February 8th 1940 – Madras

Yesterday I was allowed to take off from the beginning, solo. They put out the sheet and round I go. I don’t like the look of the first one, so round I go again. Just as I am turning in, I see the leopard about to take off, so I do a small circle right. I am still gliding, am not paying attention, and she begins to stall at 100-200′! I give her her nose and some engine, then full engine, round and land. Coope nearly had a fit as high tension wires were underneath!

This morning T-B has one chukker dual, then OK, and off I go – I now have 1.10hrs solo. This morning Dr Dyson took me off for 35 mins as observer whilst we attacked the minesweepers. We went out to sea, they were a mile or two off land, and came down from the sun and a cloud at 3500′. He did glides and stall turns, then we circled for a torpedo attack and back home – delightful. I spot Freeland on one with my field glasses.

—–Editor – evidently they are practising attacks on friendly minesweepers. It’s clear that my father is becoming more and more enamoured of flying, to the detriment of his army career, where the only break in the boredom seems to be getting ‘whistled’ and the occasional Marjorie Buller.

Last night a dance at Government House. John, Jerry, Tony Cotterill, Downe and myself all go in Tippoo, and arrive to be the only ones in a soft shirt (I originally had silk shirt and cummerbund, but had to change them again). Had good time, a few cocktails, supper with Celia and some dancing with Marjorie Buller. I also walk her out twice around dark and dim bushes, but she won’t kiss me – though I give her a peck for luck. I am reputed to be mad here, so these frippets think, but I explain how I have only three more weeks in civilisation. Sent Marjorie a cap badge, with my love of course.


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