South African Air Force Pilot’s Gallantry in Ethiopia



Captain Wheatley was awarded his AFC on the 14th June 1945 in the birthday honours list. Captain Wheatley had on numerous occasions shown himself to be a gallant man and extraordinary pilot.

Now I am sure most of you can read the original newspaper cuttings I have posted here, but here is a quick run down of what happened:

A European Captain fighting with the Ethiopian Patriot Army had been gravely wounded fighting against the Italians during a pitched firefight lasting many hours, and needed extraction for treatment quickly, the Ethiopians set up a rough landing strip by clearing some scrubland and Captain Douglas Wheatley South African Air Force volunteered for the mission. He showed extreme bravery and skill in landing and taking off in such difficult conditions, although the captain sadly later died from his wounds.


VC011 VC012

Less than 100 Air Force Crosses were awarded to South African Air Force pilots for the whole of WW2.


Captain D.G.R.Wheatley spent from October to December 1940 flying Hartbees carrying out a variety of training exercises from Dive Bombing and Ground Strafing to General Reconaissance. From January 1941 until May 1941. From June 1941 he began his combat with bombing on Billo and Baccon. In August 1941 he carried out a total of 11 bombing missions mainly on Gondar and Debareck. He carried out on these missions throughout the rest of 1941. On 11.11.1941 his Second Pilot Sefton was badly wounded in action and died the following day. He carried out his first ground strafe ten days later firing 500 rounds. Gondar surrendered on the 27th November and in the log book he notes “Saw White Flag”. [The Battle of Gondar was the last stand of the Italian forces in Italian East Africa during the Second World War. The battle took place in November 1941, during the East African Campaign. The Italian garrison of 40,000 was commanded by Generale Guglielmo Nasi ] He began Night Flights in March 1942 and in August began training on Oxfords. In November 1942 he was posted to 66 Air School, Cape Town, and began conversion to Ansons. This training led to Anti-Submarine patrols and he fired a number of depth charges and carried out numerous patrols until June 1943. For the remainder of the war he spent his time flying Ansons and continued to carry out a combination of Anti-Submarine patrols, Training, Reconnaisance etc.




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