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41st Air School

Memories of a Navigator

Harry McDonald
Updated: 14 October 2009
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It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the creator of The Labyrinth of East London Lore, Dr T., has passed away. Helping people through his website gave him no end of pleasure. If you had contact with him and would like to leave a message, please send us an e-mail here.

41 Air School was established in 1939, soon after the start of World War II. A great many of us were trained there as navigators. We were made very welcome by the local people and have fond memories of South Africa and particularly of East London.

Local ladies ran the RAF canteen and one of them, Mrs Hettie Scholz, who had a butcher's shop at 54 Rhodes Street, invited a few members of each succeeding course to her home.

There we became great friends with her sons, Chummie -- sadly later killed in Italy -- and Gilbert who, with his wife Mavis, had a farm locally. Their daughter Gillian was born while we were there and married Mr L Hawkes in about 1963.

Mrs Scholz frequently drove us in her Packard and even put her little Chevrolet at our disposal. After the war, she came to England and called on each of us and the families of several killed in action. What a kind person she was.

Our first taste of flying was at East London on Anson, Oxford and Battle aircraft. I was later fortunate enough to get through my operational flying on Wellington bombers.

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