December 31st 1942 – Ranchi

We fly to Calcutta on B.O.A.C. “Cleopatra” and then by train to Ranchi.

BOAC "Cleopatra"
BOAC “Cleopatra”

Calcutta was recently bombed a few times – 3 to 8 hostiles, a few on Kidderpore docks, all the coolies flee, and some also dropped near Dalhousie Square. We see a few broken trees and pock marked buildings near the Great Eastern Hotel. Howrah station is defended by European police who keep the mobs besieging every entrance in order. We get a seat, four in a coupe. Much change in Ranchi – 2 squadron I.A.F. here and W/C David Yorke DSO has superceded “Nick old boy”. He says he doesn’t like army officers, especially those that second to the RAF – he and Mike had had several ‘set-to’s’.

F/Lt Scott here, but Yorke says he is not fit to command a flight  (as he is a boozy type) and so I have “A” flight and Henry “B”. Scott runs training. There’s a Harvard in the squadron, one F/O Gillies teaches on it, and four Hurricane IIb’s, one fitted with cameras. Henry’s promotion is waiting, and I find a letter from G/C Hawtrey addressed “Dear Colin” congratulating me on my flight lieutenancy. It is dated Delhi December 2nd but nothing known here. But W/C Yorke having said “You seem to be on most intimate terms with the whatever-he-is” says it’s good enough for him and I can put it up. So up it goes, and I only hope it is not a mistake.

Yesterday I fly the Harvard OK, though I don’t like the brakes. Five new pilot officers in the squadron, all from fighter O.T.U.’s. This afternoon I shiver and have a bout of malaria. I consult “Watty” and instead of calling the M.O. I have a hot brandy, two atabrins and a good sweat. Then a hot bath – clean sheets and two aspirins and feel OK this morning. BUT will it come on again in the next few days??? This is the third time in six months and I must have malignant malaria. No use going to the hospital every three months for three weeks, then a month off flying, and not properly cured?? Or is it?

Amrik Singh is now a major, A.L.O. 2 squadron I.A.F. S/Ldr Engineer gets a D.F.C. on the frontier, so I hear. Burke and Doc Mathieson posted away.


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