January 7th 1940 – in camp near Puttur


In camp with the Wilts, as an umpire, near Puttur – until 27th, dammit. Went solo on 4th at 6.30am – T-B took me for a couple or so (3) chukkers first – dual – and then I did a couple solo, ten minutes in all. Beyond a great inclination to sing, which I did, there was no difference in it at all. Have now done 5 hours 10 minutes dual, which is reckoned as pretty good, the normal pre-solo dual being about 8 hours.

Came down here on Friday, and the only good thing about it that I can see is that in the Mess they have the London Times, which I haven’t seen since before the war. The camp is situated under trees, on which all sorts of birds sit and make a bloody noise at night. One end is bounded by the road and the other by paddy fields. It would be alright for mountain warfare, provided each man left his rifle behind and took a machete instead, as the hills are covered in thorn scrub, much thicker than any of that cactus at Uttapanayakkannor. The B.O.s seem to do pretty well, one even brought a chest of drawers along, but they don’t seem to take much trouble over washing as they have no bath tent and we use these bloody camp baths. However, I manage to borrow a tin bath from Lees-Smith, who brought his own.

I have a 160lb tent, and God knows what it will cost. At present Hamilton (‘Dopey’) is giving his bearer hell for not understanding that “1. pencil, 2. foolscap” written on a piece of paper does not mean one pencil and two sheets of paper. I reckon I shall hit him before long if I’m not careful, and fail to control my temper.

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