Lt. Arthur William Penver DFC
Arthur William Penver was studying in the UK when war broke out. He returned to South Africa and joined the South African Airforce. He received his commission on his birthday 1st August 1941 and was sent to North Africa in the same month.
While flying his Hawker Hartbees aircraft with his gunner Viljoen he encountered an Italian fighter about a hundred kilometres east of Condor in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). As a result, he was forced to make an emergency landing in the desert. As all North Africa pilots point out, the desert where they operated was soft sand in a rough and rocky terrain. Penver was able to skilfully avoid a donga when landing but the nature of the surface prevented him from taking off again.
Soon they were surrounded by locals and armed men who were cautious about foreign servicemen as Italians soldiers had molested their women. Any Italian soldier would be castrated. Fortunately, Penver had been given a linen-backed paper written in both Arabic and English. It advised the locals that if they look after the British Forces they would be rewarded with money.
The two airmen slept under the wing of the plane waiting to be rescued. After two weeks they were located, and rations were dropped. There was a stream nearby where they washed naked under the stares of the locals. A Coptic priest arrived on a donkey with a large wooden cross covered with flies which the locals and the airmen had to kiss. Eight hundred local Marie Theresa silver dollars were dropped and paid to the locals who built an airstrip enabling Penver to take off once again and reach the Alomata Base camp.
After the war he returned to the UK to complete his studies before returning to Pinelands. He later moved to Hermanus where he became the Deputy Mayor. He passed away in 2014.
Stanley Wells DFC Bar
Stanley and his two brothers, along with their father, saw active service in World War 2. (See the story on the Wells/Eglin family). Stan joined the South African Air Force in 1939 and became a fighter pilot. He was soon assigned to a fighter squadron in North Africa. Wells flew several missions escorting bombers to their targets. He was known for his daring and aggressive flying style. In 1942, Wells was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader and given command of his own fighter squadron.
After World War 2 he stayed with the South African Air Force and was seconded to the Royal Airforce as an instructor. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Wells was called up to active duty as part of the United Nations forces sent to support South Korea flying the North American F-51 Mustang in 2 Squadron known as the Flying Cheetahs. Wells was the leader of the ‘A’ Flight group that attacked Chinese positions in the ‘Punchbowl’ area . Wells also took part in the mission which dive-bombed troops south of the Sarwon-Sohung railway. In total the Flying Cheetahs notched up 10,597 sorties on 2,980 missions at a cost of 74 aircraft (14 of them in accidents) and 34 pilots.
In 1953 the South African Air Force was loaned three F-86F-30 Sabres by the United States Air force to supplement the out-dated Mustangs. Major Wells was one of the two pilots chosen to test fly the Sabres before they were put into operation. The day before the Sabres became fully operational, Stan flew a sweep of the Yalu Valley. The next day he joined American pilots in four air patrols along the Yula River. This was first time in the South African Airforce went into action in a jet aircraft. The Cheetahs flew another 899 operational sorties with the Sabres. In October 1953 he returned to South Africa.
When the war ended some months later, Stan, who was already highly decorated in WW2, was decorated by the Korean Government and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the United States for his exemplary service in the Korean War. Back in South Africa he took up farming for many years before going back to flying again as an instructor.