January 30th 1942

'Dickie's' Lysander, 28 Squardon (Army Cooperation), Kohat, loading up for Burma

We leave an hour late and I do a ground loop at Lahore and bust a wheel, and so am two hours behind. On reaching Delhi, I refuel and take off up to some gate or other as I can’t get off the ground and only manage to pull up with a few feet to spare. I run up on chocks and find the engine is OK so take off again and set course. Then Flight Sergeant Fairbrother, my airgunner, says ‘something’s burning’, it appears to be another fuse so I come down again and stay the night whilst it is attended to. The accumulator overflows and rots a large hole in the fabric.

I put up at Com. flight mess, with Gunn who is in the Douglas, and then go to the Club with Mac, Dudley Withers and Neil Elliot. I meet Brain and Dickie Lonsdale and Pamela Russel from Calcutta, Also alot of paratroops, some with carpet slippers on and plaster on their faces, and despite telephoning all over Delhi, am unable to locate Reggie Seward or Abbott.

Next day, with Sergeant Glass, who stopped overnight with an oil leak, we set off and after refuelling at Cawnpore catch up the squadron at Gaya. As I fly over they fire Very lights, so I watch which way their smoke blows and land accordingly, only to find they had been trying to draw my attention to a landing “Tee”. But instead of a ‘berry for my prang I am complimented on catching up the squadron! We reach Dum Dum that night and are put up at the Mess. No taxis available but we eventually manage to get on some service MT and reach Calcutta at 8.15pm. A drink in the Grand, then Joe Nelson, Teddy and I dine at Firpo’s and return to bed by 11pm. Burt Mann up all night with his girl and some of the others stay in town.

Next day we reach Chittagong and then set out for He-Ho. B Flight leading and over some wicked mountains up to 8000′, thickly wooded. Near Meiktila Burt decides petrol is short so we land at a concealed landing ground at Pyawbwe. It’s home to the Burma Frontier Force training battalion and we meet a BVAF chap (Isaacs) and his wife who give us tea whilst refuelling in progress. I have a long range tank and they don’t fill me up, but I take a look and find an air lock in the tank. That’s blown out, and we set off for He-Ho where the rest of the Squadron are, bar Teddy Humphries. He was last seen over the Irrawaddy and it later transpires he went back to Chittagong and the next day set out again and crash-landed at Mandalay. But a search A/C goes out to look for him.

At He-Ho we sleep in dormitories with bedding “on the house”, the custom out here apparently. Over 3000″ and damn cold; rolling downland with scrub; sharp stakes and tank traps everywhere. Off next day to Laskio and up to 9500’. Of course our heavy kit has not arrived, but we disperse to A/C “hides” and then up to the Mess some three miles away. We all go about with pistols and carry tin hats. This is the railhead for the Burma road, and lorries are everywhere. Mostly Chinese drivers, and one lorry is only supposed to last about four trips. We drive down to some hot springs where boiling water wells out of the ground. Everything hellish expensive as all the inhabitants have made fortunes out of “lorrying” up the Road.

A beautiful place this. A low depression with rolling hills on three sides, thickly jungled. The earth is red, but plenty of vegetation and flowers abound. The buildings are all wood and chattai, on stilts above the ground in Chinese fashion.

Tomahawks of the American Volunteer Group arrive occasionally but we never see the pilots. They get about 2000 rupees a month and 500$ in gold for each plane they shoot down, so they are pretty hot stuff.

A sudden signal for two aircraft to Rangoon for two months and it is B Flight. Sgt Deakin and Nobby or I. We toss and he gets it and has gone. He hates moving and I like it, but I’m not ready, having just unpacked and not yet being “composed like”. Now I am, I wish the hell I had gone after all, as there will be nothing to do here, until we are re-equipped with modern aircraft.

DC3’s of China National Airways Corporation run Calcutta-Laskio-Kunming. If I had gone to Rangoon I would have seen some more war, and bombers every day there. Am I a fool or not?


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2 responses to “January 30th 1942”

  1. Is Neil Elliot any relation to your mamma?

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