Certainly not, if a painting of Petrus Hendrik (Dutch or Piet Khaki) Hugo, by the war artist, S. Morris Brown, is hanging with that of Sailor Malan in the Imperial War Museum.
In South Africa? Yes – taking into account that so called “colonial history” should be wiped off the faces of all SA history books and museums.
Petrus Hendrik, also called Piet Khaki by his sister (because the Karoo sun used to burn him pink in the face like a “Rooinek” when he was a young boy), was born on the farm “Pampoenpoort” in the Victoria West district of the Great Karoo. He matriculated from the local high school in 1936 and went on to study aeronautic engineering between 1937 and 1938 at the Witwatersrand Technical College.
In January 1939 he joined the RAF and was sent to Sywell in Northamptonshire for training as a pilot, after which he was transferred to 13 Flight Training School at Drem in East Lothian, Scotland. Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, he was transferred to Evanton at the Moray Firth and to St. Alban in South Wales for training as a fighter pilot. As a member of 615 Squadron, it was initially his task to deliver Hurricanes from the transport depot at Filton near Bristol, to the fighting units in France.
With the advance of the German forces his squadron was transferred back from France to Kenley in Surrey, where they supplied protection and coverage for the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk. After Dunkirk his squadron was engaged in fighting the attacks of the Luftwaffe over south eastern England, eventually becoming fully engaged in active operations during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. He was shot down twice – wounded the first time in both legs and the second time in his left leg, right eye and jaw bone. After a while in hospital he returned to his squadron and was awarded the D.F.C. Later, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and then, Flight Commander, of the squadron. For the protection of shipping in the Canal and attacks on the enemy in Northern France he was awarded the first Bar of his D.F.C. Together with his 22 victories in air battles, he destroyed 22 enemy ships and 55 ground vehicles. He was a crack shot which probably stemmed from hunting Springboks in the Karoo – almost like Sailor Malan.
On 11 April 1942 he was promoted to OC of the Langmere Wing which included 41 Squadron. A week later he married Angela Margaret Seeds of Valley, Angelsey, daughter of a farmer. Shortly after his marriage his Spitfire was shot down during an air battle but he bailed out over the Canal where he was rescued. For this he was awarded the D.S.O. personally by King George Vl at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. As OC of the Free French Air Squadron he received the Croix de Guerre with palm and made honorary member of the French Air Force. During 1942 he took part in the Dieppe operation to protect American bombers over Western Europe and was appointed Wing Commander of Wing 322. He was also awarded with the American D.F.C for the protection of American citizens. He transferred his Wing from Gibraltar to Nigeria to fight the German ground forces, received the second Bar of his D.F.C and shortly after this, at the age of 24, became the youngest Group Captain in the RAF.
After the defeat of the German ground forces in northern Africa, Dutch Hugo’s wing served in Sicily, Italy, Malta, Syria and southern France in 1944. In November of that year he was transferred as Air Relations Officer to Marshal Tolbuken’s second army in the Ukraine but he couldn’t really get on with the Russians and returned to Tangmere. He had the greatest number of fighter operations at the end of the war – 1,130 hours.
After the war he was permanently appointed to the RAF but he offered to drop two ranks just to get involved with fighter planes again.
Like Sailor Malan, farming in South Africa ran in his blood and he returned to southern Africa after the British government gave him a farm in 1951 on the western slope of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He built it up into a modern and prosperous farm where he and his wife and three daughters spent 20 years of extreme happiness as a family.
In 1971 the tide turned against Dutch Hugo and his family when first his father-in-law died and shortly after, his beloved wife, who was buried on the farm. On 27 September 1971 black policemen turned up on the farm and, at gunpoint, ordered him and his daughters to leave the farm within 24 hours. They were forbidden to enter their house again to collect their personal items. Eventually he was given fourteen days to leave but he had to leave every thing he built up behind as well as the grave of his late wife. He went by ship from Mombasa to Durban and from there, to his brother Ben, on the farm Pampoenpoort, district Victoria West in the Karoo, with nothing except some personal belongings. His personal Cessna 182 was smuggled out later of Tanzania with the help of a friend.
For Piet Khaki/Dutch Hugo the circle of his life was completed when he arrived back at Pampoenpoort in 1971 where friends and family helped him to make a semblance of a new start. On 8 June 1986 he passed away and was laid to rest in the warm, dry earth of the Karoo.
Lt. Col. Walter Stanford, CBE, DFC who served under Dutch Hugo, (I think in later years mayor of Somerset West) said in a tribute to Petrus Hendrik Hugo after his death: “For such a distinguished fighter pilot he was the most modest I knew. He had South Africa embroidered on his shoulders, as did Sailor Malan, a proud name then not held in opprobrium. He was a charming man…one of those indomitable fighter pilots who helped to save Great Britain in 1940….It was a privilege to serve under him and we remember him gratefully now that he has taken to the wings of the morning.”
Sources supplied by Mr. Vic Olivier, of Durbanville, a relative of Dutch Hugo: “The Outspan”, November 27, 1942.
“The Victoria West Messenger, June 6, 1986.
Email form his daughter, Jo, 4/12/13: His wife was buried in a churchyard in Arushi or Moshi (not sure in Tanzaniea or Kenia – my question) Daughters were in boarding house in Nairobi when he was ordered off the farm) Cesna flown out by a friend from Kenya while the craft there for maintenance.
Petrina, 4/12/13: mother buried in Moshi on 18/4/1971. Also attend a land selection board meeting where he was informed that he was eligible to apply for a farm on the slope of Kilimandjaro at Old Molog.