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The Southern African History Musings of Ross Dix-Peek

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My Military Research:



Wing-Commander Grahame Lawrence Cruickshanks, RAF (Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape):

Grahame Lawrence Cruickshanks was born in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, and was the son of Alexander Craighead Cruickshanks and Agnes Cruickshanks, and was the  
youngest of four brothers. He and his siblings were educated at Grey High School, in Port Elizabeth, where he excelled at both cricket (fulfilling his role in the First XI, as one of the opening batsmen, as well as a wicketkeeper), and football. 
He later worked for Shell SA, leaving for England in 1933 in order to join the Royal Air Force (RAF). Following his training in Egypt he joined No 14 Squadron, RAF,  in Transjordan, where he was to display his ability as a pilot, and was also to impress his contempories with his resourcefulness. He later qualified as an instructor in England in 1938.  

During WWII he was to take part in many raids on some of the most heavily defended targets in Germany (and “Fortress Europe“), flying with No 9 squadron, and was  promoted to the rank of temporary squadron leader (LG 20 September 1940), taking over  command of No 214 (Federated Malay) Squadron, RAF (part of No 3 Group, RAF), in August 1941 (flying Wellington Mk IIs) , by which time he was a wing-commander (having also been awarded  the DFC), but was killed on the 8September during a bombing mission on Berlin (piloting a Wellington Mk IC, R1784 Bu-?). 

An article in the “South Africa” magazine of 20 July 1940, was to write of him: 

“Flight-Lieutenant G.L. Cruickshanks, from Port Elizabeth, a member of the Royal Air Force, has been training airmen and instructors for the last nine months, but a day’s leave last week enabled him to glimpse South Africa House in battle dress, its stalwart commissionaire almost the only recognisable landmark which recalled his visit of six years ago. Remembered as an Eastern Province cricketer, Mr. Cruickshanks had a season at home in 1937 . 
Since then he has married Miss Austin [Phyllis “Billie” Austin Cruickshanks] from Port Elizabeth [CWGC states that she hailed from Durban, Natal] and with their small son they spent some pleasant years in Egypt. ‘Life in England is changeful,’ he remarked. ‘In nine months we have lived in nine different houses and have made three big changes, but hope to be comfortably settled soon. ‘ He cannot speak too highly of his flying pupils, many of whom have gone from him direct into the fighting to win honour and distinction. He speaks with admiration of the young South Africans and Rhodesians who continue to come forward, all of them ‘first class men’” 

Wing-Commander Cruickshanks is buried at the “Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery”, together with five members of his crew (GR: 4. A. 1.). http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2079184 
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Lt.-Colonel E.V. Whitehead and Major S.H.J. Whitehead (of Johannesburg):


Ernest Victor Whitehead and Stanley Henry James Whitehead  were brothers who were both sadly to be killed during World War II, while serving with the Indian Army. They were the sons of  Major Ernest Kilve Whitehead and Edith Henrietta Clough Raymond Whitehead (nee Mallock), and were educated at St John’s College, Johannesburg. 
Ernest Whitehead was born in 1908 and was educated at St John's College, Johannesburg, and in 1926, together with another South African, T.R. Waller,  was to receive "special recommendation" to attend the RMC Sandhurst, entering the military college the following year. He was commissioned a second-lieutenant on the 30 August 1928, and was transferred from the unattached list to Indian Army on the 16 October 1929, and was promoted lieutenant in November 1930, and captain in August 1937. During the war he was to serve with the Gurkha’s, being awarded the DSO and receiving a MIDs’ twice. Ernest Whitehead was killed fighting in Burma on the 1 March 1945, while commanding the 3rd  battalion of the 8th  Gurkha Rifles, and he is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial (Face 70), in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, which is about 35 kilometres north of Yangon (formerly Rangoon), in what is now Myanmar (formerly Burma).  
His younger brother Major Stanley Henry James Whitehead, Indian Army, born in 1910, was also educated at St. John’s College, Johannesburg, and like his sibling too received a nomination to attend the RMC Sandhurst (1929). He was commissioned a second-lieutenant on the  8 August 1930, and was transferred from the unattached list to the Indian Army on the 24 October 1931. Promoted lieutenant in 1932 and captain 1938, Stanley Whitehead also, interestingly enough,  served as transport officer to a group of German climbers who attempted to scale the Gangotri Glacier, in the Himalayas’ in 1938. Major Whitehead was later  killed in action in Italy on the 8 August  1944 while serving with the 3rd  battalion of the 18th Royal Garhwal Rifles, and is buried at Arezzo War Cemetery, Northern Italy (Grave Reference V.C. 19.).  
It’s actually quite uncanny as to how the lives of these two Johannesburg  brothers almost mirrored each other, both being educated at St John’s College, Johannesburg; both receiving  recommendations'  to  attend the RMC Sandhurst; both transferring to the Indian Army, and, finally, both being killed during WWII, within 8 months of each other…amazing, and ultimately tragic at the same time.  
                                                                     ………………..

  
Service Record of General Sir Abraham Josias Cloete (1794-1886), British Army:


During his illustrious service in the British Army, General Sir Abraham Josias Cloete, born at Cape Town in 1794, was to serve as "Colonel" of Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire) Regiment, formerly the 19th Regiment of Foot (from 1861-1886), and his service record appears in Hart's Army List of 1883, page 259, just three-years prior to his death in October 1886 (see below). 

Service Record of General Sir A.J. Cloete (Hart's Army List 1883)
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Rear-Admiral John Luke Richard Stoll (1812-?), Royal Navy (Cape Town): 


Stoll was the son of Joachim Wilhelm Stoll, at one stage Treasurer and Accountant-General at the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), and also a member of the Excecutive and Legislative Councils of the Cape Colony, and Catherine Charlotte Liesching. He was was born at the Cape of Good Hope in 1812, and joined the  Royal Navy as a "first-class volunteer" in 1824, and later anglicised his first names. He was to be placed on the retired list as a Captain in October 1870, and was promoted rear-admiral on the retired list on the 22 December 1875 ( LG 24 December 1875, Issue 24278, page 6577), and was very likely the first South African-born man to reach flag-rank in the Royal Navy. His service record was to appear in "A Naval Biographical Dictionary" by William R. O'Byrne, published 1849, pages 1124-1125 (which see below & click to enlarge).  


 Service Record of J.L.R. Stoll, Royal Navy (click to enlarge)
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General Henry Daniel Cloete, Madras Army, 1829-1895 (Cape Province): 


Henry Daniel Cloete was born at the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) in 1829, and was the son of Henry Cloete  (1792-1870) and Christina Helen Graham. He joined the Madras Army (British Indian Army), and served during the Second Burmese War (1852-1853),  and was present during the attack and capture “of the Pagoda, and its Defences at Pegu, on the 21st of November, 1852“, and was listed as “dangerously wounded“ in Major-General Godwin‘s dispatches (London Gazette, Issue 21403, 18 January 1853, page 137), while serving with the 5th Madras Native Infantry.
The Army List  of 1883 (page 510), states he was “wounded by a musket ball in the chest“, and “was also constantly engaged with the enemy during the ascent of the Pegu river in the leading steamer“, and was awarded the “Medal With Clasp for Pegu“).
He was later promoted lieutenant-colonel (12 December 1875, LG 15 August 1876) and by 1887  was a full colonel, and was subsequently “transferred to the Unemployed Supernumerary List” (LG 10 January 1888, Issue 25775, page 306, transfer dated 12 December 1887, ).
Cloete would thereafter rise to the rank of  general on the Retired List of the Madras Staff Corps, and was to die on the 2 June 1895, at which time he was resident at No 21 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London (See http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/26640/pages/3833 ).
The Cloete family is remarkable in that it was to produce three generals’ and one admiral in the British and Indian armed forces, namely  General Sir Abraham Josias Cloete, British Army;  General Henry Daniel Cloete, British-Indian Army, Lieutenant-General Josias Gordon Cloete, British-Indian Army and Rear-Admiral Edward Balfour Cloete , Royal Navy. 
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Colonel John Herschel, Royal Engineers, 1837-1921 (Cape Town): 

Colonel John Herschel, Royal Engineers, was the son and grandson of two of the greatest of England’s astronomers. He was born at the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) in 1837, the youngest son of Sir John F.W. Herschel, the first baronet, and grandson of Sir William Herschel. John Herschel was educated at Clapham Grammar School and Addiscombe (the English East India Company’s military academy), and entered the Bengal Engineers in 1856. 
However, he was not to land in India until after the Indian Mutiny, and was almost at once appointed to the Great Trigonometrical Survey, and was to serve in that department for nearly 30 years, being at the time of his retirement in 1886 the Deputy-Superintendent. 
The Royal Society, of which he was elected a Fellow in 1871,  employed him in 1868 and again in 1871 to observe the total eclipse of the sun spectroscopic ally, and Herschel was among the earliest to view the coloured flames through the prism. 
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society  in 1872, and was also a member  of the Senate of Calcutta University. Colonel Herschel had married Mary Cornwallis in 1867, the daughter of the Rev. F. Lipscomb, rector of Welbury, Yorkshire, and widow of D. Power, QC, who died in 1876, and Herschel was himself to die in 1921, when in his 84th year. 

Interestingly enough, another son of a famous English astronomer who was also born at the Cape of Good Hope at about the same time (in 1838) was Admiral John Fiot Lee Pearse MacLear, Royal Navy, who would serve with the “Senior Service” for many years, during the Crimean War and elsewhere, and would also be involved in scientific endeavours, commanding HMS Challenger, the scientific exploratory vessel, on its oceanographic circumnavigation of the world (1872-1876), under the Scottish naval commander and explorer, Sir George Strong Nares. During that voyage “MacLear’s Rat” on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean was named after him, and he is also honoured in the specific epithet of “Dicliptera maclearii”, a plant in the family Acanthaceae which is endemic to Christmas Island. 
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Military Cross Award to a South African in Afghanistan 2011: 

A Durban man, Sergeant Peter Keogh, of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was recently awarded the Military Cross (MC) (LG 30 September 2011, page 2), “in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Afghanistan during the period 1st October 2010 to 31st March 2011“. The first South African to be awarded the MC seems also to have been awarded to a South African serving with the British forces, namely Lieutenant George Frederick Pigot-Moodie, born in Cape Town. He was awarded the MC in 1915 (Supplement to the London Gazette, 1 January 1915) while serving with the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) on the Western Front in 1914,  just four days after the award had first been established,  nearly 100-years ago. 
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Lt. T.H.B. Oates, Royal Navy (Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia): 

Lieutenant Thomas Herbert Beveridge  Oates, Royal Navy, the son of Sergeant J.V. and Nellie Oates, of Guinea Fowl, Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia, was killed flying with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) over the North Sea on the 8  December 1941, while operating from HMS Condor. He had served as a third officer aboard Discovery II in the 1932-37 Antarctic expedition, for which he received the Polar Medal.   His name appears on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial (Bay 1, Panel 6). 
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2974993 
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A South African Indian in the RAF: 

A certain Aircraftman Soobzan Gurunathar, hailing from Pietermaritzburg, seems to have been  one of the first members of the South African Indian community to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII, and was reported as such in June 1942.  
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Flt.-Lt. E.M.C. Guest, 53 Squadron, RAF (Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia): 

Flight Lieutenant Ernest Melville Charles Guest, Royal Air Force, missing believed killed on the 4 October 1943, was the son of Colonel the Hon. Sir Ernest Lucas Guest, K.B.E., C.M.G., C.V.O., and Lady Guest, and  husband of Kathrine Mary Guest, of Pannal, Yorkshire. He was born at Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, in 1920, and was to serve with No’s 206 and 53 Squadrons, RAF, prior to his death. Guest was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) , and was also mentioned-in-dispatches twice. By June 1942 he had completed 1000 hours operational flying, and his citation (reported via “South Africa” magazine) was to say that his “qualities of endurance are phenomenal, his ability as a pilot exceptional, and his devotion to duty of the highest order”. The newspaper article (dated June 6, 1942) also stated that Guest had done his work “quietly and efficiently” and that he set “an excellent example to the younger pilots of the squadron”. Guest was killed while serving with No 53 squadron, RAF, and his name appears on Panel 119 of the Runnymede Memorial (situated 4 miles from Windsor). He was 23 years-of-age at the time of his death. No 53 Squadron flew B24 Liberator bombers at the time, and  were operating from RAF Beaulieu (situated in the New Forest, Hampshire), engaged primarily in anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay and the Western Approaches.  His father Colonel Lucas Guest served as Rhodesia’s Minister for Air during the war. 
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=1798981 
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Lt. J.A. Horner (MC),  SA Forces, Seconded Cheshire Regt. (Harrismith, OFS, S. Africa). 

Lieutenant Joseph Alfred Horner, South Africans Forces, was one of many South Africans seconded to the British Army during WWII. He was to be awarded the Military Cross on the 4 May 1944 (Suppl. to LG issue 36497, page 2044 & Nat. Archives, WO 373/5/60) for his endeavours during the crossing of the Garigliano River in Italy in January 1944. Horner hailed from Harrismith, in the Orange Free State, and initially served with the Union of South Africa Defence Force during the war before he was seconded to the Cheshire Regiment.
He was to serve with the 6th battalion, a machine-gun battalion, of the regiment, which formed part of the 56th London Division. An article entitled “a Free Stater Wins M.C. in Italy“ (published in “South Africa” magazine in June 1944) was to say: “The citation states that on the night of January 17-18 [1944] Lieutenant Horner [280429V] was in charge of the advance guard of a machine-gun platoon during the crossing of the river. After getting across he went forward as ordered. Enemy opposition proved to [be] much heavier than was expected, and the situation became somewhat confused. Horner made every effort to keep in touch with the platoon commander but found that the enemy were between the advance guard and the platoon. He himself went through the enemy positions to contact the platoon, but was unable to do so. He decided to push on to the objective with his advance guard and one N.C.O. and one man. This he did, advancing 4000 yards across country in face of heavy mortar and machine-gun fire and arrived at the objective at 4.30 on the morning of the 18th. At that time they were the only troops on the feature. At first light he contacted eight men of a Commando and organised them and his own men into a defensive position. At 07.30 hours the enemy assaulted the position but were driven off. Two other men of the Commando were wounded while attempting to join Lieutenant Horner, who went forward in the open under heavy mortar fire  and carried both these men to safety. Later in the morning he was able to hand over the position to the infantry. ‘Lieutenant Horner showed great  courage and determination, and by his leadership and disregard of danger was instrumental in taking and holding a valuable tactical feature.’ adds the citation.”
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South Africans at Arnhem:

There were at least three genuine South Africans present during the actual Battle for Arnhem in September 1944, namely Major Sir Wilfrid Henry Frederick Robinson (the son of the South African mining magnate Sir J.B. Robinson), who was educated at Diocesan College in Cape Town, who served as second-in-command of C Company, 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment; Lipmann Kessel, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), who under severe circumstances performed the operation on Brigadier John Hackett that was to save his life, Hackett having received a severe stomach wound; and Sergeant Norman Walton, a glider pilot. Of course there were also South Africans involved in the air operations supporting the overall assault, as well those involved in the ultimately unsuccessful Allied push to link up with the “Red Devils” at the bridge, men such as Squadron-Leader H.P. Lardner-Burke, RAF (from Kimberley, Griqualand West) and Lieutenant-Colonel Ian MacKenzie, Royal Scots Fusiliers (from Johannesburg) respectively. 


Reference to Sergeant Walton’s arduous ordeal was to appear in an article of “South Africa” magazine in late 1944, under the heading “South African at Arnhem” and was to relate: “There was at least one South African among the heroes of Arnhem. He is Sergeant Norman Walton, a glider pilot, now back in England after his arduous experiences. In a B.B.C. broadcast to South Africa he has just been telling the story of his adventures. When he reached Arnhem on the first Sunday morning of the invasion his first job was to reinforce the men already holding the bridge. Later he and the other glider pilots were withdrawn to Divisional H.Q. for a further task. They spent the rest of the time there defending the place. ‘We were constantly mortared and shelled.’ he said, ‘and consequently most of our time was spent in slit trenches.’ They had the job of manning the six-pounders after the gun crews were killed, hunting snipers, and scouting for tanks. As the main water supply had been cut, the whole division had to rely on one well which was under mortar fire day and night.
‘Fetching water became quite a suicidal venture,’ Sergeant Walton said. ‘We did manage to collect rainwater in our gas caps, and were thankful for it as it saved us a trip down to the well . Brewing up was rather a difficult proposition. Every time the tea was just on the boil the Germans would mortar the position, and more often than not our tea went to the four winds. On the last day I found I had one cigarette - but no matches. The fellow in the next slit trench had no cigarettes - but one match. When we met we shared the match and halved the cigarette. On the eighth day ammunition was very short, and food was nil.’

[The article continues] When orders came for them to withdraw it was a nightmare experience travelling through the dark woods and dodging German sentries. Crossing the Rhine to safety, their boat broke down halfway and they started drifting in the general direction of the North Sea, but after a quarter of an hour the engineers got the engines going again, and Sergeant Walton and his comrades finally reached Nijmegen, where they had their first real sleep for nine days, and spent a large part of the following day removing ten days’ growth of beard.”  
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Captain Larry Eager, SAAF (Johannesburg):

“Twenty-three-year-old Captain Larry Eager, of Somerset Strand, who worked in Johannesburg in 1940, is the second South African to be made a flight commander in the rocket-firing Typhoon wing of the R.A.F. Second Tactical Air Force on the Western front. He is one of seven South African pilots in this wing, which flies in close support of ground troops, the other flight commander being Captain Anton Lens, of Utrecht [Natal, South Africa; Captain Lens  flew with No 183 squadron and was killed on the 22 February 1945, shot down by flack east of Udem while piloting a Typhoon 1b, MN941). 
“I’m delighted,” he said, “but I shall miss flying with the other Springboks - except on big wing shows. I missed the Falaise Gap show, but took part in the knocking out [of] Le Havre and the Channel ports. The most interesting ’op’ was certainly Walcheren [31 October- 2 November 1944]. We were there for the start, and saw the first landing barges go in with the Commandos. [which included at least four South Africans among them]” 
“Captain Eager, who now flies with the British-Argentine Squadron [most likely No 164 squadron] , joined the S.A.A.F. in January 1941. He was educated at King Edward School, Johannesburg. - Reuter [SA Mag. 1945]” Postscript: No 164 squadron flew Hawker Typhoon 1B’s from January 1944 to June 1945. Larry eager later flew with distinction with No 2 “Flying Cheetahs” Squadron, SAAF, in Korea. 
………

At least 21 South African men were to serve as brigade or general-officers and  the equivalent within the various branches of the British Armed Forces (British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force) during World War II (1939-45), namely:  

Brigadier Eustace Aldford Arderne (Cape Town), British Army, OC 25th Indian Brigade, Italy 1943-45. 

Temporary-Brigadier Ernest Bader (later Honorary Brigadier), British Army, Royal Engineers, Allied Control Mission for Germany 1944-45.

Air Vice Marshal Sir Joseph Christopher Quintin Brand, RAF, AOC 10 Fighter Group, Battle of Britain 1940. 

Air Vice Marshal (later Air Vice Marshal Sir) Leslie Oswald Brown (Durban), RAF, AOC No 84 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force (2TAF), NWEurope 1944. 

Rear-Admiral Cosmo Moray Graham (Cape Province), Royal Navy, Senior Naval Officer Persian Gulf, Burma & Flag Officer-in-Charge, Humber [HMS Beaver] 1942-45. 

Brigadier Walter Douglas Campbell Greenacre (Durban), British Army, OC 6th British Guards Armoured Brigade in NW Europe 1944-45. 

Major-General Edmund Hakewill-Smith (Kimberley & Cape Town), British Army, OC 52nd Scottish (Lowland) Division, NWEurope 1944-45.  

Brigadier Hugh Llewelyn Glynn Hughes, British Army (RAMC) (Ventersburg, Orange Free State), Deputy Director of Medical Services to the British Second Army, NWEurope 1944-45.

Brigadier Llewellyn Graham Owen Jenkins (Cape Town), British Army, Deputy Director of Liaisons & Munitions (A), War Office 1942-45. 

Lieutenant-General Eric Mansergh (Rondebosch, Cape Town), British Army, OC 5th Indian Division & 15th Indian Corps, Burma & Netherlands East Indies 1945-46.

Brigadier Ralph Marnham (Cape Town), Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), Consulting Surgeon Southern Command 1945. 

Brigadier Felton Arthur Hamilton Mathew, Royal Corps of Signals, British Army, Chief Signal Officer 9th Army (1941-44) & Scottish Command (1944-45). 

Acting Air Commodore Douglas Morris (later Air Marshal Sir), RAF, SASO, HQ  No 84 Group 1945.  

Brigadier George Pigot-Moodie (Cape Town), British Army, OC Pioneer Corps Brigade, DDPL Southern Command 1944-45. 

Brigadier Norman Swift Plummer, RAMC, Consulting Physician to the Middle East Forces. 

Air Vice Marshal Alan Patrick Ritchie (Natal), RAF, AOC No 205 Group 1942, AOC No 93 Group 1943 & Air Adviser to Special Operations Executive (SOE). 

Air Vice Marshal (later Air Chief Marshal Sir) Hugh William Lumsden “Dingbat” Saunders (Johannesburg), AOC No 11 Fighter Group 1942-44 & AOC RAF in Burma 1945. 


Air Vice Marshal (later Air Marshal) Sir Leonard Horatio Slatter (Natal), RAF, AOC 15 Coastal Command Group 1943-45 & Commander-in-Chief Coastal Command 1945. 

Vice Admiral (later Admiral Sir) Neville Syfret (Cape Town), Royal Navy, Commanding Force “H”, North African landings November 1942, Madagascar 1942, Sicily 1943 & a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Vice-Chief of Naval Staff, as well as 
Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet (appointed November 1945). 

Air Vice Marshal (later Air Marshal Sir) Thomas Melling Williams, RAF, Deputy Commander, H.Q. Eastern Air Command (Air Command South - East Asia), & Assistant Chief-of-Air-Staff, Operations (1944 - 1947). 

Acting Air Vice Marshal Colin Winterbotham Weedon (later Air Marshal Sir) (Natal), RAF, Command Engineer Officer, HQ Base Air Forces, South-East Asia 1944-45.
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Major John Greenshields Moodie, Royal Artillery (Johannesburg):

Major John Greenshields Moodie, Royal Artillery, hailing from Johannesburg, and educated at St. John’s College, in that city, served with the Royal Field Artillery during WWI , and was awarded the MC (LG 4 October 1919). During WWII  he was again to serve with the Royal Artillery (112498), serving with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France in 1940, and was awarded a bar to his MC (LG 22 October 1940, page 6114). His 1919 citation  follows: 

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 4 October 1919, page 12319).
Lt. John Greenshields Moodie, R.F.A. (Spec. Res.), attd. 113th By., 25th Bde.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as F.O.O. [Forward Observation Officer] on the 4th November, 1918, near Catillon. He kept in close touch throughout the day with the advancing infantry. On learning that they were held up by machine-gun fire, he obtained observation of the nest of machine guns, and by means of visual communication he brought accurate fire to bear, and effectively silenced them, thus enabling the advance to continue.
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Captain J.M. Mervis, A South African Doctor in Burma during WWII: 

J.M. Mervis, from Kroonstad, Orange Free State, South Africa, served with the British Army and was seconded to a Nigerian regiment, serving in Burma. This excerpt pertaining to him appeared in “South Africa” magazine in 1945, and gives at times a frank recounting of his time in Burma during the fierce fighting there:
“ One of the few South Africans with a complete on-the-spot picture of the fighting in the Far East has returned to England after an absence of nearly four and a half years. He is a doctor, Captain J.M. Mervis, of Kroonstad, and he has  just returned from the Burma front, where he has been actively associated with the Fourteenth Army. Captain Mervis was in England when war was declared, and joined the British Army after doig a post-graduate course in medicine. He was posted to West Africa in 1940 and remained there until June, 1943, when he was sent to Burma with the Nigerians. He saw much fighting in the Far East, and was in the Kaladena [sic] Valley, east of the Arakan front, when he was ordered to England. 
One of the most interesting features of the Burma campaign, says Captain Mervis, was the way in which the troops were kept supplied. All supplies came by air, a stupendous task, which was efficiently carried out by Dakota squadrons. The supplies included food, clothing, and various types of arms and ammunition, as well as medical supplies. Captain Mervis considers that the Fourteenth Army now have the upper hand and are speedily destroying the Japanese. In all fighting few prisoners are taken, as the Japanese is a fighter with a one-track mind who continues to fight until either shot or forcibly restrained. 
‘One of the things that interested me most,’ he said, ‘was the Jap breaks down once taken prisoner. There is something child-like about him and, unlike our chaps, he has no idea of security. Almost all prisoners taken give the whole picture away as soon as the interrogator gets to work on them.’ Captain Mervis expects to remain in England until the end of the war, and then return to the Union [of South Africa] - to take up framing. - Reuter” 
Lieutenant G. Mervis, No 60 (Phot Reconnaissance) Squadron, SAAF (207058V), killed on the 13 May 1944, and the son of  Benjamin and Leah Mervis, of Kroonstad, Orange Free State, may  have been a sibling, or relative but I’m not sure. Mervis served as observer to Lieutenant W. C. Joubert (Mosquito PR.IX MM256), and they were shot down by a German fighter at Saint Martin de Crau, a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhone department in southern France. 
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2685867 
  
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Flight Lieutenant Alick Charles Heath, Royal Air Force (Cape Town):

Flight Lieutenant Alick Charles Heath, Royal Air Force, died on the 9 May 1940 while serving with No 254 Squadron, RAF. He was the son of  Eli Paul and Emily Heath, of Bellville, Cape Province, South Africa (and Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, SA). He was born in Cape Town and was commissioned an acting pilot officer on the 16 April 1935 (short service commission), and was to serve with the fighter command section of the RAF from March 1936. Heath (37137) was promoted flying-officer in November 1937, and acting flight-lieutenant in December 1938, and was confirmed in that rank in December 1939. No 254 squadron was formed as a shipping protection squadron and was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim fighter. Convoy patrols off the East Coast of Britain began in January 1940, and reconnaissance missions were added in April 1940, while also providing fighter escorts for anti-shipping strikes.
At the time of Heath’s death the squadron was flying Bristol Blenheim IVF’s, and was stationed at Hatston, north west of  Kirkwall, on Mainland Orkney, in Scotland (a Royal Naval Air Station also referred to as HMS Sparrowhawk).
On the 9 May Heath was to pilot Blenheim L9482-QY?, and together with five additional Blenheim’s of his squadron and eight Skuas of No 806 Squadron, FAA, attacked  Bergen in Norway where the German artillery training ship (Artillerieschulschiff), Bremse, was reported to be berthed (which ship was finally sunk on the 6 September 1941, when rammed by HMS Nigeria in Hammerfjord, and cut in half). His Blenheim was subsequently seen to be hit by flak and plummeted into the harbour. Together with Heath, Sergeant Stanley Arthur Nicholls (of Warwickshire)  and Lieutenant Robin Baillie Nuthall (Royal Navy) were also killed. Heath, who was 25 years old at the time of his death, was at first reported missing and then “believed killed in action”, and his name appears on Panel 4 of the Runnymede Memorial.   http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=1799836 
http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/254_squadron.html 
https://www2.bc.edu/~emerypa/254/roh.html 


Pilot Officer Anthony Foster Booth, RAF (Natal, SA & Selukwe, Rhodesia): 


Another southern African serving with the RAF and killed just twenty days after Heath’s death was Pilot Officer Anthony Foster Booth (42099). A.F. Booth was born in Natal, South Africa and was the son of Alan Foster Booth and  Maude Ida Booth, of Selukwe, Southern Rhodesia. Mention was made of him in “South Africa” magazine shortly before his death on the 29 May 1940. It reads: “Pilot Officer A.F. Booth, Royal Air Force, passed through London last Saturday with no leisure for anything but a visit to Rhodesia House and a glance at the home newspapers.
Born in Natal and brought up at Johannesburg, Mr. Booth served for six years with the British South Africa Police [BSAP] in Southern Rhodesia, and was in charge of a station. His eighteen months in England have brought plenty of action, especially in the last few months. He admits that in air combats the enemy are usually averse from taking chances. ‘They are funny lads,’ he said, “and prefer to let our fellows do all that.’ For a modest statement of a transcendent fact that could scarcely be bettered. Mr. Booth’s young brother is a pilot with the Rhodesian Air Force.”
Booth was confirmed in his appointment as a pilot officer on the 13 march 1940 (LG 9 April 1940, 2072) and was killed flying with No 235 Squadron (operating under Coastal Command), being shot “down in flames into the sea off France”. He and his crew, sergeants’ Elliot (Gloucestershire) and Scott (Lancashire), had taken off from RAF Detling (Kent), in a Bristol Blenheim IV, and it would seem were involved in the events surrounding the evacuation of Dunkirk (26 may - 3 June 1940). Booth was 26 years-of-age at the time of his death, and his name appears on Panel 7 of the Runnymede Memorial. 
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=1530087 
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Squadron-Leader N.F.D. Buckeridge, RAF (Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape, & Johannesburg): 

Squadron-Leader Norman Frank Dennis Buckeridge, Royal Air Force, was born at Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He was the son of Major Dennis Buckeridge and Amy Katherine Isabel Buckeridge. His parents were among the first of the Rand (Johannesburg) pioneers, and it would seem his father was involved in the mining business, possibly with South Rand Exploration. Buckeridge served with the 1st Transvaal Mounted Rifles during the 1906 Bambata (or Natal) Rebellion. During WWI he was initially to serve with the 4th  South African Mounted Rifles (SAMR), before joining the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and was mentioned-in-dispatches, also serving as an Equipment Officer and “Park Commander“ with the rank of temporary major “whilst so employed“(LG 27 July 1917). By May 1919 he held the rank of  major.

N.F.D. Buckerdige remained with the RAF during the inter-war years, and was placed on half pay on the 1 January 1931 (LG 6 January 1931), and on the retired list on the 3 September 1932 with the rank of  squadron-leader. Squadron-Leader Buckeridge was to serve with the equipment branch of the RAF during the early days of WWII, and was to die in England on the 26 April 1940, aged 52, and is buried at North Stoneham (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Hampshire. One of his sons was to serve with the Welsh Guards during the war, and although the author is not sure he may have been a certain Lt. Raymond Buckeridge, 2nd battalion, Welsh Guards, who had attended the RMC Sandhurst in 1939 before being commissioned, and who seems to have survived the war. 

It seems likely that one Lieutenant Guy Dennis Buckeridge, RFC, who was the son of A.D. Buckeridge of Johannesburg, who died on the 22 August 1917 (when 22 years-of-age), may very well have been his younger brother, and is buried at Swaffham (SS. Peter and Paul) Churchyard,  Norfolk.
(See http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2803476 , Lt. G.D. Buckeridge, RFC)