This is a collection of stories and anecdotes (sad, bad or funny) about the happenings at Takoradi or the other bases that 26 Squadron used. They are gathered from various sources, mostly from the memories of crew member friends and relatives. They are not necessarily accurate historical accounts of events but are intended to help to create a picture of what our crews experienced there!

My own father generally didn’t like talking about the war years but occasionally some of the lighter stories would be told. I remember as a child listening to some of them and wish now that as I grew up I’d thought about recording them properly.  He passed away in 1982 and I have somewhat sketchy recollections of the stories but perhaps they are close enough to serve the purpose of these pages.

PLEASE add your stories by mailing them to me along with any photo’s.

The Airfield Guard

(by Bruce)


A large number of locals were drafted into service to fulfil many tasks that would otherwise have tied up valuable personnel much needed elsewhere. One such task was the guarding of the airfield. These guards were usually armed only with a “panga” (local type of small sword or big knife).


One evening my father recounted taking an evening stroll around the airfield, which was essentially hacked out of the bush. As he passed by one of the local guards he saw, out of the corner of his eye, the guard lunge towards him with panga raised. Instinctively he dived to the ground drawing his own weapon at the same time. In the nick of time he realized what was happening. The guard had seen a poisonous snake inches from my Dad’s head. Had he called out to him a snake bite to the head or face would have been inevitable. As it was the guard had neatly sliced off the snake’s head…… and very nearly been shot for his trouble!

Overnight Stop

(by Bruce)


When flying from the Union to The West Coast refueling stops were necessary as the journey was too long for a direct flight. On one such trip, flying overland from South Africa to Takoradi, a Wellington crew landed at dusk at a rather primitive airfield.  Nightfall arrives quite suddenly in this part of the world and it was pitch dark by the time they found their way to the hot, humid visitor’s huts. The exhausted crews flopped down shirtless onto the beds they found there.


Waking in the morning light they were horrified to see signs outside each hut with strict instructions to use the mosquito nets bundled above each bed so as to ward off the Tarantulas dropping from the thatch above.  As the story goes . . . . . no one was bitten!

The Model Aircraft

(by Bruce)


My father was a model airplane enthusiast before the war. When he was posted up North he had the foresight to take some plans and a few crucial bits and pieces with him. Heavy weather on the Gold Coast often made operational flying impossible and with all aircraft grounded, boredom set in for most of the crews.


Dad and few buddies spent many of these hours hand building a model plane. In those days models had no radio controls so all flights were “free” flights with a simple vacuum timer cutting power from the battery after a short “powered” flight, whereafter the model would glide back to earth chased by it’s “ground crew”.  In case of loss all models carried a plaque with the name and address of the owner. This particular model was quite big, having a wingspan of about six feet, with a six or ten cc petrol engine and a 12 inch, hand carved, wooden propeller.


The problem facing these enthusiasts was that their play time was quite limited.  If the weather was good they were invariably operational over the Atlantic hunting u-Boats and protecting Allied convoys. It was thus a rare occasion that they had both good weather and the free time to bring out the model plane for its maiden flight.


The weather could be quite severe and one of the problems the Wellington crews faced was being caught in one of the ferocious updrafts, some of which were quite capable of crippling a Wimpey with potentially tragic results.  As luck would have it, at the height of the model plane’s maiden flight it got caught in an updraft. This one was not bad enough to hurt a full size plane but certainly strong enough to whisk the model up and away and out of sight!


After hours of searching they had to give up . . . their precious model, along with irreplaceable motor and ignition parts was gone, lost forever in the forests.


An elderly African man sitting outside his hut, in his village, in a clearing surrounded by tall trees was shocked (and probably terrified) when the model appeared, without a sound, and made a perfect three point landing on the beaten earth in front of him. There was much consternation in the village and they decided it would be best to put the model onto the old man’s ox-cart and take it to the nearest town where someone could help. In town he found an official who read the address plaque and gave him directions on where the model plane had come from. The conscientious old man left the following morning at first light to return the plane to it’s rightful owners.


When the ox-cart trundled onto the base with the elderly African man at the reigns it cased quite a scene.  The updraft had carried the little plane so high and so far that the old man had travelled for two weeks to get to the base! Incredibly the model was virtually unmarked and fit to fly again.


(by Bruce)


Several rumours have surfaced from various sources that crews felt their aircraft were not being properly maintained. It has not been established whether this was fact or perception. The story goes that many air crews insisted on taking ground crew along on flights on a regular basis to make sure that they were suitably motivated to service the planes to a high standard. The list of fatalities certainly bears this out with a number of ground crew being lost in crashes.


Saved by Parachutes

(Submitted by Bruce)


This story is extracted from a speech made in August 2009 at Errol Rosenberg’s  90th birthday celebration.


Errol saw 4 years of active service during WWII, serving with 23, 25 and 26 Squadrons SAAF. This particular incident took place during his time with 25 Sqn, before being posted to Takoradi to join 26 Sqn.


The 6th July 1944 saw Errol piloting his PV-1 Ventura with his crew consisting of Ruben, the navigator, and air gunners Abrams and Mertz. While flying in good weather on patrol 400 miles off the Natal coast of South Africa, they spotted an enemy sub on the surface and dived in to take it out. At 500 feet they were still too high to drop their depth charges but, unluckily for them, were not too high for the sub to take an effective pop at them.


A spray of canon fire peppered the plane's undercarriage, snapping the control wires. One shot entered the open bay doors and exploded amongst the parachutes, shredding them. Those parachutes protected the men from a grisly end, but their destruction also shredded the crew's exit strategy!  Errol had no choice but to coax the stricken plane home, which he skillfully managed to do. Before leaving the scene in his damaged aircraft he called in the location of the sub. They were later given to believe it had subsequently been taken out by other South African aircraft. For his contribution to this action, Errol received a mention in Despatches.