In Memory Of

BEKKER, FREDERICK MARTHINUS

Service Details
Age:
28
Date of Birth:
1922-12-13
Service No:
P1/25989
Rank:
Captain
Unit:
2 Sqdn.
Regiment:
South African Air Force
Date of Death:
1951-07-23
Cause of Death:
Killed in action, in North American F-51 Mustang #335. T/Capt F.M. Bekker, together with Lt R.M. du Plooy, and 2Lts M.I.B. Halley and D.A.R Green, was tasked to conduct a weather reconnaissance of the West Coast of North Korea. They proceeded up the Han Gang River at about 1500 feet, turning east when they reached the river mouth. In deteriorating weather they successfully attacked a bridge across the Imjin-Gan River, completely destroying it. In the course of their attack, they glided down from 1800 feet to 50 feet, and while passing over a hill at low altitude, T/Capt Bekker's aircraft was hit by ground fire. It immediately burst into flames and began to break up, and although he was able to jettison his canopy, he failed to bale out before the aircraft crashed and was destroyed. 2Lt Halley went down to investigate the crash site, and was in turn shot down. He managed to climb to a safe altitude and bale out, and on landing he waved to his two remaining comrades. One of these, Lt du Plooy, remained low to cover 2Lt Halley and keep enemy troops away from him, while 2Lt Green climbed for altitude and called for a rescue helicopter to pick up the stranded pilot. This arrived too late however, and despite Lt du Plooy's best attempts to keep the enemy troops at bay, he had to report that he had seen them capture 2Lt Halley. Shortly after this, he reported that he too had been hit, and although the wreckage of his aircraft was found, he was never heard of again. For his gallantry in sacrificing himself while attempting to save a fellow pilot, Lt R.M. du Plooy was posthumously awarded the United States Silver Star, the highest decoration available to a member of a foreign ally operating under American control. 2Lt Halley spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of the North Koreans, suffering such privations that following his repatriation, he died in a Durban hospital on 15 August 1954, aged only 24. Only 2Lt Green returned to base safely. This proved to be the worst casualties suffered in a single mission by 2 Squadron throughout the Korean War.
Commemoration
Grave Reference:
Panel 13
Cemetery:
UNITED NATIONS PUSAN MEMORIAL
Country:
South Korea
Additional Information
Son of Hendrik Josephus and Barbara Bekker. Husband of Winifred Joan (nee van Zyl) Bekker, of Bloemfontein. ref. 85 years of SAAF