August 30th 1944


A little stock taking after four months in England. I don’t seem to be a particularly good pilot, especially in instrument and night flying, not to speak of some pretty poor gunnery. Mentally I am stagnant and cannot hold an intelligent conversation or argue on any subject – and seem to have no hold on anything. I read the Times every day but seem unable to absorb learning through the eye, despite having a memory like an elephant. I can organise damn well but am on the level of a Canadian pilot officer at present, only my day flying is not as accurate as his. Then the presence of women in this country after the East has complicated things – warped my thoughts as it were, though principally because I don’t seem to be able to score what other people do – or boast that they do! Maybe the day will dawn, as I say to myself, but I may get posted East again before sunrise, as that is the present trend of postings.

I go around with Canadians – Pete Mackenzie, Charlie Ruck, “Sawn-off” Perkins, Hugh Roberts, the Englishman David Crook DFC (author of ‘Spitfire Pilot’), A.J. Scott DFM, ex-Observer, who knew Hugh in 21 squadron, Wilkinson DFM, ex A.G and four seconded “pongoes” – Joe Hulme, Dennis Collier, Bob Martin, Tiny Price. And to hear them talking I realise how little I know of army life now. Someone once said “Jack of all trades, master of none” – but I’m not a particularly good Jack. Lazing in the flights or flying from 8am to about 16.30, a game of squash, some beer and supper, then hot foot with one or more of the above to the Corbett Arms in Market Drayton, the Bear in Hodnet or the Castle nearby.

And then the local women with whom I am such a failure – Elaine Spender, who drinks more beer than I ever thought possible, took up with Biani the Norwegian sergeant pilot whilst I was night flying; WAAF Lewis of ill fame; the beautiful Vera and her girlfriend Irene; “Hell hath no fury” Dorothy of Hodnet – I walked out on her, bored; two others who live in Garden City, but no progress; Wilky’s land army dame, but I can never find her; and the respectable hangers-on of the Vardon parties, but who might be cracked, with skill.

Hell! I want a change of air! Or station rather.

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