Eric Arthur's diary



Eric Arthur's diary


Diary starts in early 1944 and describes in some detail his journey to England and his travels around Britain when on leave. Eric was called up into the Australian Army in November 1941 and transferred to the RAAF in June 1943. Went to No 2 AOS at Mt Gambier for Air Observers course and then to No 3 AOS at Pt Pirie. It begins in detail when he leaves Melbourne aboard the Mariposa as an aircrew sergeant. The ship passed through the Panama Canal and docked in Boston. Eric had some time on leave in New York before crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary He eventually arrived at the No 3 (O) AFU at RAF Halfpenny Green in August 1944. Eric was crewed with a second tour RAAF pilot at the Mosquito OTU at R.A.F. Warboys and RAF Wyton. They were posted to 627 Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa in October and did their first operation on 26 November to Munich. They remained there until the war in Europe ended in May 1945.


Temporal Coverage



Printed book with handwritten annotations


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[black and white photograph of five airmen in front of an aircraft]
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[RAF Wings]
627 SQUADRON [underlined] PARTHFINDER [sic] WINGS [/underlined]
AUS 431155.
N.Y May. ‘44
1943-1945 PAGE 1 to 199
1946-1996 PAGE 200 TO 216
1997- PAGE 216 TO
1923 – PAGE 230 TO 254 LIFE SUMMARY
1946 POSTWAR PAGE 255.
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[header] NAME – ADDRESS – TEL [/header]
Miss L. Buck. – 8 Wellington Rd Oxton Birkenhead Eng. – [blank]
Mr & Mrs G. Duncan-Brown – “Glenleigh” Kingmoor Rd. Carlisle. Cumberland. – [blank]
Mrs J. Bolton (BOB’S PARENTS) – Tailem Bend. Sth Aust. – [blank]
Mrs C. Clark – 31 Snowdon Place Stirling Scotland – [blank]
Miss Evelyn H. Currie – “St Rogwald.” Blackbank Gretna Carlisle. – [blank]
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[header] NAME – ADDRESS – TEL [/header]
Mr & Mrs Stinson Studio – Suva – [blank]
Mr & Mrs W. H. Shaver – Box 459. Midland Ontario. – [blank]
Mr & Mrs R. W. Rose – 110 Glenmore Rd., Toronto – [blank]
Mr R. W. Thorn & Mrs J. Cameron. – Collingwood Ontario – [blank]
Mrs C. W. Tyson – 15 Westminster Rd. Summit New Jersey. – [blank]
Mr G. M. Shepherd. – Navana Ltd. 29 New Bond St. London W1. – [blank]
Mr C Bennet. – Navana – [blank]
Mr H. Samson. – Kodak. – [blank]
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[inserted] [underlined] 1941. [/underlined] OUR BROTHER COL MISSING IN FLYING IN BLIZARD [sic] IN CANADA
[underlined] 1942 [/underlined] TRAIN TO GELONG BUSH CAMP
[underlined] 1943 [/underlined] JUNE TRANSFER TO RAAF POINT COOK THEN AIR OBSERVER COURSE 2 2 AOS MT GAMBIER [/inserted]
[underlined] 1943. [/underlined]
Posted from 2 A.O.S. on Nov 30th. – beginning 3 AOS Pt. Pirie Dec 6th.
Xmas ’43 – 3 days’ leave in Adelaide with Glenn Cliff. Xmas dinner with the Berry family. [inserted] (GLENN CLIFF – ANOTHER TRAINEE) [/inserted]
[underlined] 1944. [/underlined]
Jan 1st. Glenn & I celebrated New Years’ Eve in Pt. Pirie – show after midnight.
Jan 4th Bombing examinations. Phoned John [inserted] DOBSON [/inserted] at Gambier on his return from U.S.A.
Jan 6. Temp 112 to 115 – warm at low level, 600’ bombing.
Jan 7. 4 details at low level.
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beginning at 7 AM take off. Mighty hot!
Jan 8. 3 days’ leave, - Glenn & I in Adelaide. Swimming at Glenelg.
Jan 11. Began gunnery, flying in “Battles” in afternoon. Bombing exam results – 87 percent – 9TH
Jan 22. Glenn & I visited Williams family. – swimming at Glenelg.
Began Astro. Nav. on Feb 3rd – weather still hot.
Feb. 5th. Aileen Berry’s 21st.
Feb. – Continuous night Astro. Nav. flights.
Feb 14. 42 Course interview with C.O. (W.C. Hedlem).
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Astro exams began Feb. 26th – finishing course on 29th.
Mch 2. Beginning of 9 days’ home leave.
Glenn & I stayed at the S.P.F. hostel.
Mch. 4. Travelled by Bonds to Gambier.
Mch 5 & 6. On leave at “Colwyn”
Mch 7. Left for Melbourne – with Mum & Joy at flat. Peter born at 11.40 P.M.
Mch 9. Called on Glad & Peter with Joy & Mum.
Mch 10. Return to Adelaide & Pirie.
Mch 13. Glenn in hospital.
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Mch 14. Beginning of 3 weeks extra course. – flying etc. & gardening.
Mch 19. Glenn out of Hospital Church with Brenda, Clarrie & others.
Continuation of Day flying.
Mch 27th. Trip by plane to Gambier for Court Martial [inserted] NOT FOR ME! WAS CREW ON THE AIRCRAFT. [/inserted] – leave for 1 day at home.
April 1st. Pre-embarkation leave began. At home ‘till Tuesday 11th.
April 11th Left for Melb. at 1 AM. – stayed at “Stratton Heights”
April 12 Reported to E.D. at M. Cricket Ground. Issued with overseas equipment.
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April 15. March through Melbourne at head of A.T.C. lads.
April 16. Called on Pascoes. Tea at Glenn’s & dance at his club. Wrote home – Posting overseas definite.
April 17. Dinner with Bucknall family – Win & I to a show in town.
April 19. Dance at Leggetts’ with Glenn & lads.
April 20. Show at “State” with Lilian Pascoe.
April 22. Lectures by returned chaps. Final issues of equipment Evening at flat with Bob Bolton, Jim Allsop & Alan Boase!
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April 23. Spent the day with Ron, Joy & Lilian – drove to Upway. Saw Auntie Lil and Sid.
April 24. Final embarkation preparations – ‘phoned home Received letters from Mum, Dad & Rev. Fearon. Anzac Eve – dance.
April 25. Called on Uncle Dick
April 26. Parade & March past of all overseas draft before the G.O.C.
April 27. Early parade & prep. of gear. Leave from mid-day – called on Auntie Bess. Tea with Win Bucknall – concert, Luna Park and “Ye old Galleon.” A Grand night!
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[underlined] April 28. [/underlined] Early embarkation parade – arrived at ship at 11 o’clock.
We steamed from the Melb. wharf at about 1800 hours.
Glenn Cliff, Bob Bolton, Wal Brue, Jim Alsopp, Alan Boase, Alan Beavis & yours truly joined in a fitting farewell to Melbourne – for how long? We only wished we knew!
April 29 Our first day at Sea found us more or less satisfied, but mostly wandering with our minds many miles away.
The sea began to become rougher, but the “Mariposa” did not roll much, so I slept as well as usual. – but from 7 P.M, a little earlier than I used to.
After a few days at sea we were becoming used to
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the strange “refrigerator” taste of the food, & the most unusual 2 meals a day.
May 1. We sighted New Zealand in the late afternoon, but continued straight between the two islands, passing Wellington to port at about 9 P.M.
From here meals seemed to improve, but we only ate because we had to – the monotony of the trip and the really tasteless food were most depressing!
On Teusday [sic] May 2nd, we were given another vaccination and crossed the international Date Line. – thus Teusday [sic] was repeated and we were almost a day behind “Aussie”
The sea continued to be fairly calm, much to our disgust, & thus added to the monotony of our trip.
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May 4th. This was my 21st
I did not forget it, I guess, & soon after breakfast, opened the small parcel which Mum had sent me in Melbourne, and asked me not to open ‘till this day.
It was a grand surprise, & meant so much to me – with letters and cards. It was not exactly a “happy” birthday but was one which I shall never forget. The book enclosed in the parcel, from Mum & Dad, was a mighty fine one – “Combat Report” and I was soon enjoying reading it. Guess it was read by most of my cobbers before the close of the trip – thanks to the two most wonderful People in the world!
May 5th. We steamed into a mild storm, and our
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speed was much reduced.
May 7th
Mothers’ Day – a very impressive service on deck.
May 8th. We passed the Pitcain [sic] Islands – weather warmer & day fine. 18 hours behind Victoria.
Days passed and we listened to operational lectures, read & played cards - & of course spent [underlined] some [/underlined] time sleeping!
May 12. 15th day at sea – weather became warmer & we changed into shorts & shirts. We also began some washing, but had very little fresh water, so soon left it alone.
May 13. We were all rather pleased to see a Mariner
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flying boat circling the ship on a patrol flight.
May 15. I met Laurie Hall, of Penola – he was on our draft, but 3 courses ahead of me in training.
We expected to sight land before sunset on Sunday 14th & as was our usual custom after our rather early dinner (1600 hrs), we soon found ourselves reading on the starboard deck, using life jackets as pillows etc.
The sea was very calm & the air rather misty – Wal Brue, Bob Bolton & I then settled to resting on deck & listening to the piano broadcast from the Padre’s office & then a short religious service.
After settling in our cabins at about midnight, we were able to catch about six hours
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sleep before being awakened by some claims that land was in sight. The ship’s engines had been throttled back, & thus it would take some time to reach the harbour, so guess I did the best thing & turned over to sleep a further hour.
However, it was not long before I was out on deck, & was able to watch our progress into Panama harbour for about an hour before breakfast. As we continued, the welcome sight of the numerous green islands was really grand – gosh! how green everything appeared. And how refreshing after 18 days at sea.
I would certainly have liked a movie to record the colour combination – red rooves & mottled cliffs.
As we moved to berth at the wharf, the whole harbour
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showed signs of much activity with jeeps & military vehicles of all kinds & numerous ‘planes in the sky.
It was not long before an announcement – “No leave for RAAF personnel” – settled us to being satisfied with what we could see from the boat, which was not very much, I’m afraid!
So, it was another early night to bed – it was sultry so we slept on deck again.
May 16. soon came along & the morning soon passed uneventfully. At 2 P.M, we sailed from Panama & began our trip up the canal – 50.27 miles. It had been warm & steamy during the morning but the sky was now overcast & stormy.
We followed our progress
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up the canal with much progress in our geography & it all proved mighty interesting.
The cutting was not as wide as I expected, but the whole proved a wonderful piece of engineering & at this time of the war is best left undiscribed. [sic]
We were lifted about 90’ in the 3 locks & then lowered again to continue into the Atlantic. The boat was held steady in the centre of the canal by cables & electric trains which were controlled by negroes.
These negroes were just as one had seen them in the movies – “baggy” clothes, big hats & huge boots, and to finish it off, they mostly carried ancient umbrellas, as it was now raining!
We made good progress
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& at about 9 P.M found ourselves at the wharf at Colon.
Steady rain was falling, when we made our beds on the deck under the main open deck. – we had little trouble in falling asleep, once more.
At about 2 AM., Bob Bolton woke me by yelling something about “WATER” – and gosh! was it raining! I’ve never heard rain come down like it, & of course we were soon in the midst of a swamped deck, & quickly gathered blankets and all, and after some strife, found our way to our cabins.
However, we came thru’ O.K. & were O.K in the morning.
May 17. We expected to set out for either Boston
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or New York this day – which it was, we had not been told!
We witnessed the flying of all types of planes before we began moving again at about 2 P.M. - & so we left Colon and headed for the Carribean [sic] Sea.
May 19 was the next day on which we saw land, - only a small island or two, but quite good to see after a couple days at sea again.
We passed between Peurto [sic] Rico and Hispaniola at night, it seemed.
We had estimated the sun to be directly overhead at this latitude.
Our course was then made direct for Boston - & as far as we were concerned,
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the sooner we arrived, the better.
May 20. This was the last night on which we were still able to see the Southern Cross. The trip continued O.K in quite calm waters, & time passed rather quickly with lectures, medical & Pay Parade etc.
May 22. We began preparing for our arrival at Boston – and came into the harbour at about 3 o’clock.
The city band was out at Boston to welcome someone – guess the Yanks we had on board, but we were soon tossing coins on the wharf & everyone soon knew the “Aussies” were there!
Once again we had
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to remain on board for another night - & little happened before be [sic] turned into bed at the close of our 25th day at sea.
We were now 14 hours behind Melbourne.
I had written quite a few letters during the trip, but was disgusted to find at this stage that we were unable to mention anything at all about our trip - & as they would not pass the censor, I tossed them all out.
May 23.
We made an early start this morning and disembarked quite early. This was the first time we had set foot on Mother Earth since leaving Melbourne. – next time I go on a boat I shall
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take a box of soil so that I’ll always be in sight of land! We were soon on the train and heading south to New York.
The country was very interesting & the whole of it through which we passed, was very green & rather thickly timbered with weeping willow, & elms etc!
Our train trip took us thru’ Brooklyn & in the distance we were able to see New York’s skyscrapers against the skyline! A grand sight for the first time. - & we sure were all eyes!
We arrived at Fort Hamilton per ferry at about 4 P.M. - & soon settled into our quarters.
Of course we were all rather anxious to get away
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on leave, but found we could not go until the following day, so were quite content to settle into bed quite early to prepare for a good week, & little sleep ahead!
May 24. – Wednesday.
This was our first day on leave in New York. – we left Fort Hamilton at about 5 P.M. after gathering all the final pay we could; my financial situation now being quite fair.
Our first port of call was the Anzac Club. – which we found later to be of wonderful assistance to us. Here we were able to get a concession ticket to stay at a hotel – the Century for the night. As we had
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not yet had tea, we were soon bundled off to a Service Club in E56 st. [sic] near Central Park. – what a place to find after being in N.Y. for about an hour. However, all was O.K & Bob and I soon sought a good feed & after being given pamphlets about the city & being told as much as possible too, we set off to find our hotel!
This was relatively simple & right from the beginning we found the city very well laid out, & its streets simple to follow.
It was about 1 AM. when we were shown to our room – we had heard all about tips & had it “sewn up”, so sent the lad off with his 10c. tip – no trouble at all!
However, we were then
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wondering if we should happen to find a milk bar open at this unearthly hour. – certainly not in Melbourne, but maybe we could here.
O.K! we set out to find one –
But gosh! we bumped right into Broadway, & what a surprise we got!
Everything was open – drug stores, milk bars, theatres, jewellers & all!
What a show! – it was then after 3 AM before we returned to the hotel.
It impressed us as a really amazing city right from the start - & we went looking for a milk bar!!!!!!
May 25.
We found our
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way from the Century & began walking in search of the Gramercy Park Hotel, where Mrs Gilkinson lived, - it was some distance but we had too much to see to notice it.
Bob & I had quite a chat to her & arranged to see her again in the afternoon.
We returned to the Anzac Club for lunch - & spent the afternoon wandering about the city before calling for Mrs Gilkinson. She took us to Miss Beaty’s – for “supper” as they termed it! She is a most delightful lady & helps entertain many of our chaps – Bob & I enjoyed it all very much.
This is where John met Mrs Gilkinson & her
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daughter, Jane!
Bob, Wal Brue & Hilton Bruce and I visited a theatre later – we obtained free tickets for it, but were not at all please with the show, so left half way through, & spent the remainder of the night, ‘till 12, on Broadway!
We stayed at the S. Army hostel this night.
May 26.
We arrived at the Anzac Club early this day to arrange for a billet for the weekend. – this was soon fixed O.K. and we left with the Padre & others for a tour of Rockefeller Centre.
We had lunch at the 2 in 1 Club, & soon
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buzzed off to obtain free tickets to “Pin-up Girl” – at a theatre on Broadway.
This was an excellent show – stayed at the Century again!
May 27. Anzac Club had arranged for us to go to stay at Summit – about 25 miles from N.Y - & we left the city at 11 AM.
Bob & I were still able to stay together – we were doing well that way, & I certainly enjoyed being with him. He proved to be one of the best, so I was mighty lucky to have such a cobber – it made a mighty big difference when there was so much to do, & we both enjoyed doing similar things!
This was a grand
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break for us, & we looked forward to staying with the people whom we were to meet at Summit, in the green, thickly wooded hill country of New Jersey!
Mrs Henderson met us in her car at the station, & at once made us feel quite at home.
It was a grand day, & after we had settled in at her home & enjoyed a really good lunch, Mrs Henderson, Barbara (aged 12), Bob & I set out for a walk to a Scout camp, which our host & young “Bo” were attending for the day.
We soon met Mr Henderson, & as Bob & I had much in common with him in the scouts, so all was well, - & we returned home together.
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In the evening we were taken to an excellent “movie show” - & spent some time at home later talking. They were very interested in all we had at home – family & all - & also in Australia.
They were both very good to us - & we sure were as near to “home” as possible.
May 28.
A really excellent day – visited the Presbyterian Church with Mr & Mrs Henderson and later drove to Surprise Lake. This was amidst thickly timbered hills & a delightful spot.
Took numerous snaps, & we all had a grand picnic & afternoon.
About 8 of the Henderson’s friends visited us in the evening & once again
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passed an enjoyable few hours. This was a wonderful weekend for us, & we sure did appreciate all Mr & Mrs Henderson did for us.
[underlined] May 29. [/underlined] Bob & I returned to Fort Hamilton – to obtain leave for a further six days.
[underlined] May 30th [/underlined]
Left camp early & first booked into the council club, where we stayed ‘till the end of the week.
From 99 Park Avenue we obtained tickets (free) for the Music Hall in Radio City & for NBC studios.
The Statue of Liberty was our next interest & we spent a couple hours to, [sic] at & from this really
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interesting monument!
We saw quite an amount of the city before we finally arrived for the 6 P.M show at the Music Hall – this is a continuous show, as are all “movies” in N.Y. It was a marvellous show, with “The White Cliffs of Dover” and a wizard stage show – the stage & theatre was colossal & I’d never seen anything like it before!
We visited the NBC studios at about 11 P.M. – mighty interesting & we were sure pleased to see the whole works of television as well as other radio programmes being broadcast.
This was in Manhattan – Rockefeller Centre – so up we went still further to the observation roof; about 60 stories. – it
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was a wonderful sight from up there at night, as everything was so clear & there were lights by the thousand – or maybe million?
Rather a late night, so let’s away to bed!
May 31st.
We were into the Anzac Club early again this morning & Bob & I were fortunate to obtain free passes to “OKlahoma” [sic] for the following night – what luck!
Also obtained free tickets to a show for this night and then visited the Empire State with Neil Bilney & “Pete” Curtis.
Bob & I then made our recordings to send home, & had them sent from Anzac Club.
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We then spent the remainder of the afternoon at the Hayden Planetarium – a really wonderful place – lecture on “Planets & Meteors.”
Had time to write home before setting off for the evening’s picture show – namely “Mr Sheffington”.
June 1st.
We were mighty pleased to receive our “OKlahoma” [sic] tickets from the Anzac Club - & then set out for a further tour of the city taking numerous snapshots. Bob soon became accustomed to using my camera – so I was in a good many which were taken.
We saw “The Little Church around the Corner” - & then to the Empire State. We could not use cameras up there, but Bob & I had a photograph taken & so, all was well. In the
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afternoon we visited the Hayden Planetarium – a wonderful place where we spent a few hours.
“OKlahoma” [sic] was a marvellous show, & one which I’ll never forget.
June 2nd.
This was our last day in the city, as we were to leave on billets to the country in the afternoon. Thus, Bob & I spent some time shopping & seeing all we could. I bought some “OKlahoma” [sic] records from Macy’s - & sent them off home, hoping they would travel O.K. Then souvenirs etc. & slippers for Peter!
After obtaining directions from Anzac Club, we left later in the afternoon for Summit, where we were to stay again with people for the weekend. We could not
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stay with the Henderson’s, as Mr. H. was away on Business – so we were met at the station by a Mrs Tyson who impressed us at once as being an excellent hostess!
We soon met all the family – Mr. Tyson, a mighty fine chap – “Wusty”, he was about 9. – Louise, 6 & Helen 4 1/2.
They all made us feel “at home” & we knew we were going to enjoy another excellent weekend.
We all enjoyed the evening at a show in a nearby township to which we drove in the Buick.
June 3rd.
Bob & I collected 10 petrol tickets allowed to us - & then helped Mrs Tyson with her shopping. We had a grand day – played baseball & then dozed in the sun.
Mr & Mrs Tyson took us out to dinner & then two
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WAG’s, Bob & myself spent a grand evening with four lasses who had joined us at dinner.
June 4th.
It was good to be able to sleep ‘till about 10 this morning, but then we had to bustle to church to get there in time. We enjoyed this very much & then after taking a few snaps, we set off on a drive to Princeton.
It was the first long drive Mr & Mrs Tyson had taken for a couple years, so were pleased that we could obtain the petrol tickets. We had a marvellous day – the weather was good & the country O.K. Princeton University & other well known buildings were very interesting.
We had dinner before returning late in the evening – a 40 mile drive which almost brought to a close,
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our weekend!
June 5th.
We were very sorry to leave Mr & Mrs Tyson and family, - had to be at camp at 10 AM. We certainly had hopes of seeing them again some day, whenever that would be – as they had done so much for us during the weekend. The children were well trained, & both Bob & I took a liking to them, and enjoyed their company very much.
However, we were soon back at Fort Hamilton & prepared to move on across the Atlantic.
June 6.
We made use of what time we had to buy a few articles at the canteen - & we were pleased to be able to buy some large boxes of chocolates which we posted to
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Mr & Mrs Henderson and Tyson.
We joined a ferry in the late afternoon & after steaming around the tip of Manhattan to the other side of the island, we embarked on the “Queen Mary.”
June 7.
When I awoke this morning we were already under way & almost out of the harbour.
Gosh! what a ship – we were only allowed in a certain section, so could not see much of it. Meal lines were terrific – there were as many thousand on board as there are miles for “Colwyn” to Pt. Mac D.; Breakfast carried from 6 AM till 12 noon – Tea from 2 P.M till 8 P.M. some show!
Meals were better than on the “Mariposa” & altho’ we had less room, all was O.K.
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June 8.
We were now beginning to find our way about O.K, & spoke with many of the Yanks – some of them had never seen our uniform before & quite a few were hazy as to Australia’s whereabouts. Could buy chocolate etc from the canteens, so we were not hungry this time.
June 9th.
The weather seemed to be becoming warmer, & so we were not sure what course we were on – we had spoken to quite a few Yanks, but many knew little, if anything of Aust.
Most of them were only a very ordinary type of chap, - some were really decent tho’.
The “Queen Mary” was certainly interesting to us & we saw all we could whilst aboard her.
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June 10.
Sea calm – glorious day
Spent from noon ‘till 3 PM on submarine watch from the bridge – was O.K. & now I have seen right over the ship! The view from the bridge is great – gosh! what a ship.
June 11th. Sea rough – weather cooler. “The Mary” swayed a fair amount causing many Yanks to take to the rails, but I guess we were used to it. We spent quite some time wandering about the boat – the beautiful veneers & panelling appealed to me & the huge dining room which was used as our mess, was really marvellous. We could easily notice that we were well north & so took to warmer clothing.
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June 13th.
Was pleased to find the ship had stopped rolling & we were at anchor in Glasgow harbour – had to remain on board ‘till afternoon to be taken ashore by ferry.
The “Mary” made a marvellous picture in the bay as we left her, & for the first time I realised how really big she was. We were well looked after by ladies of the American Red Cross – with doughnuts & tea. Our trip southward by train was very interesting & altho’ we did not set out until 10 P.M, we travelled for 2 hours in twilight before it became dark. It was amazing to see children out at that hour of the night, in broad daylight. The country was very green & hilly- & the homes rather quaint!
June 14th.
We slept well for a few hours on the trip, but at 4 AM it was light again, so we once again became interested in the countryside. It was not long after seven that we found ourselves at Padgate, & settled to quite a decent breakfast. We spent the day filling out the usual papers etc & listening to all sorts of lectures on “what to do & what not to do” etc.
Sent off a cable home – much cheaper than from USA. We found it pleasing to be using similar coins to our own, altho’ we had little trouble with “bucks”, dimes” etc.
Met Vic Berry & had quite a chat to him. – had to leave writing Airgraphs as we had missed a fair amount of sleep & had to catch up on it.
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June 16th.
Spent yesterday tearing about as a squad having identity cards etc. attended to - & then away to begin some drill. Was able to write quite a few Airgraphs home, - along with a cable.
Tonight, Bob & I visited Warrington, about 3 miles from here – guess it is a typical English town, & we sure did find it an ancient spot!
The township was rather busy & we noticed quite an abundance of food, clothing & all else in the shops. As the streets are [inserted] of [/inserted] cobble stones & very narrow, the double decker buses which buzz around them, leave very little room when they pass.
Left a couple films at a chemist’s to be developed.
On our return walk to camp, we had a good stroll - & before long found ourselves in the midst of
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rather heavy drizzle. Bowls was being played by old men – coats off & in the rain!
The time was eight o’clock but still quite twilight.
This night was the first I had spent sleeping between sheets whilst in camp anywhere I had been since joining the army.
It was really good!
June 17th.
Saturday – we were given leave soon after lunch & set out for Manchester. The train trip was O.K through well cultivated country, & in surprisingly good trains compared with what I expected.
We found the city very interesting but rather dirty & with very narrow streets. Quite a number of buildings had been flattened in raids about 18 mths
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before – there was hardly a car to be seen anywhere, & this allowed people to wander all over the place & along the main roads. We found ample stocks in the shops, - many articles there, had not been seen in Aust. for years.
Saw quite an amount of the city before we paid a visit to a theatre & saw “Pimpernel Smith” & returned to camp on the last train.
June 18.
After our church Parade at camp, Bob & I decided to go to Liverpool & then to visit Auntie Lil in Birkenhead – we had little trouble finding our way there & spent a few hours telling her all about home. She was certainly pleased to see us, & actually became very
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excited & could not speak fast enough. She showed me letters from “Colwyn” – the remains of a cake from Joy, etc.
She seemed well - & Beatrice too, was very nice & looked out for our afternoon tea.
We returned to Padgate after seeing “Pygmalion” – the railway tunnel from Liverpool to Birkenhead is very good & far ahead of those in New York.
June 19th.
A year ago I began at Somers – arrived at I.T.S. from Pt. Cook on this day.
However, things are much different now – but all is well. Bob & I took our washing into the laundry to prepare for our leave next week. I am certainly lucky to have him for my cobber now – he is such a mighty
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fine lad & I’m sure he could never be led off the “straight & narrow.” As in the army, I have found the young chaps being very easily led astray – Glenn does not even pay any attention to me nowadays, & after our long friendship, I cannot make it out. He seems to prefer other company, & appears to be dropping back quickly, - drink has upset him too! Guess I will see if I can wake him up before he goes too far, but am afraid it will be tough. I thought I had helped him quite an amount, but guess he doesn’t think so!
However, Bob is far more reliable than he & altho’ of the same age, he could be taken as much older. We certainly get along well together, & is one of the finest chaps I’ve met in the
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past few years. I met Vic Hill, of Gambier today.
June 22nd.
The past few days we have had little of interest to do – just arranging billets for leave, etc. Bob & I paid a visit to Warrington last night to arrange an order for a bicycle. As the shops had been shut since midday, we had to go in again tonight - & now all is O.K. Our flight had a swim parade in the local baths this morning & it was O.K. Was a test to swim 100 yds. – Alan Beavis, Bob & I called again at 7 PM for another dip.
June 24th.
Saturday – After spending the morning on night vision tests, etc Bob & I set out for Warrington
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to pick up my films & then met Gordon Curtis & Alan Beavis to go by train to Liverpool.
After seeing over the city once again we booked into a hostel & crossed by tunnel to New Brighton. This seemed quite a good spot & we spent some time about the sideshows - & even had a ride on a donkey.
Returned to Liverpool & decided to have a look at the well known tunnel roadway. We managed to bludge a ride both ways thru’ & we certainly were pleased we had the experience – it is a wonderful piece of work.
June 25.
We had some trouble finding a way to Chester, where we had intended spending the day. As we had to wait until 2 P.M. for a train,
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we called on the Liverpool Cathedral (C. of E.) – It was an amazing place, & a terrific size, but owing to the echoes we were unable to follow much of the service, as we were well to the rear of the church.
Chester proved very interesting, as it is a city enclosed by a huge wall with bridges, & forts or such like on the corners. It was from one of these that Charles Ist saw his army defeated – we were supposed to have stood at the same window.
The gardens & river were very beautiful – typically English & the township was cleaner & better than others we had seen.
We spent a couple hours at a modern & really good theatre - & returned to Warrington by road. It was a mighty good trip - & I sure do hope we can pedal the bikes
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through that country, some time.
June 26th.
I managed to pass my second attempt at night vision this day – sent another cable home to tell of my leave etc.
Weather turned wet & rather cold – hope we will be moving to Brighton again, soon!
June 28th. Yesterday & today we continued doing little other than preparing further for the future days, - this afternoon we were issued with our flying gear & personal issues which were later handed into the store, for us to collect when posted!
I blew into Warrington again after tea – Bob was not with me as he hadn’t a shirt to wear until I returned from the laundry – was able to buy a rather good booklet
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of road maps of England, & then, after looking without success to find an electric iron, I returned to camp. Was rather surprised to find the electrical pressure in the lines over here at 230 V. – same as ours at home - & I could then have brought Glad’s Iron with me.
However, on my return to camp, I received the best surprise I had had since leaving home – my first cables & letters. There were cables from Mum & Dad, Joy & Murray, & Ralph! Also 2 air mail letters from Ralph, which only took 4 weeks to come over.
It was a great show, - & I arranged with Norm Deady to send some cables in answer for me – as we were to set out on our leave early next morning. This news from home set me sleeping like
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a top as soon as I “hit the pillow”.
June 29th. We were out soon after breakfast to set out north on leave - & Bob & I certainly made sure we weren’t late!
43 course arrived into Padgate as we prepared to leave – Ted Belcher was among them, so that makes another Gambier rep. over here!
We caught a train to Manchester, altho’ later we found we could have gone direct from Warrington far better. – Alan Beavis & “Brucey” were with us. At Manchester, Bob & I left the others to find our way north to Kendal – this was quite easy, and after I had ‘phoned Mrs Huggins we left Manchester. We were met at Kendal by Mrs Huggins’ daughter & taken home. P/O Ferguson was staying with them – we met Mrs Huggins, who is a wonderful
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person & has helped so much with the Lady Ryder scheme to billit [sic] we chaps! Her address is – Mrs Huggins, Helme Bank, Nr. Kendal (Sedgwick 63).
Mrs Huggins gave us our address where we were to be billited [sic] - & we caught our train to Carlisle
Mr Brown, our host & his small son, Keith (about 11) met us at the station, & soon we were home and had met Mrs. Brown & her daughter, Joyce (19). At once, we were taken into Mr & Mrs Brown’s home, as two of the family. Gee! it was grand. – I thought we may wander over the whole of England without finding such a home.
We were early to bed this night – the Brown’s address
Mr & Mrs [inserted] G. [/inserted] Duncan Brown,
Kingmoor Road.
Carlisle. Eng.
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June 30th.
Gee! what a sleep – guess I didn’t know much about it ‘till Mrs Brown awoke Bob & I at about 9 AM. with a grand breakfast! We managed a shave & bath & were ready for an early lunch to leave with Mr Brown at about 11 to go with him by car on a business trip up north. We crossed into Scotland & then turned off along to Gretna Green – saw the old blacksmith shop where the runaway marriages became famous. The country through which we passed was most interesting & amidst the sunshine we had for the day, - I saw the typical Scotch countryside at its best. So old, & quiet yet full of abundant crops & progress – it sure did make my heart beat & my eyes dart from side to side.
We moved on to Annan
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& then to Dumphries [sic] Bob & I saw quite an amount of this town whilst Mr Brown was busy & took numerous snaps. The return trip was just as enjoyable & then we spent the evening at home.
July 1st.
Saturday - & as this was holiday week in Carlisle, there were numerous people about town when Bob & I were shown about by Keith – we called on several places which advertised bicycles for sale. In the afternoon Bob & I called on the Carnival grounds – to see the sideshows & horse displays for holiday week.
Even in war time Carlisle has its holiday week & most business houses close during this period.
In the evening Bob & I joined Joyce & her girlfriend in a bicycle ride of about 10 miles – the twilight hours enabled us to enjoy this till about
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10 o’clock.
July 2nd.
Once again we were awakened to be given our breakfast in bed by Mrs Brown – what a life!
It was another damp day, so we had an early lunch & did little else before setting off for a cycling tour to Port Carlisle with Joyce & her girlfriend.
We were fortunate in as much that we missed any showers which were about, - & all four managed rather well pushing the “beaut” cycles.
I had Mr Brown’s bike with a 3 speed gear – was O.K, too!
We called on relatives of the Brown’s & after spending the afternoon around the bay & amidst fields in which I tried my hand at shooting rabbits etc. Our return trip was O.K. too, - was rather late when we arrived home. It was rather strange to sit down to quite a meal of salad etc. for supper
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but at about 10 P.M. – this seemed the usual thing, but of course it was still quite light & Mrs Brown had some trouble getting Kieth [sic] to bed before 9 PM.
July 3rd. Our usual breakfast in bed was really fine – Bob & I did not rise ‘till late & then only had little time to write our airgraphs home before lunch.
In the afternoon Mr Brown accompanied us to an auction sale where we had arranged to buy a bike & an iron if the prices were O.K. However, we missed them both, so, as Mr Brown had a business trip to Annan, to attend to, we set out in the car for that town & purchased two “beaut” cycles with all fittings & spare parts.
Mr Brown, being a commercial traveller in the clothing line, - was able to take us about the
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country quite an amount – we sure were lucky. The bikes were sent to Carlisle per train, so, in the evening after we had collected them from the station, Bob & I called for Joyce & we buzzed off to a Noel Coward show in town. Joyce was on fire watch after this, so we left her to it & returned home to our usual supper & good bed!
July 4th. Teusday [sic] – we were up early, for a change, as Mr Brown, Bob & I were to leave on a full day trip around the lakes district at about 9.
We were on our way in the good little Austin ‘ere long, & altho’ the clouds seemed to have burst, we hoped the rain would soon stop – as we were looking forward to seeing the scenery in good weather. However, the
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rain continued to pelt down – similar to our winter, but of course this was a bad week & unfortunate that we should meet it! Had to have the bus tuned at a garage before we had gone far!
Saw Neil Livingstone whilst waiting here – then on to Penrith. The country between Penrith and Appleby was just as interesting as ever – so green & with rows of hedges and unusual stone walls. The roads were all very good – winding up hill & down dale, through farms & villiages, [sic] so much so that my head darted to and fro the whole time. All the roads were of bitumen & seemed in good repair actually – in the towns we found numerous quaint old cobble stoned roads.
So this continued, into the county of Westmorland to Kirby
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Stephen where Mr Brown attended some business – we saw 3 WAG’s who were also being billited! [sic]
At Sedberg we wandered off while Mr Brown was busy – we saw the large boys’ school there, with a huge field for cricket – quaint old houses all about, & absolute peace. One would certainly not think there was a war on to see this quiet spot! We were able to buy numerous postcards of the surrounding country, - thru’ Kirby-Londsdale [sic] & then to Kendal.
We passed Mrs Huggin’s home & spent a short time in the town.
Quite a few hundred people had been coming to this district from London – the “flying Bombs” were raining down at this time.
The drive from Kendal to Bowness on Windermere was most interesting – the stone fences
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here changed – they were made of irregularly shaped stones & curved all over the hillsides in most fascinating patterns. This was good dairying country - & we were pleased to be able to buy a few eggs!
Bowness was a really beautiful spot on the lake – this is where Seagrave used to race & was killed when his craft hit a log in the water! Took some snaps there & purchased postcards. – the drive through here & along the lake was really marvellous & altho’ the sun was not shining we were amazed at the marvellous scenery – it was really a wizard show. Photographed an old church on the road to Wythburn – was the smallest & oldest in the country!
The scenery right through to Keswick & back to Carlisle was wizard - & some day soon I hope to
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have the good fortune to see it all in better weather! After returing [sic] home we spent an hour or so until about 10 P.M. at Mr Browns Victory garden & collected quite a few good vegetables. Spent the evening at home with the Brown family – our days tour covering about 140 miles. We were sure pleased that Mr Brown’s job took him over so much country.
July 5th.
Once again Bob & I were spoiled with breakfast in bed, by Mrs Brown – I rose a little earlier than usual, after this, & began adjusting & fitting up my bike a little. Managed to saw some wood for Mr. Brown – don’t think he expected me to do it, as I’d joked about it before! He is a mighty fine chap, too – Gosh! we sure had enjoyed the whole week with the Brown family & now, the
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close of our leave was coming far too quickly! They sure had looked after us & even had the winder on my watch fixed for me. After lunch we took photos of the family & Bob & myself.
Bob & I cycled about town during the afternoon & were later joined by Kieth, [sic] who showed us all the sights. We were pleased to spend the last hours of our leave with the Brown family at home – we had a good walk in the evening amidst some of the first real sunshine of our leave! Had a rare supper of chips & beans at 11 P.M – what a show.
July 6th.
What a grand day too! Sun shining & all and we had to be up to an early breakfast to catch a train at 8.20.
Gosh! we sure were sorry to
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leave Mrs Brown & Joyce – Mr Brown & Kieth [sic] came to the station to see us off! So came to the close, our first stay in an English home – we found hospitality, & the people grand!
We arrived back at camp on the “beaut” bikes soon after Midday. Wrote an Air Mail Letter home & an Airgraph to Ralph – also sent a cable home.
On my first leave in this country I found to my surprise that the town shopping centres had every thing in abundance, & altho’ food, sweets & clothing were rationed people lived well & had all they could wish for in war time.
In the country, - the narrow winding roads, numerous hedges & trees – stone walls, power lines, the lack of road & rail crossings & thus the use of numerous bridges, and the
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large number of double decker buses & cycles throughout the country appealed to me to be the most fascinating pints of interest
July 7th.
Had little to do so I filled in the day after lunch with letter writing. Had an interview with the Categorisation Board at 9.30 AM – think I’ll probably be a Nav. as my results are too high & my night vision a bit low for Bombaimer! Collected our kits & sorted it out – then a beaut Air Mail letter home & airgraph to Ralph & Bet Bailey!
Bob & I cycled into Warrington to see “Phantom of the Opera” – Nelson Eddy etc. – quite a good show. We were caught in a shower on our way home but the bikes proved a big help & we were in camp in no time but the NAAFI was
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closed & we missed our supper!
July 8th.
Saturday: - had a quiet morning & managed to buzz about camp to see Norm Deady & then write letters. Met Bill Braithwaite in the mess at lunch time. Alan Beavis, Gordon Curtis, Wal Brue & Hilton Bruce left by train with Bob & I for Manchester in the afternoon.
Bob & I left them & booked in at the YMCA for the night.
We saw the “Desert Song” – an excellent show, & then at 7 PM set out for “Belle Vue”.
The sun began to shine about then so, it was quite a break – we called in at the speedway straight away, & were amazed to find motor bike racing on just like it was in Melb. in peace time. Took a few snaps – one at the bend using F 3/5 at 1/300 sec.
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We certainly enjoyed the racing – it was a wizard show, & the dipper etc was also extra!
July 9th.
Set out early from Manchester for Blackpool – train was crowded & we sure were surprised to find such a mob at the station when we arrived.
The weather was typically English when we came out into the street, but we soon found our way to the sea front & on to one of the mighty large piers!
There were amusements all along the coast & all the many thousands of people were spending money galore. They were holiday crowds – many were evacuees from London!
We drifted into the “Tower” there – a huge building with a zoo, & roof gardens, aquarium, ballroom & all!
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We spent two hours in the huge ballroom theatre listening to an organ recital – a chap from London played everything under the sun.
Wandered around more later & finished up with ice cream (“artificial” but O.K). & fish & chips for tea.
The train back to Manchester at 7 PM was crowded & we had to bludge into the line to get on!
July 10th.
Spent this as my first of three days in a dark room on Night Vision training
Wrote home by air mail & to Mrs Brown & Auntie Lil.
Bob & I rode into the laundry with our shirts in the evening – then to the “Southern Cross” & supper at the NAAFI. Plenty of rain!
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July 12th – Yesterday & today I found myself rather flat out on night vision – Alec Brown was with me!
Bob & I saw “the Man from down Under” last night at the station cinema – was about Australia, & altho’ amusing, it was no good impression of life at home.
Tonight I rode into Warrington after tea & as my films weren’t finished, I returned immediately – Bob & the other chaps in my hut went to Liverpool on a tour of the docks & my night vision left me out of it. They were away all day, & after making their beds & getting some cake from the NAAFI for them I buzzed to bed & was asleep when they returned!
July 13th. – Had a hell of a shock today to learn that after the night vision I had been put into “pool” – Bob & the boys were already on lectures & this
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meant that I would be the only one split up from them – looks like this is where I leave them anyway, & expect I’ll go to EFTS next week. Received an airgraph from Bet & a cable from home telling of receipt of letters – gosh! waiting & not receiving mail is not the best & it sure makes one feel flat!
Bob had quite a few airgraphs from home - & is of course quite pleased. Wal, Alan Beavis, Bob & I rode the bikes quite a distance out toward Leigh after supper at about 9 P.M. – good show!
July 14th.
On 24 hour duty of orderly Sergeant – Received airgraphs from Dad, Ralph & Win - & also Ted Pedley!
A great day to receive first letters – sent cables & letters in return!
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July 15th.
As I was still in “pool”, I had little to do in the morning, so managed a few odd jobs & some more letter writing. Called for our mail – Bob & I received our first surface mail. I had six in my bundle, all written about May 1st, soon after we set sail.
Bob & I set out to spend the weekend at Ripon with Mr & Mrs Hebden – friends of Bob’s Grandparents. We arrived at Ripon, after quite a long trip, just in time for a late tea. – we found the old people very interesting, and as they had been out to Australia, we had much to talk about.
In the evening we walked down to the township to see a huge horn blown at 9 PM by a fairly old chap in a fascinating uniform & old three cornered hat – it is an old tradition [inserted] or custom [/inserted] & has been kept up for hundreds of
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years without a break. That was in the former market place, which was once made of cobble stones but is now concrete! We then spent quite some time in their very interesting cathedral – one of the many beautiful ones in this country. The stained glass windows & carved wood were really wonderful. I noticed that it was becoming dark at about 10.30, as we returned home. – the days were already becoming shorter!
July 16th. Sunday.
This was a beautiful day & proved to be the best we had seen since our arrival. – we saw blue sky all day! It was grand, & we had the good fortune to spend the morning with Mrs Hebden’s two nieces at the ruins of the cathedral of Ripon. They are the largest ruins in England, & with the
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spacious grounds & numerous huge green trees, it was all very fascinating on this fine day.
These were the first ruins we had seen, & I took a few snaps whilst there – the place sure was old & it made one wonder how the monks in those days had ever managed to lift the huge, hand cut stones up such terrific heights.
The stones were cut out of solid rock – many were now missing, as the nearby farmers in days gone by, had built homes of the stones from the ruin. Some of the walls were four feet thick & the huge archways were perfctly [sic] made & fitted by hand.
We walked quite some distance about the district – everything was so fresh & after seeing the dirty industrial cities, this was truly a good tonic. Bob & I had some
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strife returning to camp, & altho’ we left Ripon at 9 P.M, we did not arrive at Padgate ‘till 7 AM. – had to wait from 11 to 3 AM. at Leeds!
July 19th
The past couple of days had meant a few odd jobs in stores etc. about camp, whilst in pool – Bob & the remainder were still on lectures, & I missed beginning this week too, so guess I will be moving to go to EFTS with them now!
Bob sent a cable to Glad for her birthday today – I left camp at about 10 AM with about 20 other chaps whom I did not know, for a tour of Liverpool.
On our arrival there, we were taken by a member of the British Council Club to the Cathedral, which I had previously visited with Bob. It was 40 years today that the foundation stone was laid - & it is still under
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construction. The architect had done a wonderful job – began at 21 & is still working on it at 63. The building is of really wonderful modern design!
After lunch at the club, we took the overhead railway along the docks – the battleship King George V was in harbour. We then went by ferry to Brighton, which I had also visited with Bob – so I set out immediately to call on Auntie Lil in Berkinhead. [sic]
Returned to Padgate at about 10 PM. – Bob & Wal had been into town on the bikes to collect my films, so they had them, my supper & bed made when I arrived!
July 20th. Just another day spent at stores etc. working on all odd jobs. – No letters from home yet!
Wrote to Dad by air mail & enclosed my first negatives.
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July 22nd. Spent the morning at the ration store carting bread from Warrington – sent negatives to [inserted] No. [/inserted] 27 to Dad before lunch.
Bob, Alan Beavis, Gordon Curtis & myself cycled to Chester soon after lunch – it was a good trip of about 20 miles & we sure did enjoy it!
However, on our arrival, we found there was not any accommodation at all in the town – we had hoped to stay at a roadside inn but they were all full, as there were people all over the place, including hundreds of evacuees from London! After spending some time along the river & the shops we returned to camp by train. Chester has one row of shops above the other - & there are two footpaths at these levels.
It was most unusual to see this, & it is [inserted] the [/inserted] only one of its type in the country.
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July 23rd. Sunday.
Was really good to be able to remain in bed until about 10.30 this morning – was the first Sunday that Bob & I had spent in camp since our arrival. There was very little for us to do, so I wrote letters & after tea we four set out again on a cycle tour. At 7 PM we came back into Warrington to see “40,000 Horsemen”. – was just as good a show as ever, but rather cut about, & worn out.
We had to make good time back to camp to arrive in time for supper – the bikes sure were proving very useful.
July 25th. Received more surface mail – 2 from Dad & Mum & some from Wal Metters. Still in pool – Bob & I saw a show at the camp gymnasium in the evening.
Rather wet in the afternoon – had set in at night.
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July 28th. Left Camp at about 9 AM. with a party of chaps for a tour of Manchester by the Council Club.
The day was passed by visits to quite a few historic buildings.
Bob & Wal Brue called in town for my films, so when I returned to camp my “beaut” bed was already made, with supper, mail & the snaps awaiting me. Good old Bob!
Received an airgraph from Mum.
July 29th.
Besides my usual odd jobs for the morning, I arranged with the Southern Cross for our billet for the weekend. – then ‘phoned Mrs Morris, at Southport! Had to register our bikes with the camp S.P.’s by noon – so now we have to carry registrations with us too. We arrived at Southport at about 4 P.M & took a bus to the home of Mrs. Morris, our hostess for the weekend. We were soon
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making ourselves at home, & amidst the usual afternoon tea – however, we were surprised to find ourselves at a Vicarage – our host was the Canon of the All Saints Church.
ie – Canon & Mrs H. Morris
The Vicarage
1 Rawlinson Rd.
Southport. Lancs.
In the evening Bob & I saw the show – “Half Way House” with Mary, Mrs Morris’ married daughter who had 3 young daughters. (3 yrs to 9).
July 30th.
Bob & I accompanied the family to the morning service – was quite a fine day then, but it was soon overcast again, so besides a walk to Southport, we did little but rest!
Returned to camp in the first darkness we had seen for some time. – about 11 o’clock.
Days are becoming shorter now –
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August 2nd.
Bob & the remainder of the course joined us in pool today - & we continued on the usual odd jobs.
We cycled to Warrington tonight to pick up more prints & see if we could find some stain for Dad. – saw “Destination Tokio,” [sic] a very good show at a new theatre, which is the best we have seen here. It even had an organ!
Aug. 3rd.
Alan Beavis & I were interviewed today before being posted to an A.F.U. somewhere. – on mediums!
We found that we were due to go to Half-penny Green – in the Midlands! I tried to have Bob posted with us, & at the interview thought it would be O.K, but it did not come off. He was no more pleased than I was today; & thus it seems that we will only have a few more days together.
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Aug. 5th Bob & I had checked up on our leave for today, & managed to leave camp at about 9 AM. to catch the 10 o’clock train to Carlisle. ‘Twas a really extra day – the trip was O.K & the scenery very good & we were met by Mr Brown & Joyce at about 2.
As soon as we arrived at “Glenleigh”, Mrs Brown settled us to a good meal – then out into the garden.
Joyce & a girlfriend accompanied Bob & I to rather a good dance in the evening, & altho’ hot, it was O.K.
Aug. 6th. We were well looked after, as usual, with Breakfast in bed, & All! Spent a very enjoyable quiet day at home – was a grand day & we saw plenty of sun in the garden.
It was really good to be able to feel so much at home – it was O.K.
We left Carlisle on a midnight train, arriving at camp in time
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for breakfast.
Aug. 7th. Alan Beavis & I had a busy day arranging gear etc. in preparation for our posting.
We had to take our bikes into the station in the evening – Bob & I spent some time, later, writing at the “Southern Cross.” & then to supper.
We were not at all pleased that this should be our last night together!
Glenn Cliff came in later in the evening & I had quite a good chat to him. – only wish we three could have stuck together all along. It was not the best of jobs, saying au revoir to all the chaps we had known for so long!
Aug. 8th
Alan & I had to rise fairly early to be at breakfast before 7. – It was tough having to say goodbye to Bob. We left in rather unsettled spirits!
Left Warrington station at
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about 10 AM. – took train back to Wolverhampton. We had a couple hours in the town, & even managed to buy a new iron for £2. On arrival at Halfpenny Green, we found that we were the first “Aussie” Navs. to be on the station. Had soon been told that we may be on Mosquitos – here’s hoping.
The ‘drome, - set amidst some really excellent countryside & hills, is about 11 miles from Wolverhampton!
Alan & I had a good long stroll about the station before bed – all was O.K. but the canteen was not the best!
Aug. 9th. After spending most of the day on “arrival duties” & lectures by the C.O etc., Alan & I had a grand surprise to see Bob walk in at about 5 P.M.
Thought he may come, - &
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now we were set again – a great show that we three should be together again! & all goes well!!
Aug. 10th. Our first day at work again. – settled to our first lectures on Nav., Briefing etc. The 20 chaps (16 Sgts & 4 P/O’s) on our course went into Stourbridge at 3 o’clock for dinghy drill & swimming at the local baths. – passed tests O.K.
Aug 12th. Spent the whole of yesterday in the D.R. instructor. – “the horror box”. Had a sore head after the day was thru’ & then had to go on guard in the night.
Had a tough day of lectures today – received quite a few airgraphs from home.
Aug 13th. Sunday: - Spent most of the day catching up on bombing g.g. – had my first flight in the afternoon on a 3/4 hour bombing trip.
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Aug. 14th. Had this as a day off – rose at about 9 AM in time for morning tea at the NAAFI – then Bob, Alan & I set off to cycle to Wolverhampton. It was [deleted] always [/deleted] [inserted] O.K. [/inserted] along the country lanes - & a good day for cycling. Had a good look about the town – bought some stain for Dad, etc! We saw “Fanny by Candlelight” – a good show. Also visited the West Park, etc. before returning – we were more or less last on our return ride & took some time to find the camp.
Aug. 15th.
Lectures all day – went on a bombing trip in the afternoon & managed to get the best score of the mob. – 72 X from 10,000.
Aug 17th.
1st day flying exercise – as bomb aimer. Two trips, the first at 8 AM. – had to rise at 6 to get to briefing. Second at 2.30.
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Aug 20th. Continuing lectures as usual – some details of flying have been scrubbed during the past few days thru’ bad weather.
Received a.g’s from home O.K yesterday – course proceeding O.K.
Saw a show at the camp cinema in the evening.
Aug. 22nd.
Flying was once again cancelled last night – very poor vis. & plenty of rain. Today was our day off. – but far too wintry to use our bikes so most of the chaps in our hut & Bob, Alan & Self took the bus to Wolverhampton.
The day was so miserable that we had little to do after some shopping & I had posted the parcel of stain to Dad. – so we saw “Gone With the Wind” & after tea, “This is the army.”
We took fish paste & raisin bread back to camp for supper & future use.
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Aug 23. Usual nav. lectures & plotting. Received SAFFCF parcel from London – no mail from home for some time. Sent cable to Ted for his graduation.
Weather still poor & visibility very little.
Aug. 24th.
Rose at 6 AM. to fly at 7. – Two 3 1/2 hour exercises over the Irish Sea. – late returning from 1st exercise, so I missed out on dinner. Took off at 2 PM on 2nd exercise – all went well.
Quite an amount of mail was awaiting me on my arrival at tea at 7 P.M. – wrote to Ralph in evening, but was pleased to turn into bed after my shower.
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Aug. 25th. After a day of lectures, I wrote my letters before beginning night flying. – we took off at about 10 P.M. & our trip took us south to Southport, then to Northhampton [sic] & Coventry. Was clouded over at base when we returned – too thick to land, so we had to fly to Leichfield. [sic] – landed O.K. & settled to bed there at about 4 AM. after a good supper.
Aug. 26th. Rose at about 11 AM – had a good lunch at the Sgts. mess. This station was a RAAF. O.T.U. so we saw a good many “Aussies”. – Took off again for H.G. at 2 P.M. On returning we found that one of our “kites” had pranged. – killing one of our course, P/O Trusty. Bob had come back to base early, with engine trouble & landed O.K. Alan landed at another ‘drome & returned O.K today!
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Aug. 27th. We flew on one detail last night – I was NAV. & had a good trip. Turned into bed at about 3 AM. - & rose in time to write letters home at the mess before lunch!
Aug. 29th
Spent yesterday flat out in the DR. trainer – quite a good day tho’ & with Bob acting as pilot, we did quite a good exercise. Our former exercise was not very good tho’ – ie the whole course’s exercises - & the C.I. decided to cancel our day off, so we have [inserted] had [/inserted] to work today. We were to be posted straight to Bomber command as st. Navs. but our course has been extended another week to keep us as Nav B.
Will probably be on Mosquitos or Transport now!
Received ag. from home today.
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Aug 31st.
On lectures all yesterday - & then rather a busy day today in the D.R.I.
Received quite a few letters today from home - & locals from Alex Brown & Wal Brue at Brighton! PD.R.C. Shifted down there a short time ago from Padgate, & are now having a marvellous time.
We were given the news of our posting this afternoon – Alan, Bob & I are to go direct to the Mosquito Training unit at “Warboys” – a ‘drome about 80 miles north of London, near Huntingdon. We missed out on a week’s leave & the other 3 “Aussies” on our course will get it, & so [inserted] will [/inserted] be a course behind us from now on.
We are on night flying tonight!
Sept 1st. Friday.
After two exercises last night, I crawled into bed at about 6 AM this morning - & was I tired!!
We were to fly tonight but
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the weather was lousy, - & it wasn’t “scrubbed” till the last minute.
Spent some time in the mess this afternoon writing letters – rose at about 3 P.M., so was kept busy!
We are all pleased that the whole of our course are going to the M.T.U. on “mossies” – they are all a fine lot of chaps & we get along well together!
Sept 2nd. The last of our days of lectures at Halfpenny Green – we had leave at midday so Bob, Alan & self, set out for Wolverhampton by bus at about 4 P.M, & after having a “beaut” meal, came back to camp as it was far too cold & miserable to stay in there. The bus stopped at the local pub. – so we had to finish walking a mile to camp.
Sept 3rd. 5 years since war was declared – a wet & miserable day here, so we did little but
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prepare for our departure from 3 (0) AFU.
Sept. 4th. After spending quite some time obtaining the last of our clearances, Bob & I caught a bus to Wolverhampton at 4 p.m. – I collected my first cake from home, at lunchtime so I sent a cable to that effect & also one to Ralph for his birthday.
Was grand to receive the cake – can see we’ll be enjoying some for supper before long. Tried to buy a wireless in town – no luck. so Bob & I saw “Her Jungle Love” – an old show, actually, which I saw at home!
Sept. 5th. We left Halfpenny Green at about 10 AM. - & left by train from Wolv. For London.
The country changed, & became more level as we went south – we passed many ‘dromes & also a good many modern factories.
It was quite impressive, & the
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whole was much better & more modern than any city I had seen here. We arrived at Paddington & had to wait quite some time before we managed to get a Yank transport to take us to King’s Cross station!
Had hoped to be able to spend the night in London, as we were too late to make the train scheduled for us, but the RTO refused permission to stay, so we had to head for Huntington. [sic]
Had rather an interesting drive thru’ London, to the station. – the buzz bombs had almost stopped now, as most of the sites across the channel had been captured!
Some fell earlier in the morning, but we missed them O.K. – the city was very busy & the whole atmosphere was O.K.
It was a really good day - & the sun brightened the city so, that I was amazed just
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how good the city looked. – the gardens & all made it equally as neat as N. York.
We arrived rather late at Hunt. & ‘twas well after midnight before we saw bed.
Sept 6th.
Buzzed off to begin finding our way about the camp. – it sure had us tricked. & the whole was so scattered that we had 2 miles almost to go from our hut, in a roundabout route, to reach the ‘drome & H.Q.
We were sure pleased we still had our cycles!
There were the 4 Canucks & we three – so the canadians [sic] had a fair amount of walking to do. The other chaps of our course were given a week’s leave – we missed on it!
We had a busy day & after interviews & all, setted [sic] to tea & some writing in the
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mess! We found a wizard Club. – Warboys’ Club. – ideal for our evening writing, & the whole was O.K. The meals were good & so we made a very good beginning.
Mosquitos, Lancs & Oxfords flew about all day – it would not be long now before we were twiddling “G” on the “mossies.”
Sept 8th.
Yesterday we began lectures & so far have heard so much gen. on ops & the general goings on in Europe that we have been fully concentrating to take it all in.
Bob, Al & I were put straight on the course, but the Canucks are now in pool, - we have a W.C, Sq. Leaders & other officers with us. They sure are gen men & we feel strange to be in the midst of all them.
At this rate we should
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be on ops. in “Mossies” in a month.
We crew up later at Wyton!
Received a.g. from home today – they had received my records from U.S. Finished up after writing letters in the Club, with cake for supper. – sure is a good reminder of home!
Sept 10th. Gosh! we sure have been getting some gen. today – all secret stuff which we must remember & not take in notes. – is best forgotten ‘till it is needed.
Have still a couple days of lectures before beginning flying.
Sept 11th. Our first day on “G” – found out all about it & after the lectures etc. all was O.K & we had the subject more or less sown up!
Had an early tea, & at 4.30. our course (32) left by bus for Cambridge to do dinghy drill. – had to hurtle off the
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platform in flying gear this time.
Bob, Alan & I strolled about the town afterwards – a really fascinating place! The colleges were very interesting – typically English, & with excellent grounds.
Saw some extra good souvenir spoons – but shops were closed
We saw a show in the evening – “the Lost Angel.” On coming out of the theatre, we found ourselves in the blackout & were lucky to have remembered our way back to the bus!
Was sure pleased to crawl into bed after all that!
Sept 12th.
Had rather a lively day on “G” today – along with practice in a “dry swim”! Bob, Al & I had to go bombing at 6 P.M. – my first trip in an oxford.
Was quite a good show – but we did not get back to the
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mess for supper ‘till late!
Was sure pleased to get an air mail letter from Dad, today – photo of our march in Melb. was enclosed! Mail is coming thru’ well from home now – is mighty good, too, as it makes home seem only a short distance away - & as we are not far off operations now, they go a long way to keeping one’s mind off the task ahead.
Sept 13th Wednesday
“We three” spent this morning in the decompression chamber – at 37,000’ for 2 hours! Bob felt pains in his shoulder, but Al & I didn’t have any trouble at all – we were all O.K, after that!
Sept 14th.
I now have crewed up with my pilot – W/O. John Herriman (RAAF) He is a really decent chap & rather a gen. man
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I am fortunate to have him, as we get along so well together – it will sure make a difference in our job, too. Hope to fly with him soon in a “Mossie” – he soloed a few days ago and is progressing well. He thinks they are wizard “kites.”
As he is rather a practical sort of chap & is really keen on photography, we have much in common, I think, & I am looking forward to some interesting days ahead especially at the squadron
We went thru’ dinghy drill together on Monday – quite a good show!
Went to Wyton to see over a bombing “Mossie” today – it sure is a wizard station & I’m looking forward to going there!
Sept 15th. First cross country flight using “Gee” this afternoon
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- a really good show! Received letter from Jean Rogers.
Had another chat to John tonight – getting all the “gen” on mossies.
Sept 16th. – Saturday, & Ralph’s birthday – was wondering all day just what he was doing.
Received “Over to you” from Mum today – will keep me busy on some interesting reading during spare time (just where that comes from, I do now know!)
However, all is O.K & I also heard from Whem, Glenn & Aunt Lily. Flew this afternoon – had a good trip on “G”, but was not able to drop my bombs.
Sept 17th. Clocks were put back an hour at 3 AM. – had to rise at 6, to be at 7 o’clock briefing. However, we had to wait ‘till 9 AM for the fog to clear off the ‘drome, so all
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our early rising was to no advantage! Flew 2 trips of 3 hours, bombing on each!
So, it was late when I finally returned to the mess for tea. - & so another Sunday passes (one would never know it actually).
On such days as this, one sure does realise how grand & peaceful it is at home on Sundays – where one does as he likes, when he likes!
Had a letter from Wal Brue today – he is on 9 days leave in Glasgow & had hoped to see us on his return to PDRC.
Couldn’t wire him, so guess we won’t meet him now! The lucky blighter is still bludging at Brighton - & the P/O’s such as Alec Brown & Jim Allsop are with him. They will soon be F/O’s & we’ll be on ops as Sgts! – what a difference!
However, we’re going along
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O.K & expect to go to Wyton on Tuesday.
Had an orange for lunch yesterday & another today – the first I had seen since leaving the USA.
Sept 18th.
Returned to lectures today for the final few days before moving to Wyton. Bob, Al & I had hoped to catch a bus to Huntingdon tonight just to get a break from camp, but we missed it, so we returned to the mess to a picture show. We managed supper at the Warboys Club. – chocolate biscuits & tea! Quite a good show.
Sept 19th. Had a quizz [sic] this morning summing up the whole of the course – we came out well! John sure is a “gen” man, & I’m looking forward to getting on to the real thing with him. Bob had a RAF
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F/O chat him about crewing up, so he has a pilot now. – Al is missing out still & I don’t know what he’ll be doing. We hoped to have a day’s leave tomorrow – but we are required to do another “Gee” flight before leaving here so that is all scrubbed. & our next leave is still a fair way off!
Had our usual letter writing programme tonight at the club. - & later found a really excellent supper at an evening in the mess. We were speaking to the AOC. – A. Vice M. Bennett of Brisbane for about 15 mins. He was quite interested in our progress - & we now feel that things are moving along O.K.
Sept 20th. Found today that we were to make another trip before proceeding to Wyton. – so, as soon as the fog had lifted from the ‘drome, (10 AM.) a RAAF pilot & I set out, & had a good trip on “G”
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Was really warm above the clouds & we sure did enjoy it.
Spent the afternoon getting clearance – but Al then found that, as he didn’t have a pilot, he had to stay ‘till he was able to get one. So Bob & I were due for Wyton, & as we didn’t have to be there till Friday at 2 P.M. we buzzed off to catch a train to London for a day’s leave.
To ride 5 miles to Huntingdon in a hurry was a bit much for us at this stage so we decided to hail a car – quite some traffic passed along these roads. There were three ‘dromes together here, so things were always busy.
Our train took over 3 hours to reach London – yes! eight o’clock when we landed at King’s Cross, & altho’ the total blackout had now been lifted, - it sure was dark. And, to our disgust, we had forgotten
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a torch – so there we were, in London, along with its almost total blackout! Which way does one go in a city of 8,000,000?
After ‘phoning a hostel, we found it had nothing in the way of accommodation – but were informed of another near Marlebone [sic] Station, so we buzzed by the underground to this spot.
We were amazed to learn that there were no hostels there & were directed along further – then somewhere else, then on again by two policemen until we found after walking for about an hour along black streets we managed to come to the hostel we ‘phoned in the first place!
We managed to get a room here O.K. - & sure were pleased to stay until daylight before exploring further.
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Sept 21st.
At breakfast Bob & I had quite a chat to some AIF chaps who were on their way home after being POW’s in Germany since Greece & Crete. It was grand to see the old uniform again.
We then set out for Sth. Aust. House. The city appeared quite neat & tidy, and I was amazed to see numerous modern shops & very good statues & gardens. My idea of London had been quite different. – expected to see something dirty & ancient like Liverpool.
A very nice lass from Adelaide was at Sth A. House – she directed us to the Boomerang Club.
There were many of our chaps at Aust. House – we signed books etc. &
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arranged for something in the “Advertiser.” Met Mrs. Bruce & had a chat to her.
I bought a tiny Koala to send to Browns as a souvenir.
Bob & I then set out to see the beaut city – all the well known spots, such as Waterloo Bridge, Tower Bridge Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament. Big Ben struck three, while we were there.
The Thames made a typical London scene – fog & boats all over the place. We spent some time wandering about & used the camera quite an amount – Buckingham Palace & the gardens & broad road leading to it, which had witnessed the coronations – were just as I had expected. Guess the King
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& Queen must have been away – the flag was down!
We saw Piccadilly Circus & the main shopping centre before returning to the club.
Managed to buy some oil colours for Dad. – the shops are well stocked but one can’t usually get what he wants, or at least, I can’t!
We returned by train this evening & settled for our last night at Warboys.
Sept 22nd.
We were sorry to leave Warboys. – the fortnight we spent there were really most enjoyable! Alan had left on a week’s leave, so we didn’t see him – he sure was lucky to get that.
We settled into Wyton
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before lunch & had quite a good chat & interview to the O.C. – we were pleased to see how well organised the show was, & we were looking forward to our next fortnight!
Sept 23rd.
Began the day well today with P.T at 7.30, - was O.K & then a shower after it made me really fresh & ready for breakfast.
John took rather a dim view of the P.T – but all was well as we had puffed rice & eggs for breakfast, & took to it very well!
Today we had lectures on Mosquito flying & an interview with the Adj. – getting along fine now & as all the officers here are really decent, all should be well. Had my first trip in a “Mossie” today – John
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& I took off at about 1400. – he did 3 circuits & bumps in 1/2 hour.
Was really good – they are wizard “kites” & he makes a good job of handling them. Dropped eight bombs – John had not been on bombing for ages & we stooged all over the place, & finished putting our first on the wrong target – that nearly cost me 6. Finished up really well, tho’ – my score was the best they had had on the Holbeach target for a while!
Sept 24th.
We were to go on our first cross country at 25000’ today, but weather was really foul – flying was scrubbed in the finish so we had an interesting day figuring out all our gen.
We are having excellent meals here – eggs & cereal for breakfast (haven’t seen them since
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leaving U.S. Three course meals for lunch go very well – was as cold as could be today, & gosh! I could have well sat before a fire to warm myself tonight!
Sept 25th.
Rose at 7. this morning to begin P.T. at 7.30 – what a show! Gosh! it sure is cold these mornings & I’ll be taking to long trousers for PT from now on! John & I flew this afternoon on our first cross country in a “mossie” – all went well.
Flew at 25,000’ – cloud came right up to us, & we were unable to carry out bombing!
Sept 26th. Had an early start on a cross country this morning – we were up for nearly 4 hours & thus covered 8 – 900 miles. Was a very good trip, mainly D.R. & as I was only 15 miles from the target after all that time, it was
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considered a good exercise!
So, on our return we prepared for a night trip. – ‘twas a really grand night tonight & we were the last to take off.
Once again had a good trip – but what a day! Gosh! was I pleased to hit the old bed!!!
Sept 27th.
We sure were tired this morning & it took me all my time to rise at midday to be at briefing for tonight’s trip. John & I tested two mossies this afternoon – was good experience & practice for us, but I sure had to move fast to be ready to take off for a cross country tonight. All went well & we were back at midnight!
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Sept 28th. Thursday.
Had to ferry a “mossie” to De Hav.’s drome near London this morning. John & I spent the day there at the works – picked up some extra good photos of the Mosquito from the boss. We returned here tonight – picked up by a W/Cmd in an oxford.
Received first mail from home today for three weeks. – don’t know why the family didn’t write in between this time, but I sure missed the letters & hope they continue to come O.K now!
Sept 29th.
Spent the morning in the Intel. library getting all the “gen” here – John was feeling the effect of his cold today so we did not fly tonight. Tested a kite this afternoon, but soon
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settled to washing & pressing clothes & ironing etc in the earlier part of this evening.
Have had little time to spare of late – gosh! I’ll be needing a wife to look after me if this keeps up!?
Oct. 1st. Yesterday afternoon we stooged up to Holbeach to do some practice bombing – cloud very low & vis. was poor. We returned without dropping any “eggs.”
Night flying was cancelled at the last minute, so Bob & I soon wizzed into our blues & caught a bus to Huntingdon. Have a new “O” wing up now, as the “N” doesn’t go with us any more.
We were very disappointed with the township – people were in great long queues waiting for the shows we intended seeing. ‘Tis only a fairly small villiage [sic] - & we saw
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people (typically English villiagers [sic]) gathered around the Salvation Army Band near the bus stop. Light rain was falling & ‘twas rapidly becoming dark, so Bob & I set off to see what else we could find. That, we found ended up to be nothing, so, after buying a small cake & eating same between us at the bus stop, we returned to camp.
Today, John & I did an hour & half of bombing before lunch – stooged all over the place practicing target runs!
Spent a couple hours before tea this afternoon writing in the mess. – a peaceful Sunday afternoon!
We took off fairly early tonight for the last of our cross country exercises – had a U/S kite so was late when we finally set off. Had a good trip, returning soon after midnight.
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Oct 2nd.
Posted the oil colours & photo of the “mossie” home to Dad today
Was hoping to be able to buzz off on a few days’ leave today, but we have an interview with the group Nav. officer tomorrow.
Bob & Alan still have night flying to complete, but as it was scrubbed tonight we called on the camp cinema for the evening – the first show I had seen for some time. It was “Hit the Ice” with Abbott & Costello – a really good show & we sure had a grand laugh.
Oct 3rd.
Today, after spending the morning obtaining clearances etc, I left camp to buzz to Carlisle for a couple days. Bob still has flying to complete, so couldn’t be with me.
Had a rare time hitch-hiking to Peterborough so that
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I could catch an express to London – made it OK after being in about 3 trucks & 2 cars!
Was a long trip from London to Carlisle & we were to arrive at 4 AM. – however there were numerous stops & starts and long waits on the line, & I was amazed to find we were still going at daybreak. Nearly had forty fits to see mountains etc, which I had never seen before, & thought I must have been asleep when we passed Carlisle. What a show – guessed I’d have to make a trip back from Glasgow!
However, I found that we had made a deviation owing to a smash on the main line & we rolled into Carlisle quite O.K at about 8 AM.
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[underlined] Wednesday [/underlined]:
Mr & Mrs Brown were home when I buzzed in – we were soon busy talking & I was quite at home at a good breakfast in no time!
After a bath & clean up I joined “Dunc” at morning tea – we returned home early for lunch & then I spent the afternoon peacefully before the fire, writing letters.
‘Twas grand to get back to see Mr & Mrs Brown, Joyce & Kieth [sic] again – they are just the same after two months or more having passed since we saw them.
Oct 5th.
Was grand to have the usual breakfast in bed this morning – Mrs Brown still looking after me as usual!
I was out for a rest
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these two days, so I made the most of it, & did very little before lunch.
Mr Brown had the afternoon off – so I made them a “hotbox” & we set some boiling water in it to test it. Proved O.K, & I hope it will cook O.K, too!
Was quite a nice afternoon so we walked to the Cathedral & the Tower, - then home to another few hours spell before my return trip.
I wished Bob could have been with me – it was grand to be able to spend a couple days with them, & gosh I had all I wanted.
Mrs Brown gave me a “Le Havre” spoon to send to Mum.
Made the return trip thru’ Newcastle & Peterborough & arrived at camp by 9 AM.
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Oct 6th [underlined] Friday [/underlined]
John returned a little after me this morning – I rode the good old bike from Huntingdon, so managed to get in a bit before him. We soon found from the Adj. that we were posted to 627 Sqn. at Woodhall Spa, near Boston – gosh! what a show! This didn’t appeal to us.
And so the time had come when I found that it really seemed like leaving Bob & Al - & that last couple hours I had with them passed all too quickly.
We made our train connections O.K & after making four changes at all sorts of out back stations, we managed to reach Woodhall & find an “Aussie” WAAF to drive us to the drome – good show!
But gosh! were our spirits flattened when we saw the
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the place. – a dispersed ‘drome (one of the many in this country)
‘Twas so different from Wyton, & it sure was a blow to find we had been dumped here!
There was only another crew besides us sent to this spot – we sure were unlucky this time!
And so we began – John had ideas to be moved elsewhere as soon as we knew the running of things here! It was a grim show, & I was pleased to hit the old bed & sleep it off!
Oct 8th.
We sure were feeling rather flat yesterday – spent the day finding out all we could about the squadron & everything else! Dive bombing & the prospects of a very long tour of ops did not appeal to us, as we told the C.O. – W/Cmd Curry, when we were inter-
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viewed. Today we did little more of interest – was a typical English winter Sunday. Gosh! it is might cold & damp here even now, so I don’t know what it will be like in a couple months if we are unlucky enough to still be here!
We have started things moving now. – John has written to H.Q to try for a move elsewhere!
Oct 10th.
Since my arrival at this spot these English “bods” have annoyed & sickened me more than ever. – I never have been dead keen on them, & now that John & I are the only “Aussies” about here, there is definitely something amiss. & thus I’d sure like to find ourselves on a RAAF station with people who think & talk as we do. We
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have certainly had bad luck to be sent here - & the dull, damp atmosphere of the place, and prospects of a very slow & uninteresting tour of ops. ahead, have sure made us feel flat!
Guess Bob is now on a fairly good station & maybe already on ops – he has sure had a good spin! John & I spent last evening at the camp cinema – rather a boring show, but it managed to break the monotony & ease our depression!
This morning I was peacefully making up a “Gee” homing card when John burst in. - “We’re Airborne” he says! “O.K Let’s go”, I answer, rather stunned by this sudden outburst of life on behalf of the beaut squadron!
So, off we buzzed in a “beaut” old MK IV & completed our dive boming [sic] before lunch.
No mail today – poor
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show! Can’t make out where my airgraphs have gone.
Oct 12th. Today I received quite a budget of mail – on top of some from Mum, Dad, Glad, Auntie Bess which came yesterday.
So all is well again, & an answer to my letter to “Auspo” re. airgraphs tells me that air letters are definitely best now, - so they should continue O.K.
This place was making me feel mighty flat, but some mail sure makes a difference & I don’t mind now if I’m left here a while before beginning ops, as I can pick up quite an amount to help me.
John & I blew across to Conningsby [sic] this morning, to get the hang of using T.I’s etc on targets – in a special training arrangement. ‘Twas a huge place like a B.T. - & we
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peered down on the target, from a balcony as if we were in a “kite” at about 10000’ seeing a dinkum raid. It would make a really good sideshow for post war days. – something like “How the RAAF did it!”
Was well worked out tho’ & mighty interesting with red, green & yellow markers going down, flak bursting & searchlights on!
We thought it quite a good station – gosh! why should we be sent to a wicked place like Woodhall! Hope to have a chance to begin something for our move before long!
Oct. 13th. All we navs. had a lecture by the C.O this morning – on much secret “gen.”
John & I set out on a bombing trip soon after, but we developed a mighty big swing on take off. - &
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skidded off the runway & flat out towards the control tower – was funny to watch everyone run for trucks etc. expecting things to happen, but we came round O.K & began taxying back to the flight – brakes were soon U.S so we left the “kite” on the perim. track!
Visited Coningsby again this afternoon to get some more secret “gen” – good stuff!
Oct. 15th.
Continued with the usual “genning” today & at 11 this morning John & I took a F/LT to Oakington – good show! I’ve now at least put foot on the place even if we don’t get our move there! Set out to do some wind finding on our way back. – instruments went U/S on us, so we had to forget it!
Tonight there was a grand show on in the mess – a party for one & all apparently! We
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had to take off on a practice marking trip at 10, so it was all over when we returned at midnight. We dropped 250 lb. T.I’s which went down O.K. – but I forgot to fuse them! What a show – thats [sic] twice I’ve done it (first & last) I hope.
Had a late supper & piled into bed at about 1 A.M.
Oct 16th.
‘Tis impossible to express the rotten feeling I’ve had all day. – Bill Read’s letter, telling me that Bob was missing after a raid on Berlin last Wednesday night, came this morning. Gosh! it hardly seems possible – I go back over all the good times we have spent together, & gee! I’m just hoping & praying that he’ll be O.K. I wrote to Mrs. Bolton a couple nights ago – will write again now.
Contacted H.Q in London today
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& hope for some news of him before long! Wrote also to Bill Read, & hope to hear from him again soon – Alan Beavis is now with him at Downham Market!
Oct 17th.
John & I had to make an early start this morning on a special wind finding trip. We Made [sic] two trips – took some shots today of the “kites.”
I wrote to Brown’s last night – it will be a hell of a shock to them to hear of Bob’s misfortune.
Oct 19th.
Yesterday we were flying early again – then on bombing in the afternoon. Were due to take off at 1900 for wind finding – dropping incend. & spot fires.
It was a rotten night – we had to wait ‘till midnight before we could get off but it was raining so heavily when we
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began taxiing out, we had to switch off & the whole was cancelled. – Was sure pleased to hit the old bed at 2 AM.
Oct. 22nd. Sunday
Have had rotten weather the past few days & most of our flying has been scrubbed because of fog & rain. The only way to keep the dampness out of our huts is to keep a fire on the whole time – but fumes etc. soon cause us to open all windows, so I don’t know [deleted] hh [/deleted] what we’ll do as it becomes colder.
Have not yet had any news of Bob. – received a cable from home yesterday, so the family all know of Bob’s misfortune!
Oct. 23rd.
The weather sure is “clamping down” here now. – fog & rain usually greets us in the morning,
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& gosh! everything seems so miserable! It usually clears up in the evenings, tho’ - & so we are then able to fly, & it is OK as long as we get back before the fog begins to gather again.
Went out to Wainfleet on bombing again last night – T.I’s didn’t burn very well tho’. Today I was a pal-bearer at the funeral of an RAF chap who was unable to bale out of a “mossie” in time a few days ago. – was not at all enjoyable!
Had a letter from Mr Brown today with snaps from my last film enclosed – they came out rather good & there were quite a few we took in London when Bob & I were last there on leave.
Still no news of Bob – guess it may yet be some time before any comes along! Am saving
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some chocolate to send to him as soon as I have his P.O.W. address, as he likes it best of all!
Gosh! I’ve really “had” this place now. – we have had everything go wrong lately & I sure would like to get away for a while. Mr Brown’s letters are always grand to receive – they are wizard people & I sure do owe a lot of my happiness here to them! John’s wizard sense of humour keeps me going O.K too. – we get along well together & without him there would not be much of interest for me! We have hopes of some good ops soon - & maybe make the grade to ferry a “mossie” home!
Oct 25th.
Firstly today – a change of ink & so we proceed.
Today was the great day – as it seems we are to be on this Squadron for some time,
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I found the opportunity to apply to the Adj. for the required form 1020 for my application for a Commission – so it is now on its way, & maybe in a few months’ time I’ll hear something of it! Has yet to be passed by our W/C Curry – who no doubt will require a very interesting interview before he passes it on!
Still no news of Bob. – a fortnight tonight since he was missing, so I sure hope he is O.K as a P.O.W. & if Jerry has finished his interrogation, I may hear something soon!
Oct 27th.
We are still on training – gosh! we have “had” this place & only wish we could get on to the real thing. I’m afraid I’m looking forward to leaving England – as far as I’m concerned, the
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whole place makes one feel so miserable, & I’d sure dislike being here very long.
John & I flew a few hours on a X. country this afternoon.
Oct. 28th.
Had a couple hours’ trip in a Lanc today – using H2S. There sure is plenty of room in them compared with the “mossie”!
Was grand to receive Mum’s parcel today too – it only took a little over 2 months. Dad had enclosed some films, so I’ll be taking the camera with me to get some shots of the “kites” when I next fly.
Oct 30th.
Yesterday was quite fine - & the sun helped brighten things a little.
Had intended cycling to a nearby castle, but we had to fly, so that settled that. Wrote to Mr & Mrs Bolton again before lunch. – John & I set out to
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begin a bombing exercise early in the afternoon, & to our delight a large formation of Fortresses were streaking along up above with Con-trails galore. – so up we wizzed to 20,000 after our bombing to do likewise.
It was really a grand Sunday afternoon’s flying. – the old “mossie” did a good job!
Today another crew from 627 Sqn. is missing – had to bale out over their target, so should be O.K.
Oct 31st. Teusday. [sic]
My “Flight” actually came through today – only a month overdue, so I must now find some crowns to put up!
Have received quite an amount of mail from home – letters & papers & “Waltzing Matilda” from Mum & letters from Dad.
No further news of Bob has yet come to hand. – I sure do
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hope I’ll know of him soon – have now quite a supply of chocolate for him, & will send it on as soon as I have his address. This makes me remember how well we both used to like chocolate. – the chocolate cakes & ice cream of New York are a vivid memory.
Nov. 5th Sunday.
The past few days have been rather hectic & as we’ve had quite an amount to do on Loran etc., time has passed rather quickly.
I blew into the flight office & had our well over-due leave fixed up – for Monday 6th.
John & I have been on a fair amount of bombing practice the past few days - & with some link practice & some “gen” on flying the “mossie”, John managed to show me how to handle the “kite” – found it O.K & I sure would like to get in a dual control job.
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We saw “Goodbye Mr Chips”, last night at the station cinema – really enjoyed it again, & it sure made one feel like fighting to keep such lads as those out of this business. The moral of the film was very impressive.
The National Anthem runner at the camp show is an old one – with an Anson in part of it. It always reminds me of our days in the old Anson’s at home – gosh! how many times have Bob & I been in them, - & its amazing to think how things are for us now.
This afternoon we were not able to fly owing to bad weather – so, after a great effort by the whole squadron to run the 3 1/2 miles round the ‘drome, I was pleased to get into a bath & so begin preparing to go on leave.
Left camp at 4 P.M by bus for Boston & after a
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considerable wait, managed to get to Peterborough. The train to Newcastle was packed – so I had to stand in the corridor & freeze! I never want to see another train after this business is all over – especially an English one.
Was a terrifically cold night - & I was pleased to arrive at “Glenleigh” in time for breakfast.
Mr Brown, & a friend of his were going to Coldstream by car, so I bundled in with them - & off we went before lunch! It was quite a good drive & the country we passed thru’ very interesting – however I was pleased to return home, as I had missed out on all my sleep the night before.
Wednesday 8th.
After a lazy day yesterday, I actually rose early (about 8.30) this morning, to go off with
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Mr Brown on his trip to Edinburgh.
We had a really good day – the sun was shining & all was O.K. Passed thru’ Hawick & Galashiels & many of the hills about were already covered with snow.
Arrived in the “big smoke” at about 2 P.M, so were able to have a good look about before tea. – we stayed at a small hotel! Visited the Castle & took snaps about the place.
In the evening Mr Brown & I went off to a show, in which Will Fyfe, the Scottish comedian was the main attraction – it was very good, & we sure did enjoy ourselves.
Nov. 9th.
We managed breakfast O.K this morning & set out to see all we could of the city.
‘Twas very smoky & hazy but we found our way to the old Castle & Cathedral!
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I was able to buy “This, my Son” at a bookstall, to give to Mrs. Brown. We then caught a bus for the Forth Bridge, & spent an hour or so there – ‘tis truly a wonderful piece of work & I wished Ralph were there too.
Our trip back took us along a slightly different route – had been cold the night before, so there was quite an amount of snow & ice along the roads.
Met trouble on the road, with a blowout, so had to change the tyre in a slight snow storm.
Came along all too quickly & soon ‘twas time to board a train again.
My week at Carlisle was one big bludge – but it was grand to be in such a homely atmosphere again!
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Mrs Brown fitted me up with biscuits & powdered milk, so all should be well for supper now!
Monday 13th.
Arrived at camp at midday – things were well fogged up, so there was little doing in the Squadron.
Saturday 18th.
John & I had hoped to get an interview with the C.O this week, but he was on leave when we returned, so we must wait a couple days yet - & in the mean time continue our daily “stooges” & training about here. Made a trip in a Lanc. on Loran today – out to the North Sea. Was O.K but I’d rather have a “mossie” any day!
Have not had any further news of Bob yet – a letter from his mother came a few days ago.
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Wednesday 22nd.
Last night John & I were on our trip to Munster – O.K.
Had a grand day for mail today – quite an amount from home, & one also from Glenn & Clarrie. Glenn & I may be able to coincide our leave – I sure do hope we can make it O.K!
Sent off the last of my Xmas Air Letters today. – was scrubbed from the op tonight – “kite” U/S.
[deleted] On Munich – via Manston [/deleted]
We had a snow storm today, but was very light.
Saturday 25th.
On our return from T.I. dropping at Wainfleet tonight, we collided with a Lanc. at the perimeter track. The “mossie” wasn’t touched much, but the Lanc. broke in two – I shall never forget the sight of the fin suddenly appearing in front of us.
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No one was touched in the collision so all is well so far!
Sunday – We were on Munich tonight. – had a very wet afternoon with some sleet & snow Trip via Manston!
Monday 27th Nov.
Spent today at the inquest to our accident – we are in the clear, as it was the Lanc. chap’s fault & he is in some strife! Received parcel from home & Tyson’s today.
Wednesday 29th.
Our trip to the River Weser was spoilt by cloud over the target – otherwise O.K.
‘Twas 5 AM. before we at last made bed!
Wrote to Glenn today to hope to arrange Xmas leave together. Have no further news of Bob, yet!
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Monday 4th. We were out tonight on Halcunn rail centre – good trip. 13 Lancs missing
Teusday: [sic] Today more papers came from home, with four parcels & one parcel from SAFFCF.
On ops. again tonight – but they were later scrubbed, after us getting up at 1 A.M, having a meal & preparing for the trip.
Dec 6th. Raid a rail junction near Frankfurt tonight – quite O.K.
Dec 8th. We had our first real heavy fall of snow today – gee, it was cold. Had to practice ditching drill too!
Received a letter from Mrs. Francis – Allen Boase’s friends who want me to spend my next leave there. So I may go there before visiting Brown’s
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but hope to see Glenn also!
Dec 9th
John & I had a flight this afternoon on blind windfinding – we were to be on ops tonight but it was “scrubbed.”
[underlined] Sunday: [/underlined] Rather a miserable day – kept the fire in the crew room warm & with sheepskin etc & flying boots to keep me warm, completed some letter writing & met. swotting – also Loran manipulation.
On the link this afternoon – a heavy fall of snow began at about 2 & continued ‘till after tea. Gosh! what a mess! ‘Twas rather unusual to see the snow over buildings & all, as that which I have seen at home is all in the hills! Lit the fire in 126 tonight – John & I spent the evening reading & munching
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almonds & sultanas etc. from my parcels. – supper of cocoa & a piece of cake made a good combination while the wind & rain outside made all outdoors rather miserable!
Have been on bombing & wind finding the past few days. – days always foggy with hardly any vis. in the morning, & to make the situation worse, some very heavy frosts, which now last all day. We were not put on the battle order for tonight.
Received quite an amount of mail from home yesterday – Dad said the photo of the mossie had arrived O.K. Allan Beavis wrote today – his leave has been put back & we should now spend Xmas together at Brown’s – he has now done 15 ops.
Mine laying at Bremen – 45 ships “bottled up”
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Dec 14th. Received three more parcels this morning – a cake from Mum & also one from Mrs Bartlett, & a beaut tin of yo yos from Gwen. – Gosh! all this is grand, & such incidents brighten things quite an amount. – the cake contained a card for Xmas & a large print of Mum & Dad. Gee! it is good to have their photo – often look through all I have, with many pleasant memories.
Flt/Lt Jackson & I went for a ride around the country this afternoon – ‘twas might cold!
Friday: -
Received another parcel from home today. – four films enclosed.
Saturday 16th.
We were put on an op. this morning – left at 7 P.M for Marston for a late take off. Weather was very poor – we put down there O.K, with a
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ground staff “chappie” in the nose. –
Op scrubbed at 1 A.M – so we settled to sleep in a really miserable hut.
Sunday: -
A vile day – we tested the mossies & hung round for final gen. on the op. Set course in quite fair weather, - hit Munich & came back without any troubles. The lights in Switzerland were showing very plainly – we were on marking tonight.
Once again spent a few hours sleeping in a miserable hut. – rose at 9 AM. & returned to Woodhall!
Had some strife this afternoon preparing for our leave – but finally managed to get everything set! Spent this evening writing & dusting the cobwebs off my “blues”. – all set for a “bang on week”. Sent a wire
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to Allan today & hope to meet him in London.
Monday passed O.K, so John & I, after fixing up my log for the last op, caught the midday bus to Boston. All done up & somewhere to go. – they say we “Aussies” have the pick of all uniforms here, & today we managed to keep up the good name.
With the help of Fl/Lt Tice, I had my leave extended to Dec 28 – 10 days – as John has an R/T course to attend in London.
We arrived at the AFC at Kensington Gardens in good time – settled for a room, which altho’ in an annex, was very good. Wizzed out then to Liecester [sic] Square to have a look around – ‘twas now about 8 PM.
We blew into a cafe – had some wizard sandwiches & tea, and then began sorting out the theatres.
The crowds were thick & the
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city quite bright with the blackout partly lifted. – ‘twas amazing to watch the city more or less humming with activity whilst above our “kites” were heading across the way. We saw a newsreel show - & returned to the Club. Teusday [sic] over, we come to –
Wednesday 22nd Dec.
After a wonderful sleep, we managed to make breakfast with a few minutes to spare – we soon noticed the excellent atmosphere of the club. The chaps all looked so clean – it was typically Aust.
Today we spent pondering thru’ bookshops etc. – time soon passed, as we were made to wonder at the interest London has for its Visitors.
The underground, especially struck me more than ever as being a truly wonderful piece of engineering. The city itself
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was not so bright – we had run into a London fog, & one could just see across the road.
Saw Michael Redgrave in “Uncle Harry,” tonight – an excellent show.
[underlined] Thursday: [/underlined]
John had to attend the R/T course today so he had left the club before I awoke. At Breakfast I met Geoff Mitton, so, as I had to go along to have the “Power of Attorney” from Dad, witnessed, we went along together to see Sir Chas McCann & then to Kodak House. Had hoped to visit Parliament House, but were too late, so we tripped along to the Boomerang Club to lunch. Met quite a few chaps I knew including Paul Smith.
At 2 PM. four “Aussies” including “yours truly”, set out for
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Ealing – thence in a taxi to Paramount’s Ealing Studios.
We were met with much enthusiasm – once more it seemed our chaps had a good name - & I was in my element seeing all I could of the place.
Tom Walls was making a film at the time – we saw a few shots being made & pottered all over the sets which were under construction.
I met John back at the Club – we had tea, & later set out for Euston, to get my train to Carlisle.
We arranged that he should follow me in a day or so. – I left him hoping to see him at Brown’s for Xmas! My trip was O.K. – I arrived at Glenleigh just in time for breakfast.
‘Twas good to see the Brown’s again & they were pleased
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that I had at last arrived.
I sorted out the local bookshops - & came home with some “gen” on photography. A wire from Allen told us of his time of arrival – met him after tea, & spent a very pleasant evening having a good chat.
Was just like old times – three months since I last saw him - & it sure did remind me of the days he, Bob & I spent together.
The Browns began looking after us right away – they were grand!
A wire from John let us know he would arrive about midnight. However, I missed him at the station, as he was on a second part of a train which was late.
Saturday: John came along this morning before Al
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& I were up. – we were having our usual “breakfast in bed.
Our next few days were carefree & lazy, but happy & it was wonderful to relax so in such homely surroundings!
It was grand we could all get together. – Xmas Day was a grand surprise & we had a really hearty meal.
For the rest – so much happened that the time passed all too quickly.
Firstly, Allan set out again for London & then John & I returned. I was not at all pleased having to leave. – the Brown’s had been marvellous to us & we spent a Xmas of reunion I shall not forget.
I often thought of Bob. – if only he could have been with us too!
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Friday Dec 28th.
When we arrived back at Tattershall last night, we were amazed to find the place covered in ice & frost & gosh! was it cold. Apparently it had been this way for some days. – the road was slippery & John and I had quite some fun attempting to keep up!
Today John’s commission came thru’ & he is now an F/O.
Received two parcels from home & one from Henderson’s today – along with “bags” of letters.
Saturday: -
We were on a battle order this morning – early lunch, but was in time to collect my mail. – another parcel arrived, but there was not time to collect it before we left. Flew in formation of 6
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to Peterhead – spent the night
[underlined] Dec 31st [/underlined]
Arose at 6 AM – bleak, cold & miserable morning with snow on the ground. Weather cleared & we set course when the sun was rising – was as clear as could be as we climbed up & the effect above the clouds was extra. The formation looked grand passing over the Norwegian mountains, which were well covered with snow. – we arrived at Oslo amidst a beautiful clear day.
Divebombed the Oest. H.Q there & wizzed off home on the “dick”.
Noticed some skaters on a large lake as we left the town. – Flak was heavy, but we came out with only a glycol burst. Dicky Doyle & F/L Gaunt were wounded.
John & I returned to Woodhall in a Lanc – our kite was U/S so we left it behind.
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[underlined] 1945 [/underlined]
January 1st.
John & I had early supper last night – too tired to bother seeing the New Year in!
[underlined] Wednesday: [/underlined]
John had moved to another hut today, so I moved also across the way with most of the chaps I know!
Tuesday 9th. All has been going along O.K. – have only been flying on practice bombing etc. as the weather has been foul.
Has been snowing for a couple days – we are now well in the midst of the cold season.
Went to Lincoln today for dinghy drill – had a really good swim in the baths. John came back in the bus, but “Johnnie” Caragatta & I stayed on – saw a show & bought a kettle & some eats before our return.
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Jan 10th Received 4 parcels today – two beaut cakes included! They were nos. 10, 11 & 12. One cake was from Joy! They were dated Oct 30th.
Heavy falls of snow again today – ‘tis now about 4” deep.
John is still busy writing his “Sallies of Youth” – we spend most of the time in the crew room! I have to prepare for my comm. interview – so “swotting” is in full swing, plus “link” etc.
Get along well with everyone here at the squadron, & we are actually very lucky. Have a fairly easy time in between flying & with all this snow of the past few days, we’ve had no flying, so I can catch up on quite an amount of photography etc.
With my parcels, & others “Johnnie” Caragatta etc. get, we have some good suppers, so
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have only the cold to complain about.
Jan 13th.
John & I made an early start this morning – was just beginning to get light at 9 AM. when we piled into a Lanc. to go to Peterhead to collect our “kite” which we left there after the Oslo trip. She was not completed so it meant spending the night there – I sure did notice it strange to have John in the officers’ mess, but I met Ken Brand & Laurie Armstrong, two WAG’s who came on the boat with us, & we four went off to a show later on in the evening.
Wherever we go here, we can always meet some RAAF chaps – it sure is great to see them. By all accounts a good many of our chaps at Brighton are on their way home.
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Jan 14th
It was after lunch before we were able to get the “mossie” completed. - & ‘twas 6 P.M before we landed back at Woodhall. – 285 N. miles in 64 minutes is quite fair cruising! We found the squadron on an op. - & had been on one last night too!
Mum’s grand Air Mail, with the photo of herself, Glad & Peter was awaiting me in the mess!
Jan 17th. Received more mail from home today – also from Dad, on his last day in Melb. & from Cath Page, during her stay at “Colwyn”. I’m sure pleased she is staying at home – she must be a fine lass, & it will be great to meet her. All this recalls all Bob used to tell me of her – they are a good pair & I only hope news of Bob will soon be thru’
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for her. – Past few days have been finer, & we’ve been practice bombing at Wainfleet, & T.I. dropping at night.
Jan 22nd. Have had heavy snow the past few days – about a foot fell between 6 & 7 AM this morning.
We have only flown on a few bombing trips
Today my commission was put thru’ by W/Cmd. Curry – this is his last day as C.O of the squadron. Our new C.O. seems to be O.K.
Spent a couple hours this evening shovelling snow from the runway lights etc. – caught up to us at last. “Pop” Levigne, F/O Willis, F/L Bob Boyden have all finished up! – Bob is going back to Canada.
Stalin’s big drive on the eastern front is well under way, - & if he keeps up, the RAF will have a few more targets less to look after, - & maybe we can
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soon get tracking home!
Wednesday 24th
Heavy fog today – stand down for the squadron. It sure is thick, too!
Received Cath Page’s letter with snaps of them taken at home. – first photos I have of her, & she is still just the same as in the ones Bob had of her!
Monday 29th.
Received parcel of fruits from Glad today – plus mail from home. Mine laying at Kiel
Wednesday: 31st – River Elbe “gardening”
Thursday 1st.
Weather has cleared well – on an op. tonight to Dortmund Ems. F/LT Baker & Doug Betts missing
Feb. 2nd.
On ops again tonight to Karlsruhe – landed at Woodbridge.
Passed over Alan Beavis’ drome as we returned.
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Wednesday 7th.
Weather clearer with some rain – quite mild.
On ops tonight to upset Jerrys railways
Thursday 8th.
Long trip to Politz near Stettin tonight – received Mum’s cake (14) & Gwen’s parcel today. Mail still delayed.
Saturday 10th.
After raid assessment this morning I caught the midday bus to Boston, & with “Freddie” Nash, went to London. John left before me, by car, but I booked into the A.C.F Club & was having tea when he arrived.
We had a fairly early night, rose for breakfast – the usual fruit & cereals.
I left for Brighton before
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lunch, but did not see Alec Brown or the other chaps I hoped to find down there. – the sea was mighty rough & the day miserable so I returned to London.
John & I saw “Henry V” tonight.
Monday 12th.
Bought my book – “the theory of the photographic process” by Kenneth Mees & a few odds and ends, then had lunch at Boomerang Club. We saw the film “Lady in the Window” in the evening!
Feb. 13th. Sent off some photos home & Mum’s birthday card to Ralph this morning - & caught a train to Leamington soon after lunch!
Found my way to “Sixteen” by the help of a taxi.
Was soon made at home by Mr & Mrs Francis & Joan
Wednesday: Had a late breakfast
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& then cycled around town with Mrs Francis! We all had a grand time at the dance tonight – was not up till 10 A.M. & then I set out to explore the town.
[underlined] Friday: [/underlined] As usual, I had a quiet time today – visited Coventry & met Joan after work!
Alan Boase & a cobber came Saturday afternoon – we had a good chat, but they left early on
Sunday 18th.
Allan & Ted left at 7 AM. – I got their breakfast & took tea up to Mr & Mrs Francis! “Pop” & I spent today on the first stages of the boat shed.
Monday 19th. I left Leamington at 12.30 PM. – after buying some more stain for Dad.
Met John & F/L Tice in London –
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had tea & saw a show in Boston & landed in hut 120 Echelon at about 2300. “Blue” Dalton had got my parcels & mail for me – Nos 16, 18 & 19 – so ‘twas late when I hit the pillow.
[deleted] [indecipherable letter] [/deleted] Tuesday 20th. On ops. tonight to Dortmund Ems.
[underlined] Wednesday: [/underlined] Landed at Coltishall after last night’s trip. On ops. to the canals again tonight – our 14th trip.
Friday 23rd.
On op to HORTON tonight – marked first; “kite” caught some flak in port radiator.
Did not rise ‘till 11 the next morning – had interview with the Base Commander at 1 PM.
Sunday: - John & I flew during the afternoon on a fuel
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consumption test, & on Monday we took off again on a similar job in a MK XVI “Mossie” – we had fuel sprayed all over us, & could hardly breath from the effect of the fumes – had petrol galore on the floor on landing & we sure were “walking on air.” Took the same kite up in the afternoon – all was O.K. & we had a great time dodging among the clouds.
Teusday: [sic] we spent mainly on bombing op. to Wesel rail Junctions.
Wednesday 28th.
Further fuel tests on climbs etc.
March 2nd.
Today, John & I took a “mossie” down to Cambridge for a check up – he used to instruct there on “tigers”! We were able
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to spend a couple hours in the villiage [sic] - & met John’s former landlady. We returned in the afternoon – the ‘drome there is only grass & very small, but the old “mossie” made it easily with + 9 boost!
Saturday 3rd.
We were on the Dortmund Ems Canal again tonight – had rather a hot reception over there but all was O.K. & we pushed the kite along to get back well before the heavies. Had not been on the ground long before we found that some of Jerrie’s kites had come across in the bomber stream.
We had two shooting up the drome & dropping A.P. bombs. – it continued till after I “hit the pillow” but all settled down O.K. Only one civilian driving a car was killed. This is the first we’ve seen of “bandits” – will be back well before the heavies from now!
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We did not know till we landed that we had a .303 bullet in the tail of the kite.
Monday 5th. Bowled along to Coningsby to get some pay today – found I had £140. credit, so will have to invest in a car for the summer.
Received mail from home, & from Cath Page.
Sent a cable for Peter’s Birthday.
Teusday [sic] Mch 6th. We were on an op. to Sassnitz, near Stettin, tonight – 1400 miles, a 5 hr. trip – will be pleased to have cushions from now! Terrific light flak in the harbour, but all went well!
Friday 9th. Weather poor these past few days. – calling for practice bombing & ground training on our new “gen” box.
Raced a Mustang today
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coming back from the range – left him at 250 K.
The chaps nearly collapsed tonight when I went along into Boston – saw a show & then went to the dance with Blue Dalton, G. Swales & Co.
Tuesday 13th.
Last night I collected my Xmas parcel from the comforts fund – then “Geordie” Swales, “Johnnie” Caragatta & I went to Woodhall for supper. Met Bill Carey in there.
Today Jim Allsop was posted to 627 – talking to him for a short time.
Thursday 15th.
Went on op. to Halle last night – landed at Woodbridge & returned this morning.
Received parcel from Joy today.
We went along to Boston
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on the 5.30 bus. – saw a show & then went to the St. Patrick’s Ball – quite a good show!
Saturday Mch 17th.
On our 32nd op. last night – to Zurburg. Engine failed on the way out – came back with only the starboard & landed very well with only the one.
Received parcels 20 & 21 from Mum today – sent 3/1/45 whilst Cath Page was at home.
Wednesday 21st.
On a target near Leipzig last night – landed at 6 A.M. today. John awoke me at 1.30 P.M. – to go for a “mossie” from Coningsby. We wizzed across in the Oxford.
Thursday 22nd.
Packed up & set out on leave soon after lunch – booked
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into the A.C.F Club. London & saw a “News” show before John arrived.
Saturday: After spending yesterday about the “Big Smoke”, I caught the train to Carlisle at 10 AM.
As I passed thru’ Warrington I was reminded of the first time Bob & I visited the Browns!
On my arrival, Mr & Mrs Brown had my telegram of congrats etc. for my commission, from the C.O – thus I would have to return via London
Saturday 31st
John arrived on Sunday at Glenleigh, & we had a grand lazy spell with the Browns. Returned to London yesterday, collected all my gear from Kodak house, & arrived at Tattershall about 8 P.M – just before dark.
Had to take off my stripes
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& put on the narrow band before turning into bed, as my battle dress was at the cleaners.
Learnt on our return here that “Johnnie” Day & F/O Barnett had been missing for a few days – ditched near the Frisians.
Sunday April 1st.
Easter Sunday - & my first day in the officers’ mess – all went well, but nobody seemed to treat me as a “sprog” & ‘twas all taken for granted!
Thursday 5th.
Began high level bombing
Monday – on Battle Orders Monday & Wednesday. Jim Allsop & I went into Boston tonight – saw “Bathing Beauty” & then called in at the “Gliderdrome”.
Friday: - Op. to Prague.
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Saturday 7th. On ops to oil plant near Leipzig tonight. – received letter from H.Q. to the effect that Bob was posted as killed.
Monday 9th. Yesterday was a grand spring day – Jim Allsop & I went for a ride after tea.
My day off today – ‘twas very foggy when I left on the bus to Boston to wizz down to London.
Collected my gear & cap from Stores & after being fitted for a uniform, settled to waffles & ice cream at Boomerang Club. Met Jerry Donoghue & Kevin Barry.
Returned late this evening, & had the chat I had expected with John before bed – all is well now!
April 10th. Ops took us near Leipzig again – DR Compass U/S.
April 11th. Ops tonight scrubbed when we were almost ready to go, as
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the yanks were almost to Leipzig but it was put on again at 3 AM.
John wrote this poem whilst we were at Brown’s – he thinks it’s O.K, wonder to whom he’s referring!
Oh! I’ve taken off my stripes,
I’ve taken off my crown
Hey nonny nonny, derry derry down.
No longer am I “Chiefy”
A non-commissioned clown,
Hey nonny nonny, derry derry down.
I wear a stripe upon my arm
And write with greenish ink
I fill the “erks” with wild alarm
I’m quite important – don’t you think?
I wear a lovely peaky cap.
My clothes are simply smashin’,
I’m such a clever sort of chap,
So debonair – so splashin’.
I hob-nob with Society
When I go to town,
Hey nonny nonny, derry derry down
On cheap but dull sobriety
Contemptuously frown.
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Yet when this war is over,
I’ll be feeling somewhat brown,
Tha’ll [sic] be no “nonny nonny”,
Only “derry derry down.”
J.W. Herriman?
April 14th. Received fair amount of mail from home today, parcel from Mum No 22. & one from Cath Page & Auntie Lil.
Monday 16th. Wing/Cmd. R. Kingsford-Smith took over the squadron today – W/Cmd. Hallows is to have an operation & will not come back here. Berchesgarden today.
April 19th. Last two trips have been to Czechoslovakia – near Prague. Had innoculations today.
Sunday 22nd. Op. laid on for tonight. back at 8 AM.
Monday, briefing again for
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another at 8 P.M. – 41st.
Tuesday 24th.
John & I flew a “mossie” to Cambridge – then in an oxford to Hatfield. Saw air tests of a new “kite” before leaving to return to Woodhall.
London to Woodhall, 17 mins – 3 1/2 hrs by L.N.E.R. We enjoyed the trip. Another op. laid on tonight was scrubbed – put on again on Wed. Night.
Thursday 26th. On an op. to Norway tonight – near oslo. [sic]
Saturday 28th. Flew a “mossie” to Cambridge again yesterday & also brought one from there today. S/Ldr Oakley posted from here today, also.
Ops tonight to Denmark.
May 1st. Our day off today – left on the noon bus for Lincoln, & after lunch went
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along to West’s garage – decided on a 500 cc Ariel (£80) after much consideration. Will collect it at the end of the week, so we returned by bus.
Teusday [sic] 2nd. (sorry Wednesday)!
Today Hitler is reported to have died – all is mixed up here & it looks as if we have completed our last op. from this country. Allan Beavis finished his tour last week & is now on leave with Vic Berry at the Brown’s.
Wrote to Glenn Cliff today. P.O.W. ferrying put on twice this week.
Friday May 4th.
Weather quite fine today – John & I had a bombing exercise & flip about the countryside before lunch. Had the afternoon off to write mail & read at leisure in the sun!
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[underlined] Saturday: [/underlined] Went to Lincoln on the noon bus – collected the Ariel & owing to shortage of fuel, returned as far as Woodhall Junction by train.
May 6th.
Flying today – weather O.K. After obtaining petrol, we tried the bike out up thru’ Woodhall.
Tuesday May 8th.
Today was V.E Day – we were not allowed to fly, so spent the morning on the bike out at the flights. Parade in the afternoon. Received a cake from Merle Kilsby today.
We took the bike half way to Boston after tea – was cute to see the flags out in the villiages. [sic] Were celebrations in the Sgts. Mess.
[underlined] Thursday: [/underlined] All “kites” still grounded – only Lancs to fly. Trip to
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Dortmund Ems, Germany with “Winco” to collect POW’s yesterday.
John & I tuned up the bike & went to Lanrick, near Boston to get some tools.
Saturday: “Barney” found – “Johnnie” Day reported drowned in ditching. Allan Beavis posted to Pershore.
Tuesday 15th
Airborne this morning for bombing practice at Wainfleet. – after lunch I began my “VE 48” leave. Arrived at Birmingham about 7 P.M. – booked into the Provost Hostel. On Wed. I went to Birkenhead via Manchester – stayed with Aunt Lily ‘till about 7 P.M.
Thursday 17th.
Met one of our WAG’s last night, so after I had been out to Ariel works, we spent the day together – bought books on Walt Disney etc.
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Returned via Lincoln – John had been to London & was waiting for me at Coningsby with “Euphemia.”
Sunday 20th.
Yesterday we learned of the reforming of 627 Sqn. – so expect to get word of our return home very shortly.
“Johnnie” Caragatta & the other 3 Canadians are leaving tomorrow on the first stage of their trip home – quite a few new crews are already coming in.
May 21st.
Left after lunch on “Euphemia” for Leamington arrived in time for tea with the Francis family – all as good as ever!
Next day we pottered about the town & then stripped the bike in the afternoon.
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Wednesday 23rd.
Arrived in London soon after lunch & after booking in at the A.C.F club, wizzed along to Kodak House & stores.
Met a chap on Thursday whom I saw in Birmingham – we saw a play at the Wintergarden – “Three’s a family”.
John & I saw “The Three Caballeros” & another excellent play. Met Lloyd Howard Gordon Curtis & Bob Dennis.
Saw “Fantasia” with Joan.
Saturday 26th. Set out from Leamington for Stratford on Avon – were not able to book for a play ‘till Tuesday.
Made a trip out to Pershore on Sunday, hoping to see Al Beavis, but he was on leave.
Monday: - took us to Bath. – a most ancient place, found the
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Roman baths mighty fascinating.
We returned to Leamington via an indirect route – quite an excellent day & trip.
After tea John & I went to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre to see “She Stoops to Conquer”.
Wednesday 30th.
Returned to camp this afternoon – a good trip We covered about 500 miles in all. Had quite an amount of mail, & my new uniform awaiting me!
Received a cable from Norm Page asking if I could see him in London re Bob’s fate. – wrote to him tonight. Letter also from Glenn, at Bottesford.
Learnt from the Newsletter that All Beavis had the DFM. – the first for 42 course!
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Friday 1st June
Cross country over the Continent again today – Frank Armstrong landed at Brussels.
Strong reports that at last we should fairly definitely go home.
Received parcel No 22A from Mum – yoyos from Gwen & cake from Cath Page.
Saturday: -
Parcel from Glad & John came today.
Wednesday 6th.
Anniversary of D Day.
Been on lectures etc. this week but W/Cmd K.-Smith gave us the news that we were posted to 54 base for repatriation. Will remain here until required at Brighton.
Friday June 8th.
Went to Huntingdon for P.F.F Board – have been given permanent P.F.F. wings.
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Saturday: - Our day off – ‘phoned Mr Francis after breakfast, as Alan Boase wondered if I could obtain leave. John & I then set off on “Euphemia” for Bottesford to see Glenn Cliff. I had quite a good chat to him & found that he is soon to go on indefinite [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] leave.
Sunday 10th.
Orderly Officer today – received the painting of the “mossies”. Asked “Smithy” about our leave – guess we should get some soon!
Tuesday 12th June
Posting to Gamston came thru’ yesterday, given week’s leave – after clearing, wizzed about the flights & set out on the Ariel at 2.30 for Carlisle.
Several heavy showers on the way. – arrived about 11 P.M.
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[underlined] Wednesday: [/underlined]
Allan Beavis’ leave extended a week – we decided to strip the bike, to have it rebored. We had an easy week – all went well, altho’ the weather was a bit poor.
Mr Brown, Joyce, Al & I played tennis on Friday evening – was very good!
[underlined] Sunday: [/underlined] after making & trying to fly a kite for Kieth, [sic] we all went off to Pt Carlisle for a picnic – ‘twas very good & we had quite a time with the kite etc. John & I rode back. Allan left in the evening for London.
Wednesday 20th. Put the bike together last night – set out from “Glenleigh” at 10 AM. Took it easy going thru’ the Lakes – had quite a good trip.
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Arrived at camp for supper – many new crews in, & had quite some strife finding a bed!
June 22nd.
Our P.F.F Certificates came along yesterday – squadron party in the evening! Left Woodhall after lunch today – very good trip across to Gamston.
June 26th. After four days at Gamston, preparing to go home, we were given a week’s leave – Met “Andy” before setting off on “Euphemia” for Lincoln where we sold her.
Stayed at the ACF club in London.
June 29th. Spent two days about London – Visited Kodak
Saw “Tomorrow the world”, an excellent show! Also “Princess & the Pirate” at the
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Liecester [sic] Sq,. Theatre.
Today we tripped off to Newquay – quite a good trip thru’ Plymouth, Devon & Cornwall. & found the ACF club O.K in time for dinner! We were taken down by a taxi chap – rather amazing that he could get away with charging 2/6 for a 300 yd. run!
Monday 2nd July.
Weather has not been so very good the past couple days – had a swim yesterday, but the old Atlantic was a bit fresh. The beach & surf were very good.
We then took a bus to Truro & Penzance – very ancient places, altho’ we did not see much of them. The bus could just squeeze down the narrow streets.
Returned to the A.C.F.
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club today – hoped to see “The Pirates of Penzance” at the Kings, Hammersmith, tonight but could not get in!
The D’Oyle Carte players are there, so we hope to have better luck next time.
Wednesday: -
On our return last night I found I had 7 parcels awaiting me. 24 25 26 27 from Mum – one from Gwen, Joy & Cath Page!
We will now be having leave ‘till 20th so I’ll be calling on the Brown’s again!
Expect to go on a draft at the end of the month.
Met Wal Brue & Lloyd Howard today – Glenn should be in here soon!
Friday 6th.
We were given another lot of leave till July 20th – so John
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& I left for London – stayed at the YMCA Officer’s club, Cromwell Rd.
Saw “Blythe Spirit” on following evening –
Monday 9th. Visited Denham & came back to see “Olenthe”. at the Kings.
July 11th. I left London for Leamington, spent a night & then on to Brown’s via Birmingham.
John joined us at “Glenleigh” in a couple days. – we had a few good days including a trip to Edinburgh, before he left again for Birmingham
I remained with Brown’s – Vic Berry stayed a few days then Neil Bilney, Bill & Fred came along.
I made up the side fence & a dish drier in my spare time – met Evelyn Currie
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& we all had some grand times. I soon became to know Ev. quite as one of the Brown family – she has such a grand character!
Left Glenleigh on July 29th for Gamston, as we were to have extended leave ‘till the end of September.
Monday July 30th.
Arranged all as was necessary for my two months’ proposed work – John turned up after dinner, to my surprise. He brought along the camera & as he insisted I should accept it, I decided it was the only course for me to take & maybe some day in the near future I could reciprocate with something worthwhile!
Tuesday: - After having my
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teeth attended, I left Gamston for London.
We were due to spend another two months on leave before setting sail, so I soon contacted Kodak & thru’ Mr Samson, became part of Navana Studios, where I spent most of my time after Mr Shepherd’s return from holidays.
Visited Buntingford for a weekend & stayed with Mr & Mrs Maughan – then VJ Day!
London was in a grand state – Mrs Maughan & Ann spent the last week of the celebrations in London.
‘Twas then I saw the tennis at Wimbledon & the last test on Lords!
Our leave was cancelled after Aug 31st & we were to return to Gamston. I obtained another nine days’ leave & wizzed up to Carlisle.
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Believed this to be my last leave with Brown’s – had a grand week, easy to remember!
Sept. 10th. Left Carlisle late last night – found myself on a draft, on arriving at Gamston, & we are due to go to Brighton on Sunday.
Should sail about 22nd. Neil Malkin, Bill Braithwaite & Ken Barry should be on our draft too!
Sept 16th. Left for Brighton at 8.30 A.M. – met John in evening at the Metropole Hotel.
Tuesday 18th. Spent today in London – called on Mr. Shepherd, bought some material for Mum’s costume & visited Neil Bilney.
Thursday: ‘Phoned Mr Brown –
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final clearances for our departure!
Saturday 22nd.
Our gear was soon all put on its way & after a show in the evening we waited in “the” “Tuckerbox” ‘till our train left at 4.30 A.M.
‘Twas 9 AM. before we reached Southampton, but we were soon on board the “Andes” & I was lucky to be able to “clamp onto” quite a good bunk.
Our first meals were a complete “shambles” – but it seemed the food situation was good & with a canteen, all should be O.K. Met F/O Olliver, Buckley & (N.Z.) – so we have most of old 627 on board.
Monday 24th.
Last Night 10 P.M. we passed the first lights of
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Northern Spain – ‘twas grand to have all lights on at night now.
Today we passed Lisbon, at about 5 miles from the coast – slowed up by fog, but passed “Gib.” about 1 A.M.
Thursday 27th.
Today brought us to Malta which we passed at about 11 P.M.
Watches on 2 hours so far.
Wrote mail today to post at Port Said.
Saturday 29th.
Entered Pt Said 2200 today. – found the natives at the boat early next morning selling cheap goods. Began trip up the Suez in afternoon.
Oct 1st. Left Suez early this morning, & headed out into the Red Sea!
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Thursday 4th.
Past three days have been hardly bearable below decks – we are now sleeping on deck. Temperature is well up. – we passed Aden last night & now have altered course in the Arabian Sea & have begun on the “home straight”
Sea is unusually calm, giving a strange glassy appearance right to the horizon!
Crossed the equator at 1430 today – sky overcast making the atmosphere rather heavy with the high humidity. Sleeping on deck.
Thursday 11th. Life has been just as usual this past week – time passing quite quickly but little of interest happening. Changed back to “blues”, today, as the weather is decidedly cooler.
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Was grand to hear a rebroadcast from the A.B.C today – seems ages since we heard the once so familiar voices & programmes!
Sunday Oct. 14th.
Early this morning we came opposite the W.A. coast & saw the last of it at about 10 A.M. – 3 days left for our trip.
Oct 17th. It was 1 A.M when at last the first lights of the Melbourne heads came into sight. – yesterday we were again fascinated by the albatross etc flying after the boat, & now it was but a few hours when we’d be tied up at the wharf which I left 19 months ago.
Was out for breakfast early & on deck at 7.30 for a parade – we we [sic] then passing St Kilda. After
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being tied up at the wharf for about half an hour, I was amazed to see Ralph standing below me. – we had quite a chat & all seemed in a whirl as I didn’t expect to see him there. Was soon to find, as I left the boat, that Dad, Glad, John, & Peter, Lilian & Aunts were awaiting me at the gates – was grand to see them all again & even then hard to realise we were at last back home, but the whole was a scene I shall never forget – with the banner “Eric Arthur you beaut, here we are” well to the fore.
Was soon clear of the RAAF & we had a grand reunion in the flat, “Stratton Heights.”
Spent the afternoon with Margaret & Ralph – [deleted] caller [/deleted] called on Mr Sims & had a great day amongst the fruit!
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Had quite a crowd at the flat in the evening – a grand reunion!
Thursday : -
Glad, Dad, Peter & I left in the Standard at about 9 A.M for home, & were soon making good progress along the Princes Highway.
Called on Mrs Woods at Colac & then after mending a puncture & wasting time cooling the engine we arrived at “Colwyn” at 6.30, after quite a good trip.
Found Mum looking fine – gee! ‘twas great to be back amidst all I’ve known so well, & to find everyone much as I had left them.
Friday Nov. 2nd.
Left by Bonds at 7 A.M to go to Tailem Bend – arrived at about 3 P.M. in the midst of a dust
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storm. – Spent a very pleasant weekend with Mr & Mrs Bolton, & Mary.
Met Cath Page. – Mary & I went to Murray Bridge for her 21st on Sunday. Travelled on to Adelaide on Monday – stayed at the Officers’ Club. Unable to go far there owing to tram strike.
Returned home on Friday with Whem & Col McDonald.
Thursday Nov. 15th.
Flew to Melbourne with “Whem” – Dad followed next day for Lilian’s wedding on the Saturday.
Monday Evening: -
Flew to Hobart arriving at about 11 P.M. – week with Glad, John & Peter. John & I spent Saturday & Sunday touring to Launceston & Deloraine.
Met Ted Pedley for a short time.
Monday Nov. 26th. Flew back
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to Melbourne – was at the Exhibition Buildings, 1 P.D at 10 A.M to begin on my discharge.
Discharge completed Dec 3rd.
December 20th. Ralph returned home for Xmas after receiving his discharge!
Xmas Day was very hot. – Joy, Murray & David joined us at “Colwyn”.
New years’ Day, ’46.
Spent the day at the Bay – first trip the old “Stude” had made for many a day” Ralph left to visit Margaret on Jan 5th.
Monday Jan 7th.
Mr & Mrs Bolton arrived at 3 P.M. – stayed ‘till Friday 18th.
Trips to Pt. Mac, Portland & Caves at the River.



Eric Arthur, “Eric Arthur's diary,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024,

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