Jack van Eyssen

Tribute page:  WW2 SAAF bomber pilot Jack van Eyssen

Hi and welcome to this site!

I visited Mrs. Beryl van Eyssen at her house in Johannesburg in June 2015. The late Jack van Eyssen was her husband and she kept all his war memorabilia since he passed away in 1999. Beryl allowed me to copy his war documents including the flying log book. Thanks to Beryl for her kindness during my visit. Thanks also to Marion Read,  Jack's daughter, for her assistance and organising the visit.

Jacobus Lodewikus van Eyssen Joined the SAAF in 1936 as a cadet in the Transvaal Air Training Squadron while being an engineering student. Jack obtained his Engineering degree in 1940. He then became permanently involved with flying instruction at various air schools in South Africa.

In mid 1944  he joined SAAF No. 31 heavy bomber squadron in the Mediterranean, flying B-24 Liberator aircraft. From Italy they flew mostly sorties to targets in Southern Europe.  

On the night of 14 August 1944 Jack's Liberator was shot down in Poland on a special supply drop mission to Warsaw. Jack bailed and made a safe decent by parachute. He was taken in by the Russians, interred for a while in Russia and then repatriated back to South Africa. 

Jack returned to the squadron in  early 1945 and finished his operational tour when the war ended.

After the war Jack had a long and successful career in the mining industry as a mining engineer.

Jack passed away on the 5th November 1999.




This is a living web site. Any input and/or participation will be much appreciated regarding additional information, correctness, information from relatives of members who served with Jack, photographs, stories etc. Please e-mail me. 

If you perhaps have a family member who served as a SAAF fighter pilot during WW2 and you would want to find out more about his war service please contact me, hopefully I can be of some help.

Tinus le Roux

August 2015



Beryl van Eyssen (Jack's wife) and Marion Read (Jack's daughter) laying a wreath at the Katyn memorial during the 2014 SAAF Warsaw flights commemoration service in Johannesburg.




Military Career

??/??/1936    Joined the SAAF and attended the Transvaal Air Training Squadron, a part-time unit with flying instruction after-hours.

25/10/1938    Obtain wings, qualified as a pilot

10/10/1939    Called up for service but obtained exemption until his studies was finished

03/12/1940    Resume full time service, Zwartkops Air Station, flying training

03/12/1940    Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant

14/01/1941    Promoted to Lieutenant

12/12/1940    Attended various air schools as flying instructor: 2 AS, 24 AS, 62 AS, 29 OTU

01/10/1942    Promoted to Captain

22/05/1944    Training on B-24 Aircraft at 1675 H.C.U. Lydda, Palestine

19/06/1944    SAAF No 31 Squadron, Middle East

19/07/1944    Raid on Fiume harbour, Yugoslavia

21/07/1944    Raid on Fanto oil refinery, aircraft holed

24/07/1944    Attacked Valence airfield in Rhone valley

29/07/1944    Briefed to bomb Bucharest

30/07/1944    Mined the Danube river west of Corabia, aircraft holed

03/08/1944    Bombed Valence railway yard

07/08/1944    Bombed airfield on Austria/Hungary border near Szombathci

09/08/1944    Raided Rumano Americano refinery at Ploesti

12/08/1944    Raided an airfield at Haltdu- Boszormeny Hungary

14/08/1944    Supply dropping at Warsaw, shot down, baled from aircraft and made safe parachute decent, taken in by the Russians and interred for 16 days.

09/10/1944    Returned to Pretoria South Africa

13/01/1945    Returned to 31 Squadron, stationed in Foggia, Italy

13/01/1945    Promoted to Major as  Flight Commander

02/02/1945    Supply drop to Flotsam Yugoslav partisans

04/02/1945    Supply drop to Italian Partisans, Crayon, no drop, clouds

12/02/1945    Bomb  attack on Verona Marshalling yards

15/02/1945    Bombing attack on Fiume harbour quay and storage tanks, Yugoslavia

22/03/1945    Bomb Villach marshalling yards, Austria

01/04/1945    Bombed Arsa Harbour, Aircraft holed

08/04/1945    Bombed Trento Marshalling yards

11/04/1945    Bombed ammo dumps and close army support

15/08/1945    Returned to South Africa

14/09/1945    Demobilised


Jack posing in front of  a an Avro Tutor when he did part time training as a  SAAF TATS  (Transvaal Air Training Squadsron)  cadet (1936-1938) 




Jack at st some Air School in South Africa


At Lydda, Palestine 1944. It is here where 31 squadron received training on Liberator bombers.


Painting in Jack's home showing a Liberator doing mine-laying in the Danube river at night, Jack went on such a sortie 30/07/1944.




 Position of crash site






 Distinguished Flying Cross








Jack's Liberator crash site memorial (Airmen's Hill) at Michalin near Warsaw: visit by South African group 2014 




 Jack van Eyssen's family at the memorial: Marion (daughter) with her two children Lauren and Stuart. The Mayor of the town was also present.






(crash site of Jack's Liberator)

 A small shrine built by Bronisław Kowalski, this shrine was destroyed by vandals. Also displayed was a small inscribed plaque made from a piece of aircraft wreckage aluminium.


A wooden cross was erected and stood alone for many years.


 Bronisław Kowalski with his first epitaph and the monument in the background. The monument was made in 1977. Mr. Kowalski was part of the Polish resistance movement during the war and was involved with the moving of  shot down SAAF crew members. As I understand he was also involved with the establishment of the memorial at Airmen's Hill at own cost.

Jack meeting Mr. Kowalski at Airmen's Hill in 1992.


Airmen's Hill memorial in 1979, photograph by Paweł Sulich.


Jack's crew members who were killed , buried in Krakow.  (Hudson, Hamilton, Mayes)

 1994,  Jack van Eyssen (middle), Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak (right) and George Bertram (50th anneversary of the uprising)

 The last meeting of the front line.  1994, at the House of Bronislaw Kowalski  (in the middle), Jack van Eyssen (right) assisted by George Banas


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