14 October 1940
It should be noted that the Italian anti-aircraft defence claimed the destruction of a British aircraft over the port of Massawa, the plane falling into the sea. There is, however, no record of this incident in the British archives. The only presence of a British aircraft is that of Vickers Wellesley K7715 (Sergeant James A. Burcher), No.14 (RAF) Squadron, which carried out a bombing mission on the port without incident to report.
The Italians decide to step up the pressure against the British convoys in the Red Sea. Thus a fight began, at the end of the morning, between two Italian bombers (probably Savoia Marchetti SM.79 of 44bis Gruppo BT) and the Bristol Blenheim T2072 (Flying Officer Kenneth B. Corbould) of No.203 (RAF) Squadron. The action does not seem to have any consequences for the different crews.
Four Fairey Battle of No.11 (SAAF) Squadron: No.905 (Captain Johan L.V. de Wet; Air Sergeant R.J. van Heerden), No.916 (Captain D.W. Allam; Air Sergeant J.B. Lockwood), No.902 (Lieutenant Cornelius A. van Vliet; Air Sergeant J. L. Wright) and n°918 (Lieutenant Murdoch Macdonald; Air Sergeant Paul C. Marais and Albert Schrooder) took off from Archers Post to attack the Jimma airfield at 09h45. The last aircraft was tasked to carry out a photographic reconnaissance after the attack.
They are intercepted, after the bombing, by two Fiat CR.32s. In the ensuing battle, the Italian pilots claimed two damaged aircraft. Indeed, n°902 and n°905 returned damaged to Lodwar airfield. On the South African side, a Caproni Ca.133 was reported destroyed on the ground.
Captain Johan L.V. de Wet and Lieutenant J.E. Lindsay of No.11 (SAAF) Squadron at Archers Post Airfield. Collection : SAAF Museum Swartkops via Tinus le Roux.
According to Lieutenant Cornelius A. van Vliet:
« to set the compass for the course to the target, and on returning to merely steer the reciprocal, i.e. red on red to the target, and red on black for home. It was all pilot navigation and no luxuries such as radio, or even oxygen. After formating on Jannie de Wet for about 45 minutes, I happened to take a more serious look at my compass and was amazed to see it was red on red and not red on black! I immediately closed my formation position with Jannie and made violent arm signals for him to turn back (no radio), but he didn’t understand my signals. I was on the point of turning back myself when a large river showed up ahead of us. Navigation at that time was a matter of map reading and compass and Jannie realised we had got to the Blue Nile – in fact we weren’t very far away from Addis Ababa !
He waved me forward to lead and I immediately turned 180 degrees for home. On a rough calculation I knew we would be lucky to get out of enemy territory, and fuel economy was vital. I climbed to 21 000 feet which I felt was the maximum we could risk as we were not fitted with oxygen, and throttled back to minimum cruising revs. By this time I had been in the air for about six hours and badly needed relieving. This was achieved with the aid of an empty Verey cartridge shell which I normally used as an ashtray. After that incident the perspex covering never lost its stains.
I was making for a landing strip at Lodwar as I was not aware of one at Lokitaung at the north end of Lake Rudolf Jannie knew of the existence of Lokitaung and, when he broke away to land, I thought he was out of fuel. I knew I wouldn’t make Lodwar with my fuel but thought it best to get as far as possible. Being a semi-desert area, I felt I had a good chance of doing a dead engine forced landing and decided to fly to the last drop of fuel. I am still amazed how I missed all the boulders when I finally had to land. From 21 000 feet the ground looked like one big areodrome, but at 500 feet you see all sorts of unpleasant things especially when you have a dead engine and no chance of going round again! Anyway, my luck held, and I did a successful wheels down landing. Air Sergeant Wright (my gunner), and I, collected the canisters of water and iron rations, and started our hike to Lodwar some 60 miles away. I had seen a road track from the air which we reached fairly soon. We walked until some time after dark when we saw car lights in the distance. I was fairly sure we were out of enemy territory, and waved the vehicle to stop. It was an army vehicle going to Lokitaung. We got there to find Jannie de Wet had crash-landed as the fighters at Shashamanna had damaged his elevator controls.
The following day we returned to my aircraft with some fuel and I carried on to Lodwar for a proper re-fuel. The total time in the air was 7 hours 40 minutes which I think remained the record on the Squadron with the normal fuel capacity, without special tanks.»
Extract from the logbook of Lieutenant Cornelius A. van Vliet. Collection : Chris Teale / Elize Grobbelaar of SAAF museum Ysterplaat, via Tinus le Roux.
Bombing of Jimma airfield by Fairey Battle No.11 (SAAF) Squadron. There were several Caproni Ca.133s. It could be the mission of 14 October 1940. Collection : SAAF Museum Swartkops via Tinus le Roux.
 SHORES C., RICCI C. « East Africa ». In : Dust Clouds in the Middle East – The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940 – 1942. London : Grub Street, 2010. p. 67 ; SUTHERLAND J., CANWELL D. Air War East Africa 1940 – 1941. The RAF versus the Italian Air Force. Barnsley : Pen & Sword, 2009. p. 69.
 « 14 october 1940 », No.14 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kiew : TNA, AIR 27 / 192.
 « 14 october 1940 », No.203 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kiew : TNA, AIR 27 / 1198.
 « 14 october 1940 », October – Narrative Norther Operations SAAF. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/8 ; « 14 october 1940 », No.11 (SAAF) Squadron : War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/3 ; BROWN J. A. A gathering of Eagles, the campaigns of the South African Air Force in Italian East Africa 1940 – 1941. Cape Town : Purnell, 1970. p. 85 ; MCLEAN S. Squadrons of the South African Air Force and their aircraft (1920 – 2005). Cape Town : [s.n.], 2005. p.4 ; SHORES C., RICCI C. « East Africa ». In : Dust Clouds in the Middle East – The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940 – 1942. London : Grub Street, 2010. p. 67 ; SUTHERLAND J., CANWELL D. Air War East Africa 1940 – 1941. The RAF versus the Italian Air Force. Barnsley : Pen & Sword, 2009. p. 69.
 TIDY P.D., South African Air Aces of World War II, Major Cornelius A. van Vliet ; in South African Miliaty History Journal, vol 2, n°6, décembre 1973 : http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol026dt.html