Benoni Airfield during the Second World War

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The suburb “Airfield” is somewhat to the south of where the actual airfield was and was established after the disuse of the Benoni Airfield – reportedly about 1948 – when Jan Smuts airport was being built and Benoni civil flying moved to the present Brakpan-Benoni airfield. The bit about hangars and buildings is true, but the airfield proper extended north and occupied the land that is now Northmead Ext. 4, on what appears to be the ground bounded by the Great North Road on the west, Hospital Rd. on the south, possibly as far as Mimosa St. in the north and Aster or possibly as far as Hanekam St. to the east. The water tower and resevoir where there at the time of the flying field.

The present Farrarmere Gardens, previously Government Village was built to house the pupils who were stationed at Benoni Flying field, which was actually a part of Joint Training Scheme which was offered to the Allied forces by Field Marshal Jan Smuts. The pre-fab houses were offered to returning servicemen but were not very welcome due to size and structure. The area has grown a little but is still a low income housing area, the original concrete houses easily distinguishable.

The station was designated ‘4 Air School’ and its role was that of an Elementary Flying Training Facility, falling under 24 Group and 31 Group. It was established on 11 November 1940 and opened on 1 September 1941. It was disbanded on 24 June 1945 and the station was closed on 22 July 1946. Aircraft stationed there included Tiger Moths, Hornet Moths, Rearwin 7000, Harts, Audaxes and Harvards.

Originally planned as 4 ETFS, it was formed as 4 AS on 11 November 1940, but personnel only started arriving at Benoni in June 1941. The first four Tiger Moths were delivered from 15 AD on 6 August , the school opened on 1 September and by 30 September there were 33 Tiger Moths on strength. On 21 April 1942, 104 Reserve Sqn. was formed and was ready to mobilize in an emergency.

Famous personalities at the station were Lt. A.D. ‘Bobby’ Locke, the world famous golfer, and one of the officers commanding was Lt. Col. Allister M. Miller, founder of Union Airways, the forerunner of the present South African Airways.At the end of hostilities the station was used as a demobilisation center, after which it reverted to a civil flying field.

The majority of the above information comes from “Yellow Wings” by Dave Becker, last night’s information came from the book “Benoni – Son of My Sorrow”, the supposed authoritive history of Benoni.

More on 4 Air School Benoni 1941

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