Hedley Madgett diary 1942



Hedley Madgett diary 1942


Beginning of the year daily entries describe weather, training and activities at Medicine Hat. Course finished mid February and takes leave to see female friend in United States before travelling to St Johns. Voyage in convoy back to United Kingdom in March involved u-boats and depth charging. On return to UK posted to Bournemouth the to RAF Hurn and Brize Norton in May, Scattered entries for rest of year. Includes addresses and accounts.



Temporal Coverage




Fifty four double page pocket diary and cover

Conforms To


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[page break]
[underlined] Ground Examination Results [/underlined]
[underlined] Armaments [/underlined] Oral 68%
Written 86%
Airmanship 114/200
Navigation 117/150
Meteorology 28/50
[underlined] Signals [/underlined] Oral 100%
Written 25.5/50
Total 539.5
Average % 71.9%
Position 24th. Total in
Class [deleted] 49 [/deleted] Top mark 81
(Pascoe). [page break]
MEMORANDUM FROM 1941 [page break]
January THURSDAY 1 1942
Still terribly cold. Snow came down light but steady in afternoon washing out flying. I cannot see us getting through the course on time with sufficient hours. The course is due to finish Feb. 13th. a Friday! Also, at the moment only 13 Harvards are serviceable out of 31. Hydraulics being main cause & no replacements. Seriously swotted in evening for first time.
Snow falling more heavily today making it a bit warmer thank goodness. No [deleted] ‘w’ in now [/deleted] flying again due to weather, but clears when our squad have lectures in afternoon. Had P.T. (baseball game) before tea, and then did some more swotting in evening. [page break]
January SATURDAY 3 1942
Up with P/O Hansel in afternoon 1.45hrs. instrument flying etc. Then he did a formation take off with another kite. Then F/Lt Raynor took me on solo check. Did badly but passed to my astonishment. Up solo for 30min. for a circuit. Baulked in 1st approach & had to go round again. Down town in evening to send cable home haircut & bit of shopping. Very cold.
On early flying this morning & had to be over at hangar at 7.15am when temp. was -30°C. Was terribly cold. Worst its been I think. Was up solo 1.30hrs did 2 spins. In p.m. swotted a bit & also after tea. Our exams (Navigation a/c rec. arms) this week, & I certainly do not feel very confident about them. [page break]
January MONDAY 5 1942
On ACP with Lowden and Markham in Control Tower. Saw Oxford (No. 813) do overshoot action, starboard engine cut & a/c swung round & stalled & crash into ground on ‘drome boundary. Two pupil pilots were in it. They were not hurt badly, only cuts, which is a marvel because kite was smashed up completely. Visibility bad during afternoon due to snow clouds.
Bags of flying this morning in bad visibility. 2.55hrs. solo and 1.05hrs. with P/O Hansel. I have now 16.45hrs. total. In afternoon had signals check morse receiving & sending, & aldis receiving. I got all OK & no mistakes. In evening had a/c Recognition exam Had to know spans & speeds. Although I knew very little if anything, I managed to get all the answers, I think all right, as did majority. [page break]
January WEDNESDAY 7 1942
Lectures in morning & flying in p.m. but was not up because was on Link at 3 to 4pm. In evening after tea all our course went to G.I.S. for a ‘met’ film. We have our final exams all on Saturday now and am afraid I know precious little. If they are like the a/c rec. exam yesterday, it won’t be so bad. We have been given ‘gen’ that we shall have question on Artificial Horizon.
Bad visibility this morning & slight fall of snow. Robinson lost with his instructor P/O Mackie. Got plenty of ‘gen’ on our Armaments & Navigation exams. Even more complete than at S. Current. [page break]
January FRIDAY 9 1942
Robinson still missing this morning. All our aircraft are searching.
Was in the R/T booth for first time this afternoon. Then went up with P/O Hansel doing a search.
Robinson & Mackie still missing. Had our final Navigation Exam in morning. Did not do the plot very well. Armaments in afternoon which was easy, & then Signals which I did very badly. Did not have a chance of cribbing – was on front row. (Signals written exam)
In evening went down town to see Fred McMurray in “Dive Bomber”. Robinson & Mackie found – their kite blown to bits & scattered over 100 Yds. [page break]
January SUNDAY 11 1942
Up very late. Flying in afternoon 2.20hrs. solo and 1.40 dual in a X. country to Skiff and back. Weather has now got very warm and the snow is thawing
Only went up this morning for Navigation Test with P/O Sproston (late of Swift Current). I had to fly a 3 leg course to Richmound, Maple Creek & back. I missed Richmound, only because I could not see it as right below us. However I passed O.K.
Had oral armament exam at 2.30pm. Was fairly simple & pretty well knew I have passed. [page break]
January TUESDAY 13 1942
Our Flight ‘F’ attended the funeral of Robinson this morning. Last Post sounded at the grave & a [deleted] sl [/deleted] salute fired by the gaurd. [sic] A fitting ceremony.
Flying in afternoon 2.00hrs solo & 1.40hrs. dual doing blind take offs under the hood. These are terrible things: the first take off was atrocious swing right off the runway.
3.10 hours solo in morning. Weather still very good. Many more Harvards are now serviceable so that we are getting more hours in now.
Lectures in afternoon including a boring lecture on accidents, spins etc. by the C.F.I. Then after tea had a Navigation lecture till 8.15p.m. on filling of X Country Log. [page break]

January THURSDAY 15 1942

Did No. 1 X Country Solo to Shaunavon (105 miles) and back. Time 2.10hrs. Got to Shaunavon O.K. but Go back calculated wrong so had big Track Error. After a long lapse was on Link in early evening. Did 22 landings. Not so bad as I thought.
The other Flight (E) start night flying tonight.


Started night flying this evening. As P/O Hansel has 48 hours leave, was up with F/O Winder. Only did one overshoot and one landing as Winders’ eyes were not too good. But landing is hell – you just go down & down into the black darkness until you hit the deck with a crash. On the 1st circuit we just missed another kite. [page break]

January SATURDAY 17 1942

This afternoon I did the No. 2 X Country Solo to Claydon – Skiff and back. Met. wind was badly wrong especially last half. But did not get lost which is the main thing.
Was going out in evening but changed my mind as felt too lazy.
Was great surprise to hear that Bill Girdwood is off his course at Moose Jaw – spirals at night flying.


Had to be up disgustingly early for flying at 7 a.m. Had 3.55 hrs. 2.45 was Solo. Although I have over 40 hours in, I have not done or [inserted] been [/inserted] taught aerobatics; will ask to do some next time.
Night flying with P/O Hansel 21.45 to 22.45 hrs. At last moment night flying arrangements altered. I am on from 1 to 2 a.m. with Hansel. Did quite well except for the last [page break]

January MONDAY 19 1942

[underlined] So starts our [/underlined] 8th week of the course landing which was just a crash on to the deck. Hansel yanks the stick back & up into the air we go. He gets it down again using throttle.
Not up till 11 a.m. this morning & then flying again in afternoon. Was taught rolls & loops & then went Solo practising them. Quite easy but very tiring after a well. [sic]


Flying in the morning during which had the ‘D’ test (i.e. I.F. take off & a night circuit). Passed O.K. by F/O Pexton, the Sqdn. Commander. This is a test to be passed before Solo at night.
Flying at night with P/O Hansel 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Can do the circuit perfectly but cannot land yet. [page break]

January WEDNESDAY 21 1942

In bed most of morning.
Only had 1.10 hrs. with Hansel flying in afternoon. This is unusual because I pretty well always get in over 2 hours per day.
Weather is still perfect. The new course is starting flying on the Oxfords (Course 35) making the circuit very congested & wide


Tragity [sic] today. At 11.30 P/O Hoar, a young Canadian instructor was killed instantly & Eric Markham seriously injured when their kite, stationary off end of runway was hit by a kite taking off – P/O Blamires & Pring, which was assumed to be doing an I.F. take off. Condition of Pring & Blamires not bad. Wreckage terrible. The back of one kite broken (Hoars’) completely & other fuselage ripped off wings. Poor Markham dies [sic] in aftermath [page break]

January FRIDAY 23 1942

Eric died of fractured skull – revealed today. P/O Hoar was decapitated. Pring O.K. & cheerful & Blamires not a scratch.
Did the No. 3 X country today to Senate – Cross & base – 2 hrs. Quite easy & is the last Solo X Country. The next is dual to qualify for wings. Heard from home that Bernard Wright is home wings up & 3 stripes.


Had a letter from Betty today & a very [underlined] uninteresting [/underlined] one from Mary (Stewart).
Night flying with F/O Cherrington for 3 landings after which he let me go Solo. Cherrington was best I’ve known him. Did not bind once. Did 2 Solo landings both of which were absolute peaches – just as smooth as day time landings. Must confess that moon helped a lot (First Quarter) and shall now thank that moon for letting me Solo my N.F. finished at 11.45 p.m. [page break]

January SUNDAY 25 1942

In bed most [inserted] of [/inserted] morning and flying in afternoon. Did a 3 – leg X Country I.F. to Schuler and Maple Creek. Was under hood all the time and afterwards Hansel said I was pretty good up to M. Creek but last course was wrong. The gyro or compass must have been wrong so at E.T.A. Base finished about 20 mls. South of Med. Hat. our log sheet in instructors room. I have been grounded for a while – I have most hours – 62.45 hrs.


Hansel gives me the morning off from flying so stay in bed.
I [sic] afternoon had signals exam receiving & sending & then had to polish out and clean windows of the crew room ready for Inspector General’s visit tomorrow.
In evening at 6.30 p.m. had the final Airmanship & Maintenance exam, Was not a very nice paper but think I got through. This is the last exam we take here. [page break]

January TUESDAY 27 1942

In [deleted] afternoon [/deleted] [inserted] morning, [/inserted] the Inspector General of the R.C.A.F. attends the parade & then visits around the station. Talk about fuss for one man. All flying stops while he is at the parade because of noise. Our course did not have to go on this parade, thank goodness.
Did our first bit of formation flying. I was with F/O Cherrington & the 2 others were P/O Hansel/Oakley & Sgt. Brearley with Thomas.


Was to have my Wings Test – a 3 – leg X Country to Mendham & Piapot (197 miles) but low cloud stopped X Country flights.
Wright N. on a X Country was forced down near Maple Creek because of visibility. Night flying from 00.45. Did one circuit & landing with P/O Matthews then 1.00 Solo. Only did 1 landing as flare path was blocked by Wood on his nose[?]. Low cloud again stopped flying. [page break]

January THURSDAY 29 1942

In evening went down town with Leslie Mills. Did a bit of shopping and went to flics to see Cary Grant in “Suspicion”. Was a very good picture.


Pay day [deleted] one word [/deleted] I get 40$.
Night flying. did one landing with Hansel then 2 hours solid solo, during which I got in 8 landings. Full moon out which made it pretty easy landing. Finished 12.45 a.m. Saturday. [page break]

January SATURDAY 31 1942

In bed all morning and 1 hour flying with Hansel in afternoon. I could not do anything right.
In evening went down town; saw picture “The Secret Falcon” with Mary Astor & Humphrey Bogart. Quite good detective story.

February SUNDAY 1

Low cloud & light snow in early morning stops flying temporarily. But I was up later Solo formation flying with Mills & Cpl Redfern. Getting on swell; can get quite close now.
We have 10 days leave after graduation. Propose going to see Rosemary Stapp & then on to New York if possible. Wrote R. Stapp tonight. [page break]

February MONDAY 2 1942

In bed all morning and flying in afternoon. Was only up 1.40 hr formation flying solo with Pain C.A. and Mellor. I at least am getting much better & can get pretty close.


Only up for a height test this morning Solo, during which you record down on a form boost, revs, Air Speed, Oil temp etc every 3000’. At 15,000’ you stop. Up there you find yourself breathing very quick because of lack of oxygen.
Night flying. I dual landing with Sgt. Brearley and 7 Solo. This completes my 40 landings & 12 hours night flying. [page break]

February WEDNESDAY 4 1942

In bed this morning as usual. In afternoon went on No. 4 X Country with F/O Winder (Wings Test) Ran over cloud on way to Mendham & turned on E.T.A. No cloud above Piapot however, but last leg had to come down to ground level & follow the railroad because of very low cloud & snow. Icing conditions. Passed test however. Exam results out. Came 24th. Not too bad.


Was up early, but I myself did not go up. Free afternoon except for 1 hour of Link (am now on Lorenz beam).
Not out in evening.
Only 7 more days. The Wings dinner is on Wednesday 11th. [page break]

February FRIDAY 6 1942

This morning had final Link test – 2 legs of a X Country & a landing by Lorenz Beam. Got 72%. Was up 2.05 hrs. with Hansel most of which was I.F. under the hood. Got on very well – my best yet I reckon.
“Gen” floating around about final positions Thomas N.W., top.
do not know my position but not in 1st 20 so bang goes a commission not that I really want one.


Had the Flight Commanders Test by F/LT Rayner. Did very well & pleased him. Then up with Hansel and was under hood almost all the time. Ceiling very low – 800 ft. above the drome. In other parts less.
In evening went down town & spent & spent. Bought coloured socks for Peter, stockings – 6 pairs, & 2 pairs of Wings. The kind issued are a dirty yellow colour. [page break]

February SUNDAY 8 1942

No flying at all the whole day due to low ceiling. In afternoon I was one of the unlucky few that had to go compass swinging in the snow. Oakley was with me & P/O Hansel & Matthews were in the kite.
Did not do anything in evening except write a letter home & have a shower.


Still no flying all day. Went down town in afternoon after S/Ldr. Pexton gave us his experiences on ops. at Croyden, in Belguim [sic] & France. He was on Gladiators most of the time & then on Hurricanes.
Bought a suite [sic] case, a leather coat & some nice slippers for Mum (if they fit). Had letter from Rosemary Stapp agreeing that we can meet in Detroit & live at her fathers [sic] big house in Arm[?] Arbor[?]. [page break]

February TUESDAY 10 1942

Flying in p.m. 2.30 hours Solo only. I did not go out in evening because of flying too late. We are now in daylight at 6.30 p.m. due to Daylight Saving Time just introduced to Canada.
I am now waiting for the last test – C.F.I. test. I only hope I do not go up with W/Cdr. Scragg; I want S/Ldr. Pexton (just promoted from F/LT)


Had very funny letter from Rosemary, but it was for her sister Mary Anne. She told Mary Anne that I may or not be a “goon or anything else”, “after all helping a Britisher” I wrote a sarcastic letter back. In evening went down town to cable her that course is extended 2 days & Wings Parade on Sunday 15th morning [page break]

February THURSDAY 12 1942

Today finished my flying.
Had a CFI Test with S/dr.[sic] Pexton. I only had to go over to Whitla [?] & do a precautionary & then back to base again where I did a very ropy [sic] 3 pointer. I cannot do them now. Then I was up with [indecipherable] one word [/indecipherable] for over an hour taking some pictures above the clouds. Have now completed 94.20 hrs here & 160.40 grand total.


As finished my hours had a free day. In evening went down town with Leslie Mills & Oakley to see our instructor at the Cecil Hotel. Vic Matthews there also with his pupils Pain, Paine & Lowden. Had a few drinks etc. At about 10 o’clock we broke up & I went to the Legion where the micks were having a booze. Got a bit drunk & came home with a maintenance fellow after having a meal in Jimmys Café. [page break]

February SATURDAY 14 1942

Handed in our flying clothes & extra winter equipment. For dinner Cpl. Redfern , Mills & Oakley & me went down town to see Tuck & Vic. Back in camp after & I went to do shopping after tea.
Back early & did a lot of packing which is a job. There are 19 commissions. Perkin got one. 3 instructors Thomas. Stewart & Davids. 6 on G.R. course at Charlotowne [?]


The great day has arrived. Wings parade 10.30 a.m. Rest of day spent getting tickets handing in bedding etc. etc. In late afternoon had stripes and wings sown on by the Empire Club. Had a good tea & booked in luggage which is going to Montreal. Left Med. Hat at 1.30 a.m. Monday morning. [page break]

February MONDAY 16 1942

Slept in bunks & very comfortable Very cold weather.
Got to Winnipeg 2 ½ hours late [underlined] thus only stopped for 30 mins [/underlined]
Came in their huge Cadillac, Rosemary smashing. Mr. Stapp owner of the Pretzel Bell where had meal after seeing all the colleges. Met lots of couples. Bed very late.


Slept very badly due to rocking of train rather more than usual. Passing thro’ very good scenery & took plenty of pictures from the observation car at the rear.
Stopped at Winnipeg for 25 min. [page break]

February WEDNESDAY 18 1942

Arrived Toronto at 9.15 a.m. 3 hours late. (not unusual) Spent almost all of time getting fixed up with American Currency & 3 photos for the American Consulate. They could not see me till Thurs. morning so I travelled to Windsor [?] with Brown on 11.40 train. which arrived at 7 a.m.


Very cold wind this morning – more so as we had to wait 20 min for a bus at 7 a.m. Got bus to town & had breakfast at café. Then Brown left for his people & I spent 1 hour waiting for Consul to open at 9 a.m. So listened to broadcast in same building of station WRLW & said a few words thro’ the mike!! Took 3 hours to get passport. Arrived Ann Arbor 1.45 p.m. Rang up & Rosemary & Sally [page break]

February FRIDAY 20 1942
[inserted] Not up till 10 a.m. [/inserted]
Did some skiing & sleding [sic] one the slope behind the house in the afternoon. Met Rosemary's sister Mary Anne - not so pretty as Rosemary I don't thing [sic]. 4 months older than me. At the Pretzel Bell in evening & met hundreds more - including Tom Harman the great football star of America. Very nice fellow. Got his autograph. Rosemary & I went to bed at 3.30 - did not kiss her.

Up late as usual. In evening Rose & I went to Detroit by train to see night life. Went to "Tropics" a night club in Wolverine Hotel. No floor show as we expected. Danced a few times tho' [sic] & saw several other English airmen. Got 12.30 am train back. Stapps waiting up for us to tell them all about it. That evening I fell for Rosemary. For first time I really felt in love. She kisses wonderfully - if only she did not have to go tomorrow & me on Tuesday. I love her. Bed at 4.15 am. [page break]
February SUNDAY 22 1942

Saw Rosemary & Virginia her friend off the 3.20 pm train at Detroit. She was sobbing a bit I think in the coach. I was sorry too. Came back alone & felt very alone without Rosemary.
Met more very nice young people in the Pretzel Bell in the evening & went to bed at 1.30 the earliest yet at Ann Arbor.


Missed Rosemary a lot. Up very late as usual. In afternoon did some shopping & bought some stockings. Then to a movie show in evening with Mrs. Stapp (Sally). Some good acts on the stage including Ted Weems & his orchestra, a really hot band.
Back to Pretzel Bell & heard Roosevelt's speech. Nothing exceptional. [page break]

February TUESDAY 24 1942

Up late again. Catching 1.10 pm coach to Detroit so had to rush around & see Mary Anne, the law student I met on the way here & finally Mr. Stapp (Phil) at the Pretzel Bell. Sally took me to coach depot. Wish I did not have to go.
Got thro' [sic] customs easily & got 5.20 pm train from Windsor. Arrived Toronto 11.15 p.m. & after 30 mins set off again on same train to Montreal.


Arrived Montreal 8.15 this morning with Peter Wood & Brown who I met in my carriage. Had breakfast & Peter & I walked around town till 2.30 p.m. This is a filthy town - did not like it at all. Met rest of the crowd at 2.30 p.m. & got 3.15 pm train which arrived at St. John 6.45 am Thursday morning. [page break]

February THURSDAY 26 1942

Got on the S.S. "Princess Helene" via a free taxi & set sail 8.15 a.m. bound for Digby. Arrived there 11 a.m. Got train again - which was a very dirty one & terrible food. At the station we were transported in trucks to "Y" depot, Halifax arriving there about 6 o'clock. Had a meal, & at 8 p.m. had to sign a few (unusual) forms. At 12 midnight had F.F.I. inspection & were issued with respirators.


[inserted] Very hot & stuffy in the billet last night. Got up late (11 a.m.) & had a parade at 1.30. [/inserted]
Nothing doing. Lots of rumours when we shall go. Some say tomorrow night. Down town in evening with Lucy. What a hole! The filthiest town I've come accross [sic]. Dirty little street cars, narrow streets, dirty houses, no respectable girls (all whoars [?]) & crowded with service men, R.A.F., Army, Navy & Yankees. Went to see James Cagney in "Captains of the Clouds". A very good flying film with episodes of Harvards in it.
[page break]

February SATURDAY 28 1942

As so hot last night, someone cleverly (!) turned off the heaters so that by morning we were frozen. Had 1 hour P.T. & the news we were to be hear [sic] till 16th. My God! Nearly 3 weeks in this hole! Another very [inserted] big [/inserted] draft went today including those from Moose Jaw. Saw Marsh yesterday - he went in this draft.


Had to parade at 10 a.m. only Nothing [sic] new. Rest of day spent sleeping & eating. Nothing else to do in this dump & town is a rat-hole.
In evening saw the movies in the camp. [page break]

March MONDAY 2 1942

Had to P.T. all morning & then again in afternoon - to which we objected greatly. But the P.T.I. F/O Such persuaded us by kindness only. However, most of time spent playing games – badminton and basket-ball. The latter developed into rugby - & had some good fun. Went to camp movies again in evening to see "Boys from Syracuse".


P.T. once again in morning but not very strenuous thank goodness. Still not "jen"[sic] on when we shall leave this dump. Afternoon spent in G.I.S. doing a/c recognition. We knew more about it than the instructor. Then wasted time supposed to be doing signals but never took it down. Steadily going nuts in this joint. [page break]

March WEDNESAY 4 1942

Had letter from Betty transferred from Med. Hat. Seems to be having a very frivolous time with Ted on his leave. Can't understand them - [deleted] his [/deleted] he is 4 years her senior. No word from John in the R.a.f.[sic] yet.

[page break]

March FRIDAY 6 1942

Movies in evening in the gym. Rain storm all night.


Heard today that we are going tomorrow or Monday.
Went out with Peter Cole in evening down town. Halifax has worst main street I have come across.
[page break]

March SUNDAY 8 1942

In morning had another F.F.I. & then paid $24.13 plus £3. We on the draft left the camp 1.45 p.m. & marched down to a pier - 1 1/4 hour march. Little ferry boat took us to [deleted] a [/deleted] our boat, "S.S. Beaverhill". Left Canadian shore 3 p.m. Beaverhill from outside is an old tub rusty cargo boat. Our quarters however very good & very good food & plenty of it. We have cabins 4 or 6 in a cabin. I am with Pollard, Pettit & Paine D.E. worse luck.


Still in the bay this morning with a lot of other merchantmen. Its [sic] going to be a large convoy. At 10.20 we started. At 11.45 am had life boat drill. I spent all afternoon sleeping as there was nothing else to do except read old mags. [sic] in the smoking room. The weather outside is pretty foul - a high wind - rain - fog and quite rough, although we are not rolling a lot. We must be very heavy because some waves are huge, the spray reaching over the deck. [page break]

March TUESDAY 10 1942

Weather perfect today. Sunshine - little wind and a gentle swell.
The meals here are really superb could not wish for better. Our cabins are very comfortable but are a bit crowded for room when we get up in the morning.
In the evenings there is usually a sing song over drinks etc. in the lounge.


Another day of good weather. This afternoon we saw an empty raft float by and later a life belt, but no wreckage etc. Towards evening weather broke up and light snow started. Joined sing song in evening but went to bed fairly early (10 p.m) and read in bed till 11.15 p.m.
On board are 5 women - ferry pilots 2 of which are very easy on the eye. Just cannot imagine them as pilots. [page break]

March THURSDAY 12 1942

This afternoon we had a debate "That Air Power is more important than Sea Power". The Australians & New Zealanders opposed the notion & due to good speakers they won. The speakers never got to the point especially on the proposition side. (English & Canadian)
The weather now pretty rough. Extremely high wind from port making sea quite rough & choppy. Very often bows were awash. Only one or two sea sick but I am O.K. so far.


Getting quite rough. This morning I was one of about 4 or 5 standing by the stern when suddenly a colosal [sic] wave came right over & swamped us. Lucky none of us were swept over board [sic]. In afternoon it got worse & ran into a storm. The rollers were terrific & often bows & decks were awash. Also the propeller came out of the water frequently when we were on top of a crest & then the whole ship shudders. Going thro' [sic] several storms. [page break]

March SATURDAY 14 1942

Waves getting bigger. One of the lifeboats was damaged and left hanging on one davit by a colosal [sic] wave that reached over the top deck. Later lifeboat was cut adrift. Instead of going to sleep as per usual in afternoon I packed my kitbag more scientifically so that there is more room now for goods wanted at home. The ships [sic] canteen is not a very good one but can get Razor Blades, fags and tobacco & chocolate.


4th day of rough weather: it began to tell on me: I began to feel slightly sick & had an awful headache. But by end of day seas had calmed down a bit & we did not roll so much.
Slept in afternoon as usual. We are supposed to be 100 miles south of Greenland this afternoon: tonight we put clocks on 1 hour.
In the convoy now are 16 ships besides ourselves; we are the biggest ship (10,000 tons). [page break]

March MONDAY 16 1942

7th day out at sea. Sea quite calm & we did not roll or pitch much, so I feel O.K. again now. At 7 a.m. this morning we had done 980 miles, giving an average speed of 6 knots.
During the morning the convoy zig zagged each ship individually ‘for practise’[sic] in case attacked.
In afternoon had a morse session & then heard a talk given by an Aussie Sgt. Observer. Quite interesting but he did not think much of pilots. (The majority of us on board are pilots).


Another day of calm sea & sunshine, but not particularly warm. In afternoon had a talk by an Aussie on colour photography. He certainly knew what he was talking about & sometimes quite [underlined] technical. [/underlined]
Few days ago met an Aussie pilot whose relative, a doctor, worked in Queen Mary’s Hospital – Sidcup. A nice chap. We may meet when on leave if there is a chance. [page break]

March WEDNESDAY 18 1942

A fine day again. We are supposed to be 200 miles south of Iceland today, which makes this weather rather exceptional so far North.
For something to do found that we were in Canada (& America) for 6 months & 20 days.


Bright warm sun & one or two showers today. Today [deleted] starts [/deleted] we enter "danger" zone, which means we have to man the 4 gun posts. We go in 2 hours shifts from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. We do not do any night shifts. We don't particularly mind this as it will be something to fill in the time, as it gets very boring doing nothing & reading occasionally.
Clocks put on 1 hour again tonight. [page break]

March FRIDAY 20 1942

Was on the lower starboard gun shift from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with "Loftly" Paine this morning. It was a double Marlin - 500 rounds a minute each, but had no chance to use it. Rather boring in fact - but lovely weather. Later it got quite hot & was the nicest day of the trip. Had an awful bath in salt water in afternoon. This afternoon the convoy changed positions. We are now in 2nd. row to port instead of s'board [sic].


[Page 8 has been cropped slightly during scanning]
[one indecipherable word] Boats! At 11.30 a.m destroyer dropped 8 depth charges about 7 miles port & then occasionally more later on. We had to alter course out of way of subs. [sic] A destroyer & corvette stayed back all day to drop charges. They caught us up again in evening & even dropped a few while we were having dinner in evening.
Paine D.E & I were on gun watch again from [missing number, assumed to be 3] p.m. to 5. Nothing happened but read and heard lot of messages to & from the Commodore ship S.S. "Deuseldorf" [sic], a captured German at about 7.30 p.m. after black out - small moon & stars out, one of our aircraft signalled to one of the ships & knocked round. They were expecting something in the night so orders were that we had to sleep fully dressed.
Sea was calmest ever in fact amazingly calm for Atlantic - smooth as mill pond. [page break]

March SUNDAY 22 1942

In sight of land this morning - N. Ireland, still going East. Very misty so we could not see Scotland very well later on. The convoy is now going line astern through a minefield. In evening there was a rowdy sing song but was not a general booze up.
Clocks put on 1 hour so that we are [deleted] not [/deleted] now in British Daylight Saving Time. We are due in Liverpool tomorrow afternoon or evening.


Another misty morning & no land in sight. Heard radio in morning from BBC & was quite a treat to hear decent music. During lunch we arrived outside port. After lot of manoeuvring we finally docked [deleted] at [/deleted] & disembarked 3.15 p.m. Trucks took us to our billet an old Institute for the Blind. Got a sleeping out pass & went by taxi to Lisburn Lane to see Edith, Mr. & Mrs. Halstead & Joyce. Very surprised to see me. Found that almost everything is now rationed and food etc. more scarce than when we left England. After some spaghetti on Toast [sic] for tea, Edith used her influence to get me through on phone to home. Spoke to Mum & Dad - very excited they sounded & glad to know am safe. [page break]

March TUESDAY 24 1942

Got up 6 a.m. & said goodbye: got back to billet at 7 a.m. & we left to catch train which left Lime St. (L.M.S.) 8.15 a.m. Spent an hour in London getting grub at Union Jack Club Waterloo Road, & then left Waterloo (S.R.) on 3.15 p.m. train & arrived in Bournemouth after fastest journey I've had on S.R. Had to march (no transport) to a hotel where had some not too good food & then marched again to another big place which were our billets, at 8 p.m. I am in room with Paine, Pollard, & Pettit & Brown, who I just don't like. The others are O.K. The 1st sirens over hear [sic] we heard 9.25 p.m. tonight. Heard that Jerry had visited every South Coast town except here last night.


After the parade at 9 a.m. We went down town to have some breakfast at a café & then strolled around the shops. Very nice shops & generally Bournemouth is a very nice place with a lot of decent looking girls. We had the usual F.F.I. in afternoon. [deleted] about ten indecipherable words[/deleted] Went with Stan Pollard to Westbourne to the movies picking up Eccles on the way worst luck. He's too French. [page break]

March THURSDAY 26 1942

Paraded 8.30 am & then off down town to get some breakfast. Bought a good pair of wings & spent rest of morning sewing them on. Had a good bath after dinner, changed, & after tea, Stan Pollard & I went to the Pavillion [sic] dance. A super place & nice lot of girls. However, it was hard to pick up any of them as most had booked their own table in couples.


Everyday we parade at 8.30 am. & 1.30 p.m. just for the sake of a parade. An uneventful day for me. Did not go out in evening but went to bed early at 10 p.m. [page break]

March SATURDAY 28 1942

All morning we waited for pay and eventually received £20, pay due to us since embarking Canada & 2 weeks advance for leave. Filled in deficiency list in afternoon & laid out our kit which was not inspected. Stan & I went to see "Lady Behave" in evening - Billy Tasker took Bobby Howes [sic] place. Show very good & funny.


Compulsory church parade this morning but not a very good service. Today our mess hotel was changed & for lunch there was a long queue so went down town & had something.
Packed my kit bag in afternoon & spent evening with Stan in Pavilion listening to the Musical Orchestra. Quite good, but not keen on the straight music. "Gems of Sullivan" was best player.
[page break]

March MONDAY 30 1942

Had a wonderful letter from Rosemary sent on from home. She sent me her picture & a Quill & Scroll pin for me to promise to wear always for her. Took her 2 years to win it for a scholarship.
In the afternoon, about 200 of us waited for hours on end at the stores to get some flying clothing. I myself had to wait 3.20 hours - typical of R.a.f. [sic] stores.


More stores waiting this morning. Took me 3 hours again to get another shirt, tunic, tin hat, gas cape, wellingtons & new hat.
Had a good meal for once in Boscombe. a 2d bus ride from us. Things much cheaper & plentiful in Boscombe because in Bournemouth you pay for its name.
In evening went with Stan again & Peter Cole to Pavillion [sic] & saw "Divorce of Lady X". A really good play & very good natural acting. [page break]

April WEDNESDAY 1 1942

[underlined] LEAVE TODAY [/underlined] We caught the 10.20 a.m. train from Bournemouth West. Arr. [sic] Waterloo 1 p.m. I rang up Dad, & went over in taxi. He met met [sic] me outside the office: saw Marj & then had dinner at his usual restaurant in Tosley St. Came home in car - me driving last part - & met Mum & Jock. [deleted] one indecipherable word [/deleted] The cat has been destroyed now - bad leg. Nell came round after I arrived & later Peter on his motor bike back from work. After dinner he gave me a ride on pillion - rather hectic & very windy. Its [sic] an A.J.S. Did not go out in evening but just talked & talked.
I have 14 days leave till the 15th.


This morning I unpacked all the goods I had brought home - cigarretes [sic], razor blades, silk stockings, soap, slippers for Mum, & horse skin jacket for Dad, & brightly coloured socks for Peter. Then visited Mr & Mrs Biggs, & met Mrs Bailey of all people to see - & Dr. Williams & son Roger.
[page break]

April FRIDAY 3 1942

Went down by car for the day to see Aunt Ada & Ada at Camberley. They are very lonely down there & so were glad to see us & especially me. Peter did not come but Nell came instead. I drove car there & back.
Kath & Nora & Nell rang up from Sidcup Place in evening & had long talks with all of them. Kath & Nora still as lively as ever.


Went to dentist - Wallis by appointment had 2 fillings dressed & them to have portrait done at Kelloways. Took most of afternoon waiting for hair cut & took the car to go & meet [deleted] Kath [/deleted] Kay outside "Bull's Head" Chislehurst for the dance there. Not many people there & dance rather flop so we all went to the dance studio in Eltham. Much better there. Had quite a good evening. Got home in pouring rain 12.30 a.m. [page break]

April SUNDAY 5 1942

[deleted] Went down by car to see Aunt Ada & Ada at Camberley. Peter did not come but Nell came instead. They are very lonely down there & so we [sic] very glad to see us, especially me. [/deleted]
Up late in morning. In afternoon saw Betty, Maureen Bowerman & [blank]

[page break]

April TUESDAY 7 1942


[page break]

[Pages detailing events from 9, 10, 11 and 12th April missing]

April MONDAY 13 1942

[page break]

April WEDNESDAY 15 1942
Leave finishes. 2.30 p.m. train from Waterloo to Bournemouth.

[page break]

April FRIDAY 17 1942

[page break]

April SUNDAY 19 1942


Paid £3. Rather a surprise at so small amount.
Got 8 pm train from B'mouth to Harrogate (Yorks [sic]), going via London.
[page break]

April TUESDAY 21 1942

Arrived Harrogate 7 this morn. Billeted in Hotel Majestic, a big place.

[entries from 22 April 1942 to 24 April 1942 have been left blank]

April WEDNESDAY 29 1942


[page break]

May FRIDAY 1 1942

Told on afternoon parade that I was posted. Great surprise especially as I am only one going to a place called Hurn, near Christchurch, Hants. About 20 of us, all on individual postings.


Leave Harrogate on 8.40 a.m. train. Change at Holbeck & Leeds & get to Kings X an hour late - 3.30 pm. So go home.[sic] & arrived at 5.30 pm
All well & O.K.[page break]

May SUNDAY 3 1942

Go up by car & leave Waterloo Stn. on 9.30 am train. Arr. Christchurch about noon. R.A.F. truck took me the 4 miles to the station which is very dispersed.
Adjutant was in but not C.O. so have to report again 9.15 a.m. tomorrow. Found billets - no water or light. In small room of my own. Weather very hot.


Have met 'Reg' Bowley here, also doing nothing. This is supposed to be an experimental station having all types of fighters & bombers here - from Moths to Halifax's [page break]
May TUESDAY 5 1942

Paid £7 this morning (fortnight’s pay)


On leave again (7 days) as nothing to do & not wanted Caught 3.30 p.m. train with Reg. Bowley.[page break]

May THURSDAY 7 1942 to May SUNDAY 10 1942 [Missing pages]

May MONDAY 11 1942


Had another nice letter from Rosemary. Wrote to her at once, and also to Mr. & Mrs. Stapp in Ann Arbor.
Went to Orpington Hospital with Mum to see Mrs. Biggs who was in a bad way there, but when we saw her she was O.K. & had stiches [sic] out now.
Evening spent at Molly Simpsons & Hubbie with Diana Tatnal [?].[page break]

May WEDNESDAY 13 1942

Back to Hurn again - 5.30 p.m. from W'loo. [sic]

[page break]

May FRIDAY 15 1942

[page break]

May SUNDAY 17 1942

Down to Lilliput to see Mr. & Mrs. Gilson this afternoon.
Coming back had to walk from near Christchurch in light rain.


Letter from John.
[page break]

May TUESDAY 19 1942
Letter from home. Peter fined 20/- & license suspended 4 mths. because was caught riding with number plate showing on wrong side [deleted] of [/deleted] on his motor bike.

[page break]


[page break]

May SATURDAY 23 1942
Up for 15min. in a Wellington this morning. Sgt. Haley pilot. Very slow [deleted] on [/deleted] & heavy on controls.

[page break]

May MONDAY 25 1942

[page break]

[Pages May WEDNESDAY 27 1942 - June FRIDAY 19 1942 missing]

June SATURDAY 20 1942

[page break]

June MONDAY 22 1942

Posted from Hurn to Brize Norton, near Oxford. (No.2 (P) A.F.U).
Go via London to save changing about 5 times. Get 11.27 from Christchurch & arr. B.N. 7.30 p.m.[page break]

August TUESDAY 11 1942
Dads birthday.
John's birthday.
[page break]

August THURSDAY 13 1942

Friday 14
Rosemary's birthday (?) [or 17th) [page break]

[August SATURDAY 15 1942 - December FRIDAY 4 1942 missing]

December SATURDAY 5 1942

[page break]

December MONDAY 7 1942
Mr Philip Stapp birthday.
Betty Skinners birthday.

[page break]


" 24 ARRIVE [underlined]STRATFORD[/underlined]
JUNE 7 " [underlined] SCARBOROUGH [/underlined]
[deleted] Aug [/deleted]

[page break]

[page break]

Date Remarks Therm.
4/1/42 At 7.30 a.m. (morning) -30° C.

1. Rain. p.m.
2. Rain. p.m.
3. Rain. p.m.
[page break]

Name Residence
Mrs. ARNOLD [tick] 26 Kingsley Road.
Reg. Brooks [tick] 29 Ryegate Road,
Miss E. Brooks [tick] [address deleted]
Miss E. Madgett [tick] 23 Blenheim Court,
Main Road,
Miss A. Madgett [tick] "Greenend"
Crabtree Road,
Camberley. Surrey.
Mr. L. Madgett [tick] 87 Westwood Park
Forest Hill.
London. S.E.23.
Mrs. W. Radley [tick] 4 Galahad Road,
Grove Park,
Betty Skinner [tick] 62 Sidcup Hill,
Sidcup. Kent.
Maureen Bowerman High St.
Sidcup. Kent.
Mary Stewart Odeon Flats,
Station Road,
Sidcup. Kent.
Joan Eldridge [tick] "Granezza"
Green Way,
Chislehurst. Kent.
[page break]

Name Residence
Frank Marsh [tick] 48 Roslin Way,
Bromley. Kent.
Dick Kirby [tick] 41. St. Johns Rd.,
Sidcup. Kent.
Rosemary Stapp [tick] 332 East North St.,
Indiana. U.S.A.
Elspeth McNelly [tick] 2904 Hill Avenue,
Regina. Sask.
Major H.E. Ford [tick] 101 Saskatoon Cresc.
West. Saskatoon.
Sask. Canada.
Mrs. A.M. Hamilton [tick] Dalhousie Junction
New Brunswick.
Nick Nash [tick] 670. 8th. St.
Medicine Hat.
Alberta. Canada.
Al Williamson [tick] 249 Furby St.
Winnipeg. Canada.
Kahn Optical Co. Ltd [tick] 410 Canada Bldg.
Winnipeg. Canada.
Nora Jeffrys [tick] 54, Dorset Road,
London. S.E.9.
Ralph V. Hansel [tick] Covington.
Kentucky, U.S.A.
[page break]

Cash Account – January
Date Received Paid
1 Carried forward 1941 90 83
15 Pay Day 33-0 113 93 9 90
19 Pay Accounts 100 -
30 Pay Day [smudged]40-0 [/smudged] 40 2
[page break]
Cash Account – January
Date Received Paid
1 Carried Forward 40[deleted] 2[deleted]
33 89 6 13

[page break]
[Cash Account - February missing]
Cash Account –March
Date Received
£. S. Paid
28 Pay Day 20 -

[page break]
Cash Account – March
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]

Cash Account – April
Date Received
£. s. Paid
20 Bournemouth 3

[page break]
Cash Account – April
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – May
Date Received
£. s. Paid
£ s
Carried forward 2 12
5 Hurn. R.A.F. 7 -
9 P.O. Savings Bank 5 -
16 Hurn. R.A.F. 2 -
28 Hurn. R.A.F. 6 18
31 Month expenses 4 16
[page break]

Cash Account – May
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – June
Date Received
£. s. Paid
£. s.
1 Carried forward 8 14
12 Hurn. R.A.F. 6 18
15 P.O. Savings Bank (Christchurch) 11 -
21 Hurn. R.A.F. 6 18
27 P.O. Savings Bank (Witney) 5 -
30 Months expenses 5 10
[page break]

Cash Account – June
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – July
Date Received
£ - s Paid
£ - s
Carried forward 1 -
3 Brize Norton R.A.F. 3 10
14 Brize Norton 6 18
31 Months expenses 11 8
[page break]
Cash Account – July
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – August
Date Received
£ - s Paid
£ - s
Carried forward 16 16[deleted]
7 Little Rissington 10 -
20 " " 6 10
20 P.O. Savings Bank. Rissington. 11
[page break]

Cash Account – August
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – September
Date Received
£ - s Paid
£ - s
4 Kinloss. Scotland 7 -
4 Edith Brooks. 10
14 Kinloss. 8 -
30 Month expenses. 4 10
[page break]
Cash Account – September
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – October
Date Received
£- s Paid
£ s
1 Carried forward 11 -
3 Kinloss. Pay day 7 -
17 Forres. Pay day. 7 8
31 Forres. Pay day 7 8
[page break]
Cash Account – October
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
Cash Account – November
Date Received
£ - s Paid
£ - s
1 Carried forward. 14 6

[page break]
Cash Account – November
Date [No entries] Received Paid

[page break]
[Cash Account December missing]
Cash Account –SUMMARY
Date Received
$ c Paid
$ c
JANUARY 163 83 109 90
£- s- £- s-
MAY 18 10 9 16
JUNE 22 10 21 10
AUGUST 13 [del] 4
[del] 10
SEPTEMBER 15 10 4 10


Hedley Robert Madgett, “Hedley Madgett diary 1942,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11266.

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