November 17th 1943


I get down fairly uncomfortably by train and find much mail waiting. A telegram of congratulations from “Scotty, Nobby, Burt Mann”. I also read in C.R.O.s that Mike got the MC for his escape from Foul Point. Hammerbeck gone thank God, so I can get on with what work I have in peace. My luggage from the Training Battalion in Abbotabad arrives. (JDW: three years late!). Meet one Sandy Webster DFC and bar of 60 squadron, a well known character east of the Bramaputra, and we go to the Bus Club. Meet Catherine Railton and go home to her bungalow for a drink. I leave at 2.30am and he is still there and not back when I go to work at 8.30.

Medical Board will not let me fly as S.M.O. is taking my case up with Delhi so I either go back to the Army or get permanently grounded. Well, I set off by “doodlebug” or Dodge recce car to visit 171 Wing and 4 squadron at Solar near Coimbatore. We go via Mysore and Ooty and arrive about 9pm. I should have spent the night at Ooty as I miscalculated ETA and the slow descent from the hills. Ooty, Wellington and Coonoor not quite what I expect and very close together. Tea and coffee on the way up, and vast grasslands, though they do not look open enough for ibex. The other side – to Coimbatore – with a dozen or so hairpin bends and dense forest all around. We run into rain, a bad road and the market breaking up near Coimbatore, and find the lights will not work. Nobody knows of Solar there, but it seems to be on the Trichinopoly road, so we feel our way painfully down, the lights eventually functioning near Solar.

I have analysed what’s wrong – I want to meet a ‘nice gal’ again.

Madras bombed again but no bombs dropped and a Beaufighter gets a shot in. Terrific floods last month and a four engine Jap flying boat comes over and drops half a dozen on the town. It strikes the coast to the south and is plotted flying up, but Control thinks it is a Catalina returning from patrol – why?

Indian trains God! Dust and vibration despite all the windows, Venetian blinds, and wire mesh frames being closed, making it damn hot. The fans blow the dirt onto one’s sweaty skin where it sticks. Nowadays it is hard to get a berth and you have to reserve four days ahead, from Bangalore to Madras.

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