I have a drink with Viv and her new girlfriend in the “Sloop” just before closing time and then we make for the latter’s home, but they become more interested in a stray dog found on the way than me, so I leave them for Curnows and bed.
After much packing I have a few, quite a few, drinks in the “Sloop” on Tuesday, all Ma’s Lelant crowd come over, and then on with the Gibsons to the “Queens” for more gin. I get through Ma’s supper and stagger home, losing the way in the dark.
Next day off to Andover and meet the other boys at the station. I have a slight sore throat. Thursday we go to Larkhill School of Artillery for lectures and lunch in a huge Mess there. I see George Bainbridge as a gunner again, having been thrown out by the RAF. The coldest day ever, and my throat is so bad on return that I see the M.O. He finds I have a temperature and packs me into the station sick quarters. I share a room with a Canadian gunner with Quinsey (?) or some such throat trouble, and fortunately I am not well enough to eat the food, which is airmen’s, and at their times too. After a couple of days I am passed on to Bossington House, near Roughton. A lovely country house taken over for the invasion but short of patients as the German air force did not turn up. Good food, attention also, but nothing much to read. My temperature is now down, throat almost gone, and I expect to get up after lunch today. But – I have missed artillery reconnaissance course and next one is not for another two or three weeks. In the meantime presumably I go back to Hawarden, or to St Ives on sick leave, both of which will be horrid. I have a huge kit bag of Daddy’s but it tears in the ambulance and appears to be rotten, as well it may be after 20 years service. Also my useless camp bed.
I go and spend the night with the Pauls, with the usual results, and say goodbye all round the breakfast table and get the bus home. Barbara sees me to the door. Then after clearance, down to town on the 2.30 train, after a drink in the Mess with the Group Captain and “Jumbo” Mazunder, who had suddenly appeared. In the train Mihalski, Plewcynzynski, Shirey and me and one or two others, and we play pontoon, myself retiring before it got too tough. I spend the night at Nuffield House and it’s boiling hot at night, and I wake up to a couple of loud bangs about 1am.
Next day down to St Ives and have bed and breakfast in Curnows and other meals out or in the flat with Ma. I reorganise the baggage and have a good kit bag of Daddy’s. I am not too well, some common fever apparent in one’s first winter in England, says Ma, so that’s that. Some beer in the “Sloop” and I see Vivian but no more joy than before. After Larkhill I have to come back and wait for a posting which will be pretty bloody, as I don’t like this joint. I am fast getting a cold, despite much gargling.
A week of not much flying and then the last three days of intense activity in air to ground and air to air firing. I distinguish myself with several complete “ducks”. I go to the Pauls Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday for one thing and another, including taking David, Norman, Reg and Tiny round one evening. David and I take Barbara to “Barlows” and “Monks Retreat” on Friday to give her a taste of low life. Yesterday I rang up a bit tired and am invited for the night. After a few gins with Mrs Paul, dinner and a whisky or two, Barbara and I are left alone in the drawing room, with the usual results of which I am not particularly proud.
We finish here on Friday evening. I then have to get down to St Ives, organise my kit and go to Larkhill on Wednesday. I send most of it off in advance, expecting to go down in Reg’s car, but he is now going to P.R.U. with David and Tiny, so I have to set off Saturday afternoon and it will be pretty grim. My new uniform arrives from “Flights”, a bit tight and nearly a good fit, though it seems I am a bit optimistic getting it. I shall be dead or out of the RAF before I have much time to wear it.
We progress on the air firing with cine-cameras, but much hazy weather with visibility two-thirds of the long runway prevent our doing much flying, and we have to stay an extra week.
I go in on Friday and stay the night with the Pauls, a similar scene taking place on the sofa as before. The next day Barbara and I go shopping in the pouring rain and after lunch to visit the birds in the museum, though I don’t see much of them what with one thing and another. Last night we go to Quaintways but I am not in very good form, presumably being worn out from the previous evening. I sleep there and return on the Vickers factory workers bus at 7.30.
No flying today and more football, but I strain a muscle and cannot cope. I visit Andy McCoy as a patient and find my sinuses are OK. He gives me some nose drops. John Aitkin, ex-28 squadron, turns up here on the next course.
I go with the Pauls and Elsie Dobbie to “Quaintways” for dinner and dance at a doctor’s thrash. I spend the night at the Pauls as I have the next day off, and Barbara and I get together on the sofa before going to bed (1.45am) and I sort of get busy, the result being another “Papist trick”. Next day I buy her a pair of wings (17/6) and we go for a walk in Eaton Park after lunch and there comes about a bit of fiddle-de-de under a tree out of the rain.
That evening we go to a sherry party given by one Dr Wigley, but it turns out to be Pimms and caviar on toast. Everyone gets a bit tight and I am dragged away by Barbara after the rest of her family have left. I just manage to recover in time for dinner.
I do alot of washing today, which is drying now I hope before the fire, after a game of football against the other course.
David and I go out drinking with Reg at the Trevor Arms and meet some half Italian ATS Sergeant whom Reg likes, plus her fat friend, and we all have to go to a shocking troops dance in a gymnasium with nothing to drink there. I telephone Bill Robinson but he is off to Salisbury and I cannot get over to see him.
Sunday I go to London and spend the night with the Farlows, Peggy being at home. Next morning to the India Office where I see several Civil Servants of various ages and eventually Colonel Erskine, Deputy Military Secretary. I am advised to return to Army duty – as “out of sight, out of mind” – and I may lose my commission after the war. I then try on a new uniform at Flights and return to Chester, spending the night at the Pauls as the train was too late for the buses. I see W/C Plumtree yesterday, (JDW: Chief Flying Instructor, 41 OTU, later Air Vice Marshal), and he reckons I shall not get a permanent commission in the RAF as my flying is bad, or rather, not ‘above average’. I already hold a regular commission in the Indian Army, and my application was a bit too late and no one would recommend it – only forward it on. Also as David Crook says, the medical will be raised, and I shall be chucked out on my eyesight.
So what to do? Return to India on a fearful trooper as a lieutenant again??
I go night flying in a Hurry. The last two landings are OK after I have dived into the ground at 120 (JDW: degrees or mph?) on the first. Thank God there is is a starlit sky, no cloud, searchlights and flares and Chester all lit up! A fearful night of wind and rain and Norman, David and I pile into Reg’s car for a “night out”. We go to “Barlow’s” and do the rounds and back again, and eventually collect two A.T.S. dames, Jean and Milly, and return to camp where there is an all ranks dance. Someone has eaten our dinner and we get most annoyed. However Reg and Norman take them home, so that’s that. Barbara has had a wisdom tooth removed, and I haven’t been in for four days.