January 13th 1943

I do my recce – Donbaik/Laungchaung/Rattedaung – and get a bit confused as I only have a one inch map. I go in at about 50′ but see nothing except some sill bursts amongst the trees west of Laungchaung. I see Akyab from about 1000′ only 20 miles or so away. On the morning of 11th I see 5 fighters and recognise the red suns on them whilst breakfasting with the RAF Regiment. 10 fighters come over with 3 bombers who strafe the docks and a hospital ship at Maungdaw. Then a twin engined job comes over on the way home at about 700′, having a good look at the strip. Bofors open up but they all fall short, the tracer being clearly visible. We decide to move to South Strip as we expect a ‘Balbo’ over soon to strafe our strip, and on landing there I taxi to the best dispersal. I am doing well, get over all the boggy ground and have gathered speed to go up a rise, when the wheels fall through 2′ or so of soft ground and the airscrew loses 4″ off each blade. I gather some coolies and by putting down bamboo rails we push her out and hide her under the trees. An Indian engineer then comes up and tells me there is a well there which had been ‘filled in’.

We also find a campsite near the other strip on a small stream. Three huts are being built and C.O., Scott, Hilton and myself live in a 80lb tent. We do our own cooking and three more recces are done, one by Hilton lasting 2.10! It is now my turn but Major Vir Singh has nothing for me, so I am “standing by”. I have my best Sandhurst boots (for walking home in) and black half puttees, which are most useful. (JDW: Presumably he means in the event of being shot down). As guards we have some sort of  “V” Force, and irregular body of pro-British Burmans armed with .476 Martini elephant guns, 1882 model. They stand guard day and night, and poor water over me when I am taking a bath above the stream in a camp bath. They coolies are putting up bamboo huts at 60/- rupees, so ‘Scotty’ tells me, each with six beds and three tables and benches. ‘Scotty’ went back to Ranchi yesterday to get another camera Hurricane as the one I broke is our only one, also the only one with jettison tanks.


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