James Clifford Walsh
1918 - 2000
By Brian Walsh
with a unique construction of relatively fragile "cloth" stretched over "geodetic" frame structure. She could absorb a tremendous amount of damage and still able to fly. More than 11,000 Wellingtons were built, the most of any British multi-engine design. With a crew of 6 she had a range of 1200 to 1500 miles and a maximum speed of 135 mph. In Takoradi Spitfires and Hurricanes were shipped in and then assembled and flown to Cairo for use in the middle east. They were also flown from America to Ascension Island then on to Takoradi. From Takoradi he occasionally went up to Casablanca when the Allied forces were doing landings. Mitchells and Marauders (short range bombers) were sometimes sent from Takoradi to Accra and, with fighters accompanying them, to Cairo when needed.
After demobilization in September 1945, Cliff went to medical school at the University of Cape Town on an accelerated program for ex-servicemen (first 2 years of medicine in 1 year). At UCT he met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Philip whom he married during their 4th year, on the 22nd December 1948 in Pretoria. After graduating in December 1950 and receiving their medical degrees (MBChB), they both did one "houseman" year at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town and then spent two years in England.
After spending a few years in Kimberly, they moved to Knysna in October 1957 where Cliff went into private practice as a GP. He served for several years on the Knysna Town Council, where he introduced waterborne sewerage to the town and he was active in several service organizations including Rotary, MOTH, AFS, Veld and Vlei. He served in various positions for the Divisional Council including running rural clinics, TB officer and Medical Officer of Health for many years. He did outpatient work at the hospital for 30 years. He retired from private practice in 1979 and from all medical practice in 1990.
In 1982, together with two others (Jack Tindle, age 56 and Len Peagam age 70), Cliff aged 64 sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Knysna to Florida, USA aboard a 29ft sailboat, Canopus, which Len had built in Knysna. In his later years Cliff and Liz frequently traveled the globe to visit their far-flung children and grandchildren in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Cliff died on 17th December 2000 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA at the age of 82.
James Clifford Walsh was born in East London, South Africa, on 20th August 1918. He attended high school at Selborne College in East London where he was the cox on the 1st rowing team. He was proud of having received an award for never missing a single day at school. Cliff who graduated in 1935. He was the youngest of 3 children, being 10 years younger than his sister Bessie, but only 2 1/2 years younger than his brother Lawrence. All of the family members were of relatively short stature, contributing to both Lawrence's and Cliff's success on the rowing team as a cox and earning them both the nickname "Tickey" at school (after the smallest coin at the time: a 3 penny piece) and resulting in the famous family quote where someone claimed one day that "little Tickey is bigger than big Tickey".
In 1936 Cliff worked for a year as a bank clerk (some of his salary went toward supporting Lawrence in his pharmacy apprenticeship). Cliff then apprenticed for 4 years at the same Pharmacy as Lawrence and qualified as a Pharmacist (MPS) in Durban in 1940.
During the Second World War Cliff joined the South African Airforce in 1940 at age 22 and qualified as a pilot in August 1942. He did his pilot training at Benoni and Kimberly. For most of the war he was posted to Takoradi in Ghana (which used to be named "Gold Coast"), West Africa where he piloted (Vickers) Wellington airplanes for the SAAF's 26th squadron, escorting ships around the coast of Africa from Dakkar to Pont Noir (mouth of the Congo river) to protect them from German U-boats. (I have his flight logbook).
The Vickers' Wellington aircraft (nicknamed "Wimpy" after the character named Wellington in the Popeye cartoon) was a twin-engine medium bomber