November 7th 1943 – Munnar

I go out walking most mornings 9-12am, and it rains after lunch and I go to bed with a book. I get up a good peak the other day, but am surrounded in cloud so no view. Douglas takes me up to the Top Station, up and away another 3-4000′, and we call on some WAC(1)’s who have a secret job up there. I am nearly sick in the back of the station wagon going up, with hairpin bends and whatnot. We stop to see some black monkeys on the way down. Wednesday night there’s a dance for the RAF BORs (JDW: British other ranks) and most of the locals in from a S.P.M.R. parade. Much drinking afterwards and the vultures close in on Withers and I when we open a half bottle of Canadian whisky. One old white hair doesn’t believe it, and has to be pressed (but no one offers me any shooting). I get in a corner with one Dick Imray, divorced, and discuss life and marriage for about an hour. I get off to bed at 3am, being not too well next day from the Travancore gin.

I march out 7 miles to lunch with one Basil Matthews, arriving at 12.30 to find he and his visitor (one ex-Assistant Leckie of 7 Rajputs, on leave from the Middle East) still in bed. They rise in dressing gowns, we discuss the war and they remember lunch at about 3pm. Not through drink, but because they think it’s still morning. I get away about 6pm by car.

I read Gallagher’s “Retreat in the East” – I knew him, Stone and Berrigan at the Mingaladon Golf Club (JDW: they were foreign correspondents, in Burma) – some of his anecdotes are not quite true, notably Burt Mann’s prang with General Hutton’s ADC. He states A.V.G.’s score in June ’42 was 285 for 15 A.V.G. pilots.

A letter from Ma, somewhat excited about my ‘gong’ in 10th September Times.


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