Second World War
Squadron was formed on the 1st of June
1943. The entry in the war diary for that
date reads – “In humble surroundings at SAAF Base
Depot Almaza, Cairo, Middle East, 28 Squadron is
Born”. The first Officer Commanding was Maj
A.A.D. McKellar and the bulk of the personnel were
drafted from 34 and 35 Flight South African Air
Force (Maritime Reconnaissance). As the first air
transport squadron of the SAAF, operating under
216 Group RAF, the squadron was equipped with
7 Anson, 5 Dakota and 2 Wellington aircraft.
During the Second World War the squadron supported
the allied forces in North Africa, the islands of
the Western Mediterranean, Italy and France.
By April 1944 the squadron was equipped with
30 Dakotas and 14 Ansons and during that year flew
a total of 35 859 flying hours, transporting
87 029 passengers and more than 33,6 million lbs
of freight. At the end of the war, during
the latter half of 1945 and early 1946, the
squadron formed an integral part of the now famous
“Shuttle Service” from Cairo to Pretoria.
Post-war Years and
During April 1946 the unit, based at Swartkop,
was re-organised into a Permanent Force unit and
was confined to internal service, occasional
overseas flights and VIP flights. From
22 September 1948 to 25 September 1949 two
contingents of the squadron participated in the
Berlin Airlift and contributed 2 500 sorties
during which 8 333 tons were transported. In 1956
the squadron was presented with the first SA Air
Force Exceptional Flying Safety Award for its
achievement of a truly remarkable safety record
over a long period.
C-130 Hercules – Dawn
of a new Era
Early in January 1963 the SA Air
Force’s new C-130 Hercules aircraft were flown
from the USA to Waterkloof by members of
28 Squadron, to herald in a new era of transport
flying in the SAAF. On the 25th August 1967
the squadron was presented with its Colours by the
then Commandant General of the South African
Defence Force, General R.C. Hiemstra SSA, SM.
The squadron’s battle honours for its operations
in the “Mediterranean 1942-1945”, “Sicily 1943”
and “Italy 1943-1945” are depicted on its Colours.
In August 1969 the squadron’s air transport
capability of 7 x C 130B Hercules aircraft was
expanded with the introduction into service of an
additional 9 x C 160Z Transall aircraft.
During the 70’s and
80’s the squadron distinguished itself in numerous
SADF operations in Namibia and Southern Angola.
During Operations MODULAR, HOOPER and PACKER the
squadron flew numerous sorties from Rundu to
Mavinga in Southern Angola and thus contributed
largely to the successes of the SADF. A
total of 19 squadron members was awarded Southern
Cross Medals for their contributions to these
With ever increasing
pressure on the defence budget the decision was
taken to phase out the squadron’s fleet of C-160Z Transall
aircraft. This was a traumatic experience
for all the aircrews who flew this “transport
aircraft that handled like a fighter”. The
squadron’s tasks, together with most other
transport squadrons, now changed with the emphasis
being placed on peacetime tasks such as
humanitarian support missions into Southern
Africa. The squadron for example rendered
support after the genocide in Burundi and Rwanda.
Various search and rescue flights and flood relief
flights were also conducted to destinations in
Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Reunion and Zimbabwe.
In recent years the squadron has been involved in
various humanitarian and benevolent gestures in
Southern Africa, as well as involvement in various
search and rescue missions on land and sea.
With the floods in Mozambique during 2000 and 2001
the squadron flew numerous support missions to
various destinations. During one such flight
during February 2001 a total of 156 000 lbs of
food and other relief aid was transported from
Maputo to Quelimane in the north of Mozambique.
Over the years the
squadron and its members have truly done justice
to its motto “PORTAMUS” which means, “WE CARRY”.
It has performed its task of supporting the RSA
government and security forces unobtrusively and
without great acclaim. After 62 years of
service to the people of the RSA, the squadron can
look back with pride and give acknowledgement to
all the air and ground crews who have so
unselfishly served their squadron with love and