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arrived a rather tearful staff member was being comforted by her colleague. Apparently she had been stood up by some officer or the other and was feeling slightly bitter about it. ‘Don’t worry about him’, her friend was murmuring. ‘These types aren’t worth bothering about – they are only gentlemen by Act of Parliament!’ I can’t remember what kept me in Johannesburg for more than an


overnight stay, on one flight. It must have been weather. I do remember feeling that it was a hard and brittle city to be dumped in on the pay of a Flying Officer, then eighteen shillings and twopence (91p) a day and I did discover that the cheapest lunch was to be had at the Johannesburg Zoo which could be reached by a threepenny (1p) ride on the tramcars. Having got there, a good fruit lunch cost only one shilling and threepence (6p) and the Zoo was worth seeing too. North from ZAS there were two alternative routes up to Thornhill. The journey could be broken at Pietersburg in the Transvaal, where, when an RAF ‘plane arrived overhead, some of the Anglophile locals would leap into their cars and drive out to the airstrip with pots of tea and buns. Or the flight could be made in one hop, which was my favoured route after some experience of the journey. Years later, Margaret and I found ourselves in South Africa on a business


trip. It was 1965, and a party of steelmakers, accompanied by wives, were invited by ISCOR (The Iron and Steel Corporation of South Africa) to visit their plants. There were thirteen of us, and we flew out individually, Margaret and myself via stops in Cairo and Nairobi to call on the United Steels’ agents in those places. When the works’ visits had been concluded, our own United Steels man in Johannesburg, Ronnie Gervers, drove us in his Rover from there up through the Transvaal into Southern Rhodesia and as far as the Kariba Dam on the borders of Zambia. We were motoring north for hours on the way from Johannesburg to warm Baths and Nylstroom on the graded dirt roads. Ronnie Gervers’s Rover had no air conditioning and there was little exciting to see or do, except take a photograph as eventually we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. But I had a fair idea of just where we were at any time, so often had I flown above this territory. It enabled me to make something of an impression on Ronnie and Margaret, for as we drove up a long, straight stretch of the road, inclined very slightly uphill so that our horizon was not very far ahead, I said ‘As soon as we crest this slope we will see on the horizon a low range of hills with a gap in the middle.’ It was the gap I used to aim for after following the railway line north from Johannesburg to Nylstroom, and sure enough, there it was as we got to the top of the long incline. I had last seen it in 1943.


No map was needed for that flight from ZAS to Thornhill once it had been done a few times. Visibility was always terrific and you could see ahead for what must have been a hundred miles or more. So all you had to do was take


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