‘He Opened Africa’s Skyways’

This is the inscription on the headstone of John WILLIAMSON in Cape Town’s Maitland Cemetery. Born Filey in 1895 he must have spent quite a few years in South Africa. Skyways can’t be opened in a hurry, surely.

John was one of the unlucky generation, called upon to fight for the elites in the worst of wars. I haven’t been able to confirm it yet, but I think he served as a motor mechanic in the infant Royal Air Force between 1915 and 1918. There is circumstantial evidence that he migrated to South Africa shortly after the end of the First World War and was serving in the South Africa Air Force when the Second began. His brief service details on the CWGC website reveal that he was known as “John Billie”. Plain “John” when his birth was registered, his father was a John William, a more likely reason for the diminutive, perhaps, than the surname.

I haven’t found a marriage for John in the UK but an online search found a possible daughter in law in the Capetown suburb where he lived with his wife ‘C. M.’ Cato ‘Dinky’ Williamson née LADAN, was the sister of sculptor Eduard Louis LADAN (1918? – 1992). She was one of South Africa’s first female pilots. Eduard served in the SAAF in the Second World War and was rewarded for distinguished services in the King’s Birthday Honours in 1943.

John is remembered on the Filey War Memorial in Murray Street and on a family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.


And their dear son, Lt. JOHN WILLIAMSON S.A.A.F., died July 22nd 1942 aged 46, buried at Capetown, S.A.

‘Loved, honoured and remembered.’

The family is represented on the FamilySearch Tree but the pedigree is limited to just five generations of his direct male line.

Today’s Image

The mysterious algal bloom is back on the boating lake. Last evening it covered about three-quarters of the lake surface, a mosaic of slimy green ‘floes’. The wind overnight had pushed these to the eastern end, up against the retaining wall.


When I photographed today’s star duckling I didn’t notice the lump on its back. I guess compromised nature will have to take its course.


I have spent much of the day juggling spreadsheets old and new in an attempt to streamline collection and storage of the data that will inform future blog posts, increase the resource value of the long neglected Looking at Filey Wiki and complement what is on FamilySearch Tree. My working methods over the last few years could have been thought out more clearly and data input made more efficient. I don’t want to think about all the wheels I have reinvented. If I do manage to design a system of data handling that works smoothly I’ll perhaps share it with you.

The rough and ready list of August Local  Events has the makings of eight stories. I’ll use them as guinea pigs. Taking this breather from researching/posting most days is offering an opportunity to do some dupe eradication and merging on FamilySearch Tree ahead of storytelling rather than just informing you of what needs to be done and walking away from the problems.

On the early morning walk I visited the churchyard to photograph a particular headstone and on the top of the Commonwealth War Grave next to it I saw this little flyer:-


Sergeant HARRISON, RAF isn’t represented on FST but Kath has put together a sizeable pedigree which you can access in Genealogies.