December 10th 1945

I never see Marika again, and spend most evenings in bed with a book. Eventually I am taken to look at Land’s End and Cape Cornwall but am not very impressed and come up to London on Friday and stay at the Wings Club. Mike Jacobs, who is working in the United Pool of Artists, comes in and I fill him up with gin, so that he has to retire in the middle of dinner, whilst I make a fairly reasonable pass at a blonde waitress called Mary, and I eventually have to see him to the front door and home.

Saturday I have lunch at the Cafe Royal with Mike and his fiance Lena Barrie, but he is half and hour late and we do not finish until 3pm and then dive into a news flick. Louise takes me to the Wellington on Saturday night, but not a very successful party, though a lot of money gone down the drain. She sits in for an hour at the Wings afterwards, but what can I do, though I am sure she is a waste of time, even if she wasn’t going to the States next week.

Sunday I see McKilligan, ex my Maungdaw flight and ex-Malaya, and have a few beers in the Wings Club with him, and we reminisce on Ambala days. Marnie Lowry comes to lunch and is then thrown out by the porter at 2.30pm and I get on a train to Swindon. Today I am told I need an X-ray and will not be going to Loughborough, but to the other place, near Oxford – when? Christ.

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December 6th 1945

A chap from 283 squadron comes in and I hear that they have moved to Penang. I am let out on crutches for 14 days leave and get on a train at Swindon in a compartment labelled “not for public use”, and reach St Ives via St Erith. I stay at St Christopher’s, a short crutch from the “Sloop” and Ma’s flat, and I go to the “Sloop” on my first night. Here I encounter Marika, now Mrs Roberts, who seems pleased to see me and escorts me home, even kissing me on my doorstep, but I haven’t seen her since, so that’s done me no good.

I can hear the sea at night – the sea here and the gulls always remind me of my first experience of St Ives, one of frustration over that Denise Bennett dame. I read Baffy’s book “Family Homespun”. I put up a Defence Medal and now have seven of the things. A letter from Burt Mann, and he is only offered a four year extension of service, so I might as well give it up and return to the Indian Army.

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November 5th 1945

Still hanging on my Balkan beam. Time for some recollections of the Hague I feel.

I live in the Grand Hotel Terminus, room 110, with an extremely comfortable bed and a bathroom. The maids are efficient, and being well primed with chocolate, do all my darning etc. My room overlooks the station, and every morning, early, a crowd gathers to catch the train to Rotterdam and sometimes someone plays a guitar whilst waiting.

I mess across the road with the 11 P.W.S. team, and it is not much good when we change from U.S. to British rations. At the same time we lose our P.X. rations – the U.S. candy and cigarette racket. The office is originally in the hotel writing room, with a board of directors table and eight chairs to match, overlooking a patio with goldfish and an intermittent fountain. The telephone girl next door is full of curves. At one period I organise lunch for passengers, before shipping them off by bus to 18 S.P. P&F section on the airfield, where they are manifested. Later we move into Muller’s travel agency, Plaats 33, where we use about ¾ of a long bar with a glass top, later cracked by Mr Sonderland’s char lady. Mr S. retails train tickets over the other quarter of the bar. We have our three telephones installed and a weighing machine and do all the manifesting on the spot, having a waiting room upstairs with some fairly recent magazines presented by Micky, being surplus from her library. The afternoons I take off alternately, as our two services – Croydon and Brussels – depart in the morning and all that is left is bookings and our tame Dutch Auster squadron commanded by Captain Harry Niemhuis.

I go sailing occasionally at Varmont, where I go in one or two boats out on the Kaag, where the Dutch are accustomed to sail practically all the year round. Some have houseboats and live there. There is squash, which I play whenever I can, but find that I am not too good. All this of course is done by jeep. I go down to the beach too, before the West Wall, where there are anti-invasion stakes and occasionally some interesting flotsam and jetsam. Germans are removing mines up towards Nordwyk, and occasional explosions occur. We bathe sometimes, and I give some rifle instruction to two young lads in the Interior forces.

The evenings – Christ! – there is drinking / dinner at the Dyers restaurant, the Naafi ‘Ambassadors’ Club, where I am on the committee and latterly secretary, at little tables downstairs with lashings of Scotch – double for 60 cents. A piano and string band performs, its favourite being “Lily Marlene”, and the violinist wanders from table to table playing at the pretty girls. Then the Officers Country Club at Varmont, 20 minutes jeeping away and slightly drunk, where there is a horse shoe bar with high stools and a foot rail, a dance floor with a crooner, and dinner. Outside the garden runs down to a canal, which runs into the Kaag, and there are swing seats a la summer with awnings above them.

And the people – my friends are: Bart and Betty Ijssel de Schepper, with a small house near the Plaats for 40 guilders a month, and who are friends with some Colonels in the Canadian army HQ in Hilversum, notably Col Leslie Chater. Henri and Freddy Van Berger, whom I discover are not married, Louki who lives below them, and then a variety of women, some dumb, some beautiful and some without any English – “Yonker”, Katie, Lilly, Ellen with her U.S. accent, and many others whose names I have forgotten. At Wassenaar are some more, and also one or two messes belonging to semi-political intelligence units who never do much work. Major Henry Druce DSO bar, MC, Croix de Guerre etc is one of them and apparently mad as a hatter. The beautiful Iris Peake (the “Bitch”), is another.

I never ever get to bed before 12 and about once a week there is a bottle party of sorts at 69 Apollolaan in Amsterdam with John van Ligten, but latterly these are not so good. Here Jock Toothill and I meet the gallant Trat Moltzer. Occasionally I long for hills and jungles after months of pavements, but I am only here three months and had arranged to have Dutch lessons when I had to leave so suddenly. I must not forget the U.S. Embassy girls…

What of the future? I come on the strength of I.P.H.U. Innsworth, and when I am fit, about January I suppose, they inform the Air Ministry that I am available for posting. If I can’t pull a string so that someone asks for me, then God knows where I shall get to!

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October 21st 1945

I am still here and with a 5 week moustache. My foot does not ache so much, and is strung up on a Balkan bed. Mama comes up and brings my radio but it is a bit sick after 10 years service. My kit arrives safely at the Wings Club.

Fernshaugh calls in to do the Court of Enquiry and says damage to jeep is £100. Louise comes up one day and stays 1-6pm during which twice my bladder nearly bursts. I get a bottle of scotch from Tobermory, on Ma writing there. Letters from Henri van Bergen, John van Ligten and Herman Hymans in The Hague and Amsterdam, but none from my office. Also one from Dicky Cuypers.

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October 1st 1945

I don’t change my guilders, thinking it safer not to. I have now been here a fortnight and Mama may be up next week. Sgt Lovell still has my fountain pen, so this is all I have (JDW: he is writing in pencil). We are woken for washing at 6am – I then doze until breakfast at 8. Read the paper and write a letter until 12.30 lunch. Doze and a pipe until tea at 3.30, half pint of beer and a cigarette at 6 and at 10.30 the ordeal of sleeping begins. Lately my foot has started to ache so I have to be well doped to get any sleep at all. I have no appetite and have trouble with my bowels.

I see that Golly Gilbert gets out from Malaya. I take up pipe smoking again – and try and arrange to get my kit sent across from The Hague. What next. Quien sabe?

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September 20th 1945

I fall down in the world! I take Trat to Meerut and we have a reasonable party, though she has a cold and engages in a long session in Viennese with Bart, who later steals her away from dinner for a dance – much to my disgust. The next day I arrange to take her to John Van Ligten to a party there, and I have a lot of difficulty in getting out of taking Henri and Freddy too, in fact I have to rope in Chuck with the 15 cwt to take them. I jeep off to Heemstede and find Trat in bed with a cold. So we sit upstairs and consume a bottle of wine – of course John comes in and appears to own the place. I eventually take him off to the Amsterdam party where I entertain the guests (male) with my “Big Chief Boiler Kettle” story. At 11.30 I take John “home” – i.e. to Trat’s house where we have a cup of tea, borrow a book of Oscar Wilde and set off for home at 1.30am in pouring rain.

Going down the autobahn I notice I am doing about 40, but my lights do not search far ahead and all I can do is follow the centre white line. Suddenly something appears in sight but I haven’t even time to brake and hit it full and square. It is the last of two small German tanks driven by Dutch drivers of the “Eclipse” scheme, which had run out of petrol and so just stopped on the road – no lights of course.

I bale out, bleeding from my nose, and find my right leg twisted inwards – the jeep horn full on, and much rain. Some civil policeman in a car picks me up and takes me to Valkenburg, where they give me a shot of Scotch and cocaine and send me off to a military hospital in Rotterdam. Next day I am x-rayed and find my right hip is dislocated and the femur fractured. Chuck comes down, then goes back up to the Hague and brings me some kit and a pukka “658” (?), as the one I was using on the fateful night had his signature on it, forged by me. My hip is re-set and I am put in a Thomas splint and packed off to Antwerp.

I have difficulty in sleeping on my back and also in sitting on a bed pan, which has always been a hobby of mine. Next day I go to a hospital in Brussels and yesterday am flown across to the UK. I leave hospital at 12.45 for C.A.E.C. at Evere and am put in the Dakota on my stretcher. 1.10 before take off – hundreds of people get in and then off we go, arriving in Down Ampney (RAF Down Ampney in Wiltshire) in 2.10 or so. Here I am carried into a long shed, my stretcher put on a couple of buckets, and I find myself next to a Pole from Italy. I am then given a cup of tea, a bottle, a cigarette, a newspaper, a “dinner” on a plate, a piece of chocolate and a wash, and a Red Cross dame comes round with a bag of toilet necessities and offers to send wires or telephone my next of kin – Heaven forbid.

Then off in another ambulance – my 7th – to Wroughton Hospital where I now am – most depressed, as some Sgt bone shark has said it will all take about five months – so what to do with my kit in The Hague? I have just made a lying declaration to try and change 37 guilders, which I must get back and tear up, so I reckon that one way or the other I am in the SOUP!

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September 11th 1945

I go over to Heemsteede to see Trat but she is out, so I leave a message that I shall be back on Saturday and drive home – 50 minutes jeeping. Next night I take Sue Newall to a party at MRES and then on to a dance at Schreveningen Casino, but she is still a bit stand-offish – I kiss her though. Saturday I go to Heemstede with half a bottle of whisky and we sit and talk and smoke until midnight when I drive home. Nothing much doing, it seems, and so I arrange to go back to dinner on Monday. I go there and find one Yon Winser who was with her at that Amsterdam party, is living in the house, and has been since he was hidden there by the Underground in 1943 – presumably her lover – what a blow. However, I seem to make a little progress and have arranged to take her to Meerut on Thursday, if nothing prevails in the meanwhile. She definitely has charm, despite her glasses and broken teeth, but this lodger is more than I can compete with!

The other day I decide to go for a walk on the beach and call up Luki Dam, who says she is willing. We walk up and down, sit on a piece of driftwood, she snuggles around, so eventually I give her a kiss good and proper as I cannot hold it any longer. The result is astounding, and she is hotter than anything I met in the Hague! But she is engaged to Robert Van Gudder, an Old Harrovian acquaintance of mine, and so that’s that – one day the day will dawn I hope.

I see Lily Otto in the club – having told me she was going to Amsterdam and would write to me from there.

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