Capt. Edwin Swales VC – a true South African WW2 hero

  • -

Capt. Edwin Swales VC – a true South African WW2 hero

Category : Articles

 

Another notable South African hero and Victoria Cross winner, Captain Edwin (Ted) Swales VC, DFC (pictured in the center with his crew) was born in Inanda, Natal, South Africa, he went to Durban High School (DHS) and then joined Natal Mounted Rifles, seeing action in Africa before he transferring to the South African Air Force and then went onto serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF). 

In 1945, while with the RAF Pathfinders (No. 582 Squadron), Captain Swales was the Master Bomber and captain of Avro Lancaster III PB538. On 23 February 1945, the very same day as his D.F.C. award was gazetted, Swales led the bombing raid on Pforzheim, Germany.

Swales’ Victoria Cross citation reads:

“Captain Swales was ‘Master Bomber’ of a force of aircraft which attacked Pforzheim on the night of February 23, 1945. As Master Bomber he had the task of locating the target area with precision and of giving aiming instructions to the main force of bombers in his wake.

Soon after he reached the target area he was engaged by an enemy aircraft and one of his engines was put out of action. His rear guns failed. His crippled aircraft was an easy prey for further attacks. Unperturbed, he carried on with his allotted task; clearly and precisely he issued aiming instructions to the main force. Meanwhile the enemy fighter closed the range and fired again. A second engine of Captain Swales’ aircraft was put out of action. Almost defenceless, he stayed over the target area issuing his aiming instructions until he was satisfied that the attack had achieved its purpose.

It is now known that the attack was one of the most concentrated and successful of the war. Captain Swales did not, however, regard his mission as completed. His aircraft was damaged. Its speed had been so much reduced that it could only with difficulty be kept in the air. The blind-flying instruments were no longer working. Determined at all costs to prevent his aircraft and crew from falling into enemy hands, he set course for home.

After an hour he flew into thin-layered cloud. He kept his course by skilful flying between the layers, but later heavy cloud and turbulent air conditions were met. The aircraft, by now over friendly territory, became more and more difficult to control; it was losing height steadily. Realising that the situation was desperate Captain Swales ordered his crew to bail out. Time was very short and it required all his exertions to keep the aircraft steady while each of his crew moved in turn to the escape hatch and parachuted to safety.

Hardly had the last crew-member jumped when the aircraft plunged to earth. Captain Swales was found dead at the controls. Intrepid in the attack, courageous in the face of danger, he did his duty to the last, giving his life that his comrades might live”


Search this Site

Next Event

Apr
29
Sat
2017
10:00 South African Nation Building Tr... @ Parliament Square
South African Nation Building Tr... @ Parliament Square
Apr 29 @ 10:00 – 12:30
South African Nation Building Tribute @ Parliament Square | England | United Kingdom
  In celebrating Freedom Day in South Africa, the South African Legion – England Branch, in association with the Royal British Legion – South African branch, gives tribute to three statesmen whose nation building vision and deeds shaped modern South
Jun
9
Fri
2017
10:00 UK Founders Day Parade @ Royal Hospital Chelsea
UK Founders Day Parade @ Royal Hospital Chelsea
Jun 9 @ 10:00 – 11:00
UK Founders Day Parade @ Royal Hospital Chelsea | England | United Kingdom
Purpose: Founder’s Day (also known as Oak Apple Day) is the highlight of the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s calendar, an event attended by all our brethren, the Chelsea Pensioners, celebrating the founding of the Royal Hospital
Jun
24
Sat
2017
10:00 UK Armed Forces Day Parade 2017 @ Woking Town Centre
UK Armed Forces Day Parade 2017 @ Woking Town Centre
Jun 24 @ 10:00 – 12:00
UK Armed Forces Day Parade 2017 @ Woking Town Centre | Woking | England | United Kingdom
Purpose: A chance to show our support for the armed forces of our host nation. This event is under the auspices of the Royal Naval Association.

Shopping Cart

Loading...