The RAF has the distinction of being the oldest independent Air Force, and together with the South African Air Force, the second oldest, owes its existence in large measure to General Smuts and the proposals he made to the War Cabinet in 1917. Many South Africans have served, with distinction, in both Forces since their inception to the present day. They were among the many young men and women of the British Empire, Dominions and Commonwealth who answered the call to arms in successive conflicts.
They did so not only as a patriotic duty but also as part of the great adventure of life. They found in the Air Force a very special brotherhood, a blend of tradition, innovation and dedication to the operational task at hand, a readiness to improvise and push accepted boundaries and a unique esprit de corps that distinguished the Air Force from the other military services. For many, their years in the service were the best of their lives.
The Royal Air Force Officers Club in South Africa was formed in Cape Town in 1947, by a group of Officers who had served in the Second World War and who wanted to perpetuate the camaraderie and spirit of the Forces in which they had served. The Royal Air Force Officers’ Club, Johannesburg, was established in 1963. In the nature and conduct of their functions, the Club maintains as much as possible of the atmosphere and traditions of an Officers’ Mess.
Inevitably, attrition has taken many of our older members from us. As this has happened the detail of their part in history has often passed with them. Diaries and log books are lost, with the exception of a few individuals who have committed their stories to writing. Gathering of the personal biographies started some years ago. These vary in style and length according to the personal preference (and sometimes reticence) of each writer. As a collection they give a fascinating insight into the campaigns, the machines and the personalities of a unique breed of men who played their part in great events of history.
The Royal Air Force Officers' Club welcomes new members to share with us the re-created traditions of an Officers' Mess. At our monthly lunches we also offer some mental stimulation by inviting interesting Guest Speakers to talk on military, civil and general aviation matters, or issues of topical interest, or maybe entertain us with a touch of humour.
Many of our members have joined us by personal introduction but we invite you to visit us at one of our lunch functions to sample the atmosphere and spirit of fellowship of the occasion. Members of the Royal Air Force Officers' Club are generally distinguished from lesser mortals by their sins of commission not omission!
By meeting the criteria of the various categories of membership, completing an application form, available on this web-site, and approval by the Committee, plus a small membership fee, we look forward to welcome you as a fellow member.
After some years in compilation the volume of the Members' Biographies was published in 2008. Many of the members directly contributed to its realization with one member, Palle Ploger, making it his memorial and the book stands as his testimonial to bringing it all together. It is now regarded as something of a collector's item.
We were honoured that our volume has Forewards from Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, former Chief of Air Staff of the Royal Air Force and Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, former Chief of the South African Air Force.
Both these distinguised Officer's were holding their respective positions at the time of writing their forward's.