May 28th 1945


Freddie, George and I go up to Meppel to try and get a watch for him, and eventually end up in a Canadian officers club in Groningen. We go round some hospital grounds in a jeep with a slightly tight Canadian Captain, and all the women on their death beds wave back to us. We grab a couple of dames and take them into the dance, but no good, and I make Freddie drive all the way back – three and a half hours, getting to bed at 1.30am.

The next day Jeff and I go up to Lubeck where we have heard of pistols for sale, and I buy two Lugers (one slightly u/s) for £7.10 and £2.10 off some airmen, as an investment – I hope. Lubeck is full of German aircraft and on the way up we fly over Bremen and Hamburg. That evening Bill Dodgson and I dash up to Groningen to try and get some gin but we cannot find the place, and as he thinks there won’t be any chance of getting any dames due to the amount of Canadians about, we beat down to Meppel, where we had some success previously. But here too we are too late – 9.30pm – and the Canadians are already at work.

Saturday we have the afternoon off, and Sunday off, so Bill, George and I set off to Amsterdam. We have some trouble finding the town major, but do so, and get a bed in the “Red Lion” hotel. I only have 80 cigarettes for which I collect 80 guilders and some bars of chocolate at 4 G each. Men approach one in the street with cameras, watches and even cufflinks for cigarettes. We then set off for the Lido Club, Bill with some dame he picks up in the hotel lounge. She turns out to have a German accent, but, however, she satisfies him OK. I grab another called Helen and dance around and George gets her friend, an old “gladstone bag” by the name of Anne. We have some wine and beer that we brought over and also a bottle of champagne but later on my dame goes home. Anne is desolated and she takes George off and they bring back one Tina, who is a lot more ugly but quite perky and a bit warm. Bill and his fraulein vanish and we four go off in his car to Anna’s flat, plus a box of our food and Anna’s gramophone. No light but candles and we eat bread and tinned sausage and dance. I get browned off and pinch out the wick, much to the dames annoyance, as they seem to want to dance all night. George and Anne retire and I get busy on a sofa, but with my usual luck there is no joy and it ends in a sort of compromise, though not the usual ‘Papist plot’. As George is in for the night and I don’t know the way home, I have to stay too, and eventually we creep in and join the other two in bed – or rather we stay on top in our clothes rather like on a railway train – it’s a large bed and takes four abreast easily.

Next morning we beat as fast as possible back to the hotel and breakfast, though much to the disgust of the two dames. We then wander around, taking Bill’s woman out to Haarlem, and end up for tea in a rather smart officers club in Utrecht, and back home in time for dinner. We see a woman get 12 players (cigarettes) from a waiter for 20 guilders in an Amsterdam cafe. Children come up and demand autographs. We see columns of Germans with their HDT cookers (?) and driving trucks, all quite happily. We see pranged vehicles on the Appeldoorn-Amersfort road. In Utrecht a food convoy is going through and one small boy gets onto a lorry and lets the back fall, flooding the roadway with potatoes. In a moment the crowd gather round and there is much argument.

Now we hear of a flying control job of sorts in Copenhagen and I must go and see the G/C about it.

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May 20th 1945


I am back here a week now and bored stiff. I sell my old sports coat for 40 guilders and a wheel of Tom Raynor’s for 100. We practise formation flying as a Wing, and though I miss the first two shows there is one tomorrow over the Hague where Queen Wilhelmina is holding a review. We practise twice yesterday and there is to be the same today. Mitch is away and I am now C.O. and lead the squadron. We expect to move to Celle near Hanover any minute now, and it will be pretty grim with peacetime training, just like Hawarden again. My view is that it is all a life without an end, without a glimmer, and what use is ambition at all. But then I am paid £480 p.a. and my board and lodging costs me practically nothing, and where would I get that in any job out of the service? Somehow I am almost regretting  that the war is over – it at least gave me a purpose in life. What is there now – not just ‘soldier on’, surely?

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May 13th 1945 – Royal Investiture, London


I go down to the Kings Road and wait until Monica returns. The next day I take her to the Brevet Club for dinner and then retire to her flat for one thing and another.

Mama and I have drinks at the Devonshire Club with one Dr Cullen, and another Andrew Maclaghlan whom I later meet in the Royal Empire Club Society, where he offers me a job in ‘oil’ in India, which I turn down. I organise two tickets for Ma and Baffy for the Palace and get there myself about 10am, and remain for two solid hours in an ante-room with a hundred others or so and nowhere to sit. At length I reach the King, who recognises my I.G.S. and mentions my long service in India, and we then get out and go to Chandos for Baffy’s Friday lunch. Of course there is a blonde there, her niece, and husband, who upsets me for the rest of the day. That evening we go to Kew for dinner with the Smyths and consume Hock and champagne.

Yesterday I take Monica to “The Assassin” and though I have a room booked at the Savoy, I do not take it as I do not somehow feel in the mood. Now I am off back to Croydon and who knows what may not happen next. I wish these women didn’t upset me so. Monica suggests a parting, in peace, before we go in a row, but I say ‘No, wait’ and eventually we decide to maintain the ‘status quo’.

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May 9th 1945 – the morning after V.E. Day, London


I do an Op after the War is supposed to have ended, of the East Friesian Isles to Borkum, to see if they are trying to escape instead of surrender, but without seeing any movement. I also play some badminton with Mitch, Chokra and Peter Marsh. I dispose of the DKW for 275 guilders in the local black market and have to drive it to a solitary farmhouse where it is hidden in a cowshed, the cart being taken out to make room for it.

I am now in London, and have to attend an Investiture on the 12th, but as the 84th Communication Squadron are having today off, I had to come over yesterday and was lucky to get a bed. Monica I find is away and as it is V.E. Day I go out and see the sights. Two strange women insist on me kissing them in Piccadilly Circus at 2.45pm, just before Churchill’s speech, and I long for one of those red smoke candles which the Boche left behind in our house in Twente. In the evening I go to the Brevet Club but it is sold out at 7.30 and Shepheards too at 8.30. I then wander back to the Wings Club where I meet one Van de Waale, ex Ternhill, and we have a drink or two whilst he discusses life and prospects in Belgium. He later (11.30) takes me to a party in a US warrant officer’s flat in Atheneum Court where about 30 people are jammed in a room which might hold 10 at a pinch. There is Bourbon to drink and a bad selection of dames and I depart to bed unseen at 12.30am.

Today I go round to Wendy’s and see Ma and we have lunch in the Cumberland Hotel. I tell her I am engaged tonight, but as Monica is not back, God knows what I shall do. My kit weighs 62lbs and has to go on a different Anson to the one I travel on, and consequently I don’t have to take it through Customs!

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May 4th 1945


I fly again on a weather recce, plus Area 1 north of Emden. I get lost after about ten minutes and have to get a homing back to base and then start off again. Area 1 is not too easy due to the cloud formations and at times I am not too sure where I am. Someone fires at me near Jever, two bursts of 20 or 40 mm, I think, but a bit inaccurate. I nearly prang on landing, and must be more careful in future.

Well, the war looks like ending out here, and God knows what the future holds forth, provided I am still OK. The Indian Army, I don’t think, the RAF, who knows. I feel I should like to meet someone nice, marry her (though she would need to fulfil my romantic requirements), and get a good job in her father’s business – but what of the “call of the East”, which I still occasionally hear!

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May 2nd 1945


I get a letter OK. I do a reputed “dicey” photo job over, or rather before, Oldenburg, at 2500′, but the flak gunners are all asleep. We have a Wing dance on Sunday and I steal the Group Captain’s woman, a WAAF F/O called Brenda Scott. She comes down from Ghent periodically to keep him warm in bed, and I go up to him during a dance and tell him he is wanted on the telephone by Flying Control. I dance around in his place until he comes back and takes a lunge at me. Later I catch her coming out of the lavatory and tell her that Andy has gone off to the Ops room for a few minutes and that I am to look after her, and keep her for about an hour this way. Later he tells me, rather rudely, to beat it, so I go.

Next morning he convinces everyone that I am posted back to Burma, and himself that I believe him. Harry Davison knocks out an ENSA girl, by mistake, having missed his swing at someone else.

The weather is bad, damn cold and practically snowing, and we do not do much flying. Two of my flight are overdue back from leave, and I am coming out in spots through lack of exercise. All I have had this year is two or three games of rugger in February.

 

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April 28th 1945


I do a few trips up by Bremen and Emden, but all semi abortive due to the weather or my tanks failing to come off. I take one Peter Tredgett pair flying and then slip off and photograph some gun positions near Leer by the Weser estuary. I find five 105mm flak guns but the other positions have already been overrun by our own troops. Since then I have not flown but hope to do so today.

Jock Toothill has been after cars, and through his agency, more or less, we now have 3 DKWs and an Opel in the Flight. I drove one back from Reine yesterday with Peter Tredgett, who claims to be a mechanic, and hope to get it serviceable. The local German province is green and beautiful and not much war scarred. All the women are wearing silk stockings, and look a bit sour about the non-fraternisation rule. We also see some German soldiers near a small hospital. We are six in the Opel and after a quarter of an hour, whilst taking a corner too fast, she skids and falls on her side. We are so wedged in that no one is hurt, some airmen pick us up and we drive off again.

I get a warning order to go to an investiture on 11th, and hope to get three days duty in town. No letter from Monica since I came back. Perhaps she has changed her affections.

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