SAAF Boston Bombers in living colour

Sometimes some well preserved original colour photography can take you right back to South Africans taking part in World War 2 as if it was yesterday.  Here, in Libya March 1943, are Douglas Boston light bomber aircraft of No 24 Squadron, South African Air Force lined up at Zuara, Tripolitania. The nearest Boston is AL683/`V’.

On 5 March 1941 24 Squadron SAAF was formed when No.14 Squadron SAAF and its Maryland bombers were moved from Kenya to Egypt, and renumbered as No.24 Squadron. The squadron then operated alongside No. 39 Squadron RAF as a daytime tactical bomber unit carrying out bombing sorties against targets in the Mediterranean theatre. 24 Squadron was later in the year re-equipped with Bostons.

In December 1943, the squadron was relocated to Algeria and re-equipped with the B-26 Marauders and in 1944 flew to a new base at Pescara, Italy, before later advancing to Jesi, Italy. At the end of the war the squadron used its Marauders as transport aircraft, before moving to Egypt in October 1945 and disbanding on 6 November 1945.

The squadron was reactivated when the Buccaneer entered SAAF service in 1965. 24 Squadron SAAF Buccaneers saw active service during the Border War in South-West Africa,. They flew over Angola and Namibia in the 1970s and 1980s, and attacked SWAPO guerrilla camps with rockets and bombs.

The squadron was disbanded in March 1991 at AFB Waterkloof, Pretoria.

Photo copyright – Imperial War Museum, source IWM and wikipedia

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