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Peter le Sueur
Peter le Sueur

Pictured to the left, from left to right - Col. R. Iyer, Maj. Gen. F.Z. Msimang, Peter, Min. Tokyo Sexwale, Lt. Col. Mike O’ Connor.

Denis Earp
Denis Earp

John Henry Martin
John Henry Martin

Peter le Sueur
Peter le Sueur

Pictured to the left, from left to right - Col. R. Iyer, Maj. Gen. F.Z. Msimang, Peter, Min. Tokyo Sexwale, Lt. Col. Mike O’ Connor.

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In Memory

We salute the past heroes who dedicated much of their time to the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum and the Spitfire Restoration Project
 

Peter le Sueur

Peter was involved in Marketing, Sales, Training and Consulting with several international and local organizations for the past 44 years. He was a director of a group of companies in the field of training and consulting. Peter officially joined the Friends in 1993 and served as vice-chairman 1997-1998 and twice as chairman from 1998 -1999 and 2010 - 2013, a life member of the Harvard Club and was involved in the restoration of the World War 1 SE 5a bi-plane at the National Museum of Military History. 
 
 

Lt. Gen. Denis Earp

Lt. Gen. Earp served in various roles within the South African Air Force, including Flying Instructor, and after converting to helicopters, became the Officer Commanding 17 Squadron. Gen Earp has flown a variety of aircraft, including Canberras, and Mirage IIIs. Lt. Gen. Earp later served as Chief of the South African Air Force from 1984, until his retirement in 1988. Since Gen Earp's retirement, he has maintained close contact with the South African Air Force and in particular with the South African Air Force Museum, and the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum. Gen Earp is passionate about the preservation of the South African Air Force heritage for future generations. Gen Earp also serves as Patron of the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum.
 

John Henry Martin

John Henry Martin was born on 2nd June 1923. He died, at the ripe old age of 96, on 21st November 2019. He was one of the most positive, upbeat, and whole heartedly Christian people I have ever been privileged to know. Lots of other people clearly saw him in the same light, as was evidenced by the very full church for his funeral.
He was a Lieutenant in the SAAF during World War Two. He flew Spitfires with 4 Squadron in Italy, and became known to the Friends several years ago via those of us who are also members of the RAF Officers Club (OC). We discussed our Spitfire Restoration Project with him, and he was fascinated with it, keeping up to date on how it was progressing, and attending every Spitfire pilots’ gathering the Friends’ Spitfire Project held, until his death. Several of us also had extensive, wonderful interactions with him at various RAF OC functions; he was a most uplifting person in the flesh.
Despite his age, he gave a talk to the Friends at Swartkop in 2018 on his flying experiences. I had the pleasure of being his chauffeur on that day, and on several other occasions, and enjoyed listening to many of his other reminiscences in the car as we drove. As we went up the flight line at Swartkop to the auditorium, where he was going to be speaking, he looked around him with a gorgeous smile of remembrance on his face and said ‘I converted onto Kittyhawks here – seventy-five years ago!’
He was in sparkling form, and gave an outstanding talk, backed up by a PowerPoint presentation of photos. He started his military career learning to drive armoured cars!
His first ‘airborne’ experience was on unbelievably basic ‘A frame’ gliders: devices which looked as if they were designed to frighten off anyone remotely considering becoming a pilot. He then graduated to gliders which looked like real aeroplanes, followed by Tiger Moths, Harvards, and the conversion to P40 Kittyhawks. He ‘went north,’ converting to Spitfires in North Africa, and then on to Italy, where he joined 4 Squadron – ‘the Vampires.’ He had 651 hours in total when he retired from the SAAF at the end of the war, of which something like 242 hours were in 160 sorties on Spitfires, ending up on Mk IXs, which he described as a wonderful aircraft.
Most of his Spitfire operations were either ground support, carrying a 500 lb bomb, or escorting bombers such as Marauders across the Adriatic Sea to Yugoslavia – he remarked that flying for hours over the sea in a single engine fighter was always tense! He also commented that with its narrow track undercarriage and very large nose, the Spitfire was never an easy aircraft to land. He ended his SAAF service in South Africa on twins such as Dakotas, Anson's and Oxfords.
He was a wonderful, unforgettable character, and we remember and miss him fondly.
Dave Evans, FSAAFM