Useful reading material
The books listed below are ones from my collection which I have found to be useful in my research into the RATG. I've attempted to give a précised of each.
The inherent dangers of young men learning to fly are all too evident, but Jonathan Laverick deals with a completely different danger in his gripping book “The Kalahari Killings”. Two young trainee pilots left Kumalo in October 1943 on a cross country exercise and never returned. Investigators discovered they had been murdered by Bushmen after they crash-landed their Oxford aircraft. Jonathan leads us through their lives both in England and Rhodesia before taking the reader through an in-depth description of the case to solve the murders.
“Aircrew Unlimited” by John Golley gives the inside story of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, formerly the Empire Air Training Scheme. Golley covers the role of each country involved in the plan, starting with Rhodesia, the “opening bat”. He deals with the politics, the administration, training and instruction including such minutiae as “a priority was to visit an Indian tailor to modify the ridiculous baggy tunics and long shorts which had been issued at Heaton Park!”
The Memoirs of Wing Commander Ted Shipman AFC, entitled “One of the Few” seems an odd title for this section, however Sergeant Shipman, who was responsible for shooting down one of the first German aircraft of the war in October 1939, later was posted as Chief Flying Instructor at No. 33 Flying Instructors’ School, Norton, west of the capital Salisbury. Written by “Shippy’s” son John, he talks of the challenges of introducing new training ideas to the colony and of the “tired old aircraft”; Tiger Moths that took a long time to climb to a safe height for aerobatics and Oxfords with worn out Cheetah engines. A well written and fascinating story from beginning to end.
“The Noble Six Hundred” is the story of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) with special reference to the 674 Australians who trained in Southern Rhodesia. It’s a well researched book by Vincent Adams Winter, giving the name and draft of each trainee, their bases and subsequent operational posting, finishing with their return to civilian life. Some are quite brief but many give interesting and often amusing glimpses into service life in Rhodesia.
Hugh Morgan’s excellent book “By the Seat of your Pants” is about the basic training of RAF pilots in Rhodesia, Canada, South Africa and USA during WW2. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are about Southern Rhodesia and speaks of the journey that trainees took from the UK, their arrival at ITW Hillside, Bulawayo, followed by such items as anecdotes of flying training and the markings of Tiger Moth and Harvard aircraft.
“Empire Airmen Strike Back” by Peter Ilbery has one brief sentence about Southern Rhodesia but nonetheless is full of useful information about the Empire Air Training Scheme and how it worked in 5 SFTS, Uranquinty Australia. The stories told within its pages of young men experiencing the thrill of speed and low flying could apply to any of the countries and trainees in the Scheme. Detailed appendices specify such items as the agreements between Governments for training pilots, of how the Scheme would develop in Australia, Canada and New Zealand and fatalities sustained during training.
Dave Newnham wrote a series of valuable articles about the RATG, published in Air-Britain Aeromilitaria on a quarterly basis. The series gives an excellent overview of the stations and the aircraft that were used, a few sample pages below give an idea: