44 Air School & Grahamstown Military Base
Extract from '6 S A Infantry Battalion History (1915-1999) by Capt. R P Oberholster.
"The Royal Air Force established the 44 Air School in November 1941 in Grahamstown as part of the British Government Training Scheme. This Air School functioned as a navigation-training centre. The first OC was Major Summonds with WO Manley as the first RSM.
Originally the first member of the unit were accommodated in tents on the eastern side of the building of the present base started in March 1942. The Air School HQ was in the building where 6 SAI Bn is at present.
The Training Wing HQ was where 84 TSD is at present. All buildings as they exist today were part of the Air School. The aircraft used for training were Ansons and Oxfords. Harvards were also used during the last few years of the second world war.
The base consisted of more than 10 aircraft hangars. A few offices, sport facilities, living quarters for officers and NCO's as well as married members, soldier barracks, a doctor's surgery room and buildings for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). The present officers' mess was used as officers and NCO's mess.
In 1946 after the Second World War, 44 Air School left the base. Since 1947 it was used as a training depot but after two years this function moved to Oudtshoorn. Thereafter the Base formed part of EP Command until 1955. Training of cadets and citizen force and commando's e.g. First City and Kaffarian Rifles took place at 6 SAI Bn. Since 1947 83 TSD used the aircraft hangars as storage place for Mk 4 armoured vehicles and T16 personnel carriers. Their HQ was Durban. In 1955 84 TSD took over the Base. During 1956 the SAP moved into the living quarters behind the officers mess at the water tanks. The living quarters were not fully occupied and seeing that the police did not have any barracks in Grahamstown, permission was granted for them to use the living quarters between 1959 and 1960. The police also had to leave the base to make place for 6 SAI Bn.
Other items on Cory Library's computerised catalogue dealing with 44 Air School include:
'Early history of aviation in the Eastern Province' by T.G.E. Cockbain;
Scrapbook: including press cuttings and photographs relating to the Rippon family, compiled by E. Mackenzie;
'Man, our country's got history': autobiographical narrative of South African life from 1939-1960 by Alan Slee.