October 19th 1942


I go out tomorrow D.V. (JDW: God willing), but still have five days of “plasmaquin” to do. Hammers and Jackie come in to see me yesterday. I get a bottle of beer of an evening, but it is usually Solan which is horrid, though I did get Muree at first. We have a flight of the RAF Regiment on the aerodrome under one Micky Coyne, a dour Scot from the Dundee jute trade. They are quick on the draw too! The other night an Indian got onto the aerodrome at night and didn’t stop when challenged, so several opened up but missed owing to their bayonets being on the end of their rifles. He was suspected of tampering with a bowser which was foolishly left out on the strip all night.

A week ago at night a lorry with lights blazing shot across the strip taking the short cut to Hattia, and passed the sentry hoarsely shouting to it to stop. He then fired two shots over it but it didn’t stop so he took a bang at it, then another, and it eventually stopped. He found the driver dead drunk and with a bullet through his arm and one through his leg. Also three or four endorsements on his driving license for driving when drunk. He proudly said “Me racing driver Sahib”.

Three followers cross the strip one day and as a routine they are asked for their paybooks by the guard. One is without one so is detained and eventually spins a yarn about being brought from Burma in a Jap three engine plane a few months ago and being landed two days march from Calcutta. He looks like a Burman, and I’m in bed with malaria, so I send Cpl Doughty down to 15 Corps with him. They are very pleased, he is a Burman deserter, but I later hear that they have let him go. I had thought of taking him to some secluded point, digging a hole, and then shooting him!

Scott of Field Security says a few hundred Indian troops – ex prisoners of war – have been sent over the border by the Japs as spies, with wireless and whatnot. One of them was caught and turned “King’s Evidence”.

I do a bit of shooting with my .38, a long barrelled Smith and Wesson. At Sandhurst in 1938 they issued me with a Webley & Scott .45. I fired it in Razmak and found I couldn’t hit a thing. I got it exchanged plus some cash for a long barrel S & W .45 which I found very accurate. In Habbaniya, after the Battle of the Plateau, I spent a morning amongst the booty, ranging from field guns, “Iti” tanks to dummy rounds. I tracked down a .38 Webley to an armoury, spun a yarn about no pistol, and got it issued me. In Loiwing one of 17 Squadron had left his .38 S & W behind in someone’s care, so one day I exchanged my Iraqi .38 for his. It’s a lovely weapon and I decided to fire off all my ammo, except for 12 rounds, as they are very difficult to obtain. On a river (stream) below the mess I found I could aim and hit up to 40 feet!

Out tomorrow, but no flying for a month is the order, and a medical board at the end! How shall I fare this time?! (JDW: regular followers of this diary will know that my father was terrified of being discovered to have poor eyesight, and being kicked out of the RAF – he had cheated on his entrance eye test exam.)

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