262 Squadron RAF (South Africa)
35 Squadron, based in Cape Town, South Africa, is the maritime search and rescue squadron of the South African Air Force, and is responsible for patrolling the coastline and territorial waters of South Africa in support of the South African Navy and the Department of the Environment. The tasks of the squadron include maritime search and rescue, shipping reconnaissance, fisheries reconnaissance, pollution monitoring, and co-operative exercises with the South African Navy.
262 Squadron RAF was the forerunner of 35 Squadron and was formed on 29 September 1942, from drafted personnel. This was to form the basis of a South African Catalina squadron operating out of the top end of Durban harbour, in an area known as Congella. However, it was not until 21 February 1943 that the first Catalinas arrived; five days later patrols over the Indian Ocean commenced.
A new base was opened at Lake Umsingazi in November 1942; this was used until 262 Squadron, by now manned almost entirely by SAAF personnel, was trasnferred from the Royal Air Force and re-designated 35 Squadron of the South African Air Force.
"14 February 1945: In preparation for the 'death' of 262 Squadron RAF and the 'birth' of 35 Squadron SAAF as from 00:0 1 hours on the 15th, the 'Odd Bods' worked frenziedly to complete the bar for the purpose of wetting the 'laley's head'."
"15 February 1945: The squadron completed the take-over from 262 Squadron RAF and was re-designated 35 Squadron SAAF. An impressive burial service was held in which 'the body', consisting of old books and recordsof 262 Squadron encased in a plain wooden coffin, was first laid in state (surrounded by bottles of beer). This was then duly cremated and cast on the flowers."
The Padre officiated at the service:
"And so, dust to dust, and ashes to ashes,
Perish the remains of 262 Squadron,
What the RAF hath given the SAAF taketh away."
"This was followed by RAF chants and SAAF Zulu war dances, 262, being well and truly interred, then welcomed the new born 35. The 'baby' was appropriately baptised in beer."
In February 1945, the new squadron, under the command of Wing Commander ESS Nash, DFC, AFC, consisted of 462 personnel and 12 Catalina flying boats. Later in April of the same year, three Short S25 Sunderland GR Mk5 aircraft were flown out from England to enhance the squadron's effectiveness. Sunderlands were widely used by Coastal Command during World War II.
Catalinas were eventually phased out with a total of 16 Sunderlands being delivered during 1945 (at a cost of just over 200 pounds per aircraft).
In November 1946, the squadron was informed that Sunderlands would be required for escort duties for HMS Vanguard which would be transporting George VI and the British Royal Family on an official visit to South Africa. Early in February 1947, four Sunderlands under the command of Maj D.A. du Toit proceeded to Langebaan in anticipation of the arrival of the Vanguard.
One aircraft was detailed to fly out and intercept the HMS Vanguard while she was still nearly 1000 miles out, in order to drop canisters containing tour programmes and other important documents. Unfortunately, after 15 hours of flying in bad visibility, the Sunderland was unable to locate the warship. However, the following morning at 10:00 hours the canisters were safely delivered. The Sunderlands provided a constant escort for the big battleship and as she approached Cape Town three flew overhead in formation.