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The Ultimate Sacrifice “ Greater Love hath no man than this ,that a man lay down his life for his friends “ John ch.15 vs 13

By Theo Truter 1/9/2013

A Heroic Act


The Ultimate Sacrifice “ Greater Love hath no man than this ,that a man lay down his life for his friends “ John ch.15 vs 13

How many people do you know, that have offered their life for another person ? I’m sure there aren’t many on your list ! Yet that is exactly what Brian Lee did. Allow me to tell you what happened:Brian was a keen aviation enthusiast and typically lost hardly any opportunity to be near aircraft. Therefore it was no surprise to learn that he and his wife were among the spectator‘s lining the Nelspruit Runway during the 1967 Airshow. A SAAF Dakota lost directional control during landing for some reason and headed at a angle towards the Crowd, straight towards where Brian was standing with his wife. In the split second available to him, he threw his wife to one side away from the rapidly approaching Dakota, but a revolving propeller mowed him down and he was killed. Read this “Sunday Express “newspaper report-

"Four sisters - and a crowd of 3,000 - watched stunned as a SAAF Dakota carrying Brig Jack Robb ploughed into section of the crowd at an air display at Nelspruit yesterday, killing their father and injuring their mother, their nine-year-old sister and several other people. Their father, ex-policeman Mr Brian Lee, 37, turned in his deck chair to protect his wife Beula, and daughter Sharon, beside him as the aircraft spun off the runway on landing and smashed into them. Mrs Lee and a Mrs Nolan of Alkmaar, were admitted to hospital in a serious condition." Sunday Express 30.07.67. DoA 29.07.67 – Dakota # 6882 Now read a SAPA report about the same event and notice the differences:“Plane skids into Crowd – Nelspruit Saturday 29 July 1967 Tragedy marred the annual Nelspruit air rally today when one person was killed And several injured after a South African Air Force Dakota coming in to land slewed off the runway and skidded into the crowd. The man killed is mr Brian Lee of White River. His wife was seriously injured but is off the danger list. Their child was treated for injuries but was discharged.. Several other people are understood to have slightly injured. Their names are not yet available. It was also reported that Mrs P.J.Knowles , mother of mr P.J.Knowles , a senior traffic inspector at the OFS Provincial Administration was severely injured as she tried to escape from the car in which she was sitting. Apparently she was trapped in the car and her leg was severed by the propeller of the Dakota. The accident happened about 11.20 am ,when there between 2000 & 3000 spectators at the rally. Mr Sampson, an official of the air rally, said that four Air Force Harvards had just landed on the airfield to take part in the air display this afternoon. The Dakota was followed by a second which was carrying a detachment of paratroopers who were scheduled to take part inn the display. It appeared as if the undercarriage collapsed when the Dakota touched down. The plane slewed off the runway into a section of the spectators. Genreal H.J Martin , Chief of the Air Staff , was believed to have been on board the Dakota. The accident happened at an early stage of the rally when aircraft were still arriving. Between 30 and 40 light aircraft from different flying clubs had already landed.


The rally was cancelled immediately after the mishap.—Sapa”. During the 1960’s, the author had the privilege of often meeting with Brian in Qachas Nek, which is a tiny village situated in eastern Lesotho [ then called Basutoland Protectorate ] . He was “Member-in-charge “ of the local BMP [Basutoland Mounted Police] station there. Basut-Air had the contract for a mail flight from Maseru [ capital town of Lesotho ] to Qachas Nek , every Wednesday. As a single staff pilot the author very often was allocated this flight. Brian was nearly always present on our arrival at about 10h00 and was always cheerfully chatting to us when we had the chance . Occasionally Brian had to fly as a passenger to inspect the outstation located at MashaiSehonghong, where we also delivered more mail from Maseru & Qachas Nek. As we night-stopped in Qachas Nek those days, the author and the other Mountain Pilot’s stayed in the little Inn , where we enjoyed a beer with Brian too. The author recall sleeping over at his house once, when the Inn was full. In the accompanying photo , circa 1960, Brian is standing talking to the author, who is seated in Dornier DO27 VQ-ZBK, whilst un-loading was taking place. Brian is wearing the uniform so typical of all Colonial Police Officers in British Colonies during that period. The camera used was a Leica IIIg with a standard 50mm Elmar lens. Theo Truter


The ultimate sacrifice