October 28th 1940 – New Delhi


In September I was talking to some of the boys from 6 Gurkha Rifles and they mentioned a request for applicants for the RAF. I pricked up my ears and being unable to find it in our office, I went down to the 6/GR office and took a copy of theirs. It read “Suitable BCOs and ICOs wanted for secondment to the RAF – under 28 and with at least 1.5 years service. Previous flying service is not necessary but will be taken into consideration.” I sent off a wire to Wana asking permission and then the TB sent up my name. At last, on 26th September, just as I was going down the Mess steps, thinking of Tony Cotterill’s letter about the ambush, and how I always miss everything, an orderly arrives with this telegram: “2nd Lt D-W provisionally selected for secondment RAF – will be required to commence initial training about end September. Should be warned accordingly. Further instructions will issue shortly.”

(JDW: I suspect my father’s omission of this from his entries in September was because he did not want to jinx his application)

I am overjoyed, start packing and get drunk. I then get more depressed as the days go on, and eventually a wire comes on 25th October saying report Air H/Q for medical on 28th. If pass then off to Karachi for training!

I come down with Bobbie Elsmie, off to Bombay to be married, and Logan Gates, whose wife and daughter died the other day (I attend funeral). I stay here in the Cecil and go round to drink with Brain, who is now a military secretary here.

This morning I roll up at Air H/Q and meet Haig (5/19), Pringle (2/10) and Gillespie (1/10) all pilots bar the latter. we hang about for hours for medical and interview by Group Captain Bussell. Major A.S. Lewis (4/12) is Air Liaison Officer and does all the paperwork.

I mention my eyes and they all look grave. I am walking around the quad, looking at the pretty typists (it’s the Nizam of Hyderabad’s palace) when I see the M.O.’s room and Haig on his exam – I also see the eye test board, so I write it down, (it seems to be a gift – “never look a gift horse in the mouth” etc.), memorise it, and am passed as 6/6. How long it will last I don’t know. I reckon I will be pushed out after a few weeks, or even days, but it will be good fun whilst it lasts.

Our course is six weeks at Drigh Road, Karachi, then 4 Air Training School Iraq, and back to Army co-operation squadrons in India. Rank Pilot Officer, pay Army or RAF whichever is the higher. After a year we go into RAF uniform. Off tonight on the Frontier Mail to Lahore and then on to Karachi – the great deceit – how long will it last – and will I be court-marshalled – Quien Sabe?

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One Response to October 28th 1940 – New Delhi

  1. Pingback: October 11th 1941 « A Story of War

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