August 27th 1944 – Crail


I have a small bed and breakfast apartment with a gas bracket, and have high tea in the kitchen with the family. Angus Mitchell, a bus driver of some 24 seasons, buys me a few drinks in the local – the “Golf Hotel” – and then we hang around for some more when it has shut, and get some more. Today Mhairi comes round 10 to 12 and we sit on the rocks and look at the sea, but her vibrations seem to be out of tune, and I reckon I made a mistake in coming up here. I should have gone down to see Peggy. However I must learn sometime, though what I do learn doesn’t seem to be much good to me, as far as the results go. Mhairi has a half retriever, half spaniel called Mitch.

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August 26th 1944


“Hell hath no fury…” I don’t take much notice of the Dorothy dame at Hodnet’s Monday dance, and she gets damned annoyed. On 23rd we hear of the fall of France and have a party in the Mess with the dozen or so French course pilots. I get up on a table and sing “A troopship leaving Bombay” with my own two verses and then retire to bed. Later I organise myself three days leave, plus a day off, and get a lift in an Oxford from Hinstock to Donibristle with one Lt MacDonald RNVR. We fly over Blackpool tower and Moffat and see the Isle of Man to port. I get put up in the wardroom at Donibristle and of course find that I have packed no lungi.

This morning I bus to Crail and find Mhairi has organised a bed and breakfast, but nothing else. I have a beer and 20 Horlicks tablets for lunch, then Mhairi gets off 2.45 to 6.30 and we bus over to Elie and back for tea. Crail crowded out for some reason. I am dissatisfied with this sort of life. I know what I want but cannot find it. Some 3000 pewits on Chetwynd airfield.

 

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August 19th 1944


I go back to Hodnet but the Bear is shut and so we go for a walk and sit on a hill. I get a fearful thirst but can do nothing about it, and cycle gloomily home at about 10.30pm to three glasses of water.

Yesterday I go to town with Collier and eventually make the acquaintance of the “Hungry Vulture” and her sister, who are talking to my friend Donda, a Czech. She is another Dorothy, and Donda and I get invited back home when the pub shuts. But Ma and Pa are sitting in state and we have tea and biscuits. The H.V. is looking for a husband so I leave hastily at 11pm and cycle home through the pouring rain. Tonight I am going to another of the awful Vardon dances, or parties rather, but do not intend to lose 8/6 at bridge this time.

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August 16th 1944


I go to Hodnet and dance at the ‘Bear’ on Monday and meet a new dame. We dance around the dance floor and I meet her in the Bear last night. Discover her name is Dorothy and she lives in Hodnet, aged 20, having been discharged from the ATS with a pension after a prang in a 15 cwt truck. However she speaks English without the trace of an accent and seems to have some character, but that is about all her usefulness. I go to Chetwynd yesterday and fly a Hurricane I, and find it a bit difficult to land after so many hours in the damn Masters. Beautiful sun for a change.

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August 14th 1944


I do much battling with Thunderbolts over the Wrekin – but without much success. “Sawn Off” and I go to the Bear on Saturday night and I end up with Charlie Rich at midnight with coffee and a pork pie with two dames in a house in Garden City. We are then turned out. Yesterday I play tennis all afternoon at the King-Hays, followed by some family bridge and return exhausted at about midnight.

No postings, as there is a bottleneck in F.T.C. and I go over to fly Hurricanes tomorrow from Chetwynd. I do an I.F. cross-country which is pretty erratic and I don’t seem to be much of a pilot at all, or to know much about this flying business. But then I really know nothing much about anything, and should read to improve my education. My mind seems forever on one thing – and that I cannot have, or get rather – though I seem to spend many hours planning and thinking about it. What of the future? Nothing much to look forward to – I doubt they will keep me in the RAF and I now know nothing about the Indian Army – I have even forgotten Urdu.

Quien sabe? I’m getting fat and even beaten at squash too.

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August 11th 1944


I go to the Bear in Hodnet with Bill Conway and have a few beers with some aircrew from Peplow, including one who came home on ‘Orontese’ with me. Conway drinks so much beer he crashes into the hedge two or three times on the way home, and I have to put the chain back on his bicycle and nearly die of laughing.

Yesterday we go to the Corbett Arms and on to the dance but “no joy” as the RAF say, and I’m now approaching a gloomy weekend with Sunday off (JDW: taken from fox-hunting jargon, “no joy” was used in radio comms by Battle of Britain pilots to mean “No enemy sighted”.) I do alot of flying and dogfight with Thunderbolts over the Wrekin, but am getting damned bored with all this.

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August 9th 1944


Toby takes me to an excellent poker dice party and dinner in the Mess, and I return to Ternhill on Monday after an early start at 07.45 with no food. I stand, and sit on a table, most of the way to Crewe, and arrive back to find it a boiling hot day.

I go to the Bear in Hodnet for a drink with the ex-Pongoes (JDW: ex-Army) and then Collier and I go to the local hop but all the women there seem pretty grim and I return home about 11.30pm after an unsuccessful evening. I feel a bit odd about everything and cannot decide what I want. I fly over to Peterborough and come in against the circuit and two reds before I notice what I am about. No hope of a posting for a month or so, as Hawarden full up and the war finishing – or so they say. I shall be back East soon. The India Office say I cannot have pay of Lieutenant of six years service – i.e. “Drumhead’s Bob” – only 2nd Lieutenant as I was when I was seconded. Doing much flying, and gliding in every time satisfactorily.

Elaine and the WAAF dame expect me to ring them up, but hell – I want to get away from here, and the tennis gang at the King-Hays.

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