Unforgotten Heroes

With my ever present forgetfulness lurking in the background I’m always on the look out for things that will stimulate important memories and I find the internet an amazing catalyst.

In June 1994, I was fortunate to accompany my late father John Shores on a trip to Portsmouth for one of a series of reunions he loved attending with his old wartime shipmates from HMS Largs.

Largs 1
We’re a couple of swells…

They were organised via a type-written bulletin distributed by post and I have quite a few in my possession that he handed down to me shortly before he passed away four short years ago…

Largs
An earlier 1993 reunion in Largs, Scotland

In one communication from June 1993, just after a reunion in the namesake town of Largs in Scotland in May,  a poem written by shipmate Phillip Edward de la Taste was published about his war-time memories of HMS Largs that is very poignant and is shared below.

Memories

Do you remember when first we met
Hair cut short and innocent of fear
Laughing and joking with apprehension
Unaware of what was near?

And can you remember Desmond Wells?
He came from Dorset way
Now why did I think of him?

Wasn’t he the first to go, posted to a trawler –
Sweeping – not long out then bang – farewell.

And what about “hands to bathe”?
And diving off the side – the water cool, inviting –
Shouting, plunging, being pulled by the tide.

Then Francis nearly drowned – we pulled him in
Did he ever learn to swim?
We were young, it was good to be alive.

After midnight a welcome cup of kye
The chatter of the Morse –
“A number of subs in the area”
The warm night takes on a sudden chill.

The watch is ended – a quick lean against the rail,
Gulp in the cool air, feel the breeze.
The sea glistening in the midnight – so very beautiful
But don’t look down.

Then to the hammock, slung ready – mustn’t disturb the others!
A sudden movement – oh – not another rat!

Crossing the Equator
The ceremony of “crossing the line”
The Chief was dressed as Neptune
That was a happy time.

The malaria caught in Freetown – that felt really rough!
The kindness of our chief again – he wasn’t so very tough!
I owed him more than to forget his name
But his voice remains.

Now for the job for which we’d trained – others did so much more
Saw landing craft full of men heading slowly through the waves to the shore.
Then the noise – the guns – the shells – rockets beat a tattoo
A plane comes whining down – the bomb drops in the sea close to the rail
The ship shudders – an old converted merchant vessel, she wasn’t built for this.

The danger past, we wait to hear those words
“Liberty men starboard watch” – we’re going to town.
“Behave yourselves – be back on time” – again our Chief P.O.
But he was old, so very old, so how was he to know?
He had served for many years and now was back for more
He knew the things that happened when the lads first went ashore!
He was all of forty-two.

Now from the docks we hurry on – the pleasures there are waiting
The bars, the girls, the sights – but not for us –
We didn’t reach the gates.

And then…
Conscious now, all silent – a nun looked down and smiled
The tears came fast – they wouldn’t stop – then she spoke as to a child
I was alone.

A Maltese couple came through the ward – searching
He stopped and looked closely – mumbled something kindly and slowly turned away,
I hope they found their son.

And then that night the terrible screaming – it came from the far end bed
I stared up hard at the mosquito net
Next morning he was dead.
It was the young Italian – one of the foe
Just one arm – no legs
Why did his God desert him and what a way to go.

Who decided I should live but you would have to die
Did you discover why?  Or was I here on your behalf
To taste life’s tears and joys – like the thrill of chasing tiddlers
With a pair of laughing boys.

Or does it end in darkness – the way it all began
And is our idea of eternal life just the vanity of man
If so, sleep on my friends, sleep on.

The years so long, yet brief, have passed now
And I’m filled with a deep regret
For I remember so little of you and that day
How and why could I forget?

Phillip Edward de la Taste – Telegraphist

In my father’s handwriting underneath it he wrote that sadly Phillip passed away in his sleep, just three weeks after the reunion which brought back at least some of his memories.  His poem was read out at his funeral which was attended by five of his Largs shipmates who laid a wreath in the shape of an anchor in his memory.

In my collection of dad’s papers I also have another poem called “What A Mess” that actually mentions my father having a nickname of “Tich” Shores (he was 5′ 6″ tall) which has got to be a lot better than mine from the army of “Gloria” from the TV series “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” (as my marching was horrible)…

What A Mess

In Mess 26 there’s quite a good crew,
Some faces are old, some faces are new,
Of the good old crowd, sixteen remain,
I shall try to mention them name, by name.

L/Tel Trousedale shouts “Gimme De Boat”
Where the sparkers keep watch dressed in duffel coats,
A heaving deck and a flaming gun,
He says it’s his only kind of fun.

L/Tel Raven likes women and beers,
He’s not very fat but the beer disappears,
And though poor old Ray has lost some of his hair,
He can still attract women and make them all care.

Of L/Tel Beach, quite a lot I could say,
He’s dashing, debonair, smart and gay,
Whilst he jokes and laughs and clowns,
His favourite name for a friend is “Towns”.

L/Tel Gaughran is a real “Goode”bloke,
Going through life making joke after joke,
He’s fond of the sun is this jolly young man,
And his body is brown with its glorious tan.

Now about the rest of the sparking branch,
Starting with Chris who lived on a ranch,
The horse he rode, bent his legs so I’ve heard,
So to cover them up he grew a thick beard.

Bill Sykes is his “townie”, from Sheffield they come,
A city of steel, all its men like their rum,
Of the steel works in Sheffield, tall tales they relate,
They think it’s the only place known for steel plate.

Reggie Rumbles is the pride of the home,
From his writing pad does he seldom roam,
When he lets himself go, then look out for sparks,
For this Hamersmith lad plays all kind of larks.

“Pincher” Martins causes no undue alarm,
Though “Pincher” was once in the Fleet Air Arm,
Many tales he can tell of the men in the air,
How they flirt with death, never giving a care.

“Jock” Reid comes “fra” Maybole in Scotland’s fair land,
Says the scenery’s lovely, gorgeous and grand,
He’s fond of his grub, whether plain food or sweets,
And is the best man I know for scoffing “Big Eats”.

“Maggie” Smith comes “fra” Scotland too, so they say,
Where he taught and he thrashed little children all day,
Though when I was at school, and I could have wished,
He would have taught me, and with his cane swished.

Sad Simmons wields an artist’s brush,
And never does things with a rush,
Except each day Syd’s watch ashore
Then he’s off like a shot, for he’s friend galore.

“Blondie” Mathews has only the best tailor,
In fact he is known as “The Gentleman Sailor”,
From Hastings he comes, does this smart man,
In his work or his play, he’ll be spick and span.

“Tug” Wilson draws in black and white,
Ladies faces, nice and bright,
Not long ago with his face a huge smile,
He walked with his bride down the centre aisle.

Freddie Dun is a man who likes a good drop of beer,
Though he hasn’t had very much chance this year,
But once a day our Fred’s in heaven,
For the rum comes up at half eleven.

“Tich” Shores was an architect’s man,
And even now he likes to plan,
Though he doesn’t plan to do much work,
I shouldn’t like to say he’d shirk.

I’m “Wacker” Lacey from a very old city,
Chester’s the place, antiquated and pretty,
Dublin born, I’ve a real “Irish Paddy”,
I get roused at times (but I’m not a bad laddie).

And now I’m afraid my story is ended,
I hope no-one above will feel offended,
We look forward to days of peaceful slumber,
From the day they release our demob number.

L Lacey 

So about a week ago I was trawling eBay with my usual search of “HMS Largs” hoping without too much hope to get a new photograph or some other memento when to my amazement up popped an advert for a used HMS Largs tie with a silhouette of the ship and the Combined Operations emblem above!

Largs tie

Now I don’t remember dad having one but I’m sure it could only have been produced by the Largs Association and in their September 1995 newsletter it is mentioned as being MOD approved, so I immediately ordered it and it duly arrived safely to be treasured alongside my own Intelligence Corps and Medmenham Association ties!

I have also decided to order a DVD of film from the Imperial war Museum of cine film onboard HMS Largs during D Day off Sword beach that I’d found through a Google search.  Alas for Crown copyright reasons when it arrives I’m not able to share it online, but includes footage of events my father told me of the midget submarine coming alongside that spied out the coast prior to the landings.

Following on from this theme in my next post I’ll share an amazing recent catch up with relatives of the air crew that served with Dennis Wright of 149 Squadron RAF who wartime diaries I transcribed a few years ago in this blog, who were able to share photos of him, his chums and his Lancaster aircraft which really brings yet another set of heroes to life again.

We will remember them!

Unforgotten Heroes

Dennis Wright RAF 1945 War Diary

 

Avro Lancaster I Bomber PP681 OJ-C Crew

RAF Methwold

Pilot Flight Lieutenant J. A. Goodrum (Skipper or Jack)

Air Bomber Flying Officer S. H. Beenon RCAF (Sam)

Flight Engineer Flight Sergeant J. D. Penfold (Johnnie)

Wireless Operator Flight Sergeant A. L. Jones RNZAF (Allan or Al)

Mid Upper Gunner Flying Officer G. T. Powell (George or Sandy)

Rear Gunner Flight Sergeant D. F. Forster (Don or Shorty)

Navigator Flight Sergeant D. W. Wright (Dennis or Denny)

IMG_0139

RAF Stations Visited in 1945

RAF Stanton Harcourt, Oxford

RAF Rackheath

RAF Hemswell, Gainsborough

RAF North Luffenham, Stamford

RAF Methwold, Norfolk

RAF Feltwell, Norfolk

RAF Juvincourt, France

RAF Oakley, Bucks

RCAF Dunsfold, Surrey

RAF Crosby-on-Eden, Carlisle

RAF Trondheim, Norway

January 1945 

Monday 1st

Scrounged around all morning. Learnt we were on bombing this afternoon – scrubbed – went into Oxford with Jack, Allan & Bill Tuck: “Greenwich Village” ropey show. Pathfinder Force (P.F.F.) last night for Station “Op”.

Tuesday 2nd

Nothing from home in mail. Briefing at 3.00 am for special cross country. Flew although delayed take off. Down at 12.30 pm and learnt day off tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd

After sleeping most of the morning we caught the 10.45 transport to Eynsham. Caught the 12.45 from Oxford arrived home at 16.30 pm. Stayed in all evening. Took Allan Jones home with me. Played records all evening, time flew.

Thursday 4th

Left home about 8.00 caught the 8.15 from Brentwood and 9.45 from Paddington. Arrived back at camp about 2.30 pm. Flew tonight on bombing. Some sod in interrogation – I think it was a Flying Officer Harry – stole my torch in about 3 minutes.

Friday 5th

Slept in until 11.30. Arose and had lunch. No mail received. Did nothing special this afternoon. Flew two bombing details tonight and passed both. No Mail.

Saturday 6th

Slept until mid day lunch. Wash. Kit inspection. Went to Oxford – not very interesting. Letters to mum, Norman B. and Mrs Turner. Received no mail again.

Sunday 7th

The flight commander gave us another day off today so that the Skipper and Sandy can recuperate. Remained on camp all day. Wrote letters to W. B. Derek. Mrs Turner and registered parcel home. Naturally extremely cheesed with (RAF) Stanton Harcourt.

Monday 8th

Back to aircraft assembly early on fighter affiliation – no kites available. Went to Chequers with crew to have dinner – not too bad – rolled back to bed. No mail received today.

Tuesday 9th

Sat around all morning for F/A went to lunch. Got out to aircraft. Cancelled owing to low ceiling. Went to briefing flying cancelled. Went to Oxford with Jack, Allan & Bill Tuck. Saw Abbott and Costello in “Lost in a Harem”. No mail.

Wednesday 10th

Up early at 08.00. Had breakfast. Got aircraft assembly early. Stayed in flying control until 12.15 for fighter association back at 1.30 pm – no fighters – cancelled. Briefing OC cancelled at 16.30. Had a shower went to Oxford.

Thursday 11th

Warm front in today prevented all flying. Went to briefing. The CO confined all Fox Site to clean up for AOC’s inspection. Naturally no mail even from home. I’m B-cheesed.

Friday 12th

Warm frontal weather prevented all flying. Blitz on Fox site this afternoon. Went to Oxford by myself this evening. Lift to Eynsham. Tried to get on 5.25 bus. Got a lift at toll gate. Met the crew in town but returned alone. Saw “Song of Bernadette”.

Saturday 13th

Low stratus prevented all flying today. Hung around in intelligence library all morning – lunch – back nothing until mid-afternoon back to site. After beating around the bush decided to stay in this evening. Broke my pipe again.

Sunday 14th

After briefing for a week we finally hit the jackpot tonight. We flew morning, a diversionary bull’s-eye! Up at 6.30am diverted to an American field Rackheath. Stayed the night – had a wizard meal but very poor bed. Broke my pipe.

Monday 15th

After arising 7.30 got back to Stanton at 7.55 weather prevented fighter affiliation tonight – no mail. Stayed in all night and went to bed at 20.00.

Tuesday 16th

Finally got a letter from home after 13 days. Hung around all day in the intelligence library. Went into Oxford early finally buying some 4 square red. Saw “Between Two Worlds” with John Garfield. Got back early as fog cleared.

Wednesday 17th

Busy day today. Had flight commander’s test – 2 days fighter alignment and 2 night’s fighter alignment. Air crew supper and to bed around midnight.

Thursday 18th

Bad weather prevented all flying today. Managed to skive off most of the day. Went to Oxford with Jack & Bill this evening.

Friday 19th

Weather foggy all day – no flying – remained on camp all day. Nothing exceptional nor of interest to report.

Saturday 20th

Flew two fighter alignments today and finished all flying at O.T.U. Took a pounder into Oxford again with Jack and Allan went to Regal theatre – poor evening came back on 22.15 train.

Sunday 21st

Learnt this morning we were to go to Abingdon this afternoon and supposed to be on leave tomorrow. Spent all day packing and clearances. Left Stanton by the 18.00 transport for good I hope.

Monday 22nd

Got up to flying control early enough but no leave passes until tomorrow. Stooged around all day getting clearances. Went to Abingdon had tea and went to Oxford. Saw “The Canterville Ghost”. Naturally no mail today.

Tuesday 23rd

21.00 At home. Finally got on leave today at 11.00. Caught the 13.20 from Abingdon and arrived at Paddington with full kit at 15.35. Got the 16.18 from Liverpool Street arrived at home about 17.00. There is about 1 ½ inches of snow on the ground today.

Wednesday 24th

Got up around 8.30 went uptown sent telegram to Norman Bore played a few discs had dinner. Went up to town to the West End bought 3 discs. Albert AmmonsShout for Joy”. James “Jesse”. Went to City Theatre.

Thursday 25th

Caught the 8.34 from Brentwood. Met Jack, Allan, Don & Al. Had lunch at the corner house went to Windmill Theatre. Bought three Goodman discs. Came home on the 18.07 from Liverpool Street. Met Bob Baker and co on train I arranged to meet them tomorrow.

Friday 26th

Met Bob Baker today marched around billiard hall and YMCA.

Saturday 27th

Saw Don Birchley today first time for over a year. Went up Senior School dance – very poor – called on Don and went to a drink at the Artichoke. This morning I went to Norman Bore by bus, letter from Nora E.

Sunday 28th

Expecting Norman Bore all morning, stayed in all morning. Played records all afternoon. N.B.B. came over. Met Don, Bob etc at 16.30 – went round YMCA had tea of sorts – went to Odeon Theatre.

Monday 29th

Arose around 9.30. Met Bob and Don at 11.30. Played table tennis round YMCA. Lunch – met them again at 14.30 round YMCA for table tennis, piano etc. Had tea at the Odeon and went to show there. Saw “Laura“– good picture. Sent letter to Toronto banked £12.

Tuesday 30th

Met the boys, table tennis at the YMCA. Show in the evening.

Wednesday 31st

Met Don Birchley at Brentwood station – caught 10.02 arrived London went Beaver Club thence to Richmond had dinner in Express Dairies. Went to skating rink. Then back to London tried Queensbury Club closed – so finished up at the Nuffield Centre arrived home about 11.30.

February 1945

Thursday 1st

Met the boys uptown a 10.30 played table tennis etc all morning – lunch – back to YMCA at 14.30. Played again until 17.30 had tea at the YMCA – went to Palace Theatre saw Red Skelton in “Whistling in Brooklyn”.

Friday 2nd

Up at 7.30 caught 8.32 at 8.45 from Brentwood – 10.30 from King’s Cross arrived at Gainsborough 15.30 met all the crew at the station. Arrived at the camp at 17.30 – what a terrible place. Left this diary – log book and nail scissors at home.

Saturday 3rd

Paraded 8.40, arrival forms etc filled in. F.F.I. and dental inspection, kit exchanged, battle dress this time. Stayed in naturally all evening wrote letters home.

Sunday 4th

Flying kit exchanged and issued all day – cost me 7/3d cash for one gauntlet. Went to the YMCA writing letters to Derek Buck and Charley D.

Monday 5th

Started ground school, bull parade and inspection marched to school. Navigation arrival test. Lectures on navigation in afternoon. Went to the YMCA in the evening wrote to Mrs Root, Bobby Williams and Norman Bore again.

Tuesday 6th

Went to the dentist at 9.00 today then to crew lectures. Went to the YMCA drinking tea and sitting around.

Wednesday 7th

We spent the whole day plotting – exceedingly boring. No mail yet from home. Went to the YMCA. Managed to get some tobacco from the village post office.

Thursday 8th

On parade at 8.30 as usual. Crew lectures all day. Went to the dentist at 4pm today, he filled one tooth, pretty painful. Registered parcel from home with log book and diary.

Friday 9th

Plotting the whole day. Nothing extraordinary to report. No mail. What a terrible place this is!!

Saturday 10th

Normal day – with school. Boulton speed test? Flight speed test plan. Went to the dentist at 13.30 for scraping and polishing no mail today.

Sunday 11th

A.P.I. lectures and GEE exam today. The enclosed drawing was done at Sturgate YMCA by Don Foster the crew rear gunner at 21.00. Pretty good I thought. We finished ground school.

Monday 12th

Today we had the day off. Naturally we stayed in bed until 9.30 went to the YMCA for morning break. Caught the 12.30 train from Upton in the pouring rain. Arrived Gainsborough went to the State for lunch walked the streets till 3.30. Table tennis. Went to show very good.

Tuesday 13th

First day on army training issued with boots, denim & a “rifle”!!!! Live shooting introductory bull talk. Range firing this afternoon.

Wednesday 14th

Issued with sten-guns and pistols this morning wandered around in the morning range firing in the afternoon pretty good fun.

Thursday 15th

Unarmed combat demonstrations this morning and this afternoon pretty long march into country on concealment exercises – no mail today but I think parcel arrived from home.

Friday 16th

Collected parcel from P.O. This morning we had escape map reading exercises with the crew operating as patrol – quite good fun. This afternoon practical unarmed combat. No mail today. Posted 10/- home.

Saturday 17th

Today we had the finishing touch to our field training with a 14 mile route-march in the pouring rain. Had a wizard dinner, which we cooked ourselves, of steak, chips, onions, cheese, apple, cake, bread & margarine, tea. Then after an imitation assault, had the march back, still raining.

Sunday 18th

After handing in rifles & denims we finished work at 10 until 0840 Tuesday. Naturally went home – had super luck and got indoors at 5pm. Went to Palace Cinema afterwards met by accident; Don Birchley, Bob Baker, Ken Crozier went to Artichoke and got thoroughly sozzled.

Monday 19th

Got up at 9 played records all morning called on Don Birchley – went to the Odeon in the afternoon with Don stayed in this evening. Pop gave me a hair-cut – the first in years. Left home at 20.45 caught 2106 from Brentwood & 2315 from Kings Cross Gainsborough at 0415 Tuesday.

Tuesday 20th

Got back to camp around 8. Breakfast, learnt on parade that we shall probably be posted tomorrow. Went into Gainsborough to see “In Society” at the Grand Cinema.

Wednesday 21st

Posted today, clearance etc leaving on Friday. Went to Fox & Hounds

Thursday 22nd

Nothing special done today. Went to dance at Knaith tonight. Had a few beers not sozzled – the dance was quite a lively affair – much better than I expected.

Friday 23rd

Up at 7.00 breakfast. Inspection by A.O.C. Left Gainsborough at 09.40 arrived Peterborough at 13.30. Left for North Luffenham at 15.29 arrived on camp at 17.00. Billets very poor dirty Nissen hut – no sheets – mess OK.

Saturday 24th

Conversion unit. Arrival chits and all that. Kit inspection this afternoon. Caught the Liberty bus to Leicester tonight – had a wizard time at the Palais de Danse. Got back to bed after a terrible journey standing in a truck of 1 hr 35 mins at 1am.

Sunday 25th

CGI’s talk. Intelligence lecture and natter by CO and CI – mostly the old s— plugged out again. Remained in the camp tonight.

A Note: The hut we are in was formally the pigeon keepers hut. We have two armchairs a table and several forms. But for the fact there is no linoleum it was bloody very comfortable.

Monday 26th

Paraded at 0845 started ground school promptly with navigation leaders talk. Went over the Lancaster for the first time. Remained on camp tonight. No mail.

Tuesday 27th

Paraded again with PT for 10 mins to follow. Ground school. Went to Stamford on liberty bus tonight & pictures and local dance. This remarkable town has over 65 pubs!!

Wednesday 28th

Parade this morning as usual and more school. Went to the local pub called the Wheatsheaf in the village of Edith Weston had about 4 pints and got quite happy.

March 1945 

Thursday 1st

School again today. Parcel of laundry arrived from home with letter. Boogie woogie player record has been obtained by mother at last. Laundry sent to private laundry. Went Edith Weston WVS.

Friday 2nd

School as usual. Letter from Toronto today with very pleasing news. She says that photo has been sent. More bods arrived. Went to the local WVS.

Saturday 3rd

School as usual today. Ron Colnebrooke gave me his ticket to Leicester. Went in on the 6 bus but got in around 7. Went to Flying Club for dinner then to various pubs finishing up at the Palais de Danse. Not so good this week.

Sunday 4th

Finished basic course this morning with final GEE and navigation exams. Had this afternoon off. Remained in the mess all evening about 9 went to the bar and the whole crew were present – had a glorious beer party.

Monday 5th

Supplementary lectures began with bombing etc and H2S gen this afternoon. No mail at all. Went to Stamford but couldn’t get into a show – came back on the 9 bus.

Tuesday 6th

No mail. Supplementary lectures H2S. Remained on camp tonight.

Wednesday 7th

Letter from mother. Supplementary lectures H2S. Went to Leicester on wet dinghy this afternoon. I bought a utility radio for £12-3-4d. Got back to camp at 12 midnight.

Thursday 8th

No mail today. Lectures again. Went to show in the NAAFI tonight quite amusing but boring in places. Rigged up the radio after little trouble with the earth.

Friday 9th

No mail today. Lectures. Went to flights this afternoon. Went to the Wheatsheaf pub. Bank balance £72-19-11.

Saturday 10th

Went flying today for the first time on Lancaster – quite interesting. No mail of course. Remained in the hut all evening.

Sunday 11th

Flew again this evening – skipper went solo. Nothing much else of importance. Remained in the hut all evening. Oysters for supper.

Monday 12th

Up at 06.00 – the first time in months. Flew again on circuits and bumps. Cruised over Leicester. No mail again today. Sent parcel of laundry home. Sandy our mid upper gunner sick.

Tuesday 13th

Letter from mother. Flew again on circuits. Spent the evening on the camp. The RAF Association dance was absolute dead loss. Note : I’m pretty cheesed with this place as we’re had not a day off since we got here.

Wednesday 14th

Flew again today on a bombing trip. Went to Leicester by 4.15 train and came back on the dinghy truck. No mail again.

Thursday 15th

Spent the whole day hanging around the flight office to do a 1 and a ½ hour flight. Finally got into the air at 4.45 pm. No mail received today.

Friday 16th

Nothing special to report.

Saturday 17th

Up at 05.45 flew on cross country SW route about 6 hours not very successful. Letters sent home and to Mrs Turner and Ron of Toronto.

Sunday 18th

Up at 05.30 flew on cross country to Tours France. Route: base, Odstone, Anvil Point, Tours, Caen, Cherbourg, Bournemouth, base about 7 hours flying. Naturally nothing else to report.

Monday 19th

School this morning. The skipper saw the C.G.I. and managed to get us “off duty” until tomorrow night. Shorty and I go into London but unfortunately the train was an hour late so we redeemed our tickets. Went to a show got horribly drunk and wandered around Peterborough. Stayed at the Bull Hotel.

Tuesday 20th

Arose around 10 am had breakfast walked around town lunch. Left by 3.29 for Luffingham. Flew tonight on circuits. Up until 3 am. No mail. Haircut.

Wednesday 21st

Slept, rather badly, until about 12.00 had tea. Borrowed a bike from Johnnie, Salter a Canadian gunner went for a ride round to Stanford. Flew on bombing trip.

Thursday 22nd

Slept from last night’s effort – first night cross country to France – quite a good effort from my point of view. Naturally no mail.

Friday 23rd

Slept all day practically after last night’s cross country. Briefing at the usual time of 4.30 lasted longer than of late. Letter from home with Donald’s photo.

Saturday 24th

Went to Leicester by the 4.15 after sleeping from yesterday’s flight. Went to a restaurant to eat, a few beers then to the Palais de Danse back by taxi 10/- each.

Sunday 25th

Supplementary lectures have to be finished according to the C.G.I. so today we went back to lectures. Nothing else special to report.

Monday 26th

No mail received today. Lectures. Went to Stanford this evening. Wrote letters to Bob Baker, Norman Bore and mother.

Tuesday 27th

No mail today. Lectures again. Some people are getting a stand-down from tomorrow until Saturday night. So far we have S.F.A.

Wednesday 28th

After today’s lectures learnt that we are posted to 149 Squadron Methwold and we have leave until Sunday 12 o’clock noon. Wizzo! Caught the 6.20 from Luffenham.

Thursday 29th

Home today playing records etc. Pictures. Received gum from Mr R. Turner of Canada.

Friday 30th

Played records, pictures etc. Nothing else of interest.

Saturday 31st

Today was one of the happiest of my life. Met Bob Baker this morning and afternoon table-tennis. Met him again this evening went to Lion and Lamb couple of beers – to town hall – met Bob’s sister Betty. Wizzo stayed with her all evening. Plenty of beer and dancing. Took her to the station bags of necking etc. Won’t forget it for a long time……

April 1945

Sunday 1st

Arrived at St. Pancras about 8.15 caught the 8.30 to Leicester having met Johnny Penfold the engineer. Back at camp around 1.45 pm clearance and packing. Letters from M.B.B. and home.

Monday 2nd

Clearing still this morning and packing. Left by 15.01 train from North Luffenham to Peterborough had tea – to Cambridge – thence to Brandon and transport to here. Up until 11.30 pm looking for billet. 149 Squadron RAF Methwold.

Tuesday 3rd

Letter sent to home. Bob Baker, Bill Tuck.

Wednesday 4th

Not a lot doing today. I don’t think a lot of this station. Far too dispersed and too distant from any town. No mail received.

Thursday 5th

Reported about 9.20 informed by the skipper we’re on a cross country today but cancelled due to bad weather and unserviceable aircraft. Send letters to Norman Bore and Don Birchley.

Friday 6th

Got up about 8.50 reported to sections briefed again for cross country. We flew this time over France – received no mail again today. Not much else today I managed to get sheets for the crew.

Saturday 7th

Letter from Bob Baker nothing much from his sister rather disappointing. No flying today for us.

Sunday 8th

Nothing special to report. Crew seem to be getting rather cheesed – skipper is very reluctant to ask for leave or even days off. Crew binge in local pub – the Cock Inn.

Monday 9th

Well at mid day the skipper informed us we were on ops tonight. Couldn’t believe it but confirmed in nav. section. Briefing at 4.15 pm, took off 19.25 on course for Kiel, although 15 mins late owing to reciprocal winds to west. We pranged the Hun very well with target indictors bang in the centre of the photograph. On the way back the magneto switches were accidentally knocked off and three engines cut down to about 800 feet when discovered we recovered and reached base safely. Letter from home.

Tuesday 10th

Arose about mid day had lunch and stooged around all day until about 2.00, returned to hut sunbathing. No mail received.

Wednesday 11th

Arose late. Nothing to do today. Returned to hut early. Some more bods came in today. Celebrated in the four local inns of Methwold, the sinking of the “Admiral Scheer”, which may have been done by our bombs of Monday Night. No mail.

Thursday 12th

No mail received. Detailed Fighter Association1 cancelled.

1 bombers practicing defensive manoeuvres, such as corkscrews, against British fighters

Friday 13th

FDR died. What a day! After finding out leave has been put off until May 1st we were attached to Feltwell for a G-H course. Left this evening. No mail again. Letter to Bob Baker

Saturday 14th

Reported today. Began work almost immediately, lectures all day. Went to the show at Methwold not bad. No mail again.

Sunday 15th

Lectures again. Walked round the village back to barrack block 38 and to bed. Very depressing this camp. Everything is wrong, no mail from anyone and no comfort here. Jerry seems to be holding out again.

Monday 16th

Lectures continued. Went to the “West End” a local pub.

Tuesday 17th

Last day of lectures was yesterday. Very uninteresting. Went over to Methwold naturally no mail. Flew on first exercise.

Wednesday 18th

Flew again on second and last exercise. No mail.

Thursday 19th

Cleared today. Left for Methwold. Went by Sandy’s car to Peterborough. Caught 16.05 to London home at 19.15. Lost my ticket. Letter from Bobby Williams at long last and Bob Baker who has been posted to Bridgenorth.

Friday 20th

Home today. Got up at 8.00 played records etc. Nothing much today went to the Odeon “Can’t Help Singing”. Poor – left by 8.44 from Brentwood.

Saturday 21st

Flew this afternoon on G-H bombing. Error 352 yards, not too good. Moved to hut 95 4 site.

Sunday 22nd

Were detailed to arise at 3 am this morning for daylight op but was postponed until 10.45 briefing took off at 14.55 for Bremen. Flew in formation over cloud. No trouble until Wilhelmshaven were flak was very accurate and hit all three kites in our vicinity. We were hit in the mid uppers turret Sandy was OK. Arrived back at Methwold about 8.40 pm.

Monday 23rd

Nothing done today no mail received. Went to the camp cinema weather extremely cold.

Tuesday 24th

Nothing to report. No mail.

Wednesday 25th

Nothing to report no mail.

Thursday 26th

Letter received from Nora she has received my photograph – pleased with it – but I haven’t received hers.

Friday 27th

Still no flying. Weather is now extremely cold. Post card from Income Tax and Bob Baker.

Saturday 28th

No flying. Weather cold. Went to Feltwell show tonight. Preparing to go on leave

Sunday 29th

Very cold today. Cheesed off with nothing to do, went to the mess with Al Jones had more beer than I’ve ever had in my life 7 pints and was dangerously drunk. Dangerous to other people.

Monday 30th

Up at 6 still slightly drunk felt awful in stomach. Left at 7.35 for Liverpool Street. Had a very strong cup of coffee felt much better. Home at about 1.30. Pictures.

May 1945

Tuesday 1st

Up at about 8.15 nothing special on hand. Pressed battle-dress and blue. Went over to NB this afternoon – he looks awful. Naturally no letters. Went up to A.T.C. then C Doughty now in India. Met Norman Bore at his school. No mail. Nothing particular to report.

Wednesday 2nd

Donald came home on 2 weeks leave. Don Birchley has his tapes and wings I went around with him today. We went to Romford suddenly at 4.30 went to Ritz saw horror films of Buchenwald forest. Had a few beers came back by train from Gidea Park.

Thursday 3rd

Went up to town to meet Don Forster saw Abbot and Costello in “Here Come the Co-eds”. Went to Don’s house for tea then to Hammersmith Palais which was ropey. Home about 11.45 pm.

Friday 4th

Don Birchley still in London. Went over to Herongate saw Grand Pop, Aunt Em, Ivy and cousin Audrey and baby. Norman Bore came over. All German forces in Holland, Denmark, Northern Germany surrendered. This leaves them in Channel Isles and Norway only. Bought windbreaker as present for 21st on 8th May from mum and dad.

Saturday 5th

Rose around 8.15 met Don at his house at 11 am no much doing this morning, nothing to report this afternoon. Met Don tonight in civvies went to Artichoke had about 6 then to the Queen’s. Met John Berry and Bright. Staggered around to White Hart Hotel met 2 bods with tickets from then crashed the dance. Got home about 1.30 am.

Sunday 6th

Up at 7.30 cleared up craftily the mess from last night. Allotment visited. Met Don this afternoon stooged over the common. Went to the Artichoke not much beer tonight. Home about 10.30 pm.

Monday 7th

Met Don at 10.30. Sent 10/- to Norman Bore. Turned in shoes to barter. Caught the 3.24 pm from Brentwood to Liverpool Street. Contrary to the woman in Brentwood station the train left at 17.48. In camp at 8.55. Expecting announcement of end of war in Europe before leaving but no joy until back at camp.

Tuesday 8th

My 21st birthday. V.E. day. My birthday was also the day of victory in Europe when Mr. Churchill announced at 3 pm today the end of the war in Europe.

Wednesday 9th

VE day +1 scheduled to fly but it was cancelled. Nothing to report.

Thursday 10th

Letters sent to Bob Baker, Betty Baker, home, William R. Tuck. Got our passes early left for the station. Shorty had a puncture so missed the 11.43 to London. Caught the ten to 4.00. In Brentwood at 8.00. Walked through Brentwood hoping to meet Don Birchley. After going home went to his house had 4 pints with him then to bed.

Friday 11th

Home today rode around not much to do. Caught 4.27 from Brentwood at 17.48 from Liverpool Street. In camp at 9.15 pm.

Saturday 12th

Scheduled to fly to Juvincourt to pick up ex-POWs cancelled after taxiing out in aircraft. Very hot today – must be around 75 to 80 degrees. Remained on camp trying to cool off.

Sunday 13th

Flew to France today to pick up 24 ex-POWs brought them back to Oakley near Oxford. Weather cooled off considerably.

Monday 14th

Didn’t fly today. Letter from Bob Baker. Nothing to report.

Tuesday 15th

Letter from Betty Baker – pretty pleasing but I don’t know how it will work out when I get on leave next month. Letters from home and Derek Parmiter.

Wednesday 16th

Went to France today bring back 24 ex-POWs. Tonight Al Jones went to Feltwell with me “Home in Indiana”. Letter from Bill Tuck.

Thursday 17th

Flew this morning on formation cross country. This afternoon we went to Cambridge on dinghy drill. Spent a pleasant day on the river and at local pubs and fair. Letter from Don Birchley.

Friday 18th

Announced that aircrew are to get a special medal. Compass lecture this morning passed the time but very boring. This afternoon we started working out a speed test to give ourselves!! No mail received today. Letter sent home.

Saturday 19th

Nothing much to do today. No letters.

Sunday 20th

Lecture in the morning. Flying – bombing training – scrubbed today. Nothing else to report.

Monday 21st

Flew to France today on usual POW run to Juvincourt. Bad weather prevented us returning so everybody rushed off to Reims. Nothing much to do except drink champagne which cost 39 Francs per glass. Waited in Reims 3 hours for transport. Had about 2 hours sleep on the floor of the Lancaster.

Tuesday 22nd

Skipper hadn’t returned from Reims at 9am . Finally turned up and we left Juvincourt for Dunsfold. Back at base about 1 pm. Sleep. Wash. Pictures, bed. Bicycle pinched.

Wednesday 23rd

Up at usual time. Flew to Juvincourt again came back via Bradwell Bay and Chelmsford. Flew over Brentwood to avoid storm seeing my house. No letters.

Thursday 24th

Letter from NBB. Sent letters to NBB, W Tuck, RBC. Stooged back to the billet this afternoon. Recalled to fly on formation flying. Rode in the bomb hatch very close and exciting flying by Flying Officer Tottle.

Friday 25th

Parcel received home with laundry and photos at last. Letter also received from Nora. Wrote right back to Toronto also send £9 to RBC. Shorty and I went to the “Chequers” at Feltwell had a few, Louis came back to the mess. Very pissed. Lost my badge and hanky.

Saturday 26th

No mail received today. No flying done either. In fact I did sweet F.A.

Sunday 27th

Nothing special today. Went to Feltwell again with Shorty had a few beers rained like the devil when coming home.

Monday 28th

No mail today from home, letter from Bob Baker. Went to camp show “Song of the Open Road” and “Fall In”.

Tuesday 29th

Letter from home. Nothing much done today. Flew tonight on cross country – very ropey effort. Recovered bike.

Wednesday 30th

Up at 10.45, cooked my last trip all morning up to lunch. Had crew photo taken in front of “Charley”. Went to Ely with Al by 3.50 from Brandon however, we caught it at Lakenheath. I didn’t think a lot of Ely.

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Thursday 31st

Nothing much to report. Wizard (?) Letter from Betty. Flew on low level aircraft firing today. Had crew beer-do in Cock Inn Methwold tonight.

June 1945

Friday 1st

Up as usual at 8.00 breakfast, packed section. Got our passes at 10.30 – to the station and 11.43 to Liverpool Street. Caught 5.05 from Paddington arrived Torquay at 11.31 taxi to Alan’s aunt’s house.

Saturday 2nd

Up at 10 am wizard breakfast of ham, egg, toast, marmalade and coffee! Down to seafront and harbour one noggin back to base. In uniform to the harbour and rowed out to sea. To the Drum for beer – rained got horribly wet returned to base.

Sunday 3rd

What a day – what a leave – rain again. We were absolutely forced to remain in the house all day – no let up at all.

Monday 4th

Got up at 7am. Breakfast. Caught 9am from Torquay London at 13.30. Had lunch Lyons, Old Broad Street. Went to the pictures in the West End saw “Something for the Boys”. Caught 17.48 from Liverpool Street.

Tuesday 5th

Reported to section today as usual, this day was one of the worst I can recall. Shorty announced at tea that he had applied for a commission – it beats me how gunnery section could let him after 2 operations! Boy if even asked in the navigation section I’d be jumped on. This is not all. being rather cheesed I went to Brandon tonight to the pictures. Someone swiped my bike after I had locked it. Got a lift back to camp.

Wednesday 6th

Twas a year ago today that the invasion of Europe began. Crew photos obtained very good. Letter to B Baker.

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Thursday 7th

Nothing of special importance to report. Went to Chequers Feltwell and the Oak. Weather very rainy, cold front this makes the 6th consecutive day of rain.

Friday 8th

Weather is still the same. Pay parade today £9. Nothing special to report. No mail.

Saturday 9th

Bull commenced today for the AOC’s inspection on Tuesday. Wrote letters to Don Birchley, Bill Tuck and Betty.

Sunday 10th

Bull again today cleaning up the camp in general. Went to supper tonight and stayed in the mess – had just too many beers and got out of hand on returning to billet insulting Jones.

Monday 11th

Tremendous bull around the camp for AOC’s inspection tomorrow. No mail received.

Tuesday 12th

On parade at 9.45 for AOC’s inspection. Parade help outside Flying Control. Over at 11 am. Letter from Bob baker and home. Spent the afternoon pretending to plot for AOC’s benefit. Shower.

Wednesday 13th

Flew on group bombing competition this morning. Went over to cricket nets this afternoon. WAAF Gang Show tonight – not too good. The rear gunner saw Squadron Leader Payne in lieu of the Wing Commander and apparently passed.

Thursday 14th

Nothing to report, no mail.

Friday 15th

No flying today and nothing special to report. No mail received.

Saturday 16th

Nothing done this morning. Stand down this afternoon but Adjutant refused to give us our passes. Went into Feltwell had some strawberries.

Sunday 17th

Up at 8 am breakfast. Cycled down to Brandon station caught 9.45 to London – home at 3.30 pm. Bob called at 6pm he had a date – went round to Don Birchley who was home for a weekend. Saw Betty again with another guy – an old flame called Ron. However was a good evening.

Monday 18th

First day of leave. Betty, Bob, Ken and myself to Brentwood swimming pool had quite a busy time but with usual right bashfulness failed to make any headway.

Tuesday 19th

Up to the pool again. Betty came up later and once again I bashed. Went to pictures by myself!!!

Wednesday 20th

Swimming again today. Went on the beer tonight with Bob, Ken, Jack Person and another RAF Corporal, met Betty and passing the “Charles Napier” to the town hall danced with practically everybody including Betty. Kissed her goodbye and she says she’ll write me first, pinched her hankie as a souvenir.

Thursday 21st

Went to London this morning and bought four new discs from Keith Prowse and Co my total is now 71. Met Bob on Liverpool Street, dinner Bob & Ken – I went to pictures then home drank by myself tonight what cheesiness.

Friday 22nd

Swimming with Bob this morning and afternoon. Went to Palace with Pop tonight and had a beer with him at the White Hart. Home early!

Saturday 23rd

Went swimming this morning by myself and to the pool to watch this afternoon. Met Jack Person at 7 this evening in the Artichoke and met the three ATS babes. Got them and ourselves horribly drunk to town hall.   Snogging up to Warley Barracks her name Christine Forster 1803155 ATS. Warley Barracks, Brentwood. Don Birchley took Kay.

Sunday 24th

Last day of leave. Swimming this morning with Don Birchley, dinner – tea in Odeon with Don ,met Jack and three girls to the Odeon – to the station. Caught 8.55 at 9.12 London 21.50 no train until 4.30 spent a most uncomfortable night in the YMCA. What a bind. Got an ATS badge as a souvenir.

Monday 25th

Reported to the section at 2.15 pm, nothing to do however. It was confirmed that my crown was through. No mail.

Tuesday 26th

Flew on Baedeker to the Ruhr today carrying 2 WAAFs and 2 ground staff bods. Saw Wesel, Krupps, Mohne dam, Dunkerque, Antwerp and a host of others. Still no letter from Betty.

Wednesday 27th

Reported to section at 9 .15 am. Intelligence lecture on Europe photography this morning. Working on a new book this afternoon. Bought 2 lbs of strawberries. No letters. Day off on Sunday. Sent letter to Don Birchley.

Thursday 28th

Sandy is leaving tomorrow for Borne. Ground crew beer do in Brandon. Many souvenirs obtained. Flew on air test of “Charlie”.

Wednesday 29th

Nothing to report today.

Saturday 30th

Nothing done this morning – went to Cambridge on dinghy drill managed to get away to London. Home at 7.20. Had ham and egg met Don Birchley at his home went to Artichoke very ropey beer.

July 1945

Sunday 1st

Up at 9.30 breakfast. Called on Don at 11.30 had a half pint – to the station for the trains. Don came down this afternoon played a few records. Went back by 9.12 from Liverpool Street. In camp at 12.45 pm.

Monday 2nd

Reported to section as usual. No mail received. * Wrote to Betty *

Tuesday 3rd

Plotting all this morning skipper has volunteered for transport command. Letter from Bill Tuck. Still no mail received from home. Went to Feltwell by my lonesome this evening had a few beers.

Wednesday 4th

Swimming at Didlington Hall this morning – very cold but enjoyable. Still no mail from home gave up hope.

Thursday 5th

Up at 3 flying to South of France on photography, nine hour trip. Went to Feltwell and got drunk.

Friday 6th

Pay parade £10 this morning. Formation flying this afternoon. Sgt’s Mess dance but unable to cope owing to flying tomorrow. Broke my pipe again.

Saturday 7th

Flew today again on photography mission to South of France – weather was very good. No mail received.

Sunday 8th

Had rather a heavy head cold I’m not going to fly tomorrow. Went to Feltwell Chequers.

Monday 9th

Reported sick today with cold – grounded for three days. Sun bathing all day. Witness partial eclipse of the sun this afternoon.

Tuesday 10th

Received letter from Mrs R Williams of Niagara Falls, Ontario who says Bob was killed on his first trip at O.T.U. Weather is putrid. Letter and parcel from home.

Wednesday 11th

Weather very duff today. No flying. Caught 2.30 pm transport to Brandon Cambridge at 5 pm could not get a billet so I caught 7.12 home. Home at 11pm.

Thursday 12th

Home today bought crowns. Played records. Returned to camp on 5.45. Afterthought – when I returned from camp at 9 tonight there was still no letter from Betty. I’m afraid I’ve had it once again and will be forced to forget her.

Friday 13th

Not an eventful day. Sunbathing this afternoon. Went to the Chequers tonight with Jock and Don got horribly drunk went to the mess. Still no letter from Betty. Monday is the deadline.

Saturday 14th

Boring today. Comparing today with this time last year – at Moncton M.B. Went to show.

Sunday 15th

Nothing to report.

Monday 16th

No flying today. Weather no good for sun bathing. Afterthought – no letter from Betty so I guess I’ve had it.

Tuesday 17th

Attempted a Baedeker today but unserviceable receiver in kite forced us to return after an hour. Nothing much else, no mail. Went to Hockwold dance – horrible.

Wednesday 18th

Flew on another photography mission today north of Paris, very boring, flew Lancaster for 20 mins. Letter from home. Went to the Oak for a few beers tonight.

Thursday 19th

Nothing special, big crap game tonight, won £2 2/6d.

Friday 20th

Weather duff for sun bathing. Shower tonight. Johnny and Ken left to catch 6 from Brandon after Shorty had got the passes. Went for a quiet drink in the Oak.

Saturday 21st

Left for home at 7. Arrived London 10.35. 10.50 from Liverpool Street. Got off at Romford saw Bob Baker and girl. Went to the Artichoke had a few by myself Uncle Fred came bought a couple Bob Baker and girl arrived later went to White Hart met 2 WACS and Peggy. Home at 1 am after interval on Brentwood Station.

Sunday 22nd

Swimming at 10.30 – pretty warm. Don Birchley who was to have got home last night was not home at 3 pm. Came back on 9.12 Liverpool Street and 7.28 Brentwood.

Monday 23rd

To the navigation section this morning. Remain in the camp, no mail. Fixed up bike, paid skipper £2.

Tuesday 24th

No mail, no joy, no fun, no prospects, no clues.

Wednesday 25th

Flew on formation to the North Sea dropping 500 lb incendiary clusters. Remained on camp the rest of the day. No mail.

Thursday 26th

Up at 2 am this morning 3 am briefing. Took off at 5.15 went to southern France flying around Mont Blanc and the Alps photographing. Back at 2pm Labour government elected. Saw the “Song of Bernadette” in the station cinema.

Friday 27th

No flying today. No mail.

Saturday 28th

No flying for me went to the Oak had a few beers stand down this afternoon. Played craps tonight.

Sunday 29th

Crew flew on air test – lost!!! When I didn’t fly. Did 15 minutes solid P.T. tonight and will do every night when possible.

Monday 30th

Flew today on revue to Geneva cloud prevented most of photography. Letter from Betty today – she says “I am sorry I have not written before but we moved”.

Tuesday 31st

Went to Cambridge by 6 pm train had a few beers went to dance in Guildhall. Slept on Cambridge station missed last train back. Wing Commander confined everybody for a couple of hours.

August 1945

Wednesday 1st

Day off today. Arrived back from Cambridge at 8.30. Slept all morning. Quiet pint in Feltwell. No P.T.

Thursday 2nd

Sun bathing all today. Station theatre usual P.T.

Friday 3rd

Hottest day of the year. Sun bathing went down to Hockwold had a few beers.

Saturday 4th

Up in time to catch 7am transport, caught the 7.45 from Brandon home at 12.00. Went up to the pool – very crowded – didn’t get a swim. Had a few beers and went to the dance.

Sunday 5th

Swimming this morning drinking this evening with Bob and Pam.

Monday 6th

Bank holiday Monday. Swimming this morning with Cyril and Miss Pilgrims Hatch one of Brentwood’s carnival queen candidates – a slick chick if ever there was.

Tuesday 7th

Swimming again – Bob Baker rather chilly weather cloudy drinking again.

Wednesday 8th

Weather duff no swimming today rained tonight had 2 beers in the Artichoke and went home. Special note: today I saw a girl who one day I hope to marry!!!!!??** A peach dressed in blue costume pink and white striped blouse black suede shoes. Brunette about 5’ 6” lives in Honeypot Lane – my dream girl. To anyone who reads this that shouldn’t – we can all dream can’t we?

Thursday 9th

Still rather poor weather but swan again. Rain again tonight no beer!!

Friday 10th

Swimming little to report.

Saturday 11th

Swimming this morning. Bought puncture outfit, met Ray Burgess (Navy) and Bill Golding (RAF) had a few beers. Returned to Liverpool Street on 4.35 back at camp at 9pm.

Sunday 12th

We are going to Norway tomorrow packing and arranging to leave. Wrote to Don Birchley, Betty and home.

Monday 13th

After 2 hours briefing took off in OJ-C for Norway at 12.45 B.S.T. Came via Denmark, Oslo to Trondheim arrived at 18.00 DBST. Flight Lieutenant Key pranged on runway RAF station Trondheim.

Tuesday 14th

Arranged lockers and found kit, wash and shave, lunch. Went to the local beach, very good swimming. This evening we went to the German built “Kasino” – after moving billets to some wizard huts built beneath ground level.

Wednesday 15th

Organised water supply this morning and general comforting of billets, stooged and slept this afternoon, remained in mess for supper. Returned to shack at 7.30.

Thursday 16th

Flew this morning to extreme north of Narvik and Norway , valley fog prevented photography, returned to base. Nothing else done today of note.

Friday 17th

Sunbathed all morning, went to beach for swim this afternoon, sky clouded returned to camp. Played cards and dice all evening until 1.30am, lost 54 krone.

Saturday 18th

Up for breakfast, cleaned up, went Trondheim a horrible place, caught the 7.12 from Trondheim stopped at Mitsund and went to Norwegian army dance – played piano in officers mess – dancing, drinking until 3am, home to bed at 5am.

Sunday 19th

Not up for breakfast – up at 10am for Wing Commander’s inspection. Sleep this afternoon then wash and clean up. Had tea, played cards and dice this evening. Once again I lost losing Kr.35. Weather is still absolutely useless for flying.

Tuesday 28th

Quit had to be feathered, returned to base at Vaernes, went to new billet, pictures tonight at Kasino saw “Laura” – wonderful.

Wednesday 29th

Messed around the billet all day, went to the station all- ranks dance tonight – very poor. Got very drunk on white wine, had to be brought home, brought my lung up.

Thursday 30th

Stayed in bed until 3pm this afternoon, felt horrible sick with headache. This evening I felt better and walked in rain to the Sgt’s mess dance at the Kasino. Came back in the rain and went to bed. Jock and Ken were pissed.

Friday 31st

Up for breakfast. Walked around perimeter track. Deal with barman (I think he’s a sly underhand type) bought bottle of whiskey. This afternoon had a haircut by an SP. Pressed up blue, battle dress blouse and pants. Stayed in this evening. Rainy weather, hope to leave on Sunday.

September 1945

Sunday 1st

Rain this morning. Air test this afternoon – kite O.K. Went to the mess to drink this evening – pissed – back to the billet, broke window with my fist!!!

Sunday 2nd

Up for breakfast out to the kite with luggage – waited for hours for the skipper. Took off at 11.50 C.E.S.T. good trip but didn’t to base until 4.30, 3.30 B.S.T. Changed into civvies went to the “Oak” only had two pints, back to the billet.

Monday 3rd

Six years ago today the war started . Changed sheets first – with £20 pay in pocket. Worked on bike – went to Feltwell – letter from mum sent on Aug 28th. Stayed in this evening. Cycle O.K.

Tuesday 4th

Reported to section today. Left for home by the 11.57 from Lakenheath. Arrived in London about 2.50 caught 15.04 to Brentwood. Missed on Birchley by ½ hour, he returned today. Saw “Diamond Horseshoe” at the Odeon. Donald home till Tuesday.

Wednesday 5th

Up at 8.30 breakfast, to Upminster by cycle, saw Norman Bore went to Romford with him bought 4 new discs – Harry JamesJump Town” and “Flatbush Flanagan”, Albert Ammons” & Pete Johnson “Cherry Blues”, Sinatra’s!!! “If You Are But a Dream”. Letter from Bill Tuck. Left home by 4.27, 5.48 from Liverpool Street. In camp at nine.

Thursday 6th

Not detailed to fly today. Nothing to report. Went to tea in Feltwell. No letters received. Weather cloud 50 at 3000’, clear above that. High pressure area. Little wind.

Friday 7th

On a photographic flight today to South of France – poor weather low crowd prevented carrying out detail. Back at Methwold at 2. Drinking in Feltwell tonight. Another day off Sunday leaving at 7am tomorrow. No mail yet.

Saturday 8th

Left on 7am transport for Brandon caught 7.40 to London in at 10.35 had a bite to eat, caught 11.15 slow to Brentwood, dinner, bought medal ribbons. Put my brown suit on this evening to meet Bob Baker. Met his girl Pam who said he was confined to camp. Spent a pleasant evening drinking and dancing with her. Home to bed at 1.0 am Sunday.

Sunday 9th

Up for breakfast at 9.00. Wash shave and walked to Weald Church via the fields with Spot. Lunch – rode around on mother’s bike and saw Pam again – tea. Caught the 7.49 to London and the 9.12 from Liverpool Street crowded almost unbearable – a hellish journey!!! In the billet at 1am.

Monday 10th

Up for breakfast. Not flying although no sign of skipper until the afternoon. Letter received from Bob Baker. Went to the “Oak” tonight with Ken.

Tuesday 11th

Spent the morning in the flight office filling in log books and leave applications. Wanted to have 48 before the leave but skipper once again didn’t co-operate and it is at the end. No mail received. Stayed in this evening.

Wednesday 12th

Scheduled to fly today on revue but cancelled. Hung around camp all day. Went to Feltwell this afternoon to see station football team. Stayed in tonight.

Thursday 13th

Up at 2am this morning for flying went to Pyrenees cloud prevented photography. Back at base at 1.15. Letter from Marc of Toronto. Pressing this evening after picture show. Weather colder.

Friday 14th

Paid today £11 14/-. Went to Crosby-on-Eden this afternoon to show off Lancaster, G Transport Conversion Unit near Carlisle. No mail at lunch time. Went to a small pub called “Salutation Inn” to have a few beers.

Saturday 15th

Went down to breakfast, back to the billet and cleaned buttons etc. wash and shave. Lunch – down to the kite showing the civilian round the kite, very boring. Started to come back but no pukka D.I. prevented take-off. Had four double whiskeys in the mess went to dance in the WAAF NAAFI.

Sunday 16th

Rain today. Left Crosby-on Eden at 2.20. Back at Methwold at 3.30. Tea in civvies to the Oak.

Monday 17th

Collected pillow slip. Shoes condemned – get a new pair and socks from stores. The laundry store has lost my laundry. Went to camp show then to the Oak for a quick pint. Letter from Bob.

Tuesday 18th

No flying today. Nothing to do all day. Letter received from Buck Ramsey. Saw the Adjutant about my laundry. I am paying for it so as to get it quicker although it’s a poor show. Feeling a bit cheesed I am looking forward to leave.

Wednesday 19th

No flying today and no mail. Nothing to do all day. Got laundry from stores cost me 10/5d. Went to the Oak tonight – played dice on return until 12 midnight.

Thursday 20th

No flying today – thank goodness. Packing kit ready to leave tomorrow at 7.00 on leave. Went to the “New Inn” Hockwold – the whole crew to send off Al Jones the wireless operator who hopes to leave for New Zealand next month and who has left the crew.

Friday 21st

After a pissy night we get up at 6.15 and caught the 7.40 from Brandon home at 12.30. Had lunch when Bob called on me went up town with him and saw Betty. Went to Odeon by myself. Came at 9.50 met Betty her pal and Vic Cross (how on earth she met him I don’t know). Had ten minutes hard snogging with Betty before going home. Home 11.30.

Saturday 22nd

Bob and Betty came down at 10.50 to hear my records. Once again I boobed I thought mother would go out. Anyway I met Bob up town and found Betty had buggered off to Les Coopers pre-wedding drinking party. We all arranged to meet tonight in Charlie Napier at 7.30. A horrible evening I was almost too drunk to remember it. Anyway I went home with Vic instead of Betty!! Not by intention. Home 12.30

Sunday 23rd

Up at 9 dressed and rode over to Upminster via Bob Baker’s house – he rode with me to N. Bores. Came back same route and called “The King Harold” had a drink with Bob, Betty and their father. Went to the pictures then to the “White Hart” met Bill Golding’s girl-friend had a few beers and took her home. Haven’t a clue what her name is. Home 11.45.

Monday 24th

Went up to the YMCA to meet Bob at 10.30. Closed and no sign of him. Went home again and cleaned up. Up to YMCA again where there was John Saggers, Tich Cochran, Bob & Betty. Home bet Bob again – tea and pictures. Met this babe again before this, had a couple of drinks with Bob & Pam. Home 11.45.

Tuesday 25th

Not much to report during the day. Played a few records. Went to “The Seven Arches” with Mickey – quite a pleasant evening.

Wednesday 26th

Much the same happened today. Letter from Derek Parmiter who is now in England after getting his wing. Had a few beers tonight and went to the Town Hall and took Mickey home again.

Thursday 27th

Again little of importance to report. Went out walking today with Mickey – nothing to say though. Met Pam tonight and went to Palace with her “The True Glory: From D Day to VE Day” quite good. Her address is 14, Oakwood Avenue Hutton.

Friday 28th

Went up town today on 10.07 to meet Derek. Lunch at Corner House then to show “Captain Eddie”.   Went drinking again – brought my ring up three times after eating a pear!!!

Saturday 29th

Getting uncomfortably close to the end of the leave. Met this chick again at 10.30 and went cycling with her around Bulphan, Herongate – quite pleasant. Met Bob tonight and went with him drinking, John Berry (now a Sgt air gunner) came too. A poor evening.

Sunday 30th

Up at 9 breakfast usual routine. Drink at 12.30 in White Hart. Supposed to meet Bob at 2.30 in High Street but he didn’t turn up. Mickey kissed me goodbye on the station at 6.30 after Ma and Pa had walked halfway round with me!!! Back in camp at 11.15pm catching 7.40 from Liverpool Street.

October 1945

Monday 1st

Squadron breaking up on October 10th confirmed. Nothing else to report. Went to the “Oak” Feltwell after pictures.

Tuesday 2nd

No flying today owing to duff weather. Wing Commander called conference latest gen squadron not breaking up but reducing strength from three to two flights. No mail.

Wednesday 3rd

Still no flying. Football pools received from home. Stayed in this evening.

Thursday 4th

Foggy all day. All flying scrubbed. Day off next Tuesday. 36 weekend 20th October. Day off 31st.. Leave 1st November or the 9th. Nothing else to report. Sent off pools. Letter from Mickey but not replying.

Friday 5th

Foggy again. Flew today on bomb-dropping trip to Cardigan Bay. Letter received from Mrs Turner of Toronto. Went to the mess by myself tonight for a few beers. I was just a little tight. Sent letters to Don Birchley and Pam.

Saturday 6th

Went to Feltwell this morning for tea. Wing Commander called parade at 2pm today for cleaning of sites. Went to Cambridge leaving camp at 3pm. Caught the 15.50 from Lakenheath. Went to a picture show had a meal then Guildhall – poor effort. Came back by 12.30 from Cambridge.

Sunday 7th

Nothing to do all day. Went to station show tonight.

Monday 8th

Up for breakfast. To the section then to “A” flight office. Caught the 11.48 from Lakenheath to London. Arrived 2.40pm. Went round city then caught the 15.04 from Liverpool Street to Brentwood. Home at 4pm. Went up town tonight & saw no-one. Don Birchley not home yet.

Tuesday 9th

Up at 8.30 played a few records. I was going to Romford but flat tire let me down. Walked up town & again saw no-one. Caught the 4.05pm from Brentwood back at camp at 9pm.

Wednesday 10th

Wrote letter to Norman Bore. No flying today. Still no news of the crew becoming redundant. Had a drink at the “Oak”.

Thursday 11th

Our crew is not redundant. Still no flying today. Had a few beers in the “West End” Feltwell then went to the Sgt’s mess dance. Received letter from Pam.

Friday 12th

Went to Mildenhall this morning at 8.30am for G-H revision course. The machine was u/s. Went into the village and had a meal of toast, egg, fried tomatoes and milk for 1/-2d. Paid on return £10. Went into Feltwell and the Oak.

Saturday 13th

Detailed to fly a Baedeker today but fog scrubbed it. Went into Cambridge with Pete couldn’t get “There I’ve Said It Again” but managed to get two Goodman discs, “Rose Room & Shivers”. Had a drink, wizard meal back on 10.25.

Sunday 14th

Fog prevented all flying today. Carved up book and sent a letter to Arthur H Stockwell – publisher. I have already decided to ditch this woman I met last leave but I weakened today and wrote to Betty.

Monday 15th

Up at 7am for flying. Set course at 10.00 for Geneva. Saw Mont Blanc once again. Unfortunately the lake was filled with low valley fog obscuring Geneva. In the evening remained in the hut and the mess. Letter received from Bob

Tuesday 16th

Flew on revue again to Bristol Channel area. 5 hour trip. Remained in tonight. Left my thermos in the mess and lost it. Letter from home.

Wednesday 17th

Received letter from Nora of Toronto and wrote right back to her also Mrs R. Turner.   No flying today. Received and sent off football pools. Stayed in the billet tonight again.

Thursday 18th

Received a letter from Stockwell – publisher and Betty. No flying today again. Watched the station football team this afternoon. The other crew from the billet left for Blyton Redundant Aircrew Centre.

Friday 19th

Today we were waiting to leave on our 48. We were flying in the afternoon but skipper managed to gt us off to catch the 3.19 from Brandon. Home at 8pm. Went up to Don Birchley’s house but he had gone back last Monday.

Saturday 20th

Up for 9.30 went to Romford to get “There I Said It Again” no joy but I ordered it. Saw Bob & John Berry. Went to the Odeon this afternoon to see “Salome – Where She Danced” This evening John Berry and I had a drinking session – I was rather tight went up town-hall and met Christine again, took her home. Finally got to bed about 2.30 after a difficult walk home. Got my pips.

Sunday 21st

Up for breakfast just in time. Fixed Don’s puncture, played a few records. Had a drink in the “Napier”. Dinner. Went to Warley Barracks but she didn’t come. Caught the 7.40 from Liverpool Street – in billet 11.30. I bought “Chicken Gem Boogie” yesterday.

Monday 22nd

Skipper went into hospital with the flu today. Wrote a few letters. Weather very rough with high winds and rain. Letter from Don Birchley.

Tuesday 23rd

Weather still rough. No flying and no mail.

Wednesday 24th

Pools arrived and letter from Derek. Weather rough. Fined 5/- for riding without a rear light last night.36 cancelled, duty crew this week-end. Went to Wisbech tonight not bad but being broke I couldn’t get tight. Bed at 1.30am.

Thursday 25th

No flying today. Weather poor still. Went to Rhythm Club. No mail received today.

Friday 26th

Yippee pay day £10-. Paid Johnny the 5/- I owed him. Nothing to do today as usual. Went into Feltwell had fish and chips & a pint and bought some tobacco.

Saturday 27th

Expecting mail today but no joy. Nothing to do. Some bods have gone home on 36’s etc. Went to station cinema to see “Abroad with Two Yanks” – quite good.

Sunday 28th

Reported to section as usual, supposed to be in Dodge tomorrow. Working on a pool system this afternoon. Went to bed about midnight listening to AFN MunichMidnight in Munich

Monday 29th

Nothing to do today. It was raining when we woke so we remained in the billet all day. No mail. Went up to sick quarters with my arm tonight.

Tuesday 30th

Nothing to do today again! No mail again! Stayed up again to midnight listening to “Midnight in Munich”.

Wednesday 31st

Nothing much of interest to report. Letter from Bob Baker who says Pam will not write me. Tonight the crew except Ken who is in hospital went to Wisbech. We had supper then to the White Hart for a few beers. Wizard evening met quite a nice piece of stuff but couldn’t take her home.

November 1945

Thursday 1st

Up for breakfast in time. Went to the station cinema to see “Patrick the Great”, poor film. Went to Rhythm Club – very poor show. Wally and I are to put one on in two weeks.

Friday 2nd

Leave tomorrow feeling very good.

Saturday 3rd

Leave commences today. Left at 11. Home at 4. Took shoes up town. In civvies to the Town Hall with Bob and Pam – poor evening.

Sunday 4th

Met Bob in the morning. Went to the Artichoke this evening. Saw Mrs M. Homer who said “hallo” and I replied “hallo” leaving it at that.

Monday 5th

Cyril came down today. Went to Romford on cycle. Supposed to have a date with Christine outside the Odeon at 6.30. She was late for at 10.15 in a café on Warley Hill she came in, took her home to barracks, so far so good.

Tuesday 6th

After mucking around all day had a double date with Cyril and Margaret, poor evening.

Wednesday 7th & Thursday 8th

Mostly spent playing records. Pictures and a trip to Romford for “There I’ve Said It Again”.

Friday 9th

Record playing. Met Shorty in Trafalgar Square at 2 after a long wait. Went to the Whitehall Theatre “Peek a Boo” again with Phyllis Dixey – a poor show. Rushed back to Brentwood and changed into uniform, got back to barracks at 6.40 – no woman. Waited until 6.55 started walking to billet met her with a pal – the brush. Went and got drunk.

Saturday 10th

Record playing. Hooray Don Birchley came down played records again. Had a tub. Tonight Don and I went on a session in civvies. Went to Town Hall in civvies – poor show – wrecked the programme frame outside Odeon and posted the poster. Home about 12.30.

Sunday 11th

Up at 9 met Don after clean up for a drink. Walk with dog. Left home by 6.28 train met Shorty had a seat to Brandon. In the billet at 11.

Monday 12th

Sent a cheque off for £1-3-4 for book script. Skipper grounded still for Impetigo. Sent off message to Arthur H Stockwell Ltd Ilfracombe.

Thursday 13th

Nothing special to report except still grounded through skipper. Scrounged around all day doing nothing as usual. Went to Feltwell – the Oak and Chequers for a few beers.

Wednesday 14th

Still nothing to do again. This afternoon went round taking out blankets to kites. Received a receipt for £1-3-4 sent Monday. Pools sent off. Wisbech tonight – poor.

Thursday 15th

Missed a pool dividend of £17,070 for 2d. Went to Feltwell for tea this morning. Nothing else happened today except went to have a bath, shave in mess.

Friday 16th

When I reported to the section this morning informed that we’re eligible for Operation Dodge. Spent all morning preparing the chart. Left this afternoon for Tibenham – our accommodation was OK but soldiers there was piss poor. Went to station dance – not a bad effort with bags of beer and wonderful food. When Dodge was scrubbed the boys came in and spoilt it.

Saturday 17th

Hung around Tibenham waiting for gen on Dodge. Came back to base at 12.30. Cleaned up in afternoon. Went to Brandon pictures by relays on Pete’s motorcycle.

Sunday 18th

A grim day. On Dodge again but owing to the skipper being in dock with Impetigo we were taken off detail. Johnny and Pete went home on 36’s but Shorty and I remained on camp.

Monday 19th

Not much to do today. Didn’t go anywhere owing to lack of funds. Went to station cinema to see “Sensations of 1945” with Eleanor Powell. Rhythm Club afterwards with Wally Barnet’s show, not too bad.

Tuesday 20th

Remained in the billet this morning. Learnt from my pool coupon I had won the 4 aways and 10 out of 12 results. Sent letters to Derek, Don, Bob and Betty. Letter received from home. This evening I went to the Royal Tank Regiment “Cambrai Day” dance at Brandon and met an A.T.S. called Peggy – a very nice girl.

Wednesday 21st

No flying today – hooray. Little to do today. Went to Wisbech tonight and had about 7 pints went to the dance at St. Peters and had a wizard time.

Thursday 22nd

Got up for breakfast but didn’t go to the navigation section. Navigation preparation for Dodge tomorrow. Bed at 10pm.

Friday 23rd

Up at 3.30am for Dodge. Set course for Bari from Base at 06.15. Landed at Pomigliano near Naples after hectic descent through cloud over the sea. Taken to No. 56 P.T.C. to spend night after being piss-balled around at the airport. Supposed to have a date with Peggy tonight, what a bind.

Saturday 24th

Up at 5.15 to go to Bari reached Pomigliano OK at 08.00. Get in kite about 10.30. S.O. u/s waited while fixed. Got in again brakes u/s. Cancelled trip returned to No. 56 P.T.C. Went into Naples this evening – a very impressive and modern city in parts – in other parts worse than a pig sty. Bags of oranges etc. to be had.

Sunday 25th

Went out to the kite again but didn’t take off owing to lack of accommodation of Bari. Back to 56 Personnel Transit Centre (P.T.C.) for lunch. Went to Pompeii this afternoon and visited the city 2000 years old a wonderful experience. Unfortunately it rained and cut short the tour. Returned to 56 P.T.C. for dinner stayed in and slept this evening.

Monday 26th

Supposed to be returning to England today. Up at 4.30am breakfast out to aircraft. No passengers at first but eventually set course at 08.45 G.M.T. after an uneventful journey landed at Glatton 15.20. Returned to base.

Tuesday 27th

After reporting to flight office we learnt that we were off duty from the time we landed last night until 18.00 tomorrow. Got ready to go home but changed my mind. Shower this afternoon went for a drink in the West End.

Wednesday 28th

Pool coupons came today. Saw the skipper this afternoon who said we were on Dodge again tomorrow. What a blow! Prepared a chart in the navigation section then Jack got off the Dodge. Went to Wisbech tonight on the gunners’ party – bags of beer – met a girl called Margaret at the dance – O.K.

Thursday 29th

Felt a bit rough this morning after last night. Letter from home. Nothing special doing today. Went to Rhythm Club this evening not very good.

Friday 30th

Letter from Bob Baker who has moved to Spilsby Lincolnshire. Finally got passes at 3.20. Home at 8.15pm.

December 1945

Saturday 1st

Remained indoors playing records. Parcel arrived from Canada with torch from Mrs R. Turner. Went to pictures this afternoon and a few drinks tonight then to Town Hall. No women but not a bad time.

Sunday 2nd

Stayed in the house again after went around to check on trains. Not much else in the daytime. Went to pictures tonight afterwards 3 pints in the Essex Arms. Wrote to Nora, Betty and Argosy magazine.

Monday 3rd

Stayed in until 12.15 did a little shopping and went to the pictures this afternoon. Tea, listened to radio. Caught the 8.34pm from Brentwood and 10.00pm from Liverpool Street it took 4 ½ hours, in bed at 3.45am.

Tuesday 4th

Too late for breakfast didn’t go to the navigation section all day. Not on Dodge today thank goodness. Decided to go to Thetford with Jock tonight in the rain – missed the 8.55 by ½ hour & went to the pictures.

Wednesday 5th

Went to the section this morning – nought doing – back to the billet then after lunch pressed uniform pants. Letter from Don. Went to Wisbech tonight saw Margaret – had a few beers. Back to bed at 2.00am.

Thursday 6th

To the section this morning. Back to pit. Letter received from Argosy magazine and am sending my book to them. Go to Rhythm Club tonight – not very good – too cold.

Friday 7th

Had to report to the section twice today at each roll call. Went to Thetford tonight with Jock and Shorty. Had quite a few beers and came back about 1am. The dance was piss-poor and I didn’t see Peggy the real reason why I went to Thetford.

Saturday 8th

Up at 8.15 for breakfast – very cold weather. Left to catch the 9.58 at Lakenheath by bike. In London at 1.10. Caught the 1.35 from Liverpool Street home. Spent the afternoon shopping buying 3 Goodman records. Tonight I put new blue on and I went up town had about three pints absolutely sober & went to Town Hall. Saw Betty who was pissed and with another fella and a new girl from St. Albans – a peach. Home at 12.10.

Sunday 9th

Stayed in all morning after getting up at 10.15am. Played records etc. Caught the 6.30 Liverpool Street 7.50 billet 11.45. Nothing else to say.

Monday 10th

Little to do today. Letter from Bob Baker received. Had a private Rhythm Club session. The NAFFI news room this evening.

Tuesday 11th

Had to go to the navigation section this morning. Nothing much happened today. Had a few beers in the Oak tonight. Pools came and sent off. Bank book returned with 1/- interest.

Wednesday 12th

Mucked around the camp and section. Went to Feltwell this afternoon then to Wisbech tonight. A poor effort, no dance at the Corn Exchange. In bed at 1.15am.

Thursday 13th

Went to the navigation section a usual. Pool dividends low except 4 aways which was £52,000. Felt very cheesed. Book returned from Argosy. Rhythm Club in Corporal’s NAFFI tonight – not too bad.

Friday 14th

Usual routine. Letter from Bob Baker who will be on leave with me. Went to Hockwold New Inn with Jock had a few beers and a little trouble getting back.

Saturday 15th

Had a terrific hangover so I remained in bed all morning. I did not have any lunch or breakfast. Ate a terrific tea after getting over the hangover. Went to the station cinema to see Frank Sinatra in “Step Lively” a good film.

Sunday 16th

Missed breakfast by staying in bed. Shorty went to get some breakfast from the NAAFI – but there was no NAAFI. Had dinner about three, Jock, Ken and I rode to Brandon had some tea – went to pictures – tea in NAAFI then played darts with a few quiet drinks.

Monday 17th

Little to report for today. Went to Feltwell this afternoon and bought an electric breakfast cooker a present for mother and an electric mirror for pop. Had a quiet drink in the “Oak”. Christmas card from Nora.

Tuesday 18th Went to the section then flew all morning (1 hour) on an air test to Felixstowe and Ipswich. Watched the football match between 149 D.S.S. and 207 D.S.S – we won 3-0. Went to Feltwell for fish and chips and two pints.   Bed early.

Wednesday 19th

Wisbech tonight after a boring day. Had quite a few beers as there was no dance. Back to the billet about 1.10 am.

Thursday 20th

Much the same as yesterday. Rhythm Club tonight was a poor effort.

Friday 21st

Paid today £11-4- plus £1-2- ration money. Went with Jock to his girl’s sister’s wedding had plenty to drink but nothing much to do.

Saturday 22nd

Felt pretty rough when I got up at 6am this morning. Packed everything and started cycling to Brandon station. About 2 miles from Brandon the bike finally gave out so I slung it in a ditch and hitched. Shopping with Don Birchley in afternoon. Went drinking with John Berry and Bob Baker tonight.

Sunday 23rd

Rather a dead loss day. I stayed indoors most of it but this evening Cyril came down and I went to Forest Gate with him to go roller skating – the joint was closed so we bussed it to Ilford & had a wizard meal of steak and chips. Then came home and went to bed.

Monday 24th

Went to Romford with Don Birchley and bought a couple of records. Has 2 pints in the White Hart came home to dinner. This afternoon I went to the Odeon to see “Along Came Jones” with Gary Cooper – not bad. This evening was the time. Called on Don Birchley about 7.30 and went to the “Nap” with John Berry, Don, Bob Baker we spent an evening drinking. Then went to the Town Hall. Don & I picked up a couple of Irish nurses and after nearly going to midnight mass I finished up snogging in the shop doorway of Brentwood Station. Home to bed at 3am.

Tuesday 25th Christmas Day

Up quite early and had breakfast. Fiddled around playing records with a few drinks. Christmas dinner of turkey and Christmas pudding. Still indoors in the afternoon and evening playing cards etc. Bed at 10.30pm.

Wednesday 26th Boxing Day

Went up to see Don Birchley and had a couple of beers with him in the Artichoke with Bob Baker. Met Bob and Pam at 4.30 and waited for Don – we left at 5 for Herongate then came back to get Don meeting him on the way even the second time. The party wasn’t too bad and was warming up nicely when everyone had to leave. Rained like the clappers on the way back.

Thursday 27th

Rather a dull day – met Bob and Don in the morning , had a couple. Went on a session at 7pm tonight starting at the “Charles Napier” ending at the barracks. John Berry’s sister Pat walked to the station with Don and I and I have a dancing date with her tomorrow night.

Friday 28th

Met Bob at eleven and he confirmed my date tonight – bang on. Went to the “Palace” this afternoon. Met Pat this evening at 8.20 and went to the Town Hall – only a few there but had a fairly good time. Took her to the station but very quiet evening.

Saturday 29th

Ring trouble all day – not through drinking! Met Bob at eleven and stooged round the town. Had nothing to eat all day.   Went out again this evening to meet Pat but as I expected no joy she didn’t turn up. However, went to the Artichoke with some of the boys had three and went to the Town Hall not too bad an evening. Home 12.

Sunday 30th

Up for breakfast – packed to come back. Met Bob & Pam and went into the Bull for a pint. Had dinner of chicken & lamb then remained in until left for the station at 5.45. After a slow journey got back to camp at 11.45pm.

Monday 31st

Stayed in the billet until break time then returned. Didn’t go to the section all day. Had rather a good time in the mess this evening when I had several whiskies and played the piano until 1am New Year’s Day.

 

Dennis Wright RAF 1945 War Diary

Dennis Wright RAF 1944 War Diary

Background

Flight Sergeant Dennis Walter Wright

Service number 1605269 (indicates allocated in September 1941 Oxford)
Identity card 027036

Weight 170 lbs
Height 5’ 8 ½”

RCAF & RAF Stations Visited in 1944

RCAF Dunnville, Ontario (No.6 Service Flying Training School)

RCAF London, Ontario (No.4 Air Observer School)

RCAF Brantford

RCAF Moncton

RAF Llandwrog

RAF Bishopscourt ( Northern Ireland)

RAF Abingdon (No. 10 Operational Training Unit)

RAF Stanton Harcourt, Oxford

January 1944

 Saturday 1st

Today I was spending my five days New Year’s leave with Mrs R. Turner in Toronto. Yesterday my first Canadian girl-friend gave me the brush off when she refused a bracelet I had bought her for Christmas. However I left the same with her. I had a pretty dull time today going to a couple of shows. I phoned her today when she told me all the gen about another fellow in the air force who had returned.

Sunday 2nd

Had a splendid turkey dinner at Mrs Turner’s. The rest of the day passed quite uneventfully.

Monday 3rd

Little worth recording happened today. I went into town (Toronto I presume – DW Sept 1944) writing a stupid little letter to the little woman.

Tuesday 4th

Returned to camp today very cheesed after a boring leave.

Wednesday 5th

I, with another RAF fellow, being the only RAF boys left in the pool did very little work as usual today.  Bracelet received today with letter of apology etc. from Toronto.

Thursday 6th

Managed to scrounge a 48 for this weekend. Card decided the “pool” needed one.

Friday 7th

We were put in the drill hall today to sweep it. Card having no money to go on a 48 himself refused to issue 48’s until 5 o’clock. Caught the 6.35 staying at YMCA Jarvis Street.

Saturday 8th

I had but one meal today. Went to a show in Toronto. I went to see Mrs Browning this evening with her two daughters and niece!

Sunday 9th

Getting up rather late today I had a chicken dinner. I went to the YMCA in the afternoon and had a wizard swim. I played table-tennis for the remaining time of the afternoon. I caught the 6.05 back to Dunnville.

Monday 10th

Card successfully put us to work in the drill hall sweeping same. Very cold.

Tuesday 11th

Nothing worth recording occurred today.  Stott & Higgins returned from New York.

Wednesday 12th

Visited Mrs Root in the evening. Throughout the week consistent rumours of impending postings before the end of the month have been circulating.

Thursday 13th

Arising at 10.30 (unusual, usually 11.30) Heeley informed us we were to report to drill hall for work. Card had been giving us a line as usual. Managed to extract a 48 from Card again.

Friday 14th

After doing nothing in the morning we left (Ken and I) early in the afternoon to Toronto. Had a lift to St Catharines then on to Toronto. Bunking at the YMCA went to the Palais Royale dance.

Saturday 15th

Arising about 10 proceeded to active service canteen in the morning. Swam in the YMCA in the afternoon. Went to the Royal York dance in the evening having first seen Betty Grable etc. in Springtime in the Rockies again. Saw it before a long while back in England.

Sunday 16th

Today was rather cheesing having little to do. Ken and I set out for Dunnville by bus. Arrived in Hamilton at 4 spending 7 hours in the same until bus at 11.15. Visited Centenary church where band of No. 1 Training Command played.

Monday 17th

Rudely awaked at 08.30 hrs by Sergeant Card we rushed off to Signals. Were informed in the afternoon that kitchen was our destination.   Afterthoughts Boy how I hate Card and the RCAF and wish I were on course (see note Tuesday 14th November).

2 RCAF guys killed in a crack-up at noon today.

Tuesday 18th

Nothing extra to report today except that I am now in the cook house commencing at 07.00 this morning. Boy what a life. Cook house again. Went to Dunnville in the afternoon. Saw Mrs Root again – collected laundry. Navigation lecture this evening. Weather warm.

Thursday 20th

Cook house again. Remained in this afternoon. No mail. Thawing still.

Friday 21st

Having done the usual shift in the kitchen, I rushed back to the barracks to change for 48. Ken & I were kept waiting from 2.45 until 3.30 by the messing officer. Had a lift to Dunnville turned back to catch train. Arrived Buffalo 9.15 attempted to hitch up to Rochester N.Y. Turned back after walking 6 miles. Arrived Rochester 4.00am slept in Hotel Claridge.

Saturday 22nd

Arising at 11.00 proceeded straight to U.S.O. obtained bed etc. Went into town had lunch proceeded to look over talent in Rochester. Went to two shows at reduce rate. Afterthoughts. Either the women of Rochester have been warned by previous RAF – or we were too slow – we had no luck.

Sunday 23rd

Spent a poor night in Rochester U.S.O. Had breakfast left Rochester by 2.20 hrs. Arrived Buffalo 5.35 rushed straight to station to catch train 6.00pm. Arrived Dunnville 8.30 had first meal of day. Afterthoughts This was a poor 48 – take a dim view of hospitality in New York State.

Monday 24th

Rumours of postings confirmed! 13 to go me included (so far) managed to swap with Russel who declined to go. Afterthoughts. Boy am I glad to get out of Dunnville after exactly 3 months since I washed out!

Tuesday 25th

Still in the kitchen, posting however is definite. Finish in the cook house tonight. Received 1 letter from Toronto from Ron.

Wednesday 26th

Received 3 from home (letters). Clearing done today on leave until Sunday. Came into town for the last evening.

Thursday 27th

In drizzling rain I left Dunnville forever (I hope) today around 2.00pm. (See note on Tuesday November 14th). Sent kit bags off from station. Caught 3.30 Toronto arrived around 6.15 I went straight to Mrs Turner. Went out to supper with Ron and Nancy (his girlfriend).

Friday 28th

Arose around 9. Had lunch after buying 2 records. Went to show at the Uptown. Saw Louis Armstrong at the Queensway Club in the evening.

Saturday 29th

Rather boring day. I got up very late and went down-town with Ron. Saw Guadalcanal Diary at the Imperial. After met Ramsden in the active service canteen. Arranged to meet him again in the evening. Met Williams however and went to Knights of Columbus dance.

Sunday 30th

Arising around 11.00 hrs I ate a late breakfast and caught the 13.35 train from Toronto. Arrived in London 17.00 and at 4 A.O.S. at 18.00. Afterthoughts. Looks ok at first sight however we have yet to experience bullshit etc.

Monday 31st

No. 4 AOS London Ontario Canada.

Today we got cracking very promptly being allocated courses my number being 94 B.N. We started work early. This evening we had homework most annoying. Had a haircut. Wrote letters to mum, U.S.N.A.S. and K. Stott.

February 1944

Tuesday 1st

Today was rather a full day. We had 3 hrs Navigation, 1 hr Recognition. Wrote letters, airgraph N.B.B. etc. Went to show Target for Tonight & Swamp Water. Observed moon for the first time through a telescope.

Wednesday 2nd

Watch 8.33 fast 2 ½ mins. Tough day again. P.T. rather a shock. No mail. Snow still here. Saw Captain William Armitage in Dickens and Queer People. Watch reset 19.50 by chronometer.

Thursday 3rd

Watch slow 30 seconds 10.27. Tough day. Station dance held – very poor. Airgraph received from Brenda Wallace of all people addressed to U.S.N.A.S Grosse, she sent 14th January – she is engaged at 17!!

Friday 4th

08.20 watch slow 0 minutes. Little of importance occurred. Letter dated January 24th received from mum. Had first computer test. Rapid thaw.

Saturday 5th

Watch slow 1 ½ mins. Reset 17.25. Letter from mum dated 17th January. Usual tough day owing to voluntary work in afternoon. Went into London – quite impressive “in the dark”.

Result of computer test 34 out of 47.

Sunday 6th

Church parade today. No compulsory work today. Letters written to Mrs Root and Donald posting them tomorrow. Nothing of importance occurred.

Monday 7th

10.30 watch slow 35 seconds. Nothing to report. No mail received.

Tuesday 8th

08.20 slow 1 minute. Watch reset 15.23. No mail. Nothing of importance. Hardest day yet experienced in work & P.T.

Wednesday 9th

Work as usual in morning. The two courses went into London YMCA to have swimming test. We had the rest of the afternoon free in London. Jock and myself went to Loews theatre seeing Thousands Cheer.

Thursday 10th

13.57 watch 30 seconds slow. No mail again! Having been “joed” for a wings parade we had a rehearsal today. Letter sent to Royce Watch & Co Rockefeller Centre New York. Skating party held in roaring blizzard.

Friday 11th

Watch slow. 2 minutes slow. Worked hard today as usual. Joed for wings parade today most impressive. Left London at 23.00 in Blizzard for Detroit.

Saturday 12th

After a 2 hr journey we arrived at Windsor – met by Mrs Simpson Jock’s friend. We got to bed around 4 am. We arose around 11 went down town in the afternoon. Saw Skating Varieties at the Olympia a really good show. Got to bed around 2am.

Sunday 13th

Detroit USA

Arose around 11.30 had breakfast, had dinner around 3.30 left for the station and caught the 5.00pm train. Stott and Higgins arrived today from Dunnville with the rest of the boys. By the way we got back in London at 7.15.

Monday 14th

Christmas card from Watts! Had been to Grosse station – Pensacola – Moncton – Toronto – Dunnville 4 A.O.S.  A lot of snow today.

Today began the third week with a monster plot and C.S.B.S. & drift for instruction. Afterthought. Once more today I realised how I have yet to work.

Tuesday 15th

Watch slow 2 ½ minutes 08.20. Hard work again. Messed up a map-reading exercise. The whole course went to Smallman & Ingram (tailors) then dinner. Went to Eastern Star dance got back in camp about 0140.

Wednesday 16th

Quite an eventful day. Naturally we had loads of work. Letter received from mum dated January 23rd. In the evening I went ice skating – the first time in my life! I didn’t do so bad either having got roller skate experience.

Thursday 17th

No mail. Big thaw but snow again in the evening. Plotted – viewed Anson. Snow again in the evening. Map reading exercise tonight.

Friday 18th

3rd week exam this morning. I wonder how I’ve done if neatness counts any I’m OK!!! Little else of importance occurred. No mail. Stayed in as usual working.

Saturday 19th

Well we worked as usual this morning. In the afternoon we swam, we saw a show and then Ted Wainwright and myself went to the London arena. Quite good show on the whole just as I was getting organised we left to get the bus. No mail.

Sunday 20th

Arising around 09.45 I rushed off to breakfast. Stayed around the rest of the morning writing letters to mum and Aunt Emily. Did a little skating in the evening but skates being too big hurt me badly. Saw show in station theatre.

Monday 21st

Today was quite eventful. I received 83% being 4th in exams. Mail received from Derek and one from mum containing photos. Received parachute harness. Bags of work in the evening.

Tuesday 22nd

No mail received. We were to fly this afternoon but it was cancelled because of the warm front with bad weather. Went to the show in the recreation hall in the evening. The Falcon and the Co-eds.

Wednesday 23rd

No mail again today. We had our first bout in the SDRT this afternoon 3 hrs. Rather hard work but at the moment interesting. This evening Woody, Ted and I had a little work out in the gym.

Thursday 24th

Today was a beautiful spring like day with sunshine etc. Scheduled to fly again but again cancelled the aircraft being suffering from compass deviation. Letter from Ted Barlow dated February 8th. Nothing else happened of importance. Another test computer, mental, DR etc.

Friday 25th

No mail. 4th week comprehensive test today rather surprising. Joed for Wings Parade Co 86. Weather changed to warm front. Played badminton and football in the recreation hall in the evening. Result of yesterday’s test.

Saturday 26th

Today was both uneventful and boring. Flying originally scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled. We went into town and London arena show. Very P.P.P (piss poor performance). No mail.

Sunday 27th

Scheduled to fly this morning, raked out of bed at 07.00 hung around until 09.50, when it was cancelled without flying. Beautiful plot this afternoon. Went to station theatre this evening.

Monday 28th

This morning compass test – I made rather a mess. This afternoon we went into SDRT rather a bind. This evening we had some more compass problems. No mail, weather cold again.

Tuesday 29th

No mail. At last we got our first flip. Boy the ground looks a lot different in winter than it did when flying as a u/t pilot in September. ND2 Pilot Forel BH. Time 1.32. Station theatre show was awful.

March 1944

Wednesday 1st

No mail. Very good weather. We flew for 3.40 hours. Wizard show flying above Stratocumulus. Map reading exercise ND3, ND1.

Thursday 2nd

Airgraph received from mum dated February 16th. Well this evening was held the station dance. I took a girl called Muriel Hunter whom I met at the other dance I went into town. She was really swell and taught me a lot.

Friday 3rd

Letter from home dated Feb 20th.  Gazettes 5th & 12th Feb.  Flying cancelled.  Went into town but nothing of importance to report. 48 began – felt pretty bad.

Saturday 4th

Arose around 10.30.  Felt pretty rough with severe cold.  Went into town in the afternoon and evening.  Little doing. No mail.

Sunday 5th

Superb weather. Arose around 9.00. Felt rough still. Did practically nothing in the morning. Felt rather rough in the evening again.

Monday 6th

Pretty tough day still feeling ill.  Letter from N.B.B. Feb 16th Gazette Jan 24th.

Tuesday 7th

Letter from London Miss Muriel Hunter. Feeling much better today. Work in plenty this evening. Scheduled to fly this afternoon.

Wednesday 8th

Airgraph dated March 1st. Scheduled to fly – cancelled. SDRT this afternoon. Weather windy. Ted informs that Muriel thinks a lot of me. Yippee.

Thursday 9th

Weather windy and snowy. No mail. We all went into town this evening seeing a show. Scheduled to fly but cancelled again.

Friday 10th

Watch fast 1 ½ mins 08.20. Scheduled to fly and flew Crumlin – Dunnville – AylmerChathamSt. Mary’s.  Lost between Aylmer and Chatham. 3 hrs 10 mins. No mail.

Saturday 11th

No mail. Sent letter to Muriel Hunter in London & mum. Joed on duty watch but managed but managed to get into town went to the London arena pretty poor won’t go again.

Sunday 12th

Church parade 10.30. Detailed to fly – washed out. Slept most of the afternoon and went to station theatre in evening.

Monday 13th

No mail. Nothing to report.

Tuesday 14th

Managed to get a test for the station band as a drummer and was accepted. No mail. 7th week exam.

Wednesday 15th

Letter from Mrs Root of Dunnville. Results of 7th week exams 11th with 76%. Poor – a letdown of seven places. Went into London to see Muriel.

Thursday 16th

Letter received from mum, dad, Buck Ramsay. Supposed to play drums in station band but original drummer was there – played in four numbers.

Friday 17th

No mail. SDRT D/F Loop pilot. Slight soreness to nose. Went to station theatre seeing Oklahoma Kid.

Saturday 18th

Face was rather swollen around the nose and eyes due to cold. Went into London again. No mail. Flying cancelled again. Sent parcel home to mum.

Sunday 19th

Letters sent to mum, Buck. Reported sick with swollen face. Retained freedom however face was pretty swollen. Posted mail to mum.

Monday 20th

Reported sick again and detained in hospital. Felt OK but face was very sore under the eyes. No mail. Mail sent to Muriel Hunter.

Tuesday 21st

Came out of hospital at midday. Flew this afternoon on ND5 as 2nd navigator 3 ½ hrs. No mail. Went station theatre.

Wednesday 22nd

Flew again as 1st navigator ND6 we reached destinations ok 3 ¼ hrs. No mail. Right eye slightly swollen.

Thursday 23rd

No mail. SDRT loop homing. Nothing else of importance.

Friday 24th

Flew in the morning. No mail. CrumlinOwen SoundDundasBrantfordExeter 3.15 hrs 1st Navigator. 8th week comprehensive. Went with jock to Toronto.

Saturday 25th

Pretty dull time spent at Jock’s girl friend’s house. Went to a show etc. No mail.

Sunday 26th

Went to Mrs Turner in the afternoon. Left Toronto by 6.05 train. Pretty piss poor time.

Monday 27th

Letters received from mum, Don, Norman and Eaton’s. Letter sent to NB arrived 7 March sent Feb 1st. Scheduled to fly but washed out. Nothing else of importance. Letters sent N.B.B. and home.

Tuesday 28th

Scheduled to fly this morning on ND8 3hrs 2nd navigator.  No mail.  Nothing else to report.  Parachute harness missing.

Wednesday 29th

Scheduled to fly ND9 washed again.  No mail.  Parachute harness No 786 missing still!!

Thursday 30th

No mail. Pay parade.  Scheduled to fly ND9 this morning.  Reached aircraft but was washed again. Night flying scheduled washed before briefing. Station hop popped in – not bad.

Friday 31st

No mail.  Nothing exceptional to report.  No flying today.

April 1944

Saturday 1st

SDRT this morning CII navigator – night flying tonight. Take off 03.00 Sunday 1st navigator. No mail.

Sunday 2nd

Landed around 6.30 get to bed 07.30 arose around 12.30 had lunch took a few shots in the afternoon. Station show in the evening.

Monday 3rd

We flew today on ND9.  Last night I had a violent attack of the shits.  Whilst on the third leg of the flight we had to land at Brantford to let me shit!  More fun.  No mail.

Tuesday 4th

No flying today until the night. NN3 recalled. Supposed to get 15 sextant shots get three on the moon. No mail.

Wednesday 5th

Nothing of importance. No mail. Plenty of work as usual.  Afterthoughts. I wonder why Muriel doesn’t write.

Thursday 6th

We flew ND10 today me being 1st navigator.  I didn’t do too badly although I didn’t have a lot of time on the 2nd leg.  Saw Grosse from 7000’. No mail.

Friday 7th

Letters sent to mum and Muriel.  Spent the day on camp. Taking around 20 sun shots. Station theatre. No mail.

Saturday 8th

Work in morning. On camp in afternoon. Went down town in noon show, dinner. I wish I had not sent that letter to Muriel what a chump.

Sunday 9th

On camp today. Church in morning. GIS afternoon working out planet shots. Results of 10th week comprehensive 16/40 28th in class.

Monday 10th

Navigation lecture this morning P.T and briefing. Flying on ND11 today 2 hrs 20 mins 2nd navigator. No mail received.

Tuesday 11th

Gazette received from home March 29th. No flying today. Slipped into town tonight to collect some photos and saw Benny Goodman and his band in “The Gang’s All Here”.

Wednesday 12th

No mail, little to report

Thursday 13th

Nasty letter and rude letter from London thankfully destroyed. Nothing else of interest to report.

Friday 14th

Started hitch-hiking for Niagara Falls with woody and Bob around 5pm. Reached Bob’s house about 11. We flew this morning on ND13. 3 hrs 10 mins.

Saturday 15th

This morning or late morning we went to see the Falls – what a sight! In the evening Woody and his wife, Bob and I and a blonde went over the river to Niagara NY.

Sunday 16th

Still in Niagara Falls with Bob. Went to Church in the morning and out in the car in the afternoon to the Whirlpool Rapids and Aero Car. Hitched back from 5 -1am Monday!!!

Monday 17th

Work began quickly today with flying this afternoon on ND14 me being 2nd navigator.

Tuesday 18th

No flying today thank goodness. But tonight we did NN4 me being 1st navigator 2.40. Letters from pop and mum.

Wednesday 19th

Letter from mum again today! No flying at all. Little else to report.

Thursday 20th

Today was an extremely eventful day in that we had the eleventh week exam and the results as well. I came 3rd with 129/175 or 73%. No mail.

Friday 21st

No flying today.  Mrs Williams of Niagara Falls sent my bank pass book other than this I had no mail.

Saturday 22nd

Very poor weather. Flying scheduled for this afternoon was washed. We went into London again seeing a show eating a wizard steak supper.  No mail.

Sunday 23rd

Rain all day. Wrote letters to pop, Derek and Mrs Turner. Craftily managed to evade 6th victory loan parade. Remained on camp.

Monday 24th

Letter received from mum dated April 2nd. Very dull weather. Flying scrubbed. Nothing else to report.

Tuesday 25th

Airgraph from N.B.B. Very dull. No flying. Airgraph sent to N.B.B.

Wednesday 26th

Letter from mum dated April 16th. 12th week comprehensive. Guess how many 8/40 = 20%. No mail.

Thursday 27th

No mail. No flying. Nothing to report. Station hop. Star shots with MK4.

Friday 28th

Flew this morning on ND15 low level exercise 3.20. Flew again tonight NN5 2.40. No mail. Nothing else to report.

Saturday 29th

We went into town this afternoon show in the evening two dances YWCA and Central Collegiate. No mail.

Sunday 30th

We flew this morning on ND18 as 2nd navigator 3.20. Had a sleep this afternoon.  Station show etc.

May 1944

Monday 1st

We flew this morning on ND19 square search etc. 2.50.  No mail.  Flying tonight washed Hooray!!!

Tuesday 2nd

No mail. Nothing of importance to report. We flew tonight on NN6 4 hours BBA 2nd navigator.

Wednesday 3rd

No mail. Nothing to report.  We flew tonight on NN6 3 hrs 2nd navigator.

Thursday 4th

We flew again tonight on NN7 washed for low cloud but flew NN4 again 1st navigator. No mail.

Friday 5th

Hitch-hiking to Niagara with Bob!! What a bind arrived about midnight!! Rain, rain, rain.

Saturday 6th

Arose around noon! Still raining in Niagara Falls. This evening I had a pleasant time going to a show & getting lost.

Sunday 7th

Once again I stayed in bed until noon. Went cycling with Williams & his pal Jimmy Tyndal a future flight engineer. Returned by train and hitching.

Monday 8th

Arrived in camp 01.30 this morning. We flew ND20 this morning 45 – 1st 40 – 2nd. No mail. Went to town this evening with Bobby.

Tuesday 9th

15th week exam 65% not very good. Went to London again.

Wednesday 10th

No mail. Nothing to report.

Thursday 11th

No mail. Nothing to report.

Friday 12th

No mail. Nothing to report. 13 guys washed out. Wainwright, Monkman, Treleawen.

Saturday 13th

We went into town tonight. Saw a show etc. No mail.

Sunday 14th

We went down GIS this morning. We went down to the Thames River this afternoon very nice.

Monday 15th

CNT this morning 9-12. No mail from home. Letter from Bach Camera Supplies Co. We that is Bob & I went down to the Thames again.

Tuesday 16th

No mail. Nothing to report still binding for finals. No flying owing to thunderstorms etc.

Wednesday 17th

I flew tonight on NN7 1st navigator 2.35 hrs not a bad flip. No mail. Nothing else to report.

Thursday 18th

No mail. We flew tonight on NN8. Nothing else to report.

Friday 19th

No mail. No flying tonight washed out. Went to station show when I should have been binding.

Saturday 20th

We went into town this afternoon buying a little VP camera for $6. No mail. We flew NN9 tonight – very clear and fine for stars.

Sunday 21st

Slept all morning down to the Thames in the afternoon damming up a stream. Went to the station show in the evening.

Monday 22nd

No mail. Nothing to report except final navigation theory not bad.

Tuesday 23rd

No mail. Nothing to report. Plenty of geography.

Wednesday 24th

No mail. Nothing to report. Went into town with Bob. Broadway Rhytham.

Thursday 25th

It’s getting much hotter rapidly. No mail. Working pretty hard.

Friday 26th

Purchase sports coat, flannel trousers, 2 shirts, three pairs cotton pants and swimming trunks – I bought these tomorrow.

Saturday 27th

I went into town tonight I mean this morning withdrawing $40 from my account. What heat. I practically walked back from London with the load above – was I mad?

Sunday 28th

Remained on camp all day sleeping until midday. I went to the Thames in the afternoon getting sunburnt again.

Monday 29th

We flew tonight on NN9 pretty good. No mail however. Very hot indeed.

Tuesday 30th

We flew today ND22 down to USA Vassar, Yale and back to Xu. No mail unfortunately. It was very hot indeed today.

Wednesday 31st

Letters from mum, Derek and Norman. Very hot – aircraft recognition & arms exam. Nothing else to report.

June 1944

Thursday 1st

No mail. Sent letter to mum. Harvard Step Test for the first time. What a bind.

Friday 2nd

No mail. Met exam this morning not too bad. We went into town this evening saw the film “Up in Mabel’s Room” very good.

Saturday 3rd

Flying washed. A little late slept in to 10.30. Flew this afternoon very bumpy ND22 2.20 hrs 1st navigator easily the worst trip I have done. Felt sick.

Sunday 4th

Slept in late again. Had lunch in cafeteria went down to recreation hall with Jock where we played records. Wizard. We went down to Thames river – took a few pictures of Bob, Jock etc.

Monday 5th

Final navigation elements. Very grim. I haven’t any idea how I came through but it was tough. No mail. Nothing else to report.

Tuesday 6th

Nothing today. Binding aircraft recognition for resit. What a life.   Letter from mum & Maureen. Not much chance of a commission.

Wednesday 7th

We flew today ND16 came back for faulty compass. Went into London posted parcels home. Aircraft recognition resit not bad. Party at F/L Fletcher’s.

Thursday 8th

No mail. Signals exams. Pretty easy lamp tricky though. Nothing else to report.

Friday 9th

No mail. Nothing else to report. Exams are now all over. This life is very grim with no commission forthcoming.

Saturday 10th

Not much to report today. Some of the boys were flying. Weather was very dull.

Sunday 11th

Well we lay in bed as usual today. Went down to the Thames again taking more photos of giant dam we built. What a life.

Monday 12th

Working on log books etc. It looks as if Bob has a commission I wish I had worked harder.

Tuesday 13th

Went into town tonight with jock – later with Vic. Worked on recognition and signals books all day. Letter from Mrs Turner.

Wednesday 14th

Letter from mum. Did very little today. Went into London for Flight Party what a booze up. Took Jock home pissed as hell.

Thursday 15th

Today we heard that Eric Woodley & Neale were the two commissions in our course. I was next in line but that’s no good. Letter from Root of Dunnville.

Friday 16th

Graduation date!!! I graduated in the hot sun with no commission. Very cheesed. Left for Montreal on the 7.20 from London.

Saturday 17th

Arrived in Montreal around 9 o’clock. Got a room & had a meal. Bought some more civvies. Went to Belmont Park Montreal.

Sunday 18th

Still in civvies weather not so hot. Went out to the swimming bath couldn’t get a swim unfortunately.

Monday 19th

Still in Montreal. What an expensive place to eat in. Saw a few shows and went up Mount Royal what a view.

Tuesday 20th

Didn’t do a great deal today – back in uniform. Caught the 7.30 from Montreal Central to Moncton. Had an upper berth.

Wednesday 21st

Moncton N.B. Canada. Arrived at Moncton 4 o’clock today. What a grim place. Raining – lumped in quarters again as A.C.2. Saw the show on camp.

Thursday 22nd

The boys all drafted home today except me. What a name I have. Letter from Freddy Poach. Still very dull & grim.

Friday 23rd

Letter sent home 7 Dutch Laundry London. Weather much warmer. Went into Moncton town in the evening. What an awful hole.

Saturday 24th

No mail. Weather warm. Boys still preparing to leave. Put on fire picket of all things – a sergeant too.

Sunday 25th

The boys left this morning for home. What a terrible effort this air force is. (See August 28th 1944). Didn’t do much else today. Saw the station show.

Monday 26th

Turning hot today. Donned American khaki at lunch time. No news from Dutch Laundry the sods!!!

Tuesday 27th

Did absolutely nothing except sweep the room. It’s terribly hot and there is no swimming pool either. Boy how I wish I could have a swim.

Wednesday 28th

Just imagine this, a letter received from Nor Edwards of Toronto “very welcome surprise” she writes!!! We did nothing as usual. Boy it’s hot.

Thursday 29th

Letter sent to Dee R at London. No mail received. Didn’t do anything. Went outside the camp for breakfast.

Friday 30th

No mail today. Sun bathing etc. Breakfast through the hole in the fence.

July 1944 

Saturday 1st

Joed for orderly sergeant today. Couldn’t do a darn thing. No mail today. Weather very warm.

Sunday 2nd

Not much doing today in the morning. Went down to Pointe-du-Chêne today. Very nice took a picture of us in the swim suits (Flt Sgt Rogers).

Monday 3rd

Postcard of Niagara Falls received from N. Edwards. Letter sent to Mrs Turner containing $6. Posted parcel with shoes home.

Tuesday 4th

Nothing to report.

Wednesday 5th

Letter sent to N. Edwards of Toronto. Still hot sunbathing etc. Nothing else spectacular. No mail.

Thursday 6th

Very hot. No mail. Remained on camp. Nothing to report.

Friday 7th

We learnt today we were on draft for England. Extremely hot. No news of greatcoat. Letter sent to Mrs Browning of Toronto.

Saturday 8th

Very hot remained on camp all day sunbathing, packing etc. No mail received.

Sunday 9th

Very hot. Sunbathing around camp. Absolutely broke! Thunderstorm this evening. Camera exposed 3 mins to lightening.

Monday 10th

Paid $37 today & £3. Spent remaining time in Moncton with huge steak, ice cream etc. Too bad we’re leaving.

Tuesday 11th

Reveille at 05.00. Breakfast 6am. Left Moncton on special train at 08.15 arrived Halifax at 4pm. Embarked on ship practically immediately.

Wednesday 12th

The boat. Left Halifax at 12 noon today on the Empress of Scotland nee Empress of Japan. Crowded out to capacity, canteen opened today.

Thursday 13th

Reveille 06.00. Breakfast 07.45. Weather foggy, water smooth. Walked around most of the day. Canteen opened bags of cigarettes & chocolate for sale etc. Course ESE.

Friday 14th

Reveille 06.00. Breakfast 07.45. Weather foggy, water smooth. Read W Somerset Maugham Ashenden or the British Agent. Little else to do.

Saturday 15th

Reveille 05.30!! still at sea. Very dull. Nothing to do except walk around. Watch advanced 1 hr Course SE.

Sunday 16th

Church services held today at 11. Very cold and wet. North East heading today. Watches advanced 1 hour.

Monday 17th

Very dull. Got up at 7.10. Breakfast 7.45. Nothing to do. Ship concert held. Watch advanced 1 hr. Course NEE afternoon.

Tuesday 18th

Sighted land at 11.0. Boy what a welcome sight. Greenock 7pm. Canadians left tonight, we’re leaving tomorrow.

Wednesday 19th

Left Greenock at 9.30am had a cup of Scottish tea passing through Edinburgh & Berwick on the Scottish border. We arrived at Harrogate on ETA at 5.30.

Thursday 20th

Harrogate. Today we filled in forms medical & inspection etc. Went into Harrogate. Boy how dull everything looks in England now. It’s very cold too.

Friday 21st

It’s still cold. PT & swim tests. Kit inspection. Stayed in camp tonight. Attempt to assassinate Hitler today – it failed.

Saturday 22nd

Busy with kit exchanges etc. today. Weather still extremely dull. Went into town tonight to the Odeon Harrogate Frank Sinatra in Higher & Higher.

Sunday 23rd

Stayed in all morning being issued with flying kit. Went for a short walk in the evening & had a drink. Returned to Pannal Ash to have supper. Sun was seen tonight for the first time here.

Monday 24th

Very cheesed with little to do. Remained on the station. Food is still OK here.

Tuesday 25th

Stores have lost my 664B so to hell with them they can figure it out themselves I’m going on leave regardless.

Wednesday 26th

Arose at 4. Breakfast 5. Left Harrogate 10.30 London (King’s cross) at 5.15pm. Home 7pm.

Thursday 27th

For the next 14 days I shall be on leave and I consider it unnecessary to make any entries whilst at home.

Friday 28th

Leave. Swimming pool will be my haunt from now on.

Saturday 29th – Monday 31st

Leave

August 1944

Tuesday 1st

Leave

Wednesday 2nd

Leave. Saw Derek Parmiter in London for the first time.

Thursday 3rd – Sunday 6th

Leave

Monday 7th

Leave. Saw the cricket match at Brentwood cricket ground between Essex NFS & Camb, Beds & Herts NFS

Tuesday 8th

Leave

Wednesday 9th

Returning to Harrogate. What a bind! Caught the 5.50 train from King’s Cross arrived Harrogate around 12.10am.

Thursday 10th

Letters sent to RBC & mum. Did nothing this morning or afternoon. Received a letter from Canada sent by mum there on June 10th. Went into town this evening to Odeon. Pretty cheesed off.

Friday 11th

Letter sent to N. Edwards Toronto. Did absolutely nothing today. Went out to the local fair in the evening, not too good.

Saturday 12th

Posted to Llandwrog in Wales today leaving next week. No mail received. Went to Central cinema Abbott & CostelloIn the Navy”.

Sunday 13th

Went to Knaresborough near Harrogate. Bags of boating on the river – had afternoon tea.

Monday 14th

Paid today £4. Flying kit drawn. Let out early. Went to Royal Hall Harrogate. Saw “Young Ideas” not too bad.

Tuesday 15th

Left at 08.15 from Harrogate arrived Leeds at 9.00. Caught 9.35 to Manchester stayed two hours, very nice. Left Manchester at 1.45 arrived Caernarvon 9.0pm. Bed 11.10.

Wednesday 16th

RAF Llandwrog. Arose after persuasion at 9. Finally reached station orderly room at 10. Allocated class room etc this afternoon. Commencing work tomorrow. Swimming tonight in sea OK.

Thursday 17th

Week’s pay from here. Drew navigation equipment etc. Watch is going badly losing. Went bathing tonight. Letters to NBB, Derek, mum.

Friday 18th

Fairly busy today in classroom. Letters sent to mum, N. Edwards Toronto, Mrs Root, Ron Turner Toronto. Posting them tomorrow.

Saturday 19th

Our first day off. Went into Caernarvon via Penygroes arrived around noon. Had lunch went to dance in town, pretty good.

Sunday 20th

Flying this morning – had to get up at 5. Pretty good trip. Sealed orders. Felt pretty tired at the end of the effort.

Monday 21st

Letter from Canadian Immigration. Flew this morning dead reckoning trip this afternoon, map reading . bed very early this evening.

Tuesday 22nd

A week in this joint. We fly all day today and tomorrow morning too. No mail.

Wednesday 23rd

Nothing to report rather fed up with the continual flying especially as they don’t appreciate any effort you make.

Thursday 24th

No flying this morning but this afternoon. No mail. Went to Caernarvon tonight.

Friday 25th

Day off today. Went to Caernarvon last night. Had a wizard time at YMCA party. Very little to do today.

Saturday 26th

Returned to camp last night. Up at 5 for flying. Bally Q Point – OmaghCookstown – Bally Q – Base. Not a bad trip in my estimation but the powers be didn’t think so. I haven’t received any mail again. Nobody gives a damn.

Sunday 27th

Spent a day in the classroom binding at signals & navigation. The weather has turned very dark and stormy, thank goodness and all flying tonight has been cancelled.

Monday 28th

On looking back through the diary today I note that I wished I was back in Canada the moment I left it. That feeling can be even more emphasized now I have been in England 7 weeks. We flew tonight on the third detail. Forced down in Northern Ireland at Bishopscourt. Port engine stopped.

Tuesday 29th

Slept up to 12pm. Popped into class at 4pm. Flew both details tonight. Weather not too good.

Wednesday 30th

Slept in until 3. Rapid was back at class at 4. Letter from mum. Day off is Saturday but owing to lack of transport we cannot come back from Bangor on Sunday morning therefore we don’t go home. Walked into Llandwrog village tonight. Pub closed walked up to farm for supper.

Thursday 31st

All flying today was scrubbed. However w still worked. I didn’t receive any mail.

September 1944

Friday 1st

Dental 11.30 this morning – a very good dentist. We had a pay parade at 3pm & received £7-14. The rest of the afternoon was D.R.I. what a bind.

Saturday 2nd

Day off today. We were going home but there are no trains from Bangor to Caernarvon on Sunday mornings. However we left the camp last night stayed at a bed & breakfast joint (cost 8/6 each). Went to the guildhall theatre in the afternoon and the Necaco Club dance.

Sunday 3rd

Back to the grindstone today. Not much doing however. Telegram from home querying arrival of watch here. Flying cancelled, airgraph sent by mum to Canada July 12th received.

Monday 4th

Weather cold & rainy owing to polar air forming cold front flying cancelled. No mail. Little else to report of interest. Gazettes still arriving from Canada.

Tuesday 5th

Weather the same. No mail. Getting rather cheesed with the place. War news is good. Another war declared Russia v. Bulgaria.

Wednesday 6th

Still a cold front. Met people boobed as usual keeping us up until 12.01 still we had till Thursday midday free and a good pre-flight supper for free.

Thursday 7th

Slept in until 12 noon. Had a test and learnt that the boys were to be posted to O.T.U. not me however. My flying marks are nothing to write home about.

Friday 8th

D.R.I. this morning – I was a navigator. Two hours A.N. then pissed off for tea. Flying again cancelled owing to CU & CB in area.

Saturday 9th

Slept in until 12 however I went into Caernarvon walking – a pleasant walk but was too late for show.

Sunday 10th

Went into intelligence library with signals wallah. Other guys who were posted flew last night and so were not in. Left Bangor station for London at 08.50.

Monday 11th

Arrived Euston at 04.30 walked from Euston to Liverpool St. Arrived home at 07.30. Walked into town bought a couple of records. Saw Jack Lagden an Air Gunner at dance. Learnt that Kevin Motley had bought it and John Naunton had done six ops before he bought it. Donald says RAF refused him and is now a u/t paratrooper.

Tuesday 12th

Left home at 9.06 last night & caught 10.50 from Euston arrived Crewe at 02.00. Left Crewe at 02.30 arrived Bangor at 05.15. Arrived Caernarvon at 06.40 back in camp for breakfast. The two courses have been merged to one. We are flying tonight. Weather is very good so it looks as if we shall. Bank statement received from home Royal Bank of Canada.

Wednesday 13th

At last – slept until 04.00 working done in class – letter from Buck Ramsey. Weather warm & hazy. Received parcel from home.

Thursday 14th

Watch 40 seconds slow at 07.00 DBST. Well it looks as if I’ve got to really please them here to get on to O.T.U. My average night is 66% – I need 78% and therefore I have another week. I don’t think I’m as dim as all that – the other guys must cook anyway I am going to try it.

Friday 15th

5 mins 15 slow 16.39 DBST. Weather extremely bad today. This afternoon was free in commemoration of Battle of Britain. Went down to Caernarvon. Letter sent home registered letter with £1 enclosed & parcel.

Saturday 16th

5 mins 15 slow 16.39 DBST. No mail at all. Weather bad in morning cleared up later. I was going out changed my mind however.

Sunday 17th

8 mins 52 slow at 14.21 BST. We didn’t do a great deal today. All the bods posted except 6 of us. It seems my night average is 66% without Gabbins two duff marks it would be 70% or more.

Monday 18th

Day off today . In the morning went to Carmel – a Welsh slate mining village. In the afternoon to Caernarvon again seeing two shows. N.B. photo taken from hills.

Tuesday 19th

We stooged around in the morning but had the afternoon free again. I went into Caernarvon again passing the afternoon reading in the YMCA.   Went to the Guildhall theatre in the in the evening & returned on 9.0 bus.

Wednesday 20th

Registered parcel from home letter inside has date 18.9.44. Stooged around all day in SDRT this afternoon. Still no mail from Canada.

Thursday 21st

We flew again this morning. Very hazy but I thought I did a good trip. Compass swing etc. this afternoon. Letter from mum. Went into Caernarvon this evening.

Friday 22nd

Day off! Stooged into Caernarvon. Rain again today. Not much to do and no mail again. I wonder where my Canadian mail is??!!

Saturday 23rd

Back to class today. We didn’t do a lot however. This instructor is better than Weasley or Gabbins. Went to Caernarvon again. No mail again.

Sunday 24th

Little done today. Scheduled to fly tonight – I flew both details pretty good trips in pilot’s and my estimations. I hope the log marker thinks so.

Monday 25th

Naturally stayed in bed until 2.30pm. Went up to communications site. Met Jock & went into Caernarvon. Went to Majestic. No mail again. It’s really getting to be a bad show this mail business.

Tuesday 26th

No mail again!!! Little done today. We flew tonight. 1st detail OK. 2nd detail recalled bad weather.

Wednesday 27th

Naturally we slept all day. Went into town this evening. I withdrew 10/- stony broke. No mail again. Correction letter from mum.

Thursday 28th

Well today at 3.30pm I had what has been coming to me. Suspended as a navigator. I’m not worried except for the loss of cash. Letter from Western St.

Friday 29th

We had an interview with the station adjutant today. Not suspended yet pending instructors report & marks. Sent registered parcel. N.B. yesterday mailed $16 RBC.

Saturday 30th

Letter from N.B.B. Day off. Went to Caernarvon. Rain late evening. Little to do.

October 1944 

Sunday 1st

Interview with Squadron Leader Tee quote “these logs are not bad I’ll look them over” unquote. We didn’t do anything else and I stayed in the rest of the day.

Monday 2nd

Tee informed me that he will fly with me tomorrow. Did nothing else today. Went into Caernarvon. Saw This Happy Breed by Noel Coward. Piss poor.

Tuesday 3rd

Speed test this morning. I know I had two questions wrong. Tee flew with me this afternoon. Parcel sent 25th from home. Letter from MP & mother.

Wednesday 4th

Went to see the Chief Navigation Instructor again today – he hinted we are going to O.T.U. after all quote “though you’re not up to standard” unquote.

Thursday 5th

Stooged around the classroom until about11. Saunders rushed in and said you blokes are going on leave McCall and I. Cleared and paid in 3 hours. Left Bangor at 08.51.

Friday 6th

Arrived home 08.00 today. Saw Gail for the first time in 2 years. Sent wire to NBB and Derek. After collected bike enquired photos.

Saturday 7th

Stayed at home most of the morning. Saw Bing in Going My Way yesterday – poor. Went Palace tonight left in middle very poor.

Sunday 8th

Met Bob Baker of RAF ex ATC went around with him in the morning. Went to Herongate in afternoon. Saw Odeon show tonight.

Monday 9th

Leave Pictures etc.

Tuesday 10th

Ditto. Went up to town this evening with Derek ice skating at Queen’s club.

Wednesday 11th – Friday 13th

Ditto

Saturday 14th

Ditto. Wire from RAF Llandwrog extending leave to 23rd.

Sunday 15th

Pictures tonight. Afterwards took a babe called Nora for a walk no idea who she was.

Monday 16th

Nothing much. Went up to town tonight. Bought Caw Caw Boogie & March of the Bob Cals. Saw Bathing Beauty at the Ritz.

Tuesday 17th

Nothing to report

Wednesday 18th

Saw Home in Indiana at the Havana – very good. Stayed home this evening.

Thursday 19th

Not much doing today. Went out with Bob Baker again tonight.

Friday 20th

Letter from Mrs Turner Toronto taken from July 7th – 104 days.

Saturday 21st

Norman Bore came over in the morning we played records all the time. Went to Capitol saw Christmas Holiday – piss poor. Went to senior school dance – piss poor.

Sunday 22nd

Telegram from 9(D) AFU report to 10 BTY before 16.00 24th . Tonight me and the boys went to the Odeon then went to Artichoke getting extremely happy. Saw Bob Baker home. Then Jack Penoor, Tom Silver & I went to a party. What a party until 3 in the morning.

Monday 23rd

Went up to RTO Liverpool St. came back around 11. Saw BG at Upminster in Sweet & Lowdown. Went round to NB after. Met the boys in the evening played billiards.

Tuesday 24th

NB came over this morning. Left home by 11.14 – 15 minutes late missed 12.30 from Paddington. Caught 1.45 arrived 10 OUT Abingdon at 4.40pm.

Wednesday 25th

10 OTU RAF Abingdon Bucks. Class work all day – a terrible bind after such a wonderful ending to my leave. Went to the Ritz Abingdon seeing Oklahoma Kid. Campus Rhythm club.

Thursday 26th

Work again all day much more intensive with P.T. etc. Stayed in the mess tonight with nothing special to do.

Friday 27th

Working as usual very hard. No mail as yet. Two letters from Canada sent on received one in May the other July 7th.

Saturday 28th

Letter from Mrs R. Turner & from home. Went into Oxford this evening to the Electric Cinema.

Sunday 29th

Back to the grindstone plotting etc. afternoon. Not much else doing. Stayed in the mess this evening.

Monday 30th

Plotted all morning 1st speed test. Went into Abingdon took wrong turning on the way back and got lost wasting 45 minutes finally got in around 11.45pm.

Tuesday 31st

Two speed test.  No mail.  Games this afternoon had physical fitness test.  Still after some shoes to wear managed to arrange new issue.

November 1944

Wednesday 1st

Letters from home & Canada. Parcel from mum.  Two speed tests today.  Nothing much else to report.

Thursday 2nd

Last speed test.  Parcel from home with towel & tobacco.  Letter sent to Mrs Turner. Parcel sent home.  Went to Abingdon Ritz cinema.

Friday 3rd

Letter from pop received. Letter sent to NBB.  Little else to report.  I still wonder why Nora hasn’t written I think I’ve had it.

Saturday 4th

After a Bomber Command speed test this morning had ½ day off.  Managed to get 12.0 from Abingdon arrived home 5.00. got back 1am.

Sunday 5th

Navigation theory test after plotting test.  Poured with rain so prevented going down town.

Monday 6th

GEE test. Duff lectures all day. Letter to Bob Baker & parcel of tobacco to pop via home. Learnt day off Wednesday.

Tuesday 7th

General talks all day by various bods including CGI.  Left on 24 at 5pm caught 5.50 Oxford arrived Paddington at 8 o’clock.  Home at 9.18pm.

Wednesday 8th

Arose around 8.30 sent bike off.  Wrote to Walton & Southend Chemists Services.  Pictures in the afternoon.  Left by 6.34 to catch 7.40 at Paddington.  Missed it by 10 minutes.  Arrived camp at 1am.

Thursday 9th

Reported at the aircrew assembly room this morning on D.R.I. all day, not very inspiring. Naturally no mail.  Stayed in all night.

Friday 10th

Had one or two lectures today. Skipper is still doing circuits & bumps.  Went into Oxford tonight – not very inspiring again.

Saturday 11th

GEE lectures most of the morning with dingy drill thrown in. Duff lectures all afternoon. Went to station dance tonight – a bit ropey. Received parcel from home sent by Nora!!!

Sunday 12th

Received airgraphs sent by NBB on July 12th & by mum of July 18th. We had GEE lectures most of today and general lectures in the afternoon. I went into town.

Monday 13th

GEE lectures again this morning but plotting all afternoon.  Went to camp cinema to see Melody.  No mail today.  Phoned station about my bike.

Tuesday 14th

Looking back I see I was cheesed with Dunnville but to get back there and do nothing but what I was, would be heaven, especially as things are in Toronto now.  D.R.I. most of the day.  No mail & nothing extraordinary to report.

Wednesday 15th

D.R.I. all day today.  Parcel from home with washing.  Richardson the W/O disciplinarian left a nasty note in my room today telling me to get out as it was dirty.  Went into Abingdon.

Thursday 16th

We haven’t moved out yet.  Donald reports to Alexandria Scotland today.  No mail except parcel which was supposed to contain my watch.  My bike arrived from home at last.

Friday 17th

Letter from NBB.  Rained all day.  Apparently we had a day off from 10 o’clock I didn’t know until midday unable to go home.  Went to Slough, Bucks.

Saturday 18th

Lectures all day.  Went into Oxford this evening & couldn’t get in a show returned early. No mail from home still.  Rained all day again.

Sunday 19th

Still raining, nothing done until 11, lectures the remaining of the day. Walked into town in the evening with Don Forster one of the gunners.

Monday 20th

Went into town. Not much doing today anywhere. No mail. Crew drill & instructions etc.

Tuesday 21st

Scheduled to fly today but kite was u/s & it was scrubbed. Letter from mum at last. Went Red Lion Abingdon.

Wednesday 22nd

Flew for the first time at Abingdon up 17,000’ pretty cold. No mail today, went to station show.

Thursday 23rd

Sent off Christmas cards to Canada. Letter from mum. Weather prevented me flying 5 hr cross country.

Friday 24th

Flying washed again bad weather. Parcel with apples and laundry from home. Mother informs records arrived safely from Canada.

Saturday 25th

Flew today with Sgt Wood & crew. 4.00 hrs. Took off 11.40. Went to station theatre. No mail. Sent letters to Lawrence Sede & Co & to NBB.

Sunday 26th

Flew a bombing detail today but weather prevented actual bombing.

Monday 27th

Flew 1st solo cross country. Weather very good, trip not bad, but rather shaky on GEE operation. No mail.

Tuesday 28th

No flying, no mail.  Went into Abingdon & got rather intoxicated, spent a very hectic night.  No mail again.

Wednesday 29th

Quiet day – did nothing of mentionable worth. No mail. Went to station theatre to see “The Lodger” very good.

Thursday 30th

Did practically nothing today. Managed to finish D.R.I. 4 before we move to Stanton.  Went into Abingdon to local dance – a shambles.  No mail.

December 1944

Friday 1st

Lost the day off today again to move to the satellite aerodrome Stanton Harcourt – naturally I was mad.  No mail as usual.

Saturday 2nd

Flew all day on bombing exercises.  Not too bad.  Rather cold at 11,000 feet however. Went to local with crew then to local barn dance what a shambles.

Sunday 3rd

D.R.I. all day.  Little else doing.  No mail.

Monday 4th

4 hour cross country with crew. No mail not much else doing. Stanton Harcourt gives me the willies.

Tuesday 5th

Lectures all day.  Left Stanton by bike at 4.50 reached Eynsham caught bus & 5.50 from Oxford to Paddington.  No mail.

Wednesday 6th

Had a day off at last today.  Went home not much today to do except play new records. Letter from Derek P. & Nora Edwards of Toronto.

Thursday 7th

Flew today on 5 cross country. Pretty good show. No mail.

Friday 8th

For my cross country yesterday I got 8 the highest mark “C” flight have had for some considerable time.

Saturday 9th

A most uneventful day. Nothing to report.

Sunday 10th

Flew my 1st “2nd Dicky” trip tonight under night conditions.  It was a bull’s-eye or London – I didn’t see a bloody thing. 5 hrs 10.

Monday 11th

Slept in until midday. Went to Oxford for wet dinghy drill with Skipper & Sam. Stayed in to see George Elrick’s band at Review theatre.

Tuesday 12th

Nothing much to do this morning.  Was on my way to briefing when it was scrubbed & day off until 4 tomorrow.  Left for Oxford on Don’s bike.  Home 10.18.

Wednesday 13th

Very foggy all day.  At home this morning.  Left at 11 in case I was flying tonight.  Letter from Freddy Pouch.

Thursday 14th

Thoroughly expected to be chewed up after yesterday effort. Nothing said however. 2nd navigation trip again cancelled . Stayed in mess this evening.

Friday 15th

Compass drill with the skipper & bomb aimer. Went to briefing for 2nd navigation trip – cancelled. Went to Eynsham dance saw wizard wench but got a bag.

Saturday 16th

Did nothing in the morning as is usual here but went to 3 o’clock briefing for 2nd navigation trip. We got out to the aircraft but it was cancelled. Went to Eynsham dance.

Sunday 17th – Tuesday 19th

Blank

Wednesday 20th

Fog all day prevented all flying. Nothing special to do. Went down to Eynsham with crew & got thoroughly sozzled.

Thursday 21st

Fog again prevented all flying. Bicycle was borrowed without permission today but recovered it from mess.

Friday 22nd

Airgraph from Roots. Christmas card from Watts. My cycle was stolen from outside of the hut on Fox Site a thoroughly bad show. Fog prevented all flying.

Saturday 23rd

Day off today.  Went to Oxford in the afternoon & went to show in the evening at a theatre outside of town.  Flying scrubbed again.

Sunday 24th

Was all set to go home at midday when it was announced we were to fly tonight and off we went bombing.  Well we bombed & failed.  I lost my Christmas at home.  Fog came in about 9.00pm in ten minutes.

Monday 25th

Yesterday letters from Roots, mum & card from Watts.  We arose around 9.30am & went to the officer’s mess for a drink.  Had Christmas dinner & went back to billet.  Got extremely drunk this evening and went to station hop – it was very poor.

Tuesday 26th

Slept in until 11 – boy did I feel sick most of the day.  Walked to Eynsham until we couldn’t get bus to oxford returned & remained in billet.  No mail.

Wednesday 27th

Off duty until midday.  This afternoon we cleaned up the camp at the CI’s order.  No mail – tonight stayed in!!

Thursday 28th

Foggy all day.  No flying.  Christmas is now all finished and forgotten.  No letters.  Went Oxford by myself seeing a show – Costie Williams band.

Friday 29th

All flying scrubbed again today.  Went to Oxford tonight by liberty bus.  Letters from Mrs Turner & Christmas card from Derek.

Saturday 30th

Fog prevented flying today.  We had briefing today and got out to aircraft when flying was cancelled.  Went to bed early.  No mail.

Sunday 31st

Not much to do in the morning until Fighter Affiliation exercise at 11.30.  Flew tonight on station operation as P.F.F. dropped green Target Indicators on St. Tudwal’s.

Dennis Wright RAF 1944 War Diary

Dennis Wright RAF 1946-47 Post-War Diary

This post war diary is by Flight Sergeant Dennis Walter Wright of 149 Squadron RAF Bomber Command.

The start of 1946 sees Dennis still rather bored at RAF Methwold, with not much flying of his Lancaster “kite” as navigator until a posting to RAF Mildenhall in April 1946, though his friendship with a Miss Doris Ringer (his future wife) seems to blossom during the Spring.

During June an entry states “The whole of today was spent on Operation Frontline flying in formation over Germany. Today a tragedy occurred when F/S “Taffy” Thomas was drowned at Lakenheath”.

He and Doris decide to get engaged in early August, however the next couple of weeks have their ups and downs, before Dennis gets posted to RAF Wyton in late August.

Some flying during September including a trip down to Tripoli (via St Mawgan), followed by a local flight on the 17th which resulted in running out of fuel and a forced landing at Waterbeach – a trip on his motorbike the next day to the crash site resulted in him crashing his bike on the way back! He is finally demobbed from the RAF in mid-December.

The start of January 1947 sees Dennis get a temporary teaching job at Ardleigh Green School in Havering, and his engagement to Doris was finally sealed on January 22nd. There are several weeks of snow and his motor bike seems to be continually on the blink. The diary finishes abruptly on April 22nd 1947. The good news however is that they did go on to marry in September 1947, although there is no record of any children.

Sadly Dennis passed away in March 1992 but there is no record found yet for Doris.

Flight Sergeant Dennis Walter Wright

Service number 1605269 (indicates allocated in September 1941 Oxford)
Identity card 027036

Weight 170 lbs
Height 5’ 8 ½”

RAF Stations Visited in 1946

RAF Methwold

RAF Mildenhall

RAF Lakenheath

RAF Wyton

RAF St. Mawgan

RAF Castel Benito

RAF Waterbeach

RAF Fairford

RAF Warton

RAF Kirkham

January 1946

Tuesday 1st

Well this first entry in this year’s diary sees me still at Methwold in the RAF. After last night we slept in until eleven thirty when we walked over to lunch. This afternoon I went to the navigation section for the first time since returning from leave, when I sawed up a few logs (wooden). Went to the station cinema tonight to see “Bowery to Broadway” with Maria Montez.

Wednesday 2nd

I reported to the section this morning then came back to billet. Lunch. Back to billet again after seeing skipper. Washed and shaved expecting to fly but I was able to go to Wisbech by the transport. Had a supper of fish and chips then to the White Hart for a drink. We finished up at Wisbech New Year’s charity ball at 5/- a ticket – not a bad effort. A letter from Derek Parmiter.

Thursday 3rd

Usual routine today. Sent a letter to Nora in Toronto. This evening went to the Rhythm Club – not a bad programme. The present hard frost has lasted three days. No mail received.

Friday 4th

First thing today we flew – the first time for over a month. We were scheduled for bombing but haze prevented that so we stooged over Wisbech, King ’s Lynn & Norfolk generally. Paid £11-4-9 banked £9- to the R.B.C. This evening went to the New Inn & Lakenheath but no dance.

Saturday 5th

Everyone was on tenterhooks today waiting for a 36. Jack finally gave the word at 2pm. Naturally everyone scrammed off home except Jock & I who went to Wisbech by the six o’clock transport. We went round a few pubs in Wisbech then to the dance in the Corn Exchange – met a wizard girl – a WREN but couldn’t get to first base. Toast & tea. Bed at 2.30am.

Sunday 6th

Slept in until 11.30am. Lunch. This afternoon pressed battle dress & wrecked my best blue for changing. Had tea then went to the mess played darts and piano. I had a few beers. Back to the billet & had toast & tea. Bed at 12.45am

Monday 7th

I got up promptly at 8.05am this morning and I went to breakfast. After which I reported to the navigation section at 9.15am. Stayed there most of the morning, lunch, section again dashed off to Feltwell on Pete’s motor cycle. I sent away for a driving license. I intend to get a motor cycle as soon as possible. Wrote to Bob, Don and Alan Jones.

Tuesday 8th

The same routine today as always. I got a letter from home with bank statement – balance £40, receipt for Canada Weekly, Christmas card from Mrs Turner & laundry – quite a pile of mail but nothing to read. Sent letters home. Went to the mess this evening for darts and 5 ½ pints.

Wednesday 9th

My football pool coupons cane 2nd post today after waiting all day. There was no other mail. After debating with myself whether to go to Wisbech or not – I finally went with the crew minus Jack. Had a few beers then went to the dance – it wasn’t too good probably due to the ropey weather.

Thursday 10th

Went to the navigation section at 9.30. Break – billet – Section. Driving licence came – still no bank book. Went to Rhythm Club this evening – not too bad. Jock the mid-upper (gunner) is now redundant.

Friday 11th

What a day this was! When we arrived for lunch today the dirty dishes were on the table & the cooks refused to serve dinner until they were cleared. Nothing was done until Group Captain came over. We got dinner at last. This afternoon the Wing Commander gave the squadron NCO’s a natter and we had a general bitch. Ken got a telegram saying his kid was ill in hospital. Played darts in the mess this evening.

Saturday 12th

Got a taxi to Lakenheath caught the 9.58 to London arrived about 1.00. Caught the 1.06 from Liverpool Street home at 2.0pm. Took my shoes to the Bate shoe stores. Collected my wind breaker bought 2 ozs 4 square red. Saw Bing Crosby, Hope & Lamour in the “Road to Utopia” at the Odeon – very good.

Sunday 13th

Went to Chadwell Heath to see a Triumph 1936 for £55 – no good but I saw a wizard Speed Twin – god knows how much it costs. Stayed in this afternoon & caught the 6.33 from Brentwood. The train from London was late as usual and got in about 11.50pm.

dec 45 jan 46

Monday 14th

Flew this morning on Lucero landings but the equipment was u/s. Letters from Bill Tuck. Saw a wizard film tonight call “Marine Raiders” very good.

Tuesday 15th

Flew today on the longest trip for two months – a cross country to Chicken Rock, Fishguard, Reading and base. In the evening walked to Feltwell to play darts & fish and chips with no fish. My bank book comes back at last.

Wednesday 16th

After a dull day during which I decided not to go to Wisbech the transport was cancelled anyway. I went to station cinema to see Errol Flynn in the “Sea Hawk”.

Thursday 17th

Finally got my warrant to draw out £75 which I did and immediately transferred it to R.B.C. by money orders. Flew an air to sea firing mission.

Friday 18th

Lecture on accident prevention this morning – no pay until 15.00 hrs. Paid £11-4 as usual. Couldn’t get passes until 17.00. Caught the 6.0pm from Brandon & slow to Brentwood.

Saturday 19th

After a wizard breakfast of ham and eggs went up town to do a little shopping. Caught the 12.34 to Liverpool Street to meet Bill Tuck at the Nuffield Centre. Saw Frankie in “Anchors Aweigh” – Richmond skating & dancing!

Sunday 20th

Stayed in bed until 10.30am. Breakfast. Put on civvies and went round the station to meet Bill – but he never came. Played records in the afternoon and after tea I went to the Odeon with Maureen. Bed at 10.45 after a very strenuous day!!

Monday 21st

Slept a little later this morning and messed around playing records went up to town to buy a few sundried and take in shoes. Still in after lunch – caught the 4.05 from Brentwood and the 5.48 – 30 mins late from Liverpool Street. After a long wait for the transport, finally reached camp at 11pm.

Tuesday 22nd

Up for breakfast this morning, didn’t go to the Section but returned to the billet after break. Lunch. Much the same routine this afternoon. Mess dance tonight but I didn’t go! By the way I got a letter from Wisbech & Pamela today.

Wednesday 23rd

With the weather so cold and the visibility nil all flying was scrubbed. Went to the station cinema to see “Music for Millions” a poor film.

Thursday 24th

This diary keeping is a task in itself in that whilst on camp nothing ever happens. Today I was joed to “work” in the station guard room. Naturally I did all but sit on my arse and drink tea. This evening’s Rhythm Club was a great success with well over 30 bods present. I presented a Boogie programme followed by some Woody Herman etc. piano & drum session in the mess afterwards.

Friday 25th

Reported to section as usual. My pool dividend of £1 for 4 aways with 1 postponed match arrived with the OK to send money for motor cycle a Matchless 1935 500cc for £55 taxed and insured. Going to Feltwell tonight for a few beers.

Saturday 26th

Up in time to have breakfast and catch the 9.48am from Lakenheath to Ely. From Ely caught 10.50am to Peterborough and then the 1.20pm to Leicester. Arrived about 2.45pm. Tried several hotels for lodging until the Bell Hotel finally freed up a nice room. Had some dinner, cleaned up and then went out to start drinking. Had reached the Palais about 9pm, danced pretty well every dance mostly with a blue eyed girl call Doreen – what a peach – but didn’t take her home. Bed at 11.40pm.

Sunday 27th

After a quiet and uneventful night, got up for breakfast at 9.15am. Left the hotel and walked leisurely to the station, the train should have left at 11.55am, but didn’t leave until 12.35pm. Home at the billet at 5.30pm, tea then cleaned up generally to go to the mess for 5 pints played the piano for 3 hrs. The whole weekend which was a pleasant change cost about £2-15 – expensive? Yes indeed!

Monday 28th

Slept until 10 this morning and arrived at the briefing room at 10.10am. Skipper had a good bitch about being late. I was to play piano in the mess tonight but I was too drunk to do it so I went to bed early.

Tuesday 29th

With the weather becoming more & more duff as the day went on we did no flying. Got three letters today from Buck Ramsey, home and the pools, which I sent off with the N.O.W. crossword. Played the piano in the mess for two hours this evening.

Wednesday 30th

My face was considerably worse today so I tried to report sick but was too late so I went special sick and was confined to S.S.Q with impetigo. Spent a lazy day onwards reading and listening to the radio.

Thursday 31st

What a boring day confined to sick quarters – treatment was penicillin ointment wizard stuff my face was clearing up fast. Reading, walking, washing and listening to the radio – my day. Bed at 10pm.

February 1946

Friday 1st

First day of February spent in sick quarters doing damn all.

Saturday 2nd

Persuaded the ward orderly to let me see the M.O. who in turn finally let me go on leave. Got home after the usual horrible journey at 4pm. Went straightaway to P.O. to draw out £3. This evening I went up town had a drink in the Charles Napier then went along to High Street, met Bob & Pam and went to King’s Head for darts & beer. Artichoke, Town Hall, then bed at 12.30am, very boring.

Sunday 3rd

Took the tire over to Herongate in the pouring rain and saw the motor cycle for the first time. Didn’t ride it however owing to the rain. Stayed in the house this afternoon and this evening I went to the Odeon having seen both pictures before.

Monday 4th

Had my first lesson on the bike having sent away the insurance policy and log book. Met Pam at midday at the Wilson’s Corner. This evening I went to the Palace to see “Guest Wife” not too bad.

Tuesday 5th

To Herongate again – rode up and down the “Chase” very cheesing however as I couldn’t leave it with no insurance. Over again this afternoon. This evening Pam and I went to the Odeon to see “Wicked Lady” which I didn’t like. Went to Romford this afternoon and bought “Skyliner and Twilight Time”.

Wednesday 6th

Took the other tire over this morning and paid Tim 10/- to keep him quiet. Went over to see Bore this afternoon. He has some screwy idea about going over to the States as an interchange teacher.

Thursday 7th

Met Pam at midday with bike. Nothing else to report. Went to the Palace to see “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” with Woody Herman a very good show. Pam came too!

Friday 8th

Didn’t take the bike out today but remained indoors most of the day. Went to the Artichoke and got caned after waiting for Tim in the rain. Went Town Hall and walked home with Joyce??

Saturday 9th

Stooged around this morning and this afternoon I went to Hutton picked up Pam on the pillion and we went to Southend. Had a wizard time there ice cream and a show. Came back about 10.30 and ran out of petrol at Wickford pushed the darn thing to Billericay. Home at 2am – very tired indeed.

Sunday 10th

Went to Pam’s house on her bike returning it to her then going by bus to Billericay. Dinner after taking bike home. Left home at 3.15 for ChelmsfordDunmowBishop’s StortfordCambridge – Ely – Littleport then ran out of gas. Cadged some from a farmer then pranged a mile out of Shippea Hill – what a bind! I had to wait from 7pm until 11.20 for a train to Brandon.

Monday 11th

Saw Jack this morning after skipping breakfast. Didn’t report sick. This afternoon I went to Brandon by cycle – then train to Shippea Hill – got motor cycle and had to empty it of petrol before taking it on the train. Went to station cinema this evening to see “Lady in the Window” quite good. Left my cycle at the garage in Brandon next to NAAFI. Brandon 224.

Tuesday 12th

I did report sick today and the M.O. grounded me until Friday and painted me green. This afternoon I went to Brandon by cycle then went to Shippea Hill and picked up my cycle brought it back to Brandon and left it at the Bridge garage.

Wednesday 13th

Reported for treatment. No flying. Letter received from Pam with a photo! Got my motor cycle back.

Thursday 14th

Went to Feltwell this morning and took my radio speaker (Wed). This morning I went to Shippea Hill to pick up my petrol. Nothing else to report.

Friday 15th

Paid this morning at last £23-10-, banked £16. This afternoon cleaned up my motor cycle and this evening too. No mail again.

Saturday 16th

Left for home this morning at 9.0 had a bit of trouble finding the A11. Finally reached home via Ongar at 12.15pm pretty good with no trouble on the bike used 1 gallon. This evening went to the Artichoke and had about 7 pints then went to Town Hall and saw Pam – had a wizard time there with everyone. Home after going to the station at 1am (I think). I was awfully tight.

Sunday 17th

Up at 9am. Breakfast. Went up town, filled up with oil, over to Herongate.   Rode around in the afternoon, left bike at home and came back by train.

Monday 18th

Reported sick this morning and went to Feltwell M.O. Grounded, under treatment further two days, naturally no mail, wrote to Toronto & Bob Baker.

Tuesday 19th

Treatment forgotten today because of mess dance night, no mail again. Sent off football pools. Mess dance this evening had quite a few beers finished up with a babe called Yvonne Walker of Wisbech apparently a friend of Jack’s. I’m supposed to see her Saturday.

Wednesday 20th

My face was much worse today so I went up for some “green ink” treatment this lunch hour, still no mail. Went to station cinema this evening to see the “Merry Monahans” a poor show.

Thursday 21st

Up for treatment today as usual, not much improvement in the face yet. Letter received from Pam – very puzzling however – I can’t quite get the gist of the letter but I think she thinks I’m in love or something stupid like that with her after my behaviour under the influence last Saturday!! Wrote a curious reply to her.

Friday 22nd

Penicillin treatment again, a little improvement, but not so much as before the leave. Letter from Bob at last he’s in the station P.O. at Gloucester or near enough there. Went to the station cinema tonight to see Rita Hayworth in “Tonight and Every Night”, not too good, a few tunes in the mess.

Saturday 23rd

Still reporting to sick quarters for penicillin treatment – it’s clearing up slowly. Shaved this afternoon after I had phoned Yvonne, whose mother took the message. Decided my face was not sufficiently clear to go to Wisbech and sent a message by Shorty. Went to Brandon pictures with Ken in the motor car, home at billet about 10.30pm.

Sunday 24th

Breakfast of egg, treatment and back to billet. Lunch, billet again. Jack came over and had a general natter mainly about Wisbech and Yvonne!! This evening Ken, Jack & I went to Stoke Ferry had a few beers quite a pleasant evening finishing up in the mess.

Monday 25th

Egg again for breakfast. What a life eh when having an egg for breakfast becomes a major event. Treatment. No mail. Went to Brandon pictures tonight in Ken’s three wheeler.

Tuesday 26th

Breakfast. Treatment. No mail.

Wednesday 27th

Nothing unusual to report, essentially the normal routine.

Thursday 28th

Saw the M.O. again today who grounded me a further two days. I report sick again on Tuesday. Went to Brandon with Ken & Johnny then went to the Rhythm Club.

March 1946

Friday 1st

First day of March brings cold miserable weather. After pay of £11-4/- I got home at 7pm had a bath & went to bed.

Saturday 2nd

It was snowing this morning when I went to Romford and bought a new saddle cover (16/6). Went to Brentwood P.O. & drew petrol ration book. Walked up town this afternoon to try to get new Woody Herman number “Apple Honey” – not issued yet. Went to Odeon to see “Stork Club” pretty good. Four beers & Town Hall. Heavy snowfall tonight.

Sunday 3rd

Still snowing slightly but thawing. Cleaned up motor cycle. Afternoon roads dry went out for a stooge. Evening stayed reading. Bed at 11pm.

Monday 4th

What a bind it’s raining and snowing again which means I won’t be going back by motor cycle. Went uptown this morning shopping and left by the 4.27 this afternoon to camp. Back at 11pm after stopping in Brandon for two or three beers.

Tuesday 5th

Didn’t get up for breakfast, consequently couldn’t report sick. No flying owing to duff weather. Letter from Bob who says he will be home on leave with me. This evening after a last minute decision by Jack we went into Wisbech by his car, had a lot of beer and went to the dance. Saw Yvonne but Jack seemed to shine more than me. I took home a previous achievement – Marjorie Henson – 19 Opportune Road Wisbech.

Wednesday 6th

Got up to breakfast and to see the M.O. who put me fit at last. Flew on a “Sinkum” to Cardigan Bay, first flight in 5 weeks. Went to station cinema to see “The Way to the Stars” – very good – two hours piano in the mess.

feb 46 mar 46

Thursday 7th

Little done today but this afternoon after the “bullseye” had been scrubbed we were put on a night cross-country – a very good trip navigationally.

Friday 8th

Bed at 1am after night flight. Up at 10am Groupy came round as we were cleaning up. No flying today. Sawed up some wood this afternoon with Jack and left at 5.30 to catch transport home at 10.10pm.

Saturday 9th

Bike (motor) taken out today got 1 gallon of gas. Went to the pictures this afternoon to see “The Westerner”, pretty good. Had a date to see Pam at 7pm she came and on time too – had a few beers and took her to the Town Hall where she went off with some other guy – boy was I annoyed (I still am) and wait till she gets my letter. Home at 12.

Sunday 10th

Bought another 1 ½ gallons for bike cleaned up and got ready to leave at 3 this afternoon – no snags until I get to Brandon where I broke the primary chain in accelerating from 10 mph or less in top gear, pushed the darn thing 5 miles. Took off the chain tonight and went to the mess for a beer.

Monday 11th

After ascertaining no flying on this morning I took my chain to Feltwell. Collected the same this afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon fitting it back on. No mail. Wrote a really nasty letter to Pam but am sending it tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday 12th

Well no flying again thank goodness. Got a 2 page letter of apology from Pam don’t quite know what to do as I can’t press on. However didn’t send the letter.

Wednesday 13th

Little to report today. Spent the afternoon tightening primary chain of motor cycle. Sent off to Matchless for a new oil bath seal and primary chain. Saw “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo” at station cinema – a very good film. The weather is still cold I wish it would warm up a bit.

Thursday 14th

Can’t think or remember what on earth happened today.

Friday 15th

Went on the beer in Feltwell.

Saturday 16th

Left at 9.30am on the bike for home, about six miles outside Newmarket had to turn back to Newmarket owing to piston rings going. Left the bike and finished the journey by rail. Got home about 4.30 and proceeded to clean up for tonight. Met Bob & Pam had a few beers – the dance etc.

Sunday 17th

Went up to Don’s house to see if he was home – he was – went out for a beer and a walk. Met him this evening and had quite a few beers after seeing Joe Brown and Judy Canova in a Western film.

Monday 18th

Met Don this morning and Bob – can’t remember much of what happened during the day but this evening Don, Pete Foreman, John Berry and I had a wizard session after which Don and I went up the barracks to the dance – not too bad.

Tuesday 19th

Met Bob again as usual with John Berry, Don is going back tonight so he didn’t come out today. This evening we had a very respectable evening in the Town Hall. Pam it seems is very much more attached to Bob than she is to me as events this week have shown. Maybe the motor cycle accounted for some of my past popularity. I can’t say I worried either.

Wednesday 20th

Messed around most of the morning went to Goodmayes and picked up Pete Foreman at his house – went to London to see “Caesar & Cleopatra” quite good and “Getting Gertie’s Garter” which wasn’t so good. Came home by Green Line about 11.30pm

Thursday 21st

Bob called on me this morning and we did practically nothing of note except go to an auction all day. This evening I went to the Romford Ritz to see “Three StrangersSydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Geraldine Fitzgerald also Ann SothernUp Goes Maisie” both quite good. Home 10pm and had a bath.

Friday 22nd

Took some records to Bob’s place. Afternoon stayed in pressing, cleaning up. This evening Bob & I went to Romford and got quite merry then went to Romford Palais dancing – quite an enjoyable evening.

Saturday 23rd

Met Bob at eleven and stooged off uptown doing a bit of shopping. Bob met Pam at 12.30 when she made a clot of me making my suggestion of a foursome with my sister tonight seem ridiculous. I met Bob at seven tonight and we started drinking, met John Jenkinson had a lot of beer all over town. With six RAF in hand we invaded the Town Hall where I had a wizard time without dancing with Pam.

Sunday 24th

Saw Bob this morning. Messed around packing all day. Left Brentwood at 6.30 & 7.40 from Liverpool Street. In the billet at 11.0pm quite good. No mail there.

Monday 25th

What a way to start work again – lectures all day. Collected laundry. Went to station cinema to see Edward G. RobinsonArms and the Woman”. No mail received.

Tuesday 26th

The skipper went to a court-martial today so luckily we didn’t fly. Phone the garage about my bicycle – won’t be ready until the weekend. Went to Feltwell this evening for a beer and fish and chips. Football pools received.

Wednesday 27th

This is one of those days when you can’t remember what the hell you did so long ago especially when you get a week behind in writing it.

Thursday 28th

Vast rumour circulating as to the squadron becoming redundant, don’t know whether I shall be or not. Little else to report. No mail naturally.

Friday 29th

Hooray pay day. Usual pay of £11-4 – not before I needed it. Got the ration money this afternoon. Prancing around trying not to be redundant which was announced today as being so. Got tight tonight in Feltwell.

Saturday 30th

Up in time to leave on the back of Shorty’s Triumph at 9.30am, reached Newmarket soon after 10am. Picked up cycle which cost me 23/-. Everything OK until Newport Essex where she started burning oil like the devil again. Home at 1pm after 3 oil fillings. This afternoon rode around trying to get new piston rings. Had quite a good time this evening at the Artichoke and Town Hall, took home a blonde called Delphene Knight, not too bad.

Sunday 31st

Got up at 10am this morning – breakfast – working on bike all morning. Dinner, rode up town to see if my date turned up but no joy. This afternoon still working on cycle but need new chain. Come back by train on 7.40pm from London.

April 1946

Monday 1st

Bank balance £123-2-5. Well it looks as if I am well and truly “redundant” in effect although we are classed as “spares” on the list. Three letters today Ministry of Education, licensing office and one from Buck Ramsey. This evening stayed in.

Tuesday 2nd

The ninth consecutive day of fine weather – didn’t do a stroke all day except press and clean my blue. This evening Shorty, Jack, F/Lt Shepherd and I started off in Jack’s car for Wisbech after two breakdowns finally reached Stoke Ferry where I had far too much to drink bringing up my stomach about 6 times. Letter from home what? The pools…

Wednesday 3rd

Woke up this morning and what a state my eyes were in. Sore and bloodshot I had to wear dark glasses. Mess dance tonight – not too good didn’t get pissed and Yvonne didn’t come. Letter from Pam – not much to say – sorry for last Saturday as usual.

apr 46 may 46

Thursday 4th

Eleventh consecutive day of brilliant sunshine. Temp 74oF today. Messed around all day sunbathing etc. my underarm area was giving me trouble today. Went to Feltwell this evening for a quiet 3 beers, fish and chips and a peep at the dance. Shorty on Bullseye to Heligoland.

Friday 5th

End of the fine weather I suppose. Raining like the clappers this morning at 7.30am, left for home on Short’s bike catching 3.19pm from Brandon. Home at 7pm where pool dividend won yesterday of £3-15 was awaiting.

Saturday 6th

Up early at 8am this morning straightaway to work on the bike, in two hours fixed the chain and dynamo and had it running very well. This afternoon I went uptown and did a bit of shopping. This evening I went uptown again in civvies to the Artichoke meeting Alan and his brother Jeff, had a few beers with them then went up to the Town Hall. Danced most of the time with a brunette called Doris Ringer who I took home and very nice too.

Sunday 7th

Spent the whole morning cleaning up my motor cycle which came up very nicely. Had some sort of lunch with Pop – had a bath then met Doris at 3pm as arranged. We walked to Childerditch common had a kinda rest on the grass there!! Returned to Brentwood had tea at the Odeon, pictures, 1 pint in the “Essex” walked home with her where surprisingly enough Wright “snogged” for about an hour – being sober too – this was truly remarkable.

Monday 8th

Nobody seems to know whether I’m in Dixon’s crew or not but I rather think I won’t be. Saw the Adjutant about my interview at Norwich tomorrow and got a 36 until midday tomorrow. Went to station cinema tonight – poor show.

Tuesday 9th

Changed my battle dress on the clothing parade. Caught 10.51 to Norwich arrived about 12.10. Lunch in the NAAFI club – a very nice place. Went to a park to wait while Sheppard had his interview, then came mine, it wasn’t too bad at all. Came back immediately – learnt from Shorty that I was posted to Mildenhall. Went to Wisbech – pretty poor – in bed at 3am.

Wednesday 10th

What a terrible day! Clearing all day. Charged £4 for my lost bike and nearly put on a charge for it. Should have been at Mildenhall today. Practically finished tonight supposed to get paid tomorrow morning.

Thursday 11th

RAF Mildenhall

Unable to get paid this morning – pay accounts hadn’t enough money. Left, about 10.30 for Mildenhall in F/Lt Thomas’ car, arrived reported to Adjutant, arrival chit – arranged for pay tomorrow. Went to station cinema tonight saw “Dillinger” – pretty good – had supper and a beer.

Friday 12th

Arranged parachute harness etc. Pay at 2 £10-14. Walked down to local café. Few beers in “Bird in Hand”. Bulled up generally for Group’s inspection.

Saturday 13th

Up at 7. On parade for Groupy then Wingco’s inspection of billet then Squadron parade. Went by motor cycle after to Newmarket, lift to Bishop’s Stortford, bus to Aldgate then to Brentwood – home at 3.20. Dinner then went round to Doris on the motor cycle – she is going out with a rotten Dutchman. Had quite a few beers tonight and didn’t get organised – home at 11.45.

Sunday 14th

Up this morning early fixed the bike again – connecting link of chain was off – riding round on it this morning. Dinner and out again. Chain came off around Warley pushed it to the station and saw Doris waiting for her Dutchman – the rat! After a lot of talking to the contrary I caught the 7.50pm to Shippea Hill and got back to camp at 11.10pm.

Monday 15th

Reported to the section – drew new kit etc. Letter from Renno’s saying bike is ready today wish I could collect it and wish I had the money. Flew on a cross country to St. Quentin – Isle of Wight – Oxford tonight, not too bad, but very late at night to fly. Wrote to Renno’s saying I hope to collect bike Saturday.

Tuesday 16th

Slept until eleven this morning – had a bath and shave. Lunch. Don’t know that I did much of interest the rest of the day.

Wednesday 17th

The main event of today was the fact that I wrote to Doris!! After I had said I never write letters. Rather boring evening as usual here.

Thursday 18th

Scheduled to fly on a day cross-country today but thinking it was scrubbed arrived late for briefing and it was scrubbed. Left Lakenheath by train at 4.10pm home at 8.0pm. Saw Bob on the train.

Friday 19th

Couldn’t do a lot today owing to this being Good Friday. Met the boys this morning and again this evening when we had a few beers together. But the whole day was really quite dignified.

Saturday 20th

Up early left on Matchless for London got up to bank uneventfully drew £104 got to Renno’s, who only gave me £37-10 on Matchless, home with new Triumph uneventfully. Met Bob and Don with John Berry, bags of beer felt sick, took Doris home again with the inevitable snogging!

Sunday 21st

Went down to Bob’s place with Don in the morning playing records. This afternoon had a date went to the common – cheesed – bogged off with Don then saw them again in the Artichoke, walked home with Doris.

Monday 22nd

Met the boys this morning after Bob had called on me, played billiards all morning. This afternoon went to the Laurie cinema Romford. This evening 7 pints in the W (?) barracks to the dance – cheesed saw Doris there – but didn’t speak. Bed at 11.

Tuesday 23rd

Up at 5.0am, left on the bike for camp at 5.30am, arrived without mishap at Mildenhall at 7.50am a 2 hr 40 min run. After a boring day at the navigation section I was preparing to leave on the bike for Methwold when I was “joed” for a night cross-country with F/O Munson.

Wednesday 24th

Slept in until 10.30 had a bath – lunch – went to the station cinema for lecture on Switzerland. Left afterwards for Methwold – saw Shorty and Johnny who were very impressed with my bike. Had a couple of beers with Johnny then went to the show – back at camp 11.15 bed.

Thursday 25th

Duff weather prevented all flying today – didn’t do a lot in the section all day. This evening went to the station cinema to see “Mr Skeffington” – poor show – then on the bike for supper. Pay day £11-14.

Friday 26th

Didn’t do a lot today as usual except mess around in the section fixing the wall map. I believe I went to the station cinema again this evening.

Saturday 27th

Up early for parade at 7.50am. Group Captain away and Wing Commander Monk took it – no inspection. Left for home about 10.15am on the bike and after a pleasant and uneventful journey arrived home at 12.45pm. Then I went up to the “Nap” to meet Bob at 7pm – he arrived about 7.20pm and we had a couple of beers there then went to the “Choke” where after a few more I met Doris remaining with her the rest of the evening – bang on. Bob? He took home Barry (a girl) with little joy.

Sunday 28th

Spent the day waiting for tonight. It’s raining this morning but I pressed on to see Gil and Tim. Gil adjusted the tappets but seemingly no effect. Saw Bob this morning and afternoon. Spent a very pleasant evening with Doris and spent is right – boy how one has to pay in the evening for a little snogging at the end!!

Monday 29th

Rain! Rain! Rain! It messed up my schedule in that I couldn’t fix neither clean my bike. However collected my shoes and bought some “Karpol”. This evening, after inviting Doris who refused, I went to the Hammersmith Palais to see Ted Heath who was really wonderful especially his Frank Sinatra type singer – Paul Carpenter. Wonderful!

Tuesday 30th

Spent the day cleaning, gassing up and riding the bike and the evening at the pictures and snogging with – Doris! A glorious end to April.

May 1946

Wednesday 1st

Stooged all day with little to do – I went to Doris’ shop this afternoon and arranged to meet her tonight when we went to Southend on the bike – spent a very pleasant evening.

Thursday 2nd

Much the same routine this morning however this afternoon Doris and I went to Southend again. Spent a pleasant afternoon on the pier, tea, walking and then back by train, much snogging etc.

Friday 3rd

This morning I received word that I had been accepted for training as a school teacher. This evening I went to the Palace with Doris to see “The Corn is Green” with Bette Davis – not too bad, bags of snog at the end.

Saturday 4th

This morning I set off at 10.30am to pick-up Bob which I did at 11.35am. Back home at 1.10pm. This afternoon I walked around aimlessly uptown. This evening I met Bob at the “Nap” at 6.45pm – two there then to the “Tap” one there, to the “Railway Tavern” 3 John Bulls, then to the “Essex” with Doris who left soon after on business.

By this time I was feeling tight and being cheesed with waiting I stooged over to the Artichoke alone and ordered a beer. Bob followed up smartly then Doris & Barry turned up whence we all went to the “Town Hall”. After dance took Doris home when I told her I thought I was in love with her – am I? * I don’t know. Bob & I staggered literally home. Home at 1.45am.

*After note – June 7th – I’m not thank goodness.

Further after note – June 15th – I am!

Sunday 5th

Went down to Bob’s house on the bike arranged to see him at 9pm this evening. Met Doris after dinner at 4pm after waiting ½ hr (fool) when we went to Romford with Syd and Edith to see Edward G. in “Barbary Coast”.  Caught bus back to Brentwood, I got off at Kavanaghs Road, picked up kit and bike meaning to see Doris again at the top of the town where I was to meet Bob. Bob and I left for camp at 9pm after waiting ¼ hr. Back at 11.25pm.

Monday 6th

Reported to section once again this morning. Rumour has it that we shall be moving to Binbrook Lincolnshire shortly. Wrote home and Doris. This evening after flying was scrubbed I went to the station cinema to see Joan Fontaine in “Frenchman’s Creek”.

Tuesday 7th

Much the same day routine as yesterday. No mail received or sent. This evening Les & I went to Bury St. Edmunds on our bikes to see “Dolly Sisters”. B. Grable, June Haver, John Payne – not too bad. Back at eleven after fish & chip supper.

Wednesday 8th

Usual uninteresting air force routine this morning. Sports afternoon – played baseball. My 22nd birthday very uneventful.

Thursday 9th

Flew today for 5 ½ hrs – cross country to Berwick, Bradford, Wyton. Fighter affiliation and air to air over the Wash. Still no mail from Doris of which I take a pretty dim view. I think I went to the station cinema tonight. Paid £10-14.

Friday 10th

Detailed today to clean up an aircraft. Had a wonderful time on the beer at the mess dance & met a WAAF, that’s all I remember.

Saturday 11th

After the group captain’s inspection we had a further one standing by the aircraft. Back to the Flight for a roll call. Left for home on the bike at 10.30. The skipper is posted to a Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at Benson. Got to Stanstead at 11.35 waited 5 mins for Bob home at 1.0pm. Went to Romford and shopping uptown this afternoon. This evening I met Bob at 7 in the “Nap” started drinking but didn’t get tight. Met Doris at the dance and took her home.

Sunday 12th

Went down to Bob’s house on the bike taking my latest records. Met him again this afternoon he had tea with me. When we met Doris all three going to the pictures. I took Doris to the “Choke” for a beer took her home very nice too – home at 11.

Monday 13th

Arose at 5 this morning breakfast left home at 5.30 and after a fairly comfortable ride arrived back here at 7.30. Breakfast, wash, shave etc reported for discipline course at the Corporal’s NAAFI. Tonight a surprise not much to do and no bull. This evening went round to Morley’s for supper.

Tuesday 14th

Still on the discipline course – it’s ok nothing much to learn so far. This evening I was supposed to have a date at 7pm but apparently she was there for when I went to the station cinema later – she was there and said she had turned up. I was called out of the cinema to play piano at Chalky’s going away party only had a couple of beers.

Wednesday 15th

Lectures and drill on the course this morning. Supposed to be on sport this afternoon but skived off to Mildenhall village on my bike for tea at “Tilly’s Pantry”. This evening I met the WAAF – Vera her name – at 7pm and took her on the bike to Bury St. Edmunds where we saw “Leave Her to Heaven” with Gene Tierney. Rather wet and cold. Bed at 12.

Thursday 16th

Can’t think what on earth I did today of note, other than this bull course that I’m in the midst of. Still looking (stupid of me I guess) for mail from Doris. I can’t make up my mind quite whether I like that woman or not.

Friday 17th

Same routine almost as yesterday. This evening I’m supposed to have a date with Vera but she met beforehand to postpone it until Wednesday night. This evening I went over to Tuddenham and picked up Shorty, Bill Tuck and Stewart whence we all went to Mildenhall cinema then to Morley’s for supper and very nice too.

Saturday 18th

After reporting for further instruction on the discipline course we had an intelligence test after which I left for home on the bike in a violent rain storm. Picked up Bob and home at 1pm. Met Bob this evening after missing Doris – beer, beer all evening – took Barry and Doris home and get home myself at 2am.

Sunday 19th

Up at 10.30am. Breakfast. Raining. Bob came down we walked and talked in the rain. Went down to Bob’s house this afternoon for darts. Evening. Stood up Doris (fool) met Bob – pictures – saw Bob off – to the Artichoke for a beer saw Doris but didn’t speak – home at 10pm & bed.

Monday 20th

Up at 5am to return to camp, left home at 5.30am and back at Mildenhall at 7.30am. Breakfast, then back to discipline course. Drill all day with rifles in the afternoon. This evening spent quietly cleaning bike.

Tuesday 21st

Similar routine on camp as yesterday. Wrote to Doris, Don Birchley and home. Continued cleaning this evening then went to Ely pictures with Les the mid-upper gunner.

Wednesday 22nd

Drill again this morning. On parade in best blue this afternoon for Groupy. Drilled before him then march past. After which everyone had to drill the squad. This evening I went to Cambridge with Vera Goldup, a WAAF in the dental section here, on my motor cycle. Spent a pleasant evening at the pictures eating & returning. Bed at 12.

Thursday 23rd

Missed morning parade returning rifle. Reported to navigation section for the first time in two weeks what a terrible place this section is! Saw the Education officer. Set off tonight with Ginger and Les to Thetford. 60 mph on the bike (first time) returned to camp, had a few whiskies went to the station dance piss poor went and had more beer and got drunk. Paid today £10-14.

Friday 24th

Nothing to report today. No mail.

Saturday 25th

No C.O.’s parade today, usual squadron parade. Today the station is open to the public to raise funds for St. Dunston’s.  Luckily I wasn’t joed for a job and I skived off at 12.30pm for home arriving home at 2.30pm. Rode down to Bob’s house. Meeting him at 7pm in the “Nap” in civvies went on our usual round drinking to the dance, saw but didn’t speak to Doris.

Sunday 26th

Up at 10.30 collected Bob and we proceeded to change the oil on the bike & cleaned it. Walked uptown – pictures at the Odeon tonight. Left Brentwood at 9 on the bike back here at 11.45 after a piss poor journey through every kind of ropey weather you can imagine.

Monday 27th

Breakfast – section – nothing special happened on camp. This evening Les and I went to Newmarket on our bikes to see “Duffy’s Tavern”, Bing Crosby very good. Supper back to camp.

Tuesday 28th

Same routine all day, no mail. Picked up by the Wingco for being outside camp before 12. This evening I went to Tuddenham by motor bike by motor bike to see Jack & Shorty.

Wednesday 29th

Same routine in the morning – walking as sport this afternoon – I was going to Methwold this evening for a party but rain prevented me so I saw “They Were Sisters” with James Mason & Phyllis Calvert at the station cinema.

Thursday 30th

Saw Squadron Leader Pilgrim about my leave but no decision forthcoming until tomorrow. It rained today.

Friday 31st

Flew tonight at the last minute on a bombing exercise; landed about 12.10am. My leave starts on Tuesday night.

June 1946

Saturday 1st

Left Mildenhall on my bike at 8.30 home at 10.30 saw Bob this afternoon and saw Doris this evening. The four of us went pub-crawling playing darts piano etc. Then Doris, John & I go to the Town Hall – took Doris home when she went in it was 2am. See tomorrow. One of the best nights I’ve had in years.

Sunday 2nd

I awoke this morning with quite a thick head and got up finally as Bob called on me around eleven. Went for a quiet beers uptown and visited the swimming pool – bang on. Left for camp by train at 6.30pm from Brentwood, 7.50pm from London, in the billet at 11pm.

Monday 3rd

After laying all my kit out for inspection I was Tannoyed and flew on a cross-country fighter affiliation to Isle of Man with my new crew F/O Cockerill. Went to Ely with “Les” on his “Ariel” arrived back at camp to learn that I am flying again tomorrow! On a “front line”.

Tuesday 4th

Saw the Navigation leader and got off the flying – paid at 2 – £10-14. Hitchhiked to Newmarket, by train to London and home at 8.10pm. Went uptown immediately to meet Bob – had a couple of beers, fish & chips and returned home at 11.

Wednesday 5th

First day of leave sees me meeting Bob uptown at 10.0. S.F.A. to do except walk around & drink tea at our new sound NAAFI. This evening Doris & I went to the Palace to see “The Lisbon Story” piss poor this time, however I did get her home at 11.

Thursday 6th

Met Bob again at 10.30 stooged all morning. This evening however we had a session – met at 6.30 in the “Nap” every one which was opened, to the “Horse & Groom” Warley, arrived at the barracks dance slightly pissed not a bad evening though, especially when I took Doris home and afterwards with the boys.

Friday 7th

No swim today owing to continued duff weather. Surprise this evening Doris stood me up – I felt pretty awful until Don walked out of Brentwood station and we went to Romford jugging then to the Town Hall.

Saturday 8th

Celebrated as Victory Day.

Swimming this morning and afternoon. Jugging this evening starting from the “Nap” ended up at the Town Hall slightly cut and saw Betty – Bob’s sister. Cousin Gertrude and her friend (married) Ida arrived for the weekend.

Sunday 9th

What a boring day the weather this morning was awful and again this afternoon. After going to church met the boys uptown when we had a few quiet drinks then home on the bike.

Monday 10th

Whit Monday.

Met the boys at 11.30am after I failed to go round to see Doris as I said I would last night. Had a tea at the “NAAFI”. Then we went to the “White Swan” had six pints in half’s until 2pm.  Home for dinner slightly pissed jumped on bike collected Bob came back to Brentwood @ 65 mph then went to the sports saw Doris got a date for tomorrow. On the beer and to the Town Hall again tonight.

Tuesday 11th

Went down to Bob’s house played a few records. Lunch. Saw “Blue Dahlia” with Alan Ladd. Date with Doris very nice indeed – to the Palace to see “Pinocchio”. The boys went back.

Wednesday 12th

Not much done today owing to the rain, slept in until midday. This afternoon messed around shopping. Met Doris at 7.30pm she looked wizard in jacket and pants we went walking round Warley -wonderful – home at 11.10pm.

Thursday 13th

Up at 6am and left home at 6.30am back at camp at 8.35am – there was a C.O.’s parade on for the King’s birthday after which the rest of the day was free. This afternoon I went to Cambridge with Les on his bike – quite a nice evening at a show, meal and dance, back at 11.30pm.

Friday 14th

Usual parades then to the section nothing special to report. Detailed for Fighter Affiliation exercises this afternoon but u/s planes scrubbed that. This evening I went to the station cinema with Billy Gillan an air-gunner and Londoner. Saw “Tin Pan Alley” – piss poor.

Saturday 15th

After the C.O.’s parade had been scrubbed because of rain, I left at 10.15am with Bill on the back in the rain for hours. After numerous stops due to air locks arrived home at 1pm picking up Bob and dropping Bill at Stanstead.

Afternoon met Doris and saw “Thrill of a Romance” Van Johnson & Esther Williams. Evening, Romford with Doris for a couple of quiet drinks, back to Brentwood walked home with Doris.

Met Bob at 11.30pm walked up town with him stuck my head in the Town Hall, caught the bus home.

Sunday 16th

Two years ago I got my wings.

Cleaning up the bike most of the morning after which I get a further ½ gallon and left it outside for returning in the morning.

Met Doris at 3.30pm this afternoon when we went walking over Weald Park it rained some of the time. Returned to Brentwood had tea and went to the Odeon. Walked slowly home, stopped in the Cornsland’s when the snogging became very serious. I told her I was nuts about her, to my surprise she told me she was about me too, wonderful. Meeting her again next Saturday morning or if I get home Friday night.

Monday 17th

Up at 6am left home at 6.30am a pleasant, wonderful ride back at 8.20am. Uneventful day at the Section, I didn’t go on any parades. Went to station cinema this evening to see “English Without Tears” – no good at all.

Tuesday 18th

Little to do, little to report.

Wednesday 19th

After having my name down to go swimming today I was joed to fly on a “Constant Speed Exercise” tonight. Letter from Doris. Nothing else to say today.

Thursday 20th

Lazy day again. This evening Bill, Alan and I had a few beers in Mildenhall and a few whiskeys in the mess and got a bit tight.

Friday 21st

Today I reported to the Section as usual skipping again the squadron parade. Flew to Wroughton this afternoon with the Wing commander not a bad trip. Wroughton is near Swindon. After landing had tea rode home on bike, home at 8pm. Went to see Doris we went up to “The Thatcher’s” for a quiet drink then to the Tattoo.

Saturday 22nd

Bought three new records today, “Clarinet ConcertsArtie Shaw. Benny Goodman’s “Good Enough to Keep” & “The World is Waiting for Sunrise”.

Met Doris at 3pm went to Southend, boat trip, Kursaal, walking along the front, home by 10.39pm train at her house at 12.30am.

Sunday 23rd

Rudely awakened by Mum & Maureen who said Doris was waiting downstairs for me, also my face was still covered in lipstick – it was – but Bob was downstairs.

Went swimming all morning I did 12 lengths, home for lunch. This afternoon I met Doris at 3pm & we went walking to Weald Park, stopped at a very quiet, cool spot from 4pm to 7pm, it was extremely hot in all senses & I almost broke my pledge. I shall always remember “Clarinet a la King” by Benny Goodman.

Walked by Pilgrims Hatch back to Brentwood had a kinda tea then went over Shenfield Common & saw Bob with Peggy then I took Doris home. On the way she almost had me in tears it’s pretty obvious she really cares for me so I guess that I’ll never give her any reason to change that feeling.

Monday 24th

Up at 6am again back at camp at 8.20am. Reported on parade for the first time in a week. Did SFA all day. This evening played a few records down Sandes. Wrote to Doris.

Tuesday 25th

Reported as usual – did SFA. No mail received, letter home and to Dan Forster. Saw “Follow the Girls” at the station cinema.

Wednesday 26th

On parade this morning with the crew to go to North Weald drawing tropical kit. Reported to sport stores and went down to Lakenheath swimming – bang on. Went down to Sandes home to play a few records. Nice letter from Doris.

Thursday 27th

Another letter from Doris. Bulling billet for AOC’s inspection tomorrow. Little else to report.

Friday 28th

The AOC’s inspection today. Remained in and around the Section all day. Went to the pictures this evening on the camp. Still another from Doris. Cleaned up the motor cycle as well.

Saturday 29th

The usual Group Captain’s parade and inspection today. After which we parade again at 9.45am. I left for home on the bike at 10am, home after fairly uneventful journey at 12.15pm.

Met Doris a per plan at 3.30pm went on bicycle to Weald Park stayed there walking and snogging until 7pm, had tea then went to the Essex saw John, to “The Thatcher’s” rode out in the country on the bike snogging again and back to her house at 12.

Sunday 30th

Up at 9.30am, breakfast, up town but no swim, posted letter off to “Canada’s Weekly” cancelling order.   Met Doris at 2.45pm walking around Warley left her at 7pm home for a quick tea and caught the train into London at 8pm. After a hot & wearisome journey back at camp at 12.30am.

July 1946

Monday 1st

On parade as usual this morning. No flying – letters written & sent to Bob, home, Doris & license dept. This evening I went swimming at Lakenheath – Shorty joined me and we went to Lakenheath with Bill Tuck and got drunk.

Tuesday 2nd

Quiet day – little of note to report. No flying for me. Received letter from Doris.

Wednesday 3rd

The whole of today was spent on Operation Frontline flying in formation over Germany. Today a tragedy occurred when F/Sgt “Taffy” Thomas was drowned at Lakenheath. No letters received.

Thursday 4th

Spent the morning uneventfully. Still no mail received from Doris. On a cross-country this evening preparing this afternoon. Scrubbed – on local flying smell of burning rubber noticeable from wireless operator’s transmitter – stood by with fire extinguishers.

Friday 5th

Up at 9 today breakfast in the Victory sent back to billet to collect best blue and weekend kit. Flying to Kemble – back to London by train – home at 7.30. Spent the evening indoors pressing blue sowing etc. Bed at 11.30.

Saturday 6th

Up quite early took bike & filled up with petrol – round to Doris at 10.30 invited to her brother’s wedding. Arrived at 2.30. Went to the church back to her house. After tea left on the bike for Romford had a few drinks and went dancing, home at my house 1am.

Sunday 7th

Up at 8 after a very restless night – up to the swimming pool but I didn’t go in. Lunch – collected Doris on the bike at 2.0pm and we went to Southend. A pleasant time there returned at 8. Took her home at 11.30. In bed at 12.

Monday 8th

Special stamp issued for Victory Day July 8th

Up at 6.0am breakfast left for camp at 6.30 arrived back with no trouble at 08.20. No flying today. No mail received. Wrote to Doris.

Tuesday 9th

Flew today a cross-country. No mail received. Went out with Les on his motor cycle. My lips are healing slowly.

Wednesday 10th

Flew on a Fighter Affiliation this morning bloody annoying. Down at 11.30 changed to go to Cambridge swimming to catch the transport 12.30. Didn’t get a letter from Doris today which made me very cheesed – I’m wondering if she’s changed her mind about me. After swimming went to a show – had some supper – feeling so awful & with my lip unable to go to a dance came back to Mildenhall by the 7.40 train.

Thursday 11th

Usual routine today. Flying on a constant speed exercise tonight. Letter from Doris at last. Flew on the constant speed exercise GEE u/s & the DRC, not too bad a trip after the first leg.

Friday 12th

Continuation of the hot weather which has lasted all this week. In the section all day. Flying again tonight on circuits. No more mail received. Syd the skipper got me a gallon of gas.

Saturday 13th

Up for CO’s parade at 7. On parade again at 10.15 for the squadron roll call. Left for home at 10.30 called in for a beer, home at 1.0 changed into civvies met Doris at 3 we went to Romford & bought 3 records including Frank Sinatra’s Day by Day. Went to the Savoy had a meal. Home at 1.30am after snogging in the moonlight.

Sunday 14th

Spent the morning messing about on the bike to Herongate. Called Doris at 3.0 & we went walking to Weald Park – snogging in earnest – it’s hard to put it down how much I love her. This evening we decided to get engaged on my demob leave. Got indoors at 12.00.

Monday 15th

Flew on a cross country as soon as I got back to camp at 08.40. No trouble at all on the motor cycle. Didn’t go to the show tonight the weather being so awfully hot.

Tuesday 16th

No mail received today – and no flying either. Dad’s birthday, didn’t send a card. Saw “Princess and the Pirate” this evening with Bob Hope – very good.

Wednesday 17th

Up at 7.30 as usual – breakfast – and flew on a ferrying trip to Wroughton near Swindon. Remained in and around the billet all evening. Expecting but didn’t get a letter from Doris. Expecting now to be demobilised in December – very poor show.

Thursday 18th

Uneventful day – two letters received from Doris. This evening was spent drinking in honour of Taffy Benjamin and his 27th birthday. Got quite drunk in the “Bird” making quite a clot of myself on return to the billet.

Friday 19th

Still another uneventful day, weather is poor thank god so no flying. Mess party tonight – local flying laid on with me flying. Johnny Cleaver (I don’t like him) flew for me. Rode over to Tuddenham on my motor cycle where had a few beers with Shorty and two WAAFs from Mildenhall ex 149 Methwold. Got cheesed came back to Mildenhall had a few more beers and whiskies in the mess – drunk again.

Saturday 20th

Up OK for the CO’s parade, on parade again after the squadron leader had inspected the billets. Paraded at 10.30am, left for home on the bike at 10.45am; home at 1pm. Shopping on the bike this afternoon; afterwards cleaning the bike. This evening I went to Romford to meet Bob as I thought but no joy. Back to Brentwood had a beer in the “Lion and Lamb” then round to the “Artichoke” and had a lot more. Left there and went to the “White Hart” had three ciders. I was quite merry by this time when Pam and her friend Joan walked in started talking. Saw Pam at the dance and had a long chat with her the gist of it being “what a good type Bob is and what a rotten bugger I am” for my part and hers being “i.e. you’re not you are OK and Bob is no good”. Can’t say I remember too much about it anyway.

Sunday 21st

Up early with still no hangover although stomach not too steady. Finished off cleaning my bike. Up for a swim on my bike. Met Doris at 2.30 walking over to Weald Park again – snogging – when I should have had my face slapped but didn’t. Had tea in the Odeon saw “Double Indemnity” with Barbara Stanwyck – not bad – took her home at 12.00 midnight.

Monday 22nd

Overslept slightly and in trying to catch up time had to cool off bike which was pre-igniting. Not flying today. Wrote to Doris. Shorty came over this evening and we went to the “Bull” for a drink.

Tuesday 23rd

Reported sick after being up all night ring trouble probably caused by the weekend beer. Scrubbed of the flying detail. Went to Sandes Home the local canteen this evening & wrote letters to Doris, Al Jones, Pam McQueen.

Wednesday 24th

Flew once again on a ferrying trip to Wroughton near Swindon missed going to Cambridge for a swim owing to late return. Heavy thunderstorms this afternoon. Went to the station cinema tonight in civvies – very hot – poor film.

Thursday 25th

“Operation Front-line” on today but strange as it seems we weren’t on it. Had a lazy day. No night flying tonight owing to non-return of Front-line kites. Went to the “Bull” Barton Mills this evening had a beer with Les, Shorty & Bill Stewart whence we all went to Newmarket to a dance – very pleasant evening.

Friday 26th

Another lazy day – paid this afternoon £11-14 making a total in my pocket including £1 ration money of £20. This evening after the boys finally persuaded me I went by taxi to Mildenhall and got rather drunk on Younger’s Scotch Ale.

Saturday 27th

What a head I woke up with this morning I feel it is going to burst. No CO’s parade but a stupid ASR lecture by Syd until 10. Left with Billy Allan on the back at 10.30 and home without mishap at 1.0. Called on Doris about 2.30 whence we went to London. Rang Shorty saw “Easy to Wed” with Esther Williams & Van Johnson at the Ritz – Wembley back to Hyde Park supper home at 1am.

Sunday 28th

Up at 9 (I think) breakfast down to Bob’s home but he wasn’t there. Lunch, picked up Doris with my bike at 2.30 we went to Maldon. Took out a row boat caught in the mud. Tea, back to Brentwood saw “Let’s Face It” home after taking Doris home.

Monday 29th

After wasting most of the day adjusting my bike I called on Doris at 7 and we went to the Hammersmith Palais to see Ted Heath & his band – it was wonderful – I shall go again when he returns on Sept. 16th.

Tuesday 30th

Can’t remember much about today. Met Doris this evening.

Wednesday 31st

Bob came down we saw Mrs Birchley uptown and learnt that Don was coming home Friday night. Saw Doris again tonight.

August 1946

Thursday 1st

Little to report of the day’s activities. This evening Doris went walking to Weald Park – very nice too – I asked her to marry me!!!! She said yes.

Friday 2nd

I think it was today at midday that I was drunk after having 5 pints in the Napier. We went to my house drank up the white wine went to the Palace tonight with Doris.

Saturday 3rd

After spending the morning shopping and stooging – I called on Doris at 12 whence we went to Clacton by my bike – had a wonderful time swimming, took the odd photo. Came back around 10pm. Home at 10pm. A really nice day indeed.

Sunday 4th

Swimming with Bob & Don. Quite hot. Crafty drink at lunchtime. Went walking with Doris this afternoon to Weald Park. Pictures at the Odeon to see “Johnny Apollo”.

Monday 5th

Bank Holiday. Called on Doris at 9am, went to the swimming pool had wizard time with Jeff, Bob, Don & bad Snell. Afternoon called on Doris at 2pm went to Weald Park by my bike. I made her cry by an unscrupulous remark, it was heart rending. After inevitable snogging went home collected coat. Childerditch Common.

Tuesday 6th

Set course at 6am in fine weather on my bike. Back at camp safely, although slight engine misfiring, at 08.35 usual section routine in the morning. Flew tonight on 4 ½ hr cross country over northern France.

Wednesday 7th

Pretty poor weather today. Slept in until 09.30. Not much to do today. Went to Bury St. Edmunds on my motor cycle – ran out of petrol 4 miles out of it. Heaved the bike on a truck. Les and I had a wizard tea then saw “Make Mine Music” at the Odeon. Back at 11pm.

Thursday 8th

Normal day – no flying thank goodness – at least no cross country, but local stooge this afternoon. Went to the station cinema to see a pretty poor film called …….oh bother I’ve forgotten.

Friday 9th

Not flying today. Weather pretty ropey. Went to the station cinema tonight to see “Weekend at the Waldorf” with Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, Van Johnson & Walter Pidgeon. A wonderful picture especially Lana Turner!!!

Saturday 10th

Raining again this morning – to the station at 9. Paraded again at 10.15 left for home at 10.35 with Les Austin a passenger, dropped him at Newmarket. Home at 12.35. Met Doris at 3.15. Show at Romford Ritz “Quiet Weekend” no good. Supper at the NAAFI in Brentwood – walking over Shenfield Common until 12.30!

Sunday 11th

Up at 10 swimming with Bob at 10.30 pretty good. Pint at the Napier home for lunch – met Doris at 3. Walking over Weald Park again. Tea at the Odeon saw “Cargo of Innocents” at the Palace – bang on. Walking – home at 12.

Monday 12th

Arrived back at 08.30 not too wet but rather uncomfortable. Normal day – flying tonight but didn’t go owing to duff weather. Write a letter to my girl – Doris.

Tuesday 13th

Again a perfectly uneventful day. Flying tonight on a cross country. Returned to base for local flying after getting ¾ way on the first leg owing to more duff weather. Bed at 2.0am. Flew the Lancaster for about ½ hr around Ipswich by instrument – bang on.

Wednesday 14th

In bed until 10.30 when Squadron Leader Mickey Moore woke us up with some rude remark. Sports this afternoon cycled down to Mildenhall had a pound of greengages – tea at “Tilly’s Pantry” – back to base & went to the station cinema. Letter from Doris.

Thursday 15th

That sad Moore cancelled our 48 because the billets were supposed to be not up to scratch. No day flying owing to proposed Bullseye tonight. At first Bullseye was scrubbed and we went on a 3 hr cross country to Exeter & Binbrook. Quiet evening. Missed pay parade.

Friday 16th

Normal morning – no flying – paid £11-16. At 2.0pm. Went to Mildenhall on my motor cycle returned to base then after tea went over to Tuddenham to see Shorty but he was on leave. Returned to camp again and went to the station cinema.

Saturday 17th

Left for home at 11 after messing around with Moore’s parades. Home at 1.30 everyone away at the wedding got myself a meal of spaghetti on toast. After shopping called on Doris around 4.30 went to a show in Hornchurch. Returned to my home picked up my (?) then went to the Town Hall – poor – took Doris home bed at 2.0am!! (at my home)

Sunday 18th

Bob woke me at 10.30 and I arrived at the swimming pool around 11.15 swimming pretty cold. Whipped myself up some sort of lunch and called on Doris around 3. Went to Canvey on the bike no good returned to Brentwood and went to Palace to see “Girl Crazy”. I was in a very cheesed off mood with a kind of yearning to be on the beer with the boys not because I don’t love Doris but that I wanted a momentary change. Doris again convinced me very much that she loves me and I’m sorry to say I made her cry again. I had overcome my mood by 4 this afternoon but apparently she was still worried and this evening she said she would give me up to make me happy in fact she said she wished she was killed whilst I lived so that she would never have to give me up. I’ve never felt such a heel in my life and I hope I never get like in the mood I was on Saturday and Sunday again. The trouble with me is that one minute I know my own mind the next I don’t. I’ve still got the restlessness in me which will have to be overcome now!! I should imagine this is the most frank statement I’ve ever put on paper.

Monday 19th

Still a bit dopey from the weekend. Arrived back at 08.35 after an uneventful ride home. Bike not running too easily.

Tuesday 20th

Little to report for today. Supposed to fly on a “Front Line” with F/L Smith but scrubbed owing to the duff weather.

Wednesday 21st

Flew on a Front line today but turned back over Amsterdam owing to duff weather shot up everything. Sports afternoon in Mildenhall for afternoon tea and greengages. Station cinema tonight. Received a nice letter from Doris. Pool winnings on 4 aways are 16/=.

Thursday 22nd

Can’t remember a thing about today. Nothing special happened as far as I know.

Friday 23rd

Usual day – flew on a cross country with duff GEE – over to Tuddenham this evening to see Shorty, had a few beers in the “Bull” Barton Mills and supper at the roadside café.

Saturday 24th

After the usual Saturday morning bull left for home about 10.45 home at 1. Dinner round to Doris went to Romford – shopping for motor cycle – show at the Ritz – supper in Hornchurch left for Brentwood caught in the rain. Went home for me to change, mother came home met Doris for the first time – played a few records while mum & Doris nattered. Took her home after some wizard snogging!!!

Sunday 25th

Arose at my usual Sunday morning time. Breakfast & cleaned up my bike. Round to Doris left for Clacton about 12.45 lunch in a pub arrived Clacton about 3. Tea – went for a swim tea again – got to Kelvedon and caught in a thunderstorm – wet through – left bike in a garage back by bus. Doris felt ill & took her home.

Monday 26th

Up at 9 breakfast put on uniform bus to Chelmsford and another to Kelvedon picked up bike at 12 & rode home average speed 50 mph. Called on Doris after lunch & later went to the Odeon “Somewhere in the Night” took her home as she felt ill. Back to camp at 11.

Tuesday 27th

Announced today on parade we are now moving to Wyton on Thursday – withdrawing flying kit. Started on the bike this evening with Cyril for decarbonisation. Hope to finish it tomorrow night. Wrote letters to Doris & home.

Wednesday 28th

Packing and preparing to leave Mildenhall for good (I hope). Pay parade at 2 received £11-16. This evening most of the squadron went to “The Bird” for a few beers came back and went to bed. Wrote another letter to Doris.

Thursday 29th

Up early today finished packing. After various small tasks left Mildenhall for Wyton about 10.30 by motor cycle arrived about 12.15 after stopping in Cambridge for a break. This afternoon spend settling in and this evening in Huntingdon at the pictures.

Friday 30th

RAF Wyton Huntingdon

Mainly spent in fixing up the navigation and bombing sections. Letter received from Doris at last – not too thrilling however. This evening Les and I went into town looking for a dance but no luck so we had supper and returned to base going to bed fairly early.

Saturday 31st

Reported to work this morning at 9. Clearing up generally. Back to billet for inspection at 12. Left for home at 12.00 home after finding new route at 14.30. Cleaned up round to Doris not at home. Waited until she came home tea – pictures at Romford – home – snogging – home to bed at 10am. August and Saturday finished quietly.

September 1946

Sunday 1st

Spent the morning cleaning and DI’s on my motor cycle filled up with 1 gallon, lunch, pressing uniform etc . Round to Doris at 3.30 until 4.45 home for tea. Pictures – our usual place under the tree – confessions and queries by me – she had to be in by 11 on account of being late last night. I don’t think she is as keen on me as she was although I am more of her.

Monday 2nd

Returned to camp by motor cycle as usual. Not a lot happened today there was no flying.

Tuesday 3rd

Rain today as usual. No mail received although I confess I was expecting one from Doris. This evening went into Huntingdon and Godmanchester drinking – spewed up my ring and came back to camp by taxi. Spent most of the evening in the “Royal Oak” Godmanchester.

Wednesday 4th

Usual day spent around the section up to lunchtime. Expecting the usual letter from Doris which did not arrive. I therefore assumed after the weekends happening that everything between Doris & me was off. If it hadn’t been raining I would have gone home today and seen Doris as it was I wrote, a niggardly letter suggesting the calling off our future marriage. I felt awful the whole afternoon & evening and went to Cambridge dancing.

Thursday 5th

Still feeling very blue couldn’t sleep or eat breakfast. However at lunch time a letter arrived from Doris. I immediately sent off reconciliation letter & felt wonderful again.

Friday 6th

Received a further letter from Doris and felt even better. This evening rode into St. Ives had 4 pints, supper & returned to camp after a very pleasant time. Flew today on a H25 cross country.

Saturday 7th

After quite a bit of work this morning left for home at 12.00pm with Billy Allen as passenger. Home at 2, lunch, changed into brown suit called on Doris, went to Weald Park on motor cycle, pictures at the Palace & home after very pleasant snogging. A very satisfactory day.

Sunday 8th

Raining like the very devil all day today. After a lazy morning I called on Doris at 2.30 and come back home to play a few records – she had tea with us & this evening went to the “Towers” Hornchurch back to Brentwood after supper in Romford Market Square for the inevitable snogging. Doris tells me she is volunteering to join the Land Army of which I take a very dim view.

Monday 9th

I’m 22 & four months today. Returned to camp by motor cycle as usual. Briefing at 11 to fly to St. Mawgan, Cornwall. Arrived at St. Mawgan at 3. Food & billets, washed, shaved and into Newquay – quite a nice town but very poor beer situation. Went to the Blue Lagoon Ballroom and spent a very pleasant time.

Tuesday 10th

Up at 7 took off at 10.30 for Castel Benito in Cyrenaica just 12 miles outside Tripoli. We came via Istres and Sardinia the trip taking 7 hrs landed at 5.30 had a meal got a billet had a beer went to bed in the sweltering heat.

Wednesday 11th

Up for breakfast then to the airfield for transport to Tripoli waited ages for transport then the whole thing was scrubbed owing to the town being out of bounds because of smallpox. This afternoon we had a wizard swim in the camp this afternoon I took a few photos.

Thursday 12th

Up at 7 – breakfast at the airfield – took off for St. Mawgan at 10.30 diverted over the English Channel owing to duff weather to Waterbeach – cleared by customs then to Wyton. Spent the evening reorganising and pressing.

Friday 13th

Most of the day spent in around the section the cheeky rats put me on circuits with the Wingco – a bit dicey especially on one bumpy over-shoot. Bed early after supper.

Saturday 14th

(blank)

Sunday 15th

I spent the morning in the usual unorganised way. Called on Doris at 2.30 but it was raining and George was taken to hospital with a collapsed lung. Afterwards Doris and I went to the pictures at Romford and came back to the place behind Warley where we snogged once before in the moonlight. Home at 11.15pm.

Monday 16th

Back to camp this morning by motor cycle. Flew this morning and this evening. Wrote to Doris.

Tuesday 17th

Flew this afternoon on local and GCA flying. About 3pm we ran out of petrol owing to the failure of the engineer to change tanks and we force landed in a field outside Waterbeach shaken up a bit but came back to camp by transport.

Wednesday 18th

Bags of inquiries and form filling this morning. This afternoon went over to the crash by motor cycle and crashed on the way back, shook ourselves up a little more time and smashed the front lamp & bent mudguard.

Thursday 19th

We flew today to regain any lost confidence.

Friday 20th

Court of Inquiry today on the prang. Left camp at 5 for home by the repaired bike on a 48. Called on Doris this evening in the rain and stayed at her house.

Saturday 21st

This morning was spent shopping in Romford and stooging round Brentwood this afternoon called on Doris at 3 we went to Romford by train to see “To Each His Own” – pretty poor. Came back to Brentwood and had some supper. After which we walked slowly home via Cornsland’s and our favourite tree. Hmm I won’t record the rest not that it’s un-writable.

Sunday 22nd

Up at 9 for breakfast, cleaning bike & fixing new lamp but couldn’t wire it up. Called on Doris at 2.30 and went to see George, her brother, at Brentwood hospital. Afterwards to Shenfield Common where we didn’t get on very well for a while but everything came out OK. Pictures, then snogging, phew it’s hot to think of it.

Monday 23rd

Up at 5.30 this morning to come back at 6am. No lights on bike I couldn’t leave until 6.20 back at 08.05. Flew this morning on dummy runs and again tonight on a 5 ½ hr cross country to Newport, Peel, Whitby 53N 3E, York, Leicester landed 2.00am.

Tuesday 24th

Sleeping in this morning until midday after last night’s gruelling cross country. Lunch. Reported for work and went to Huntingdon for a little shopping with Les Austin. Back to camp for supper at the Blenheim café outside camp. Wrote to Ministry of Education, Shorty, Bob & Doris.

Wednesday 25th

Usual routine in the morning. Played football this afternoon. Not much else to report. Letter from Doris.

Thursday 26th

Flew today on dummy bombing runs. This evening was the Sergeant’s Mess Party. Went into St. Ives for a few beers came back to the mess on my motor cycle had quite a few more and became a little drunk. Not too good an evening on the whole. Cleaned up motor cycle this afternoon.

Friday 27th

Spent the morning working in and around the section after Mac (the navigation leader) tore me off a horrible strip for skiving yesterday. Frontline scrubbed meaning we are getting our 48. Spent the afternoon working again in the briefing room. Flying tonight on bombing.

Saturday 28th

Reported for work in the section again. Left for home at 12 and reached home at 2. Lunch, changed & went round to Doris. Went to pictures at Romford to see John Hodiak in some film or other which I can’t remember.

Sunday 29th

Usual Sunday morning routine. Called on Doris in civvies at 3pm went for a short motor cycle ride. Had tea at her house went to the pictures and spent a very pleasant Sunday evening as usual.

Monday 30th

Still at home today on the 48. Had breakfast did the odd bit of shopping. Spent the whole day pressing. Met Doris at 5.30 from work & again at 6.30. Spent a wonderful evening again. Back to camp by motor cycle at 11.40 in bed at 2am.

October 1946

Tuesday 1st

I know we flew again today on what I can’t remember and I believe we did again this evening. Naturally I didn’t expect any mail today. These last 3 months in the RAF are certainly dragging but the wonderful weekends certainly help things.

Wednesday 2nd

Flew again this morning on fighter affiliation. This afternoon went down into Huntingdon. This evening went by taxi to St. Ives where we had the Bomb Aimer’s and Navigator’s binge – had quite a lot of beer in fact I was drunk played the piano solidly for two hours came back to the billet roaring drunk and spent a very restless night.

Thursday 3rd

My head wasn’t too bad today owing to the fact I had about 4 aspirins. Went into Fenstanton by motor cycle had three beers & went to the dance not too bad but was bloody hot , came back to camp by 11pm.

Friday 4th

Flew again today. Resumed Court of Inquiry for medical evidence from Alec. Flew again today on bombing. Wizard letter from Doris.

Saturday 5th

The Wingco had a bull parade today after which we went back to the sections and finally got away at 11.30. Home at 2, lunch and round to Doris & went to Romford to see “London Town”. Came back on the bike in the rain to my house changed and had tea as mum, dad and Maureen were in London we stayed in all evening. It was wizard and we left for her house at 11.30. I can’t remember a more wonderful evening.

Sunday 6th

Usual routine until 10am. Went up to Don Birchley’s house & him and I went for the odd pint and natter. Called on Doris at 2.30 rode on my bike to Weald Park took three pictures had tea in the Yorkshire Grey, pictures “The Sky’s the Limit” at the Palace and the rest of the evening in the Cornsland’s, very nice too.

Monday 7th

Came back at my former time of 6.30am again today – bloody cold journey back but arrived safely. Flew tonight on a bombing detail with our only bomb falling about 1 ½ miles from the target.

Tuesday 8th

Writing this day up a week in areas always makes it very difficult to remember what on earth happened so I’ll just leave the entry at usual routine. Wrote to Doris naturally.

Wednesday 9th

Almost flew this morning on a fighter affiliation but the rear turret sight luckily was u/s. Played football this afternoon – pretty good and interesting game.

Thursday 10th

Spent the whole day in the sun picking up spuds on a farm near Fenstanton – bloody hard work & back breaking. Got back to camp at 5.15pm and this evening went to St. Ives for a few quiet beers.

Friday 11th

Syd & Tony were grounded today and we were informed that a summary of evidence is to start on Monday. Didn’t fly today working on the white posts outside the billet. Went to Huntingdon tonight to a show.

Saturday 12th

Left the camp at 11.30am by motor cycle and got home about 1.45pm. Had the usual wizard dinner then called on Doris whence we went to the Towers Hornchurch to see “A Night in Paradise” with Merle Oberon – not very good. Stopped on the way home on the arterial Southend Road. Bed after going home at 11.30pm.

Sunday 13th

Usual Sunday morning routine and of course in the afternoon called on Doris whence we went out Ongar way on the bike – a bit bloody cold but enjoyable nevertheless. This evening went to the pictures as is our want every Sunday night and afterwards some nice intimate snogging. Oh là là.

Monday 14th

Back by motor cycle this morning pretty cold – first thing that happened today was that leave & release are still cancelled. Syd & Tony are under close arrest pending Summary of Evidence.

Tuesday 15th

I haven’t a lot to say about today. The crew are asking the Adjutant to get some gen on our leave.

Wednesday 16th

Again normal morning 44 Squadron routine. So far this week I have managed to keep on the deck. This afternoon went with Les & Billy Allan to a village called Houghton for a nice tea. No letter from Doris today which niggled me rather, still I expect there will be one tomorrow.

Thursday 17th

Learnt at last we are to get leave – I’m banging on for 10 days. Flew tonight on local with Squadron Leader Moore not too cheesing.

Friday Oct 18th

Working the whole day in 44 Squadron map room. This evening went into Huntingdon to see “Easy to Wed” with Van Johnson & Ester Williams. Supper of fish & chips & back to camp.

Saturday 19th

Did the odd spot of work this morning before coming home by bike on leave. Arrived hours about 2 called on Doris at 3pm whence we went to Romford by motor cycle. It rained again & we came home to 31 where we stayed in all evening playing records & snogging etc. etc. !!!!**!!

Sunday 20th

The first day of probably the last leave I shall have in the RAF. Spent the morning working on the chains of my bike. This afternoon I called on Doris at 3pm we went out walking. The enclosed short verse was written by her – very sweet & sincere. Pictures at the Odeon in the evening.

1946-1

A sad & sorry sigh
That came from the mind
But not the heart
The mind for fear of a love that may die
The heart knows that it will live for another day to sigh

Sunday at 5pm 20.10.46
From Doris to Den Darling

Monday 21st to Sunday 27th

Was spent very quietly at home on leave spending most of the day at home and all of the evenings with Doris – did some very useful wok on the motor cycle. Had several unpleasant moments when Doris thought we were through but everything finally straightened itself out as tomorrow’s entry shows.

Monday 28th

After wasting the day – walking in the morning for miles and doing nothing in particular in the evening, Doris and I with Barry went to the Barracks dance.   Up to the interval everything was very quiet and steady – during the interval I went for the odd drink at the “Horse & Groom” after which I came back to the dance where Doris was waiting for me. It was while we were dancing to the music of “And So Do I” that she told me with a very starry eyed look that she wanted to become engaged at Christmas and married the one after – my word I was pleased and now everything in the garden once again is rosy. After the dance I went back to her house where we three had supper.

Tuesday 29th

Spent the morning lazily and the afternoon at the Palace seeing “The Stranger” a wizard film. Crazy as it may seem Doris and I saw the film again this evening after which we walked very slowly home to her house.

Wednesday 30th

A quiet day in the house then this afternoon Doris came down & we played quite a few records until mum came home when we had tea after which Doris and I went to Romford to see “Monsieur Beaucaire” with Bob Hope not a bad day.

Thursday 31st

Up at 7 to come back to camp but couldn’t get the bike to start – had to take down the carburettor after re-assembling the bike went OK and I got back to camp 1 ½ hrs late. Boring day & in the evening a heavy cold came on so I went to bed early immediately after supper.

November 1946

Friday 1st

Spent the day as usual on the camp doing as little work as possible without appearing too lazy after which Mickey Bridger & I after getting our passes skived off on my bike for home. Reached Doris’ house at 6. Took her home while I had tea. Walked back with her to her house. Again she tells me she wants to postpone the engagement, what is a guy to do or think?

Saturday 2nd

Spent the morning dashing around the town shopping. This afternoon called on Doris at 2.30 and we remained in all of the afternoon when I went back home to tea. Called on Don at 5.45 and we both met Doris at 6 whence went to Smart’s party arriving at 6pm. The party didn’t look like starting at 7pm so Don, Doris, Maureen & I went to the “King Harold” and had a few drinks. Came back to the party where I had a few more beers & got a little tight but nevertheless enjoyed it. It was while taking Doris home that I put up the odd black which subsequently proved the end of my affair with Doris.

Sunday 3rd

When I met Doris at 3 this afternoon she kissed me which seemed to indicate everything was again OK. Later today she once again seemed to be drifting from me although I have tried my hardest to prove how much I really care. Walked home rather heavy of heart.

Monday 4th

Back to the camp by motor cycle this morning where the muddy roads thoroughly messed up my clean bike. Usual routine on the squadron. Three crew are supposed to be going to Malta today but weather scrubbed it. Doris joined the Land Army today. Went into St. Ives – drinking & dancing.

Tuesday 5th

Working spasmodically today in the squadron briefing room. Kind of expecting a letter from Doris today but naturally didn’t get one. Went out tonight to Huntingdon pictures. Three crews went to Malta via St. Mawgan.

Wednesday 6th

Much the same routine on the camp. Didn’t get a letter from Doris today although I was expecting one very much. This afternoon went into Huntingdon for tea, this evening darts & beer at the “Jolly Butchers”.

Thursday 7th

Really worried today because I didn’t get a letter from Doris. I have a feeling she really means to pack me up this time although it’s the last thing in the world I want as the letter I wrote to her last night must indicate. Another evening of darts & beer in the “Jolly Butchers”.

Friday 8th

Nobody of the squadron left here – we could have bogged off home this evening but suspicious of Mickey Moore’s intentions tomorrow.

Saturday 9th

Cheers Cheers a letter from Dottie at last – what a relief. Left for home at 10am with Les Austin on the back to Huntingdon. Home at 12.30pm. Dottie came home at 3pm – I went back home to shave and when I returned she proved everything to me by the way she kissed me.

Sunday 10th

We rode out to a friend of Doris at Blackmore and got caught in the wet. This afternoon she came round to tea when Auntie Emily & family came up to tea also. Doris & I went out about 7.30pm to our usual spot in the Cornsland’s – it was terrific.

Monday 11th

Bad weather today otherwise I would have been flying with F/O Palmer. This evening went into St. Ives to have a quiet beer and go up to the dance.

Tuesday 12th

Flew this afternoon with F/O Palmer to Wroughton and after circling Swindon we landed at a Halifax aerodrome – Fairford. Stayed the night in Swindon – piss poor – & flew back the next morning.

Wednesday 13th

Flew back to Wyton today. Went to the dentist having a filling. This evening Ken Williams & I went to Wisbech by my bike. Unfortunately no dance this week – came back to March still no dance & so through Chatteris back to camp. One of the most beautiful letters I have ever received from Doris today.

Thursday 14th

Rained most of the day preventing flying. Not much to do this evening.

Friday 15th

Still raining today. Left at 4pm with Alec Griffiths on the back for home on a 48. Got soaked through in the duff weather. Home at 7pm. Went up the “Artichoke” for a quiet drink.

Saturday 16th

Just about to leave for Southend to pick up Doris when she came rushing down the road to greet me. Walked back with her to her house then had dinner. We went to Romford this afternoon saw a show etc. After a wizard supper in the “NAAFI” rode out on my bike to a spot near Warley – spent the rest of the evening making love to her.

Sunday 17th

Up as usual about 8.30am had breakfast raining hard again collected petrol called on Dottie home for dinner called on her again – walked round to home – tea – pictures at the Odeon & then to the “tree”. Returned to camp tonight in bed at 1am.

Monday 18th to Thursday 21st

Nothing special to report except that my release will be OK. Dinghy drill in Cambridge on Friday.

Friday 22nd

Didn’t get a letter from Doris today and felt pretty cheesed so I cadged my leave pass from F/Sgt Whitbread in the orderly room and came home. Sat over the fire at home all evening.

Saturday 23rd

I was just leaving for Southend to bring home Doris when she walked in. I was pretty annoyed at her for not writing and I didn’t greet her too well which in turn annoyed her. Spent a very pleasant afternoon with her after straightening everything out.

Sunday 24th

Usual monotonous day except of course when I met Doris this afternoon – we had a wizard evening she went back at 9.50pm but knowing I shall meet her gain tomorrow she wasn’t cheesed at all.

Monday 25th

Didn’t do a lot of anything today except wait for this evening when I went to Southend by City Coach and went to a show with Dottie. Being a brilliant type I missed the last train and bus back to Brentwood and walked the whole 22 miles – it taking me 7 hrs.

Tuesday 26th

Tonight I went to Southend by motor cycle to make sure I get back safely. Doris & I went out walking along the front where we had a wizard snogging session. Home about 11.15pm.

Wednesday 27th

Went down to Southend again by the 4.30pm train from Brentwood. Doris & I went out walking again. Suspect Doris has impetigo on her chin.

Thursday 28th

Left for Southend early today to buy a roll necked sweater which I finally did after seeking 6 shops. Went to a news theatre then to Doris’ billet where I learnt she had left for Brentwood after lunch. I rushed back home as fast as I could and finally go to her home at 8.30pm. She is at home for the rest of the week with her chin. We went to the Palace to see “Concerto

Friday 29th

Doris and I walked uptown this morning shopping – I had dinner at her house then we went up to London to try and see “The Outlaw” but couldn’t get in instead we saw “The Kid from Brooklyn” with Danny Kaye we had some supper then came home by train – bang on the whole time.

Saturday 30th

Went up to Don’s house this morning to see him after I had seen Dottie. Dottie and I went to try and see a show in Romford but couldn’t get in came back to Brentwood had supper then went to the “Artichoke” saw Don Birchley had a quiet evening after having a drink in the Nap too.

December 1946

Sunday 1st

Supposed to meet Don for a drink this morning at 12 but he left before me. Called on Dottie to ascertain whether she wanted to go to Finsbury Park Empire next Saturday. After dinner called again went to her oppo’s house at Blackmore very cheesing – went to the Odeon this evening.

Monday 2nd

Dottie and I went uptown this morning and this afternoon she came round my house where we spent a very very pleasant time (silk stockings) she had tea with us then we went to the Palace to see “In Old Sacramento” not too bad. Spent a short time at the tree but it was too cold to stay out. Left her at 11.

Tuesday 3rd

Up at 7am and left for camp at 7.30am – bloody cold ride back – as soon as I got back I learnt I am to be released next Tuesday and I spend the whole day getting cleared and getting rid of my kit. This evening I went to Huntingdon to see “Spellbound” with Ingrid Bergman – had supper of fish & chips. Wrote home to Dottie.

Wednesday 4th

Handed the remainder of my kit in this morning. This evening went down to the “Jolly Butchers” for a further binge S/L Moore’s.

Thursday 5th

Commenced clearance today. Paid this afternoon in the NAAFI. Usual £11-14.

Friday 6th

Final clearance from 44 Squadron today and from the RAF. Away on a 48 at 2.30pm on my bike arriving home at 4.30pm. Remained at home this evening.

Saturday 7th

Quiet morning shopping in Romford with Doris. Went to Finsbury Park Empire tonight by a special “City Coach” – I thought it was piss poor.

Sunday 8th

Up to Don’s house on the bike this morning and around to the “Choke” & “Nap” looking for him but no joy. Went to Doris’ house this afternoon & evening for tea & snogging very nice too.

Monday 9th

Left for Wyton at 11.20 from King’s Cross station arrived Huntingdon at 1. Terrific binge in the “Jolly Butchers” tonight. Fought Tommy Williams.

Tuesday 10th

Left Huntingdon for Peterborough at 9.30 then train to Rugby changed to Preston then from Preston to Lytham. Arrived at Warton with fog & frost. Bloody cold Nissen hut.

Wednesday 11th

Owing to an overseas draft going through we spent the morning in the billet waiting – demobbed this afternoon at Kirkham – through by 6pm back to Warton by train from Lytham to Preston and stayed the doubtful night.

Thursday 12th

Left Preston at 9.30am for London, lunch on the train with Bill Drackett, the bloke I joined and left the RAF with. London at 11.55am and reached home at 1.55pm. Called on Doris at 6pm we went to the pictures.

Friday 13th

Spent the day collecting identity card, ration books etc and went to the pictures in the evening. Bought a new sweater.

Saturday 14th

Shopping in Romford in the morning and in Brentwood in the afternoon. Spend a pleasant evening in the “Artichoke” which was spoiled by the Town Hall dance later.

Sunday 15th

I stayed at home until having a midday drink with Don. Called on Doris at 3pm this afternoon & went to the pictures back to her home for supper.

Monday 16th

I called on Doris in the morning and she came round to me in the afternoon. Went to the pictures again had supper then went to her home.

Tuesday 17th

In the afternoon went by train to the London Pavilion to see Jane Russell in “The Outlaw” a terrific picture which influenced no end the ride home in the train with its inevitable and wizard snogging.

Wednesday 18th

Shopping etc. not much else to say.

Thursday 19th

Still shopping in the morning. Doris came down this afternoon. Mum went for a hair set, bags of snogging. Remained in the evening. After everyone was in bed we had some very skin close snogging until 1am wizard.

Friday 20th

Went to Doris’ house & had dinner. She came round here in the afternoon & the same happened as last night. To the Palace in the evening to see “All This & Heaven Too” with Bette Davis.

Saturday 21st

Quiet day altogether for me & Doris waiting for something to happen. Got some gaskets for my bike from Wilsons at Romford.

Sunday 22nd

Tonight I went to the Selo with Doris, Les & Joan & Edith for a social – wasn’t too bad but rather too many people there – had quite a few beers.

Monday 23rd

Commenced work this morning on my motor cycle stripping it down and starting on the cylinder head. Went out with Doris tonight.

Tuesday 24th

Still working on my bike today. Actually got it together again & it runs perfectly. Maureen, Don, Doris, Barry & I went out on a session tonight.

Wednesday 25th Christmas Day

Up at 11 after a beery session last night. Drink with Dottie wizard Christmas dinner – to Dottie with Maureen in the afternoon – tea back home for snogging session.

Thursday 26th Boxing Day

In the morning I went round to se Dottie and in the afternoon the same. This evening after tea at home we all went to the “Queens” to have a few beers and I got a bit tight. Home after a wonderful session at 1 in the morning with Dottie.

Friday 27th

Went out with Doon, Barry & Doris tonight for a few beers in the “Artichoke” & the dance at the Town Hall. Dottie got tight & so did I and I felt thoroughly cheesed at 12.30pm I can tell you.

Saturday 28th

I’ll think of something for today. Spent the evening at the pictures I know.

Sunday 29th

I went up for don this morning to have a drink but he was out so I called on Dottie and arranged for this evening. Dottie, Mrs Humphrey, George & May came round to tea this evening & we had a very pleasant time & so did I when I got back to her house!! I have some new property now!!?

Monday 30th

Dottie didn’t go back last night because she was too tired to go to the Doc yesterday morning. This afternoon we went to Romford by my motor cycle to see “Blue Skies”. This evening we spent snogging in the front room of her house. She went back at 9.30pm & it was pretty foggy.

Tuesday 31st New Year’s Eve

Spent the morning in my usual lazy manner getting up late. Tried to contact Don Birchley but unsuccessful. Got changed into my uniform & went to Southend by my motor cycle about 6.10pm arrived at 6.45pm. Doris had had all the afternoon off. We went down into a Southend pub where there was some wizard jive music. Spent the time of the New Year coming in kissing Doris. Wow!

January 1947

Wednesday 1st

Spent today at home as usual. Received a card from Grays Divisional Education board acknowledging my application form. Not much else to report for today that is of recording interest. Went to the Conservative Club with Pop tonight.

Thursday 2nd

Still at home doing SFA. Went down to Southend this afternoon on my motor cycle and saw “My Darling Clementine” in the afternoon and “The Green Years” with Dottie in the evening. The weather changed on the way back to a thick fog which slowed me down considerably.

There was a train smash at Gideon Park tonight in which 7 people were killed and over 30 injured.

Friday 3rd

Spent today again indoors. This evening I went to Romford & went to the King’s Head & various other pubs but got cheesed & came back to Brentford and the Artichoke. Had supper at Holland’s & came home.

Saturday 4th

Went to Romford by motor cycle this morning and bought some gauntlets 32/- white leather. Took Pop up to the football match this afternoon where Brentford were playing Leyton (won 3-1). I stayed a while then waited for Dottie at her house until 4pm. Came home for tea & shave etc. Went to the Palace with her tonight to see “Three Little Girls in Blue” which was piss poor. Stayed at her house pretty late this morning.

Sunday 5th

After getting up late went straight to Gidea Park after breakfast on my motor cycle to see Syd Cockerill my last former skipper. Afterwards returned to Brentwood to see Dottie. Home for dinner at 2pm, shave, then back there for tea. Stayed in for the evening then took her to Southend on my bike then back home here, bloody cold, at 11.45pm.

Monday 6th

What a bloody awful day this was. The radio went wrong last night consequently I sat in front of the fire all day no one to talk to & no music. It’s been snowing like the clappers all day & now it’s about 3”.

Went out tonight with George Ringer & had a few drinks including some wizard cherry brandy. Home at 10.30pm.

Tuesday 7th

Bank balance £17-3-3.

Last year £40.

Stayed at home naturally all day. Went down to Southend this afternoon early. It was snowing like the devil but apparently Doris had been working in it. It began to thaw tonight and we two spent the evening in the Ivy House drinking on my 5/- & listening to the fire.

Wednesday 8th

Another lazy day. Went to the pictures this afternoon to see “Blue Skies” again. Don’t know what I did tonight.

Thursday 9th

Home still in the morning. In the afternoon went to Southend early again on my bike & went to a News Theatre. Met Dottie promptly at 6.30pm & we saw “A Matter of Life & Death” a very good British film.

Friday 10th

Usual morning routine. Letter from Westminster Bank to go for an interview Monday. Phoned Divisional Education Officer & got an interview for this afternoon at Grays. Saw this bod & start an on Monday at Ardleigh Green Primary School. Went down to the Fleece tonight with Pop for darts & beer.

Saturday 11th

After early dinner picked up Dottie at 2.30pm back to home tea to Romford to see “Night & Day” with Cary Grant – O.K. She again postponed our wedding & this time I tried to walk out but I couldn’t & after a great deal of tear shedding on both parts which could have been avoided if she would only give in to herself. I come home.

Sunday 12th

Called on her at 11am. She was very surprised to see me again – home for dinner – walk with her this afternoon – tea – really straightened everything out nicely this evening in the front room by the fire and made her & myself very happy.

Monday 13th

Reported to Ardleigh Green School for temporary teaching. Attached to a Mr Barton for preliminary instruction. Very interesting but surprising at the age of the kids.

This evening saw “The Dark Mirror” at the Odeon very good.

Tuesday 14th

At the school again this morning. The kids are from 7-11 the one’s I am with being 11 years. They are not very intelligent.

Went down to Southend tonight & saw Dottie who said she wanted to get engaged on her birthday next Tuesday which suited me swell, except of course for the ackers involved but for her OK.

Wednesday 15th

Back to Ardleigh Green School again today. Went out with George Ringer tonight for a few beers & games of darts.

Thursday 16th

Spent today as yesterday and this evening went down to Southend again to see Dottie – wizard time again.

Friday 17th

Spent this afternoon at the school marking out a netball pitch in paint on the playground.

All this week my motor cycle has been giving me trouble, I don’t know whether it is ignition or valves. This evening spent at home working etc & phoned Shorty.

Saturday 18th

Saw Shorty this morning in London & had lunch with him – told him of my impending engagement to Dottie on Tuesday – drew out £20 from RBC & endeavoured to buy a ring but could not see one suitable.

Spent a wizard evening with Dottie as usual.

Sunday 19th

Went to Romford this morning with Dottie to see the ring I had in mind but couldn’t see it. Had dinner then went to her house for the afternoon & evening. Bang on. She went back at 9.38pm. She also had a slight toothache.

Monday 20th

School today again – still with Barton. Having tea tonight when Dottie walked in home with toothache – naturally went round to her house later.

Tuesday 21st

Much the same day routine as yesterday, called to Dottie this evening & we stayed in all evening wizard – although her toothache wasn’t so good – her birthday today.

Wednesday 22nd

Dottie went to London today with Edith and we finally got engaged tonight – drank to it at “The Feathers” with Mrs Humphreys.

Thursday 23rd

Same routine as yesterday, Dottie went back to Southend tonight at 9.30pm much to my great dismay.

Friday 24th

I had to take P3 myself today on account of one of the permanent teachers being away. Didn’t do too well but managed after a style.

Saturday 25th

Bags of snow everywhere! This morning shopping up town, Dottie got home nice & early & we went to the Romford Palace to see “Suspense” & “Joe Palooka, Champ” not very exciting – had a wizard time every minute with her.

Saw Don Birchley this afternoon.

Sunday 26th

Snow everywhere about 4”. Did a bit of work on the tappets of my bike. Went walking this morning with Dottie. Dinner.

Dottie came round to tea after which we returned to her house & she went back on the 9.06pm train.

Monday 27th

Teaching class P3 by myself today and all the week. Bags of snow everywhere. Went to the palace by myself tonight to see “A Stolen Life” with Bette Davis & Glen Ford.

Tuesday 28th

Same routine as yesterday – when I got home today Dottie came round thus saving me the job of going to Southend – we went to the pictures to see “Dark Mirror”.

Wednesday 29th

Similar routine as yesterday went to Romford tonight I think.

Thursday 30th

Paid today at lunchtime £11 for three weeks work I guess. Dottie and I went out again & returned to her house afterwards.

Friday 31st

Still bags of snow everywhere. Dottie and I celebrated in the Artichoke tonight.

February 1947

Saturday 1st

Cleaning up this morning to go to London this afternoon with Dottie, was buying my ticket when I dropped my wallet not seeing it realised later I could not go. A bloke returned it later, bless him.

Went to the Essex for a few drinks tonight, then to Dottie’s house.

Sunday 2nd

Worked on my bike this morning in the thawing snow. Around to Dottie before & after dinner. Pictures tonight & then back again for a snog & tear session.

February 3rd

Normal school routine. Went to Southend tonight to see Dottie – went to the pictures. Letter from E.C.C.

Tuesday 4th

Again normal school routine – letter from Al Jones of New Zealand. Stayed indoors. Snow everywhere and it’s bloody cold.

Wednesday 5th

Again went to Southend to see Dottie & we went to the Regal to see a variety show.

Thursday 6th

Went to the Odeon tonight to see “The Killers” still very cold & bags of snow.

Friday 7th

Last day of school this week thank god. Stayed in tonight because it is so bloody cold.

Saturday 8th

Got the screws of my gear box loosened at Maryland’s garage today. Dottie got home this afternoon at 3.30pm she said she went to the Ivy House Southend last night on a session & some type took her home & kissed her!! Any more of that and I shall quit regardless of how I feel about her.

Sunday 9th

Spent the morning fixing my kick starter spring. Went round to Dottie later, home for dinner & back there for the rest of the day. Spent a bang on evening with Dottie – firelights & trips to Brighton – happy thoughts.

Monday 10th

After school today I went to London to see Ted Heath with Don Birchley and George Ringer. Bang on got home awful late.

Tuesday 11th

Still very cold with snow & ice everywhere. Went to Southend tonight by motor-cycle to see Dottie & we went to a show seeing Perry Como & Harry James.

Wednesday 12th

Still bloody cold – went to the RAF Association meeting tonight with Don Birchley at the “Golden Lion” Romford. Wizard evening with the old beer & sing song. Home at 11pm.

Thursday 13th

Normal routine at school today. Went to Southend tonight by train to see Dottie – bloody cold & miserable – went to the Regal to see the show. Piss poor.

Friday 14th

Quiet normal day – Dottie came home this evening was to have had a session with Don instead had a quiet one with Dottie.

Saturday 15th

Went up to London today with Dottie & saw her grandmother etc. then went to the Saville theatre see “The Wizard of Oz” with Claude Hulbert. Not too bad but nothing to yell about.

Sunday 16th

Spent the morning cleaning my bike, bloody hard going in this damn cold weather. Saw Dottie this afternoon & made her cry again this evening – what a horrible type I am.

Monday 17th

It is still very cold and there are bags of snow and ice everywhere with an almost continuous frost.

Went to the school today as usual and still teaching class P3.

This evening I went, rather I didn’t go anywhere but remained indoors catching up on my mail & diary etc.

Tuesday 18th

Weather the same & school routine the same. Went to Southend tonight to see Dottie & we went to the “Ivy House” for a drink.

Wednesday 19th

Still the same routine – went to the pictures tonight but it was bloody cold there.

Thursday 20th

Went to Southend again tonight to see Dottie – went by train of course – the blackout of street lights is still in force. We went to the Regal again to see “Meet the Navy” not too bad.

Friday 21st

Last day of the week at school finds the ground covered completely again with snow. Went round to Railway Square tonight but Dottie didn’t come home so went out with George & got well & truly oiled on rum & bitters.

Saturday 22nd

Arranged with Don Birchley for a “do” tonight after Dottie said she was going to London to see her pen friend “Bobby”. Started off at the Nap at 7pm with Don but Dottie caught up with us at the Choke at 8pm, had a very good evening jugging “some”, collecting & snogging as well.

Sunday 23rd

The sun is shining beautifully today started cleaning my bike nearly finished but will completely next Monday on my holiday.

Went round to Dottie after lunch & she put on a skirt for the first time in weeks – wow – had a wonderful afternoon & evening with her. My tonsils are very sore!

Monday 24th

Not needing much persuasion with Dottie I decided not to go to school today owing to sore tonsils. Spent a pleasant day in the sunshine with Dottie some of the time. Saw “Calcutta” at the Odeon tonight.

Tuesday 25th

I didn’t go to school today either but in the afternoon I went round for Dottie and we came back to play records etc. This evening went to pictures.

Wednesday 26th

Today I did go to school and taught P3 as usual. Called on Dottie tonight and we went to the “Feathers” for a drink. During the evening she said she would most probably marry me in September but as I thought then she changed her mind again by the time I saw her next Monday.

Thursday 27th

School as usual – paid today £16-18- not too bad but not as much as I used to get as a W/O and with more to be paid. I went to the pictures to see “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy” in Romford.

Friday 28th

Usual school routine although we left at 3.30pm owing to there being no fuel.

I had a quiet drink in the Choke tonight with George.

March 1947

Saturday 1st

Cleaning my bike today. After panicking around last night and this morning & afternoon Don Birchley didn’t come home so George, Maureen & I had a drink in the Choke after which I took Maureen to the P.O. dance.

Sunday 2nd

Still cleaning my bike all the morning – this afternoon went to Weald Park ice skating – bang on. This evening I went to the Odeon to see “The Real Glory” with Gary Cooper & David Niven – pretty good.

Monday 3rd

Holiday from school today, this morning still cleaning. This afternoon felt very cheesed and low, so I went to Southend to see Dottie, she had only just returned from Birmingham, poor show. Anyways we went to the pictures had supper & I came back on the bike.

Tuesday 4th

Back to school in the morning, still no fuel at the school so we came home at midday. Went to Southend again tonight to see Dottie.

Wednesday 5th

Same situation as yesterday home at midday again – went to Southend again – and we went to the Regal to see Terry Cantor etc. not too bad, cold & snow everywhere.

Thursday 6th

Normal routine today with fuel having arrived from Brentwood School. Went again to Southend this evening to see Dottie.

Friday 7th

Same routine as yesterday. This evening I went to Southend again – we went to the Ivy House to have a quiet drink. I came home as usual by 10.34pm train.

Saturday 8th

Had a good lay in this morning. Still no news of my pay from the RAF.

Went round to Dottie this afternoon – she was there – had tea & went to the Essex this evening where we had a few drinks.

Had a tremendous snogging session this evening & Sunday morning!! Home at 2.30am in the snow.

Sunday 9th

Had another good lay in this morning – couldn’t do anything much this morning on my bike – went round to Dottie at 12. This afternoon went round again and stayed all evening.

Monday 10th

Didn’t feel too bright today – had a bad cough & cold. After today’s school I stayed in tonight felt too bad, had a bath, bed at 9.30pm.

My RAF back pay came – £16-17-2.

Tuesday 11th

Cough & cold a lot better today – still ice & snow everywhere. School as usual today. Went to Southend to see Dottie this evening. Dottie didn’t feel too well.

Wednesday 12th

Weather beginning to change but no fuel left at the school after today. Went to Southend again tonight, had a nice evening.

Thursday 13th

Didn’t have to go to school this morning because there was no fuel, this afternoon had a safety film.

Went to Southend again. Had ignition trouble with the bike all this week because of floods at Harold Wood which I went through.

Friday 14th

Gain the normal routine, the thaw has really come at last after 6 weeks of almost continual snow. Dottie and I went out for a picture show tonight.

Saturday 15th

Had a good sleep in this morning after last night’s late night. Bought three new records this morning “Metronome Look Out”, “Chord-A-Re-Bop” (L.H.), “Oh Baby” (B.G.).

Had a very nice late evening tonight.

Sunday 16th

Slept awful late today – went round to Dottie at 12. Home for dinner – dressed & washed – returned to her house after the air plunger of carburettor had gone u/s.  Came home for tea then returned to her house.

Monday 17th

Dottie had bronchitis as she learnt from the “doc”. I went to school as usual today. This evening stayed in after I had had a bath & caught up with correspondence.

Tuesday 18th

Normal routine today. Dottie still home – went to the pictures tonight.

Wednesday 19th

Normal routine today also, nothing special of importance to record. Roll on September and let me go to college so that I can get nearer to earning some real money.

Thursday 20th

Still the same routine – went to the Artichoke tonight with Dottie.

Friday 21st

Last day of the week thank goodness. Shall be glad when I can catch up some sleep tonight after this week of late nights – getting me down a bit. Went to the Artichoke for a quiet drink and some supper tonight.

Saturday 22nd

Had a good sleep in today – called on Dottie this morning at12 – went up town. Had an afternoon at home when I pressed my demob suit. This evening Dottie & I went to the Essex for a quiet drink.

Dottie said today she would marry me in August if I have to go to college in September. Let’s hope I do.

Sunday 23rd

Had another good sleep in today. Went round to Dottie at 12 and again after dinner at 3pm. Had tea and went to the Palace, supper and then home. The fens at Methwold & Feltwell are flooded!

Monday 24th to Thursday 27th

Finishing off school this week. Spent every evening with Dottie either going to the pictures or staying in evenings at her house. Next term at school I shall be a roving bod in school.

Friday 28th

Dottie and I went to London today and spent the afternoon and evening at a show and the Overseas Club with Shorty. Had a pleasant day although we were rather unlucky in the train coming back having a carriage full of people. I got home rather late about 2.30am I think.

Saturday 29th

This morning spent shopping & generally clearing up things I should have done during the week.

It was raining this afternoon as usual! A year ago today Dottie and I first met so this evening we celebrated at the Cherry Tree where I played the piano for two hours. I’m afraid Dottie, who had six cocktails, at the end was pretty woozy and had to go to bed after reaching home after I had carried her most of the way.

Sunday 30th

Slept as late as I could, had a good breakfast then went round to Dottie, stayed until lunch then went round again to bring her to tea with Cyril & Eileen. We went to the pictures afterwards at the Palace.

Monday 31st

Started cleaning the bike this morning with Karpol after cleaning it down with petrol yesterday – what a job!

Brought Dottie round here this afternoon. I had a bath then we went to Romford to see “Margie” and back to her house.

April 1947

Tuesday 1st

Spent the morning as yesterday cleaning my bike. This afternoon Dottie and I went for a short ride on my bike home here for tea – then on to the Odeon to see “Odd Man Out” – her house for supper. Home to bed about 12.30.

Wednesday 2nd

Home today – most of the time spent with Dottie.

Thursday 3rd to Friday 4th

Similar to yesterday.

Saturday 5th

Left with Dottie for the weekend at Dartford at 4.30pm. Arrived at Aunt Daisy’s around 8pm in the wind & rain. Spent the night at Eric & Trudy’s place – bang on house.

Sunday 6th

Walk this morning over Dartford Heath with Eric. Bang on lunch. To Aunt Daisy for tea. Did the Railway Hotel with Eric & Trudy in the evening, quite a pleasant dirty joke & beer session.

Monday 7th

Went to Sevenoaks Kent today, had lunch of roast goose costing 5/- a time. Home for high tea to Trudy’s place & stayed in the evening. Had quite a snogging session with Dottie after all had gone to bed!!

Tuesday 8th

Left for Brentwood at 10am arriving home at 1pm. Mum had sold 20 records for 36/-. Dottie and I went to Romford pictures then came home to my house.

Wednesday 9th

Slept in until 11.30am started on the bike. Called on Dottie before dinner. She came round in the afternoon!! I took her back on the bike in the evening.

Thursday 10th

Worked on the bike cleaning & repairing all day. Went to Southend to see “Till the Clouds Roll By” in the evening. Home at 11.30pm.

Friday 11th

Worked hard cleaning until dinner time then went for a ride to Chelmsford. Went to Southend again this evening.

Saturday 12th

After a usual non-achieving morning, I went to Southend to bring home Dottie. Supposed to meet her at 12.30pm but she wasn’t even home. Finally got home at 3pm & had my dinner.

Went to Romford then had supper and finished off at the Tree!

Sunday 13th

Perfectly normal and usual Sunday although we went to Weald Park this afternoon and took some pictures. Went to the Palace with Dottie to see “Step Lively” with Frank Sinatra. Good film. Dottie went back to Southend.

Monday 14th

Last day of the Easter holiday, hair cut and hair wash. Went to Southend early this afternoon & spent the evening with Dottie.

Tuesday 15th

First day back at school and I took over Miss Cunningham’s class as she was away. Went to Southend again and we went walking.

Wednesday 16th

Second day back at school, still with class S. Dad and I went to the Palace to see “Song of the South”.

Thursday 17th

School – Southend, usual routine nothing special.

Friday 18th

Miss Cunningham whose class I had the first three days of this week returned and I assumed the role of general relieving bod under my new timetable. Didn’t do a lot of interest tonight.

Saturday 19th

Got up a little later today, wasted the morning. Went to Southend to bring home Dottie which I did. Went to the Palace to see “Song of the South” with Dottie. Supper at Holland’s Rest & the Tree!

Sunday 20th

Being Sunday morning naturally I had the usual sleep in. I hadn’t any cleaning to do on the bike except one of the silencers making the bike run a whole lot better. Dottie and I stayed indoors this evening. She didn’t go back.

Monday 21st

Back to school again today – am now on my new timetable which I find leaves me with a lot of spare time. Dottie, who came round about 4.30pm, & I went to the Havana to see “California”.

Tuesday 22nd

After another day at school operating my new timetable of which a large part of the time is spare, I went to Southend on my motor cycle with a strong tail wind and with the bike running very well it didn’t take me very long. Dottie and I went to Garon’s Cinema. Home again at 11.15pm.

Afterward

Dennis Walter Wright and Doris Ringer (a brunette!) met on Saturday 6th April 1946 at the Town Hall dance in Brentwood.

They got engaged to be married on Wednesday 22nd January 1947, celebrating in the Feathers pub, they finally tied the knot in September 1947 in Brentwood.

Dennis was born on the 8th May 1924 in Billericay, Essex to parents Walter and Florence; he had a younger sister called Maureen. He passed away in Exeter, Devon in 1992 aged just 67.

Doris was born on the 21st January 1928 in St. Pancras, London and lived at 28 Railway Square, Brentwood Essex with her parents. She joined the Land Army on the 4th November 1946 based in Southend aged 18 and she married Dennis aged 19 when he was just 23.

Unfortunately I can find no record of them together in later life nor of any children.

 

Dennis Wright RAF 1946-47 Post-War Diary

E. Wood RAF 1944 War Diary

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.

January 1944

Tuesday 4th

OFE4 – 2.30 – good trip finished 20.30.

Wednesday 5th

3 Squadron flying cancelled.

Wednesday 12th

Stayed at York Hotel, Hull. Went to Three Tuns talking to photographer. Les & Stan & Jim Fletcher came in.

Thursday 13th

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.

Friday 14th

12.30 Holborn station George: went to lunch at Regent Palace – bought chess set, fishing spoons etc. from Wally’s cheque.

Saturday 15th

Went to Red Lion. Warning & heavy A.A. all clear in an hour.

Monday 17th

Went to office, saw E.R.R back from Lisbon but expects to go again soon.

Tuesday 18th

Packed bags & took them to station – went & saw George.

Wednesday 19th

Up at 6.30 caught9.05 from Paddington arrived Filton 13.50; not much of a place but good mess.

Thursday 20th

Weather bad went to Bristol merry evening.

Friday 21st

WX no good yet – Bristol again in evening.

Saturday 22nd

Nearly got off today kite went U/S – Bristol again.

Sunday 23rd

Left Filton arrived MM bags of mud – in hut with Jack & boys.

Monday 24th

Arrival forms etc. drew revolvers & ammo & all tropical kit – khaki battledress.

Saturday 29th

Went home in evening arrived home 2.15 AM – rail hold up by raid at Leytonstone.

Sunday 30th

Left home 1.15 arrived M.M. 8.0 PM; very glad I took opportunity of last few hours at home.

February 1944

Thursday 3rd

Left M.M. for P.R. arrived too late for briefing as would be off tomorrow. Very cold room – long way to Mess tried to light fire with Verey lights – bags of smoke no fire.

Friday 4th

Went to Redruth – quite a decent town went to pictures had a good meal.

Saturday 5th

John Slater & Roy Morgan, Jim Warriner on Squadron at Portreath.

Sunday 5th

Left P.R. 7.55 arrived Rabat 2.25 PM good trip & got a good room.

Monday 7th

Left Rabat arrived Benito. Room in good hotel jolly good food – changed £1 bought bottle of wine 80 Fr (8/-) quite good – walked round bazaar; bad stink!

Tuesday 8th

Left Benito arrived Marble Arch 14.00 flying over desert. Saw camels & Arab tents & burnt out cars & kites. Slept in tent. O.K. quite warm – climbed up Arch.

Wednesday 9th

Left MA 09.15 arrived Cairo 14.30 – got good tent, mess jolly good – found Dan & Taylor still here.

Thursday 10th

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.

Friday 11th

Left Cairo West for 22 P.D.C. Passed through town – on guard from 6-8 with Jack – quite a scrounge – no beds – sleep on sand.

Saturday 12th

Took in laundry handed revolver in – met Truscott. John & Pat arrived today.

Monday 14th

Les Clarke & Stan Leach arrived today quite warm – had a cold shower.

Tuesday 15th

Got bed from Truscott who is posted. Jack got one also much better than a floor.

Wednesday 16th

Had few drinks in mess – scrounged extension for tent – also got a base as a table.

Thursday 17th

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.

Friday 18th

Paid – left camp. 12.30 PM arrived Cairo. Job to get room – found one at Piccadilly Hotel 25 Pt. bed & breakfast.

Saturday 19th

Went to Pyramids & Sphinx very interesting tour. Saw show at YMCA RAF No 2 Dance Band.

Sunday 20th

Went round bazaar & Mosques with Abdul from Piccadilly – now staying at Hurricane House – 12 Pt. day full board. Had few drinks in Groppi’s.

Tuesday 22nd

Went for YMCA tour of River Nile – quite good. Went to Groppi’s then to pictures.

Wednesday 23rd

Went on YMCA tour to Memphis & Saqqara – very good saw old pyramids 4000 B.C. & burial chambers of sacrificial bulls – stayed in not feeling too good.

Thursday 24th

Went to Opera House saw “The Merry Widow” a good show.

Friday 25th

Paid Hurricane House 55 Pt. Arrived 22 PDC 16.05 – all have beds in our tent now.

Saturday 26th

On duty road patrol 15.00 – 18.00; what a bind!!

Monday 28th

Started ground school course – pay parade £5/-/-

Tuesday 29th

Went to Cairo had a bath & haircut; bought wrist identity bracelet 25 Pt.

March 1944

Tuesday 7th

Started to play bridge jolly good game.

Thursday 9th

Mess dance – everybody merry – good evening met Jeff Hinde. Jack nearly passed out.

Friday 10th

Went to pictures played bridge in afternoon.

Friday 17th

On special duty at Almaza airport checking identity of service personnel – easy job – good food BOAC canteen.

Monday 20th

On ground school all day – stayed in played solo.

Tuesday 21st

On special duties road patrol again with Harry.

Wednesday 22nd

Started 48 hr. pass – staying at Hurricane House room 12. Dummy run for tomorrow night. Put Jack to bed – Colin not much better.

Thursday 23rd

Colin 21. Hell of an evening went to the Fleurent at 10 PM put Jack to bed again.

Friday 24th

Went on YMCA tour of bazaars & Mosques jolly interesting. Stayed in – I got extension until Sunday.

Saturday 25th

Went to the Amein club & saw boxing match. Went to pictures in evening.

Sunday 26th

Had quiet day – left Hurricane House 9.0 after few drinks with Charlie arrived “22” 10.15 PM.

Monday 27th

Applied for leave – start after duty tomorrow for 7 days. Got off guard.

Tuesday 28th

Started 7 days leave – Pay £11.0.0 – staying at Hurricane House room 19 – had session in bar & went to Eden cabaret.

Wednesday 29th

Stayed in all morning had session in bar & went to Morocco cabaret, not so good as Eden.

Thursday 30th

Stayed in all day played solo in afternoon stayed in all evening.

Friday 31st

Went to Eden cabaret not so good – too sober to enjoy it!!

April 1944

Saturday 1st

Went to pictures saw “The Phantom of the Opera” – in evening went to the Eden another “evening”.

Sunday 2nd

Played cards in morning, very heavy session in bar – went to Eden – Colin & Jack in bad way – put Jack to bed – once again!!

Thursday 6th

Back to the old routine! Went to Helio baths in afternoon – good swim.

Friday 7th

Posted to Shallufa. Co leave tomorrow – went to Cairo scrounged sheet – back in camp at 8.45.

Saturday 8th

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.

Sunday 9th

Day off sorted my kit out.

Monday 10th

Introductory talks by C.I., Flight Commander etc. 4 week course – went to ENSA concert quite good.

Tuesday 11th

Flying 09.30 – flew in shorts still too warm – hottest day yet – played bridge.

Wednesday 12th

Up at 7.30 flying 09.30.

Sunday 16th

Half day off. Went to pictures saw “One of our Aircraft is Missing” good film.

Thursday 20th

Flying 06.00 a bind after last night. Went swimming in Canal – hot walking there & back.

Friday 21st

Jack, Harry, Charlie & Dougie left at 10.00 am. Went swimming in Canal.

Saturday 22nd

Flying 06.00. Went swimming in Canal.

Sunday 23rd

Up at 7.30 flying 09.00 – no lectures today.

Tuesday 25th

Went swimming in Canal.

Wednesday 26th

Too hot to go swimming. Night flying scrubbed for heat, engines over heating.

Thursday 27th

Flying 7.30 am.

May 1944

Monday 1st

Went to Suez Bay on shipping visit – quite a good afternoon – played bridge all evening.

Tuesday 2nd

Compass swinging at 6.00 am for night trip tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd

Not on tonight’s “do” tomorrow instead.

Thursday 4th

Night flare attack on cruiser – good fun.

Friday 5th

Moon path attacks on DD – jolly good.

Sunday 7th

Packing up for move back to Stalag 22.

Monday 8th

Left Shallafa 3.00 PM arrived 22 PDC 6.00 PM. Tent B8 – same as old.

Tuesday 9th

Went to Cairo, posted via BOAC to New Delhi!!

Thursday 11th

Letter from ERR asks me to look up John Drummond G/RO c/o BOAC Cairo.

Friday 12th

Phoned John Drummond (client of Esmond) & meeting him at Groppi’s tomorrow 16.30.

Saturday 13th

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.

Sunday 14th

Stayed in all day – on guard – wrote home & ERR

Monday 15th

Weighed in kit BAOC, stayed in Cairo, night at Hurricane House. Phoned JD meet him tomorrow.

Tuesday 16th

 Stayed Hurricane House until evening met John Drummond, had dinner at Bystander – a good evening – back at 22 @ 02.45 am.

Wednesday 17th

Up at 3.30 am Cairo, on-board 06.05 – Bashrah 15.00, flying time 7.55 hrs, had 2 short stops.

Stayed at Shatt al-Arab hotel – fine room – a/c name CaledoniaShort C Class – good breakfast & lunch on board arrived Basra 15.00.

Thursday 18th

04.05 – 06.35 = 2.30

07.30 – 09.30 = 2.00

10.15 – 13.10 =    2.55

16.00 – 18.30 =  2.30

——-

9.55

Arrived camp 20.15 in tents.

Friday 19th

Up at 9.10 filled in forms off all day, played bridge in afternoon, very warm!

Saturday 20th

Went to Karachi – quite a good town plenty to eat – saw half of film show – taxi back Rs 15.

Sunday 21st

Played bridge in afternoon & bingo in evening.in camp canteen, lost about Rs 5 in all evening.

Monday 22nd

Went to town bought cigarette case Rs 9.8 plenty of good things to buy – went to pictures – taxi back to camp.

Tuesday 23rd

Played bridge all afternoon & evening won Rs 2.

Wednesday 24th

Bought bush jacket Rs 14 (with badges & flash brevet)

Thursday 25th

Played bridge all afternoon & evening very tired.

Friday 26th

Posted to Ceylon – going by train in a few days – played bridge in afternoon wrote letter.

Monday 29th

Went to Karachi – had good feed – crab salad & sirloin steak.

Tuesday 30th

Stayed in played cards all afternoon & evening.

June 1944

Friday 2nd

Went to Karachi, had good feed – bought photo album – towel & pants saw “Phantom of the Opera” again.

Saturday 3rd

Stayed in camp – stuck photos in album.

Sunday 4th

Stayed in camp played bridge in afternoon & bingo in evening.

Tuesday 6th

Heard Second Front has started at last – met Joe Smith – just arrived out here.

Thursday 8th

Went to Karachi had last good feed.

Friday 9th

Left Karachi 07.30 filthy train as in Egypt – tinned rations – eat in railway restaurants.

Saturday 10th

Arrived Lahore 11.00 had shower – almost a mud bath – in same carriage arrive Delhi 08.00 tomorrow.

Sunday 11th

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..

Monday 12th

Travelling all day getting near hills – rained all night.

Tuesday 13th

Passing through hills – not going to Bombay – straight to Poona grand scenery – like Rockies – afternoon in Poona good meal – saw mongoose & snake fight.

Wednesday 14th

Good scenery – arrive Madras 19.40 – left again at 20.10 in 3rd Class compartment & no dinner.

Thursday 15th

Changed to 2nd Class – good breakfast – arrived Thoothukudi 15.30 PM.   On ferry to Ceylon. stood in siding hours before morning.

Friday 16th

Arrived Colombo 11.15 am in a small mess. Went to Group filled in forms – went to show in evening.

Saturday 17th

Arrived 22 Sqdn in morning – Tassie here – good room with Dick, food & mess fine. 8 in from Colombo.

Sunday 18th

Nothing to do toady wrote letter. Went to pictures saw “49th Parallel” good show.

Monday 19th

Filled in forms, went for swim, grand fun large breakers. Went to pictures – George Formby in “South American George”.

Tuesday 20th

Saw C.O. getting some leave, in “A” Flight. Going up hills to Nuwara Eliya.

Wednesday 21st

Handed in 295’s. Packing for leave.

Thursday 22nd

Have 3 bottles of gin at Rs 6 each for our leave. Collected passes etc.

Friday 23rd

Left Colombo 06.35 grand trip – arrived Nuwara Eliya 15.45 room 103 Grand Hotel with Dick. Overlooks golf course.

Saturday 24th

Rained all day, played snooker, started on bottles of gin, went to show “Mad About Music”.

Sunday 25th

Stayed in all morning.

Monday 26th

Got bottle of Allsopp’s beer Rs 3!! Raining all day had game of monopoly & snooker.

Tuesday 27th

Fine day, walked around lake – 2 hours – got muddy – played billiards.

Wednesday 28th

Fine morning but stayed in.

Thursday 29th

Went for walk over tea plantation to top of Agatha’s waterfall – fine view from top.

Friday 30th

Last day – played snooker – bags of draught beer – had sleep in afternoon.

July 1944

Saturday 1st

Arrived camp 09.00 – gunnery course starts Monday morning – into bush on the 11th. Sorted kit – wrote home & ERR.

Sunday 2nd

Laid in until 10.30 am.

Monday 3rd

Start gunnery course not bad – hours 08.30 – 12.45 & 14.00 – 16.15. Went to show “They All Kissed the Bride”.

Tuesday 4th

Colin & Dick back from leave. Rooms at Vav. Now allotted arrived in Room 7 Block.

Wednesday 5th

Went to Colombo bought fishing hooks @ 50c.

Thursday 6th

Course getting a bind now – sent off kit & furniture to Vav, A.G. from George.

Friday 7th

Pay parade Rs 108 – Colin & Dick flew together to Vav – dummy a/c recognition test 18/30.

Monday 10th

Jim arrived at Rat today to join “217” – went to pictures with him.

Friday 14th

Left Colombo 6.45 PM arrived Vav 1.35 am found room O.K. – after falling over tree stumps – very noisy – frogs & animals.

Sunday 16th

Colin left for Rat to go on gunnery course.

Monday 17th

Drew Mae West, chute etc. Played bridge in evening, walked round lake in afternoon.

Tuesday 18th

Line from home – go on “48” tomorrow.

Wednesday 19th

Left Vav 08.30 lorry broke down – had 3 lifts before arrived at Colombo staying at Grand Oriental Hotel.

Thursday 20th

Shopping in morning met Colin in afternoon.

Friday 21st

Left Colombo 10.30 arrived Vav 17.15, G. O. H. bill @ 9.50 day – Rs 19.

Saturday 22nd

Slept all morning no work for me to do.

Wednesday 26th

Saw “Tunisian Victory” very good film.

Thursday 27th

A line from home.

Friday 28th

Dry, swim 10.30 am.

Monday 31st

Mack pranged – both OK except for cuts & bruises – kite a complete write off finished upside down. Lucky there was no fire.

August 1944

Tuesday 1st

2 letters from Harry Yorke – Charlie Dean killed. Harry now on 603.

Wednesday 2nd

“47” lost 2 kites on exercise one crew OK.

Thursday 3rd

Slim Burt & Russell pranged both OK. Swung & had to retract undercarriage to stop.

Monday 7th

Went to pictures – Rosalind Russell in “What a Woman” a good show – flying in morning first trip for 3 months.

Tuesday 8th

On standby in Ops room today – quite a bind.

Wednesday 9th

Judge Hardy arrived on detachment of 47 Sqdn.

Thursday 10th

Flying – 1 hrs formation – up at 6.0 am tomorrow just couple of drinks in mess.

Friday 11th

Received “missing” air letters from India (23 all told). Stand by for ASR Op all day – did not get off.

Saturday 12th

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.

Sunday 20th

Left Vav 10.30 rotten train journey.

Monday 21st

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!!

Tuesday 22nd

Joined golf club Rs 5. Had bags of beer – just made lunch – slept until 7.00 PM – had one of our bottles of brandy.

Wednesday 23rd

Played snooker very poor – bottle of scotch – beer.

Thursday 24th

Wrote line home – had beer in evening & another in bed.

Friday 25th

Climbed Mt Pedro – grand view from top – got soaked coming down. Played Bridge down 3980 points! Had bottle of beer in bed.

Saturday 26th

Felt bad – caught chill yesterday – had 4 bottles of beer – very good.

Sunday 27th

Had a day in bed with cold – got up for meals – had bottle of brandy felt much warmer.

Monday 28th

Weather poor today – stayed in all day – played snooker – had bottle of whisky.

Tuesday 29th

Left N.E. 11.30 – arrived Colombo 8.35 train late – rotten journey – got room at Bristol Hotel Rs 10.

Wednesday 30th

Up 8.00 went round shops – went to Rat saw Jim & boys – left Colombo 6.40 arrived Vav 2.00 am.

Thursday 31st

Up at 9.0 am – no work – no one at Flights – sorted out kit again.

September 1944

Friday 1st

Pay Rs 93.

Saturday 2nd

Went down to beach for day – grand for swimming had bags of fun – good open air lunch – left beach 5.0 camp 7.30.

Sunday 3rd

Church Parade 08.15. Saw show “Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward – V.G. enjoyed it very much.

Monday 4th

Dental 14.00 2 fillings – saw Adj. about crowns – writing to Group – first parcel arrived – cards toothpaste etc. from India Command.

Tuesday 5th

No mail today – went to pictures – Deanna Durbin in “Hers to Hold” – quite a good show.

Wednesday 6th

Swung our a/c’s compass lined up L.D.R.

Thursday 7th

Air test on “H” NE407 all OK W/T 100%. Had few drinks in mess.

Friday 8th

Both Macs left – going to Colombo then 27 Sqdn.

Tuesday 12th

Dental 12.00 had scaling. Now finished flying on land. Navigation trip OK 4hrs. Left Vav 10.30 for jungle course.

Wednesday 13th

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.

Thursday 14th

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.

Friday 15th

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.

Saturday 16th

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.

Sunday 17th

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.

Monday 18th

Posted to “B” Flight moved all our gear – Crown thru – waiting for P.O.R.

Tuesday 19th

Given talk by Major on communications P – poor attitude taken. Martin, Glynn & John. Hull on boat – 1 crew going every month – Ralph Reader Gang Show.

Saturday 23rd

A-G firing – took off 09.00 – played bridge in evening.

Sunday 24th

4 ½ hr. navigation trip very rough – not too bad – used 1 W/V. for all trip of 250/12.9 OK.

Monday 25th

Not flying today.

Tuesday 26th

Standby – felt bad went sick in evening taken in – temp 103 degrees – have Dengue fever.

Wednesday 27th

Did not eat any food felt bad.

Thursday 28th

Felt bad – sick twice.

Friday 29th

Temp 102 degrees had bad headache – no food today – paid Rs 96.

October 1944

Sunday 1st

Moved from Vav to KKS 24 Field Hospital bed 3.

Monday 2nd

On full diet did not each much – started reading.

Tuesday 3rd

Temp still normal not eating.

Wednesday 4th

Started eating today food very poor – had X ray taken.

Thursday 5th

Good breakfast.

Monday 9th

Feeling OK but still have to stay in dock.

Wednesday 11th

Feeling OK – no treatment.

Thursday 12th

Beddones & Fawshaw went back to Vav. Put on Sulphonamide tablets – in bed again.

Sunday 15th

Taken off Sulphonamide tablets – 19 grains – feeling rather depressed & weak.

Tuesday 17th

Test OK yesterday – on vitamin B tablets & massage for neuritis in shoulder.

Wednesday 18th

Up patient today. Went for long walk along beach in afternoon.

Thursday 19th

Went for long walk along beach – cinema show – Arthur Askey not too bad.

Friday 20th

Went for swim at K.K.S. very warm. Had grand dinner at R.E.’s Sgts Mess KKS.

Saturday 21st

Put on discharge today waiting for Vav ambulance – played bridge.

Sunday 22nd

Not leaving on ambulance this morning.

Monday 23rd

Went swimming twice – leaving tomorrow morning – went to KKS mess for drink had to run for truck back.

Tuesday 24th

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.

Wednesday 25th

Played Solo won Rs 3.90. Colin back from Colombo. Reported sick – went to Orderly Room for 295.

Friday 27th

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.

Sunday 29th

Felt grim went to Bob’s camp at 11.30 – had good lunch at rest house arrived camp 18.30 caught train 11.30.

Monday 30th

Arrived Pog 05.00 had a meal caught train 10.30 arrived NE 17.00 in room 102 had a good bath.

Tuesday 31st

Grand morning walked through town – heard that Jack McCourt killed – B.G. badly burnt in prang – Major slightly injured.

November 1944

Friday 3rd

Went to Creighton Village NAFFI leave camp good beer played snooker had good party in evening.

Saturday 4th

Went to Creighton in morning.

Sunday 12th

Arrive Vav 02.30 am had cup of tea in mess up at 09.30 – Martin bought breakfast Wrote Xmas mail..

Monday 13th

Saw Doc – go to KKS 8.45 am tomorrow.

Tuesday 14th

Left Vav 9.45 am broke down on road – raining all the time arrive KKS 17.00 hrs.

Wednesday 15th

Saw Doc had rough check – X rays to be taken before board.

Thursday 16th

Midstream test not too good – went for walk along beach with John Cobb – played bridge in evening.

Friday 17th

X rays taken 09.30. Pay Rs 120 first on Indian rate.

Saturday 18th

Received mail & money from Vav.

Sunday 19th

Played Bridge all afternoon & evening.

Tuesday 21st

Played Bridge afternoon & evening – 2 beers – had blood test.

Thursday 23rd

Colin came on ambulance from Vav – stayed in ward for night – brought my mail & parcel.

Friday 24th

Colin went back to Vav – in dock for at least another week – new roof first on ward.

Saturday 25th

Played Monopoly – went to classical concert – Beethoven 6th (V) Symphony & Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto very good.

Sunday 26th

Lazing around – went to Church Service in morning.

Tuesday 28th

Sent dhobi down to Vav.

Wednesday 29th

Examined by Dr. Lockhart – Mummery – writing case & mail arrived from Vav.

Thursday 30th

Sqdn fully operational.

December 1944

Friday 1st

Write to Colin asking for book.

Saturday 2nd

Ambulance arrived from Vav no mail only papers – surgeon U/S for my “do” today.

Sunday 3rd

Went to Church Service.

Monday 4th

Put on Sulphonamide drugs again – 20 g. today – 10 g. a day after – at least getting somewhere now – played Monopoly in evening.

Tuesday 5th

Not feeling too good had rest in afternoon & layed around in evening – right ear feels stiff.

Wednesday 6th

Right ear aching this morning – mail from Vav. Advance party of Sqdn moved. Letter from George started pub in Norwich.

Thursday 7th

Ear aching on & off all day – cheesed, having them syringed tomorrow.

Friday 8th

Finish Sulphonamide course each tab .5 grams – 7 ½ grains – dose 2 every 6 hrs. with Soda Cit.

Sunday 10th

Went to camp service had ears syringed out.

Monday 11th

Mid stream – clear – cured of trouble once again, put letter on ambulance for Colin.

Tuesday 12th

Had morphine at 1.30 in theatre 2.00 – came to soon after 4.00 very sleepy.

Wednesday 13th

In bed resting all day feel OK now, just a bit tender.

Friday 15th

Pay day – month to draw now.

Saturday 16th

Got up in afternoon feel OK again now.

Sunday 17th

On table again tomorrow.

Monday 18th

Morphine 10.45 theatre 11.15 – felt better than Tuesday. Went to pictures in evening.

Tuesday 19th

Allowed up today – went for walk along beach – feel a bit weak.

Friday 22nd

Letter from Colin – off Sqdn strength – Colin moved now – mail from home. Crown P.O.R No 112/44 (Group).

Sunday 24th

Went to KKS for evening got bottle of gin – vermouth & hock for tomorrow – got lift back to camp.

Monday 25th

Fine dinner slept in afternoon – drunk our liquor – very happy.

Wednesday 27th

Put on another course of tablets M & B 760 1.5 grains every 4 hrs. Felt sick – 9 grams.

Thursday 28th

Dose reduced to 1 grain every 4 hrs. from 10.00 8 grams.

Friday 29th

Pay day – sick in afternoon – saw Jim Clare he pranged with Gee on take off on Sunday last. 5 grams (1 gram 6 hrs).

Saturday 30th

Ambulance from Vav no mail. 4 grams – (26 so far)

Sunday 31st

Maybe am on boat – yesterday’s midstream not quite clear. 4 grams.

January 1945

Monday 1st

Off treatment total 30 grams – M.S. not clear yet.

wood-1

E. Wood RAF 1944 War Diary

Ronald Taylor RAF 1942 War Diary

Background

Ronald Taylor
1239542
36 Bolton Road
Port Sunlight

14 ½ collar – 6 7/8 hat – 6 ½ shoe

In this 1942 diary 19 year old AC2 Pilot Cadet Ronald is in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in January training to become a pilot at the Elementary Training Flying School Induna, near Bulawayo. He is very homesick for his girlfriend Joyce Hipson who he marries in 1943 & his parents living in Port Sunlight near Liverpool.

Ultimately unsuccessful as a pilot, he is discharged from the RAF in December 1942 after returning via troop ship to Glasgow in late June, expressing a desire to join the Merchant Navy.

Three other diaries, 1937, 1944, 1945 have survived (but are not currently published) which show he was residing in Port Sunlight, Wirral both before and subsequent to this 1942 diary.

The first diary is “The Universal Diary for 1937” – “Invaluable to Buyers, farmers, sportsmen, householders etc.” The diary was only filled in intermittently – he was having drum lessons while still at school. On Wednesday 12th May the entry reads: “Coronation of George VI successful”. Entry for 24 June 1937; ‘left school went over Royal Oak‘. Entry for July 1937; ‘started in service department’ (probably Lever’s). He was still having drum lessons, but was now regularly playing in a band. He seems to have picked up little jobs with local bands, for example the entry for the 16th October states “Dance job at Heswall. Fred Harris name of pianist.”

The second diary is “The Amateur Photographer Diary and Handbook for 1944”, when he belonged to the Liverpool Amateur Photographic Association. This contains a substantial section on photo related information including some pages on wartime regulations and prohibitions. Again, only filled in intermittently, entries such as 24th June “Played drill hall”, 27th June “Ernie goes in army”, 5th October “Cricket dance crowd very pleased”, 7th October “War Appeals dance Hulme Hall”. Towards the end of the diary are names and numbers of singers and musicians.

In “The Walkers Diary for 1945”, there are several occasions when he played at “Clatterbridge” hospital, Hulme Hall, Adelphi hotel, Victoria hall with the band. Ronald’s business address is “Lever Bros. Port Sunlight” with telephone number “Rock Ferry 2292”. Again at the back of this diary are the details of various musicians and singers from the local area.

January 1942

Thursday 1st

Attended watch night service in St. John’s church Bulawayo.

Friday 2nd

Lessons as usual. Wrote to Joyce 5th letter.

Saturday 3rd

Went to bank in morning. Bought guitar. Cabled for tutor.

Sunday 4th

Wrote to mum 4th letter.

Monday 5th

Wrote to Joyce 6th letter.

Wednesday 7th

Wrote to Joyce 7th letter

Thursday 8th

Ordered parcel of food for home. Haddon too sly, lost 12/9-. 6/8- for postage. Also cabled mum saying it was sent.

Friday 9th

Wrote to Joyce 8th letter.

Sunday 11th

Wrote mum 6th letter. Wrote Joyce 9th letter.

Tuesday 13th

Wrote Joyce 10th letter. Inoculated against influenza.

Wednesday 14th

Wrote to mum 7th letter. Roy Skeates wrote new piece out for me. It is much more difficult.

Thursday 15th

Wrote to Joyce 11th letter, lessons as usual. 89% in navigation test. Private confirmation class with Squadron Leader Jenkins. Confirmed in St. John’s Bulawayo at 8.15pm. Taken to church in lorry, had ride to Induna aerodrome afterward. Received parcel from mum, this diary was in it. Attended choir practice for the first time.

Friday 16th

Lessons as usual. Not paid in the morning because they thought I was still at Salisbury (the daft beggars). Had about 1 ½ hrs practice on the guitar. Went to camp cinema at night and saw “Frozen Limits” not bad at all.

Saturday 17th

Went to the bank in the morning put £1 in. Then bought manuscript and tooth brush. Rex Payne gave me lift both ways. Paid at 11am – full money, but will receive less for next two pay days. Received two cables, one from my dear Joyce and one from mum Thyson, also received letter from Auntie Jessie. Afternoon had practice on guitar, at 4pm new draft arrived. Met Steve Yeardsley and in the evening talked Port Sunlight for about two hours. Wrote to my dear mum 8th letter.

Sunday 18th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 12th letter. Attended Holy Communion for the first time 08.00 hrs. Attended morning service at 09.30 hrs, sang in the choir for the first time. Had one hour’s practice in the morning. Afternoon had sleep and wrote to my dear Joyce, also finished off my letter to my dear mum. Evening had another hour’s practice on guitar, had bath and went to bed 10.00pm.

Monday 19th

Wrote to Lever’s Durban, Doris and mum Thyson. Rose at5.45am paraded at 7.30am and started lessons at 7.45am. Had two periods of rifle drill. Half an hour’s practice on guitar in morning and 40 mins in the evening. Spent evening writing. Finished lessons 5.15pm. Made an appointment with dentist for 2.00pm tomorrow. Laundry came back. Long queues for meals. Went to bed at 9.30pm. Sweat rash cured.

Tuesday 20th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 13th. Rose at 5.30am lessons as usual. Inoculated at 11.00am. Only six of us, the others objected owing to the exams. Choir practice at 5.20pm, Steve Yeardsley and Bob also there. ½ hour’s practice on guitar in the morning and 35 mins night, spent an hour or so with Roy Skeates, he pointed out my mistakes. Received cable from dad saying that parcel was on its way. I was very pleased indeed to hear from dad. Went to bed at 10.00pm.

Wednesday 21st

Wrote to my dear mum 9th letter. Feeling pretty rotten all day, effects of inoculation, symptoms of flu. Morse test in the afternoon, had fairly quiet afternoon. 1 ¼ hrs practice on guitar. Steve goes in hospital, stomach trouble, visited him at 7.15pm. Went to bed at 9.45pm.

Thursday 22nd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 14th letter. Wrote to Auntie Jessie. Hut orderly all day had about 1 ½ hrs practice on guitar. Attended choir practice 4.45pm. Went to camp cinema & saw Jack Holt in “The Strange Case of Dr. Meade”. Went to bed 10pm. Felt a little better.

Friday 23rd

Lessons as usual, went into town at 4.30pm in Rex Payne’s car. Collected reprints and sent cable to mum Thyson, return in car at 5.30pm. Went to camp cinema and saw “Start Cheering” quite a good laugh. Went to bed at 10.10pm. Had about 1 hrs practice on guitar.

Saturday 24th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 15th letter. Maths & navigation exams in the morning. Washed my stockings in the afternoon and had a sleep. Wrote to Joyce in the evening, had one hour’s practice on the guitar, had a bath and then went to bed at 10.30pm.

Sunday 25th

Wrote to my dear mum 10th letter. Attended church service in the morning at 9.30am. Sang in choir, sang Anthem “What Are These”. 1 ¼ hrs practice on guitar in lecture hut. Afternoon had a sleep and wrote to mum, in the evening had a chat with Tommy. Went to bed 10.15pm.

Monday 26th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 16th letter. Had route march first thing, then navigation after that, swimming parade. We were granted a free afternoon because we had our exams last Saturday. I went into town at 3.00pm and bought a film, they are hard to obtain now-a-days. Had one hour’s practice on guitar in the evening. Roy Skeates came & showed me some new exercises, bought him cigarettes. Went to camp cinema and saw “Midnight Intruder”, not bad. Went to bed at 10.15pm. Sweat rash started again, went to hospital and had rash painted.

Tuesday 27th

Wrote to Ronnie Baron , had rather an easy day, two private study periods, had 1 ½ hrs practice on guitar. Attended choir practice at 4.45pm spent the evening at the camp cinema and saw “Virginia City”. I had seen it before, but enjoyed seeing it again. Went to bed at 10.30pm. Went to hospital to have rash painted.

Wednesday 28th

Wrote to my dear mum 11th letter, also wrote to my dear Joyce 17th letter. Received a cable from mum saying that she had received money , I assume this to be the allotment. Rather an easy day as regards lessons. Reported sick this morning with a bite on my finger. The M.O. can’t understand it , he gave me some calcium tablets to take, also had sweat rash painted. Had 1 ¼ hours practice on guitar in the evening. Took snap of Tom cutting my hair, also a snap of the two of us, this finished the roll off. Had bath at 9.00pm and then to bed at 10.00pm.

Thursday 29th

Very easy day, one navigation and one drill period the rest off. Had a slight chill sniffing all the time. Heavy rain in the afternoon, evening I had 1 hrs practice, making a total of 1 ½ for the day. Attended choir practice at 4.45pm. Went to bed at 9.30pm.

Friday 30th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 18th letter, another easy day, having two private study periods. Only had ¼ hrs practice on guitar, the reason being because I am getting a little stale, so I thought a rest would do me good. Went into town at 4.30pm and cabled mum, I also bought a photograph album for Roy White. The evening I spent at camp cinema and saw Deanna Durbin in “It’s a Date” an excellent picture I enjoyed it very much. Went to bed at 10.20pm. Paid in the morning as a December pupil for the first time. I was paid £1 as promised.

Saturday 31st

Lessons as usual in the morning, also told results of examinations , we all passed except one in maths. Afternoon received new beds, they are much better and a lot more comfortable. In the afternoon we had a sleep, washed stockings and had one hour’s practice on guitar making a total of 2 hours for today. I wrote to my dear mum this evening 12th letter, I then had a bath and went to bed at 10.15pm.

February 1942

Sunday 1st

Attended church parade in the morning, I sang in the choir, the anthem “What are these” went down very well. The Lord Bishop of Southern Rhodesia was preaching. I also had one hour’s practice on guitar in one of the lecture huts. The afternoon I spent at lakeside with Rex Payne and four of the boys. We went in Rex’s car and the total cost of the day out, including something to eat, was 1/9d – very cheap. We left camp at 2.00pm and came back at 5.15pm. I had a very lucky escape with my watch, it came of my wrist and fell between Eric’s foot and mine. The evening I wrote to my dear Joyce 19th letter. A thorn stuck in my ankle during the afternoon.

Monday 2nd

Stared new course. Received 9th and 10th letters from my dear mum, I feel much better now. My ankle quite painful all day with the thorn. Went into town at 4.30pm in Rex’s car. Collected snaps, three failures, underexposed due to filter. Walked back with Eric. I spent the evening at the camp cinema and saw “The Saint in London” very good indeed, it was good to see London again it made me wish for home more than ever. Went to bed at 10.15pm. I also had ½ an hour’s practice on the guitar.

Tuesday 3rd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 20th letter. Lessons as usual, Squadron Leader Abel promised us to be posted by March 27th. 1 ¼ hours practice on guitar. The evening wrote to my dear Joyce. Attended choir practice at 4.45pm. Thorn came out of my ankle, ¼ inch long, great relief. Went to bed at 9.45pm

Wednesday 4th

Wrote to my dear mum 13th letter. Lessons as usual, mail in but none for me. On guard at night, paraded at 6.00pm. Evening Roy Skeates came and gave me a run-over. ½ hours practice on the guitar. Slept in fire hut, went to bed at 10.30pm.

Thursday 5th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 21st letter. Fire picket till6.00pm. English mail in, but none for me. 1 ¼ hrs practice on guitar. Wrote my notes on Browning gun. Paraded at 6.00pm to come off guard. I spent the evening at the camp cinema and saw “5th Avenue Girl” with ginger Rogers and a very good show indeed. Went to bed at 10.15pm.

Friday 6th

Lessons as usual all day. I received two cables this morning, one from my dear Joyce and one from Len. I was pleased to hear from Len, it is nice to think so many people remember me. At 4.30pm I went into town in Rex Payne’s car and collected reprints and sent a cable to my dear Joyce, I walked back. Feeling very browned off. As usual, no more English mail in, I have only received two letters from my dear mum, none from my dear Joyce. I spent this evening at the camp cinema and saw “Thief Meets Thief” quite a good story. Went to bed at 10.20pm. I miss my home more than ever.

Saturday 7th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 22nd letter. Lessons as usual during this morning. I washed my stockings and tops this afternoon, also had a sleep. I stayed in the hut in the evening. Pierce borrowed 10/- off me till next Friday. Had one hours practice on guitar. Went to bed at 10.30pm.

Sunday 8th

Wrote to my dear mum 14th letter. This morning I attended the service held in the quiet room, I sang in the choir as usual. The rest of the morning I spent with Roy Skeates who showed me a new piece, it was the “12 bar blues”. This afternoon I wrote to my dear mum, also a little practice on guitar, this evening I finished off my notes on the Browning gun. I also had another practice making a total of 1 ½ hours for the day. I went to bed at 9.45pm. Still as browned off as ever.

Monday 9th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 23rd letter. Lessons as usual all day, received a letter from Auntie Jessie this morning, this afternoon received a letter from Marion. I was very pleased to hear from her. I was very disappointed there wasn’t a letter from my dear Joyce. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Fast Play”. Went to bed at 10.15pm. I had about ¾ of an hour on the guitar.

Tuesday 10th

Wrote to Auntie Jessie. Lectures during the day, mail in but none for me. I attended choir practice at 4.45pm started new anthem. Played the guitar with Roy Skeates this evening, Ron Stuart also there. Had one hours practice on guitar. Swotted for an hour or so this evening. Went to bed at 10.15pm.

Wednesday 11th

Wrote to my dear mum 15th letter also to my dear Joyce 24th letter. Received a letter from Wilf Smith and a letter from Tom Lindsey. I was very pleased to hear from both of them. I have still not received a letter from my dear Joyce and I am very disappointed still there is time yet. Had lessons as usual all day. This evening I spent writing to my dear mum. I went to bed at 10.15pm. Had one hour’s practice on guitar all day.

Thursday 12th

Wrote to Marion & Wilf . Lessons as usual all day. Received cable from mum saying letters and parcel received that means it has only taken a month to travel to England. This afternoon organised games, so I wrote the two letters. I attended choir practice at 4.45pm. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Nurse Cavell” a very well acted picture and I enjoyed it very much. I went to bed at 10.15pm. Still no mail, I feel very homesick and browned off. I had ½ hours practice on guitar.

Friday 13th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 25th letter. Lessons as usual all day, English mail in but none for me. We are duty flight from 6.00pm, I am on 12 hr guard, which is guarding the aeroplanes. The evening I went to the camp cinema and saw “Honeymoon in Bali”, a very good picture which I enjoyed very much. I went into town at I went into town at 4.30pm and sent a cable to mum, had a lift in Rex Payne’s car. I guarded the aeroplane from 10.00pm to 12.00pm, went to bed at 12.15am. I had ¾ hr practice on guitar. Paid this morning £1, this now makes up for the extra money that they paid me.

Saturday 14th

Wrote to Wilf Smith . Duty flight all day. I received a letter from my dear Joyce this morning dated 6th January. This is the first I have received from her in this mail and of course I feel a hundred times better. This afternoon I washed my stockings , this evening I spent writing up my airframe notes. I had a bath and went to bed at 10.30pm. I feel more browned off however, especially with Joyce telling me in her letter how much dad misses me. I would give anything to get back home, I don’t like this life one bit. Had about an hour’s practice on the guitar.

Sunday 15th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 26th letter, also to my dear mum 16th letter. I attended Holy Communion this morning at 08.00am and at 9.30am attended morning service, I sang in the choir as usual. I stayed after the service for a Christening. This afternoon I spent writing to my dear mum & my dear Joyce. This evening I wrote up my meteorology notes and after that had ¾ of an hour’s practice on the guitar. I went to bed at 10.00pm.

Monday 16th

Lessons as usual all day. Today is a day of days, at long last I have received the missing letters. Today I received mum’s 11th & 12th letters, 2 from Grandma and 3 from Joyce, was I glad to receive them, I feel a hundred times better. This course is getting beyond me, I can’t take in so many subjects at once, today we started airmanship, not a bad subject, but a lot of rules to learn. This evening I went to the camp cinema and saw “They Made Her a Spy” with Sally Eilers. I had ½ hour’s practice on guitar. I also received the P.S. News from Levers. Also received 2 10/- postal orders from Grandma & Granddad.

Tuesday 17th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 27th letter. Hut orderly all day, spent my time copying up notes, it was also laundry day today. I attended choir practice at 4.45pm. Took a photograph of myself. The evening I spent copying up my notes, afterwards I had ¾ hrs practice on guitar. I went to bed at 10.15pm.

Wednesday 18th

Wrote to my dear mum 17th letter, received two parcels, will get second one tomorrow. Lessons as usual in the morning, this afternoon we had hut changing. I don’t care for the hut I am now in; let us hope I am not here for long. There is a wireless in this hut, it is quite a change. This evening I spent writing to mum and copying my airmanship notes. I went to bed at 9.30pm. I didn’t have much practice on guitar today. Parcel I got from Post Office was 270 cigarettes from Levers (Port Sunlight) I sold them all for 13/-.

Thursday 19th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 28th letter. Lessons as usual all day. Received parcel from Levers Durban containing soap, cigs etc. these parcels are very welcome and it is good of Levers to do so. This afternoon I attended choir at 4.45pm, this evening I spent copying my armament notes. I had very little practice on guitar, I have so much to do as regards this course.

Friday 20th

I received a letter from my dear mum and one from my dear Joyce. We had lectures in the morning and this afternoon was organised games, so I got permission to go to the bank. I went to the baths first and afterwards went into town – I bought a watch strap, dusting powder for sweat rash, collected reprints and bought two panatomic films. I also sent a cable to my dear Joyce and put £3 in the bank. This evening I spent at camp cinema and saw “Tropic Holiday” it wasn’t very good. I went to bed at 10.15pm. I had 20 mins on the guitar. I also bought a tie.

Saturday 21st

Lessons as usual this morning. Bought sun glasses. This afternoon had sleep. This evening I spent copying up my notes.

Sunday 22nd

Wrote to my dear mum 18th letter. Wrote to my dear Joyce 29th letter. Wrote to Grandma. Wrote to Levers (Durban). Wrote to Levers (Port Sunlight). Wrote to Tom Lindsey. This morning I attended the church service in the quiet room, sang in the choir as usual. The rest of the day I spent writing letters & copying notes.

Monday 23rd

Lessons as usual. Attended an extra met lecture from 4.40pm to 5.40pm. Received card from Levers which I am to return saying I have received parcel. The evening I spent in the camp cinema and saw “The Dark Stairway” an English picture which I enjoyed very much. It was good to see English surroundings again.

Tuesday 24th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 30th letter. Lessons as usual all day, at 4.30pm I attended an extra met lecture. The evening I spent at the camp cinema & saw “Pirates of the Sky” quite a good show. I went to bed at 10.15pm. I feel very browned off today, it seems to get worse every day.

Wednesday 25th

Wrote to my dear mum 19th letter. Lessons as usual all day. Received letter from Auntie Jessie, I was very pleased to hear from her. Went on guard at 6.00pm I am on fire picket. Some lad took a snap of the parade, I will try and get a reprint. This evening I spent swotting.

Thursday 26th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 31st letter, also wrote to my Auntie Jess. On fire picket all day, the evening at 6.30pm listened to my first English broadcast since I left home. It was Tommy Handley’s ½ hour. Gerald & his band was also on, I listened eagerly to the tunes he played, seeing what the tunes are like these days. The evening I spent at the camp cinema & saw “Rio” quite a good love story & I enjoyed it very much. I also got a cupboard from one of the empty huts.

Friday 27th

Wrote to Ron Baron. Hut orderly all day, I was paid £1 this morning instead of £2, so I will see about it tomorrow. I went into town at 4.30pm, I got a lift in Rex Payne’s car. I collected reprints and gave new roll in. Sent a cable to my dear mum and bought a couple of exercise books & a pair of shoe socks. This evening I spent at the pictures and saw “Private Affairs”.

Saturday 28th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 32nd letter. Attended lectures this morning, also inquired why I was paid £1 short. They said they would keep it until they received word from Group that I was officially back here. I spent this afternoon at the baths and I enjoyed it very much. This evening I played table tennis with Wragg. Went to bed at 10.00pm.

March 1942

Sunday 1st

Wrote to my dear mum 20th letter. This morning attended Holy Communion at 08.00am. At 9.30am attended church parade, the rest of this morning spent writing to my dear um. This afternoon I spent at the baths, this evening I spent swotting. I went to bed at 9.30pm.

Monday 2nd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 33rd letter. Lessons as usual all day, at 4.30pm I went into town collected snaps, ordered some reprints. Also brought pencil & rubber, this evening I spent at the armoury stripping guns etc. Went to bed at 9.45pm. Eclipse of moon tonight. Also changed goggles on clothing parade.

Tuesday 3rd

Lessons as usual all day attended extra met lecture at 4.30pm. Received a letter from Tom, I was very pleased to hear from him. This evening I spent at the camp cinema & saw “Grand Jury Secrets” a very good picture. Went to bed 10.15pm. Also got new mattress today. This evening I looked through my diary and found to my bitter disappointment that I have not received a cable from my dear Joyce since Feb. 6th. I sincerely hope she is not well, on the other hand if she is well, it is evident that she does not worry about me very much. I don’t think I deserve this because I am so true to her.

Wednesday 4th

Wrote to my dear mum 21st letter. Wrote to my dear Joyce 34th letter. Lessons as usual all day, this afternoon clothing parade. I didn’t want anything so I went to the baths. This evening I spent swotting. I have been very worried all day with not hearing from either mum or Joyce let us hope I have word from them soon.

Thursday 5th

Wrote to Tom. Received a cable from mum, I hadn’t heard from her for a while & I was greatly relieved to know everything is OK. I still have not heard from Joyce and it is worrying me quite a lot. We had lectures all day the evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “The Last Warning”.

Friday 6th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 35th letter. Lectures this morning, this afternoon was free, so at 3.30pm I went into town with Harry King. I sent a cable to Joyce, has a haircut, collected reprints and tunic which had been dry-cleaned. Our Flight duty flight from 6.00pm. This evening spent at the camp cinema and saw “My Favourite Wife” an excellent picture. It poured with rain right through the show.

Saturday 7th

Wrote to my dear mum 22nd letter. Our flight duty Flight today, I was on camp guard from 10.00 to 14.00 hrs. This afternoon had a sleep and washed stockings. Spent this evening swotting. I read my dear Joyce’s last letter dated Jan 6th and I felt much better. In it she says she thinks a lot of me and I’m sure she wouldn’t change.

Sunday 8th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 36th letter. This morning went to St. Johns church Bulawayo. This afternoon and evening I spent swotting. Went to bed 9.30pm.

Monday 9th

Received a cable and letter from my dear Joyce, a letter from mum (18th) and a letter from Mrs Mayne. I was greatly relieved to hear from Joyce and I now feel a hundred times better. I was delighted to hear from mum, I think she’s the finest mum in the world, I am very lucky to have the finest sweetheart and mother in the world. We had lectures as usual all day, this afternoon at 4.30pm I went into town and bought a Panatomic film. This evening I spent swotting.

Tuesday 10th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 37th letter. Received 3 letters from Joyce & 2 from mum. Lectures as usual all day. Moved to new hut this evening. Hut no. 12.

Wednesday 11th

Wrote to my dear mum 23rd letter. Received letter from Tom. Lessons as usual all day, this evening I spent writing to mum. Went to bed at 9.30pm.

Thursday 12th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 38th letter, lessons as usual all day.

Friday 13th

Wrote to Tom. Lessons as usual all day, this afternoon had an attack of dizziness, sweating and sick feeling, feeling a lot better now though. I reported sick at 4.00pm but the M.O. couldn’t find anything wrong with me, I have to report sick in the morning. Went into town at 4.30pm and bought a pair of stockings each for mum & Joyce. Spent 2 hrs this evening swotting. Paid £2 this morning.

Saturday 14th

Lessons as usual this morning, afternoon swotted & had a sleep. Spent this evening swotting.

Sunday 15th

Attended church this morning, spent the rest of the day swotting.

Monday 16th

Navigation exam at 8.00am. I did quite well in this. Airmanship, engines & maintenance exam at 10.30am. I did not do so well in this. Afternoon free, spent rest of day swotting. Went to bed at 9.15pm.

Tuesday 17th

Theory of flight, meteorology and armaments exams this morning, I am afraid I haven’t done too well. This afternoon was free and I wrote to my dear Joyce 39th letter. I spent the evening at the camp cinema. I received mum’s 13th letter and a letter from Ernie, also received guitar tutor from home.

Wednesday 18th

Wrote to my dear mum 24th letter, wrote to my Auntie Jess, received cable from dad saying “parcels received!” but I have already received a cable on 12th Feb. saying that parcel had been received. Morning swimming parade afternoon drill and P.T. Spent evening writing.

Thursday 19th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 40th letter, also wrote to Ernie. Free all day, practiced on guitar and in the afternoon went into town and sent a cable to mum and bought a pair of sun glasses. The evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Arrest Bulldog Drummond” which was quite a good picture, also “The Land of Rhodes”. It rained quite a bit today.

Friday 20th

Wrote to Mrs Mayne. Fairly easy day, the evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Vigil in the Night” which was a very good picture. I received a letter from my dear mum and one from my dear Joyce and of course I feel much better.

Saturday 21st

Wrote to my dear Joyce 41st letter. Lectures this morning, this afternoon had a rest and this evening wrote to Joyce and practiced on the guitar. Went to bed 10.00pm.

Sunday 22nd

Wrote to my dear mum 25th letter. Attended Holy Communion at 8.00am & morning service at 9.30am. This afternoon I spent at the baths and this evening I practiced on the guitar a bit. I went to bed at 9.10pm.

Monday 23rd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 42nd letter. Lectures as usual, swimming parade this morning. This afternoon we had a cockpit drill and I ran the engine up. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Secrets of an Actress”.

Tuesday 24th

Wrote to Mrs Hipson, also received parcel from mum and one from Levers Durban. Chief Instructors interview this morning. We received the results this evening and I have failed. I am feeling browned off and I wouldn’t be sorry to come off the course. It was very good of mum to send such a lovely parcel and I appreciate it very much.

Wednesday 25th

Wrote to my dear mum 26th letter, also wrote to my dear Joyce 43rd letter. I was hut orderly all day so I had an easy day. The 13 lads out of our flight who passed the exams went to Belvedere this morning. Tom came from Guinea Fowl this morning to take his exam here again. This evening I had dinner in the Service’s Club with Tom & his friend and then went to the “Palace” cinema and saw Clark Gable in “Honky Tonk”. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening except when I came out of the pictures, I missed Joyce very much indeed.

Thursday 26th

Started lectures in earnest again today. Received letter from my dear Joyce dated 21st February and of course I feel on top of the world again. I went in town at 4.30pm to have my haircut, this evening I spent practicing on the guitar, went to bed at 9.20pm.

Friday 27th

Lectures as usual all day, I was paid this morning £2. I received 10 letters today, 3 from my dear Joyce, 3 from my dear mum, 1 from Ron Baron, 1 from Mrs Thyson, 1 from Doris and one from Grandma, so today was a red letter day for me. It was wonderful receiving so many letters and it seems as if my writing is being rewarded. I went into town at 4.30pm, bought two pairs of stockings and a pair of Y-fronts. The evening I spent practicing on the guitar. I wrote my dear Joyce 44th letter.

Saturday 28th

Wrote to my dear mm 27th letter. Received cable from mum. Lectures this morning, this afternoon   I spent practicing on the guitar, this evening I spent writing to mum. I went to bed 10.15pm.

Sunday 29th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 45th letter, also to Ron Baron. Church parade this morning, this afternoon I went to the baths, this evening I spent swotting.

Monday 30th

Wrote to Doris. Lectures a usual all day, spent this evening swotting, also had a practice on the guitar. Went to bed at 9.00om.

Tuesday 31st

Wrote to my dear Joyce 46th letter. Lectures all day. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Panama Lady” which was quite a good picture.

April 1942

Wednesday 1st

Wrote to my dear mum 28th letter. Lectures as usual all day, this evening I again spent at the camp cinema and saw “Wagons Roll at Night” which was quite a good picture.

Thursday 2nd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 47th letter. Hut orderly all day, had practice on guitar. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Love Thy Neighbour” which was a very good picture. Jack Benny was the chief actor.

Friday 3rd

Lectures as usual all day. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Sing You Sinners” which was quite a decent picture.

Saturday 4th

Lectures this morning, afternoon spent chatting to Tom, this evening had dinner in town with Tom, afternoon met Vic and all three of us went to the pictures and saw “Musical Hall Parade” with Billy Cotton & his band. Were given our exam marks today, I got 64 in met.

Sunday 5th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 48th letter, also to my dear mum 29th letter. Attended Holy Communion at 8.00am, also a service at 10.00am spent the rest of the day writing.

Monday 6th

Wrote to Grandma also to Auntie Jess. Lectures all day the evening spent playing on the guitar. I received 4 letters today, 2 from mum, 23rd & 24th and two from Joyce dated 17th & 22nd Feb. Went to bed early 9.30pm.

Tuesday 7th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 49th letter. Lectures as usual all day, this evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Angels with Dirty Faces” with the Dead End Kids. I received Joyce’s 1st letter today and it was an extra specially nice letter.

Wednesday 8th

Wrote to my dear mum 30th letter, lectures as usual all day. This evening I spent writing to mum. Went to bed at 9.20pm.

Thursday 9th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 50th letter. Lectures as usual, watched football match at 4.40pm. Tonight saw “Bulldog Drummond’s Bride” at the camp cinema.

Friday 10th

Paid today £2. I went to the accounts officer to enquire about the £1 they owe me. Lectures as usual, went into town at 4.30pm and bought pair of drum sticks. The evening I spent at camp cinema and saw “The Outsider” which was a very good picture.

Saturday 11th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 51st letter. Lectures this morning, watched football match this afternoon, bought a pair of pyjamas 13/- from canteen. This evening wrote to Mrs Thyson, had game of table tennis and had a practice on guitar. I was asked to be call-boy for “Laughter Express” so Roy & myself accepted. Went to bed 10.00pm.

Sunday 12th

Wrote to my dear mum 31st letter, also wrote to Charlie. Attended the service held in the quiet room at 10.00. Spent most of the day writing and taking it easy. Went to bed at 8.45pm.

Monday 13th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 52nd letter. Received mum’s 30th letter. Hut orderly all day. Also received Joyce’s 8th letter. Spent the evening at the camp cinema and saw “Mr Smith Goes to Washington”.

Tuesday 14th

Lectures as usual all day. Went to the Town Hall on lorry at 7.00pm for dress rehearsal. Very poor show, let us hope it is better tomorrow. Left Town Hall at 12.15am, went to (RAF) Heaney aerodrome to take some chaps back. Arrived in this camp at 1.20am, feeling very tired.

Wednesday 15th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 53rd letter, also to my dear mum 32nd letter. Hut orderly all day. Received two cables, one each from mum & Joyce, both in same envelope. Evening went to Town Hall for the opening night, thank goodness it was better than last night. Got back to camp 11.30pm.

Thursday 16th

Received mum’s 27th, 28th, 29th letters, also Joyce’s 5th, 7th letters and an Easter card from Marion. It was wonderful receiving all thee lovely letters and it cheered me up considerably. We moved into hut 16 today, it is quite a nice hut, a good thing it has a wireless. The evening I again spent at the show. Got back to camp 11.30pm. Made statement about Roy having £2 stolen.

Friday 17th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 53rd letter. Received mum’s 26th letter and Joyce’s 4th & 6th letters and one from Auntie Doris. Lectures all day, the evening went to the Town Hall quite a good night.

Saturday 18th

Received letter from Auntie Jess dated Dec. 2nd also a cable from dad saying he heard broadcast, which broadcast I don’t know. This afternoon had game of football. This evening was the last night of the show and it was the worst of the lot.

Sunday 19th

Wrote to my dear mum 33rd letter, also to my dear Joyce 54th letter. Had a lie in this morning, went to the baths this afternoon. This evening spent writing. Went to bed early.

Monday 20th

Lectures all day, went into town at 4.30pm to take a roll of film to be developed. Spent this evening at the camp cinema & saw “Who Killed John Savage?” Not bad.

Tuesday 21st

Lectures this morning, laundry this afternoon. Wrote to my dear Joyce 55th letter. Received mum’s 25th letter. Spent this evening practicing on my guitar. Had a hot bath today, something out of the ordinary these days.

Wednesday 22nd

Wrote to my dear mum 34th letter, also to Auntie Jess. Received letter from Auntie Jess. Lectures as usual all day. Had first hot show today. This evening played table tennis and had a practice on guitar. Went to bed 10.00pm.

Thursday 23rd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 56th letter. Lectures all day. Had 4 teeth filled this morning. This afternoon at 4.30pm went into town and collected snaps, also bought a pair of Y-fronts. 6/9-. This evening I spent at the camp cinema and saw “Thunder in the City”.

Friday 24th

Lectures all day, paid £2 this morning. This evening went to the camp cinema and saw “It All Came True” with Ann Sheridan, it was a very good picture.

Saturday 25th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 57th letter also to Doris. Lectures this morning, this afternoon I spent at the baths. This evening I spent in the hut. Feeling very browned off today.

Sunday 26th

Wrote to my dear mum 35th letter, attended service in the Quiet Room this morning. Went to the baths this afternoon. This evening did a bit of swotting.

Monday 27th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 58th letter. Exams this morning. This afternoon new draft arrived, met Len Wilson from Drawing Office. This evening did a bit of swotting.

Tuesday 28th

Exams this morning. This afternoon went into town and collected re-prints, also had a hair-cut. This evening spent in hut.

Wednesday 29th

Wrote to my dear mum 36th letter. This morning we were supposed to attend lectures but didn’t. English mail started to roll in. Left camp at 2.30pm for Matopo, transport was by lorry, there are 17 lads and 3 officers. We arrived at camp site at 4.30pm after a pretty rough journey. The camp site is wonderful most probably man has not been here before. We are surrounded by rocks which give a lovely setting. The meals are tip-top, couldn’t be better. We spent the evening sitting round the camp fire. It was a beautiful moonlit night. We came to bed at 9.00pm, feeling very happy. This camp is well organised and I am sure I am going to enjoy it.

Thursday 30th

Rose at 6.30am, had drink of coffee. Played football till 8.00am, then had breakfast. After breakfast we all went climbing the rocks and enjoyed it very much, the view from the top of the rocks was wonderful, unfortunately photographs could not be taken because the weather was dull. Had lunch at 1.45pm, this afternoon had a bit of a rest, also took some snaps. Went with driver shooting, but no game was seen. Also took snaps of natives. Had dinner at 6.30pm, we spent the evening round the camp fire. I took a time exposure of the fire. Went to bed at 9.15pm after a very enjoyable day.

May 1942

Friday 1st

Rose at 6.30am, coffee & sandwiches in bed, after breakfast went in lorry to World’s View. After lunch went to Matopo Dam and had a swim. Arrived back at camp at 6.00pm, had lunch, then sat round camp fire till 9.00pm, then went to bed, after another enjoyable day.

Saturday 2nd

Rose at 6.30am, coffee & sandwiches in bed. After breakfast went in lorry to native kraal and watched them dipping cattle.The afternoon was offered skins also had a climb and quite enjoyed it. The flight sergeant and wife came and stayed till about 11.00am. Had dinner at 7.00pm afterwards had usual camp-fire sing song. Went to bed at 10.00pm.

Sunday 3rd

Rose at 6.30am, coffee as usual. Breakfast, went to native kraal, walked. Took snaps and returned about 12.00 noon. After lunch I went to I.T.W. in car so that I could collect my mail.  I received mum’s 31st & 32nd letters, Joyce’s 9th, 10th, & 11th letters also a letter from Auntie Doris and one from Mrs Mayne (Durban). Returned to Malopo at 5.30pm had dinner at 7.00pm. Native came for money for skin £1. Spent evening round camp fire.

Monday 4th

Rose at 6.30am, coffee as usual, after breakfast started to pack up. The lorries came at 1.30pm, we left at 2.00pm and arrived back at camp (I.T.W.) at 3.30pm. It had been a very enjoyable camp. I received mum’s 33rd letter and Joyce’s (I think) 12th letter dated 16th March. Spent the evening at the camp cinema and saw “Curtain Call

Tuesday 5th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 59th letter. Went into town this morning, took film to be developed.Spent afternoon writing.Received parcel from England, with sticks, practice pad and various other very acceptable things. Spent evening at the camp cinema and saw “Splinters in the Air” with Sydney Howard.

Wednesday 6th

Wrote to my dear mum 37th letter. Free all day. This afternoon went into town to collect snaps. Spent evening practicing on guitar. Also cabled mum. Received mum’s 38th letter and Joyce’s 16th, 17th & 18th letters.

Thursday 7th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 60th letter. Free again all day. Saw C. I. (Chief Instructor) this morning and he gave me hope of getting home. Went into town this afternoon to buy gramophone needles. This evening spent writing. Roy White, Arthur Wragg and Tom were posted today.

Friday 8th

Paid this morning £2.6.0. Free all day. This afternoon had a rest. Went into town at 4.30pm to take negatives in for reprints. Spent this evening at the camp cinema and saw “Always a Woman” with Joan Blondell. I enjoyed it very much.

Saturday 9th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 61st letter. Free his morning. This afternoon went to the baths and met a Port Sunlight boy. This evening spent in the hut.

Sunday 10th

Wrote to my dear mum 38th letter. This morning attended church parade. Spent this afternoon writing in the park. This evening I spent in the hut.

Monday 11th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 62nd letter. Free all day. Received letter from Auntie Jess. Spent the evening sitting in the canteen.

Tuesday 12th

Wrote to Grandma & Ron Baron. Free all day. Had interview with C.I. this afternoon and gave him particulars as to why I wanted to go in the Merchant Navy. Went into town at 4.30pm, collected reprints and bought to Panatomic – X films. Spent this evening at the camp cinema and saw “Missing Evidence”.

Wednesday 13th

Wrote to my dear mum 39th letter, also to my dear Joyce 63rd letter. Free all day. This morning went into town and withdrew from bank. Spent evening writing.

Thursday 14th

Wrote to Doris and Auntie Jess. Received mum’s 37th letter, Joyce’s 13th and a very welcome letter from dad. I was very pleased to hear from him. Had interview with C.I. this morning who signed some forms. Spent the evening at the camp cinema and saw “Sons of the Sea” a British film and I thought it was terrible.

Friday 15th

Don’t forget mum’s birthday. Attended lectures all day. Went into town at 4.30pm and cabled mum. Spent evening quietly in hut.

Saturday 16th

Rote to my dear Joyce 64th letter. Lectures this morning, this afternoon I went to the baths and again met Neville Mercer. This evening I spent writing I went to bed at 9.30pm.

Sunday 17th

Wrote to my dear mum 40th letter. Attended Holy Communion at 8.15am and a morning service at 9.30am. I then spent the rest of the day writing, making my pack up and practicing on the guitar. Also did a bit of washing. Went to bed at 9.30am.

Monday 18th

Wrote to Mrs Mayne, also sent an airgraph to mum & Joyce. Lectures all day. It was very cold all day, wore blue. Spent evening at camp cinema & saw “A Shot in the Dark” it was quite good. Received mum’s 22nd letter and a Valentine and a letter from Joyce dated Feb. 10th, there was a lot of Feb. mail in today, it must have been delayed somewhere.

Tuesday 19th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 65th letter, also started a letter to Don Birkett. Lectures all day, had a nice hot bath this afternoon, the first bath for some time. Did jankers drill this afternoon at 4.30pm for not turning up on parade, the whole flight was on it. Spent this evening at the camp cinema and saw “Britsh Intelligence” not a bad picture at all. My cold seemed to be worse today.

Wednesday 20th

Hut orderly today, the afternoon I was sent for by the S.W.O.’s office and told I was leaving for Salisbury tomorrow. I took a clearance chit round to the various officers and had it signed. I spent the evening ironing and fixing my pack up. I am now on the first stage of my discharge, I wonder if I shall be successful? I hope so because I will not only be able to get home, but I will also have the opportunity to return to my trade. The next few days will decide my fate, I will put my whole trust in God and I am sure he will answer my prayers.

Thursday 21st

Spent the morning fixing up clearance chit and getting railway warrants. Left camp at 12.30pm and left Bulawayo station at 1.40pm. Today was very dull, much better than when I last did the journey. We stopped at Inziza at 4.00pm for a cup of tea (6d per cup). We arrived in Gwelo at 7.00pm, had dinner then went for a little walk into Gwelo and there’s no doubt about it, it lives up to its name as the deadest town in Rhodesia. Left Gwelo at 8.00pm.

Friday 22nd

Arrived at Disposal Dept. at 6.30am, had breakfast then went for interview at 10.00am. I am sorry to say the interview was not satisfactory and I have now to wait until word is received from the Air Ministry as to whether I can have my discharge. I feel a bit browned off today, but I should feel better in a day or so, the conditions here are ideal and I have nothing to grumble at. Went into town at 3.15pm for walk round, spent part of this evening talking to Roy White. On guard tomorrow so early bed tonight (8.40pm).

Saturday 23rd

Wrote to my dear Joyce 66th letter. Rose at 5.15am and went on guard at the aerodrome at 6.00am. I was on the gate from 8.00 to 10.00am. Roy White flew into the deck, but luckily enough only sustained a cut eye. Went on guard at main gate Belvedere at 2.00 to 4.00pm finished at 4.20pm. Had wash & shave then after tea went into town with Roy. We got a lift a bit further down the road, this is the 3rd lift I have had, which proves this is a better place than Bulawayo. Seen Johnny of the Cranborne Band and fixed up for a play on Monday night. Walked back to camp after meeting Tom Lindsey in shop. Went to bed feeling very tired.

Sunday 24th

Wrote to my dear mum 41st letter. Rose at 8.00am, spent morning writing. James told me we were both down for home posting. I hope and pray with all my heart that I do go home, I miss Joyce & home more than ever lately. This afternoon I spent watching a football match with Tom & Eddie Refort. Afterwards I walked back to camp and had chips, beans & toast in the canteen (cost with tea 7d). Went to bed 10.00pm. This life here at Disposal is easy but I hope it doesn’t last long, it gets on my nerves doing nothing all day.

Monday 25th

Rose at 7.30am. Did nothing all day as usual, this evening went to Cranborne aerodrome. I was very lucky as regards lifts, as soon as I got on the road an old couple picked me up and gave me a lift to the other side of town. I soon got another which took me to the married quarters, the rest of the way I walked. I met Tom and he came along with me to the band hut. I had quite a few tunes and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The drummer was a Birkenhead chap. I left the aerodrome at 9.30pm and was lucky to be picked up and taken into town, from there I walked back to camp.

Tuesday 26th

Wrote to my dear Joyce 67th letter, I also wrote two airgraphs. I played quite a lot of table tennis today, it helped to pass the time away. Had a rest this afternoon. Bill Jones left here for England, I wish I had been going with him, maybe I will be in the near future. I spent this evening writing, went to bed 9.00pm.

Wednesday 27th

Received mum’s 40th letter. Spent all morning playing table tennis, this afternoon went into town and bought case £3.5.0., I have run myself short, but it is well worth it. Spent this evening practicing on guitar. I also received a letter from Taffy this morning. Mum was very upset at the time of writing her 40th letter and it has made me want all the more to send her the cable “Don’t write, coming home”, maybe I will in the near future. I took a snap of the inside of this hut, I gave it 8-9 secs on f16, Super x-x film.

Thursday 28th

Heard rumour that I might be going tomorrow. If so it has not taken very long. Spent this afternoon packing also went into Salisbury to collect some snaps. This evening went to camp cinema and saw “Dive Bomber”, not a bad picture, received B.B. diary today.

Friday 29th

Sent cable home telling Joyce & mum not to write as I was coming home. Also sent two airgraphs. Spent this morning getting fixed up, pay etc. I finished my packing this afternoon received “comforts” and left Disposal at 5.30pm in lorry. The train left Salisbury at 6.30pm. We are now starting an 8000 mile journey, a journey I have been wanting to do ever since I arrived in this country. I hope everything goes as smooth as it has done up to now.

Saturday 30th

Arrived in Bulawayo at 7.00am, had breakfast on the station then went to Hillside. I called at the Post Office and was lucky enough to receive 10 letters and 4 newspapers. The letters were from Joyce (6) mum (3) and a letter from Swifts which I did not like one bit. I spent the day in Hut 16, except in the morning I slipped into town and bought 2 pairs of silk stockings (5/11d each. Visited Len Wilson in hospital and glad to say he will soon be out. John lent me £2, something I was very grateful for, he is a good pal and I only wish I had met him sooner than I did. The train for Cape Town left at 6.20pm.

Sunday 31st

Rather a boring day today, train journeys like these soon get boring. The countryside was also very uninteresting, just miles and miles of nothing. Went to bed at 8.00pm.

June 1942

Monday 1st

Today was no different than yesterday just the same scenery (miles and miles of nothing) went to bed at 2.00pm the train stopped at De Aar for an hour or so, so Stuart Melville and myself took a walk into the town. It was very quiet and it is plain to see that it was a Dutch population. Today is the second anniversary of me meeting my dear Joyce. I thank God that I am the lucky one to be so dearly loved by her, and I in return love her more than words could express. I could not possibly be blessed with a more prettier, sweet natured thoughtful girl, and my sole object in life is to make her happy. New blade.

Tuesday 2nd

Arrived in Cape Town at 6.15am, had breakfast in the station café, then went for a walk round till 9.00am. We saw the Squadron Leader and he said we were to return at 2.30pm so I rushed off to Muizenberg to see Auntie Jess. When I arrived there she wasn’t in, luckily enough two ladies took me to their house and gave me a cup of tea. I eventually found Auntie Jess thanks to the next door lady. I went on the ship this afternoon and got ashore at 6.oopm I arrived Muizenberg at 7.30pm had dinner then sat talking. I like Uncle Jack very much also little Jessica, and of course June & Auntie Jess are the same as ever.

Wednesday 3rd

Got off the ship at 1.00pm did a bit of shopping in Cape Town then caught the train to Muizenberg. Auntie Jess cooked me steak and egg then we did a bit of shopping in Muizenberg. Jessica showed us how she could slide. Uncle Jack’s mother also came with us. When we got back Jessica had a bath then I followed her. It is lovely to have a nice hot bath once again, probably the last decent one till I get home. After the bath I had a lovely tea (eggs and bacon) which I enjoyed very much. We spent the night talking about home of course. The lady from next door came to say cheerio to me. Auntie Jess was very upset on the station.

Thursday 4th

On guard from 11.00am to 1.00 pm on gang way. We moved off at about 1.30pm and it wasn’t long before we were out to see. The weather was rotten, drizzle all the time and Cape Town wasn’t very clear. I wish I could have had at least a week there, the place was so different than Rhodesia, still I’m on my way home now and that is definitely the main thing. The sea was quite choppy and it wasn’t long before I began to feel sea sick. I was sick about 6.00pm and 2 or 3 times after that. The best place for me was bed, so I slung my hammock and turned in at 7.00pm.

Friday 5th

Rose at 7.00am had breakfast then went up on deck. Boat drill at 10.00am then had drink of tea in canteen. Also bought jam and cigarettes. Spent this afternoon reading and this evening talking to the look out. Turned in at 9.30pm. We are on our own and have the ocean to ourselves, we are keeping a good look out for raiders and submarines. With God’s good grace we should make port safely.

Saturday 6th

Sea much calmer today, spent most of my time on deck. This evening I felt sick and it wasn’t long before I fetched all my tea up. I don’t think it is sea-sickness because the ship is quite steady. I blame it on the food which I am sorry to say is not very good. I moved a deck lower this evening, there’s more room there. I turned in about 8.00pm (clock retarded 30 mins).

Sunday 7th

Went on guard in No. 7 Hold this morning at 9.30am. I was on from 3.30pm to 5.30pm and 11.30pm to 1.30am (clock was retarded 30 minutes at midnight) and 7.30am to 9.30am. Spent the day mostly reading – speed of ship 15.4 knots.

Monday 8th

Came off guard at 9.30am, boat stations at 10.00am after which I stayed on deck till dinner time. This afternoon I had a shower and changed into khaki shorts.   I also attended a picture show in the Sergeant’s mess, I had seen the picture before but I quite enjoyed seeing it again. It was about Stanley finding Livingstone. This evening I spent making a copy of the Kodak Outdoor Guide. I turned in at 9.30pm. The food I am pleased to say was a bit better. The weather is still good and the ship quite steady. The weather is getting a bit warmer too, we will soon be crossing the “Line” about Thursday I should say.

Tuesday 9th

Went on guard at 9.30am I was on at 1.30pm to 3.30pm and 9.30pm to 11.30pm. Spent in between guards reading on deck. The weather is still good and is becoming noticeably warmer. They started selling “Capstan” in the canteen so I took advantage of it and bought a hundred.

Wednesday 10th

Came off guard at 9.30am I was on from 5.30am to 7.30am. Spent the day longing about. “Action Stations” was sounded on the alarm bells and of course we all thought there was something doing. It did not last long though and I think it was only a practice. Wrote a letter to my Auntie Jess today. Slept on deck as it was very hot down below.

Thursday 11th

Slept on deck as it was so hot down below. Spent this morning reading, no boat drill. This afternoon at 1.00pm four of us took 100 bayonets from magazine to armoury. Went to the pictures at 2.15pm to see “The Ghost Goes West” which was quite a good picture.

Friday 12th

Went on guard at 9.30am. I was on from 3.30pm to 5.30pm, 11.30pm to 1.30am & 7.30am to 9.30am. Wrote a letter to john. Spent the day reading. Weather still calm.

Saturday 13th

Today was the same as usual. I repaired the handle on my camera, in readiness for taking some snaps at Freetown. Slept up on deck.

Sunday 14th

Sighted land at 9.45am. Dropped anchor at 3.15pm. It is good to see land again, although Freetown is so hot. Still I will be glad when we are sailing out again, homeward bound. Bought 200 Camel cigarettes this evening 8/-.

Monday 15th

Went on guard at 9.30am. I was on from 9.30am to 11.30am, 5.30pm to 7.30pm & 3.30am to 5.30am. Nothing much doing in port, cargo was being unloaded. Rodney arrived.

Tuesday 16th

Came off guard at 9.30am. Spent most of today reading. Oil tanker came alongside this afternoon, so with a bit of good luck we should be away tomorrow.

Wednesday 17th

Discharging cargo all day. I spent the day reading. Attended a concert in the afternoon, it was quite good and I enjoyed it. I slept on deck a usual. We did not leave as I hoped, still it might be tomorrow.

Thursday 18th

Went on guard at 9.30am. It was announced over the ship’s radio that the fresh water situation was very critical and that utmost care must be exercised. A water tanker came alongside this afternoon to give us what water there was to spare. At 6.30pm we weighed anchor and by 7.15pm we were through the boom and bound for the open sea and home. At last we have started on the last stage of our journey. They say we only have enough water to last 12 days, so that means we might be home sooner than we expected. We are on our own again and running the gauntlet for home. With god’s good grace we will arrive home safely.

Friday 19th

Came off guard at 9.30am. Spent all day reading, this afternoon I attended a cinema show and saw “My Two Husbands”, which was quite an amusing film. The sea is very calm today, with a slight swell. The weather is still very hot and I will be glad when it gets cooler. Slept on deck again.

Saturday 20th

There was a stiff breeze blowing all day and it helped to keep us cool. I spent the day reading, there is nothing else to do. Slept on deck again.

Sunday 21st

Went on guard at 9.30am. Spent the day reading. We have now altered our course to North, so each day will now take us nearer dear old Blighty. The weather is much cooler now, the main reason being because the sky is overcast.

Monday 22nd

Came off guard at 9.30am. Spent day reading the booklets mum sent me also studied a bit of trig. We are definitely sailing North now, so every day means it will be a little bit cooler. Slept on deck.

Tuesday 23rd

Nothing out of the ordinary happened today. Spent my time reading. Slept on deck.

Wednesday 24th

Today was a beautiful day, one of the nicest I have seen at sea. The sea was almost like glass except for a slight swell. Slept on deck again. Went on guard at 9.30am this morning.

Thursday 25th

Came off guard at 9.30am. Weather a bit rougher today, especially towards evening, when it grew quite rough. Tea was started again in the canteen. We were informed we are now in range of long range bombers so we will have to keep a sharp lookout. We have been very fortunate up to now, thanks to God, I hope our good fortune lasts. Slept down below tonight. This afternoon I did most of my packing.

Friday 26th

Today was as usual, most of my time spent reading. The weather is much colder now, so we can’t be far from home. I think it will be Tuesday when we arrive. Slept down below.

Saturday 27th

Went on guard at 9.30am. The weather was much colder today, but the sea was calmer. The rats were quite cheeky this evening down No. 7 hold and I only just missed killing one or two of them.

Sunday 28th

Today was very dull and this afternoon we ran into thick fog. This afternoon we had a concert in the Sergeant’s mess and it went off fine. Slept down below. Clock put on 1 hour.

Monday 29th

Sighted two ships this morning and kept alongside them until this afternoon when the broke away in a different direction. Weather was still dull today, but not very cold. Paid 10/- this morning. Clock put on 1 hour.

Tuesday 30th

Went up on deck this morning to see land both sides of us. It is good to see British land once again. The air is chilly but it suits me down to the ground. Went on guard at 9.30am. The sight of green fields was like a tonic. There’s no place like home. We dropped anchor at Greenock at 5.00pm. It was light until 11.30pm which is something I haven’t experienced for some time.

July 1942

Wednesday 1st

Spent the morning packing after we had come off guard at 9.30am. At 1.45pm we weighed anchor and sailed up the Clyde to Glasgow. We arrived at the dock at 5.00am and left the ship at 6.00pm. We managed to get through the customs OK and left the dock at 9.00pm. The train did not leave until 11.15pm (we thought) so Bill Jones and myself went for a cup of tea and something to eat in the YMCA. At 11.05pm we got up to go to the train, but to our dismay the train was pulling out. I have never felt so terrible as I did then, but we had missed it and that was that. We stayed the night at a transit billet.

Thursday 2nd

Left Glasgow at 10.35am and after a boring journey arrived in Exchange station at 5.10am. We got the underground to Meols and arrived at the camp at 5.20pm. We spent the evening cooling off, as it was a bit late to go home, much as I wanted to.

Friday 3rd

Spent day fixing clothing up etc.

Saturday 4th

Went on 14 days leave.

Wednesday 8th

We left Port Sunlight for Cefn with Joyce.

Friday 10th

Left Cefn for Port Sunlight.

Sunday 12th

Went cycling to Gronant. The weather was glorious and Joyce and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Saturday 18th

Leave expired. Arrived at West Kirby just on 12.40pm.

Sunday 19th

Spent afternoon & evening at home.

Monday 20th

Travelled to Netheravon arrived 9.30pm.

Tuesday 21st

Left Netheravon 11.05am and arrived Brize Norton 8.00pm.

Wednesday 22nd

Spent day moving beds.

Thursday 23rd

Left (RAF) Brize Norton 11.00am and arrived (RAF) Little Rissington 11.40am. Spent the day fixing up. The evening I wrote home.

Friday 24th

Started work in the cook house. This is a come down from a U/T pilot I only hope it doesn’t last too long. This evening went to dark room with Rich, also wrote to Auntie Jess. Paid 14/- today.

Saturday 25th

Work as usual all day. I’m getting more used to it now. Went to the pictures this evening and saw “Ride ‘em Cowboy” with Abbott and Costello.

Monday 27th

Went to the camp cinema this evening.

Tuesday 28th

This morning went to Cheltenham with meat lorry. Put in leave form today.

August 1942

Monday 3rd

Started work at 4.00am

Friday 7th

Went in 04.00am. Got early chit at 12.00am. Left camp in ambulance, nearly sick. Caught train from Cheltenham at 2.00pm and arrived at Liverpool 7.20pm. Arrived home in time for study. Paid £3.4.0.

Wednesday 12th

Row at 46.

Sunday 16th

Went for ride to Gronant.

Monday 17th

Another terrible row at 46, I wasn’t there. Len H. hit Joyce.

Tuesday 18th

Joyce upset at dinner hour, too upset to go back to work. Decided to become engaged, did do at 2.00pm.

September 1942

(No diary entries this month)

October 1942

Friday 1st

Interviewed by Squadron Leader Martin. Things are really on the move now.

November 1942

Tuesday 24th

Put new blade in razor.

Wednesday 25th

Went to Oxford to see “International Ballet” at the “New Theatre”. I enjoyed it very much, but would have loved to have been with Joyce.

Thursday 26th

Paid 30/-

December 1942

Friday 4th

Today was the best I have experienced in the RAF. I was told I was discharged. I spent the afternoon getting cleared. Played in band show tonight.

Saturday 5th

Left Rissy (Little Rissington) at 11.45am and arrived home at 8.30pm.

 1942-diary

Ronald Taylor RAF 1942 War Diary

Benjamin Coller RAF 1942 War Diary

 

Background

Aircraftman Benjamin Thomas Coller was born on the 14th January 1907 in Bristol England. He married Kathleen (Kay) Sylvia Case on the 1st June 1937. His best friend was called Dennis.

The diary starts in Liverpool in April 1942 with the author aged 35 boarding a troopship headed for Africa and ultimately Lake Victoria where he was servicing Catalina flying boats as an RAF mechanic for 209 Squadron.

What is striking in this diary though is the racial prejudice towards “natives” prevalent at this time… Shocking you may say, but real nonetheless. Make your own mind up.

He survived the war eventually passing away in March 1993 aged 86. He was survived by Kay who herself passed away in December 2004 aged 94.

Diary Extract

Liverpool Docks S.S. Duchess of Bedford

On Monday April 13th 1942, we travelled from Blackpool by train to Liverpool docks, where we boarded the S.S. Duchess of Bedford at 12.45pm, having been taken from the station in closed lorries.

We were taken four decks down, namely “D” deck, which was very close and stuffy & seemed to be part of the original hold, as the stored meat was in close proximity & stank abominably.

Built in tables had been erected with fixed planks for seats & held at a crush 18 men allotted to it. There were seven of these in a space of 30ft. by 15ft. and we had no means of storing our vast amount of kit, except in racks 9 inches from the ceiling where you had to bend two double with your head laying flush to put things in or out. Everyone’s kit got mixed up together & therefore everyone was losing things & “whipping” someone else’s.

At night you rushed for your hammock from a pile and hung them on hooks over the aforesaid tables head to feet & with no room whatsoever between.   It took you all your ability to undress, with of course nowhere to put your clothes except in the hammock with you and the struggle of 126 airmen rushing for hooks, so as not to be forced to sleep on the floor was more than a herculean endeavour especially to those who were late off the mark.

The rising in the morning presented the same difficulties (if not worse) & you balanced with one foot on 2 inches of clear space, while the ship rolled & pitched. When creeping or at least stooping very low, you tried to evade the swinging hammocks & the bodies on the floor, to the stairs, whence you climbed precariously to the aft promenade deck, on which was erected on one side a “troops washhouse”, bowls swinging on an axis with a catch.

On each side of the washhouse, with just room for each to stand up straight, but not to bend simultaneously, to swill your face, but this in no way mattered because as fresh water was restricted to one hour twice a day& as there were at least four thousand troops aboard, the queue was always so long that hopes of getting through in the hour seemed very remote.

Hence I at least went wash-less in the mornings except on very few occasions. I made a great effort to wash and shave at night by standing in a queue long before the water was due to be turned on and even then as the clock kept moving backwards and forwards as we travelled from late spring into winter across the equator, it was more often than not too dark to see to shave, so you performed by trial & error or sense of feel.

Even then, in the space between the participants of both bowls, was an anxiously waiting airman who pounced on the bowl every time you reached for your towel, which incidentally you held between your knees with your other toilet accessories in great danger of being “whipped” when your eyes were shut.

All this was accompanied by shouts of “get a move on” or similar remarks, with a mixture of obscene & foul language & a great pushing of contestants to & fro in the struggle for cleanliness.

On the other side of the deck was a similar construction labelled “troops latrine” & consisted of a continuous plank with the necessary apertures over a drainage way sometimes flushed with sea water & to which you perched yourself in the row, like budgerigars on a perch, by means of a lower continuous plank, which formed a resting place for your feet whilst attending to nature’s call.

Facing you & too close to be comfortable was another drain which was in constant use, whilst you soliloquised upon your seat. After the first few days, no paper was available & added difficulties were thrust upon us.

After this started the queues of the day. Breakfast at 7.30am meant that the hungry and eager fellows were in formation on stairs & walks as early as 6.30am, this queue extended to the aft prom deck and around the hatch culminating in a large mob around the inlet door where, on the queue moving, each and everyone tried to avoid the long wait & dip into the queue, amidst yells and howls from those behind.

Upon reaching the mess door, which had been the 3rd class dining room in peace time, you produced a card previously given to us & marked “first sitting”, as there were three sittings, breakfast went well on in the morning & the 1st dinner queue was not many minutes behind the last breakfast. Upon reaching the mess you made your way to the kitchen, which was stifling hot even in the North Atlantic & a perfect “Hades” in the tropics, & collected your breakfast.

The food was terrible & repugnant in most cases. At first the rolls of white bread were the only things you could eat & enjoy & then even these as the journey carried on into weeks developed through the stored flour, a crop of large white maggots with black heads & this continued despite all complaints, as of course the maggots developed in the heat of cooking & was alive when you received it.

At one meal while at port in Freetown West Africa, we were given some meat of indistinct “nationality” & which was decidedly unfit for human consumption. This seemed to be a breaking point & we staged a sit down refusing to eat it, or move, until something was done. In fact it seemed likely to develop into a mutiny of the first order, as even officers of high rank were pelted with the bread rolls, when they said nothing could be done.

The reason chiefly for this was the knowledge that the officers were having very good food, even to egg & bacon, turkey, duck, grapefruit and ices, this the orderlies who served them could tell us and which was thrown back in the officers faces at that meal time. Also sundry menu cards collected through the same source were produced to prove the fact. Eventually we were given extra rolls and marmalade, but even then things did not subside by any means, although we were promised a good dinner, which needless to say, never materialised.

It was nearly half past ten before we came out & we had been in the queue at 6.45am. I had sweated & sweated until my shirt was wet through and I was completely “browned off”. Afterwards we heard that the Captain of the ship had wanted the hoses turned on us, but had been prevailed upon by the officers, who I honestly think had been very surprised.

Anyway, after this description I will go back to the beginning & how on Wednesday, April 15th we sailed off from Liverpool & travelled in convoy with such ships as “Cape Town Castle”, “Reina del Pacifico”, “Empress of Japan”, “Highland Princess”, “Dempo” & lots more with suitable naval escort sailing up the St. George’s channel, past Scotland & turning due West after nearly reaching Iceland, continuing across the N. Atlantic for three days during which we put the clock back 1 hour every night, until we turned due South. For days we sailed in this direction with the weather getting warmer and warmer. Then one day April 23rd we were ordered to put away our “blue” & don our tropical kit with topees.

Freetown Harbour West Africa

Then on Wednesday morning the 29th April exactly two weeks from leaving Liverpool we sighted the coast of Africa & at 12.30pm the whole convoy anchored in Freetown harbour, Sierra Leone, West Africa where immediately the natives, practically blue black in colour rowed out to us, in small canoes of flimsy construction & dived continuously for pennies thrown from the ship by the troops.

Some of these were stark naked & entirely unabashed & they resorted to suggestive actions and filthy language (learnt no doubt from proceeding English travellers) to cause a laugh & subsequent throwing of coppers. After a while they demanded “tanners” silver ones & not Glasgow tanners & would not dive.

Whilst here, others also came with fruit which we were forbidden to buy, due to prevalent diseases, rife amongst the population. We were afterwards told that one in three either had V.D., leprosy, typhus etc.

We were not allowed ashore & at first we had orders to remain below decks from tea onwards due to the mosquito & resultant malaria. Anyway the same day this was cancelled & we were allowed on deck until 10pm if we wore our long khaki slacks & covered ourselves in mosquito ointment which was provided.

This was quite a pleasure as previously we were not allowed to smoke after black out, because of enemy action & this varied between 6pm & 7.30pm. Incidentally the only cigarettes available was an awful Rhodesian cigarette called C to C (or Cape to Cairo) an awful cigarette which in the end we had to smoke although after a week or so we were provided with 20 Ardath a week for 6d. It appears the ship had stocks of English cigs aboard but as the C to C was a gift from the Cape Town firm they made more profit selling them at 1/3- for 50.

Freetown was only under a partial blackout & the lights from the nearby shore & the lighted ships at anchor with all port holes open gave us a glorious reminder of peace time. The full moon as well made things quite pleasant for a few hours.

On Sunday May 3rd at 10.30am we drew anchor & sailed through the minefield into open water & continued our journey to an unknown destination. As I mentioned before, breakfast started our daily routine of queuing, as after breakfast you stood in the queue for the latrine followed by half an hour’s boat drill (stood to attention), standing alternately on one foot and then the other, due to the roll of the ship.

You then rushed with thousands more to the canteen which sold lemonade at 5 ½ d a bottle, 2d retuned if you felt inclined to go round the queue again with the empty bottle. Sample biscuits plainly marked “sample” & tasting fusty of being kept in a ships hold for months, these cost 3d a packet and held 6 biscuits. Cigarettes, one sort only, C to C an awful blend of Rhodesian costing 1/3- for 50. Sweets sometimes & chocolate of S. African manufacture.

After a few weeks, tea was introduced at 1 ½ d a cup & this proved so popular that queuing started immediately after dinner at 1.45pm for opening of afternoon canteen at 4pm. This was due to the limited supply which most exasperatingly ran out three ahead of you after waiting an hour & a half or more.

After the “mutiny” which had happened at Freetown, a messing committee had been formed, which met the messing officers at 11am daily, & to which all complaints were given & subsequently divulged to higher authorities. This in reality was to stop a repetition of the former affair as except for one thing no betterment of food or conditions resulted.

This improvement was the issue of “Carr’s” English biscuits at the canteen, of much better quality & larger packets for 2d instead of 3d. Even this was preceded by a notice to the effect that all 3d packets of biscuits had been sold out & from that date only 2d packets would be available, this despite the knowledge that the night previously the bins were piled high with these inferior things.

On fine days you could not without great difficulty, find anywhere to sit on deck, as even the rails (used as leaning posts) & the decks themselves were full with sitting & recumbent figures, with just a space here and there to gingerly pick your way from one place to another, unavoidably stepping on someone’s toe in the process.

On cold or wet days, the decks below were crammed to overflowing & you sweated abominably seated (if possible) as close as the proverbial sardine in a tin. Sea water was used for baths and showers, but this left you very sticky & not even clean as the soap would in no way lather although after a while we could obtain sea water soap at the canteen which was certainly a little better.

Continued a month later.

On the night of May 4th we crossed the equator & again began the same boring time as we had experienced. On one particular day in the late afternoon the date of which I have forgotten, a cruiser which was sailing on our left or port struck a mine, we later heard that 30 men had been killed although the ship was saved & towed into a port.

Except for the appearance one day of a hostile plane which did not attack us, this was the only enemy action we witnessed on our stay on the “Duchess of Bedford”. I was between decks at the time of the explosion, which made our own 20,000 tonnes shudder & we rushed on deck to see the aforesaid cruiser belching smoke & flames amidships.

Soon after, the ensigns were flying at half mast, in respect of the causalities. On May 11th we changed again from tropical kit into service blue, although except for the sea breeze the weather was still very hot.

English money changed to South African on board May 17th 1942.

Durban, Clairwood Camp South Africa

Then early on the morning of May 18th, a fortnight from Freetown & a month from England, we sighted land once more & at 12 o’clock am we were in the bay at Durban, South Africa. It looked a very pleasant place from the ship & later we found how true our impressions were. The same evening, sailors & our own fellows found one of the hold doors open & promptly they raided the stores including grapefruits, chocolate, jam & many other things, all of which we had never seen let alone tasted.

Eventually, as was bound to happen, the authorities heard of the raising parties & an officer came down & locked the door of the hold on those unfortunates still down there. These were later given 14 days “jankers” & a sum of £3 odd each for the value of the property stolen & damaged was stopped from their pay.

At 10pm the same day, after watching the army disembark & the goings on of the native boys on the quay, we had orders to put on packs and kit bags & disembark on to the quay. At 11.50pm we got into a train on the dock side, a typical native one at that, consisting of wooden seats with wooden backs & most uncomfortable, we were taken 8 miles from Durban to a camp called Clairwood consisting of hundreds of tents with rows of electric light standards all ablaze.

There after much to-do & the usual inefficiency we at last got a tent between 8 of us, but no blankets. At 2am we turned up in hundreds for a meal but by the time I got in we had some scraps of bread butter with half a mug of tea certainly not worth the fighting or wasted time. I think we got into our tent lying fully dressed on our ground sheets at 4am.

At 6am we were up again shrammed to the marrow & neither of us having had a wink of sleep, in fact at 5am I myself took a walk around the tents to get myself warm (the lights were still on). At 6.30 the sun rose & by 7am it was simply scorching.

We again stood in a long queue for a breakfast which proved quite good, after our weeks of uneatable stuff. Then at 1.30pm we were provided with passes to proceed out of camp. These had to be signed & there was a frantic dash for the orderly room & the resultant long queue. After a while we walked out of camp to the station & there were thousands cramming the road & the very long platform of the station.

In turn we were bunged into trains, one of which pulled in as soon as the last had started off. No money or tickets were given & we found later you obtained your ticket at Durban on your return. All the trains were packed, goods vans & all, & as you got it, so you remained the whole way. Only once of many subsequent journeys did I ever get a seat, except once on the floor of the guard’s van.

Once at Durban we walked around the fine streets & looked at the shops, calling at a restaurant for a bacon & egg tea. Then visiting a cinema to see “City for Conquest” catching the 10.30pm train back to camp. On the Wednesday & Thursday we did much the same. Although we were late on the Wed as I was on a cookhouse fatigue for the whole morning & early afternoon.

(Sent Kay 1 pair silk stockings, 1lb of tea & 2 airgraphs – mum & dad 1 airgraph)

On our last evening at Durban whilst waiting in a queue for a service canteen, a lady invited a friend and I to her house for tea. There we found she was a Scotswomen & had a son & daughter but no husband (deceased) & we had a hot bath & a good tea & spent a very pleasant evening.

H.M.T Empire Woodlark

The following morning Friday May 22nd we were awakened at 4am & told to pack & be on parade at 6am. There after many roll calls which lasted until gone 8am with us standing in full sun with full packs we marched & were once more taken to the docks. Here we embarked on H.M.T. “Empire Woodlark” (7000 tons) which was an old cargo boat which had been out of service many years (so we were later told) & had been re-serviced for troop carrying.

The first impression as we went down the rough iron staircases into the holds were to say the least, awful, especially as this time we held tickets for F deck the deepest of all, on the keel of the ship at least 15 feet below water & no portholes or ventilation except of the shaft system. The place was dark, dismal & damp and we were again cramped for space & with the mess table arrangement as on the Bedford.

Here we fed, not in a dining room as the Bedford and three orderlies were appointed to fetch the meals & wash up all plates & dishes etc. I was among these & we had our work cut out in the doing of it. We fetched the food in tin wash bowls & had to divide out the food as evenly as we could. This meant that there were many grumbles because someone had a little more than the grumbler. It also meant that by the time the first eating such as the meat & veg for dinner, or porridge for breakfast had been served out, they were all ready for the second course & the servers (all 3 of us) had not even started ours & which at all times was cold & cleachy.

Many is the time when I did not eat a thing, although the food was certainly better than the Bedford. When we fetched a meal, only two of us were allowed in the kitchen & we had to wait in a queue in a stifling atmosphere until our deck and section was called by an N.C.O.   Then we precariously carried soup, meat & potatoes, sweet & tea and gingerly made our way down the wet & slippery iron staircases against the roll of the ship. After the meal all slop had to be carried up six of these stairways & empties over the ships side. The orderly that fetched the water for washing up was at least ½ hour waiting in another queue.

The lavatories where in the fore part of the ship, as originally it was the crew’s conveniences and not a made up affair, but even this at times was disgusting as the runways got blocked though constant & continual usage & when the ship rolled the contents were slopped all over the iron floor & you had to wade through this whilst it eddied backward and forward with a swish and a swirl.

There – we didn’t take much notice much notice of this as well all considered that it was a much better ship than the Bedford, the reason that the food was at most times eatable, had done this. The canteen was terrible; just one small hole in the aft of the ship & the queue went along the length of the ship. Once more the only cigarettes available was C to C & now you could only obtain 20 & as I was orderly & had to be back early for fetching the meal there was quite often when I stood in the queue for an hour or so only to leave it before nearing the hole in the wall.

There was no seating accommodation on deck at all & being a smaller ship very little space on the deck. A couple of days out we passed the coast of Madagascar on our starboard side & here part of the convoy left us during the following night.

By this time all my clothes were absolutely filthy, including all my winter underwear, with which I had left England. The towels I had tried to wash in salt water absolutely stank, & the more so, because you could not leave them out to dry off a bit, but had to pack everything away in your kit bag, as soon as you had finished it. All my tropical kit, shirts etc. were dark & heavy with the continuous perspiring which dried on you each successive time.

On May 24th & on May 26th we advanced our time an hour on each occasion, this brought us to within one hour of British Double Summer Time.

About this time I stood in a queue one afternoon to have my hair-cut by a member of the crew who it seems had made a practice of hacking off the crew’s hair when needed. Now it seemed it was his opportunity & ours for you could not stand it when you hair became too long in this climate. We all took our turn to sit on an upturned box on the deck & have it sheared off with some clippers. The last time I had had it cut was on the D. of B. but there we had used the regular barber’s shop of the 3rd class passengers which had not been altered & a regular hairdresser had been appointed.

Another thing that was instituted on this boat was a 24 hour guard, both for above & below decks. The above deck guard, in most of the appointed spots, were to keep a bit of free deck space for the officers. The below deck was guarding all sorts of odd places & not needed at all. All personnel had to take their blankets & sleep by their post on the floor.

South African money changed to East African on board 30/5/42.

Mombasa East Africa – Port Reitz

At 2.30pm on the 30th May we left the convoy & proceeded on our own entirely. Then, early in the morning of May 31st, two destroyers came out to meet us & at 9am we docked alongside a small quay at Mombasa East Africa.

First of all swarms of native boys in rags & tatters & bearing a waist band marked K.U.R.H. this standing for Kenya & Uganda Railway Harbour. These boys carried all the ship’s cargo out from the hold (which was in our Sections of F.2.) on their heads.

Then during the morning the army personnel on board began to disembark & we watched them being taken away by lorry. We ourselves had dinner on board which I remember was not very special & when we were emptying the remains the nigger boys asked for some, & they all set to eating all the rubbish imaginable. Then after we had washed up we hurriedly packed all our stuff into kit bags & carried them up on deck.

Then we all lumbered into lorries & were taken from the docks through one part of Mombasa & on through a native village, which looked very grim indeed, past innumerable stretches of water composing the estuary & at 5pm we pulled into Port Reitz aerodrome 8 miles from Mombasa.

(Sunday May 31st 1942)

Here we were detailed into parties of 22 & taken to huts which were already full of airmen composed of ground gunners & who had been there three weeks. There were also many sailors and soldiers, the sailors being part of the fleet air arm. We were provided with a thin flock mattress & a mosquito net & had to arrange our beds on the ground floor between the other’s canvas camp beds. Afterwards we made our way to the mess hut & were provided with a meal & we were waited upon by native boys.

In the morning we paraded at 9am & after various instructions were dismissed for the day. We then found out that the camp was full of coconut, lemon, orange & banana trees & the fellows promptly fell to, collecting the fruit, which was not yet ripe & unfit to eat.

There was a canteen serviced by the South Africans of whom there was quite a number on the camp & was open at 10.30am for tea & sandwiches & sometimes fruit, oranges costing us 3 for 10 cents and again at 6pm at night. Cigarettes were plentiful & Woodbines as big as our English Gold Flakes cost us 1 shilling 10 cents. There was a wireless in an annexe of the hut, where at 6.45 & 8.45pm we could hear the news from London via the Nairobi wireless station.

The animal life at the camp, consisted of a few monkeys in the trees & one tame Busk, but there were numerous reptiles & insects including some snakes, some of these being the dreaded black mamba, scorpions, lizards, colossal spiders, white ants which eat anything & everything, grasshoppers of a super variety quite 2 ½ “ to 3 “ long & which could fly as well as hop, thousands of kinds of insects crawling, flying & hopping & once I saw a chameleon.

Despite all this on the third day we were moved into small marquee tents (six in a tent) with canvas camp beds for sleeping. Each six men or tent were provided with a native boy to do our washing & for which we paid him 5/- a month & a 1/- a month for soap & charcoal, the latter being used in their flat irons. We found that these boys came to the tent at 6am & brought us tea in our mugs a few minutes later, then he cleaned our shoes & buttons & made up our beds when we went to breakfast. He again brought us tea in the afternoons & made up our beds for the night.

The camp contained excellent washhouses & shower baths which we indulged in frequently. After a few days, our own squadron cooks started our own messing & we dined in an open palm covered hut & had to wait on ourselves using our own mess tins.

Once a week we were allowed a pass to visit Mombasa & were taken there & back by the camp lorries. These lorries leaving the Regal cinema at 11.30pm at night. The town itself was very native & contained very few white people. There was an excellent Service Club ran by white people & the navy where you could obtain cold meat & salad or sausage & mash & fruit salad with tea & bread & butter for 1 sh. 10c.

Except for one or two shops, they were entirely Indian or native & sold anything & everything & which if buying, you tried to beat them down in price.

At night the touts pestered you to have a “good time” “very nice girls” “very cheap”. These girls were of course native girls & we were instructed to leave the brothels severely alone as disease was rife amongst these women. Needless to say the majority of us took this advice, although I think it would have taken great courage & a very passionate feeling to enter one of these evil smelling places, even to those that dared.

The town contained 2 cinemas, the Regal & the Majestic which gave a 2 hrs performance with a main feature & news for 1/6. All European upstairs & natives down. On Sundays only native films were shown these were generally of Indian origin.

One Sunday evening a few friends & I took advantage of a lorry going to Mombasa for Church. This was a beautiful building, all white & topped with a minaret like a mosque, the windows were just open lattice work & large fans were revolving. After the service, we all went to the canteen for tea & cakes.

In the first few weeks of our stay at Port Reitz we had nothing to do, as we were still waiting for the Catalina’s to arrive, & after morning parade we were dismissed to do as we like & we took many walks to the beach & also we had many a sleep on our beds. On some afternoons parties were arranged & we went to a swimming beach a couple of miles from the camp, where the water was very warm & generally reserved for officers.

One morning we were taken for a gas bomb demonstration on the outskirts of the aerodrome & in the firing of one gas shell it fell short only a few feet from us & exploded, with the result that one fellow standing directly in front of me & also a couple of native soldiers were hit. The fellow by me later lost his eye & was taken to Nairobi.

Nyali Transit Camp

Then on Monday June 5th at dinner time after having had our names called out the day before 18 of us out of 100 were told to pack as quickly as possible & after much toil & sweat we boarded a lorry with all our kit & were taken to Nyali transit camp 5 miles from Mombasa over the Nyali bridge. It was a camp in the wilds full of army personnel & under their command. When we arrived the rules & regulations were read to us by an Officer & then we were left to fend for ourselves.

Small tents were there which held 3 at a pinch but the difficulty seemed to be beds, there seemed to be only iron bedsteads all dilapidated & broken of which we took the best. Then we rushed for tea in the army’s mess built with planks from Chevrolet packing cases & back to erect our mosquito nets as best we could.

In the morning the rest of the party arrived with an officer & sergeant both of whom seemed very surprised at the awful conditions of the camp. Washing was the chief cause, 6 taps in an old thatched shed for numbers of personnel which splashed on a flat board as you washed. Our luxury of native boys was gone, & you had to wash your own clothes (if you could).

Then we had to take our meals in the shelter of two tents joined together with rough tables & forms, & meals consisted of a piece of meat & bread & butter as we were lacking the army rations & they could not spare much. The food was nearly as bad as the D. of B. & certainly not the same amount. The tents being just a top covering, allowed all the dirt & dust to blow on what food you did have & the butter was gritty to eat after only a few minutes of the table.

Afterwards came the difficulty in washing your mess tins of the grease, in one cold water tap used for everyone on the camp. Of course removal of grease was hopeless & in the morning after the late meal at 5.15pm & even after hanging the mess tin on the side of the tent wall, it was full of ants attracted by the food residue. We afterwards counteracted this by scouring it with dirt & grit & giving the tin a swill before each meal.

Fatigues came every other day & entailed duty of washing greasy pots & pans from 9am until 9am the next day. The only consolation about this camp was the canteen & the swimming beach of beautiful white sand which incidentally was covered by land crabs at night.

The sergeant in charge of us was a very good fellow & organised several things to make it brighter, one of these was a sports afternoon & at this I won a 10 cent packet of cigs (all competitors subscribing 1 cent) coming in third in the 3 legged race.

Snakes – black mambas (the most feared) & puff adders were in great numbers at this camp & you had to keep your eyes open in the grass & lavatories especially after dark. When you were free from fatigues you could obtain a pass from 2.30pm to 23.59 & on three occasions we took advantage of this although it meant a 5 mile walk to Mombasa & back, unless you took a taxi for the return (12/-), a charge of 2/- being made to cross the Nyali bridge.

Stationed at this camp was the band of the K.A.R.’s all natives except the conductor & on many evenings they gave us a selection of music in the evening the only trouble being that the canteen only opened for ½ hr on these occasions & as you could not remain in your tent unless under the mosquito net & there was no light at all we always spent our evening in the canteen, generally playing solo or crib.

Received telegram from Kay which had been lying at Port Reitz for over a week.

Kipevu – S.S. Manela

Things went on like this for nearly a fortnight & then on Sat June 27th at 8.30, lorries were sent to take us to Kipevu our new camp, but which had only been started for the “kites” and which had nothing but a few offices & the slip.

So from here we boarded a power boat & was taken to the S.S. Manela which was lying at anchor some way off the slip. Here we had to eat & sleep, being taken to work by power boats daily. Again we came back to the Duchess of Bedford conditions except that the food was very good, but we had to deposit our kit bags in a locked room & store our daily needs on the racks above the mess tables. Again we had to sleep in hammocks & after the first week when innumerable cases of malaria had occurred we also had to sleep under a mosquito net, most precariously arranged over the hammock & erected every night & stowed away each morning.

Then as the main party arrived, this business of getting us to the slip for work became a farcical nightmare there being only one power boat beside a refueler, which towed two or three lifeboats & which was running all day & night & soon became the worse for wear & always breaking down.

In the early beginnings although waiting on the ship’s stairs at 8am it was 11.30am before we arrived & then as dinner was from 12 till 1 they were soon struggling to take us back. Of course this could not last for long & then they decided to bring our dinner from the ship to the shore, all of us having to take our mess tins & irons & eat it picnic fashion wherever we could. We were also given two bottles of lemonade each day until the fellows did not return the bottles & it dropped to one.

When the rains came the whole place became one sea of mud & the dishing out of dinner & the finding of a place to eat it became an annoyance. On days when the power boat was unserviceable we rowed ourselves the 2 to 3 miles with 10 oars & fifty in the lifeboats. The M.B.C. caused us to swear many & many a time with their efforts to get us to work and back to the ship again to say nothing of waiting & waiting for the power dinghy to be taken to moored aircraft for our daily work.

On one occasion the power boat had towed us to within easy distance of the slip when as the practice was, they ease off the lifeboat tow ropes & instead of drifting to the slip we drifted onto the rocks & we all had to take off our shoes & socks & jump off & wade to the shore, midst heaps of oil & mud.

At 12 o’clock a native arrived with baskets full of bananas, oranges, pineapples, mangoes & coconuts which he sold very cheaply & for which there was always a good queue. This fruit when purchased had to be dipped in a solution of permanganate of potash to kill any lurking germs. As of course we had lost the luxury of the native boy for washing, arrangements were made for a Mombasa laundry to collect our washing & for which we paid ourselves at the rate of about 25 cents an article.

The position of this camp was the most aggravating by being on the mainland in easy view of Mombasa docks & the road to town, but separated by the sea, so this entailed about a 6 mile journey by road or rather cart track to reach the town. When the motor boats were available liberty boats were run from the ”Manela” at 7pm & 7.30pm & returned at 10pm & 11.30pm. This was none to certain & on one particular night we missed the last boat by 3 minutes, it going back before time & we waited until 1.35am when we were lucky to get a native boat back for 2/-a head (there being 6 of us) saving us a most unpleasant night out amidst the dangers of the mosquito.

We were also given to understand that being aboard a British ship our 6d a day colonial pay & free issue of cigarettes would now be stopped. But anyway after just over a week the cigs were issued again being “Bears Honeydew” & the 2nd week “Springbok”. Some said that the issue of 2 bottles of lemonade covered the 6d a day.

The corporal of the section at this time had had an operation & was taking 14 days leave at Nairobi, so a L.A.C. was in charge & days off were arranged but which did not work out so successfully, many the day when we had to idle away the most of the day & yet look busy & yet we could not officially receive a break.

Then after a week the issue of the lemonade was stopped altogether & the order was to take our water bottles. After a while we were given a section, & by this time a corporal had arrived, but two of our fellow instructors had gone to Kisumu & two more to Dar es Salaam where operational & major bases were being formed.

About this time we were given to understand that quite a number of all sections were being removed to Kisumu on Lake Victoria leaving 4 or 5 at Mombasa & according to a list made out by the NCO in charge I was one of those to remain at Mombasa.

Attended a military funeral of one of the fellows who died at Mombasa English Cemetery.

Our first few days of having a section of our own was spent by myself playing an active part in erecting tables etc from the store of timber being used to build the camp.

The S.S. Manela had by this time had several berths in the harbour, caused by the Navy being in or out, but eventually we were permanently anchored quite near to the ship & near to shore but the comedy of getting to & from by lifeboats still went on.

As things progressed so did the work & on some days we were very busy but on others, when “kites” were out we spent our time in “making things”. Red tape or bullshit soon began to make an appearance but the fellows did not take too much notice of it.

On July 21st 1942 I had my first real delight when I received an airgraph from Kay & then on the next day I received one from mother & dad.

Nearly every week we had a day off & we usually caught the boat to the slip in the morning & then walked to the main Mombasa – Port Reitz road where we usually got a lift into town. We spent our time visiting the native shops & buying curios etc. or needed articles, having meals (dinner & tea) at the Services canteen & spending a couple of hours in the pictures.

Kisumu Lake Victoria

On Thursday July 30th I heard I was included in a party of 60 to go to Kisumu on Lake Victoria for the purpose of major inspections. On Friday July 31st we left the old Manela at 1.30pm for the slip, where we caught a lorry for Mombasa station. At 4.30pm we drew out with 6 in a compartment that really slept four, the seats being used for two & the backs pulled up to make a bed each side.

As we got into the more sparse districts the natives lined the railway route (a single line) & ran alongside for pennies & cigarettes. The native women, some only in grass skirts, gave impromptu can-can dances on the banks. Each station, generally a collection of huts, was thronged with natives, all come for the excitement & for what they could obtain.

The party carried rations and at 6.30 we had bread & butter with cold meat, tins of damsons & a cup of tea. Then we bought a dinner ticket for the 3rd sitting at 9pm. When we went to the dining car & had soup, fish, braised tongue, meat peas & potatoes, fruit salad, cheese & coffee for 2/-.

After this we made up our beds & slept fitfully until 6am when we washed & shaved & began to take notice of the countryside.   In turns we saw gazelles, wildebeests, ostriches, vultures, zebras, parrots & many other queer birds & animals of which I do not know the name.

At 9am we drew into Nairobi the capital of Kenya 6000 feet above sea level. Here we spent a couple of hours in the town a most excellent place with a large white population & also plenty of services. We had a small breakfast at the services club & then entrained again at 11.50am. From here we were still climbing until we were in the midst of an array of mountains with glorious scenery on each side.

The station here was called Escarpment & the air was quite chilly. This second stage of the journey unfortunately was not provided with a dining car, but we had a few rations & tea was made for us. At 8pm we arrived at Nakuru, where we had an hour & half stop, here we went into the town & had a mixed grill supper with tea for 1/-. Once more we settled down for the night & at 5.30am we were roused & at 6am we drew into Kisumu station & was met by an officer & lorry.

We piled the kit into the lorry & we were taken through the small town to what had been an Indian hotel here we had beds of a canvas type & made up boards. It then appeared that this was an annexe of an English hotel called Hotel Marina in which the small previous party were living & in which we should all be eating. Here we had breakfast of porridge & crab being waited upon by natives in white with green sashes.

The hotel had been commandeered by the government & was for our sole use. It contained a nice lounge & bar & things looked very promising. In fact it was the best conditions I had ever encountered in the R.A.F. After breakfast we sorted ourselves out for bed & spaces.

We were told that as the last major (service) had just been finished, there would be no work for 2 or 3 days. So we dressed into khaki, the sun making it very hot, (although we were 3,490 feet above sea level & being situated right on the equator) & then took a stroll into town.

It was a very clean place, the roads lined by trees & situated on the edge of a small part of Lake Victoria but only containing one main road of shops. After our stroll we made our way back to the hotel for lunch which was most appetising but not of great quantity. In the afternoon we took another walk to the native market & at 6.30pm we had dinner at the hotel.

On Monday (Bank Holiday) a party of 12 or so were going out to the jungle 150 miles away to salvage a Stuka, so once again we had a holiday. Continuing with days off, the Thursday two friends and I walked along the main Uganda road to a village called Kibos 5 miles from Kisumu, where we created quite a mild uproar the villagers turning out in force to see us, the women being either dressed in bright colours & only wearing a loin cloth & most of the children being in the nude.

A rather strange thing I noticed here at night was a fly (probably a firefly) or insect which intermittently flashed a green light from its body this being very peculiar when flying just in front of your eyes.

Attended the English Church at Kisumu for morning service on 9th August just a small place with a civilian congregation of 6. On Tuesday August 11th we started work on a major on aircraft L after having a week & one day’s holiday. We left the hotel at 7.45am & were taken to the Imperial Airways hangar & airport by lorry 3 miles from Kisumu, being brought back for lunch at 12.30.

On these days of holiday 3 or 4 of us took long walks of 10 or 12 miles into the less frequented parts causing great concern among the natives who shouted, stopped & stared. The children generally naked followed behind us at a reasonable distance & stopped as soon as we stopped to look at them. Twice we walked to a village called Kibos having a lemonade at the Indian store. On another day we walked for about 7 miles on the Kisi Road & came across a band of natives all dressed up with 8 foot spears in their hands doing a sort of war dance, the women beating tom toms.

An English man who subsequently picked us up in his car & took us back to Kisumu told us they were probably going to kill a cow that day & were taking advantage to have their “fun”.

After we had started work we got down to the major & practically finished it in a week & whilst other sections were still working we took it in turns to have a day off. Then two of us started off from the hotel at 8am & walked along the edge of the lake as far as we could meeting a fishing village ran by Indians & Arabs the natives operating the Arab dhows for the fishing, here we could not follow the lake anymore because of vast swamps teeming with mosquito & impassable, so rather than take the same way back we cut across the bush land through the native hamlets seeing many interesting things especially at the waterholes & taking photographs of the natives.

Our hopes of a few days off between majors were dashed when the next “kite” came up on our first day off from the 1st inspection, also rumours began to float of all civilian amenities being taken away from the hotel & soon after the female manageress & bar lady were the first to go.

On Monday August 31st 1942 a new scheme started whereby reveille was at 4.15am, roll call in the lounge at 4.45am, breakfast at 5.45 & 6.10 & start work at the hangar at 6.30am with two sandwiches 7 a cup of tea at 11am & finish at 2pm for the day. Lunch being served at 2.45pm & 3.15pm & dinner as usual at 6.30 &7.10pm. This entailed getting to bed very early at night & even then feeling very sleepy at the start but enabling us to miss the afternoon heat which certainly was rather overpowering in the hangar.

Then on the following Tuesday our mattresses were taken from us & we had to sleep on the bare boards of the made up bedstead. On this same afternoon Mr Russell picked us (Dennis & I) up in his car & took us to his home for a cup of tea, gave us a number of books to take back for the lads, & then drove us round the lake edge back to the hotel for dinner.

On Thursday Sept 3rd three friends and myself attended church for National Prayer on the completion of three years of war. Then Friday at pay I was only paid 25/- as the officer reckoned that myself & others had been overpaid (just as I was getting right too), life seemed not so good on that day.

On the following Sunday having a day off & sitting in the lounge it being raining the mail was brought in & of all the large amount not one was for me again. It seems now that things are indeed bad as I expected my wife to at least write to me. It is now nearly 5 months since I left England & I have had 2 airgraphs & 1 telegram from her whilst other Bristolians are having mail at each delivery which is twice a week.

I realise of course that Kay is writing but the sending of surface mail once per week that never arrives this end is no balm whatever. As always in life the following Tuesday I receive 2 airgraphs from Kay & 2 from mother a most glorious change of outlook.

Large chameleon in van at slip, spend half an hour putting it on a different colour backgrounds to see it change.

Heard that aircraft “P” had blown up at Mombasa – depth charge dropped from main plane. Two days after this heard that aircraft L was lost with all the crew of 10. Heard that two ground staff were lost on “P”.

Start to play tennis Nyanza Club during next rest spell between majors Sept 16, 17, 18 & 19th. Find difficulty in serving. Afternoons spent in the lounge dozing or playing chess with Dennis.

On Sept 29th I did my third hangar guard. This necessitated having lunch at 3 o’clock and another meat tea at 4.45pm leaving for the hangar by lorry at 5.15 & remaining on guard all night (sleeping in the plane) 7 going back to breakfast on the first lorry returning in the morning 7 then you were given that day off.

We started a major on “N” on Sunday September 26th after nearly a fortnight’s rest, and then on Monday Sept 27th the kite “M” came up for modifications & a 90 hr – this was the first occasion when two Catalina’s were in the hangar together.

Today Sept 29th the rumour was strong that in 14 days we should all be moving to the transit camp which is being built by the swimming baths, a couple of miles from Kisumu. I only hope this is not true.

On October 10th went on test flight of Catalina “N” at 3pm whilst on the slip, 800 gallons of petrol, 400 in each tank was pumped on & at 4pm we were towed on to the lake. We took off quite well & flew at an altitude of 6,500 ft. We dived & banked & turned, it was all quite thrilling, but the noise of the engines was not at all pleasant.

The machine guns were fired when over a deserted part of the lake & at Meosina, where the pilot had some friends, we dived low over the house & you could plainly see them waving & on the last dive a parcel was dropped to them from the blister.

Several times the pilot dived low of native villages & made the natives & their animals run away like mad. The impression of height was not at all as I imagined it would be. We gracefully landed on Lake Victoria at 6.10pm & was taken by boat to the slip.

On October 12th the riggers started a double shift at work 6am-2.30 & 2.30-10.30pm as the kites were coming up for major in twos and threes & there being many rumours of the squadron getting ready for a move to Durban.

A letter sent up by Sgt. Ryan from Mombasa told us of 3 Inst Reps having already gone there but no-one knowing for what purpose or for how long. Also we were informed that aircraft “M” was on the rocks at Pamanzi & that “S” had landed through lack of petrol & having gone of course, at some Vichy owned islands near Madagascar & the crew etc had been interned. This would make a loss of four kites out of the nine we started with.

Plenty of work these days & Oct 16th a full day from 6am to 6pm was started at the hangar & this in tropical summer heat right on the equator. October 18th this full day discontinued & started 6am – 2.30pm on the 19th.

On Oct 28th received parcel of cigs from mother & 3 letters & 2 airgraphs from Kay & mother. On Nov 5th, Dennis & George leave us to return to Mombasa, leaving Ken in charge of John, Ray & myself. Nov 13th – arrears of payment made up & the stoppings of Sept 4th paid. Received 100/- in a £5 note.

At this time all kites had received a major at Kisumu bar “K” & there was no work (or much) to do. Mr Pearson had left for Mombasa with Dr. George & a young Pilot Officer named Willis was in charge of our detachment with another austere looking man as Commanding Officer being a Squadron Leader. This person immediately changed things & whether there was any work or no, we had to go to the hangar every alternate days in two parties.

Also at this time numbers of fellows were coming from Nairobi, Lakura etc to join us at the marina they being sent to form a M.U. this does not look too rosy for us that may be left.

Nov 14th – this day 20 of us had been drawn from a long list to have a crocodile hunt in a motor launch which was kindly loaned by a Mr Riddoch.   At 2.30pm we left the hotel for the docks & there boarded the launch which had a crew of 3 natives we set off at full speed for a group of islands called Crocodile Islands which we reached about 4.30pm & slowly cruised around each.

On the first the native silently pointed to some rocks & there, very difficult to see, where two large size crocs, probably 10 to 12 ft in length. Each of us had two bullets apiece & the fellows who at that time had the rifle took aim & fired. Both crocs opened wide their jaws showing a bright red mouth against their drab colour & with a quick wriggling gait they slithered into the water.

In all we saw 5 large crocs & several coming to the surface of the water to breath – but although many shots were fired they all seem to have got away unhurt. We saw many wonderful birds large & small & even got so close to see many of them nesting & refusing to leave their nests. About 5.30 we turned for Kisumu & reached the dock about 6.30pm & rushing up to the hotel we ate a hearty dinner.

November 16th 1942 – Two friends and I started off from the hotel with water in water bottles & sandwiches to an Indian cycle shop in Kisumu where we hired cycles for the day for 4/-. We made our way to the local market where we bought 42 bananas & 6 oranges for 60 cents then cycling through the town we made our way past the aerodrome on the Yala road, thinking all the time with wonderful views of the lake & the mountainous hills.

On our way we saw large monkeys of the baboon type & many primitive natives. At 12.30pm we came to a place called Maseno which is situated right on the equator & a notice board to that effect was displayed by the side of the road & of course we stopped here to record it in photographs.

Calling at the one & only store to see if we could obtain some lemonade, we were very surprised to find a white man behind the counter who informed us that he only had the large bottles of cordial syrup at 2 shilling 40 cents which he said we could make into many glasses or fill our water bottles.

He invited us into his home at the back where we drank the lemonade made with ice cold water in the glasses he provided. He told us that he had lived on the equator for 36 years with his brother (now dead) & that he came from Clifton, Bristol, on which we both shook hands for the meeting of two Bristolians on the line. He was very interested in the latest war news & wrote it all down as we told it to him & on stating that the convoys to the recent happenings in N. Africa had composed of 500 transports & 350 warships he jumped with excitement, saying “the natives will simply love to hear this” eventually we left him to cycle further along the line to have our picnic lunch of banana sandwiches, mangoes & lemonade.

We were so discovered by the local boys & girls; strangely all dressed in white with a red cross in a shield embroidered on the tunic. We found that the whole district was a well organised mission compound with a stone built church, workshops & book shop, a similar place to Dartington Hall at Totnes, Devon with a few white people in direct charge.

The whole place seemed cool & enchanting, this probably due to the very high altitude. At 3pm we turned back for Kisumu which was an easy ride as we descended the hills all the way to the lakeside for 18 miles, reaching Kisumu at 4pm where we returned the cycles & went for tea at the European Dairy.

Nov 17 & 18th – works very hard at station & transit camp, 5 of us unload 28 tons of camp material with only ½ hr for dinner. Looks as though it won’t be long before we are transferred to this camp. On this morning’s we started another bullshit parade & roll call. We have to be all poshed up to go to work. Things are deteriorating rapidly. We are even working all day at the hangar with no work to do. Have been cutting tins for stores & heavy work.

On Nov 20th I with three others caught the 2 o’clock train from Kisumu for Nakuru for dental, having tea at Morowani & dinner at Limuru, arrived at Nakuru at 12.30pm where we waited until nearly 2 o’clock for transport it being bitterly cold with a frost, it being nearly 7000 ft up.

Eventually we arrived at the camp at 4pm after having a supper in the mess. We reported next morning & saw the dentist making another appointment for 2pm on Tuesday. After a lot of bother we managed to get a sleeping out pass & left the camp by transport at 6pm the same day.

Having booked a bed at Toc H & having a meal at the services canteen we went to the local pictures. When we got back to Toc H where there were only natives in charge we found bed bugs in the beds and spent hours stripping the beds & mattresses.

In the morning we went for breakfast at the services canteen & spent most of the day there being cold & rainy journeying back to the camp by transport. On the Monday we lazed on our beds until the evening when there was a cinema show in the NAAFI. Tuesday at 2pm I had some more fillings & as the others had left when I had finished I walked 3 miles towards Nakuru (there being no transport) before being picked up by an army lorry after a meal etc. we caught the 9.15 train back to Kisumu arriving at 6am.

On Nov 28th we start doing majors on Blenheims from Nakuru, reverting back to the hours of 8am till 4.30pm with a half day off on Sundays. Reveille at 6.30am. Mail at this time is very sparse having only 2 letters in 5 weeks.

December 2nd – in the afternoon Ken & I are chosen to go & fetch beds made by the natives of the Doula tribe. We leave the hangar by lorry at 2.30pm & make our way to the native tribunal court where the chief of the (bed making) tribe is conducting a tribunal on a native who had taken the affections of another wife. We watched the proceedings from the lorry the court being open to view & saw them come out & perform their rites of swearing on oath.

Afterwards we picked up the chief & several men & women with & without cycles & proceeded to the village nine miles up in the hills. On arrival the rope & log beds were lined up & also crowds of natives. The chief had a stone built house & 2 rather good looking daughters to whom we were introduced & photographs taken.

Then whilst the beds were being loaded an English speaking native teacher took us to the mission church built by them in stone. The whole race seemed very intelligent & there were very few who were not dressed. Afterwards in a lecture by the M.O. we heard that this was a progressive tribe who had come from the Sudan & because the district was forest & the Nandi’s shot them up from the cover of the trees, they cleared the forest & drove the Nandi’s further into the hills.

He also told us that they all had their tribal markings (done even today) & one that anyone can easily see is the removal of 6 front lower teeth. If a woman contracts V.D. it is branded upon her & she is cast out from the tribe. The coming of age boys performing this with their spears for first blood. The other degenerate races found locally around Kisumu such as the Bantu’s & Kiliga’s circumcise the young females for their initiation, the girls apparently sitting in a cold running stream all night before to deaden the nerves.

We spent an interesting afternoon & after unloading the beds at the transit camp we arrived back at the hotel at 6pm. Just in time for dinner.

On December 19th at 4.30am an American Loadstar aircraft crashed into the lake after 2 explosions, later we heard that the South African General Dan Pienaar had lost his life with 11 others. On December 21st ten bodies were recovered all mutilated & blown to bits, others had been attacked by the crocodiles.

Being on the 2nd lunch party I just missed being on this gruesome party but on the next day the 22nd December I & 3 others were picked to take off 2 more bodies from the launch. Luckily they were mostly covered with the blanket we had to lift them by, but even then it was horrible & smelt abominably. Afterwards we had Lysol in which to douse ourselves & then as soon as I could I had a bath & changed my clothes.

In the afternoon several of the fellows had to go to the mortuary & solder up the inside lining of the coffins to help one of the fellows who had been doing this all the evening before. At 7pm the same day myself being on hangar guard was taken with a couple more to the mortuary where we loaded the coffins after weighing them on to lorries, these we took to the hangar & again loaded them into two Loadstar aircrafts having to turn & twist them always to get them through the door.

I noticed there was a marked difference between the officers & “irks” coffins & a great difference in other things as well, even in death. When this was done, everyone left leaving me guarding the 12 coffins all through the night. I slept for some hours in the “Catalina” & had no trepidation although in the hills the natives were chanting & beating their Tom Toms.

Things at this time at work were very binding, we were rising at 5.15am, starting work at 7am halting at the most ¾ hr for dinner & working until 6pm & being chased all day long. Group Captains & A.O.C.’s were visiting us nearly every day. Things went from bad to worse from more bullshit to move bullshit. We moved our sections from place to place nearly every week at anybody’s command.

All sorts of kites arrived such as Baltimores, Bostons, Blenheims, Loadstars, Battles & all manner of big wigs all with different orders.   Then lads from Nakuru & Nanyuki began to arrive 2 Inst/R’s coming to us. After a while we moved yet again to a stone built workshop placed away from the hangar & the 1st day Ken & others are put on a charge because “Beaky” found them snacking when he came in.

Rumours came& went of 209 Squadron returning to “Blighty” but things went on just the same. Leave was sought after, not having had any for 12 months, but although names were taken, nothing ever happened. The whole place seemed uncomfortable there was very little actual work but you had to appear to be working hard from seven in the morning till six at night. On one visit of a Group Captain because too many Inst/R’s were in the section we were told that two of us would be posted to the desert.

Beaky did not want to see anyone in the section, although when the work was there, it would have to be carried out there. Of course days off were stopped & we were given one Sunday a month, with 11/2 day on every other Sunday in the month.  The lads peacefully rebelled & very little work was done. Eventually after a few months they reluctantly allowed us to finish at 5pm at night this making a great difference. On some days life seemed pleasanter such as when we visited the mission school at Yala going via Maseno & playing the “boys” at football.

A Grand Interlude

On the 18th February 1943 I went down with my first attack of malaria being taken to the European Hospital at Kisumu. Being discharged after a week I with two others was granted 10 days sick leave but the difficulty proved in finding a place to stay. Eventually after seeing Mr Ruddock the promoter of leaves, an Aberdonian named Connor & I got fixed up with a gold mine owner named Mr Everett who lived near his mine called Muchang, 12 miles his side of Kakamega.

On Thursday 4th March he picked us up at the camp about 5pm & took us in a large Chevrolet car to his home. Here we found he was a bachelor & a man after our own heart. Near him lived his manager a Mr Rule who hailed from Redruth in Cornwall & we found that he had (Mr E) a most pleasant & simple home with a guest house as he called it situated in the garden. This was a thatched room containing two very comfortable beds where we were to sleep.

We fed of course with him in his house & we found to our delight that the cooking of his native cook was all that could be desired. There was a wireless, gramophone with pick up & a number of jolly good books. We could see that we should enjoy ourselves to the full & settled down to a home like atmosphere. In the evenings we chatted on various subjects & the talk sometimes turned to Africa & its customs to me always fascinating.

Here I will record a tale we had on one of the most widely treated custom of native Africa in circumcision. It appears that in numbers of tribes especially near & around Kisumu that both boys & girls are at a certain age circumcised & he told us that in the case of girls, which of course there I seldom any real cause for circumcision, that centuries ago a great disease spread among the cattle of the natives & the cattle being the currency as even today for most things, including wives.

It came that only the older men had cattle to buy with, the young men having lost the small number they may have possessed. This then gave only the older men the opportunity to buy wives who had ten & perhaps more, and the young men unable to have one. So a native would demand the young men just took their desire from the wives of the elders who could not satisfy so many wives.

On being found out by the old men, they or at first a few decided to circumcise their younger wives to make them less unfaithful, as this practice grew, those wives who remained uncircumcised began to acquire the stigma of a whore & demanded to be operated upon. This being usually done by an older wife with the aid of a sharp stone or piece of glass. So today when the custom is trying to be wiped out by the government & missions, the girls themselves are so anxious to conform to custom that even now it is in no way decreased.

On one evening whilst quietly reading we heard singing from the natives a way off which broke into a yodel similar to the Swiss & again the next night it was repeated again. So in the course of the conversation we mentioned this & were told that someone had died & for three nights this wailing & singing would go on & then the body would be buried about 20 feet away from the door of the hut of the deceased & amid much ceremony with the laying down of food & the walking of oxen over the grave the ceremony would end with the planting of a fig tree in the grave.

So now we shall understand the many great collections of fig trees in certain areas meaning a burial ground & as Mr E said he often in prospecting found gold quartz under these trees & often wondered at the apathy of the natives when he in the early years began to dig in the vicinity of fig trees. The natives say that a fig tree will never mature unless it has a body to feed on.

Another discussion one evening was on the cohabitation of Europeans & natives. We were told of a man named Ainsworth a pioneer of Kenya, who in earlier times when visiting the chiefs of local tribes was provided with food, a place to sleep & three virgin young girls, the result is that there are numerous light skinned, light haired & blue eyed natives still about & Mr E had employed one of these offspring not long ago.

He mentioned that about 1920 when all the natives were naked he had lived a virtuous existence for long time, & working in a Shamba near his home was a most beautiful native girl. He delicately enquired how it could be arranged for her to sleep with him & a native said that was easy, give her ten shillings & he would send her along. She duly came along & he showed her a concave & convex shaving mirror where upon she looked & giggled & he gave her a tablet of soap and the 10/-; but before he could look round, she had vanished from the house.

The next evening hearing wailing & chanting he looked out & there was a procession with this young girl in the middle & all the young lads & girls were beating her feet with thin green saplings, & he said her feet were cut to ribbons & terribly swollen. He called an elder, & asked what was going on & he said she has disgraced the tribe by sleeping with an interloper & being you Bwana, we bring her past your house.

He told him that she had not & what had happened but it made no difference & he later heard that the native that had arranged things was a rogue & had taken the 10/- for himself. Even today after circumcision the native men are allowed to have any unmarried girl unless they have a disease a special dance is held most all the time & he picks his fancy & at night all these girls are in one large hut.

He knocks upon the door & says I am “Ochanda Saman” & he is let in, there he lays with the girl of his choice & pays her a stipulated sum of money. It used to be 10 cents (a penny) now it is a 1/-. Prostitution of course is quite rife, but comes about in this way. A man pays say 5 ng’ombes (cows) for a wife who proves barren & he according to custom can give her back & receive 4 cows, then perhaps some other buys her for 3 cows & still having no children he gives her back & gets 2 cows in return. Now she is unmarketable & generally wanders off to a detribalised township & becomes the girl of easy virtue. This proves the story of the M.O. who told us that all native girls of easy virtue were in 90% suffering from V.D. being of course an outcast from her tribe.

After seven glorious days we left Mr E, Mr R driving us to Kisumu in the Ford V8. After being back at work for a week I was inoculated for T.A.B. & the next day I reported sick as I felt so ill then after two days on March 20th I had a temperature of 105 & was sent again to the European Hospital with a relapse of malaria, during my nine days there a new Squadron Leader was appointed in Beaky’s place & according to the lads things looked as though they   were improving.

On March 30th coming out of hospital the M.O. decides to give me 14 days sick leave so I spent a couple of days in great hope.

Benjamin Coller RAF 1942 War Diary