James R. A. Bailey

James Richard Abe Bailey, CBE, DFC (23 October 1919 – 29 February 2000), often known as Jim Bailey, was an Anglo-South African World War II fighter pilot, writer, poet and publisher. He was the founder of Drum, the most widely read magazine in Africa.[1]


James R. A. Bailey
CrestA demi-female figure with arms extended Proper habited Azure trimmed at the collar cuffs and shoulders Argent holding in each hand a sprig of mimosa as in the arms.
BlazonArgent on a fess between three martlets Gules a bezant between two sprigs of mimosa Proper.
MottoVirtus Castellum Meum [2]

Born in London on 23 October 1919,[1] Bailey was the son of Sir Abe Bailey and pioneer aviator Dame Mary Bailey, and was educated at Winchester College and Christ Church Oxford. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was called up from the Oxford University Air Squadron[3] and joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot in September 1939. He served with 264, 600 and 85 Squadrons, flying Defiants, Hurricanes and Beaufighters.[4]

Drum and Golden City PostEdit

In 1951 he provided financial backing to Bob Crisp to start a magazine called African Drum based in Cape Town, and aimed at a Black readership, but as readership dropped, Bailey took full control. The monthly magazine was renamed to simply Drum and the head office moved to Johannesburg. Anthony Sampson was appointed editor.[1] Bailey also founded in 1955 the Golden City Post,[1][5] the country's first black Sunday tabloid.[6]

The God-Kings and TitansEdit

Bailey's book The God-Kings and the Titans: The New World Ascendancy in Ancient Times (1973) was a controversial work on pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact, which claimed that thousands of years before Columbus Mediterranean sea voyagers among other peoples from the Old World landed on both the Atlantic and Pacific shores of America.[7] The book has been referenced by many pseudohistoric writers.


Bailey died in 2000, aged 80, from colon cancer. He was survived by his second wife, Barbara (née Epstein, whom he married in 1962),[3] and by four children.


  • As In Flight (1961)
  • National Ambitions (1958)
  • Eskimo Nel (1964)[8]
  • The God-Kings and Titans (1973)
  • The Sky Suspended (1990)[8]
  • The Poetry of a Fighter Pilot (1993)
  • Sailing to Paradise (1993)


  1. ^ a b c d "Jim Bailey profile". South African History Online. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  2. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1949.
  3. ^ a b Anthony Smith, "Jim Bailey, A good man in Africa" (obituary), The Guardian, 3 March 2000.
  4. ^ J. R. Bailey, pilot entry, The South East Echo.
  5. ^ Robert B. Horwitz, Communication and Democratic Reform in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 53.
  6. ^ Denis Herbstein, Arthur Maimane obituary, The Guardian, 15 July 2005.
  7. ^ Dore Ashton (1993). Noguchi East and West. University of California Press, p. 17. ISBN 978-0520083400
  8. ^ a b "Wistful memories of war" (review of The Sky Suspended: A Fighter Pilot's Story), The Guardian, 29 January 2005.