Billy Turnbull

 Tribute site: WW2 fighter pilot Billy Turnbull

Hi and welcome to this site;

Billy was sadly killed in action while doing his operational service in Egypt, 1942. I obtained copies of Billy's photographs and log book via Wayne Allen-White with the kind permission of Billy's sister, Ella Siebert (Turnbull). 

Billy and Angus Allen-White (Wayne's dad) were best of friends during the war and hence the connection. 

Thanks to Ella who presented, prepared and sorted all the memorabilia including a resume of her late brother.

William Fraser Turnbull joined the South African Air Force in early 1941. He qualified as a fighter pilot and was sent to North Africa where he joined SAAF No.5 fighter squadron in mid 1942. 

Billy started flying operations in August 1942 when the front was deadlocked at the El Alamein line. The squadron flew the inferior Tomahawk aircraft at that stage.  Missions included bomber escorts, armed recce's and own troop protection sorties and other. 
After only 17 sorties Billy was reported missing, never to be found. He was most probably shot down by the German ace Joachim Marseille as Marseille claimed 3 Tomahawks shot down at the same date, -area and -time that Billy went missing.
Today Billy is remembered at the El Alamein memorial column 267. Billy was only 19 years of age.

5 Squadron Tomahawk GL-V: similar to the one that Billy flew his last sortie. Profile artwork credit to Gavin Johnson



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 Billy, 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

February 2015


Flying Miles Masters at Dunnottar 


Military career

02/09/1941    2 Air School, elementary flying training, flying Tiger Moths, 52 hours

18/09/1941    first solo

28/10/1941    24 Air School Dunnottar, flying Miles Masters, 102 hours, above average assessment.

14/02/1942    Qualified for SAAF flying badge

07/04/1942    SAAF No. 6 fighter squadron, Durban, flying  Harvards and Mohawks

06/07/1942    Fly up to the Middle East as passanger in a Lockheed Lodestar 

16/07/1942    RAF 233 wing Base ( training), Egypt, flying Tomahawks

26/07/1942    SAAF No.5 Fighter Squadron, Egypt, flying Tomahawks. Flew 17 operational sorties.

06/09/1942    Took off at 17:30 with Tomahawk GL-V, 2nd sortie of the day, log book: "Shot down on Stuka party" Reported missing









 Miles Masters at Dunnottar

 Course photograph with Billy and Angus

 Miles Master trainer

 Billy with


 Wings parade at Dunnottar

 Billy with his mom and dad

 Billy with Ella and his mom



 Flying up with the Lockheed Lodestar.

 Flying past Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

 Pyramids and sphinks, Cairo


 SAAF pilots posing..

 Best of friends:                               Angus Allen-White                                                                                                                        Billy Turnbull

5 Squadron Tomahawks



On this day 5 squadron was scrambled to confront a German Ju-87 Stuka bomber force of approximately 15 machines, south of the Alamein station. There were also a German fighter cover of approximately 12 Messerschmitt Bf-109 aircraft. 

In the aerial battle that followed the South Africans claimed 3 Stukas destroyed, 2 Stukas probably destroyed and 1 Stuka damaged. A Messerschmitt Bf-109 damaged was also claimed.

5 Squadron sustained 4 losses, Billy's aircraft being one of them. Nobody in the squadron observed what happened to Billy but his aircraft was most probably shot down. 

Another aircraft, that of Lt. Coleman, was seen crashing in flames. The other two losses were not fatal as both pilots made safe crash landings.

Here a presentation of the communication to Billy's family and 5 squadron war diary reports.



Letter from 5 Squadron commander Maj. Bunny Pearce .


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