February 2nd 1941 – Habbaniya


Habbaniya is a camp well laid out, rather similar to Wana or Razmak, but more vast and better organised. Training here are a lot of Greeks and South Africans, and they had Norwegians and French before we arrived. We are the only four officers on this course, the rest being other ranks from Kenya and Malaya. We fly Harts, and I have already done four hours and not gone solo, and it looks as though I shall get myself chucked out – which would be the “irony of fate”. Up at 6, flying until 9, breakfast and lectures until 12.30. Then next day lectures until 10 and fly until 12.30 – and so on, alternately.

Went racing yesterday, first time since Blighty and on Pete’s selection ended 100 fils to the good. A very nice boat club here on Lake Habbaniya, where the flying boats come down, where I went out on a whaler with Charles Braybrookes and some sergeants.

This is the middle of a desert and dust storms make life bloody. The Euphrates runs alongside and last year the camp was evacuated to the plateau above the lake as there was a danger of the river bursting the bund. Flt Lt Cremin is my instructor and he is nagging and quite contemptuous of my efforts, which doesn’t help at all. Saw a drinking game called “Cardinal Puff” yesterday which is sheer murder by alcoholic poisoning, unless the victim watches his step.

My bearer is a bit of a wag, but not as good as Attam khan (I got him a job with Walker in the Pathans in Wana) – he has a ticket every year in the Irish sweep, and knows a little Urdu thank god. Will I be thrown out? Christ!

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