This is the last of three diaries written by Flight Sergeant E. W. J. Wood RAF Observer service number 1384832 covering his World War 2 RAF service during 1942, 1943 & 1944. The diaries for 1942 & 1943 have not yet been transcribed.
His parents lived at 73 Eton Road, Ilford, Essex and he was a keen photographer.
He starts this 1944 diary still based at RAF Catfoss on the East Yorkshire coast continuing his lengthy navigation and signal training.
Eventually he is posted to the Middle East leaving Portreath, Cornwall and flying to Cairo, Egypt via Rabat, Morocco and Tripoli, Libya. From Cairo he is posted to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where he sadly contracts Dengue fever and hospitalised towards the end of 1944, with the plan to return him home via boat as soon as he is well enough sometime in early 1945.
Alas no 1945 diary has survived and so the final story of Mr Wood homeward bound has – for the moment – been lost in time.
OFE4 – 2.30 – good trip finished 20.30.
3 Squadron flying cancelled.
Stayed at York Hotel, Hull. Went to Three Tuns talking to photographer. Les & Stan & Jim Fletcher came in.
Left Hull 9.45 King’s X 3.45 PM train to Liverpool St. free with USA Officer – arrive home 16.25 – stayed in for evening sorting out kit.
12.30 Holborn station George: went to lunch at Regent Palace – bought chess set, fishing spoons etc. from Wally’s cheque.
Went to Red Lion. Warning & heavy A.A. all clear in an hour.
Went to office, saw E.R.R back from Lisbon but expects to go again soon.
Packed bags & took them to station – went & saw George.
Up at 6.30 caught9.05 from Paddington arrived Filton 13.50; not much of a place but good mess.
Weather bad went to Bristol merry evening.
WX no good yet – Bristol again in evening.
Left Filton arrived MM bags of mud – in hut with Jack & boys.
Arrival forms etc. drew revolvers & ammo & all tropical kit – khaki battledress.
Went home in evening arrived home 2.15 AM – rail hold up by raid at Leytonstone.
Left home 1.15 arrived M.M. 8.0 PM; very glad I took opportunity of last few hours at home.
Went to Redruth – quite a decent town went to pictures had a good meal.
John Slater & Roy Morgan, Jim Warriner on Squadron at Portreath.
Left P.R. 7.55 arrived Rabat 2.25 PM good trip & got a good room.
Left MA 09.15 arrived Cairo 14.30 – got good tent, mess jolly good – found Dan & Taylor still here.
Up at 7.40 nothing to do so changed our money 97.5 Piastres to £1; collected kit from kite – had a good session on beer.
Took in laundry handed revolver in – met Truscott. John & Pat arrived today.
Les Clarke & Stan Leach arrived today quite warm – had a cold shower.
Got bed from Truscott who is posted. Jack got one also much better than a floor.
Had few drinks in mess – scrounged extension for tent – also got a base as a table.
Applied for leave, given 7 days from tomorrow. High wind & sandstorm on guard 12.00-02.00. Had to get sandbags to hold tent extension down.
Paid – left camp. 12.30 PM arrived Cairo. Job to get room – found one at Piccadilly Hotel 25 Pt. bed & breakfast.
Went round bazaar & Mosques with Abdul from Piccadilly – now staying at Hurricane House – 12 Pt. day full board. Had few drinks in Groppi’s.
Paid Hurricane House 55 Pt. Arrived 22 PDC 16.05 – all have beds in our tent now.
On duty road patrol 15.00 – 18.00; what a bind!!
Started ground school course – pay parade £5/-/-
Went to Cairo had a bath & haircut; bought wrist identity bracelet 25 Pt.
Started to play bridge jolly good game.
Mess dance – everybody merry – good evening met Jeff Hinde. Jack nearly passed out.
Went to pictures played bridge in afternoon.
On ground school all day – stayed in played solo.
On special duties road patrol again with Harry.
Started 48 hr. pass – staying at Hurricane House room 12. Dummy run for tomorrow night. Put Jack to bed – Colin not much better.
Colin 21. Hell of an evening went to the Fleurent at 10 PM put Jack to bed again.
Went on YMCA tour of bazaars & Mosques jolly interesting. Stayed in – I got extension until Sunday.
Went to the Amein club & saw boxing match. Went to pictures in evening.
Had quiet day – left Hurricane House 9.0 after few drinks with Charlie arrived “22” 10.15 PM.
Applied for leave – start after duty tomorrow for 7 days. Got off guard.
Started 7 days leave – Pay £11.0.0 – staying at Hurricane House room 19 – had session in bar & went to Eden cabaret.
Stayed in all morning had session in bar & went to Morocco cabaret, not so good as Eden.
Stayed in all day played solo in afternoon stayed in all evening.
Went to Eden cabaret not so good – too sober to enjoy it!!
Went to pictures saw “The Phantom of the Opera” – in evening went to the Eden another “evening”.
Played cards in morning, very heavy session in bar – went to Eden – Colin & Jack in bad way – put Jack to bed – once again!!
Back to the old routine! Went to Helio baths in afternoon – good swim.
Posted to Shallufa. Co leave tomorrow – went to Cairo scrounged sheet – back in camp at 8.45.
Up at 4.15 am left 22 @ 5.45 left Cairo 7.15 changed at Ismailia arrived Shallufa @ 16.00 good tent. Jolly good food & mess – went to pictures with Jack.
Day off sorted my kit out.
Introductory talks by C.I., Flight Commander etc. 4 week course – went to ENSA concert quite good.
Flying 09.30 – flew in shorts still too warm – hottest day yet – played bridge.
Up at 7.30 flying 09.30.
Half day off. Went to pictures saw “One of our Aircraft is Missing” good film.
Flying 06.00 a bind after last night. Went swimming in Canal – hot walking there & back.
Jack, Harry, Charlie & Dougie left at 10.00 am. Went swimming in Canal.
Flying 06.00. Went swimming in Canal.
Up at 7.30 flying 09.00 – no lectures today.
Went swimming in Canal.
Too hot to go swimming. Night flying scrubbed for heat, engines over heating.
Flying 7.30 am.
Went to Suez Bay on shipping visit – quite a good afternoon – played bridge all evening.
Compass swinging at 6.00 am for night trip tomorrow.
Not on tonight’s “do” tomorrow instead.
Night flare attack on cruiser – good fun.
Moon path attacks on DD – jolly good.
Packing up for move back to Stalag 22.
Left Shallafa 3.00 PM arrived 22 PDC 6.00 PM. Tent B8 – same as old.
Went to Cairo, posted via BOAC to New Delhi!!
Letter from ERR asks me to look up John Drummond G/RO c/o BOAC Cairo.
Phoned John Drummond (client of Esmond) & meeting him at Groppi’s tomorrow 16.30.
Met J.D. had few beers at Hurricane House then had dinner at Casino Opera Square with Colin – got taxi back at 12.45 am.
Stayed in all day – on guard – wrote home & ERR
Weighed in kit BAOC, stayed in Cairo, night at Hurricane House. Phoned JD meet him tomorrow.
Stayed Hurricane House until evening met John Drummond, had dinner at Bystander – a good evening – back at 22 @ 02.45 am.
Up at 3.30 am Cairo, on-board 06.05 – Bashrah 15.00, flying time 7.55 hrs, had 2 short stops.
04.05 – 06.35 = 2.30
07.30 – 09.30 = 2.00
10.15 – 13.10 = 2.55
16.00 – 18.30 = 2.30
Arrived camp 20.15 in tents.
Up at 9.10 filled in forms off all day, played bridge in afternoon, very warm!
Went to Karachi – quite a good town plenty to eat – saw half of film show – taxi back Rs 15.
Played bridge in afternoon & bingo in evening.in camp canteen, lost about Rs 5 in all evening.
Went to town bought cigarette case Rs 9.8 plenty of good things to buy – went to pictures – taxi back to camp.
Played bridge all afternoon & evening won Rs 2.
Bought bush jacket Rs 14 (with badges & flash brevet)
Played bridge all afternoon & evening very tired.
Posted to Ceylon – going by train in a few days – played bridge in afternoon wrote letter.
Went to Karachi – had good feed – crab salad & sirloin steak.
Stayed in played cards all afternoon & evening.
Went to Karachi, had good feed – bought photo album – towel & pants saw “Phantom of the Opera” again.
Stayed in camp – stuck photos in album.
Stayed in camp played bridge in afternoon & bingo in evening.
Heard Second Front has started at last – met Joe Smith – just arrived out here.
Went to Karachi had last good feed.
Left Karachi 07.30 filthy train as in Egypt – tinned rations – eat in railway restaurants.
Saharanpur Junction for 2 hrs. arrived Delhi 12.30 had afternoon in town went to show & had good feed – same carriage – left Delhi 11.15 PM..
Travelling all day getting near hills – rained all night.
Good scenery – arrive Madras 19.40 – left again at 20.10 in 3rd Class compartment & no dinner.
Changed to 2nd Class – good breakfast – arrived Thoothukudi 15.30 PM. On ferry to Ceylon. stood in siding hours before morning.
Arrived Colombo 11.15 am in a small mess. Went to Group filled in forms – went to show in evening.
Arrived 22 Sqdn in morning – Tassie here – good room with Dick, food & mess fine. 8 in from Colombo.
Nothing to do toady wrote letter. Went to pictures saw “49th Parallel” good show.
Saw C.O. getting some leave, in “A” Flight. Going up hills to Nuwara Eliya.
Handed in 295’s. Packing for leave.
Have 3 bottles of gin at Rs 6 each for our leave. Collected passes etc.
Rained all day, played snooker, started on bottles of gin, went to show “Mad About Music”.
Stayed in all morning.
Got bottle of Allsopp’s beer Rs 3!! Raining all day had game of monopoly & snooker.
Fine day, walked around lake – 2 hours – got muddy – played billiards.
Fine morning but stayed in.
Went for walk over tea plantation to top of Agatha’s waterfall – fine view from top.
Last day – played snooker – bags of draught beer – had sleep in afternoon.
Arrived camp 09.00 – gunnery course starts Monday morning – into bush on the 11th. Sorted kit – wrote home & ERR.
Laid in until 10.30 am.
Start gunnery course not bad – hours 08.30 – 12.45 & 14.00 – 16.15. Went to show “They All Kissed the Bride”.
Colin & Dick back from leave. Rooms at Vav. Now allotted arrived in Room 7 Block.
Went to Colombo bought fishing hooks @ 50c.
Course getting a bind now – sent off kit & furniture to Vav, A.G. from George.
Pay parade Rs 108 – Colin & Dick flew together to Vav – dummy a/c recognition test 18/30.
Jim arrived at Rat today to join “217” – went to pictures with him.
Left Colombo 6.45 PM arrived Vav 1.35 am found room O.K. – after falling over tree stumps – very noisy – frogs & animals.
Colin left for Rat to go on gunnery course.
Drew Mae West, chute etc. Played bridge in evening, walked round lake in afternoon.
Line from home – go on “48” tomorrow.
Left Vav 08.30 lorry broke down – had 3 lifts before arrived at Colombo staying at Grand Oriental Hotel.
Shopping in morning met Colin in afternoon.
Left Colombo 10.30 arrived Vav 17.15, G. O. H. bill @ 9.50 day – Rs 19.
Slept all morning no work for me to do.
Saw “Tunisian Victory” very good film.
A line from home.
Dry, swim 10.30 am.
Mack pranged – both OK except for cuts & bruises – kite a complete write off finished upside down. Lucky there was no fire.
2 letters from Harry Yorke – Charlie Dean killed. Harry now on 603.
“47” lost 2 kites on exercise one crew OK.
Slim Burt & Russell pranged both OK. Swung & had to retract undercarriage to stop.
On standby in Ops room today – quite a bind.
Judge Hardy arrived on detachment of 47 Sqdn.
Flying – 1 hrs formation – up at 6.0 am tomorrow just couple of drinks in mess.
Received “missing” air letters from India (23 all told). Stand by for ASR Op all day – did not get off.
First op with 22 Sqdn – ASR sweep – 5 ½ hrs. – not a bad trip landfall 23.30 in S. ETA OK – no sighting or W/T heard.
Left Vav 10.30 rotten train journey.
Arrive N.E. 15.15 in Grand 15.40 same room as last time 103 with Colin – 7 of us finished 3 bottles of gin!!
Joined golf club Rs 5. Had bags of beer – just made lunch – slept until 7.00 PM – had one of our bottles of brandy.
Played snooker very poor – bottle of scotch – beer.
Wrote line home – had beer in evening & another in bed.
Climbed Mt Pedro – grand view from top – got soaked coming down. Played Bridge down 3980 points! Had bottle of beer in bed.
Felt bad – caught chill yesterday – had 4 bottles of beer – very good.
Had a day in bed with cold – got up for meals – had bottle of brandy felt much warmer.
Weather poor today – stayed in all day – played snooker – had bottle of whisky.
Left N.E. 11.30 – arrived Colombo 8.35 train late – rotten journey – got room at Bristol Hotel Rs 10.
Up 8.00 went round shops – went to Rat saw Jim & boys – left Colombo 6.40 arrived Vav 2.00 am.
Up at 9.0 am – no work – no one at Flights – sorted out kit again.
Pay Rs 93.
Went down to beach for day – grand for swimming had bags of fun – good open air lunch – left beach 5.0 camp 7.30.
Dental 14.00 2 fillings – saw Adj. about crowns – writing to Group – first parcel arrived – cards toothpaste etc. from India Command.
Swung our a/c’s compass lined up L.D.R.
Air test on “H” NE407 all OK W/T 100%. Had few drinks in mess.
Both Macs left – going to Colombo then 27 Sqdn.
Dental 12.00 had scaling. Now finished flying on land. Navigation trip OK 4hrs. Left Vav 10.30 for jungle course.
Arrived Colombo 07.30 left at 10.00 arrived rest house 11.20 – good bed for tonight. Had talk on jungle – went in jungle – shown leeches – how to make bed from chute & fire.
Up at 7.30 – down to river at 09.00 given bamboo raft & told to go 7 m down river. OK at first, had couple of spills – lost raft in bushes – picked up by Ron Kane – lost his soon after both of us on John Berry’s – finished OK. Back at rest house 12.15 – free all afternoon. Good meal at 5.00. Left at 5.50 given chute bed. Loaf of bread & tin of bully beef for 5 – taken in jungle & left – sleep there for night & make way to cross roads 12 m through jungle. Got huge fire going – all OK until 1.00 am – poured – out of hammock rigged them up above us near fire – set up rest of night brewing water making hot lime juice – soaking wet.
Breakfast – 2 slices toast – filled water bottles caught rain – left camp dawn 06.50. Still pouring – crossed first running river – up to our waists – Co 027T sometimes on 260T & 070T – bags of leeches – OK until 11.00 felt dizzy – stopped when we got to road – others went for truck – 24 leech bites – 9 dropped out of shirt full – as large as top 2 joints of little finger. Back in bungalow 1.15 PM – covered course in 5 hrs 40 – before patrol was started.
Split in 2 parties of 5.
A = Fenton Wright B.G. Kane
B = Bretton Calderwood Berry Cook Self
Course 027 – 12 miles on paths & bash thru thick bamboo – old paddy fields 3 rivers – over 2 hills – trip gave plenty of confidence of getting through jungle with aid of compass.
Had talk in evening then shown some unarmed combat – very tired.
Up at 7.30 left rest house 09.20 – messing Rs 1.50 day bill Rs 8 with drinks – arrived Colombo 10.25 am – went shopping met Tassie – went to show saw “This is the Life”. Train left Colombo 06.40 PM.
Arrived Vav 03.00 in bed 04.15 up at 8.30. Did not go to Flight – played bridge in evening – wrote 14 page line home.
Posted to “B” Flight moved all our gear – Crown thru – waiting for P.O.R.
A-G firing – took off 09.00 – played bridge in evening.
4 ½ hr. navigation trip very rough – not too bad – used 1 W/V. for all trip of 250/12.9 OK.
Not flying today.
Standby – felt bad went sick in evening taken in – temp 103 degrees – have Dengue fever.
Did not eat any food felt bad.
Felt bad – sick twice.
Temp 102 degrees had bad headache – no food today – paid Rs 96.
Moved from Vav to KKS 24 Field Hospital bed 3.
On full diet did not each much – started reading.
Temp still normal not eating.
Started eating today food very poor – had X ray taken.
Feeling OK but still have to stay in dock.
Feeling OK – no treatment.
Beddones & Fawshaw went back to Vav. Put on Sulphonamide tablets – in bed again.
Taken off Sulphonamide tablets – 19 grains – feeling rather depressed & weak.
Test OK yesterday – on vitamin B tablets & massage for neuritis in shoulder.
Up patient today. Went for long walk along beach in afternoon.
Went for long walk along beach – cinema show – Arthur Askey not too bad.
Went for swim at K.K.S. very warm. Had grand dinner at R.E.’s Sgts Mess KKS.
Put on discharge today waiting for Vav ambulance – played bridge.
Not leaving on ambulance this morning.
Went swimming twice – leaving tomorrow morning – went to KKS mess for drink had to run for truck back.
Up at 06.30 left 24 MFH at 07.50 arrived Vav 11.35 good to be back in Mess – Bernard Brown G HQ as A.C.P.
Played Solo won Rs 3.90. Colin back from Colombo. Reported sick – went to Orderly Room for 295.
Pay parade Rs 370 have Rs 420 (£32). 3 pals of Colin’s came to our mess – got to bed at 2.15 after putting Colin to bed.
Felt grim went to Bob’s camp at 11.30 – had good lunch at rest house arrived camp 18.30 caught train 11.30.
Arrived Pog 05.00 had a meal caught train 10.30 arrived NE 17.00 in room 102 had a good bath.
Grand morning walked through town – heard that Jack McCourt killed – B.G. badly burnt in prang – Major slightly injured.
Went to Creighton Village NAFFI leave camp good beer played snooker had good party in evening.
Went to Creighton in morning.
Arrive Vav 02.30 am had cup of tea in mess up at 09.30 – Martin bought breakfast Wrote Xmas mail..
Saw Doc – go to KKS 8.45 am tomorrow.
Left Vav 9.45 am broke down on road – raining all the time arrive KKS 17.00 hrs.
Saw Doc had rough check – X rays to be taken before board.
Midstream test not too good – went for walk along beach with John Cobb – played bridge in evening.
X rays taken 09.30. Pay Rs 120 first on Indian rate.
Received mail & money from Vav.
Played Bridge all afternoon & evening.
Played Bridge afternoon & evening – 2 beers – had blood test.
Colin came on ambulance from Vav – stayed in ward for night – brought my mail & parcel.
Colin went back to Vav – in dock for at least another week – new roof first on ward.
Played Monopoly – went to classical concert – Beethoven 6th (V) Symphony & Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto very good.
Lazing around – went to Church Service in morning.
Sent dhobi down to Vav.
Examined by Dr. Lockhart – Mummery – writing case & mail arrived from Vav.
Sqdn fully operational.
Write to Colin asking for book.
Ambulance arrived from Vav no mail only papers – surgeon U/S for my “do” today.
Went to Church Service.
Put on Sulphonamide drugs again – 20 g. today – 10 g. a day after – at least getting somewhere now – played Monopoly in evening.
Not feeling too good had rest in afternoon & layed around in evening – right ear feels stiff.
Right ear aching this morning – mail from Vav. Advance party of Sqdn moved. Letter from George started pub in Norwich.
Ear aching on & off all day – cheesed, having them syringed tomorrow.
Finish Sulphonamide course each tab .5 grams – 7 ½ grains – dose 2 every 6 hrs. with Soda Cit.
Went to camp service had ears syringed out.
Mid stream – clear – cured of trouble once again, put letter on ambulance for Colin.
Had morphine at 1.30 in theatre 2.00 – came to soon after 4.00 very sleepy.
In bed resting all day feel OK now, just a bit tender.
Pay day – month to draw now.
Got up in afternoon feel OK again now.
On table again tomorrow.
Morphine 10.45 theatre 11.15 – felt better than Tuesday. Went to pictures in evening.
Allowed up today – went for walk along beach – feel a bit weak.
Letter from Colin – off Sqdn strength – Colin moved now – mail from home. Crown P.O.R No 112/44 (Group).
Went to KKS for evening got bottle of gin – vermouth & hock for tomorrow – got lift back to camp.
Fine dinner slept in afternoon – drunk our liquor – very happy.
Put on another course of tablets M & B 760 1.5 grains every 4 hrs. Felt sick – 9 grams.
Dose reduced to 1 grain every 4 hrs. from 10.00 8 grams.
Pay day – sick in afternoon – saw Jim Clare he pranged with Gee on take off on Sunday last. 5 grams (1 gram 6 hrs).
Ambulance from Vav no mail. 4 grams – (26 so far)
Maybe am on boat – yesterday’s midstream not quite clear. 4 grams.
Off treatment total 30 grams – M.S. not clear yet.