The forward facing jobs are now postponed and cancelled thank God. Hamish Selkirk finishes his tour and there is the usual party with ‘B Flight’ drunks very prominent. I get attacked and have my tie chewed off twice and bruise a rib on a chair during a fall. It puts me off flying for two days. During one melee I grab Johnny Young by the seat of his pants and he jumps around screaming like a cat on hot springs. Later he tells me that I have a grip on his piles!
I go down to Oysterwick and visit Griffiths, Ma’s Canadian friend of Tregunna days, and he gives me a meal and quite some hooch. He is Adj, commander 4th Canadian Armoured Division. I get two letters from Monica, with some very nice bits in them! I am flight commander pro-tem as Alan Clifton-Mogg is acting C.O. and I am enjoying myself with the first job of work for over 12 months! Today the Allies attack across the Rhine. (JDW: Operation Varsity)
Nick Bowen and I do an anti-flak patrol between Wesel and Bocholt to try and spot the gun flashes and get the “cab-rank” Typhoons on to them. There are masses of 88.8mm and 40mm about but nary a flash do I see, and we reckon they are using flashless ammunition. We are expecting to see paratroops about and at 10h I see them just as Mick calls up “Aldershot Tattoo”, our agreed call. We go and watch and take some photographs but due to the haze they are not up to much. The first drop seems unopposed but the second comes through a hail of 40mm flak. The leading Dakota catches fire but continues his run, turns, and then the crew bail out. I see about 6 Dakotas burning, some crash, one puts out its fire in an engine, and one I see crash our side of the Rhine, with one of the crew about to come down in the river. I see a Typhoon smoking for a bit, and get caught up in the flak myself whilst trying to get photographs.
On the way home I pass a stream of tugs and gliders going out – the Dakotas of the previous drop passing underneath them on their way home. Later we do a TAC/R together and I make a pass at a truck, unsuccessfully. My shooting is bad these days and I have missed an m/c, a jeep, and today’s truck.
Steve and Bob Mackelswain pick my wallet up at the Brevet Club and bring it back to me. The last four days have been hot with not a cloud in the sky, reminiscent of India, and I do a little sunbathing – when time.