SAAF 44 Squadron
The unit began its distinguished history as 43 Squadron based at Pietersburg and Nigel, giving qualified pilots dual engine conversions on Oxford aircraft. On 10 January 1944, 43 Squadron packed its bags and moved to the deserts of North Africa.
The newly named 44 Squadron, based in Cairo, Egypt, opened its doors on 12 March 1944. 44 Squadron immediately began flying the 23 DC-3 on strength in support of the Allied forces in North Africa, Middle East and later in the European theatre initially under the command of Lt Col Ginn. Routine flights were extended to Cyprus, Rabat Sala and Naples as well as Bari, Rome, Khartoum. Aden, Port Sudan, Asmara, Palestine, Mersa, Matruh, El Adam, Shariah, Tehran, Marseilles, Forli, Cairo West and on special occasion to the United Kingdom.
A DC-3 from 44 Squadron was also based in Russia during the historic conferences between Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill. At the end of the war on 6 December 1945, 44 Squadron was disbanded and the aircraft returned to the RAF. During the 19 months of operational flying 44 Squadron flew 39 423 hours at an average of 2000 hours per month.
44 Squadron was reborn on 13 November 1953 as a Citizen Force Transport Squadron by renaming 25 Squadron. The squadron was once again fitted with the DC-3 and continued its role as VIP carrier and transport of man and freight, paratrooping and the supply of an ambulance service. CF pilots were used extensively in the after-hours and weekend periods to relieve pressure off the Permanent Force members.
During November 1956 44 Squadron was relocated to AFB Waterkloof from its previous home at AFB Swartkops, but returned to Swartkops in 1963 due to accommodation problems.
1966 saw the strengthening of 44 Squadron with the addition of the DC-4 Skymaster. A Viscount was also transferred to 44 Squadron in 1983 from 21 Squadron.
On 16 November 1968 under Cmdt G.H. Mckay, 44 Squadron received its colours from the State President Mr J.J. Fouche. The squadron motto "Prosumus" – We serve, dates back to the Second World War.
During the post-war decades, 44 Squadron worked its way into the hearts of not only the military community, but the civilian community as well. This was recognised when 44 Squadron under Cmdt T.A. Hill was awarded to Freedom of Verwoerdburg on 12 August 1987.
During the conflict in South West Africa (Namibia), 44 Squadron operated DC-3’s in a variety of different roles including casualty evacuation, paratrooping, lunar ops, skyshout, Supply dropping and even as a gunship, the Dragon.
In July 1992, the squadron was transferred to AFB Waterkloof where it remains to this day and began to operate the C47-T "Turbodak", an upgrade of the older DC-3’s.
The Squadron operated DC-3’s until they were all sent to 35 Squadron in 1997 to serve in the maritime role and 44 Squadron received the CASA 212. The Casa basically took over all the roles that the Dak had filled, and did so very successfully.
Those include paratrooping, freight transport, VIP transport and casevac. They all came from the former TBVC states. A Casa 235 from the TBVC states has also bolstered 44 Squadrons strength as VIP carrier, Paratrooping and transport aircraft.
In 1999 42 Squadron from AFB Swartkops operating the Cessna 185 merged with 44 Squadron bringing the reconnaissance element to the traditional transport squadron. The Cessna 185 is the only aircraft left in the SAAF that is a single crew operation. It is being employed in a variety of roles including, photographic as well as visual reconnaissance, paratrooping (freefall), command and control, telstar, skyshout, fast extraction as well as light transport. In short 44 Squadron is moving more and more into the role of close battlefield support.
A squadron with a rich and prestigious history, 44 Squadron promises to not only continue delivering the high standard of service the nation and world expects, but to continually strive to find methods of improvement. "PROSUMUS!"