October 25th 1943


I get a Board (JDW: Medical board) and three weeks leave from A.O.C. and set off for RAF Hill Depot at Munnar, Travancore, 4500′ up. Of course the train from Bangalore is late and we (one Flo Withers and I) get to Jalapet at 1, another train at 3pm, and arrive Alwaya at midnight. We sleep in a comfortable tea company restroom and leave by “wog bus” at 6am. A few miles from Alwaya the bus stops, the purser gets out, looks at us two and the bearer, examines the luggage on the roof, and gives me a bill for Rs25/-. Argument about the luggage is of no avail, and I have to stump up.

We arrive at the club for lunch. The club is well built and furnished with sheets, towels and soap. The first night there is a cinema, “Coastal Command”, and some of the locals come in and dance to the gramophone. One Marjorie Barnes is there, husband a POW in Korea, from Singapore. We decant half a bottle of Canadian whisky and are very popular. I get to bed at 2.30 and sleep well under three blankets. Next day I walk for about four miles and come to a broken bridge and a barrier on the road. A car draws up behind, and I am asked what I am doing. I say walking, they get out and take me into Ma Barnes’s bungalow for morning tea, then back to their own for lunch. A planter named Knight.

Later in the evening one F/O Raeder of the International Group gives a conjuring show, professional practically, and later I fox a few with my three card trick. The honorary manager, an Austrian whose husband is in Persia with the Gurkhas, gets into form with me, the conjuror, one Girwin from Cochin, and with great difficulty I get away to bed at 1.30.

This morning I set off to climb a good looking hill, but after about an hour I find the leeches getting on my chapplies and through the outer socks faster than I can knock ’em off, so I return. One large brute gets a grip on my thigh but I manage to flick him off before he gets a secure foothold.

A magnificent library here. I have brought up my artillery, but what with the leeches and the planters not being too keen on visitors shooting I doubt I shall get any. In the bar are many heads, and the hats of those who have lived thirty years here and then gone.

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