November 30th 1944


I get delayed in Andover whilst they run through me for a Board. (JDW: medical board). I pass the eyesight test OK and then dump some of my kit and get the first train to London. I try the Regent Palace, unsuccessfully, and eventually get a bed in the “Mandeville” – very dingy.

I go out in the evening to the “Windmill”, which seems a pretty poor show (JDW: the semi-nude review show which was famous for having never closed throughout the Blitz and the war), then for a drink (the first for ten days) at the Berkeley Buttery, and another at the Piccadilly Brasserie, where I meet two fairly pickled naval types, one Lt Ian Browne and Veronica McFadden, a Wren with a flat in the “Mount Royal”. After some beer we go back to the “Mount Royal”, as she has just been thrown out, and she manages to register again. Then we gatecrash the club underneath by getting odd (JDW: or old) yanks to sign us in, until it shuts at 10.30pm. On to the “Coconut Grove”, of which Ian is a member, and I ante up £2 towards a bottle of gin. Ian dances with Veronica and I sit there gloomily with the gin, and then I do. Then he retires to the gents and I go on dancing with Veronica, and he is seen no more, having taken his hat and left. This Wren cannot dance, being somewhat pixilated, and we repair to Lyons, off Shaftesbury Avenue, for some food at 3am.

I walk her home by 4am and we go up to her flat, 729, on the 7th floor, where I set to work, but soon see that she has no idea what it is for, so I cut my losses and leave – getting to bed at 4.30am.

This morning I meet Bob Martin and some dame in the park and arrange to have a drink in the Brasserie, and then I have lunch by myself in the Berkeley Buttery. I wire Aunt Viv and she says “delighted”, and I hope she is, though little does she know that I have no ration cards! I cashed a cheque for £10 in Andover but not much left, though I have the remains of the bottle of gin to show for it.

It’s 42 degrees and damn cold (5C) and my ear hurts, so I shall go out for a drink tonight and then retire to bed. Veronica rings up and leaves a message for me to ring her – but damned if I do!

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November 29th 1944


This joint (Bossington House) belongs to Sir Richard Fairey and the (river) Test flows past the bottom of the park. It also teems in pheasant. I am due out today and have planned to go to town and then to Deal to see Aunt Vivy, as I am not required until the next course on the 6th. I telephoned W/C Plumtree at Hawarden on this. But I spend 1/9 last night on telephone calls trying to get a bed at one of the London service clubs, without any success, nor could I contact Aunt Vivy, as they said she was not in the telephone book. So it all looks a bit grim as I want to go to town to take my uniform back to Flights, and also for other things which I shall most certainly not get, having no one as I do.

Typhoons scream overhead here, and pheasants and coots scream in the grounds, and I rampage in bed with my usual trouble. I know what I should like in London, but it looks as though it may be difficult even to get there.

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November 22nd 1944


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.

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November 14th 1944


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.

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November 5th 1944


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.

 

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October 29th 1944


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.

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October 22nd 1944


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.

 

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