May 12th 1943 – Imphal

I go flying twice at Ranchi. Once to watch an artillery demonstration and am stooging around about 2000′ when up comes a mortar bomb above me, hovers a bit, and then drops. The second time I run into a lot of cattle at the end of the kutcha strip but fortunately each one in his turn gets out of my way. I then come up to Imphal – leave Ranchi one morning for Red Road, but don’t like the look of the approach, through a balloon barrage, so I land at Alipore instead. See Group and spend the night with Reggie Cox, in their Mess, a beautiful house with electric fans, running water and iced beer.

We go to the Saturday Club and the flicks. Next day, despite the compass being some 10-15 degrees out, I land at Agartala and then Imphal. It looks just like Kashmir or Abbottabad, nestling in a plain surrounded by mountain ranges.

The two flight lieutenants, Nazir Allah and Latif, I find in trouble – the one for beating up one of his pilots and the other for refusing to fly at the latter’s orders, as he considered himself the senior. Amrik Singh is here as A.L.O., and Group Captain Seton-Broughall is O.C. of the local Wing, and I see him and also A.V.M. Williams about some of my troubles. The Viceroy comes up on a visit, heralded by a Lockheed Electra with his servants and personal baggage on board.

“Longcloth” (JDW: see Operation Longcloth) – 77th Brigade under Brigadier Wingate – are returning from Burma. About 3000 of them advanced in several columns last December, crossed the Irrawaddy, and got nearly to Bhamu. Some have gone on into China, about 1400 have returned to India and others are on the way. We do contact recces to find them and then aircraft drop supplies on them. They have been supplied by air the whole time, even boats being dropped to recross the Irrawaddy. Bernard Fergusson was one of the column commanders.

Nazir Allah and Latif go on a recce, but only Latif has returned, saying Nazir lost him – so that looks like a battle casualty, and the best man in the squadron too.


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