Bud Loveless and I take two batwomen (?), Betty and Pat respectively, out to Andover for beer and then walk home to the Waaf dance, but no score on either side. Scott, self, Raynor, Johnson, George and Robinson are posted to 83 G.S.U. at Lasham today, but their adjutant rings up and tells us to go on leave until the 29th, which doesn’t suit me a bit, as I shall have to go down to St Ives, and would much rather get on with the job and cross over to Holland. After eight months in the UK I still haven’t done what I wanted and I am now about to leave again, though I am not going so very far away this time. On looking back, I suppose that I could have done better if I had been a bit bolder and hadn’t made that fatal change of policy in Chester. But that was a shot in the dark that damn near succeeded! There seems scope (slight) here in Andover if I was stationed here, but no one has had any luck in the week that we have been here. However, as I say to myself, “the day will dawn” – I hope that I shall live to see it!
I fly again over Stonehenge and do a few shoots on Larkhill ranges quite successfully with 25lb-ers and 4.5″ guns. I go to the “Square Club” with a gang and then to a local dance at the drill hall in Andover, where we discover a secret bar, run by and for the home guard. Later Pete, Gordon and I to to the “Bell” where I am taught to shoot craps, and we have a nasty journey back across the airfield in the mud and the dark. But nowhere do I get a date, though there seems to be possibilities if I was staying longer. My quest seems fruitless, and I shall have to amend my prayer to the new moon. Exactly three months ago was Joan of Ross on Wye!
I wander out to Shepheard’s on the Monday and meet Greenaway again and then to the Brevet Club and back to bed. I wake next morning with quite a hangover, which is dispelled when I have a few gins and a very excellent lunch with, and on, J.J. Saunders at the “Aperitif” in Jermyn Street. That night I go to Shepheards for a drink, solo, and meet a marine, one Robin Graham, and some RAF penguins (JDW: officers with no operational flying experience (comes from the fact that “Penguins don’t have wings”) . I also grab one Marjorie Hicks, a V.A.D., and we all go on to the Brevet Club. I then take Marjorie home to the Strand Palace Hotel and set to work in her room, but am foiled as she declares she is cold, and I cut my losses at 12.30 and walk home to bed.
Wednesday I come down to Andover and meet Peter Mackenzie on Waterloo Station. We go over to Larkhill for a couple of days and see guns and do shoots from O.P.s. Today we start flying – but low cloud and rain and nothing up to lunchtime. Last night Loveless (RCAF) and I go to the local pub and then to some village hall dance about four miles away, on our feet, but I don’t get myself organised, though it seems to be there. Loveless gets a date and damn near a fight out of it.
I manage to fail my decompression test and so get five days leave before going to Andover on the 13th. I say farewell to the Pauls again, having tried unsuccessfully to get Barbara to come to town with me. I arrive on Friday and stay at Nuffield House. I join the ‘Wings Club’ and go round there for a drink and meet an RCAF type, who promises to fix me up with a party on Saturday night with a CWAC. (JDW: Canadian Women’s Army Corps). I then go to ‘Shepheards’ (Hotel), round the bars and to bed, after going up to her room with some tart and then managing to escape because I pretended not to be able to find the necessary £2.
Saturday I hang around “Wings” Club 6.15 to 7.30 but this RCAF aborts, so I go in a furious temper to the “Brass Arse” (JDW: the Queen’s Brasserie in Leicester Square), where I meet one F/L Dudley Greenaway and get talking to a couple of Wrens, but they have to go at 9pm, and I seem to remember we all make a date for Monday night. He then takes me to the “Rye and Dry” and then to the “Brevet Club”. By this time I am a bit tight and have some mistletoe in my breast pocket and give everyone the Croix de Guerre. I meet one Vera Barnes, disguised as a “Driver U.S.” and steal her away from her escort and take her home, to her flat in Bayswater Road. Another Canadian is there with her girl friend and we all have some supper around 1am. We then get busy, but with no success, but she gets busy on me alright but throws us out at 2.45am before the worst has happened – thank God!
That morning I had lunch with R.B.T Morton, Major in 2GR on leave from Italy in his club, the United Services. I recognise him in Nuffield House at breakfast. Sunday I go to the Overseas Club tea dance and collect one Agnes Hutchinson, quarter French, and in the French equivalent of the A.T.S. After it finishes I take her to “Shepheards” where we meet one Clarisse, a friend of hers, and the rest of the evening is carried on in English, Flemish and French. We then adjourn to the Archery pub off Lancaster Gate for sandwiches and beer after lunch. I then take Agnes home across the park, but I might just as well lead a duck home. We all arrange to meet in the pub again today and she gives me her phone number to ring her about taking her out this afternoon first. However, she seems a sexless dame, though God knows why, and only drinks spirits, so I am going to abort myself this time. (JDW: an expensive investment with no chance of a dividend?)
So I am now no nearer my goal than when I came here. Tonight I shall wander round the bars I suppose and home to an early bed. I don’t seem to have any luck at all since Joan. I shouldn’t have concentrated so much on Barbara. I always say to myself that the day will dawn, but it never seems to do so!
I go to a dance at the local Drill Hall which is pretty dead, though I dance with some dame Jean Wallace and her sister Renee. They then take me home for some food and cross examine me on India. They also turn out to be communists, and give me hell for half an hour.
Monday I come up to Hawarden and take the test on the Tuesday. Two hours at 37,000’ and all I get is a slight pain in my right knee. Not enough to get out of it though. I go to dinner with the Pauls and am told I have lost weight – a good thing. Yesterday I walk to Chester in the morning and meet Raynor and his girlfriend in Barlow’s. I go in last night and drink beer from 7-10pm with a Canadian A.S.C. private – but no luck.
On looking back, I see my last home base was September 19th, damn near three months ago. As for Barbara, and her tricks, I have ‘had’ that, as it’s no use. Everyone else seems to manage OK except me. I was a fool to drop Joan and pursue Barbara, but I had to follow my star I suppose – thinking that I was in love and all. Damn cold up here, but I still cannot get what I want.
I get a wire from Hawarden to report on the 4th, so I ring up and find that I must go for a decompression test, however much I protest. So that’s that, and I only hope I can fail it. I go to tea with General Powell and two Waafs are produced. One goes home on duty and I take the other to the “Cambridge Arms” and then back here for supper. One Josephine Dunningham and she comes in again last night. We then repair to the “Drum” at about 10pm and meet all the controllers, mostly from the local Ops room where Jo works.
I then see her home after a bit of necking in the road, and she seems excessively warm for her 20 years, but nothing else.
I go to the local reading room to read the Times yesterday and burn a huge hole in my uniform trousers on an electric fire. By the grace of God my new uniform had arrived by post half an hour earlier, so I am saved, but yesterday altogether a damned annoying day. I see three ‘Meteors’ for the first time.
I go out on Sunday evening to a news theatre and then look for a drink, but all the usual joints are shut. I eventually go to some pub off Regent Street where there are two RAF types, drink until 9pm and retire to bed.
Monday I go to “Flights” and show him the uniform, then to Grindlays and on down to Deal. A nice bed and not too much food and damn boring. I go out two nights in succession, looking for anything, having seen a few pilots in the streets of Deal in daylight, but despite visiting four pubs not a soul do I see. There are some Wrens around and one was to be billeted here yesterday, but now she isn’t coming, so I must resign myself to a week of “austerity”.
The Aunt sees some fat girl she knows in Deal High Street and has invited her for a drink, but I think I prefer “austerity”. Of course Hawarden may recall me before the 6th, in which case it will be OK. I feel better, though I can still feel my right ear and throat and do not sleep too well, having these damn sweats.