The Woodpecker



The Woodpecker


42 Air School magazine, January 1944.







26 printed sheets


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No. 4
Vol. 3

[42 AIR SCHOOL Logo]
Registered at the G.P.O. as a Newspaper.

The Woodpecker

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[page header – THE WOODPECKER JANUARY 1944]


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[missing word] Woodpecker
[missing words] SCHOOL, SOUTH AFRICA

Vol. III. No. 4. JANUARY, 1944, Price 6d.

Contents: PAGE
More Work Before the War Ends ! – 3-4
Max Boost’s New Year’s Honours List ! – 5-8
Nineteen Minutes Air Time for “42” ! – 9
Jock Good Goes and Does It ! – 11-13
Thanks for the Memory – 15
Wood Peckings by the Editor – 16-19
Joe’s Journal – 21-24
What Others Say – 25-27
Could R.A.F. Help the S.A. Theatre ? – 28-30
100% Parade Sees Colleagues Honoured – 31
37 Promotions – 7 Weddings – 3 Births ! – 33-35
New 42 Air School Dramatic Production – 37
42’s N.S.C. Effort Gains Radio Fame ! – 39
Eager N.M.C. Boys Are With 8th Army – 41
December a Bad Month for Cricket – 42-43
About Ourselves – 44


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Churchill Predicts “Most Costly” Year
“The campaign of 1944 in Europe will be the most sev[missing letters] and, for the Western Allies, the most costly in lives of any [missing word] have yet fought. We must all brace ourselves for that task [missing word] strain every nerve for its successful accomplishment. . . .
“This is no time for relaxation or soft thoughts of the joys of peace and victory. Hitler still has 400 divisions under his command or control. He has a party police force which give him a grip on the agonised and regimented people of Germany incomparably stronger than anything which was at the disposal of the late Kaiser. . . .
“1944 will see the greatest sacrifice of life by the British and American armies, and battles far larger and more costly than Waterloo of Gettysburg will be fought . . . . sorrow will come to many homes in the United Kingdom and throughout the Great Republic of the United States.”
9th November, 1943.


Smuts Believes “Victory Probable”
“We have reached what I think are the final stages of this war. The year 1944 will, in all human probability, see the end of the greatest war in history. There will be very heavy fighting – have no illusions about that. I know you are not daunted by the prospect of the immense labours which will be necessary for victory. The end may be the hardest of the whole long pull.”
8th December, 1943.

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[underlined] EDITORIAL – [/underlined]
More Work Before The War Ends !

[italics] “The Woodpecker” is not very often a serious bird, but at times like the beginning of a New Year – and what may be a momentous year – it does no harm to break away from the familiar “Woodpecker” styles typified by Joe Soap, P/O Boost and L.G.G. ! [/italics]

[inserted] THE INGENIOUS ERK !
Airplane repair work at the front sometimes involves the necessity for a good deal of ingenuity, as a propeller maintenance man reported recently.
He told of travelling to a marsh in North Africa to look after a plane. “We took the propeller off, using a gasoline drum as a bench,” he said “To straighten the blade we backed a truck over the bent portion; a wooden pattern was made to check it. Then the plane was towed to an open field and the patched-up propeller flew it back to a depot for complete repairs.” [/inserted]

WHILE we are fully justified in taking hope from the words of that most eminent statesman of our times, Field Marshal J.C. Smuts, who believes that “in all human probability” the war will end in 1944, we must, at the same time agree with Mr. Winston Churchill that “this is no time for relaxation or soft thoughts of the joys of peace and victory.”
[italics] In short, the war may be over before 1945 dawns, but it is not over – yet. [/italics]
It is obvious that the war is not over to those in bomb scarred Britain, to those returning to the battered cities of Kiev and Kharkov, to those chased from their Far East plantations and business houses by the Japanese, to those who still suffer in the occupied countries. It is not so obvious in South Africa. The petrol ration has been steady for a year, certain classes of motor tyres can now be re-treaded, the Black Out in Port Elizabeth has been lifted, at Christmastide we wined and dined on as lavish a scale as before the war – even silk stockings can be bought in the shops again! Abyssinia is a memory, the Hun has been driven from African soil, he is now fighting for his life halfway up the Italian peninsula. The war is indeed far away from Port Elizabeth – but only geographically.
The victories for the United Nations in Europe, in Asia, in the Pacific will depend in the great plan of things as much on the men and women of 42 Air School as on those working in the front lines. There are going to be more air


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[letter missing]echanics from South Africa drafted to the front line, but some will have to stay behind.
For those who remain, the work is going to be harder.
We can hear the man in the workshop saying, “It’s the poor old air mechanic again. Whenever there is a can to be carried, whistle up an air mechanic.” To a great extent that has been true – not because his work hasn’t been appreciated. But because it has never been properly recognised. It’s not always interesting being just one of those men in the workshop – an aircraft plumber, an erk – call him what you will. But everyone from the C.G.S. downwards knows that if it wasn’t for the air mechanic there wouldn’t even be a humble Anson in the air.
And they do know that the biggest raid over Berlin and those devastating attacks on Italy would not have been possible had it not been for the air mechanic. You’ve got to have a serviceable machine before even thinking about instructors or pupils. You’ve got to have training schools to get front line pilots. To have a training school, you’ve got to have aircraft. To have aircraft – well-serviced aircraft, which are the kind we are concerned with – you have to have that backbone, that too often forgotten backbone of the Air Force – the air mechanic.
The air mechanic may not be glamorised or much talked of, but in higher places he’s not forgotten.

Did You Miss Your “Woodpecker”
A lot of people had a big moan last month – they found they were too late to buy their Christmas “Woodpeckers.” It isn’t a new complaint – it happens pretty well every issue – but while the organisers of “The Woodpecker” can’t do much about it, you readers can.
Paper restrictions prevent us from publishing more “Woodpeckers” each month. Of the total printed –
50% are sold on permanent staff pay parade,
10% on pupils’ pay parade,
20% go to the various messes for officers and other personnel who do not attend pay parades,
10% are sold in town for the benefit of non-42 service people and for interested civilians, and
10% are posted to official libraries and to regular subscribers.
It is believed that this distribution is as fair as possible. However, if you can’t get your copy on pay parade and if your mess has sold out every time, why not call at “Q” Stores, deposit a few shillings (6/- for a year of [sic] 3/- for six months) and have your copy sent to you each month? It will be delivered to you on the station, and if you are posted will be forwarded on to you without fail every month. It’s the only way to be sure.


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[underlined] AMONG THE OFFICERS – [/underlined]

Max Boost’s New Year’s Honours List!

PILOT Officer Max Boost – for fifteen months chronicler for the Officers’ Mess – is graciously pleased to award the following High Distinctions to Deserving Colleagues:-
F/O Nicky Carter: N.S.C. (and bar).
Lt. Hi-di-hi Webb: Protector of the Most Sacred Bull.
F/O “Smithy” Smith: Order of the Lost Bicycle.
Lt. Ann du Toit: The Most Revealing Order of the Garter (or Modern Counterpart).
F/O Johnny Plowman: The Maltese Cross (with Irrepressible Citation).
Capt. Dave Miller: The Inconstancy Medal (for social activities in Port Elizabeth).
P/O Whatcha-Chums Fletcher: The Outstanding Gallantry Medal (for constant courage in the face of his mother-inlaw [sic]).
S/Ldr. “Matt” Matthews: The Order of the Unbelievable Shorts.
P/O Ivor Edwards: The Horned Order of the Ram.
F/Lt. Bill Harper: The Maintenance Metal (for distinguished work in locating the supercharger on a Cheetah engine).
All Staff Pilots: The Supreme Order of the Permanent Finger.
P/O Eric Baker: Companionship of the Invisible Moustache.
F/Lt. “Bushy” Parks: Bar (without medals).

BUT – [underlined] SOME [/underlined] OF THEM SLEEP IN CAMP, SURELY!


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[italics] I’ve never heard the tale before
From colleague, quack or man of lore,
A tale so quaint and yet so true –
And explanation I’ll leave with you.

Some years ago, Bill Harper said,
My bloody big toe forced me to bed,
With pain so great you can’t conceive,
And such no doctor could relieve.

My life was bitter, hard t’endure
Until sweet day, I found my cure,
‘Tis just to carry, free from mud,
Where’re you go, a little spud. [/italics]


Cupid has become as rife in the mess of late as the inventive and creative spirit of Matthews & Harper, architects, builders, interior decorators and general furnishers.
Lieutenants Retief and Birkett have both taken the Awful Step, and by announcing his engagement to Miss Daphne Hunt, of Port Elizabeth, P/O John Dovey stands on the first rung of the ladder.

MILITARY term explained –
Adjutant: Derived from Latin word meaning “to help.” No one can explain this derivation. Not at his best unless he has two telephones. Uses them for telling people that someone else is dealing with the matter. It is recorded that there was once an adjutant who knew where his O.C. was and what he was doing. This occurred in 1742. Can always be depended upon to quote a routine order that prevents you from getting what you feel sure you are entitled to.
(And don’t blame Max Boost for that either, Cop; it came in a circular from Fortress!)

[italics] Tordoff took the “Pecker’s” tip,
No longer gives us all the pip;
Now we warn another flyer,
You’re being watched, young Dickie Dyer. [/italics]

FAR too many parties over Christmas to say something about all of them.
Searching over the pieces of toilet paper he commonly uses for a notebook, Max Boost discovered the following odd notes, and as the House Warming Party in the Mess was an unusual “do,” they are repeated for the sake of history.
Guests received by Mrs. Ann Stapleton and W/Cdr. Tommy Tucker (in absence on duty of the C.O.) . . . . Jackie Malley pinching a fellow F/Lt’s girl


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friend to give a tango exhibition. . . . Even Fletch and Beavy “among those present,” cheering up their rare appearance at a mess social by consuming lots of beer. . . . Fletch watching the legs, Beavy the bare backs. . . . “Transport” Kauffman grumbling because he had no champagne for Bushy Parks to borrow. . . . Dave Miller very quiet for a change. . . . Ann du Toit bouncing (What a lovely word – Ed.!) from twig to twig. . . . Connie Hopkins hanging out of the window – but looking at the moon, she says, not the result of excess lemos. . . . Elaine Kellaway looking all wrong in frills and fluffies. . . . Nick Carter seen to dance once, rest of time ogling his band. . . . Doc Lawrence in amazing spirits, in several senses. . . . Lt. Smith popping in and out – “for a walk,” he said – with different partners. . . . Bonzo Bond was – as usual. . . . Large numbers of wives and girl friends, also other people’s wives and other people’s girl friends. . . . Lt. Lucy introducing some new talent to the mess. . . . Killian’s moustache wilting visibly towards the end of the evening. . . . Bill Harper and Partner not on speaking terms, after Bill’s collapse on the dance floor. . . .

[italics] He’s only small, and somewhat shy,
With eye so blue as summer sky,
So full of light and dancing love
Of man’s own gift from God above. [/italics]



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[underlined] BROADCASTS HOME – [/underlined]

Nineteen Minutes Air Time For “42”!

[italics] No. 42 Air School is to have nineteen minutes of broadcast time all to itself on B.B.C. home wavelengths, to enable R.A.F. personnel on the unit to send messages to their wives, parents and friends in the United Kingdom. This is a direct result of negotiations originated by “The Woodpecker” in August last year.

[inserted] B.B.C. PROGRAMMES FOR S.A.
Depending on the range of the radio set being used, B.B.C. programmes from London can now be heard in South Africa for eighteen hours a day – i.e., right round the clock except for the period 01.00 to 07.00 hours.
The General Overseas Service is audible from 07.00 to 10.00 and from 15.00 to 01.00 hours; the African services from 13.50 to 13.45 [sic] and 18.30 to 23.59 hours; and various European programmes from 13.30 to 16.30, 18.30 to 19.15, and almost continuously from 22.00 to 00.45 hours. [/inserted]

ON a census of station personnel, individual qualifications to broadcast were considered, and the names of three officers and 22 N.C.O.s and airmen (and messages they will broadcast) were submitted for approval before Christmas. Although at the time of going to Press, the messages have not yet been recorded, it is expected that this will take place at Grahamstown today, 28.1.44. After recording, the messages will be re-broadcast. That the B.B.C., London, requested “a special message programme from the R.A.F., Port Elizabeth” to last nineteen minutes is revealed in a letter from the S.A.B.C. Controller of Programmes, Johannesburg.
An earlier letter from Assistant Director of Publicity at the B.B.C., London, stressed the “entirely sympathetic” attitude of the Corporation towards broadcasts by service personnel. “The B.B.C.,” it was added, “would like to be able to give time on the air to everybody who asks; unfortunately, the time that can be devoted to message programmes in the Home Service is limited.”
No. 42 Air School may, therefore, be considered fortunate in obtaining this programme to itself.
The School’s broadcast will be one of many from the Union. During the past year, the B.B.C., in collaboration with the S.A.B.C., has arranged two programmes of two-way conversations between airmen in South Africa and their wives and relatives in Great Britain, and two programmes for the men of all services in St. Dunstan’s, South Africa.
(It is hoped that an account of how the recordings were made will appear in next month’s “Woodpecker.” – Ed.).

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[underlined] L.G.G.’s DESPATCH – [/underlined]

Jock Good Goes And Does It!

[italics] Even Boat Talk took second place in No. 3 Squadron – and goodness knows, that’s saying something! – against the excitement of Flight Sergeant Jock Good’s wedding to Miss Molly Joan Gouws in December, at Russell Road Methodist Church. [/italics]

THE bridegroom was supported by F/Sgt. L.G. Gaze, as best man (the supported part of it must not be taken literally), and the groomsman (not to be confused with horses, as that oaf Joe Soap will most probably imagine) was Sgt. Richmond, of Oxford Section; truly a No. 3 Squadron wedding. The most worried person during the whole of the ceremony was Richie. He was positively white with fright. Anyway, the whole ceremony went off without a hitch, all replies were made without falter on the part of the bride and bridegroom except that Jock seemed rather keen to get out of the church at the cessation of the service. He left the others standing, so at one point it looked as if it was three separate weddings in progress. Still no one worries at a wedding over small things like that. It all helps to enhance the proceedings and give one very happy memories to look back on in later years.
The wedding reception was held at the home of the bride at Walmer, where everyone turned up to offer congrats to the happy couple. Amongst those present were Mrs. F.S. Stapleton, wife of the Officer Commanding No. 42 Air School, whose presence and kindly interest were greatly appreciated by all, F/O J.H. Smith, O.C. No. 3 Squadron, F/Lt. Levitt then O.C. “B” Flight, “Hi de Hi Webb, and a host of other Well Known Personalities, not forgetting of course “There’s a thing” Joe Pountain and the Tarmac Terror, Sid Dewey,


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who had had his instructions from the bridegroom previously reference camp beds (shades of Paddy’s wedding!).
The reception went with a swing, speeches were made, S/Sgt. Zeeman, of the N.M.C., excelling himself with his speech which was most entertaining and witty, reference being made to the boys in blue pinching all the nice South African girls. And he was not far wrong either, looking round the gathering present. Refreshments were on a lavish scale and enjoyed by the guests until midnight!
Jack [sic] and his bride left for their honeymoon at 5.45 p.m., the Zuurberg Hotel being their destination. This was finally reached after a burst radiator and a change of cars at the twenty-fifth milestone. Anyway they reached their destination at 9.45 p.m., complete with tennis rackets (this last remark being very subtle). Jock did not take his tennis togs. So ended a perfect day, and now Jock catches the Walmer bus with unfailing regularity at “Pack up,” and the Sqaudron Office now forward Mrs. Good a duty list for the ensuing week. This overcomes all doubt as to where Jock actually is.
ANOTHER big celebration was the occasion of the Airmen’s “DO” in the Toc H, the party in celebration of the pending departure of No. 28 Draft. From all reports, a good time was had by all. Joe seemed a little disappointed that he was unable to get a hearing in the stage. Still there will be many more occasions before all the Draft eventually leave, (This is not boat gen, only surmise. – Ed.).
ANOTHER departure that should be mentioned is that of F/Lt. Lionel Levitt, “E” Flight. He threw a terrific party in the form of a Braaivleis, which members of the Squadron attended. Who are the Squadron going to blame for late take offs now? In his place we welcome Capt. Sterley, D.F.C., who has also interested himself in the Brighter Office movement in his new Section, and has already condemned the colour scheme of the Pilot’s Room. The colour at present being rose, on first glances it somewhat resembles a ladies’ boudoir!
A PILLAR of Lovers’ Lane has left the Squadron – Cpl. Ginger Williams. He is now trashing in Queenstown. We hope he is not leaving the car doors open there when he has finished using the interior.
At the time of writing one has to walk very warily at night from the Squash Counts to the Sergeants’ Mess Lines. It is the most embarrassing hundred

[inserted] MEMORY!
“From that first moment that we heard the bells of the Campanile ringing out across the waters towards our ship we felt we reached a destination and a marking point in life,” wrote Hakim In the “Woodpecker” of Oct. 1941. “The approach to land revealing the trams and buses, the skyscrapers and the busy trade of Port Elizabeth, was a revelation, and the welcome we were accorded seven thousand miles from all that we held dear was as unexpected as a miracle. The welcome, the hospitality and the assential cordiality of it all cannot be described in mere words. In less than twenty-four hours we knew we were at home.” [/inserted]


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yards in the whole Unit. One feels an interloper, carefully negotiating shadowy figures locked in each others’ embrace. In fact it was remarked by a comrade that if perchance you happen to collide with anyone, you stand a good chance of being kissed.
L.A.C. DOCKERILL is now the proud owner of a baby daughter. The Squadron offer their congratulations to him on his new acquisition.
Wally Tate was a visitor recently to P.E. He informed us that he was on his embarkation leave. (Is this duff gen from Oudtshoorn?).
Joe Pountain is again in the news in view of his very amusing sketch the other Sunday night, entitled “The Plague of London” or “Bring out your Dead.” The part was excellently done, caused great amusement and was appreciated by the majority of us. Some took exception probably thinking poor old Joe was referring to them. Joe was ably assisted by the Sergeants’ Mess “Werewolves.”
The Squadron understands that Bread-for-All Tippet has destroyed his patent formula now. Its departure was missed over the festive season.

“Somehow or other,” wrote a local newspaper, “members of 42 Air School are keeping themselves in the limelight. We don’t mean by way of marriages and engagements – although, heaven knows, there are plenty of them – but by working for useful efforts for their fellows.”
This was a reference to the Garden Fete at Walmer, held in December in aid of Christmas Cheer for the air forces Up North. It was a great success, both socially and financially.
The garden fete in the afternoon – at which the Air Force and Maritime Bands “shattered Walmer’s usual suburban charm with a well balanced programme” (to quote a correspondent) – was followed at night by a combined band concert and dance.


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Thanks For The Memory . . .

Thanks for the memory
Of sweet Pretoria nights,
Of guards at Roberts Heights,
Of spring in all its glory,
Of Jo’burg and its lights –
How lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of Martini’s sweet and dry,
Of Girls we left to cry,
Of long weekends and parting friends,
Who left us high and dry –
How lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of brawls in P.E. bars,
Of O.B. battle scars,
Of burning lips and dreams of ships
And drives in people’s cars –
How lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of Gold mines on the Rand,
Of bathing belles and sand,
Of getting burnt and wish you weren’t
But never getting tanned –
How lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of ladies we have met,
Of sessions in the “wet,”
Of lager ache, and Chateau shakes
And duff reports from “Met” –
How lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of girls who have a flat,
Of welcome on the mat,
Of evenings we have spent there
Just doing this and that –
How lovely it was.

At the first cup man drinks wine; at the second cup wine drinks wine; at the third cup wine drinks man. – Oriental proverb.


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Wood Peckings. . . . . . . by The Editor

OUT of a position of vagueness, there at last dawns some indication of the war service medals which will not be granted to personnel of the Royal Air Force who have served for three years in the vital but non-operational Joint Air Training Scheme of South Africa. The words “will not be granted” are chosen deliberately.

It was obvious, of course, that the Africa Star would not come the way of those who had seen service only in the Union, and now the terms of a British Army Council Institution (circulated recently in South Africa by S.A.P.A. – Reuter) made it clear that no 1939-43 Stars will be coming this way either. This Star – to be granted to most who were not actually in the North African campaign – will be granted to all officers and other ranks of the United Kingdom and Colonial Forces, Nursing Officers, officers and other ranks of the A.T.S., and V.A.D. officers and members who, between September 3, 1939, and December 31, 1943, aggregated at least six months’ service in operational commands in Iraq, Syria, Persia, Madagascar, Sicily and Italy. Time spent as a Prisoner of War up to December, 1943, counts, and men with six months’ sea-going duty in dangerous waters, which include the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans are also eligible.

That leaves out the R.A.F. in South Africa, and, indeed, the R.A.F. – thousands and thousands of them – who have been doing a “binding,” unglamorous job for years in the Training Commands of Rhodesia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Why not recognise those who have involuntarily had war service without the thrills and the satisfactions of operations by introducing a Training Service Medal? This could be granted to personnel who served in peaceful conditions admittedly, but with few grumbles away from their wives and families and homes, so that thousands of their comrades could become efficient pilots, navigators, bombers and gunners to man the 1,000 bomber raids on enemy territory. It would be some indication that they are not the forgotten men.

At the time of going to Press, no clarification has been made as to whether the R.A.F. attached to the U.D.F. prior to May, 1943, will be entitled to wear the ribbon of the South African Service Medal.

In fact, so far the R.A.F. in South Africa isn’t doing at all well!

WHILE on the subject of medals, the award for bravery in the air of the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal to an ex-pupil of No. 42 Air School (reported in the November “Woodpecker”) caused a certain amount of controversy, led by those who contended that the C.G.M. was a purely Naval medal. In the early days of the war that was true, and one of the many booklets devoted to medals and decorations, and published in 1939, stated that the C.G.M. could be won “for acts of conspicuous gallantry in action with the enemy, and is open to N.C.O.s and men of the Royal Marines as well as Petty Officers and men of the Royal Navy.”

During 1942, however, there was a general pooling by the three British services of medals normally reserved for themselves.
For example, the C.G.M. – previously a Naval award only – can now be won


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by warrant officers, N.C.O.s and men of the R.A.F. and also by Army men on flying duties, none of whom are eligible for the D.S.O. (which is only awarded to commissioned officers). The C.G.M. takes precedence over the D.F.M., in the same way as the D.S.O. is superior to the D.F.C. When awarded to Naval personnel, the C.G.M. has a white ribbon with dark blue marginal stripes. When awarded to airmen and the Army, the ribbon will be light blue with dark blue marginal stripes.

Similarly, for acts of gallantry on the ground, personnel of the R.A.F. may receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal, formally only an Army award. The D.F.C., A.F.C., D.F.M. AND A.F.M. – previously confined to the flying services – are now also available for Army personnel engaged on flying duties, as glider pilots or observers.

“CHURCHILL this evening suggested war-end in 1943 or 1944 – hell!”
I don’t remember writing those remarkable words, but they appear in my diary on the date 26th December, 1941 – over two years ago, a few months after leaving the U.K., when a quick peace and a quick rolling on of the boat were foremost thoughts in mind. It is only keeping a diary that makes it possible for us to look back on our one-time re-actions. In those days of 1941 the idea of war till 1944 was frightful; it has turned out a reality. Churchill, indeed, appears to rival H.G. Wells as a prophet!

And talking of prophets, a quick browse through English newspapers published in 1942 produce a few items of interesting reading. In 1942, for instance, Old Moore’s well known Almanack (according to the “Daily Mirror”) forecast an Allied victory in 1943! Then there was the man who told a Welsh Conscientious Objectors’ Tribunal in 1942 that by his scientific discoveries he could end the war in six months. He swore that if the tribunal did not take him seriously, he would take up work for the enemy, who would, he declared, be able to invade England in 1943.

The tribunal certainly didn’t take him seriously! Neither did his threats come to anything! There are lots of predictions and lots of threats – particularly Hitler’s – that never came true. We can laugh at them now.

SELF-PRAISE, it is said, is no recommendation, but when comments on “The Woodpecker” appear in one of the world’s leading newspaper and magazine trade periodicals – “World’s Press News” – they are worth repeating. In a short article dealing with South Africa’s service periodicals – they now number fourteen – “The Woodpecker” received its own special mention as “a neat 48-page publication, pocket size, packed with personal quips, current gossip, good photographs and some fine articles.”
Editorial staff was still blushing when a letter arrived from Arthur J. Heighway, Managing Director and Editor of “World’s Press News,” with the remarks: “Congratulations on the merit of ‘The Woodpecker.’ It is a bright little number, which I am sure is read with much interest by all your boys.”
Thanks to Mr. Heighway, a copy of “The Woodpecker” now lies in the Library of the British Press Club!


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gotten during this great festival when “Good Christian Men Rejoice.” The rather prosaic camp life changes for a while and everybody becomes filled with good cheer even if it is of the “Castle” variety. Senior officers whom we have viewed with fear over the past twelve months, descend from their thrones to mix with the most inconspicuous of A/C2’s.
We do believe that these occasional relaxations of discipline and the comradeship that exists between officers and men does more to help the war effort than any propaganda. For a spell the serious problem of war is forgotten whilst we all relax for four whole days preparatory to working even harder for the great cause after the “break.”

[underlined] WOODBROOK – [/underlined]

During the past year, 48 Air School has had many reasons to be grateful to the people of East London. The hospitality and the kindness, which pupils and permanent staff have received in East London homes, have given us memories which we shall carry away with us wherever we may go, when the time comes to say “adieu.” . . . . On your behalf, “B.O.N.” takes this opportunity of voicing a sincere “thank you” to the many good civilian friends of the station. . . . The good spirit of the station is reflected in the excellent relationship that exists between East Londoners and 48 Air School.

[underlined] HEANY, S. RHODESIAN – [/underlined]

Heany Messing Officer declared that this year’s Christmas pudding is probably one of the biggest ever made in the Colony. It weighed over 600-lbs. when stirring was in progress; also mixed are £5 worth of tickeys [sic]. Thirty six bottles of brandy, 36 bottles of rum, and 450 eggs were amongst the ingredients that were well mixed together.
Below is a full list of everything that went in:
Flour . . . 75-lbs.
Breadcrumbs . . . 75-lbs.
Suet . . . 75-lbs.
Sugar . . . 75-lbs.
Eggs . . . 450
Currants . . . 75-lbs.
Sultanas . . . 75-lbs.
Raisins . . . 38-lbs.
Mixed Spice . . . 5-lbs.
Almonds . . . 7-lbs.
Brandy . . . 36 bottles
Rum . . . 36 bottles

Twelve W.A.A.F. Promotions
No fewer than 12 W.A.A.F. promotions have been promulgated recently, one new sergeant and ten new corporals.
Promoted to Sergeant are Corporal Ethel Harrington and Corporal Phyllis Anderson, while the new Corporals are Airwomen L. Hicken, A.S. van Wyk, D.M. Robinson, N. Bestwetherick, G. Dargie, J.M. Chiles, I.Y.M. Holmes, J.H. Norris, E.J. Botha and E.J. Eales.

Two Goldfishes!
The story will be told in next month’s “Woodpecker” of how an officer and an airman, now at 42 Air School, became eligible – by saving their lives in dinghies – for the Goldfish Badge.

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[underlined] EDITOR’S WOOD PECKINGS – [/underlined]

All of which really makes us quite famous!

DO you remember how Milner Park’s “Fledgling” chewed us up some months ago, criticised our sense of humour and said (among other things) that the essay on The Cow, which appeared in the August “Woodpecker” was a hoary old joke, anyway?
Remember, too, how we inferred lack of humour in “Fledgling” and retorted that editors of “The Port Elizabeth Advertiser” and Waterkloof’s “Tale Spin” had both thought this same essay on The Cow funny enough ot [sic] print?

Latest is that Thornhill’s “Slip-stream” has also published this “grand epic!”
So more and more people agree with our sense of humour, “Fledgling!”

VEREENIGING’S magazine “Clamp,” has gone all cynical – at the expense of women. Here are some of the things it says:-
Which is more important to man, his trousers or his wife? His trousers – he can go lots of places without his wife.
A girl with cotton stockings never sees a mouse.
Some evening gowns are fitting and proper. Others are just fitting.
The downfall of man is often the result of the upkeep of woman.
A wife is one who stands by you in trouble you would never have had if you had not married her.
A modern girl learns a lot on her mother’s knee, but she learns a lot more on her bot friend’s.
Many a girl has gotten herself into trouble through obeying the boyological urge.
There is no man so bad that woman cannot make him worse.

A SOLDIER passed through a South African port on his way to other spheres during this war. His name was John Drolle, of the R.W.A.F.F.
“I see a new nation,” he wrote after his visit, “which will eventually become the mother of all African countries, and the key to all African civilisation and culture. For surely this country has taken its place beside the others who are fighting for freedom. Surely its very youth cannot deny it a prosperous future.”

Those are words worth bearing in mind.


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[page break]


Joe’s Journal



WHAT You’ve Been Waiting For

THIS is something unique in journalism, something you’ve been waiting for. “The Woodpecker” is doing what probably no journal has ever done before – publishing a rival newspaper within its own pages!

There are several reasons for it. Joe Soap’s gossip – feature of “The Pecker” for fifteen months – needed revitalising; so “Joe’s Journal” is a new format. For as long as Joe has been writing for “The ‘Pecker,” there have been those who could not send copies back to their homes because of what he had said about them; so “Joe’s Journal” will now be published on the centre pages each month, pages which can easily be removed without spoiling the rest of the magazine! “The Woodpecker” can go home minus “Joe’s Journal!”
Then there is this question of the Editor and his Staff – “protected personnel” they have called because they always intrigued to leave out the juiciest bits about themselves! Now Joe is given a free hand to publish what he likes in his “Journal,” even about “The Woodpecker” officials.
“Joe’s Journal” is a free and independent paper. It will say what it likes about anybody, may even criticise “The Woodpecker” itself.
The identity of Joe Soap will continue to be as great a secret as ever, but he will get around in a way that will amaze you. He will creep among officers, N.C.O.s, airmen and W.A.A.F.s, just as he always has done. He wants help, though, and contributions for “Joe’s Journal” will be considered from anyone who wants to send them in. They may be addressed to “Joe’s Journal” or to Joe Soap, at “Q” Stores, or may be put in “Woodpecker” boxes round the camp.
Remember, the Editor of “The Woodpecker” doesn’t edit “Joe’s Journal,” it’s Joe’s affair and his alone. Now get cracking and push in all the most gossipy and the most spicy gen you can.
Joe looks forward to it!


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“Sweeney Chapman Blew In”

ONCE again Joe Soap slipped into a Corporals’ Club Guest Night in December, just to see that everything was running smoothly. To his satisfaction he found the usual crowds gathered together to enjoy the informal occasion in spite of the weather being so hot.
This time the band was in attendance, rendering all the latest numbers . . . Titch tinkling away on the ivory keys. . . George Britton nursing his beloved saxophone. . . Mush Williams, feeling the heat a bit too much for him, rid himself of his jacket. . . Sweeney Chapman blew in after a satisfactory weekend leave and joined the dancers. . . Lofty Pitt complaining that his tonsils were sore, but didn’t seem to make any difference to his swallowing. . . A/W Smith left her patients at the hospital to join the party and do a spot of singing for us. . . Tutt was there complete with well trimmed moustache. . . Alice complaining that her mosquito bites kept worrying her. . . B. . . accompanied by a merry widow. . . George Mallyon’s very hearty laugh – must have been a good one George. . . Frank Bird, accompanied by his very charming wife but dancing quite a lot with someone else. . . could it be dance lessons you were giving , Margaret? . . . incidentally, Joyce and Sweeney seemed to make a “go” of it on the dance floor. . . Bradley too, seemed to feel the heat, as witness the patches of water on the back of his shirt. . . Todd doing his best to sell a few tickets for the Corporals’ Club Sweep. . . once again the tempting savouries and refreshments provided by the mess and O’Dell proving himself a very efficient bar man. . . altogether a very jolly evening.

[italics] Scenes in the Corporals’ Club at Christmas: photos by Corporal W.J. Bint, of Photographic Section. [/italics]

Certain W.A.A.F.s on the unit are debating whether S/Ldr. Matthews will exchange his beautiful shorts for a split skirt.
Interviewed on the subject, the S/Ldr. Showed his usual reticience [sic]. “The W.A.A.F.s and I will have to get together,” was his comment.

Joe Soap is telephone snooping as well, these days. Picked up a ‘phone the other night to overhear an S.P. offering a telephone operator a set of underwear.
Either the tel. op. boobed or Paddy shouldn’t make offers like that by ‘phone.

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Heat or Girl Friend?

It was noticed at the Sergeants’ Mess Draw Night that Butch Leonard, overcome by the heat (?), failed to pay the necessary attention to his girl friend, who came all the way from Durban for the occasion.
Consequently Saturday night found Butch walking out of camp with a large bunch of flowers taken from the “T” Stores garden.
It is now wondered whether or not she accepted his peace offering.

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” – Winston Churchill, May 13th, 1940.
We have nothing to offer ourselves but to get “blood” hot in the sun at Humewood, to “toil” to get a deck chair, to “tear” ourselves away from our work to get to Humewood and to “sweet” trying to get a seat on the tram. We shall never give in.

It is rumoured that Sgt. Burlton – who recently staggered the Orderly Room by smoking a cigarette! – is soon to take a P.T. course in the old Y.M.C.A.

Joe wants to know why F/Sgt. Taffy Davies wishes to apply for a (com)passionate posting to No. 4 Squadron. Has he heard the bells ringing?

Did you convince yourself about Chinese maidens on Christmas night, Chalky, or did you just go to dance?

Stevens Road seems to be popular with the “E” Flight twins and a certain rigger these days. Is it the hill or Sheila getting you down, Stevie?


It is stated officially that the drawing on the W.A.A.F. page last month was not intended to portray Mrs. Walsh at the salute.

Congratulations to Sgt. Granny Thompson on his “promotion” to Group Captain at the Walmer Garden Fete last month. (It is denied that the C.O. will soon take up an appointment in Pay Accounts).

Then there was the W.A.A.F. who wondered what was this “ultra violation” she had to have at the camp hospital.

F/Sgt. Sturgeon – a weird sort of bloke,
Always ready to tell a good joke,
A feller who rarely feels energetic.
And when annoyed (wow!) makes blokes regret it,
For his man hour sheet the boys are all timed,
And there’s no slacking now, with that in their mind,
But the boys always wangle time off for tea,
And he’s not such a bad feller I’m sure you’ll agree.

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[underlined] “JOE’S JOURNAL” – [italics](Continued)[/italics] [/underlined]

We were sorry to hear that Smudge suffered a severe cigarette burn at a recent Corporals’ Club evening. Well, you would dance with one shoe off.

Joe often wonders if F/Lt. Stonehouse ever sings “In my Solitude.”

Why did a certain wireless operator go walking among the bushes after the Corporals’ Club party? Was it to see whether his better half would be bitten by mosquitos.

Who was it at the Sergeants’ Mess Dance sought admiration from the fair sex about his moustache? Is he looking for Sudden fame?

Joe believes Policeman George had a good time after a recent Corporals’ Club guest night, especially when he was kissed goodnight by Alice. We are watching for further developments, George.

Why did I take that drink of gin Cried Harold of the Sergeants’ Mess. Judging by the “head” I had next day I should have taken less!

Who is Sgt. “Joe Smith” alias the “Little Romeo”? Could it be he who Wings his way out of camp each night on an early bus?

Who is the officer who has discovered that 25 Group has been removed to Humewood?

I hear a boat come sailing
Across the wintry sea.
It takes not “28” to Blighty,
But instead to the dusty M.E.

We notice Eddie Tyas surpassed himself on Old Year’s Night by trying to drown the orchestra with his crooning.


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What Others Say. . . .

[underlined] GEORGE – [/underlined]


The war has gone on for over four years, and inevitable war-weariness and staleness is setting in, especially so and understandably so amongst those who have had the far from glamorous task of training people all the time. We are all of us perhaps at times inclined to take it out of each other and to be intolerant of each other’s shortcomings. We are having to combat the disease of apathy, which is just what Master Adolph and the nasty little Yellow Men are counting on. How about a big “chase away the Blues-cum-Pull-finger” movement, chaps!!
The Union of South Africa has a motto which translates as “Unity is Strength.” One can think of very few better mottoes. It is a simple truth, but one to think deeply on.

[underlined] BROOKLYN – [/underlined]


The word co-operative in South Africa is generally associated with the wealthy wine, wool and sugar companies controlled by rich land owners. It is beyond the imagination of the average airman on the Brooklyn bus to think of owning shares of one of these co-operative companies. Yet “The Erk” takes this opportunity of bringing to the notice of each Erk and Erkulass the existence on this station of such a co-operative movement.
It is a “Co-op” on wheels known to all and sundry as Fitt’s Folly and Fitt’s Folly will pay a dividend to every member living on the station.
Recently the airmen on this station volunteered a 2/- a month Messing Fee to be used for improving rations. Fitt’s Folly will pay the Mess a further two shillings a month per man, thus doubling the amount of money available for the improvements.
As it is the intention of the organisers not to compete with the Y.M.C.A., a better quality product is offered for sale, yet all cakes are sold at cost – the profit coming from a trade discount allowed.
In the past, buying anything was a one way affair. We paid are money and that was the end of it. Our new “Co-op” shop by giving back the profit it makes to the Erks has made everyone a virtual shareholding member. We don’t know who originated the idea – the popular name may provide a clue. But who ever it was deserves a “hats-off” for this successful social station experiment.

[underlined] THORNHILL, S. RHODESIA – [/underlined]

For many this is the third Christmas in Rhodesia; for others it is their first. Indeed so many new faces are to be seen on the camps these days that we wonder how we have survived that exodus month by month. Yet surveying life from a broad angle we can say that we have enjoyed ourselves in the Colony and, although Christmas out here is not quite like the one at Home, we do have good times.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of Christmas is the spirit of goodwill that it fosters. So many enmities are for-


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[underlined] “WOODPECKER” SPECIAL – [/underlined]
Could R.A.F. Help The S.A. Theatre?
[inserted] By
peacetime journalist, now a Cadet Navigator at No. 42 Air School; former drama and film critic of a London suburban weekly newspaper, Scenario Editor of a London Film company and stage aspirant with London’s Old Vic., Sadler’s Wells and “Q” Theatre companies. [/inserted]

[italics] The belief that members of the Royal Air Force – with their background and experience of British and London drama – could provide a stimulus for the Theatre in South Africa is expressed in the article that follows – regarded as one of the most outstanding serious contributions ever published in “The Woodpecker.”
Other views are expressed worthy of consideration by leaders of the South African Theatre. [/italics]

WHEN I came to the Union at the beginning of last year (writes Templeton) , actress Marie Ney – who made a “hit” in “The Lake,” Whitehall Theatre, London, about 1932-33 – was tearfully giving up the ghost of the South African Theatre at a convention of Amateur Drama Clubs in Benoni.
This fine stage player, who left a promising career in London’s West End to try and shake some life into drama in this country, declared that although South Africa could produce men and women willing to disport themselves on a stage she couldn’t produce the people to organise their successful appearance.
The drama critic of a Durban newspaper told me very much the same story. Amateur shows, he said, were so badly produced and staged the public just wouldn’t support them.
At East London I heard another side. The stage-minded there told me the public simply couldn’t understand the Art of the Theatre.
These views, to my mind are all significantly interesting.
It seems unbelievable that simple fisherfolk of the Scottish Highlands, who have never seen a railway-engine, can be more drama-conscious than South African townspeople who have sampled, often in less than a lifetime, the very essense [sic] of drama, the whole gamut of emotions attending the growth of a civilisation.
Drama is only the appreciation of life. To appreciate you must experience. Why is it, then, that the simple Scots folk mentioned should have, at least once to my knowledge, carried off the supreme award of the British Drama League, the largest organisation of its kind in the world, while critics bemoan the fact that South Africans with their infinitely wider experience are blind, deaf and, indeed, dead to the appeal of the Theatre?
The answer is, I think, that in British drama started as, and largely still remains, a family affair. Commercially, the Theatre, like sport, depends upon amateur interest, which is built up into a national force from small, scattered beginnings.
“I believe that the time will come in the not too distant future when the South African Theatre will take a jump forward, from the professional point of view,” Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, the well known actress, said at a public function in Johannesburg nearly two years ago. She praised the amateur theatre, but added: “There will only be a theatre worthy of South African audiences if it can be run by people who are going to direct their whole life to it.” [/inserted]

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In South Africa, the Theatre was painted on to public life as a veneer of someone else’s civilisation. (The old “Diamond Studded” Opera House at Kimberley was outstanding evidence of that.) There was no foundation in the bones of the country. The Theatre just came, and was kept on as spurious proof that South Africa actually was civilised. Exactly the same thing happened in Egypt, where Cairo’s fine old Royal Opera was kept on by the Government to show foreigners that the Egyptians were progressive.
But Egypt has awakened to the realisation that without a consciousness of its own drama no people can ever work together as a nation. Egypt has only been taught that lesson during this war, and she has been taught it by her “visitors” – the refugees of Europe and the armed forces of the United Nations.
If South Africa had had some sort of elementary family theatre and could have developed it, through the years of her struggle, so that it came to be a permanent basis of the country’s culture, much more would have been achieved as regards drawing together the English and Afrikaans speaking communities. The popularity of dialect plays in the American Barn Theatre movement and of Gaelic (Irish and Scottish) in the British Drama League contests shows that to be a legitimate assumption.
But it is certainly not too late for South Africa to do something about it. There are two things that ought to be done.
The first is to encourage plays, particularly one-act plays, with a South African theme and setting. It is regrettable that most of the short plays, and all of the long, put on by amateurs in this country are well-tried “throw-outs” from London. What the Union needs in her barn halls, town auditoriums and city theatres is a healthy percentage of the real life stuff of this country. There are plenty of “arty” folk here who could deliver the goods once they rid themselves of the delusion that shop-soiled London, Paris and New York transplanted in Capetown or Johannesburg is the right diet for a 20th century South African palate.
Secondly, and in conjunction with the first, more use should be made of the visitors to the Union and of the traditions and ideas which they have brought with them.
These things can be used to bring out the finer shades of South African culture just as the Americans have succeeded in bringing out hidden facets of their national life by utilising their abundant European influences. (American University students are now producing the first indications of progress in the medium of the one-act play which we have had in fifty years.)
In the London Professional Theatre, war-gained refugee talent from the
[italics] (Continued on page 30) [/italics]

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Could R.A.F. Help the S.A. Theatre?
[italics] (Continued) [/italics]

drama centres of all Europe has laid the foundation of an even wider theatrical scope for post-war development. Even in Cairo, that mummified institution, the Egyptian Theatre, has been prised out of its sarcophagus, dusted, dressed up and presented to a public that has never been so large or so appreciative. Not the least part in this was played by members of the R.A.F., who founded Cairo Little Theatre and staged shows in which airmen performed alongside Egyptians, Syrians, Greeks, French and Russians. Three years of war in the Middle East has brought drama to that most uncultured of all classes of any nation – the Egyptian Fellahim. Not only is he now learning, through the stage, something of his own national traditions, he is able to slap his thighs in palm fibre edifices in Suez, Ismailia, Port Said, Luxor and Assuan at Arabic versions of “Charlie’s Aunt” and “The Ghost Train.”
Anyone who knew Egypt before the war will tell you that is impossible, but, co-operation with visitors has achieved the impossible in Egypt. Why not in South Africa, a more closely allied civilisation, where the numbers of R.A.F. and others from overseas is as great, as widely distributed, and far more happily mixed with the people of the country?
The standard of co-operation achieved by the R.A.F. and W.A.A.F. in 42 Air School’s recent production of “Dangerous Corner” gives just a little indication, but sufficient, of the practicability of the scheme and of the advantages all can gain by it.

Mary had a little dress,
Dainty, chic and airy.
It didn’t show the dirt a bit,
But gosh! How it showed Mary.
– (“Slipstream”).


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[underlined] CERTIFICATES OF GOOD SERVICE – [/underlined]

100% Parade Sees Colleagues Honoured

AN indirect tribute has been paid to the work of No. 42 Air School as a whole by the award of Certificates of Good Service – the non-operational “mention in despatches” – to four commissioned officers, a warrant officer and six N.C.O.s of the Roal [sic] Air Force, who between them represent practically every section of the school.
These certificates – one of which is reproduced on this page – were presented by the Commanding Officer, Group Captain F.S. Stapleton, D.S.O., D.F.C., at a special 100% parade early in the New Year.
The recipients were:
Squadron Leader D.E.R. Matthews.
Flight Lieutenant L.S. Levitt.
Flight Lieutenant W. Harper.
Flying Officer R.A.W. Carter.
Warrant Officer W. Gregory.
Flight Sergeant J. Good.
Flight Sergeant G. Wing.
Sergeant W. Bowtell.
Sergeant E. Bray.
Sergeant V.R. Groves.
Corporal G. Lawson.
[good service certificate]
F/Lt. Levitt was not present at the parade, having travelled on posting to another unit on the previous day.

News of the fourth Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded to ex-pupils of No. 42 Air School has been received in Port Elizabeth. The latest award of this medal goes to Flying Officer W.B. Gaunt, who was on No. 3 Observer Course, in the comparatively early days of the school.
Eight medals for gallantry have been awarded to ex-pupils – four D.F.C.s, one G.C., one C.G.M. and two D.F.M.s.

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[underlined] PERSONNEL PROWLINGS – [/underlined]
37 Promotions – 7 Weddings – 3 Births!

[italics] Two new pilot officers, three flight sergeants, a staff sergeant, eleven sergeants and twenty corporals go to make promotions the Big Thing of the six weeks since the last “Woodpecker” was published. [/italics]

TO Pilot Officer: Sgt. D. Lumsden and Sgt. H. Green.
To Flight Sergeant: Sgts. G.H. Hartnoll, A.F. Collier and C.F. Davies.
To Staff Sergeant: Sgt. H.V.C. Maybery.
To Sergeant: Cpls. A. Knee, A.N. Beckman, D.G.L. Coley, J.G.A. Day, G. Chapman, H.J. Pitt, J. Sankey, S. Thompson, R. Bell, J. Hunter and J. Sullivan.
To Corporals: L.A.C.s L.W. Dale, W. Jackson, W. Moss, L.A. Daw, J.W. Brooks, R. Harrison, R. Wordingham, J.R. Guiver, A.C. Bell, A.R. Mills, C.W. Stones, T.G. Wood, F. Rex, N. McRoberts, L.L. Worley, L.L. Brown, G.C. Sayer, J. Noal and in the S.A.A.F., A/M.s J.G.P. van Zyl and C. Seaman.

[inserted] 9th and 10th R.A.F. – W.A.A.F. WEDDINGS
Ceremonies in December and January brought the number of R.A.F. – W.A.A.F. weddings in P.E. up to ten in twenty-two months, or roughly one every two months!
Cpl. C. Morgan married Miss Thelma Leonie Aspeling, of 42 Air School W.A.A.F., at St. Mary’s, Port Elizabeth, in December; and three weeks ago Cpl. Jock Morrison, of the Bombing Range, was married to D.A.S. W.A.A.F., Miss Rayna Morrick, at Victoria Park Baptist Church, P.E.
Other R.A.F. – W.A.A.F. weddings are thought to be pending! [/inserted]

THERE have, of course, been the usual Good Conduct Stripes for those with three years’ unsullied service; they go to a sergeant, four corporals, eleven L.A.S.s, two A.C.1.s and am A.C.2 of the permanent staff, and to three corporals and three L.A.C.s among the pupils.
THE Personnel Prowler tripped up in the December issue, when it was reported that there had been a slight drop in the wedding average for R.A.F. personnel. News has been slow in getting around, however, and weddings which took place as long ago as October are among the five below. Congratulations go to:


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F/Sgt. Jock Good, who married Miss Molly Joan Gouws, at Port Elizabeth Methodist Church (L.G.G. reports this wedding elsewhere in this issue);
Sgt. H.G. Hart, who married Miss Freda Williams, at the Church of St. Columbia, P.E.;
Cpl. F. Bird, who married Miss Joyce Gray, at the New Law Courts, P.E.;
L.A.C. C.H. Minards, who married Miss Irene de Vries, at St. Mary’s Church, P.E.; and
L.A.C. W. Moran, who married Miss Julia Mary Hirst, at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, P.E.
Two R.A.F.-W.A.A.F. weddings are reported in the panel on previous page.
Congratulations, too, to three happy fathers on the unit – to L.A.C. and Mrs. E. Dockerill on the birth of a daughter, Lorraine; to P/O (L.A.C. Cadet at the time) J.D. Adams and Mrs. Adams on the birth of a son, at Liverpool; and to L.A.C. H.F. Russell, whose wife, in Harrow, Middlesex, has also had a son.

[inserted] A.C.M.’s GREETINGS
Air Chief Marshal Sir W. Sholto-Douglas, K.C.B., M.C., D.F.C., Air Officer Commanding in Chief, R.A.F., Middle East Command, extends his good wishes for the New Year to all members of the R.A.F., S.A.A.F., W.A.A.F. and Allied Air Forces in the Union and South West Africa (states the D.G.A.F. in an official notice). [/inserted]

[underlined] FAMOUS LAST WORDS [/underlined]

More Staff Changes
Barely a month goes by without staff changes, owing to postings and other service exigencies. The departure of P/O B.E.P. Smith to Durban left the Advertising side free, and this is now being handled by P/O E.T. Baker. Assistant circulation expert, Cpl. Sheila Grant, has gone to Port Alfred and is succeeded by A/W G. Roux.


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New 42 Air School Dramatic Production
Plans are being made for a new 42 Air School dramatic production to follow the success of “Dangerous Corner.” Emlyn Williams’ “Night Must Fall” has been chosen, but at the time of going to Press, casting is not complete.
After their Y.M.C.A. success, the pioneer dramatists who put on “Dangerous Corner” went to even greater heights. The 42 Air School show was followed by “one night stands” at Driftsands Air Station and at the Port Elizabeth Opera House.
Referring to it as a “courageous performance,” the “Port Elizabeth Advertiser” had some easy criticism to make about the Opera House production. “In the first act,” said this newspaper, “there appears to be lack of confidence among the players, some of whom seemed afraid of their own voices. But these faults were remedied during the second and third acts, and the play went on to a successful climax.
“It is to be hoped,” it was added, “that further efforts by these players will be made.”

Work is the best cure for all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind. – [italics] Carlyle [/italics].

Military Bands again aid Red Cross
On Saturday, December 11th, the Air Force Military Band, the P.E. Maritime Band and the Driftsands Corps of Drums officially opened the Humewood Summer Season with a route march, Retreat Ceremony and a concert. The proceeds, totalling £30 13s. 7d., were handed over to the Red Cross Society.

He tried it on the sofa,
He tried it on the chair,
He tried it on the window sill,
And couldn’t do it there.
He tried it in the garden –
And, oh how she did laugh,
To see how many times
He tried to take her photograph.

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[underlined] REPORT FROM U.K. – [/underlined]

[missing numbers]’s” N.S.C. Effort Gains Radio Fame!

[italics] It is now well known on the unit – for a great many letters from the United Kingdom mentioned the fact – that No. 42 Air School’s National Savings Certificate effort received wireless publicity over British Broadcasting Corporation home wavelengths during November. [/italics]

THE achievement of raising £5,000 in nine months was mentioned by Cyril Watling in one of his weekly South African newsletters, and it is surprising evidence of how many listen to Watling’s newsletters – probably for the reason that they have husbands, sons or boy friends serving in the Union – that so many relatives should have written about it.
“We were listening to the news about South Africa,” wrote one mother, “and were quite surprised to hear the announcer say that the lads of 42 Air School had surpassed all records for savings.” Another mother’s comment was, “We heard news of your air school on the wireless in the news from South Africa – about the splendid effort of your savings scheme,” while F/Lt. A.L. Roberts, ex-42 Air School (now in U.K.) also reported hearing the radio “mention.”
Then came the explanation.
The wife of one of the R.A.F. officers at 42 Air School had sent a copy of the September “Woodpecker” to Cyril Watling, hoping he would be able to use influence in arranging broadcasts to the United Kingdom by R.A.F. men in the Union. While the question of broadcasts was out of his province, Mr. Watling replied to this officer’s wife, he was interested in “The Woodpecker” and proposed to mention 42 Air School’s N.S.C. record in his next broadcast.
He did so!

“Are you troubled with improper thoughts?”
“No, I rather enjoy them.”


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By kind permission of O.C. 42 Air School, Group Captain F.S. Stapleton, D.S.O., [missing letters]
to be held in
At 2.30 p.m. on

Programme of Events:
1. Two Widths, Girls, 12 years and under.
2. Two widths, Boys, 12 years and under.
5. 50 Yards, Men’s Dash (Services only).
6. 50 Yards, Ladies’ Dash (Services only).
7. Men’s Open Diving – Two Compulsory, One Optional. Compulsory Dives: 1. Standing Dack [sic] Dive, “A” position Low Board; 2, Running Header Dive, “B” position 3-Metre Board.
8. 50 Yards, Girls, 16 years and under.
9. 50 Yards, Boys, 16 years and under.
10. 200 Yards, Men’s Inter-Services Team Race (4 per Team).
11. 133 1/3 Yards, Ladies’ Inter-Services Team Race (4 per Team).
12. Life-Saving Race (Men). Swim 20 yards, recover brick from bottom and return to start by first method of rescue.
13. Life-Saving Race (Ladies). Swim 20 yards, recover brick from bottom and return to start by first method of rescue.
14. 50 Yards, 42 Air School Pupils only.
15. 50 Yards, Officers’ Dash.
16. Rubber Dinghy Demonstration.
18. Ladies’ Open Diving. Dives as per Event No. 7.
19. 42 Air School Pupils’ Inter-Course Team Race (4 per Team).
20. 42 AIR SCHOOL INTER-SECTION TEA RACE (Two Widths ench [sic]).
21. Water Polo – 42 Air School vs. The Rest.

Reserved Seats – 2/6
Unreserved – 1/6
Services (Other Ranks) – 1/-
Children and Competitors – 6d.

[italics] Book at Smokers’ Stores, Main Street, or St. George’s Swimming Bath. [/italics]

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[underlined][missing letter]EMEMBER – [/underlined]

Eager N.M.C. Boys Are With 8th Army

[italics] “Why will European service men not sit next to natives in the buses?”
“Does this colour discrimination prevail on the battlefield, too?” [/italics]

BOTH these queries were raised by correspondents in last month’s “Woodpecker.” It is a coincidence that a few days after the last issue was published a British Broadcasting Corporation Newsletter arrived, describing how men from Basutoland have rendered great service to the Allied armies. How highly their fighting qualities are valued by the Eighth Army was illustrated by Major Nathan in a B.B.C. short wave talk. His points are worth remembering.
One of the first messages the Eighth Army sent after it had obtained a footing in Sicily, he said, was to the Middle East, and it said: “Please send us our Basutos,” “Our” referred to Basuto members of the Auxiliary Corps whose splendid work helped the Eighth to keep up its historic advance from Alamein to Tunis. Several companies of the Basutos crossed the Mediterranean and did excellent work on Sicilian lines of communication. Originally there had been no intention of sending them out of Africa. But their enthusiasm and eagerness, together with the urging of the Eighth Army, were too strong.
Sergeant Mpete, from one of the Basuto units, said the men were anxious to get back to active service. “We belong to the Eighth Army,” he insisted, “we were bombed with them, we enjoyed the same rations, we laughed at the same jokes, we were blown up by the same mines.” The sergeant said they liked being soldiers. They didn’t want to fly and had no liking for the sea, they thought it “best to be a soldier on the ground.”
He gave an interesting example of their transactions with the Arabs in the desert. “Funny thing was they would not come near us to sell their eggs. When they knew we were Basutos they were afraid and ran off. We had to put our money on a stone and then go away. After a while, the Arabs crept up and took the money, leaving eggs in exchange.”

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[underlined] AIR SCHOOL SPORT – [/underlined]

December A Bad Month for Cricket

[italics] The Christmas break, personnel on leave and rival fest[missing letters]tions in Port Elizabeth were among the factors resulting in less sporting activity on the station during December. [/italics]

TWO representative games on consecutive week-ends did not allow many Cricket League fixtures to be fulfilled. Only five matches were played during the month, four of which were City League games. Air School only registered one win (which unfortunately breaks our unbeaten record), due to the teams being badly weakened by our best players for Fortress on the 4th and 16th, and on the 18th attending a wedding!
Lt. Miller, Lt. Penver, Cpl. Lyall, Cpl. Alborough, Cpl. Barnes and A/M Goetch are to be congratulated on their selection for the Fortress Team against Cicilians on 4.12.43. Lt. Miller had the further distinction of captaining the side while Cpl. Lyall was the best Fortress bowler by obtaining 6 wickets, and Lt. Penver proved the best bat, obtaining 39 runs.
Against East London Fortress the following week-end we only had two representatives in the Port Elizabeth Fortress Team, Cpl. Lyall and A/M Scheckle, our two bowlers, neither of whom came off.
Following were the scores of the five matches played during December: -
19 A.N. “A” (83) beat 19 A.N. “B” (79) BY 14 runs (Station).
42 A.S. “A” (123) lost to Port Elizabeth (132) by 3 wickets (City.
42 A.S. “B” (78) lost to Heavy Battery (88 for 7) by 10 runs (City.
42 A.S. “A” (115) lost to H.M.S. Goodhope (126 for 6) by 4 wickets (City).
42 A.S. “B” (86 for 6) beat Fortress Signals (39) by 4 wkts. and 42 runs (City).

INTEREST in tennis was more than maintained, three league League [sic] matches (one Women’s and two Men’s) having been played. This activity for the month ended in a very successful and most enjoyable Mixed Doubles Tournament on the 19th, staged by Fortress on the 6th Heavy Battery Courts, Humewood.
42 Air School entered nine couples. Altogether 36 entries were received, which necessitated four sections. Members from this Station won three of the four Sections. Cpl. McDonaugh and Mrs. Cook won the “A” Section, while Lt. Smith and Mrs. Searle won the “C” Section, with Lt. Bands and Sgt. Tonks winning “D” Section.
In the semi-finals Cpl. McDonaugh and Mrs. Cook beat Lt. Bands and Sgt. Tonks 6-5, while Lt. Smith and Mrs. Searle were beaten 6-5 by a Fortress couple, after very evidently being the best couple on view.


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[underlined] By Lt. F.J. HORN [/underlined]

The finals proved to be the most exciting of the whole day. During the first four games, recurrent deuces were experienced and extraordinarily enough, all four were won by Cpl. McDonaugh and Mrs. Cook. They also won the fifth which gave them a 5-0 lead. The Fortress couple won the sixth game and all the rest, doing the almost impossible to win by 6 games to 5 and to win the Tournament. Cpl. McDonaugh played a magnificent game and was well backed up by his partner until the sixth game, when she became so tired that she could hardly return a ball, allowing the Fortress couple to snatch a sensational win.

The results of the three League games played during December were:-
42 Air School (91 games) beat Driftsands (74 games) by 17 games.
42 Air School (112 games) beat M.T.T.S. (53 games) by 59 games.
42 Air School (W.A.A.F.s) (49 games) lost to Signals (50 games) by 1 game.

PRACTICE in the St. George’s Bath takes place regularly every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The various Sections are trying out their swimmers to get their teams into shape for the big 42 Air School Swimming Gala, taking place on the 29th January. Competition for the Station Team Cup is going to be very keen, and the champions, 4 Squadron will have to look to their laurels if they want to remain the Station Champions.

“I am told,” writes the Sports Editor of “B.O.N.”, No. 48 Air School’s magazine, “that there will be a triangular – Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London – Inter Fortress athletic meeting in the coming year – probably in February.”
Comment on this report by Lt. F.J. Horn, 42 Air School Sports Officer, early in January, was: “It is not authentic yet. The meeting is still in its embryo stages.” [/inserted]

A GOLF CHALLENGE against us by Fortress was played off on the Humewood Course on Wednesday, 1.12.43. Each team fielded 12 players, and in a four-ball contest, Fortress beat us 4-2.
On the 18th a Fortress team of 20 players played against Walmer Club on the Walmer Course. Seven 42 Air School players were included in the Fortress Team.


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ABOUT OURSE[missing letters]

ALL literary matter in “The Woodpecker” is copy [missing words] without permission of the Editor or unless due [missing letters]wledgemen[missing letter]
Contributions are invited from all serving men and women of 4 [missing words] –sands Air Station and from members of the W.A.A.F., C.P.S., S.A.W.A., [missing words] –isations in Port Elizabeth. As far as possible an endeavour will be [missing words] –scripts, if requested, but the Editor cannot be responsible for [missing words] mislaid. Contributions should be original and unpublished and [missing words] name, rank and number of the contributor, not necessarily for publication [missing words] written, or better still typed, on one side of the paper and should rar[missing words]
“The Woodpecker” is published at sixpence monthly and any profits [missing words] to Regimental Funds.

President: Group Captain F.S. Stapleton, D.S.O., D.F.C., R.A.F.
Editor: Flight Lieutenant G.L. Hindley, R.A.F.V.R.
Correspondents (in this issue): S/Ldr. J.L. Lawrence, R.A.F.V.R.; Lt. F.J. Horn, S.A.A.F.; F/Sgt. L.G. Gaze, R.A.F.; Sgt. E. Tonks, W.A.A.F.; Cpl. A.W. Linger-Harris, R.A.F.V.R.; L.A.C. J.M. Templeton, R.A.F.V.R.; L.A.C. D.C. Campbell, R.A.F.V.R.; Miss N. Perry, S.A.W.A.S., and others.
Artists (in this issue): Lt. M.B. Brady, S.A.A.F. (ex 42 A.S.), Cpl. J. Bell, R.A.F., and others.
Photographs: Cpl. W.J. Bint, R.A.F.V.R., and other sources.
Advertising: Pilot Officer E.T. Baker, R.A.F.V.R.
Circulation: Flight Lieutent [sic] R.C. Parks, R.A.F., and Airwoman G. Roux, W.A.A.F.
Treasurer: Flying Officer R.B. Beavington, R.A.F.V.R.

COPIES of “The Woodpecker” contained in Volumes I and II – i.e. from October 1941 to September 1942 and from Nov./Dec. 1942 to September 1943 – may be obtained from “Q” Stores, price 3d. each, with the exception of the following, stocks of which are completely exhausted: Nov./Dec. 1942, January 1943.
In Volume III, copies of the October, November and December, 1943, issues are still available at the usual price of 6d.
THE demand for “The Woodpecker” is so great that regular readers are strongly advised to make sure of their copies by forwarding order and remittance to the Editor, “The Woodpecker,” No. 42 Air School, Port Elizabeth.

The February ”Woodpecker” will be published in four weeks’ time – on Friday 25.2.44.
All copy, drawings,photographs, suggestions, etc. should be in the hands of the Editor (available in “Q” Stores) or put in “Woodpecker” Boxes by Wednesday, 9.2.44, to ensure inclusion.
“Woodpecker” Boxes are to be found at the Main Guard Room, opposite the Station Notice Board and in the Sergeants’ Mess.
Correspondents not at the Air School are advised to post copy to reach the Editor by 9.2.44.
Only copy of a particularly urgent nature should be submitted after that date.

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[missing word] by the Air Force Station, Port Elizabeth, and printed by E.H. Walton & Co., Ltd., 1 Baakens Street, Port Elizabeth.




42 Air School, “The Woodpecker,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 14, 2024,

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