August 17th 1941

Nothing to do here. This week I fly once and do three hours lectures, the rest of the time being spent in sitting in lecture rooms as per programme, or watching other people fly. Our weekend is stopped as some I.T.S. blokes are caught AWOL. Yesterday (Saturday) G.S. Singh suggests going to Delhi for a binge. I second it, and we get “Ginger” Baldwin and “Buster” Taylor. Leave at 4pm in G.S.’s car, a Mercury, and reach Delhi – 120 miles – in just over two hours. We go to Maidens for drinks and dinner and then watch cabaret. I meet the Maynards and Manichal, and also Doc Cunningham, now in the Armoured Corps. Ginger and Buster (both sergeants) get to work with a dance each, and then we go to the Gym Club at 1am. Here I meet Richard Hungerford and his wife. The two Sergeants get a bit tight. Ginger does alot of dancing – solo and dual – and looks the complete thug. I try to collect them all at about 2.30, but as I collect two I go in search of the third, and then the other two percolate back and start dancing again. We get away at 3.15, and end up with no petrol at a pump 25 miles short of Ambala at 7am. They refuse to supply us without coupons, and Ginger nearly gets arrested for assaulting the pump. He gets the beaker filled up, but can’t find the tap to let it out into the pump. A police Havildar looks on, but luckily does not take him in. Eventually someone comes back with some kerosene oil and we get back to Ambala at 8am.

A double breakfast – then punishment “prep” 9-11 and then I sleep 11.30-5pm. G.S. Singh is the brother of the Raja of Baratpur (near Agra). He has a few cars, a house in Ambala and Delhi, and a royal standard on his car. Spent 15 years in England, at Wellington, and as English as they make ’em. He doesn’t go about with other Indians on the course, but with the British and one David Bhose, and Anglo-Indian in the I.C.S. at Madras (Indian Civil Service). He had his Jubilee and Coronation ribbons on last night and borrowed 300/- for his party! “Ginger” Baldwin – the compleat Thug. 33 years old (How a pilot, God knows), ex-engineer on a Tea plantation in Assam, white hunter, also an ivory poacher and God knows what. Lost two fingers in fights, and wanted by the Assam police.

The rest of the course is Indian and Anglo-Indian pilot officers, the British being acting sergeants. Most of the Indians are a bit ‘Babuish’ (JDW: anyone know what this means?) and not like Bikram at all. A few – very few – make good pilots, but the average are pretty bloody. They read books and stick compasses up each other’s bottoms in between, like a lot of small children. Now they are coming in as cadets, and about time too.

D. Braithwaite of the Burma Forestry Service heads a small group from Burma, including British, Burmans, (JDW: an interesting term for Burmese, clearly contemporary) Anglo-Burmans and a Chink. These Burmans stand out a mile from the Indians.

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2 Responses to August 17th 1941

  1. Jagan says:

    James, Babuish – derives from “Babu”.. It is used in multiple situation, as a term of address – “Ramesh babu”, as a not complimentary term for the Indian bureaucrat. In this context I think he means, that they are not as English or refined as the other pupils.

    David Bhose that he mentions is actually David Gordon Bhore ( ).. He would have got his commission on joining in October 40, and thus likely to be training at 1SFTS in Aug 41. I will look up the SFTS ORB to see if this matches..

    The GS Singh mentioned in the entry could be Flt Lt Girraj Saran Singh ( ) whose commission date puts him in the same timeframe as your dad at 1SFTS

  2. Jagan says:

    I am also not surprised that G S Singh was ‘loaded’.. the initial batch of pupils who were pulled into the IAF Volunteer Reserve were all from affluent families, local rajas, ICS families (like Bhore) and any family of some importance in the british empire. Almost all of them already held civil pilot licenses, which was one of the reasons that they were invited join the IAFVR.. This meant that quite a few, coming from a privileged background could not adjust to the rigours of service and there was a high wastage rate…

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