, and awarded the Air Force Cross two years later for his work training other pilots.

4 – George Frederick Beurling

Nicknamed Buzz and Screwball, this Canadian born in Verdun, Quebec (now part of Montreal), was denied entry to the Royal Canadian Air Force, wasn’t allowed by his parents to join the Finnish Air Force and, finally, after his second trip to England, was accepted into the Royal Air Force at the age of 18 in 1940.

Stationed in Malta in June 1942, after an unimpressive tour flying out of England, Beurling soon earned his high spot on the ace list. In defending the island against Italy and Germany, he earned the nicknames The Falcon of Malta and the Knight of Malta along with the DFC, DSO and Distinguished Flying Medal with one bar. He total tally was 31 kills, which also makes him the top Canadian ace of WWII.

3 – Pierre Clostermann

Born the son of a French diplomat in Brazil, this Frenchman was refused the opportunity to serve in France when war broke out and he was still a teenager. He then moved to California to train as a commercial pilot before joining the Free French Air Force in Britain in 1942 at the age of 21, officially under RAF command. At 24 years old, he had racked up 33 kills and received a personal accommodation from General Charles de Gaulle.

Among Clostermann’s credits are also attacks on several hundred ground vehicles and missions against V-1 rocket launch sites. He received high honors for his impressive actions from Britain, France, and the U.S. After the war, he became a successful author, politician, engineer and sport fisherman.

2 – James Edgar Johnson

“Johnnie” Johnson spent several years trying and failing to join the RAF due to a collarbone injury from his rugby days as a teenager. He was finally accepted in August 1939 at the age of 24, but the problems caused by the old injury were evident in training and he missed the first part of the war while recovering from the surgery to resent his collarbone.

The RAF would make good use out of Johnson for the remainder of his service, however. Between June 1941 and September 1944, he claimed 34 kills, all fighters, making him the most successful British pilot against the Focke-Wulf FW 190 and the most successful Western Allied pilot against the Luftwaffe’s most fearsome fighter-plane.

1 – Marmaduke Thomas St John Pattle (left)

“Pat” Pattle was born in South Africa, rejected by the South African Air Force at the age of 18, he later journeyed to England to join the RAF in 1936 at the age of 20. Before crashing into the Mediterranean in April 1941, in just nine months of fighting in North Africa and Greece Pattle became the top RAF ace of WWII and was never bettered.

Reports and records of Pattle’s kill tally very. At the minimum, he had 40 and that number could easily be as high as 60. Though much lower than the top German aces of WWII, this is a noteworthy achievement for less than one year of service. Three times, Pattle claimed five or more enemy craft destroyed in one day. On the day he died, he was running a fever and flew against orders.


Gysbert Malan - History

Adolph "Sailor" Malan was born in Wellington, Cape Province, South Africa in 1910. At the age of 15 he joined the Union Castle Line of the Mercantile Marine, This is where his nickname "Sailor" was derived many years later. His initial seafaring training he received at the South African Merchant Navy Academy, "General Botha", and was thus one of the many famous "Botha Boys" produced by that fine training ground for quiet heroes. His wife Lynda always called him John, and it was by this name that he was known to a few of his closest friends, but to his Squadron as a whole, and to the world, he was, and always will be, "Sailor".

He learned to fly on Tiger Moth aircraft at an Elementary flying Training School at Filton, near Bristol, in England, where he first took to the air on 6th January, 1936. From there he graduated to No.3 Service Flying Training School at Grantham in Lincolnshire, where he flew more advanced types of aircraft and learned the first steps of his new profession. While at Grantham he left the ranks and was commissioned as an Acting Pilot Officer, the commission dating back to the beginning of his service in January 1936. He duly passed the course and received his pilot's wings, and on 20th December 1936, was posted to No. 74 (Fighter) Squadron, then stationed at Hornchurch, in Essex. It was his first and only squadron, and was the most famous fighter Squadron of all time in the opinion of all those who served in it.

No. 74 Squadron was the great Tiger Squadron (so called because of its fierce fighting record and its badge (a tiger's face surmounting the motto "I Fear No Man") which the young Malan heard about when he reached Hornchurch. Few dreamed then that under his leadership the Squadron would achieve even greater fame in the desperate years to come.

On 6th September 1939, "A" Flight was scrambled to intercept a suspected enemy radar track and ran into the Hurricanes of No. 56 Squadron RAF. Believing 56 to be the enemy, Malan ordered an attack. Paddy Byrne and John Freeborn downed two RAF aircraft, killing one officer, Montague Hulton-Harrop, in this friendly fire incident, which became known as the Battle of Barking Creek. At the subsequent court-martial, Malan denied responsibility for the attack. He testified for the prosecution against his own pilots stating that Freeborn had been irresponsible, impetuous, and had not taken proper heed of vital communications. This prompted Freeborn's counsel, Sir Patrick Hastings to call Malan a bare-faced liar. Hastings was assisted in defending the pilots by Roger Bushell, the London barrister and RAF Auxiliary pilot who later led the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III. The court ruled the entire incident was an unfortunate error and acquitted both pilots

In December 1936 when "Sailor" (as he was beginning to be known) arrived at the Squadron, it had been reduced to about one third of its normal strength, owing to the drain on existing squadrons to meet the formation of many new ones. He was one of about a dozen of the new "expansion" intakes who arrived at the end of 1936 and early in 1937. They were all straight from their training schools untried, but magnificent raw material, as events were to prove in the years following 1939.


In January 1937, the RAF could see something in this newly promoted Pilot Officer, so in August 1937 Sailor was appointed acting Flight Commander of "A" Flight. He quickly showed that he was an outstanding marksman in air firing practices and, as a Flight Commander, soon developed qualities of leadership which established him as a first class shot and a fine leader.

He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant just before the war began, and at ten minutes to three on the morning of 4th September, 1939, fifteen hours after war had been declared he led Red Section of "A" Flight into the dawn sky. He was flying Spitfire K9864, and was ordered to patrol to intercept an enemy raid approaching the British coast from Holland. The "raid" was later identified as some friendly bombers returning to Britain and the frustrated "Sailor" landed just after four in the morning. However, 74 Squadron had been into the air with attacking intent for the first time since 1918 they were at war once again. After the fierce fighting over France on 28th June 1940, Sailor was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). King George VI presented Sailor with his DFC, and Sailor commented:

"The first letter of congratulation that I received came from an insurance company, a firm whose correspondence used to frighten me because the only time they ever wrote me was when I was behind with my premiums. This time they never mentioned a word about any money owing".

The London Gazette of the 11th June 1940, read:

DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
Flight Lieutenant Adolph Gysbert Malan. (37604), Royal Air Force.

"During May 1940, this officer has led his flight, and on certain occasions his squadron, on ten offensive patrols in Northern France. He has personally shot down two enemy aircraft and, probably, three others. Flight Lieutenant Malan has displayed great skill, courage and relentless determination in his attacks upon the enemy."

The bitter struggle over Dunkirk left all R.A.F. pilots in a state of near collapse from fatigue. When Sailor landed for the last time for the day on 27th May, 1940 his eyes were so tired that the airfield was in a sort of haze and he just threw his Spitfire on to the ground. He said afterwards that he did not know why he had not crashed.

His almost unbelievable calmness in action was demonstrated in his laconic report of his shooting down of a Heinkel 111 three days before: "I was leading four aircraft of Yellow Section on offensive patrol, Dunkirk - Calais - Boulogne. Spotted anti-aircraft fire at 12,000 feet over Dunkirk when at 500 feet off the coast, west of Dunkirk. Climbed in line astern to investigate and saw three vics (approx. 9-12-9). (That is to say that the bombers were flying in vee-shaped formations of 9, 12 and 9) Intercepted second vic at 12,000 feet and passed through very heavy and accurate anti-aircraft barrage. Attacked starboard flank in echelon port from astern as Me 109s and Me 110s were observed above and into the sun, turning on to our flank for attack. Observed about eight of these, although probably more were about. Delivered three one-second bursts at both engine and fuselage of He 111 from starboard flank, 250 yards to 150 yards. I was then hit on starboard mainplane and through fuselage by anti-aircraft fire, which severed electrical leads near my seat and extinguished reflector sight. As I broke off I observed one Me 110 coming up on the starboard quarter and one Me 109 astern. I executed some very steep turns into the sun and lost sight of the two fighters. I changed bulb in reflector sight, but as it failed to function I concluded that the wiring had been cut. By this time the battle had gone out of sight and I hadn't enough petrol to give chase. Whilst climbing into the sun I observed crew of He 111 I had shot take to parachute and aircraft gradually lose height on zigzag course. Whilst climbing up to the attack I observed one bomber badly hit (presumably by AA) with port engine stopped and left wing well down and dropping out of formation .

The calm care with which he changed his reflector sight bulb, even in the height of combat, damaged and attacked as he was, was typical of his whole professional approach. His coolness, and complete confidence and efficiency were admired infinitely by the rest of his comrades.

On 18th June 1940 he took off at twenty minutes after midnight at his own request in Spitfire K9953. His combat report for that night tells what happened far more vividly than any words of mine. "During an air raid in the locality of Southend various E/A (enemy aircraft) were observed and held by searchlights for prolonged periods. On request from Squadron I was allowed to take off with one Spitfire. I climbed towards E/A which was making for coast and held in searchlight beams at 8,000 feet. I positioned myself astern and opened fire at 200 yards and closed to 50 yards with one burst. Observed bullets entering enemy aircraft and had my windscreen covered in oil. Broke off to the left and immediately below as E/A spiralled out of beam. Climbed to 12,000 feet towards another E/A held by the searchlights on northerly course. Opened fire at 250 yards, taking good care not to overshoot this time. Gave five two-second bursts and observed bullets entering all over E/A with slight deflection as he was turning to port. E/A emitted heavy smoke and I observed one parachute open very close. E/A went down in spiral dive. Searchlights and I followed him right down until he crashed in flames near Chelmsford. As I approached target in each case, I flashed succession of dots on downward recognition light before moving in to attack. I did not notice AA fire after I had done this. When following second E/A down, I switched on navigation lights for short time to help establish identity. Gave letter of period only once when returning at 3,000 feet from Chelmsford, when one searchlight searched for me. Cine camera gun in action .

Blenheim aircraft got five more that night. As soon as Sailor got down he telephoned a nursing home in Westcliff-on-Sea to see how Lynda and his new son Jonathan had fared. They had slept through it all.

He was given command of 74 Squadron, with the rank of Acting Squadron Leader at the height of the Battle of Britain on 8th August, 1940. Three days later the Squadron was in battle. The day became, forever, "Sailor's August the Eleventh".

The order was received at twenty minutes past seven to intercept a hostile raid approaching Dover. Little did the squadron know that they would participate in four separate air battles that day. Sailor later said "11th August 1940 was a Sunday, if my memory serves me correctly, and it dawned fair and became cloudy later. 74 Squadron was operating from the forward base at Manston in Kent, and at twenty minutes past seven the order was received to intercept a hostile raid approaching Dover".

Sailor later reported: "I climbed on an east north east course to 20,000 feet into the sun and then turned down sun towards Dover. I ordered the Squadron to attack. Some of the enemy adopted the usual German fighter evasive tactics, i.e. quick half roll and dive. On this occasion, as the air seemed clear of German aircraft above us, I followed one down and overtook him after he had dived 2,000 feet, opening fire during the dive at 200 yards range with deflection. He levelled out at about 12,000 feet, when I gave him two two second bursts at 100 yards range. He was in a quick half roll and dived towards the French coast. I closed again to 100 yards range and gave him another two or three two-second bursts, when he suddenly burst into flames and was obscured by heavy smoke. This was at 4,000 feet, one mile north west of Cap Gris Nez. I did not watch him go in, but flew back as fast as I could. I did not see the engagements of the rest of the Squadron. N.B. Normally I have strongly advised all pilots in the Squadron not to follow 109s on the half roll and dive because in most cases we are outnumbered, and generally at least one layer of enemy fighters is some thousands of feet above. It was found that even at high altitudes there was no difficulty in overtaking E/A on diving apart from the physical strain imposed on the body when pulling out".

His second air battle he recorded:

"I climbed on a north-easterly course to 24,000 feet and did a sweep to the right, approaching Dover from the sea. I saw a number of small groups of Me 109s in mid-Channel at about 24,000 feet, and as we approached most of them dived towards the French coast. I intercepted two Me 109s and dived on to their tails with Red Section. I delivered two, two second bursts at 150 yards, but as I was overshooting I went off and the remainder of the section continued the attack. I immediately climbed back towards the spot where Blue and Green Sections were waiting above and tried to attract their attention, but owing to R/T difficulties did not manage to get them to form up on me. I proceeded towards Dover by myself. I attacked two Me 109s at 25,000 feet about mid-Channel, delivered two, two second bursts with deflection at the rearmost one and saw my bullets entering the fuselage with about 15 degrees deflection. He immediately flicked off to the left, and I delivered two long bursts at the leading one. He poured out quite a quantity of white vapour. Eight Me 109s, which had previously escaped my attention, dived towards me and I climbed in right hand spirals, and they made no attempt to follow me. I proceeded towards Dover on the climb and saw ten Me 109s at 27,000 feet in line astern with one straggler, which I tried to pick off, but was unable to close the range without being turned on to by the leader of the formation. I circled in a wide sweep with them for about ten minutes whilst I attempted to notify the remainder of the Squadron by R/T. This proved to be impossible owing to heavy atmospherics and in the end I gave up and returned to Manston".

The third combat of the day started at 1145 when 11 aircraft took off to patrol a convoy about 12 miles east of Clacton. About 40 Messerschmitt 110s were sighted approaching the convoy from the east in close formation, just below cloud base. They formed a defensive circle but the Squadron followed Johnny Freeborn in a dive into the middle of the circle. This attack was very successful and resulted in 11 E/A being destroyed and 5 damaged.

The Squadron took off for a fourth time just before two o'clock, with eight aircraft, to patrol Hawkinge at 15,000 feet, and subsequently north east of Margate where enemy raids were reported. He climbed through 10/10 cloud (thickest cloud - it was measured in tenths from 1 to 10) with the eight Spitfires in two sections of four. On emerging from the cloud he spotted about 30 Junkers 87 aircraft in long lines of small vic formation, and about 15 Me 109s about 2,000 feet above and half a mile astern. He reported: "On sighting us, the bombers dived towards a gap in the clouds whilst the Me 109s closed their range with the bombers. I ordered Freeborn's Blue Section to attack the bombers whilst I attacked the fighters with Red Section. I closed the range with the fighters and attacked an Me 109 as he dived through a gap. I opened up at 30 degrees deflection at 200 yards and closed to 100 yards dead astern. After the third two second burst he burst into flames and went into the sea approximately off Margate. I immediately climbed towards the cloud and then dived towards another group of four Me 109s and delivered 30 degree deflection bursts of about three seconds at about 200 yards. I saw no results. As my ammunition was now expended, I returned to Manston."

When the Squadron, weary, sweaty and oily, finally returned to base after the fourth sortie, they had downed an astounding 38 enemy aircraft.

Sailor said later, in one of his masterly understatements: "Thus ended a very successful morning of combat". For the first day of action under his command it was successful even by 74 Squadron standards.

He relinquished command only when promoted to Wing Commander on the 10th March, 1941, to become Wing Leader of the Fighter Wing in which 74 Squadron flew.

The London Gazette on Christmas Eve 1940 read :

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER

Acting Squadron Leader Adolph Gysbert Malan, DFC (37604), Royal Air Force, No.74 Squadron.

"This officer has commanded his squadron with outstanding success over an intensive period of air operations and, by his brilliant leadership, skill and determination has contributed to the success obtained. Since early in August 1940, the squadron has destroyed at least 84 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. Squadron Leader Malan has himself destroyed at least eighteen hostile aircraft and possibly another six.

BAR TO DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER

Acting Wing Commander Adolph Gysbert Malan, DSO, DFC (37604) Royal Air Force.

"This officer has displayed the greatest courage and disdain of the enemy whilst leading his Wing on numerous recent operations over Northern France. His cool judgement, exceptional determination and ability have enabled him to increase his confirmed victories over enemy aircraft from 19 to 28, in addition to a further 20 damaged and probably destroyed. His record and behaviour have earned for him the greatest admiration and devotion of his comrades in the Wing. During the past fortnight the Wing has scored heavily against the enemy with 42 hostile aircraft destroyed, a further 15 probably destroyed and 11 damaged."

In addition, he was awarded the following decorations by Allied Governments:

The Belgian Croix de Guerre with bronze Palm

The Czechoslovakian Military Cross

The French Legion of Honour, in the degree of Officer

The French Croix de Guerre

He was the outstanding fighter pilot of World War 2, and by the end of June, 1941, was the top scorer with 27 enemy aircraft destroyed, a record which he held for three years. But he was much more than an individual performer. He had assimilated, with others of that fine first batch of "expansion" pilots the fierce and fanatical "tiger spirit" handed down from the great days of World War I, and this spirit he inspired in others so that he carried the Squadron to great deeds with him.

He finished his flying career with No. 74 squadron in early 1941 with 27 enemy aircraft destroyed, 7 shared destroyed, 2 unconfirmed, 3 probable's and 16 damaged, at the time the RAF's leading ace, and one of the highest scoring pilots to have served wholly with Fighter Command during World War II.

After returning from a trip to America, partly technical, partly propaganda, Sailor was sent to the Central Gunnery School, Sutton Bridge, where, he would demonstrate to new pilots the fatal art of making a gun platform out of a Spitfire flying at 400 m.p.h. . . . 'The German fighter' he told pilots, 'pays a lot of attention to tactics. That's a good fault. But unfortunately for Hitler he seems to lack initiative and guts. His fighting is very stereotyped, and he's easily bluffed. Part of his reluctance to stay around and mix it is, of course, due to the fact that his aircraft is less manoeuvrable. As for tactics he insists on using the same old tricks without any imagination. For instance, one gag is to detach a pair of decoys which dive past in front of a British formation, hoping someone will be fool enough to follow them, and they can do a surprise pounce on the rest. Despite warnings, some of our pilots, I'm sorry to say, have been caught by this. The old saying from the First World War: 'Beware of the Hun in the sun' is truer today than ever before.

On 10 March 1941 he was appointed as one of the first wing leaders for the offensive operations that spring and summer, leading the Biggin Hill Wing until mid August, when he was rested from operations. He was transferred to the reserve as a squadron leader on 6th January 1942.

Malan was promoted to temporary wing commander on 1st September 1942 and became station commander at Biggin Hill, receiving a promotion to war substantive wing commander on 1st July 1943. He remained keen to fly on operations, often ignoring standing orders for station commanders not to risk getting shot down. In October 1943 he became officer commanding 19 Fighter Wing, RAF Second Tactical Air Force, then commander of the 145 (Free French) Fighter Wing in time for D-day, leading a section of the wing over the beaches .

Sailor's "Ten Rules for Air Fighting" are the classic tenets for successful air fighting for as long as there are manned fighters, and still used today. They were pinned up in their shortened form in many crew rooms, and those who followed them often lived. This short version, so well known to all who ever spent any time in the crew rooms of Fighter Command in 1941-42 was as follows:

TEN OF MY RULES FOR AIR FIGHTING

1. Wait until you see the whites of his eyes. Fire short bursts of one to two seconds only when your sights are definitely "ON"

2. Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body: have both hands on the stick: concentrate on your ring sight.

3. Always keep a sharp lookout. "Keep your finger out".

4. Height gives you the initiative.

5. Always turn and face the attack.

6. Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.

7. Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.

8. When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as a top guard.

9. INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAM WORK are words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.

10. Go in quickly - Punch hard - Get out!

Group Captain Adolph Gysbert "Sailor" Malan resigned from the Royal Air Force and returned to South Africa in 1946 to work for Anglo-American, and later moved to Kimberly (in the Northern Cape). where he commenced a career in sheep farming. He was asked to run for political office, but refused. He didn't have the patience for party politics and to him it was about the values at stake - values for he which fought for during WWII - and not ideology.

In the early 1950's he became involved in the increasingly febrile South African domestic political scene, with its radical polarising atmosphere, and racially, and culturally divided societal tensions. After the National Party was voted into Government in the 1948 South Africa's domestic governance moved to a position of National Conservatism, and commenced the introduction of the Apartheid governing system for communal segregation of the nation along racial lines, which Malan objected to the development of. In the 1950's sailor joined a protest group of ex-servicemen called the "Torch Commando" to fight the National Party's plans to remove Cape coloured voters from the common roll. The Cape coloured franchise was protected in the Union Act of 1910 by an entrenched clause stating there could be no change without a two thirds majority of both houses of Parliament sitting together. The Nationalist government, with unparalleled cynicism, passed the High Court of Parliament Act, effectively removing the autonomy of the judiciary, packing the Senate with National Party sympathisers and thus disenfranchising the coloureds.

In a speech at a rally outside City Hall in Johannesburg, war hero Sailor Malan made reference to the ideals for which the Second World War was fought "The strength of this gathering is evidence that the men and women who fought in the war for freedom still cherish what they fought for. We are determined not to be denied the fruits of that victory." He was soon elected to President. Through the early 1950's he involved himself in political opposition to what he perceived was the increasing authoritarianism of the National Party in Government, which he felt threatened to become fascistic in nature. At one point the "Torch Commando" (so-called for its predilection for staging night time rallies outside government buildings with the protestors bearing flaming torches for dramatic illumination) movement had 250,000 members, and staged well attended rallies across South Africa, which Malan often publicly addressed. DF Malan, who was Prime Minister of South Africa, and no relation to Sailor, was so alarmed by the number of judges, public servants and military officers joining the organisation that those within the public service or military were prohibited from enlisting.

By the late 1950's however the movement lost momentum as some of the factions that constituted it increasingly moved from a hitherto public Liberal position to one of World Communism, and splintered away to join the newly insurgent African National Congress, which Malan was not in sympathy with. The rise of the A.N.C. with its ideological radical agenda in turn discouraged the majority of the "Torch Commando's" membership from continuing with their campaign against the Apartheid State laws, with Malan leaving the disintegrating organization and retiring from politics and public life, leaving the National Party to governmentally rule South Africa exclusively for the next four decades.

In 1963, Sailor Malan, one of the most famous fighter pilots in the history of the Royal Air Force, lost his fight against Parkinson’s Disease, at that time a rare and little understood medical condition, he died at the young age of 52. His funeral service was held at St. Cyprians Cathedral and he was laid to rest in his beloved Kimberley, Northern Cape Province. A considerable sum of money was raised in his name to further study the disease.

He was pre-deceased by his wife Lynda, son, Jonathan, and daughter, Valerie.

It is to the embarrassment now as to his treatment as a South African military hero that all enlisted South African military personnel who attended his funeral were instructed not to wear their uniforms by the newly formed SADF (the government did not want a Afrikaaner, as Malan was, idealised in death in the fear that he would become a role model to future Afrikaaner youth).

All requests to give him a full military funeral were turned down and even the South African Air Force were instructed not to give him any tribute. Ironically this action now stands as testimony to just how fearful the government had become of him as a political fighter.

In the national obituary issued to all newspapers by the government, no mention was made of his role as President of the Torch Commando and his very strong anti -apartheid views.

This systematic removal of Sailor Malan’s legacy by the National Party and the education curriculum is also tragic in that Sailor’s role in the anti-apartheid movement is now lost to the current South African government.

It would be an inconvenient truth to know that the first really large mass action against Apartheid did not come from the ANC and the Black population of South Africa – it came from a ‘white’ Afrikaner and a mainly ‘white’ war veterans movement, which drew it members from the primary veteran organisations in South Africa – The Springbok Legion, The South African Legion and Memorable Order of Tin Hats.

The simple truth – the Torch Commando preceded the first ANC “Defiance Campaign” by a couple of years, an inconvenient truth for many now and very conveniently forgotten.

From the beginning of 1948 the South African Legion’s relations with the Nationalists were starting to strain because of the actions of The Torch Commando and South African Legion members joining it, but a major clash was to come when the South African Legion reacted strongly in 1956 to the Government’s move to ban Black and Coloured veterans from Remembrance Day Services.

Another confrontation occurred when the South African Legion requested the Nationalist government to waive pass laws for Black military veterans who had served South Africa, and therefore should be treated differently, however this request unfortunately worked for a limited time and the juggernaut of Apartheid law and policy implementation eventually simply over ran it.

The South African Legion was again at loggerheads with the National Party government over the lack of parity with regard to pensions paid out to Black and Coloured veterans. The fight to obtain parity of pensions for all – white, coloured and black veterans was finally won in 1986/87. It had been a very long battle for the South African Legion.

The World War 2 veterans, and even those still serving, were again at serious loggerheads with the newly formatted SADF and the Nationalists – when in a very sinister move the government decreed that all their highest bravery decorations (military cross, DSO etc) along with campaign medals and Stars – all won in the Second World War were for a ‘foreign’ country in their estimation (Britain – and not South Africa) and therefore these decorations and medals had to take the junior position after even the most lowly SADF service medal on their medal groups.

To add insult to injury, amongst many other changes to remove ‘British’ and ‘English’ heritage, they also went about introducing German styled NCO rank insignia and reformatting many of their infantry and regiment formations which resulted in new insignia, and hard earned Battle honours laid up, and new colours initiated instead.

The net result of all of this was a ‘them and us’ mentality, where the old veterans looked at the SADF in disdain, refusing to alter their medal groups. The Nationalists,and many Afrikaners in the SADF officer class, also began to brand The South African Legion and The Memorable Order of Tin Hats, as ‘British’ and ‘unpatriotic ‘ whilst they maintained their ‘British’ links, insignia and heritage.

The government also started to gradually turn off the taps of the supply of veterans to the South African Legion and the MOTH from the newly formed South African Defence Force (SADF), when SADF personnel completed their service. Whereas under the old South African Union’ Defence Force (UDF) such a transition when demobilising was the norm.

To those who served with the Royal Air Force’s 74 Squadron anytime between 1936 and 1945 Sailor Malan was the greatest leader of them all. As a small token of their esteem, 28 of those remaining presented a ceremonial sword to the Squadron in July, 1966, at Headquarters Fighter Command, in proud memory of Sailor and in honour of his exceptional service to the Squadron.

It was intended that this Sword should serve as an inspiration to those coming after, so that his high standards of courage, determination and leadership shall live on.

To remember Sailor’s calm and heroic line going into battle “Let’s cut some cake. Let ’em have it!” is to remember a man of remarkable courage. A man who in all honestly lived by his beloved squadrons motto, and can say in all truth


Flight Stories

During the Battle of Britain, in nearly every RAF operations hut, you would find a small poster on the wall entitled, “Ten of My Rules for Air Fighting”. Written by the RAF ace, Adolph Gysbert Malan DSO & Bar DFC (aka “Sailor” Malan), these rules of aerial combat saved many lives and provided the basis for the tactical mindset of the RAF fighter arm. Like the Dicta Boelcke from the early days of World War I, Sailor Malan’s rules are at the very foundation of a fighter pilot’s training. Most of the rules apply even today, more than 75 years after they were written.

The Ten Rules

Sailor Malan’s Ten Rules were as follows (as emphasized with underlining in the original):

TEN of MY RULES for Air Fighting.

    1. Wait until you see the whites of his eyes . Fire short bursts of 1 to 2 seconds and only when your sights are definitely ‘ON’.
    2. Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of the body, have both hands on the stick, concentrate on your ring sight.
    3. Always keep a sharp lookout. “Keep your finger out”!
    4. Height gives You the initiative.
    5. Always turn and face the attack.
    6. Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.
    7. Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.
    8. When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as top guard.
    9. INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAM WORK are the words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.
    10. Go in quickly – Punch hard – Get out!

    Sailor Milan in a No. 74 Squadron Supermarine Spitfire.

    Who was Sailor Malan?

    Adolph Gysbert Malan was born in South Africa in 1910 and was 30 years old at the time of the Battle of Britain. He had joined the RAF at age 25 (in 1935), when the RAF began its expansion in the years leading up to WWII. At the height of the Battle of Britain, he was the commander of RAF No. 74 Squadron. In large part due to his leadership qualities, maturity and skill, the unit became one of the top squadrons in the entire RAF.

    Malan’s nickname was “Sailor” and modern generations of pilots have little idea of his actual given name — and even if they did, few would pronounce it well enough to do the man justice. Thus, most know him today simply as Sailor Malan. In the months leading up to the beginning of World War II, Sailor Malan was a Flight Lieutenant serving in a Spitfire squadron in France.

    No. 74 Squadron pilots — from left, Roger Boulding and his dog, Sam, John Freeborn (the pilot who shot down the Hurricanes in the Battle of Barking Creek, and Polish pilot Henryk Szczesny, playing cards while standing by during the Battle of Britain.

    After a false start when the squadron was ordered to intercept “enemy planes” that turned out to be returning RAF bombers, No. 74 Squadron had its first combat engagement on September 6, 1939. Once again, however, the engagement turned out to be RAF planes returning from a mission. This time, the unit misidentifyied the planes as German and Acting F/L Sailor Malan ordered an attack. In the ensuing melee, his flight downed two RAF Hurricanes. Later on, the engagement was called the “Battle of Barking Creek”. A series of courts martial followed for all involved. Despite apparently lying to cover up his own responsibility in the matter, in the end, Sailor Malan was acquitted of all charges — a war was on and probably the courts martial recognized that mistakes happen. Above all, there was a shortage of pilots, which also tempered the zeal to pursue the case.

    Messerschmitt Bf 109 shot down during the Battle of Britain by No. 74 Squadron pilot, Sergeant E. A. (Boy) Mould. The plane was damaged and made a forced landing in Dover. The German pilot, Leutnant Johann Boehm, of 4./JG51, was injured and survived. He was captured and survived the war.

    It wasn’t long afterward that Sailor Malan began racking up kills. By the time of Dunkirk in June 1940, he had become an ace with five confirmed victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his deeds. Fighter tactics were steadily evolving under Malan’s leadership and the RAF followed his lead abandoning the “Vic formation”. That ill-fated tactical formation was better suited to parades than combat flying. No. 74 lead the way by mimicking the German “finger four”, a formation that they had seen first hand in combat, recognizing its advantages.

    By the time of the Battle of Britain, Malan’s promotion was affirmed as a full Flight Lieutenant. On August 8, as the Battle of Britain raged, he was given full command of RAF No. 74 Squadron. Three days later, under his command, the squadron claimed 38 enemy aircraft downed, the day thereafter known as “Sailor’s August the Eleventh”. Days after that, he received his second DFC.

    No. 611 Sqaudron at Biggin Hill, during the 1942-43 period, when Group Captain Sailor Malan (at center) was in command. Photo Credit: J. C. Minto

    Following those events, Sailor Malan steadily continued to score victories. He also received the DSO. However, his war in the air officially ended in 1941, when he was ordered to “fly a desk”. As consolation, he was given command of Biggin Hill Airfield. He ended the war — a survivor perhaps in large part because he had been assigned to a desk (at which he bridled) — with 27 confirmed kills, 7 additional shared, three probables, and 16 damaged enemy aircraft to his official credit.

    A high point of his late war experience was leading the 145 (Free French) Fighter Wing and flying over the beaches of D-Day on the afternoon of June 6, 1944. It was a proper way to return to France, a country he and his mates of No. 74 Squadron had left “in a hurry” just prior to Dunkirk in 1940.

    Sailor Malan’s post war life back in South Africa was tumultuous. Never shying from a risk, he headed up a group of anti-Apartheid veterans called, “Torch Commando”. Under Malan’s leadership, the organization grew to over 250,000 members. He never lost his fighting spirit, despite being ostracized by the government of South Africa for his political position. Being a war hero, however, insulated him from much of the retribution the Government of South Africa would have liked to dish out.

    Sadly, Sailor Malan died in 1963. He was finally downed by Parkinson’s Disease. Based on his popularity in South Africa, an endowment was raised in his name as a research fund dedicated to uncovering the causes of Parkinson’s. Sailor Malan’s fund remains engaged and active today — in that regard, his last battle is still ongoing.


    Watch the video: Gysbert Slapen en snurken?