March 8th 1944

The AOC gives me an adverse report! Says I lack initiative and made a poor show of 2 squadron! Eventually he says he will wait until SASO returns and consult him – because Macworth (AOC) does not know me and cannot even spell my name.

A signal in this morning that I have to report to Bombay on 21st March – I book a berth on the train for the 19th to arrive on 20th.

Not out of the woods yet!

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March 6th 1944

A damn great cyclone off Madras and a good drop of rain here. We lose a Catalina in it at sea. Another convoy sails from Bombay which I miss. S/L Ramsey lets me have his greatcoat for £8, in condition that I take a box home for his wife.

My pay is a complete muddle – back pay due from the difference between F/O and F/L from October to March in Ambala. They offer me 190/10! P.O.R. re my Acting S/Ldr rank and 100/- per month with Indian Air Force did not reach B.P.O. from 2 squadron! My account debited 100/- per month for the D.S.O.P. Fund, but found not credited since Sept 1942?!

Apparently we get no 1939-43 Star for service in Burma, but as someone suggests, I should thank myself lucky to have what I have, without wanting more.


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March 3rd 1944 – “What, You Still Here?”

Still here doing nothing hard. A signal from A.C. Sea today asking for confirmation that I am available for embarkation, whatever that means. It never happened with anyone else before. I meet one W/C Phillips just out from the UK who gives me the lowdown – dry ships. There’s far too many sinkings in the Gulf of Aden appearing on our Ops Room board for my liking. Just my luck to be sunk and, if rescued, then by a ship coming back to Bombay!

I purchase two small sandalwood elephants and a large rosewood one at Mysore “arts and crafts” department. Bill Beaman, Phillips and one Swaley, a petrol king from Delhi, and self, stoke up on Cyprus brandy at the Bus Club last night, and then feed at Winstons Chinese restaurant. I have a great success with my paper darts made from menus. AOC says to me “What? You still here?” So long as he doesn’t ask me what I’m doing I don’t mind.

Indian Rates of Pay in Rupees (GD/ASD/Medical)

Air Commodore 1805/1725
Group Captain 1680/1475/1930
Wing Commander 1240-1470/1080/1510 (also Lieutenant Colonel in Indian army)

Squadron Leader 1010/915/1075 (Major)
Flight Lieutenant 710/640/755 (Captain 690-710)
Flying Officer 635/545/600 (Lieutenant 535)
Pilot Officer 500/455 (2nd Lieutenant 480)

Chaplain – 500 on appointment

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February 29th 1944

Old Pinsen turns out to be saner than I expected and we have a most interesting chat over my whisky last night. A big flap on just now on just now and Jap fleet expected in the Bay of Bengal – Pinsen has to go down as station master at Tanjore. G/C George Howard suggested I go, missing boat and catch the next one! Bill Beaman stops it and AOC tries again today saying “We can fly him back in three hours.” Beaman wins again, but if the situation deteriorates perhaps I shall have to go, and miss my boat.

A letter from Mhairi out of the blue, and I go for a walk in the evening dreaming of a “rosy future”. I write to Daphne, Babs, the Mad Aunt, Mhairi and Bill’s father, who sent me 2oz of Gold Block, so I am more or less up to date.

That dance was some show, as Briggs and I spent all our time doing ‘pincer movements’ on pongoes (JDW: Army types) who kept coming up and trying to steal a dance from the girls, in particular Mary Kinloch, a blonde with protruding teeth and two eighteen inch guns. She can’t dance but waggles her bottom round the floor like a duck and very comfortably – and Marcie House, in the mornings a F/Sgt in our ops room. No light weights. There seems to be something about me that makes these women – girls, rather – giggle and never stop. Must be my inane grin.

A fearful picture developed for the Public Lavatories Officer (JDW: I suppose he means PR Officer). Pinsen is a bird fancier like myself.

Four years today I left Madras with the regiment for the “frontiah”. I have arranged for Albert to transfer his allegiance to F/L Peter Lewer, Group photo officer. I hand in my mauser and ammunition for transport by air to Octavius Steel Company, Calcutta, and onward transmission to Uncle Stan – God knows if it will ever reach.

I haven’t got that boat yet, whatever they say. Feeling rather turgid through lack of exercise and concentrating on doing nothing for so long in the office, as AOC is back and I now cannot arrive half an hour late and depart two hours early. “Just going to the Admin buildings (Racecourse) old boy! If anyone wants me…

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February 27th 1944

I lose my identity pass and about 100 rupees and £1/10/- at the Bus Club. I put it in the cover of a book as I have no pockets in my bathing costume and later hand the book back to the librarian. He says it’s not there, so must have fallen out in the Club grounds, but I do not find it. My relief S/Ldr Pinsen arrives and appears to be as mad as a hatter and has left a trail of adverse reports all around India and Ceylon.

The public relations officer catches me and writes up a short story about my gong. I tell him all about Mike’s too and suggest he combines the two stories. However the Indian Government will see it and say “Keep this fellow in India” – you never know.

I go to two parties – one is Jack Smith’s (G111 Air) birthday in the Bus Club and the other is Beaman, self and John Briggs, the RAF Regiment officer, at Group. Dinner and dance etc. I break my English squash ball, and so I have ‘had’ squash for a bit.


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February 24th 1944

Still hanging on – with Bill Beaman and W/Cs Thunder and Gauntlet from Ceylon, go to Winston’s Chinese restaurant last night and sample some fried noodles.

I am presenting a half tankard, and can’t get a bigger one, to 28 squadron. Yesterday they had done it wrong and put “13th Frontier Rifles” on it so I am hoping they will be able to correct it. On the reverse is “Round the bend – 1938-1944 – and back again.”

I purchase Whistler’s Book on Indian Birds, and “Birds of South India”, which is rather technical and full of latin.


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February 22nd 1944

I am reduced from acting S/Leader back to my normal rank of F/L with effect from 31st January and S/Ldr R.M. Pinsen posted here in my place from Assault Wing. I am allowed to retain S/Ldr badges rank in accordance with some A.M.O. So here I sit all day and do nothing.

This Hotel West End is not too bad – 10/- a day, but the Government pay is 6/12 and gives me 1/1 ration money, so the balance is only ⅔ a day. A lot of rain just now, a bit early for the Mango showers (JDW: pre-monsoon rains)

I wrote to Abbottabad about a month ago for the rest of my kit, but no answer. Now the Southern Army here has signalled to them to send it to Grindlays Bank Bombay, but still no answer. My pay is in a muddle again. Still being credited as F/L as 2 Squadron P.O.R. never reached B.P.O. and B.A.O. So we write to them to promulgate again, also 100/- per month extra for being with the I.A.F. Nothing will be done and I shall get a bill at home (if I ever get there) for £300-400. Also they deduct 100/- per month for the Defence Service Officers Provident Fund, but it is not paid into the fund.

I shall have to close this (diary) with some impressions of the East:

(JDW: since he was about to be repatriated to the UK, where he begins the last and final volume of these wartime diaries).

1. The sound of the birds – the Koel, the Coppersmith, the Green Barbet and the ook ook of the Crow Pheasant (Greater Coucal); the background being composed of various chatterings of the Myna birds.

2. A cold iced beer after a hard game of football and a ghuzzle (bath) – especially in the silver engraved tankards of the battalion, with lids on.

3. Sunset in Assam, over the Naga Hills, with a few loose cumulus about.

4. Drinking “Mandalay” beer on the lawn of the D.C.’s house in Magwe (it was the RAF Mess) and listening to the Koels in the trees above the Irrawaddy.

5. The zipping of bullets high above my head during operations on the Frontier.

6. Riding home on my pony in the desert near Habbaniya, with the sun setting beyond the Euphrates.

7. Walking on the Bund, around the same time, and wondering if I should ever pass the Flying Training School, especially the eyesight exam.

8. Wandering in the forests of Yellapatty with a gun.

9. A rainy afternoon in Shillong.

10. The awful suspense waiting in Abbottabad to be called up for RAF interviews in Delhi.

11. The night after Ian Pringle was killed – me and Allan Haig left!

12. Nerves in the siege of Habbaniya – going back to bed after the dawn stand-to.

13. Walking home from the Ranchi Club to the mess after a game of tennis – in the good old days of Teddy, Burt, Robin White, Tom Pierce, Eric, Corporal Allward, and lashings of beer and hooch.

14. A trip to Egypt in November ’42 with Burt and Henry Larsen.

15. Watching my boys landing and taking off from “Seaview” in Maungdaw.

16. Mike, Waggers and co. in the dugout mess of a night over the rum.

17. Driving my Chevrolet “Hsipaw-Lashio bus service” wagon from Maymyo to Loiwing.

18. First days in Jubbulpore – getting dressed of an evening.

19. Riding out into that small forest in Ambala – and a ‘pimms’ aferwards – wishing I was in Tommy’s Bar in Cairo.

20. And last, but not least, all the thoughts and wishes that I might be in certain parts of the UK at certain times and which, if they ever materialise, will be stale and below par – an anticlimax in fact.

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