MEMORIAL STONE FROM DERELICT CHURCH AT MT EDGECOMBE FINDS NEW HOME IN SAAF MUSEUM

At 30A Marshall Drive, Mount Edgecombe stands a small church that is more that 100 years old. The church was built to service the community who used to live and work for the old Tongaat – Hulett Sugar Mill. The church now stands in the industrial area of Mount Edgecombe and over the years, has been vandalised and completely stripped of all its

contents. When industrial property broker Mr Tristan Rasmussen recently sold the property on which the church stands, he recovered a white marble memorial plaque commemorating the memory of Air Corporal Leslie Donavan Case of the South African Air Force.

Mr Rasmussen very thoughtfully retrieved the memorial stone and handed it over to the SAAF Association (SAAFA) KZN Branch in the hope that next-of-kin may wish to reclaim it. Despite a country wide advertising campaign, nobody came forward and the SAAFA Chairman, Brigadier General John Boardman (Ret) approached Colonel Graham Du Toit, the SAAF Museum Historical Research Officer with a view to donate the memorial stone to the SAAF Museum for safe-keeping and permanent display.

Mr Rasmussen readily gave his consent for the Memorial Stone to be donated to the SAAF Museum collection and on 2 October 2012, the stone, measuring 355mm x 255mm, was presented to the SAAF Museum by the SAAFA KZN Branch Chairman Brig General John Boardman. Colonel Graham Du Toit accepted the Memorial Stone on behalf of the SAAF Museum.

P/8777 Air Corporal Leslie Donavan Case age 21 grew up on the Natal Sugar Estates where his father worked and had recently joined the Permanent Force as a Wireless Operator (Air).

He was killed on 17 April 1947 while flying as a crew member in a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura, Serial Number 6501, Identification Code Letter JS-P when the aircraft crashed at 19h30, sixty miles South West of Khartoum in the Sudan.

The aircraft was on a ferry flight from Pretoria to Cairo taking ferry pilots to Cairo to collect Spitfire aircraft that were to be flown back to the Union. There were no survivors. All the passengers and crew were originally buried in a communal grave at Shugeig in the Sudan but on 7 February 1949, the bodies were relocated to the Khartoum War Cemetery where permanent maintenance could be assured.

They now rest in the Khartoum War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan, Plot 5, Row C, Collective Grave 10

AIRCRAFT CREW:

  • WELGEMOED P/5843 Major Frederick (Pilot & Aircraft Commander) DFC & Bar
  • VAN ROOYEN 15154 Lieutenant Hermanus Gerhardus (Co-Pilot)
  • BURGER 7985 Air Mechanic Petrus Andries (Flight Engineer)
  • CASE 8777 Air Corporal Leslie Donovan (Wireless Operator)

AIRCRAFT PASSENGERS:

  • BOSMAN P/102696 Major Andrew Christian (Pilot) DSO; DFC
  • CRISP P/853 Lieutenant Ronald Leslie (Pilot)
  • GERICKE 103937V Lieutenant Jacobus Stephanus (Pilot)
  • HIRST 103518V Lieutenant Robert Cecil (Pilot)
  • KRITZINGER 328642V Lieutenant Hermanus Johannes (Pilot) DFC
  • LANDMAN 206572 Lieutenant John Jurie (Pilot)
  • LIEBENBERG 102706V Captain Hendrik Christoffel Weideman (Pilot)
  • NELSON 542996 Lieutenant Peter David (Pilot)
  • NICOLAY 103538 Lieutenant Peter DFC (Pilot)
  • PRINSLOO 206113V Lieutenant Norman Peter (Pilot) DFC
  • TAYLOR 103704 Captain Trevor Richard John (Pilot) DSO;DFC

Colonel Graham C.L Du Toit SAAF MUSEUM Historical Research Officer 03.10.2012