November 2nd 1940 – Karachi


The four Indian Army officers are accepted for secondment to the RAF. The Air Minstry gazetted them as Pilot Officers attached to ‘General Duties Branch, RAF’ in the London Gazette dated 30th October 1941, service numbers 47299 (Haig), 47300 (Pringle), 47301 (Gillespy) and 47302 (my father). They are posted together to the 4th Intermediate Flying Training School at Habbaniya in Iraq. They quickly name themselves ‘The Four Musketeers’.

Drigh Road. We stop at Lahore for the day on the way down. Pringle and Haig went to see the Flying Instructor there, Walters. Gillespie and I sit about Faletti’s and go for a swim out in the Cautt (?). Then down on the Sind Express, plenty of dust and no restaurant car. We ride a bit in the engine compartment – rushing through the night down south – arrive Drigh Road at 8pm – met by a three ton lorry and taken to Mess – filled with beer by F/Lt J. Chapple, Adjutant. We live in tents here, of the marquee type with concrete floor, a water point, and an electric punkah overhead. I open up at night and such a breeze comes blowing through that I can sleep with a blanket on. As “Red Hot” Jones, the civil flying instructor, is away we spend about five days hanging about the works and watching things happen.

The depot here repairs all crashes, assembles planes shipped from home, and now that not so much is coming out it is a factory for all sorts of engine parts. It’s in the desert seven miles from Karachi – a nice Mess but rather regimental in its rules and with notices everywhere saying “such and such is verboten” etc. We couldn’t get dinner at 10pm the other night! Went to the boat club for a swim the other day, its on a creek of the Chinna and a pleasant spot. Bond is here, but mad and doesn’t take much stock of me. Dudley Withers arrived here suddenly two days ago, as Armament Officer for six months, whatever that is. He flew a Wapita (?) down from Peshawar. Well we both went into town for one and sat in the Boat Club a few hours, exchanging talk and reminiscences. It was just like the good old days on Nagim Bagh, with Karachi all blacked out, looking like the other side of Nagim. We then called in at the Gym Club and had another.

Dicky Lonsdale, Leicesters, awarded MC for Waziristan – Razmak I suppose. Johnny Benbow’s engagement in the paper! Christ! is the only suitable comment. Well, I’ve been about four days in the RAF now – pretty good going eh!


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