April 16th 1942

Pierce does quite a safe recce and I go down yesterday evening to Meiktila. First time up for three weeks but I manage OK and navigation is good. I have to taxi for half an hour under cover and over newly cut down bunds so that the engine nearly blows up by the time it’s finished. At full throttle I can’t get over some of the bunds and have to take a run!

Sides the Australian there, and we spend the night in PWD bungalow up the road. Meiktila has been reccoed and shot up daily, so they shift their quarters about as there seems to be an efficient espionage system there.

Some food by torchlight and I crawl under a mosquito net on a charpoy, though only get one hour’s sleep for thinking of what the Japs do to their prisoners! Sides works from 9 to 11pm getting the a/c out on the strip and I take off at 0610, but would have got off 10 minutes earlier if the chap driving me there hadn’t lost the way.

No task arranged with the army so Chaplin decides on a recco. Sinbawngwe to Magwe along the east bank. Own troops at Magwe and some way forward? I set course in the dark, get up to 1100′ and suddenly spot Satthwa, so turn off and dive down over Sinbawngwe. I then look back and see four aircraft following (I am about 2000′), but these dissolve into puffs of smoke, and that means ack-ack. I scoot round a hill and back east of the village to recco the road north, and see some flashes and up it comes again. I scoot and wheel down low but am between the gunners and the rising orb of the sun, so plenty more comes up but I am soon away. The road difficult to find, but I see some lorries, probably ours, some A/T and eventually return to Meiktila, thoughtfully in case the Japs be waiting there. I land, refuel, see Chaplin the A.I.L.O., and am off in ten minutes. A straight course, but I hit the railway at a point south of Hsipaw, and I skim up the road home. Three decent landings OK!


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