South African Air Force Memorial… Bays Hill.

Air Force Memorial Bays Hill.

I took a drive up to this Memorial last Saturday and found myself all alone at a magnificent piece of Architecture. With not another soul in sight I wandered around and actually felt the awe and reverence. The monument to those that have lost their lives in the service of the Air Force, I really didn’t know so many had lost their lives in WWII..


I have copied the text below from the SAAFA (South African Air Force Association) web site as I could not describe this area and monument any better than they have. If you wish to see more of their site CLICK HERE.

As you approach the SAAF Memorial, you cannot but stand in awe at its simplistic yet intricate beauty. The design of straight lines and complex triangles radiates a life of it’s own. Walking down the first set of steps from the parking area takes you into a small world of immense significance. No real airman can ascend these steps without the feeling that he is walking on sacred ground, surrounded by the memories of heroes and akin.


The Memorial, dedicated to those that gave their lives in the service of their country, in war and in peace, was opened on September 1st 1963 by the then state President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr CR Swart.


The site of the Memorial commands a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside and is itself a dominant feature in the landscape. The promoters chose this site as it overlooks the buildings and runway of Swartkop, the first Air Force Station in the Republic and the cradle of the SAAF as well as the departure point during World War II for the majority of SAAF personnel going North.


The basic element used throughout the design is that of the equilateral triangle (the form of the contemporary delta aircraft wing profile) and multiples or subdivisions thereof, all proportions being governed by 60, 30, 15 or 7½ degrees angles. This triangular shape was used not only in the form of the building itself, but is echoed in the various components, paving, window lights, door panels, door handles and grille members.




The original bronze eagle together with the original granite inscriptions and certain paving from the Waterkloof Memorial were incorporated into the new design.


The Cenotaph, the centrepiece of the design, is three sided to accommodate the SAAF motto, “Per Aspera Ad Astra”, and the two biblical quotations used by them. It is lighted from above by means of perforations in the roof. The Memorial hall can be opened completely by folding glazed doors to permit public access for placing wreaths on the Cenotaph during the large annual Memorial services. Three triangular pools, one underneath each wing, completes the structure.

47 thoughts on “South African Air Force Memorial… Bays Hill.

  1. So many lives lost in war. I didn’t know there were so many from South Africa. Great places from what seems like a fantastic and important place. It must have been special being there alone.

  2. Beautiful…
    Walking around old monuments always makes me think how very different things are now than they were back then. The atmosphere is thick with other people’s memories.

  3. These are stunning!! Both the photos and the story behind them. I would imagine it would feel so immense to be there and truly ‘feel’ the atmosphere of such a place of honor. Thank you so for sharing this…I did not know of it before and feel richer now for learning about it from you. Your photos and narrative never fail to teach me so very much!! I am grateful you are so generous with sharing your part of the world with us!! Hugs & Blessings ~

  4. A wonderful memorial to all the brave people who fought and lived through the war. Such a horrible time in history and these memorials are needed so we never forget. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I just tried to email you but had some problems so ill leave my message here.

    I have wanted to share something with you for quite a while. My daughter attended college in a small town in Pennsylvania. The day we dropped her off we met several of her roommates who had just landed from Africa. They had never been outside of Africa. My daughter became very involved with her roommates and the other international students on campus. She taught them how to ride a bicycle, how to drive her car and took them to get their driver’s license. She took them everywhere traveling the East coast. This group of girls from Africa spent the summer at our house the first summer break and were our guests when my son graduated from the United States Air Force Academy. We adopted them as part of our family. At their graduation from college we were able to meet their families. And the girls remain best friends to this day. These girls from Africa were the nicest girls I have ever met.

    • Most people from Africa are… the local differences in creed and upbringing always has the lessons of respect and honour and they have been deprived of the chance to travel the big wide world for so long, that they appreciate any chance they get to learn from others… Yes Africa is dark and we do get the worst of bum raps in the press of other countries in the world, but we are a growing nation and a lot is yet to be learnt… time will see things vastly improve as the older generations give way to the younger more vibrant leaders of the future…. Africa has the potential to be a food provider for the rest of the world, but at the moment it is being taken advantage of due to lack of education that in the future will be reversed… I hold out big hope for the future of Africa and talking to youngsters I meet in my travels all have big plans… if only 10% reaches fruition this will be the place to live… I hope to see some of the changes in my life time, but they will be forthcoming, I have full faith in the youth of Africa….

    • Thank you Alex .. the photos don’t give the feel of the place… but it is magnificent and as a Land Surveyor by trade I enjoyed all the angular projections so difficult to show on a photo…

  6. Good pictures Rob. Simple, yet clever architecture, providing a respectful and fitting memorial.

    I remember similar feelings to yours when visiting the Somme battlefields in France many years ago. There you can see the memorials of 25 different nations. I can never get my head around the fact that 1,200,000 men were killed in the Battle of the Somme, and most of them under the age of twenty five.

    • These sorts of stats are frightening.. and to think that so many lives lost in one battle… I would love to see the memorial… when we went to the USA I did the visit to Arlington… I could have stood there for hours just trying to get my mind around it…

  7. Beautiful. The architecture is stunning. This hits home for me as the mother of a B1 Bomber Pilot for the United States Air Force who currently returned from deployment in Qatar.

  8. Fantastic photos Bulldog. There is something spiritual I find looking at memorials – they tug at the heart strings even when you don’t know anyone affected. What those people do for our countries is outstanding. Gorgeous pics – thanks for taking us there.

    • Thank you… getting there and being the only one there gave me an almost spiritual feeling to my surroundings. Viewing names of those who have lost their lives in different wars was quite spooky, the memorial itself is magnificent and actually difficult to photograph to give its true beauty… the shapes and formations is just … all aircraft, one almost feels the memorial can fly…

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