Archibald Charles Maidment was born on the 29th August 1909. He married Kathleen Pagdin (Kath) in September 1941 and lived in Balfour Road Brighton Sussex BN1 6NB. This 1945 diary follows the previous diary posted covering the period from 1942 to 1944.
Arrived Monopoli Dec 31st 1944
Arrived RAF P.T.C. Bari Jan 25th
Arrived Ancona May 16th
Well we start another year and my last overseas I hope. Sure we will have victory this year so 1945 should be a great and wonderful year.
1st to 7th January 1945
Monday, just awful here today, rain, snow and bloody cold. We have been given two days off to get ourselves organised. I spent the time sorting out my kit and doing a few jobs that required my immediate attention. Had the primus stove on all day, certainly heats up the tent alright. Well once more we are back with the Squadron, worse luck. Nothing like being on our own.
Tuesday, another wet and cold day. Spent the time writing, have a lot of mail to catch up. Went into Monopoli this morning with my pals, had a most enjoyable evening in the canteen talking and smoking, of course had many cups of tea and tuck into the cakes.
Wednesday, started training, went out on a march this morning. Saw the Squadron play the Army at football, a very fast game which ended in a draw 2-2. Went into town tonight, first to the canteen and then to the cinema where we saw “Song of Bernadette”, have always wanted to see this film, certainly came up to my expectations, a really great show.
Thursday, spent the day in the cookhouse and I hate that job. Stopped in tonight and wrote. Still very cold.
Friday, out this morning on a march, only did about five miles. Went to the canteen tonight.
Saturday, another awful wet and cold day, gosh! I shall be glad when the summer comes round. Saw a very good film this evening “Destination Tokyo”.
Sunday and for a change it’s a lovely day, sunny and warm, just how I like it. Day off, so just lazed about. Went to the canteen this evening, had the usual, then played table tennis. Had some very good games and had fun.
8th to 14th January 1945
Mornings full of training, afternoons playing football, evenings at the canteen smoking, drinking and playing table tennis. Other evenings I spend in reading or writing. And so the week passes in this way, every day much the same, rather dull and not very interesting. Saw two very good films this week “Fanny by Gaslight” and “Pin Up Girl”.
15th to 21st January 1945
Another week of doing just the same old things day in day out, gosh! I’m fed up with this dump. Been a few rumours of our moving in the very near future and I hope so, it will be great to get cracking again, don’t like stopping in a place for long. Saw two very enjoyable films this week. “Two Girls and a Sailor” and “This is the Life”. Also had a very good concert in the canteen on Thursday evening, could do with more of these. Nothing else of interest to write down for the week.
22nd to 28th January 1945
Monday, terrible day, rain, snow and very cold. Too bad to work so spent the time in my tent reading. Went to the cinema tonight and saw “Christmas Holiday” which I thought was a very lousy show.
Tuesday, more snow today, it’s a job to keep yourself warm these days, glad we have got the old stove. Went to the canteen for the evening.
Wednesday, Spent the day packing for tomorrow we move, that sure is welcome news, only too glad to get away from here.
Thursday, left Monopoli camp at 2oc this afternoon and arrived at the RAF P.T.C. just outside of Bari. We are now billeted in huts which are a lot better than tents at this time of the year. Shall not be here many days.
Friday, spent the morning in the hut, nothing to do. Went into Bari this afternoon with two of the boys, went sightseeing. Bari is sure some place. Many fine modern buildings along the sea front. Went to the RAF Club which is a lively club, about the best I’ve seen for a long time. And so back to camp, enjoyed my afternoon in town.
Saturday, another easy morning, still don’t know when we shall be leaving here. In Bari again in the afternoon, had stroll round the town then went to the canteen for tea. Went to the theatre in the evening, a marvellous place and what a size, managed to get a seat up in the gods, saw a film called “Sweethearts” which was very good entertainment. When I got back to the hut they had a big fire going, it certainly looked and felt very cosy.
Sunday, big parade here this morning, inspected by a big RAF Officer, he gave us some “gen”, shall be moving to Yugoslavia in the next few days to build a drome. Turned out wet this afternoon so stopped in the hut, made up a fire and spent the time sitting round it reading.
29th January to 4th February 1945
Monday and Tuesday not allowed out these two days so nothing else to do but spend them in the hut. Awful weather, rain and more snow, it’s bloody cold. Made up the fire and sat around reading. We are all pack ready for the trip.
Wednesday left the RAF P.T.C. at 8oc this morning and made our way to Bari dock; at 12oc we board a USA L.S.T. Left port at 4oc this afternoon on the first stage to Yugoslavia. Great day for a sea trip, warm and sunny and the sea is calm, so it’s just ideal. Spent most of the hours of daylight on deck watching the coast.
Been lucky enough to get a bunk which is “just the job”. The Yanks on this boat are quite a nice lot of boys, spent an hour this evening talking to two of them, quite an interesting chat.
Thursday, still at sea when I got on deck first thing this morning, another lovely day very warm, plenty of sunshine, the sea is calm. At 1oc we entered Ancona harbour. Lot of army stores and trucks came aboard and about 50 army boys. Stopped in port all day and all night. Spent the evening in the sailors’ mess reading and writing, the boys are playing cards.
Friday, left Ancona at 4oc this morning. Rather dull first thing, turned out lovely later. At 2oc we passed through the many small islands off the mainland, all look very rocky and barren. Entered the port of Zara at 4oc. From the deck it looks a great place, everyone crowds to the side to see what’s doing. Left the L.S.T. at 6oc and spent the night in one of the buildings. On guard tonight. Well we are now in Yugoslavia.
Saturday, had a very busy day unloading the boat, the rest of the Squadron has moved to a place 14 miles from here. Tonight I and 7 others were told we should be stopping in town for a week to do guards on the billet and so OK with me. Well the RAF have taken over this lovely house, used to be the palace of the Italian big noise. We have a room on the second floor, opposite is the bathroom with a lovely marble bath, wash basins.
Sunday spent the morning cleaning up the room and the bathroom. Then went for a walk along the sea front, quite a nice front, or I should say it was, many big hotels and other buildings been many big raids on this town, the front is just a mass of ruins, the bombers sure made a mess of this place.
A lot of Yugoslavian soldiers here and many Italian families. This was an Italian province before the war, but they have “had it” now. Tonight I did a guard on a petrol boat, not a lot of sleep.
5th to 11th February
Monday, a lovely day, sunny and quite warm, just right. Stopped in and had a smashing hot bath also did my smalls. Was great to get into a real bath again.
Tuesday, the rest of the Squadron arrived here today and moved up to the drome site. This afternoon my pal and I went round the bombed buildings, what a hell of a mess, must have been hundreds killed in the two big raids.
Wednesday, spent most of the day around the buildings looking for primus stoves, found one in very good condition, nearly everyone has a stove now.
Thursday. Another lovely day here, getting lovely weather now. Out again looking for stoves, found another one. The billet is now full of stoves, never seen so many before. On guard tonight for three hours, had a couple of Yugoslavians to go round with me, certainly a queer lot alright.
Friday. Stopped in and cleaned my stoves. Heard that the boys are having to work hard and long hours, one runway is finished and planes are expected in today. Great going, built a runway in five days, they have had to move tons of small stones.
Saturday. Went for a walk around this morning and found another very good stove, have three now. The RAF boys have been very busy cleaning up the billet and it looks really smashing, sure is a lovely palace.
Sunday. Rained this morning so I did not go out, wrote a letter and did a spot of reading. About 20 Yank airmen arrived here after making their way through the German lines, some had been on their way since last November. Went for a stroll round this afternoon and did the usual nightly patrol. And so ends my first week in Yugoslavia.
12th to 18th February 1945
Monday. Well this our last day in Zara we are moving up to the drome and another lot are coming to relieve us. Went for a last look round the buildings. Well organised in the billet, airmen’s mess and a smashing club room, radio, books and games. Just the place to spend a pleasant evening, always a big fire in the room. Had a game of housey in the club tonight, no luck, did not win a game.
Tuesday. Moved up to the drome this morning, passed through a couple of small Yugoslav villages, looked awful dumps. Well it was good to get back with the boys again, once again in tents. Spent the day getting organised. Quite a nice camp site, have a good view of the drome. The boys must have worked hard here, now on the second runway. So far there are six spitfires here, but many more are coming.
Wednesday. Up at 6oc and at work by 7oc and finish at 5oc, so it’s a hell of a long day. Busy working on the airstrip picking up tons of stones, what a job. Well it was great to get some mail from Kath and to know she is well and OK.
Thursday. Another long and busy day working on the drome, the second runway is nearly finished.
Friday. Did not have to start work till 10oc as I was on guard last night. Still working on the runway, making this one extra long to take the big bombers. A new chap joined the Flight and he’s in our tent, quite a nice chap.
Saturday. Another whole day working on the drome. Hundreds of Yank bombers passed over on their way to Germany. This afternoon a Liberator landed here on three engines, just back from a raid.
Sunday. Day off, so had a good lay in, just great. After breakfast I got cracking with my smalls and other jobs.
19th to 25th February 1945
Awful day, very cold wind blowing all day. Woke up to find a big hole in the tent, spent most of the day mending it. No work on the drome, finished the second runway.
Tuesday. Still an icy wind blowing, the warmest place is bed. Had a very easy day. About 20 Liberator bombers landed here today, just back from a big raid, this is the half way stop. Some have engine trouble others short of petrol.
Wednesday. Spent the whole day working on the Flight defences, and that means plenty of spade work. Hundreds of planes over and three Liberators landed OK.
Thursday. Had the afternoon off so had a good hot bath, the usual tin affair. Saw a Liberator crash land this afternoon, the crew got out OK. Well we are now with B.A.F.
Friday. Had a visit from the A.O.C. Mediterranean, I did not see him myself, but he came round the camp site. Lovely sunny day and a lot warmer.
Saturday. A few of our boys have gone on an invasion with the Yugoslav’s and the planes from here are helping. Heard things are going OK.
Sunday. No day off. Instead I spent the day on the drome getting the rockets ready for the planes, very busy here now the planes are doing plenty of operations. Another Liberator crash landed and went up in smoke. All the crew got away OK.
26th February to 4th March 1945
Monday. Another whole day on the drome fixing up rockets, have all the “gen” on these things now, quite an interesting job. The “do” on the island is over, the Yugoslav’s had to evacuate, Jerry was too good for them.
Tuesday. Spent most of today working on the runway picking up stones, fed up with that job. Had the Squadron’s welfare radio in the tent for today, not a very good set.
Wednesday. Day off, had a bath then did my smalls and also a few other jobs. A lot of Liberators land on the drome, some on two engines and others on three. One caught fire on landing, crew OK. Must have been a big raid.
Thursday. Spent the day working at the petrol dump.
Saturday and Sunday. Spent a day at the bomb dump, had quite an easy time. One of our planes fired three rockets into the lake, just to show us what they could really do. Plenty of panic on the drome, the Yugoslav’s are coming round at night and pinching our stuff, what a bloody awful crowd.
5th to 11th March 1945
Well we are starting to do a drome patrol and that means out very night, so once again it’s sleep by day and work by night, shall soon be fed up with that arrangement, sure does not agree with me. Most afternoons we have to work for a couple of hours, working at the different dumps or on the Flight’s defences. Most mornings I spend in bed usually feel quite tired after being out for four hours. And so the week passes. Every day now hundreds of bombers go over and we usually get a lot land on the drome on their way back.
12th to 18th March 1945
Monday. Still doing the usual night patrol round the drome. Had a bit of excitement today, a Liberator caught fire on landing, a hell of a blaze. Glad crew got out OK.
Tuesday. Lovely here today, warm and sunny, sure getting grand weather these days. Took advantage of the weather to have a bath outdoors also did my smalls.
Wednesday. Spent the morning in bed. Went down to Zara this afternoon and did a spot of work at the D.I.D.
Thursday. Had the day and night off, which is “just the job”. Great to get a full night’s sleep for a change.
Friday. Two high nobs of the Yugoslavian army came to the drome, the boys formed a guard of honour.
Saturday afternoon I went to see the Squadron play 2914 at football, 2914 have a smashing team and beat us 7-0.
Saturday night went to a small village to do a guard, from there we went miles into the country in search of eggs for M & V. Stopped at a small village and we were soon doing a roaring trade, I gave some chocolate to the kids and nearly got mobbed doing it. But it was quite good fun. Had a good night’s sleep and had a wizard supper of eggs before going to bed.
19th to 25th March 1945
Two Liberators, one Lightening and a B-fighter crashed on the drome, all the crews got out OK. So there has been plenty of excitement on the drome this week. Still doing every night out on patrol, shall be glad when this job is finished, fed up. When there is no moon it’s a job to find your way round in the darkness, get lost and spend hours trying to find the way back to camp.
Most evenings I either read or write, some evenings have a game of cards with the boys. So far there is nothing in the way of entertainment for us and we are all fed up with this dump and would welcome a move back to Italy. Heard that the British boys had crossed the Rhine, that sure is good news.
26th March to 1st April 1945
Monday. Went to Zara this morning, down here for the week doing a guard, this is going to make a change. This afternoon my pal and I went for a good walk round the town, still a lot of Yugoslav troops here and the Yugoslav A.T.S. all carrying arms. Went to the club this evening and played the Navy at darts, we lost every game, still it was great fun.
Tuesday. Rotten here today, wet and dull, just went round the bombed out buildings. Tried to get into a Yugoslav show, but no luck, so went to the club and had a few games of housey, did not win a cent.
Wednesday. Lovely day, very hot. Went for a stroll through the town then spent a very pleasant hour sitting in the park. Tonight we went to the Yugoslav show, had to use our heads to get in, we were the only two British there, quite good going. The show was in honour of two Russian Generals. The theatre was packed with Yugoslav soldiers and A.T.S. This is the first time I’ve seen arms taken into a theatre, some even had grenades on their belts. We could not understand the talking, just a lot of Greek to me. But the singing and the dancing was quite good.
Thursday. Wet morning so stopped in and did a spot of writing. Went for a walk round this afternoon and spent an hour in the park, quite nice there, quiet and peaceful.
Saturday and Sunday. Had a lay in both mornings and went out for a stroll later in the day. Very hot here now. Spent the evenings in the club room playing darts and housey. And so ends a very pleasant and enjoyable week at Zara.
2nd to 8th April 1945
Monday. Arrived back at camp this afternoon and heard some hot “gen”. No. 2 Flight is going on an invasion tomorrow, the C.O. came round and gave us a talk. Spent the rest of the day packing.
The invasion of Pag island on the 3rd of April at 11.45.
The island of Pag is just off the coast of Yugoslavia, Pag town is the capital and the only big town on the island. The main force of the enemy was here. A large open plain ran from the invasion point to the town, on either side mountains, hills and deep ravines.
The invasion force, No. 2 Flight, 2771 Squadron RAF Regiment, R.S.R. with four 75mm guns, wireless ops. Transport, six jeeps and two 3 ton lorries. The main force was 2000 Yugoslav infantry. The regiment job was to give support and covering fire for the guns and stop any German patrols. That’s the set up in a nut shell.
Left camp at 6oc in the evening, embarked on L.C.T. 380 at Zara, sailed from there at 7oc, a lovely starlight night, no moon, just ideal for a night landing. Everyone is in a cheerful mood. We arrived off the island about 11.30. At 11.45 we stormed up the beaches under the cover of darkness, it was a complete surprise landing as we did not meet with any opposition.
The jeeps, lorries and guns were unloaded from the ship and we all made for the small narrow country road. The convoy lined up and we move off about 12.15. There was 36 of us in our lorry and in this way we travelled for about four miles, the road was awful, more of a track than a road, a dark night and no lights.
After this short distance we all got off the lorry, some of us got into jeeps, the rest had to march. Another four miles was covered in this way and we were now at our forward positions. The four guns were set up in a small gully, a small broken down house on the hill behind was our HQ and receiving post for the wireless ops.
We took up positions all round the guns, everyone is in their places, the gunners are waiting for the word fire. It was now 2oc in the morning of the 4th. No sleep for anyone. At 3oc there was a few short bursts of machine gun fire on the hill to our left, which we heard later was a Jerry patrol out looking for us, but instead they ran into a strong force of Yugoslav’s who had just landed.
At 3oc it started to rain like hell and continued like this till about 11oc, no shelter anywhere, we all got wet through, this rather dampened our spirits, everyone was fed up, tired and hungry, shall not forget these few hours.
At 12oc the sun came out, everyone felt better and things started to warm up. The guns opened up and fired quite a few rounds, from our positions on the hill we could see the shells bursting on the town. During the early hours of this morning thousands of Yugoslav soldiers passed our positions on the way up to the front line. At 12.30 we had our first meal since landing, cheese and biscuits and mug of tea, not very special, but went down well.
At 1.30 we left this place and moved up a couple of miles to a building which is now our HQ. The guns were in a nearby field and firing into the town, and what a target. In the evening the planes came over and dive bombed the German positions in the town, then round they came again firing their rockets and guns, quite a fine display. One of our planes was shot up by Jerry A.A. and landed on the other side of the hill, we heard later that the pilot got out OK.
From here we can see the houses and buildings of the town, but cannot see what damage the guns have done. The Yugoslavs are doing well and now engaged in street fighting. At 6oc we all move to HQ have a good hot meal and a good wash down, so to bed for a good night’s sleep.
Thursday 5th April. A lovely morning, warm and sunny, feel fit after a good night’s sleep. At 9oc we leave this spot and move up another two miles, now only about three miles from the town, the guns are firing from an open field, from here we can see where the shells are falling. Three sections are covering the guns, the other section is on the ship unloading the ammunition onto the jeeps to bring up to the guns. After lunch weft our positions and helped to unload the ammo off the jeeps and get the shells ready for the gunners. It was while we were doing this that Jerry sent over a few mortar shells, one dropped about 40 yards from us, that made us duck alright, thought we were in for a hot time, Jerry had the range with that first shot of his, but all the others fell wide, one landed on the jeep track.
At 4oc we put down a terrific barrage which lasted for half an hour, after this our planes came over and did their bombing runs, the town was just a mass of smoke, then came the final attack on the town which was successful. At 5.30 we heard the great news that the Germans had surrendered, all the island was now in Yugoslav hands. So ends a very successful campaign, we taste the fruits of victory. This small force of British troops played quite a big part in this successful invasion.
Friday morning the Officers and some of the boys went into town to have a look round, the rest of us had to remain at HQ much to our disappointment. The party returned back about 11oc, we were soon on our way back to the ship, arriving at 12.30. Once more we were onboard, but were soon in trouble, the boat was stuck fast on the beach and we had to wait for the tide to come in. It was 3oc when we pulled off the island and we all had great hopes of being back at camp that night.
After sailing along for about 2 hours at quite a good speed the boat suddenly pulled up with a hell of a crash, we all thought we must have hit a mine and for a second my heart was in my mouth. But we had run onto a lot of uncharted rock at full speed. What a mess up, but at least we are safe and cannot sink. After the Captain had inspected the ship and found same to be OK, he made every effort to get us off. But no luck, we shall need a tug to pull us off, so we spent the night on board.
Saturday morning two M.T.B. came along and tried to pull us off, still no luck, the boat did not move an inch, so there was nothing else to do but give it up. About 12oc a big repair boat arrived and the three had a go, but still that made no difference. At 5oc three M.L.’s came along and we were all transferred to these, had to leave the guns and transports behind and a few of the boys. So goodbye L.C.T. 380. These M.L.’s are certainly fast little boats and we seemed to be rushing through the water, “just the job”.
At 6.30 we pulled into Zara. Then along came the lorries to pick us up and take us back to the drome, arrived there at 10oc. A hot meal was ready for us and after a tuck in it was time to get in between the blankets for a well earned sleep. And so ends our little invasion outing to the island of Pag.
Saturday. Spent most of today in bed, great to be back.
9th to 15th April 1945
Monday. Well back to the usual jobs, guards every night and mornings in bed. Afternoons working on the drome. And so the days and nights pass in this way. The news is great, the old 8th is once again on the move in Italy and going great guns. This war should be over within the next few weeks. Just about fed up with this country and would welcome a move, but I don’t think we shall leave till it’s all over.
16th to 22nd April 1945
Monday night. I went with two other chaps to the other airstrip to do the guard there, we exchange a lot of tins of M & V for eggs, quite some fun tonight.
Tuesday. Old Col. Salmon arrived here this morning, and when we see him it’s usually a move, well a move would be very welcome right now, fed up with this dump and so the week passed, really nothing of interest to write about these days, just the same old jobs.
The weather is really grand that’s certainly one good thing.
Jock left for Naples on Saturday. Going on a mines course.
30th April to 6th May 1945
Monday night. Once more at the airstrip which is “just the job”. A Yugoslav lorry with wounded soldiers on board broke down, we towed them into the nearby town. Our good turn for the week.
Saw a very enjoyable film at the Yank camp, called “Wonderful Crime”.
Two Jerry training planes landed on the drome. The news is great these days, expecting to hear that the war is over any day now.
Saturday afternoon the Squadron held its sports meeting, quite a good do, the racing was very exciting. No 2 Flight walked off with the Squadron cup.
7th to 13th May 1945
Monday. Well at last this bloody war is over, this is the day I have been longing and waiting for, and now it is here. I feel on top of the world. Plenty of excitement and celebrations, big fires everywhere, round the drome and on the mountains.
Tuesday. Today is the official Victory Day. This afternoon at 3oc we all gathered round the radio to hear the King and Mr. Churchill speak. Felt good to know at last that this awful, long and terrible war is over, but this is only the half-way stage to total peace, still the Japs to finish off, but I don’t think that they will take very long.
Had today off, so took things easy. Saw a very good film called “Show Business” this evening. The drome is lit up with flares and big fires, the Yugoslavs are firing many rounds into the air. But what a dump to be in on V.E. night, managed to get hold of a couple of bottles of beer.
Wednesday. Another day off, so had a lazy time. Saw a very fast and thrilling game of football, England against Scotland, England won 7-1. After this went and saw an RAF stage show which I enjoyed.
Thursday afternoon. About ten of us went down to the sea in a van, I enjoyed my first swim here, it was just great in, very hot today, just ideal for a swim and a spot of sun bathing.
Friday and Saturday. Having a very easy time here now, which is just the job.
Saturday afternoon there was a big Wing sports meeting here, and the weather was great, sunny and hot. The Yugoslavs entered and did quite well. Saw many exciting and thrilling races.
Sunday. Went to a big open air thanksgiving service this morning. Another afternoon at the sports, the finals were run off. Saw a film this evening called “English without Tears”. Lousy.
14th to 20th May 1945
Monday evening. We had just started a game of football when the Officer came round and told us to get back to our tents and get packed up ready for a move tomorrow. This is one move I welcome, shall be only too glad to get out of this country, fed up with this dump.
Tuesday. Left the drome this morning at 9oc and embarked on the Greek L.S.T. No. 36 at Zara. At 5oc we sailed and we say goodbye to Yugoslavia. Very hot, the sea is lovely and calm, no worry about U-boats on this trip. Did a spot of sunbathing on deck.
Wednesday. Landed at Ancona at 2oc this afternoon and so ends a very pleasant trip on L.S.T. 36. Well once more we are in Italy and it sure is good to be back again after Yugoslavia. Moved to a camp site just outside of Falconara, don’t expect to be here many days, anyway that’s the rumour. Went for a stroll this evening with my pals.
Thursday. The Ammunition Flight moved off today. Went down to the beach, was great to get into the sea and I enjoyed a good swim, after this I layed on the sands sunbathing, very hot.
Saturday. Another early start, passed through Padua and one time we were in the outskirts of Venice but that’s all we saw of that city. Very disappointed about not seeing Venice, one place I did want to see. Saw hundreds of lorries loaded with Jerries. Spent the night at Udine airfield. Feeling very tired after these two days on the road.
Sunday. Left Udine airfield at 10oc and passed through the town also Traviso. We are heading for Austria. Went through the mountain pass of the Eastern alps, wonderful scenery, snow topped mountains, the fast flowing rivers with many fine waterfalls. Shall never forget this part of our journey. Crossed into Austria at 2oc. Spent the night at an airstrip about 7 miles from Klagenfurt.
21st to 27th May 1945
Monday. Another move this morning, but only about 3 miles, now the other side of the drome. Had a very busy day putting up tents and getting the camp organised, also managed to do a spot of washing. There is a big German prisoner of war camp near us, they seem to move about just how they like, even have their own guards, sure is a very queer do.
Wonderful country here, green fields, lovely woods, streams and waterfalls, everywhere looks so fresh and clean.
Tuesday. This afternoon I went into the town of Klagenfurt, quite organised, two large canteens, cinema and theatre. Went to the cinema and saw “Lady, Let’s dance” a very fine film. Came out and had tea at the NAAFI canteen. Went to the theatre this evening and saw “Ballet Revue” which was not too hot, don’t care a lot for this sort of show.
Wednesday. Had a very easy day, did a spot of writing. We now have a very good Jerry bus, should be alright for runs now. The C.O. got back to the Squadron and made us move camp to a new site about a mile away, certainly a better camp site.
Saturday evening. My pal and I went for a long walk into the country, was just great out.
Sunday. On camp guard for 24 hours, so not a very interesting day.
28th May to 3rd June 1945
Monday. Started the week with a C.O. parade this morning, everything went off OK. Went into town this afternoon, saw “Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble” at the cinema, very good film, quite funny in parts. Had tea in the canteen then went along to the theatre where I saw a smashing variety show. And so ended a very enjoyable evening and afternoon out.
Tuesday. Another Squadron parade this morning, Col. Salmon inspected us. The rest of the day off, I did not trouble to go out, had a lazy afternoon on my bed. Did a spot more writing in this book.
Wednesday. Another day spent in camp, just took things easy.
Thursday. Saw the Squadron team play the Army, quite a good game which we won 4-2. Film show on camp tonight, the film was “Prisoner of Zenda” very old but quite a good show.
Friday. This afternoon two of my pals and I went into town, spent a couple of hours looking round, went to the canteen for the usual. Walked back through the woods, lovely evening, just ideal for a walk.
Saturday. Had a good rest this afternoon then went into town in the evening, saw a Russian show at the theatre called “Fete a la Russi”, very good singing and dancing, in fact a very fine show.
Sunday. Lovely here today, sunny and hot. Spent the afternoon down at the lake, swimming and then lazing on the grass, thousands down here, just like being at the seaside. The “Frat” band is on, so cannot talk to any civilians. Saw a film this evening called “Shadow of a Doubt”, very enjoyable show. So ends a very good week for entertainment.
4th to 10th June 1945
Monday. Spent today on drome guard, very hot this afternoon, turned out wet in the evening.
Tuesday. Another afternoon in town, saw the “Frontier Badmen” at the cinema, went along to see the theatre in the evening, and saw a good variety show.
Wednesday. Spent today in camp. Having a very easy time here, which is “just the job”. George and I went for a stroll into the village, stayed at the local and had a couple of glasses of lemonade, no beer. Lovely evening, great to be out.
Thursday. Now enjoying really lovely summer weather, everyday it’s sunny and hot just ideal. Stopped in camp all day, just lazed around.
Saturday afternoon. I went down to the lake with some of the boys, very hot again and it was just great in the water, had quite a lot of fun in swimming and diving. After this I lazed on the grass sunbathing then went along to the canteen for some light refreshment, quite a good canteen, Fraulein’s to wait on you and a dance band to listen to, just the job.
This sure is a wonderful lido and quite as nice as being at the seaside for a day. Came back to find most of the camp under water, had a busy time clearing the water out of the tent, what a bloody mess everything was in.
Sunday. Awful day, rained all day, so spent the time in the tent. Turned out fine in the evening so went out for a stroll through the country, and what country, just wonderful.
11th to 17th June 1945
Monday. Had the usual C.O. parade this morning, all went off OK. This evening I saw the Squadron play 2914, awful game which we lost 4-0.
Tuesday. Another day spent in camp. This evening it was really lovely, went for a long walk way into the country and it was just ideal for walking. Gosh! I wish Kath was here with me, quite sure she would love it here.
Wednesday. Rained all day. Went to the cinema this evening and saw “Arsenic and Old Lace” which was a smashing film, one big laugh from start to finish.
Thursday. Spent the whole day in the cookhouse and how I hate that job.
Friday and Saturday afternoon I went to the lido and really enjoyed myself down there. Saw quite a good film in town called “Adventures of Mark Twain”. Saturday evening went along to 2914 camp hall, very good RAF stage show with “Pat Burke” doing her stuff, she has certainly got it alright, smashing figure, cannot say the same about her singing. The dance band was quite good.
Sunday. Day off but did not go out, did quite a lot of writing. Went into town this evening, first went along to the canteen then onto the theatre and heard an orchestral concert which was great, real classical music.
18th to 24th June 1945
Monday. On guard for 24 hours, so no lido for me today. Many lorries of German prisoners passed the camp. Thousands camped in the fields around here.
Tuesday. Off duty. Big Wing rehearsal parade here this morning, glad I was not on that. Spent the afternoon down by the lake, sunbathing and enjoying a dip. Went to the canteen in town and then to the cinema where I saw a film “It Happened Tomorrow” which I thought was a very enjoyable show.
Wednesday. Another afternoon down at the lido, very hot again. Certainly just the spot to spend a few hours when it’s like this, swimming in the cool waters of this lake, lazing in the sun, lots of beautiful blondes lazing about, just like being on holiday. After my swim I went along to the lido canteen for tea. Very nice sitting under a shady tree drinking tea. Saw a very good film this evening called “Shine on Harvest Moon”. And so ended quite an enjoyable day.
Thursday morning. Another big Wing parade rehearsal and this one I was on, all the boys looked very smart, very good turnout I thought. Yet another afternoon down at the lido, getting in plenty of swimming and sunbathing.
Friday. Stopped in this afternoon and enjoyed a good nap. Went to 2914 Squadron hall, the RAF brass band gave a concert. And it sure was a smashing show, played everything from swing to classical, something for everyone. Certainly the best band I have heard overseas.
Saturday. Another big parade this morning, shall be very glad when this General has been and gone. This evening for a change my pal and I went along to the village swimming pool, quite a lovely spot. Had quite a lot of fun diving off the raft and swimming around. After this went to the local beer house, no beer, had to be satisfied with lemonade.
Sunday. Spent most of today getting ready for the big do tomorrow. Spent the evening in the tent doing a spot of washing. Not a very exciting day.
25th June to 1st July 1945
Monday. The big day has arrived for us, up early and on parade by 9oc. Everything was ready at the saluting base, flags flying, the RAF brass band playing and the four squadrons lined up. At 10oc Major General Robinson, the big chief of the Regiment arrived with other Officers. After he had inspected us he came round the tents then made a short speech, said he was very pleased with the very smart turn out.
In the evening we went along to see a football match between an Army team and the regiment, which took place in the grounds of a big German military hospital. A really smashing pitch, must have been about three thousand there, soldiers, airmen, German wounded prisoners and quite a lot of nurses. The RAF band played before the game started and during the interval. Just like a big game back at home.
The game was very fast and thrilling and we saw some really first class football, certainly the best game I have seen overseas. The result was a draw 3-3. After this we went to the cinema and saw “This is the Life” which was a very good show. Ando so ends a very full day.
Tuesday and for a me a day off. Did my smalls and wrote a few letters. Went into town this evening and saw a variety show called “Kingsway Calling”, very enjoyable show, good singing and dancing.
Wednesday. On guard.
Thursday. I stopped in.
Friday evening, I went and saw the Squadron play 2832, quite a good game which we lost 4-3. After this we went to the village beer garden, spent a very pleasant hour there drinking lemonade, talking and smoking.
Saturday. Today we have been given four hours notice to move, so had a very busy time getting everything packed. Saw a variety show on the drome, not so hot.
Sunday. Still here. Bloody awful day, rained all the time. This evening went to the theatre in Klagenfurt, heard a very good musical concert given by the Klagenfurt symphony orchestra, conductor “Theo Haslinger”, played all classical music.
2nd to 8th July 1945
Monday. Up at 6oc this morning, should have moved but it was cancelled owing to bad weather. Awful cold and wet day, not allowed out so did a spot of writing.
Tuesday. Left Klagenfurt at 9oc this morning, say goodbye to this lovely spot, very sorry to leave. My Flight rode in the Squadron’s bus, doing it in style this trip. Arrived at our new camp site which is about two miles away from the town of Judenburg. Had a very busy time putting up tents and getting the camp organised. The countryside round here looks really lovely, wooded hills and mountains, green fields, everywhere looks just a mass of green.
Wednesday. Had a very busy day around camp, many jobs to do after a move, on camp guard tonight so could not get out.
Thursday. This afternoon George and I went into the town of Judenburg, not a very large town, more like one of the country towns one sees in England, spent an hour looking round, then went to the baths, was good to get a hot shower once again. After this we went to the NAAFI canteen which is by the side of the swimming pool, quite a few in enjoying a swim. Got back to camp in time for dinner. This evening we went for a long walk into the country, it’s just ideal here, that’s of course if one likes the country.
Friday. The rest of the squadron moved in from Italy. Went out again with George. Spent most of today getting ready for the C.O. parade. This afternoon saw the Flight team play, not a very good game, we lost 4-2.
Sunday. Day off. Really lovely here, sunny and very warm. George and I drew our sandwiches from the cookhouse, now all set for a day out hiking. Left camp at 12oc, after crossing a couple of fields we were now on the track through the mountain valley. Certainly was lovely weather and wonderful country, the wooded hills and mountains, the rushing mountain stream with the many lovely little waterfalls, here and there saw mills, with a cluster of quaint houses. The going was all up hill and quite tough, sure made us sweat. Every hour went sat down by the stream, had a rest and a smoke and then on the move once more. After covering about 6 miles in this way, we had a long rest, bathed our faces in the cold waters of the stream, drank a bottle of beer, after this felt much refreshed, we were now way up in the mountains.
We walked on for another mile and then came to a lovely old farmhouse. We asked the old people at the house for a glass of milk, but they made out they did not understand what we wanted, after giving the old boy a pipe of tobacco we got our milk. After this everything went off “tops”, they invited us into the house, a charming young girl played and sang quite a lot of folk songs. From the house we had a great view of the surrounding countryside and the valley through which we had come. We stopped here for about three hours, talking, smoking and listening to the girl singing. But all good things come to an end and it was time for us to leave. We said our goodbyes and told the old couple we would try and come again.
The homeward journey was better now all downhill. We did about two miles then sat by the stream, drank the last bottle of beer, ate the sandwiches then lay back on the grass, was just great so very quiet and peaceful. Arrived back at camp about 10oc feeling very tired after our long hike but felt very happy.
9th to 15th July 1945
Not a lot to write about for this week, saw four football matches, the last one was when the Squadron team beat the Army boys 7-3, very fast and exciting game. Most evenings George and I went for a long walk into the country, many lovely walks around here. We usually managed to get a glass of milk at some out of the way farmhouse, had many interesting chats with the locals, George is doing very well with his German, but I’m not so hot, still picking it up alright.
Friday I took over the job of batman for old Colpus for a week, quite an easy job, anyway will make a change from the usual everyday work, no guards or parades.
16th to 22nd July 1945
The latest rumours going the rounds are that we shall soon be on the move again, heading for Vienna. The weather is very changeable these days and we usually get at least one storm every day, also getting quite a lot of rain, but when it’s fine it’s great, sunny and very hot.
Saturday morning George left for the U.K. the lucky chap, promised me he would call on Kath, gosh I wish it was going to be me. This morning an Army General inspected us, everything went off OK.
Sunday. Bags of panic around camp today, expecting to move tomorrow.
23rd to 29th July 1945
Monday. Well we are still here but should be moving out any day now, everything is packed ready for a quick getaway.
Tuesday. Yet another day here, supposed to be going tomorrow now, went for my last walk here, lovely evening very pleasant out.
Wednesday. On guard today. All the Squadron moved except the men on guard, so we shall be here a few more days yet, that’s OK with me. After the Squadron had gone old Colpus took off all the guards so we had a very lazy day. “Just the job”, only about 14 of us here, good to be away from the Squadron for a few days.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Just lazed around camp, nothing to do, spent a few hours on my bed. This is the life, only wish we were going to stop here for a few weeks, don’t fancy going back to the Squadron.
Every evening I went for a stroll with one of my pals, making the most of my last few evenings here to get out and see as much as possible.
Sunday. Once more we have our orders to move. Left Judenburg at 12oc today. Passed through a couple of big towns including Bruck. Arrived at St. Marien at 3oc, heard that we shall only be here tonight, on to Vienna tomorrow.
30th July to 5th August 1945
Monday. Up at 4oc this morning. Inspected by the C.O. at 6oc and on the road by 7oc. Arrived at Vienna about 4oc, passed through the city on the way to the drome which is some 7 miles out. Vienna looks some place and how! The people seem very pleased to see us, a lot of smiles and waving of hands. Russian soldiers everywhere, awful dirty looking lot. We arrived at the drome about 5oc and then No. 1 and 2 Flights were told to return to the city. What a bloody mess up. Once more we passed through the city and arrived at the late S.S. barracks just on the outskirts. What a day.
Tuesday. Well we are doing a guard on the palace, a ceremonial guard at that. I’m on guard at the barracks today. It’s quite OK here, very good barracks, good living quarters and a really smashing dining hall. Have a very nice room which I share with five of the boys, we all have managed to get hold of a good bed. I have a good folding spring bed, which is one thing I have been looking for a long time.
Wednesday. Day off. Spent most of the time doing my washing and blanco. Went for a stroll this evening, did not go far, have to find my way around before going too far away.
Thursday. My first guard at the Palace and what a do, expect we shall get used to the people staring at us. The Russians tried to get into the Palace twice but we had to turn them back. Hearing some awful tales about these Russian troops, they do look a bloody rough lot.
Friday. Day off. Did the usual washing and blanco, had a nap in the afternoon. Went for a stroll in the park with two of my pals, a lovely large park, a lot of people sitting out enjoying a pleasant evening, others walking around.
Saturday. On Palace guard again, shall be glad when the Army arrive to take over.
Sunday off. Went out this afternoon, wore my blue, was glad to get back and change, it’s too hot for that dress. Went out early this evening, was great out. Went into the park again, also had a look round the zoo, quite a lot of different animals there, of course not so many as in the London zoo, but the monkeys are just as amusing.
6th to 12th August 1945
Monday. This morning we moved out to the drome at Schwechat which is about 5 miles from Vienna. Now once more way out in the wide open spaces. Rather “grim” here. Spent the morning getting the old tent up and getting organised. Two lorries run into town every night so we are OK for getting in. Went to town tonight, had quite a good time out with the boys, did the sights.
Tuesday. I have a very nasty place on my arm, quite painful too. Went sick this morning, off work and guards for a few days. Went into town with Jim, spent an hour walking around, then took a trip on the city’s underground railway, quite an experience the trains were packed. I now know what it’s like to be a sardine in a tin, still we had quite some fun.
Wednesday. No work, arm still bad, spent most of the day on my bed reading, also wrote a couple of letters. My pal Jim left for the U.K. today, the lucky chap but he sure deserves a break, been out just over 3 ½ years. Went into town with one of the boys, did a spot of sightseeing, now seeing a lot of Vienna. Sure is a big city, must have been a lovely place in peacetime and very gay. Quite a lot of damage was caused by bombing and shelling and the German S.S. added to it by blowing up buildings. Still there is plenty to see and do in Vienna.
The rest of the week I spent lazing about, my arm is still very bad and sore. Went to the cinema Saturday night and saw my first German film, very good show, could not understand all the talking but could at least follow the story. Shall be very glad when ENSA get cracking with some shows, very slow in opening up a cinema.
13th to 19th August 1945
Monday. Another easy day, my arm is a lot better now thank goodness. Went into town this evening, had five pints of beer at a very posh hotel bar.
Tuesday. Moved back into Vienna once more, very glad to get off the drome, that is too much of a dump. Now billeted in a girl’s school which is OK, quite near to the trams and trains, but only expect to be here for a few days.
The rest of the week was spent in doing guards and other jobs, when off duty went out sightseeing. The weather here is great, everyday it’s sunny and warm, just ideal.
Sunday. Should have been my day off but spent the time moving, so had a busy time packing and unpacking. Now billeted in a block of flats quite near to the school, very nice here. Have a smashing room which I share with three of the boys.
20th to 26th August 1945
Well the war with the Japs is over, peace in the world at last, that sure is great and wonderful news. The atom bomb sure did the job, but what a terrible thing. Makes me wonder what the world is coming to, what next!
Monday was V.J. day for us, so off for the day. This afternoon took a stroll round the city with one of the boys, saw many interesting places. In the evening I saw a very good German film. Not much to write about this week, still doing the usual guards and camp jobs.
Wednesday evening we went to the theatre and aw a very enjoyable variety show, the singing was really great. A lovely theatre, the best I have seen overseas, very large stage. Next week we shall be on the move again to new billets, fed up with all this moving around and shall be glad when we get to settle somewhere.
27th August to 2nd September 1945
Things are going along much the same, still doing the usual guards and other jobs. When off duty at night usually going for a walk round, now seen quite a lot of Vienna, sometimes we find a beer house with beer to sell, very mild stuff, would need to drink a gallon to get anywhere near drunk, also go to the cinema for a change, seen some very good German films here.
On Wednesday we had yet another move, the Squadron has taken over a wing of a hospital which is hoped to be the winter billets, very nice here and very good billets.
Spent most of Thursday getting organised in the room, all managed to get a spring bed, also have a spot of furniture, such as table and chairs and a few other things.
Sunday. Off duty. A smashing day, warm and sunny, just ideal. George and I left camp about 12oc with sandwiches and beer, caught the train to Vienna woods, great there. Spent about three hours in the woods, had a picnic on the grass.
3rd to 9th September 1945
There does not seem much to write about these days, anyway nothing of interest. The guards come round quite often, which is not so good, in fact we are not having such an easy time these days, still I suppose we cannot grumble. Roll on November, let’s get back home.
Thursday evening we found quite a nice café, music and beer “just the job”, stopped there a couple of hours and during that time we knocked back a few pints. The weather here is great, everyday it’s warm with plenty of sunshine.
10th to 16th September 1945
Saw a couple of German films which were very good. Heard that ENSA are opening up a cinema and theatre, it’s about time they got cracking with some entertainment here. A canteen opened up this week, rather small but quite a nice place, anyway the cakes are very tasty. Makes somewhere to go in the evenings.
17th to 23rd September 1945
Friday evening my two pals and I went to the ENSA theatre, very nice place. Saw quite an enjoyable variety show, had a good laugh. That’s about the only high spot of the week, certainly nothing else of interest to write about. The weather is till lovely, enjoying a late summer. Gosh! How I’m looking forward to getting home, get very fed up at times, glad I only have a few more weeks to do.
24th to 30th September 1945
Monday. The weather has changed for the worse, been very wet and cold here today. Had a good hot shower, very fine baths which the Army has taken over. Went to the ENSA cinema, saw Rita Hayworth in “Cover Girl” which is in Technicolor, very good film the dancing was really “super”.
Tuesday evening we took a stroll round the French zone of Vienna, plenty doing round there and quite a lot of beer about.
Friday. Saw quite a good stage show at the ENSA theatre, singing and dancing really good. It’s good to see an English show and a film.
Saturday evening went for a stroll round, called in the canteen for the usual, and so ends another week.
1st to 7th October 1945
Went to the cinema this evening, saw a film which I cannot remember the name of, anyway it was not so hot.
Wednesday. This is the first day of my leave in Vienna, rather late for a holiday, but I don’t intend to do very much except have a really lazy 7 days. Anyway it will be a nice change to have a week off from guards and working parades. Went to the theatre this evening, very good play on called “On Approval”, the acting was high class, enjoyed this show very much.
The rest of the week I just lazed around, wrote a few letters and did a spot of reading, nothing very exciting.
Sunday. Saw a very good German show on at the theatre, then found a very nice canteen, singing, music and beer, finished the evening off OK. This has been a week of rain, everyday wet, cold and dull, look as if we had the best of summer.
8th to 14th October 1945
Monday. Had a busy morning doing my washing and what a pile there was. Also sorted out my kit, should not be long now before we leave the Squadron. Went along to the cinema, saw a German talkie which was lousy.
Tuesday. Had a very easy day, the weather these days is really great, warm and sunny. Went for a stroll around this evening, found a smashing little café, good music and plenty of beer, very enjoyable evening out.
Wednesday. Last day of my leave so had a good lay in this morning. A few of the time excused boys left the Squadron this morning for the U.K. Went along to the theatre this evening, saw a very good German show.
Thursday. Well my leave is over, not a very exciting holiday but had a very lazy time and enjoyed the rest. Did a spot of work just to fill in the time. Went to the ENSA theatre, very fine dance band on but the rest of the show was “grim”.
Friday. Plenty of rumours going round that the next lot of time excused boys will be leaving the Squadron next week, hope this turns out true as I’m on the next lot. This afternoon I was on a big rehearsal parade, the boys looked quite smart in their blue with the white belts. Quite a big do, our Squadron, four companies of soldiers and about 20 armoured cars, not forgetting the military brass band. Had to march past twice. Big crowd of civilians watching. Took place in the palace ground.
Saturday. Sent my photo off and also the enlargement, wrote a couple of letters, spent the afternoon reading. On barrack guard tonight. Enjoying lovely weather still.
Sunday. Got back to the billet at 9.30, spent the rest of the morning getting ready to go out, also did my webbing. Went out at 4oc, first went to the canteen for the usual then on to the cinema, saw a very good film.
15th to 21st October 1945
Monday. Had a very easy day. Went along to the ENSA cinema, saw a jolly good musical show called “Something for the Boys”, the sort of film I enjoy.
Tuesday. On guard this morning at the M.T. but was not on for long. At 2oc 2825 relieved us, we had to get back to camp to get ready for the big do tomorrow. This is just the sort of guard I like.
Wednesday. The big parade was cancelled and that’s OK with me. Afternoon off so got out early. Lovely day, sunny and warm, had a walk round town then called in the canteen for tea. Went along to the cinema after, saw a lousy German film.
Thursday. Another easy day, went to the baths this afternoon and enjoyed a good hot shower. Went to the ENSA theatre, very good variety show, the all girl band was tops, in fact I enjoyed this show.
Friday. On guard on the camp. Received my new blue battledress, very good fit, don’t know why we have been issued with this as time excused are not allowed to take it home.
Saturday. Well for a change I have a clear weekend off. went out this afternoon for a stroll, had tea in the canteen then saw a news reel film which lasted an hour, after this went to a café for a couple of hours, sat drinking beer and listening to the dance band, quite a good evening.
Sunday. Had a good lay in this morning, then did a spot of writing in this book, must keep it up to date now as I expect to be leaving the Squadron any day now. Shall be glad when I pack up and get cracking for home. Went out this afternoon for a walk, a lot of people out enjoying this sunny day. Saw quite a good German film. Ando do another week is over.
22nd to 28th October 1945
Monday. This morning was spent in sawing up wood so had a very busy time. This afternoon I went along and saw the B.T.A. team play the Vienna garrison at football, after a very slow and uninteresting game which the B.T.A. just managed to win 2-0, very poor football, expected some a lot better than this from these two teams.
Tuesday. On guard last night so off this morning, just did a few jobs. Heard some great news, we are leaving the Squadron next Sunday, the first step towards home, feel on top of the world.
Saw another football match, this one was between the British Troops in Austria and a local club. Quite a crowd turned up to see this game. Plenty of excitement and a lot of dirty play, most of it from the civilian side, spoilt a very fine game, still it was very exciting and fast. The B.T.A. had one player turned off and only had 10 men all through the second half, but they were still too good for the local side and won 3-1.
Went to the canteen and then to the ENSA cinema, saw a very funny film called “Abroad with Two Yanks”. Certainly gave me a big and long laugh. And so ends a very good day for news and entertainment.