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See the best part; 1942

Sydney Catt. Photo . Adrian Stroud  



What a life

© Ivor Catt 1997 (son)

Ivor's mother

By Sydney Ernest Catt . 1974

Letters .

It all began on February 11th, 1898 in Sandwich, Kent, some time in the early morning; but the details have not stayed very clearly in my memory. I do not remember much before I was about two years of age, when I was still running about in my little frocks. Little boys are not dressed like that now. We all looked like girls, except that our hair was cut short from the start.

I do remember that about this age, I was on the table by the window. My mother was doing something, sitting by me. The window overlooked a level crossing, controlled by an old man, who opened and shut the gates for every train. He must have dozed off, because he did not appear for this train. It smashed through the gates, sending bits flying in all directions. Later on, the crossing was controlled by signals. This put a stop to my having the pleasure of seeing such entertainment.

At my birth, I was the fourth child. There were already two boys and a girl. After me, there was to be another girl. At this time, we had a living in maid. She used to take us for walks every fine afternoon. We always went in a certain direction, because 'Tilly' had a boyfriend. He used to cycle over from a nearby village, and spend the afternoon with us. She did eventually marry him, but he was killed in the 1914 war.

I was soon three years old, and man enough for school. All children started at the Infant's School at three. I remember screaming, and running under the table, clutching the table leg, to stop them from taking me. I was very frightened at the prospect of it, but eventually I settled down. We stayed at the infant's school until we were six, when we moved into the dig boy's school next door. By then, we had learnt elementary reading, and also that 2 and 2 makes 4.

One outstanding memory of my infant school days was of being taken by our teacher to the Drill Hall for the Edward 7th coronation celebrations. It was raining hard. She took my by the hand to hurry me along, and I was glad when we got to the hall. We all got an enamelled mug with the king and queen's heads on it, and a small, flat tin containing a flat slab of Fry's chocolate.

The first year or two at the big boy's school are hazy, but I do remember once telling the whole world that c a r p e n t e r spelt carpenter, and also the class being asked if we all knew the alphabet. I jumped up and said; "I can do it backwards, too." which I swankily did.

As I began to read, my education progressed. I had a sensible mother, herself a great reader. She made sure that books were always there for us to dive into. She was a very good pianist. I suppose it is due to her that I grew to enjoy good music, although my father did have a good bass voice too. Coupled with this, I had a headmaster who was very musical. I have always looked back with gratitude to him, and the schooling of the intricacies of tonic sol-fa. I found this very useful in later years, getting to grips with a difficult phrase in a piece of music. This was when I joined good choirs later on. I was a choirboy from the age of seven. later, I developed into a useful tenor, and had no difficulty in getting into any good choral societies near where I happened to be living.

When I was a boy, the psalms set for the day were sung at both morning and at evening service. At one time, I was in three choirs, so I learned all the psalms, and all the lovely chants. I sang in one church for the 11am and 6pm services, in another for its 3pm service, and after the 6pm service, I raced to another church, which started a service at 8pm. As for Hymns Ancient and Modern, I rarely had to rely on the book. It is amazing to think that in those days, Sandwich had four churches, all in service, all with very respectable congregations. All had choirs. Today, only one church is in operation, and it has difficulty mustering its choir, let alone a respectable congregation.

There was no radio or television. There was no gramophone until I was past boyhood. We had home entertainment. The musical evenings round the piano are pleasant memories. We had quite a family choir. My mother sang and played. My father was a good bass. My two brothers and sister all sang, and I was able to do my bit, even from a young age. I think this was much better than sitting gazing at the box all evening.

In those days, the curfew rang every night at eight. This was the time we were expected to be home, especially in winter. It also rang as a get up bell at five in the morning. Most people got up then, as work started at six. Yes! Work was six to eight, half eight to twelve, one to five-thirty or six. That was for the tan yard, brewery, factory, and all the building workers. Shops opened at eight and stayed open all day until eight on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday was early closing. On Fridays, they closed at nine, and on Saturdays at ten. Other activities, such as choir practice, and evening functions of any sort, did not start before eight, and had to be on Mon, Tue, Wed or Thurs., as that was the only time most people were free. At seven, when I started singing lessons, the class was at 8.15. The organist, who taught us, was a chemist, and did not close his shop until eight.

I advanced through the classes at school, until I was thought bright enough to join the select party who helped in 'the concert'. Every year, a magnificent flow show was held in Sandwich. It was a terrific local draw. Miss Ward, the Assistant Head, later head of the girls' school, put on a concert for this. It was completely drawn from the boys' and girls' schools. If we did a play, or sketches, or fantastic dance arrangements, we rehearsed for months, so that it was the highlight of the year. I was so lucky to have struck the Miss Ward period. I was to learn such a lot from these concerts. I was helped a lot from the training in elocution, and also by the voice production that I got in my singing lessons. What a tremendous advantage it is to learn things young. I am sure I would not have become a scratch golfer without the opportunity to play, almost from infancy, and seeing the great Varndons, Braid, Massey, Ouimet and the other Americans of the time. During my school days, the Royal St. Georges, the Royal Cinque Ports, and later Princes, were all championship courses. What a stir the making of the Princes made, because it closed the Sandwich Rifle Club. My father was a very keen shot, and felt it badly. The butt was in such a position that any misfire would have been dangerous for golfers in the links twixt it and the sea, so the club was forced to close. My father kept the rifles until the war, when he handed them over because they ware badly wanted.

My father was a keen golfer. I liked to go round with him, carrying his clubs, and having the occasional knock. During summer, he played at the St. Georges three or four times a week, so I got to know almost every bump of the course. On my own, I had to do with the practice course. Although not up to the main course standard, it was quite good enough. Sandwich was golf mad then, but I understand that few locals play now. On summer evenings, one would see bunches of people on little rough putting courses on the outskirts of the town. Most kids had a golf club, and caddying was a most sought after job. I was not allowed to do it, as it was considered infra dignitatem. However, once two of us were going across the course for a swim, when two toffs on the first tee asked us if we would caddie for them. We recognised them as the Farrer brothers. They had recently built a huge mansion within the bounds of Sandwich. WE said we couldn't. But they said they would pay well. There were no locals about who might know us, so we took the clubs. On the eighteenth green, we were each given half a crown. We refused to take the clubs over to the club house, where we were known. In those days, half a crown was half a crown. We were amused later when Farrer was jailed for seven years for a bank fraud. His mansion cost £17,000, which you would pay for a small house here now, in 1974. I knew how much all buildings cost, because my father, being a builder, said; "Fancy playing £17,000 for a house. What could one want such a big place for?" The motor car was coming on the scene, and the toffs were having houses built here to be nearer the golf courses. Moore Brabazon, holder of Air Pilot's Certificate No. 1, built a big house at Sandwich Bay. So did Lord Lonsdale, Millionaire Peto as he became known, and the Spender Clays who entertained royalty so much, being particularly friendly with Edward the Eighth. Captain Scott, between his Arctic rambles, lived here. Everyone took a personal interest in him. When he did not return from his last trip, his loss was deeply felt. I knew Peter Scott as a baby, and now I see him on television and hear him on the radio. We often saw him with his nanny at the bay, or in town with his mother. I got particularly friendly with their chauffeur, as I was fascinated by cars, and noted the different makes. The Scotts had a Mores, the only one I have ever seen. Peto had one of the first Renaults. Unics and Peugeots began to appear. Soon the Stevens steam car appeared, but did not last long.

Moore Brabazon was experimenting with large sand yachts. We used to see him tearing us and down the sands in them. But soon he took up flying. He started at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey, where Commander Samson of the Navy was starting the Naval Flying Wing. His was one of the first 'flying machines' we saw. While playing at the Bay one day, he landed on the sand outside Lord Lonsdale's house. WE were very excited to touch a flying machine. He came out, and asked us to hang on to the interplane struts and places. Then the mechanic, who was with him, started up the engine. He waved us away, but although he revved like mad, the thing wouldn't budge. So he signed to us to push, which we did, and off he went. He did not keep to flying. On the outbreak of war he took a squadron of armoured cars to France. He caused such havoc that all sorts of rumours got going around. One was that the Kaiser had put a price of £1,000 on his head.

Back to the days before the car. I remember a man with a red flag walking in front of traction engines as they puffed through the town. The law has changed now. People moan now about traffic noise. They should have heard the iron tyred carts and vans on the bare flints of the roads of yesteryear. No roads were tarred. Some of the streets were cobbled During fine weather, the dust was appalling. It was common to see a street knee deep in straw, because Mr. or Mrs. So and So was very ill. The straw was put down to deaden the traffic noise.

Market day was the day of the week. It was on Mondays. As soon as we were out of school at twelve, we ran down to it, to watch 'cheap jack'. He sold all sorts of stuff by Dutch Auction, starting with a watch at ten shillings, and finally letting it go for half a crown. Or sometimes, he would throw it at someone. These chaps were to be seen at all markets, and caused much fun. The cows were tied to the cow rails by the dozens. There were pens and pens of sheep and pigs. In those days, this market was one of the biggest in Kent. Cows were always driven along the roads. This made it necessary to hedge or fence all roads to save them from bolting across the fields. A large herd of milkers passed our house four times a day, going to and fro between fields and the milking shed nearer the town. I still remember the dog, who was always in charge. How some little dogs do stick in memory!

Our playground was the butts. In the middle ages, this open space within the town walls was where the archers practices. As a boy, the area was big enough for me to use a driver. I did a lot of golf there, only two hundred yards from home. In the early days, the gutty ball was still being used a lot. They were easy to come by because they were beginning to go out of use. I remember my first haskel brambling, as we called it. I found it much better than the gutty. Clubs were named, not numbered. A full set comprised a driver, brassie, driving iron, cleek, mashy, niblick and putter. Driver and brassie are as today. Driving iron was about a one iron, cleek about a three, mashy about a six, and the niblick eight or nine; perhaps a wedge. Bags were not generally used. I remember seeing one for the first time. I remember Tom Vardon going round with my father once. He carried about four clubs, with which he put up such a performance as would shame the people of today, whose caddies hump round a ton of stuff. Watching today's golf, I am very glad to have seen performances such as I saw that afternoon. We always thought him better than his brother Harry. On his day he was unbeatable. He never seemed to hold his game for a big match. I remember going round with Ben Travers in the Open. He was fresh from his success in America. The game he played with his rusty clubs was terrific. The Americans did not keep their clubs polished as we did. Caddies spent many hours polishing clubs with emery cloth after every game. Those were the days of the hickory shafts, when all pros had their names on the clubs they sold. Ouimet arrived for the open at St. George's after winning the American Open. He had been a caddie. I can see him now in his gorgeous plus fours, and hear a voice behind me say; "E ain't arf posh fer a caddie." in the Kent brogue of the day.

We also played about in the two or three farms near us. We got to know the horses and animals as well as we knew our farming friends. I pitied the horses. They toiled from early morning until dark. It was some time before the tractor came, and horses did everything. They toiled up and down, up and down all day, dragging the single furrow ploughs. The also tugged and heaved the heavy farm carts of the time over the fields carrying dung and what have you. We were so sad when the horse cart came to collect Prince or Jacko, who had worked themselves to death. The horse cart was a two wheeled vehicle with a winch at the front to drag the poor beast by the neck up onto its long floor. People are beginning to talk about the horse coming back. For the horse's sake, I hope they never do.

I can remember scythes being used, but for the large fields the simple cutter came into use. This cut down the work a great deal. At first, these only cut the corn, and it then had to be bound into sheathes before being stooked for drying. The country was lousy with rabbits. As the machine got nearer and nearer to the centre of the field, the rabbits got more and more congested, until they had to make a break for it. Lots got away, but many were the rabbit pies got in this way at harvest time. After drying for a day or two, the sheaths were carried and stacked near the farm to await the thresher. This might not be for two or three months, and the stacks were thatched to keep out the weather. These rows of stacks were a feature of the countryside before the coming of the combined harvester.

The news got round that the thresher was coming to Lawrence's, or whoever, and we would be there for the fun. The machine was drawn by its traction engine. After being set up, it was driven by a belt off the engine's flywheel. It gave out a peculiar whine, which travelled a long way. These were dangerous machines to play around. A friend of mine found this out. One day he got on top with the men feeding in the corn. He slipped, and his foot went into the works. He was crippled for life.

A barrel of beer was always supplied for the threshers. This led to what must have been my first experience of a strike. Everything was set to start, when it was notice that the beer had not arrived. Nobody would start until it did. The farmer had to dash off to town in his pony cart to hurry it up. He managed to get it, and all was well.

Dad made us a two wheeled 'barrer' so that we could go along and get a load of horse dung for the garden every evening. There was so much horse traffic down our road that it could be shovelled up in 'barrer' loads,. In those days, it was never necessary to buy fertiliser. We used to bowl our hoops for miles along our country lanes. One would not get far with a hoop today. Games came round with monotonous regularity. It would be marbles for a time. Then tops would start, and every jack man would be spinning a top. Then perhaps the diablos would come out, to be thrown all over the place. Then the banger period, when we all searched for old keys for this. These were stopped during my school days as being too dangerous, or causing too much noise. We would rub a few match heads into the open end of a key, and then fit in a nail. Have them tied to a piece of string so that the head of the nail could be swung against a wall, then Bang. The match heads would explode. The key did not last long, and another one had to be scrounged.

At first there was no gas, let alone electricity, which came many years later. For lighting, we had large oil lamps suspended from the middle of the ceiling, with huge crinkled china shades about a foot and a half across. These gave good lighting to all corners of the room. Even when gas did come, they were still used, because the split jet of gas was very poor in comparison. It was a great relief when the first gas mantle appeared, giving brighter white light. this was a great advance. Candles were always used for going upstairs to bed, or for going anywhere except the parlour or kitchen cum living room, where the only two big oil lamps were. The parlour was only used at weekends, or for music, or special occasions. there was only one tap in a house. It was in the scullery, where everyone washed, unless water was carried upstairs in one of the big water jugs. It would then be used in the large basin on the washstand, a marble table with a hole in it on which the basin stood. Tilly washed the children before bed in a small bath on the kitchen table. Saturday night was real bath night. The big bath was set on the mat in front of the kitchen fire. We took turns, then off to bed. Until the gas came, when a gas stove was put in the scullery, all cooking was done on the old iron range in the kitchen. Beside the oven was a water tank, from which we drew our hot water. There were no indoor loos until the main drainage was put in. They were all outside, but ours was attached to the house. These were emptied once a week when the 'trilby' came round. I can remember the awful smell of this business if I was late coming home.

My eldest brother, who was six years older than me, went to the grammar school while I was still young. I still remember how funny he looked in his Eton suit and mortar board. But I thought he looked very smart in his O.T.C. uniform. I looked forward to going to the grammar school too, but this was not to be.

We often went over to Ramsgate to visit Grandma and Grandpa Casely and the uncles and aunts who lived there. Ramsgate was a great fishing place, with a very large fishing fleet. My grandfather was one of the biggest owners, having several boats; smacks they were called. During a spell of bad weather, or at Christmas, Ramsgate harbour would be packed with them. The boats went out for long periods. There were times when a boat did not return. My mother told us stories of incidents she remembered. One was the night when Grandpa woke up screaming that the .... had gone. he saw it all in a dream. it must have been at the time the ship went, because it did not return.

During the summer, the place would be packed with visitors. Almost everyone took in lodgers. Bathing was done from bathing machines which were pulled to and from the water's edge by horses. The female bathing dresses covered the body right down to the knees.

This was before the days of radio, and wrecks on the Goodwin Sands, just off Sandwich, were all too frequent. Some of the larger ships stayed a long time before breaking up. In particular, I remember a large P&O homeward bound with a name something like Mahratta. I think all the passengers were saved, but it was said that the chief engineer shot himself. This was strange, because a mistake in navigation was nothing to do with him. Another time, a large boat loaded with oranges went down. Thousands of cases, still edible, washed up on the beach. For years after a coal ship was lost, coal was still washed up, there for the picking. Between Sandwich Bay and the Goodwin Sands, there was a lightship with the name GULL in large letters on its sides. Obviously this became obsolete, because it is no longer there. My parents were friendly with some of the lightship chaps. When I was quite young, I remember visiting one in Ramsgate with my mother, and hearing and seeing my first player piano/ The way the notes jumped up and down fascinated me.

Ramsgate had a good regatta. Once, the pièce de résistance was a parachute display. A man and a woman went up from the park hanging onto a balloon, but the wind was wrong, and they were blown out to sea. When well off shore, they dropped and the parachute opened O.K. But they dropped into the sea. Fortunately, a boat was handy to pick them up. This would have been about 1904 to 5; rather early for displays of this sort.

Sandwich had a regatta too, which was a big draw. An enormous funfair appeared on the Green Banks. The greasy pole was set out off the mud boat. The swimming and boat races went on through the afternoon. After dark there was a gorgeous torchlight procession. Practically all the town tradesmen and others took part. It had one of the town blacksmiths with a complete forge on a float, actually shoeing horses, a baker with his staff making bread and cakes, and the usual decorated floats that one sees today. The town was festooned with thousands of fairy lights. These were small coloured jars with candles in them. All the trees on the Rope Walk were decorated with them. It took gangs of men to get them all lit. When the street gas lights came on the scene, one saw the gaslight man hurrying around at dusk with his long pole, with the light on top, lighting the gas lamps.

Then the 'living' pictures came. I think the first I was in the Sandwich Market Square. A sheet soaked with water was put up, and the film shown from the back of it. I never saw a picture shown this way again. The pictures were very jerky and short. I do remember seeing a comic in which a man was run over and left flat in the road; all very funny. I have wondered how the lamp was lit, and presume they had a small arc lamp and some sort of dynamo. These were coming into use. The big fairs were using arc lamps run off a generator fixed on one of the traction engines and run by a belt off the flywheel. I do know that the first 'picture house' in Sandwich had an arc light for the projector. Very soon after it opened, I was curious to find out about everything. I was shown the whole works, which included the beautiful polished gas engine which ran the generator. Then the tungsten lamp filament came along. This improved the electric light very much, ad had the gas mantle earlier. I got to know the carbon filament lamp later. They were used as resistances in the first accumulator charging circuits I handled. If one wanted more charging current, one just plugged in another lamp. - wire up in parallel. I cannot remember the wattage of these lamps, but the light from them was very poor.

The picture house was a small converted hall up some stairs. The charges were tuppence and sixpence. The sixpenny seats were up a sloping floor at the back. On Saturday afternoon, we kids had a special show, for which we paid a penny. The Charlie Chaplin and Mark Sennet films started while I was still at school, so we really got our penny's worth.

Before this, we went to the pictures at Ramsgate when we were with Grandma. The Marina Hall had been opened as a 'bioscope'. It was here that I heard a very early 'talkie'. I think Nellie Melba sang a song which fitted in with a gramophone. Films were always breaking, and the running of the film and gramophone together needed very delicate handling, this was the first and last time it was attempted. The early projectors were worked by hand, so the operator was an operator. At Ramsgate, we always had the Lord George Sangars theatre. in the height of the season most of the London music hall stars and 'turns' came. Like lots of provincial theatres, this has disappeared, to be replaced by tele. What a pity.

My Grandpa Catt was also a seafaring man. At one time, he had two ocean going yachts which did cruises and Channel trips. I remember one of these, the Prince Frederick William. Although not still in the family, it was still sailing out of Ramsgate Harbour. He also had a herring curing business, for smoking bloaters and the kippering of kippers. Like my grandpa Casely, he was deeply religious; a stalwart of the Baptist church. Grandpa Caseley was an Anglican. During the siege of Paris in 1871, news was rife about the terrible starvation there. As soon as the war ended, he filled one of his boats with food, and managed to sail it up the Seine to Paris to give some relief. I never knew him or Grandpa Catt. Both died before I was born. A few years ago, I rescued from his grave a lovely bas relief in marble. Our photographs of him show that it is a very good likeness.

Grandpa Catt turned one of his boats into an aquarium. If a smack trawled up anything unusual, it would be brought back for Catt's aquarium. A small seal appeared this way. A boy who was a friend of the family, and who later married one of my aunts, used to play about a lot in the aquarium. He found he could get this seal to do tricks. One day, two gentlemen from the London Aquarium visited the Ramsgate Aquarium. The boy, Joseph Woodward, happened to be there. One of the gentlemen accidentally dropped his gold headed cane stick into the tank. Joe told him not to worry, and sent the seal down to pick it up. One asked; "Can it do anything else?" "Oh, yes," replied Joey, and went through some of his tricks. They were very impressed. After much family discussion, Joey was allowed to take the seal to the London Aquarium, where it became one of the sights of London. A little later, Uncle Joe (as he became), trained a troupe of seals. They became famous as "Captain Woodward's sealions. At the turn of the century, they were a feature of the big music halls. Barnum and Bailey, who were running the biggest circus of all time in America, heard of him, and came to England to persuade him to bring his troupe to America, which he did. He was by now married to my aunt Sarah. Two boys were born who followed in father's footsteps, and helped to run the troupe. After a long run in America, they returned to England. The two boys produced two separate troupes, one to tour Europe, and the other England. The one touring Europe died suddenly in Berlin in about 1900, but Joe, the elder, carried on here. My father was the youngest of a large family. These cousins were much older than I was. When I grew up, I became very pally with Joe and his beautiful wife, who was also a first cousin of mine via another aunt. I had many happy times with them at their home at Kingston on Sea, and afterwards in Ramsgate.

My aunt Sarah died in America. I remember well the cable notifying her death, and the letter later, telling us she was being embalmed and brought home to Ramsgate for burial. I was too young to go, but it certainly seems to have been a grand affair. By this time, my uncle had become a wealthy man. Although still comparatively young, he retired to a life of luxury and ease. he settled at Shoreham. He did install a training tank there with the cousins, so that they could still play with the seals.

During the war, Cousin Joe hit on the bright idea of training seals to hunt German submarines. Some were got, and the fun started. But the brightest, 'Billikin', disappeared in the Channel on a training run. Notices were sent out offering a big reward for his capture. He would answer to his name. For some time afterwards, people could be heard on the Sussex coast calling out his name Billikin. Billikin never returned. As far as Joe was concerned, the last sealion effort was for the 1923 Empire Exhibition. Mac Fisheries asked him to put on a seal show in their exhibit, which he did.

But to get back to my school days. Everything was nice and cosy. We were able to have anything we wanted. There was money for it. But this happy state of affairs did not last. My father caught the very rough edge of the building slump which developed before the war. I don't know if this was due to the amount of emigration that went on at this time. Houses were to let or for sale by the hundreds. Along the streets of Ramsgate there were 'To Let' of 'For Sale' notices every few houses along. The last row of houses my father built remained empty for a long period. He could not sell a single one. In the end, the men had to be stood off. Then all the building material was sold by auction; scaffold poles, planks, mortice machines. This happened to all builders. I do not think there was much of a recovery until after the war. My father continued as a jobber. he was never out of work, but only employed anyone when he wanted temporary help.

What now appears to me an extraordinary state of affairs existed in those days. All bills came quarterly; from the butcher, baker, grocer and ironmonger (with whom there was considerable trade). This was O.K. while there was money in the bank. But the money dried up, and the bills continued to come in. My mother continued to get her dresses and hats 'on tick', as she had done all her life. Quarrels started about these money matters, and life was no longer so pleasant. The lovely parties had to stop. My sister's music lessons had to stop. I was not able to start piano lessons. My eldest brother did remain at the grammar school until he was seventeen, when he had to leave for a humble job as clerk on the railway. I do wish parents would think twice before rowing in front of kids. As a boy, this upset me terribly, and I have never forgotten it. Perhaps I was too sensitive. I do know that some music has a peculiar effect on me. Tears would come to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I used to hope some of the other boys would not see it. Some beautiful chant, a hymn tune, some of Bach. The first time I heard the Crucifixus and the Sanctus from the B Minor Mass going on around me, and that all-inspiring finale from the Matthew Passion, 'In Tears of Grief'. I have been lucky to do both with David Wilcocks in Salisbury and Alan Wicks in Canterbury. Music like this causes the lump to form in my throat and tears in my eyes.

So I passed up through standards one to seven. During the last year, I joined the select little band in the x seventh. Half a dozen of us had a little corner to ourselves, and worked mostly on our own. I don's know whether I learnt much. I suppose I learnt to read at home, and to do most things. I could do long division, add up pounds, shillings and pence. I got to like poetry, and lapped up and memorised what appealed to me in the Bible. I could write. But later on I found that when it came to English Grammar and simple Algebra and Maths, I had a lot to learn. When I struggled with these later, I did regret not having had more insight into them earlier. I have also been sorry to have missed out on languages. The headmaster was keen on music, and the second master Simmons did go out of his way to interest us in little bits of Chemistry and Science. He was a musician too, being a good pianist and organist. As for the other teachers, not one of them did much for me.

Most of us were mad on cricket. From an early age, I was often taken to the county grounds at Canterbury and Dover, to see Frank Wooley, Colin Blythe, Fielder, Huish and the Kent team we all adored. One match stands out. It was at Dover, when Kent played Yorkshire. I was about ten, and Rhodes and Co. were playing. At this time, Kent and Yorkshire ware the crack teams. The ground was packed. They got their money's worth, because Wooley was in great form, making one of his many big scores. Of all the bats I have seen, Wooley was the king. He made it appear effortless. I did see most of the others over the years, including the Australians. I saw Len Hutton make his record score of about three hundred and sixty. This was at the Oval, not long before the second world war. But it all seemed a struggle. Of course, he was very tired, and looked so, because he had been batting for two days.

In the early 1920s, I played on the county ground at Dover in an R.A.F. team against an army eleven. I think it was Southern Commend. I was made into mincemeat. I was supposed to be a useful bowler, and had a good record. I opened the bowling; medium to fast. In the army team was a captain who played for Essex, I think. I have forgotten his name. Like the other bowlers, I could do nothing with him, and so he had a good century. At times like this, a game becomes a heartbreaking affair. Fortunately, it was a one day match, so the performance was not repeated in a second innings. The R.A.F. lost the match.

On my fourteenth birthday, I had to leave school and get to work. Anything. There was no mention of putting me to any trade, or any encouragement. By this time, my father had lost interest in us kids. He couldn't care less what we did. Perhaps he was upset at not being able to give us the education he would like to have. I know he thought I was not clever like my brother William. He remarked upon it once or twice when I was trying to help him on some job. It is was true, I am glad, because my brother remained on the lower rung all his life, never getting a senior job of any sort. [original page 10]

I was able to start as a grocer's errand boy at the International Stores. Life started to be very hard. I was small and weak chested, and some of the work was tough. I delivered the groceries, pushing a two wheeled truck for a good part of the day and evening. I weighed up bags of sugar, flour, rice and everything, which now comes pre-packed. Everything came in sacks and boxes. Biscuits came in large tins, and were weighed out as required over the counter. You hacked off a pound of butter or margarine from the block, which had come in a large box. There were only two cheeses; Dutch Edam, ands the ordinary, which was a huge round affair about eighteen inches across and a foot high. Rashers of bacon were but by hand on the counter, as the bacon machine had not arrived. Every morning, I polished a large brass nameplate, which ran round under the windows for the whole width of the shop. About twice a week, I wasted hours polishing all the brass scales, and emery clothing all the steel rails on the provision side. I worked from 7.45 in the morning until 8.15 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I did the country round on Thursday, early closing day, and finished about 9.15 on Friday and 10.30 on Saturday. I went out on the country rounds on both Wednesday and Thursday with another chap with a horse and cart. I often got home dead beat and in tears. For this, I was paid the princely sum of five shillings a week - twenty-five p in today's parlance. I gave mum for shillings, leaving one to buy clothing and footwear. I could not afford the tuppence for the pictures when a good film came round, let alone buy a packet of cigarettes, as so many kids seem to do now. Cigarettes were a penny for five. I think tobacco was six pence an ounce, shag being three or four pence. Beer was two pence a pint, and a nice bar of Cadbury's nut chocolate one penny. We could buy a farthing's worth of sweets. Fry's slab chocolate was one farthing a square. It was usual to see things priced as 5¾ and 11¾; in old pence, of course. In my second job, I was to sell towelling at one penny and three farthings a yard, and large packets of pins at one farthing each. Matches were one penny for a dozen boxes. Yet butter was one shilling a pound. Few people ate it. margarine was the order of the day, especially when double weight came in, when for one pound one received two. For his every day use watch, my father paid five shillings and got a new one in exchange every year. Ingersoll was the name. My first watch was Ingersoll. An alarm clock cost half a crown. In the palmy days, we had a new football every year. This cost three and six. Milk, which was brought round in large cans and measured out at the door into our jugs, was two pence a pint. People who could not afford this went along to the diary and got skimmed milk for one penny a pint. I had school friends whose fathers were getting only eighteen shillings a week, and women did not generally go out to work to help out. Everybody had large gardens, and grew most vegetables required. Pigs, chickens and rabbits were kept to augment the larder. We had a huge vegetable garden. It expended the whole length of a row of six houses. It was at the back of their kitchen gardens. My father appears to have caused a sensation among the local gardeners when he started to grow tomatoes. People came to see them. He had returned from Australia shortly before I was born, where he had made the money he was to lose in the slump. He was there when the churches and schools were being built, as well as the houses for the people arriving there. As soon as he could get a house built, my mother followed him and married him. I think one of their big regrets was to have come back to England to run into such a bad patch. My eldest brother was born in Australia.

To get back to the tomatoes which they had got to like in Australia. The only tomatoes available in Sandwich were a curious little Spanish variety, not like the tomato we know today. Father found somewhere where English tomatoes were being produced, and managed to get a few plants. He had an ideal spot facing south against a solid, tall fence. He was very successful, and Catt's tomatoes were on the map. I cannot imagine why they were not produced commercially until long afterwards. The did get going in the Worthing area, where glass houses sprang up like mushrooms. In the 1920s they were in.

Tomatoes were a luxury. During my school days, few people could afford luxuries. At times, they could not afford the necessities of life. In most towns, there was the twice a week soup kitchen, which did give them a meal of sorts. We never came down to this, but about half the school were let out early with their soup cans to get the soup, which cost a penny a can, and half a penny for a small loaf. Even after I became an errand boy, we always ate well, so I cannot say we ever became really poor.

There were no telephones until the 'toffs' came on the scene. Even the Post Office did not have one. All communication was done by telegraph sounder. These could be heard rattling away at the back of the Post Office. But the telephone had to come. An exchange was fitted up in the front room of an ordinary house in town. At first, it was a small board with only a few lines. It took a surprisingly long time before the telephone came into general use. There were so few in use that doctors, banks and businesses did not consider it necessary. Telegrams were very much used, although it cost sixpence for about twenty words. There were two or three telegram boys employed regularly. I became friendly with the postmaster, so I helped out sometimes. I was on duty the evening of the day Princess Arthur of Connaught was married. Although everybody had known it and was interested in the wedding, it was not known that the honeymoon would be in Sandwich, until arrangements for their arrival were made and the piles of telegrams began to pour in. I was kept on the run with them until quite late. I have mentioned the Spender Clays, whose house the married couple stayed in.

After about a year, I was able to change jobs. I went fifty yards along the street to P. J. Smalls, the draper. There was no truck pushing here. Everything could be delivered on a bicycle. Here, there were two or three departments stretching along the street, so I had more than two windows to polish every morning. I no longer had to weight up sugar, flour, rice and so on. Now I 'rolled' sheetings, material, towelling, and whatever else one buys at a drapers, onto strips of wood. All these things came folded in layers. For easy handling, they were rolled in this way. Unlike the grocers, all the assistants here were female. I only got the same money, but the work was much lighter. The hours were the same. All shops kept to them. But I did get the Thursday afternoons off, and could get a game of golf in with another errand boy friend.

I would like to go back a little to my school days. I think it highly improbable that many schoolchildren, while at school, have been able to enjoy two coronation festivities as I did. having started school at three, I was still at school for the George V fun and games, Edward VII having died in 1910. A strange coincidence is coupled with his death. A travelling living picture show was visiting the town for a one night show in the drill hall. Along with one or two other 'big boys', I had been asked to sell chocolates. They put on a film of Edward inspecting the fleet at Spithead. He died that night. When the news spread next day, it seemed awfully strange to me that I had seen him so hale and hearty the evening before. The drill hall was the only place in the town where shows of any sort could be staged. I was taken there to see travelling theatre groups. We saw such heart rending plays as 'The Murder in the Reds Barn', 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', which we thought terribly sad and upsetting. The drill hall had been built for the volunteers towards the end of the last century. Its six inch howitzer, there for drill purposes, did impress us kids. My father was a sergeant in the Volunteers. We loved to see him in his uniform, especially the funny little pill box hat with the strap under the chin. Along with all the 'old' Volunteers, he resigned when they were disbanded and the Territorials took their place. The gun stayed until the war, when, like all rifles and guns, it was rushed over to France.

On the evening of August 4th, we had been for a lovely walk through the fields, arriving home just as the curfew was ringing and the news was being spread that war had been declared. Looking back, I don't think I was particularly disturbed. Hadn't we seen that mightiest of all battleships, the Dreadnought, anchored in the Downs a short time before? Who dared to go to war with us? So the general impression got around that it would be all over by Christmas. My father was asked to some back and take charge of a guard to guard the reservoir, which he did until soldiers were available.

I was by now sixteen, and wondering if it really would be over before I was wanted. All the parsons we heard preaching entreated all able bodied men to enlist and fight the hated enemy. Our poor rector was to lose his two sons before it did end. Of the class I went through school with, about half are now on the war memorial. I was the only one of four chums who came back and, in a few ways, I was lucky. I joined the 1st East Kent Volunteers as, at the moment, that was the only thing I could do. We never got rifles, and all drills were done with bits of wood roughly shaped like guns. Our uniforms were light green, thin cottonish material with 'horse bandage' puttees; it was impossible to put them on without showing 'birds' nests'. We had a marine instructor for drill and bayonet fighting, and we did have a 22 rifle range, where I learned to shoot. Since the shops did not close until after eight, parades were at 8.30.

We were to have a taste of what might happen when, at about eight O'clock at night on a snowy winter's night in 1915, the alarm went off, and all volunteers were told to get to the station just as they were. I rushed to the station just as I was, and was crowded onto a train, which took us to Deal. We marched to the Marine Barracks, were handed .303 rifles, had ammunition jammed into our pockets, and rushed to the trenches on the shore between Deal and Sandwich. The ground was thick with snow, and I hadn't an overcoat. The Germans were coming!

We stayed all night until dawn, when we crawled away and handed in our guns, and literally crawled home. This experience was to be the death of two or three of us, who were not tough enough to recover.

After breakfast and a change, I went straight to work, and at about half past seven in the evening, I was given a parcel to take to a house outside the town. I was absolutely dead beat, and could hardly move. I had to say I couldn't take it. I was sacked on the spot, and given my five shillings. P.J. was a church warden, took the plate round every Sunday; a big noise in the Freemasons, etc. etc. He had been in bed all night while I had been in the trenches freezing. Makes you think, doesn't it!

It was years afterwards that we got an explanation of that night. A telegram received by the G.O.C. Defences should have read "Enemy agents expected to land at Sandwich Bay tonight." It got corrupted into "Enemy landing at Sandwich Bay tonight."

Later, I was to experience other cases of transmission errors completely changing the `original version of messages. I was at Ali Musjid in the Khyber Pass, which you will hear about later, and we received a signal requesting that an N.C.O. report to Kacha Garri, an advanced base somewhere in Peshawar, to collect fourteen carrier pigeons. We laughed like drains, wondering what blinking fool thinks pigeons would be any good here. A lance corporal was sent down on the next convoy, and roamed all over the base without result until he came to an A.S.C. conductor who, on being told that he had come from the 1st Sussex Regiment to collect fourteen carrier pigeons, began to roar with laughter, saying "You've come to collect four field kitchens." It makes on wonder what real disasters have occurred through mistakes such as these. There was a signals instruction that all signals must be sent by Morse, so such mistakes should not have happened. But I experienced cases where even this did not ensure complete accuracy.

Back to my being sacked as an errand boy. At this time, army huts were being built all over the country. My father was working for McAlpines. The were putting up a camp at Eastchurch, on the isle of Sheppey. The Clerk of Works wanted a boy, so my dad took me along when he returned after the weekend. I ate at my father's lodgings, and slept in the Y.M.C.A. hut, putting up a camp bed after the place closed for the night. I had a bicycle for longish runs, such as Sheerness. I also gave a hand putting up the huts if I had nothing to do in the office. I forget what I was paid, but it must have been more than five bob a week. The Naval Air Service training school was hard by, also the Short Brothers aircraft factory. I had to make visits to both places. I loved to get among the aircraft and engines, and watch the take-offs and landings. I took the publication 'The Aeroplane', which was now published, and continued to take it for some time. We were very near some of the early exploits. I had been given a new pair of roller bearing roller skates. At dawn, I often roller skated on the Rope Walk, the Mill Wall, and the other paths which were what remained of the town wall. We all knew Bleriot was waiting on the 'other side', to attempt the first flight across the Channel. But like Latham & Co., who had all failed, we did not think he would. But this morning dawned, sunny and calm. I was at the end of the Rope Walk when a policeman came along, calling "He's done it." to some chaps going to work. This was on July 25th, 1909. The Daily Mail got into the habit of giving huge prizes for first flights. Then came one for the first London to Manchester flight, then the first Atlantic flight by the Englishmen Alcock and Brown, just after the war.

I often saw the Short Brothers, especially the one with the head very much like a bullock, supposedly the ugliest man in the world. He often had a beautiful secretary with him in his car, which made him stand out all the more. All sorts of stories were around; that he had two brains; that he had sold his head to some hospital for £4,000 so that he could carry out his interest in aircraft design. I don't know when he died; possibly during one of my sojourns abroad, when I missed so much home news. I don't know whether anything peculiar was found.

While I was on Sheppey, the German spy fear was rampant. We all had to carry identifying cards. I think the main reason was that the dockyard was in use, and warships were always coming in and out. Just before I arrived, the Bulwark was blown up with much loss. I was with my father, walking across the marshes one very peaceful Sunday afternoon, when a terrific explosion rent the air. Just across the Swale, an enormous cloud of smoke began to rise into the air. "God," said dad, "Something terrible has happened." We returned to Eastchurch to learn that the powder works at Faversham had blown up. It being wartime, the place was working normally on Sunday. The losses were very bad. Later it was said that three hundred had been killed. The death toll was felt all over the country. One young man who lived in Sandwich was killed.

At the war's outbreak, I think the total strength in dirigibles was three. We saw two of these, the Silver King and the Astra Torres, almost daily. The Astra Torres was not completely round, but looked like three round bananas stuck together. It was yellow. The Silver King was bright silver, and looked beautiful in the sunshine. They were usually pretty low, so one could see the crew leaning out of the gondola. These were not rigid, like Zeppelins, or like our airships were to become, with the envelope built over a strong metal frame. Germany had developed the Zeppelin. Soon they appeared at night. They could carry heavy weight, and did quite a bit of damage. However, we later got the better of them by producing an aircraft which could reach the height at which the Zeps flew. There was intense excitement when the first one was first shot down over London, and landed a burnt out mass at Potter's Bar. The pilot was awarded the V.C. for this. Some strange antics were inaugurated to combat the Zep. Our light fighter planes had short duration, and could not fly far out to sea to meet the Zeps. One bright idea was to tow an enormous mat behind a powerful destroyer with aircraft on it, to be taken well out into the North Sea before the aircraft took off. This was successfully done. Later, I served for quite a time with the pilot, who was awarded the D.S.O., Flight Lieutenant S. D. Culley. Later, he was in my desert survey party, but more of that later.

The hutments at Eastchurch were finished, and I returned home. I was free, so with another chap, younger than I was, went to Canterbury to try to join up again. "How old are you?" was asked. "Eighteen last month." was the reply. Bit it was no good, and I was told to go home and cling to my mother's apron strings for a little longer. But Buchanan had got through. He looked older, and I was very annoyed when he arrived home with two stripes on his arm a little later. We went to the photographer's to celebrate. We had a picture taken; he in his uniform, with me in my miserable civvies. I still have a copy of this. I never saw him again.

I had done some crazy acting with Jack Hoile in school concert shows. He had left the baker's and joined the army. He was two years older than me. He served most of his time in France, got a commission, and survived to come back. But like me, he could not settle down in civvy street, and rejoined the army.

I walked into his job, and started to become a baker. From half five in the morning, I helped with the bread, and making cakes and pies. The bread was kneaded by hand; one loaf under each hand. The forearm muscles I developed are still pretty hard after sixty years. I liked the bakehouse, especially during winter, when it was so warm and cosy. There were three of us; Mr. Stokes, who must have been getting on for seventy. One day, while we were making the bread together, he told me how as a boy he had gone down to the station to see the Duke of Wellington's funeral train go slowly through on its way to London, where he was buried at St. Paul's. This was in 1852, and appears to have been one of the great pageants of the century. He was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and died at Deal. Then there was Wally, the son. I got on fine with him, and remained friendly until he died at a very ripe old age. After the morning's work of mixing and baking, I went home for dinner and a change. In the afternoons, I did a round with a bread barrow. Wally did one half of the town, and I the other. Except for a short break for a cup of tea, this took until about half six or seven. There was no break for breakfast, which was taken as we worked. This went on for six days of the week. I might go in on Sunday afternoon when I took a turn at making up the bread comp, which was done on the day before the baking. Otherwise, I had Sunday off. This left no time for any tomfoolery or vandalism, or a game of golf, and little time for reading, which was a dead loss. I started at about ten bob a week, but the time came one Friday night when Mr. Stokes put into my hand a golden sovereign, saying; "Sydney, boy, you are such a help now that you are worth this." I looked at it with wonder. Sovereigns were then much scarcer than five pound notes are today. While at the grocer's I used to have to take 'the bag' to the bank. This was the takings. They were done up in bags of five shillings in silver, and rolls of five shillings' worth of pennies, done up in paper. Never once do I remember taking a golden sovereign. But the days of the sovereign were numbered. Soon, the Bradbury replaced it, and we handled the bits of paper we know today. Then there was the five shilling piece, known as the dollar. I suppose its exchange rate was something near the American dollar. A few of these would soon wear a trouser pocket through. The threepenny piece, a silver coin, was in general use, but was so small that it was disliked.

I continued to play at being a volunteer as and when I could, and began to wonder if I would ever be wanted in the real army. It was 1916 now, a long while after the Christmas when it was all going to be over. Kitchener had been blown up with the Hampshire on his way to Russia to see what he could do to help them out of the mess they were in. We had had the tragedies of Gallipoli and the losses in Mesopotamia, and the Turks had almost got across the Suez Canal. Perhaps I would be wanted yet.

Not long after the war began, troops had begun to arrive to do their rifle shooting training at the butts, which were hastily put up at Sandwich Bay. Billeting officers came around and looked into every house. We thought we had no room for any, but on looking into our parlour, he said "Three can come here," so the table was taken out, the piano pushed into the corner, and in the three came. They were issued with their rations, which we had to cook and prepare.

My papers finally came. Tom Carpenter and went off to report to Canterbury. My father, who seemed a little concerned, came to the station to see me off.

At the Canterbury depot, we were soon stripped off and prancing about in front of two doctors. They began to shake their heads about ME. I was small, light, and had a bad chest, in addition to being very skinny. Tom got through all right, and was considered good enough for the artillery, so we did not stay together. When I asked if I could go into the flying corps, because I liked aeroplanes, this was taken as a bit of a joke. However, after another look see, I was passed C3, the lowest physical category of the lot, which meant that I was fit only for home service. A uniform was found for me with difficulty, and I looked a real fright. It was second hand, had been cleaned, and the tunic was stained with a darkish patch which I was told was blood stains. This, I thought, was a pretty good start. I said goodbye to Tom, and joined a small party with a sergeant. I had been issued with all the necessary kit, including a cut throat razor, which amused me, because I had not yet begun to shave. "Where are we going, please?" we asked. "Aldershot," was the reply. Off to the station we went, on the way to join the 25th Middlesex Garrison Battalion.

We were taken to Talavera Barracks, and what a place it looked! I never found out exactly, but it was said that it dated from the Crimean War. As far as its primitive conditions, the place could have dated from the Battle of Talavera itself, 1809. At first we were not put in the barrack, but in huts built around the barrack square. We slept on the floor and ate in the hut, the food being fetched from the cookhouse by the orderly of the day. Tea was drunk from big china basins, this being usual in army barracks. We had to go to an outside wash house for 'ablutions'. Whoever was responsible for calling all army wash houses ablutions? Were we, every time we washed, preparing ourselves for some religious rites?

I soon settled down to enjoy my holiday. To me, that was what it was. My days of working for twelve or thirteen hours were over, for the time being, anyway. We were woken by the Orderly Sergeant at six, and the orderly for the day appeared with the 'gunfire'; the early morning tea and biscuits. The tea came in buckets. Then out onto the square for P.T. and, sometimes, a little drill before breakfast. From about nine to twelve we learnt how to bayonet Germans, lectures, route marches, being taught all the bits of a rifle and how to handle it, and, for a time, actually firing on a nearby range. I remember my first shot. Regardless of what the instructor had said about the kick of the rifle, and how necessary it was to pull the gun hard into the shoulder to eliminate any shock, I still seemed to get a pretty hefty push.

The shooting I had done on the .22 range had been good practice. At the end of the course, to everyone's surprise, I was the champ. I had to explain why I was able to shoot so well. I could only say that my father was a crack shot, that I had had an air rifle for years, that I had done a lot of .22 target shooting, and that I did not mind the bruising I got from the gun. This put me on the map, and was a help to me later.

After dinner, we paraded for square bashing and further training, but at about four we were finished for the day. I was still far from tired.

Tea was the last free meal of the day, but suppers in the canteen or in the troops' eating places in the town were quite cheap. The seven bob a week I was now getting was all mine, so I always had money for this.

I did not smoke or drink booze. This was not unusual. None of the other chaps I went out with did either. There was time now to go out to the theatre. At that time, the Aldershot theatre did the London shows and music hall turns. While there, I saw most of the big people of the time.

We had a wonderful chap in command. Colonel John Brown had about him a very good batch of officers. They were always helpful, and one could always go to them to talk anything over. Brown had influence, because he had collected one of the finest bands I have heard. They came from the various first class orchestras and bands in the country, and gave much pleasure later on when we were far from Aldershot.

I enjoyed the life, but some did not. One day, after a bit of strenuous work, the chap next to me was almost in tears, whimpering; "This will kill me." Hear was nearly twice my size, and I asked him what he had done before joining up. He just said; "I haven't had to do much." He had a touch of the Upper Ten about him, but he got little sympathy from me. I was glad I came from a tougher class.

We were a strange collection of bodies. There was Clark, late of Charterhouse, who naturally became 'Nobby'. He was also Upper Ten. His mother appeared complete with chauffeur in 'the car' to bring him, a beautiful sleeping bag. I supposed he had done a little moan about the hard floor. Obviously he had not got a commission because he was not a bright boy. Melville, quite above us, since he was something on the London stage, was a nice chap. He became batman to the Company Commander, thus getting cushy number. When we got abroad, since all officers' servants were then native, he got another cushy number as operator in the Barrack telephone exchange. Le Mesurier, originally from the Channel Islands and manager of one of the well known London clubs, was another very likeable chap. Smith, the Smithfield Market meat porter, was a real cockney. I never tired of listening when they got talking together in the real cockney slang; ".... and she skiddled up the old apples and pears ...." I found to mean ".... she dashed upstairs." I wish I could remember more of this, as it appears to be dying out. I must mention Chickley, horse dealer and dealer of all sorts. He was almost old enough to be my father. I was to get to know him quite well. He could neither read nor write, so I read and wrote his letters for him. He was from Bromley. Owing to some of the queer stuff his wife tried to tell him in her quaint uneducated way, I read stories of some of the crude swindles these people carry out. He sold an unrideable pony a few times. When he himself had it under control, it was O.K. He told me he never had a banking account, and only did business on a strictly cash basis. He would take the money. A few days later the buyer, very often a woman, would come back with tears in her eyes, and he would take it back at a much reduced price. He could not read or write, but what a brain for remembering!

Among these chaps, Brag was a favourite game. I got interested in just sitting and watching them. I never joined in, as it all seemed a stupid waste of time. I would watch him piling up the pennies, or later on the cents, until his opponent would finally throw his hand in. I asked him how he managed, and he replied; "I knew just what he had." He remembered all the cards after a few hands, and in Brag the cards are never shuffled. He did not booze, and we often went to supper together.

The rumours started. We were going away, we were going abroad, somewhere east. And sure enough, the regiment was going. Drill clothing and Wolseley helmets were issued, but I was not in the party. I was still C3, and Home service. I got frantic, and at night I went to the Sergeants' mess and asked for the Sergeant Major. They kicked me out, because 'men' were not allowed into the Sergeants' Mess, but I insisted. At last he came. I put on a weeping act, whimpered to him how I liked the regiment and wanted to go with it. He took me to his quarters to talk things over. He was a brick, and the next day he told me to get fitted out. Goodness knows what he had done, but I didn't care. A few days afterwards the C.O. was inspecting us all in our drill and helmets. Mine was almost sagging over my ears because it was too big. The C.O. stopped in front of me and said; "What's this boy doing?" The Sergeant Major replied immediately; "We've got special permission for him to stay with the battalion, and his family agree." There had been no asking my family or anything, and I really think he did it off his own bat.

The old sweats were very useful when it came to putting on the puggrees around the helmets. It was no easy job to get them on neat, tidy and level all round. Mine had to be done a few times before it would do. How is it that now it is not necessary to wear these things in the tropics?

Right up to my last tour in the East, topees were the order of the day. I remember some stupid incidents relating to this. I was high in the Hymalayas in the middle of winter, and the snow lay thick all around. We had to wear topees even there if we went out during daylight. One chap actually put me on a charge for being caught out without my helmet on.

We had our photograph taken in our tropical kit, complete with helmets; the whole Company in one of those panoramic affairs. This one is four feet long. Each face is big enough to be easily recognisable, and the condition of the print is first class. I certainly look like the boy of the class. Even the Sergeant Major's Boer War ribbons stand out. As it was taken nearly sixty years ago, I wonder how many of us could answer the roll call now.

The dear old Regimental Sergeant Major was not to come with us. He had fathered us throughout training. He had given us lots of fatherly talks on such things as how important it was to make a will on the page for the purpose in our pay books, the dangers of associating with loose women, what a wonderful country we were fighting for, etc. Company Sergeant Major of D Company took his place, and we waited for the move.

By now, I had been found a place in the main barrack block, and become acquainted with the standard solid iron bedstead.. It was in two pieces, one half sliding under the other half when made up for the day. The mattress consisted of three biscuits; three separate thin horsehair packed squares which were stacked for the day, and on which the folded blankets and sheets and small hard pillow were placed. The blankets and sheets had to be folded to a definite size, and all arranged so that all beds looked exactly the same. An orderly officer and sergeant carried out an inspection every day. We took turns at being room orderly for the day. He did general sweeping and tidying up, fetched the gunfire, collected the night bucket which was placed in the middle of the room, and emptied it in the morning. He fetched the meals, which were eaten on tables placed in the centre of the room.

Attached to the barracks were a few other ranks' married quarters, which were occupied by the families of the soldiers away on service. These quarters were also of the Crimean War vintage. I remember how I pitied the poor things who had to live under such conditions. Having been brought up in the country, and having never been to London and seen the slum conditions which prevailed, I had no idea that such living places as those soldiers' married quarters existed. I suppose all these places have disappeared long since, and Talavera Barracks, even if still there, will have been drastically modernised. Although I have been in the Aldershot neighbourhood many times since, I have never taken the trouble to go and look to see the place where I started my service career.

We were marched to church every Sunday morning, but I don't remember getting much pleasure out of the services. There was a big difference between sitting in a choir stall in a cassock and surplice and sitting with a crowd of men in khaki. As long ago as it was, I do remember a parson, in a sermon, saying that we are so different on earth that there must be different classes in heaven. He went on to expound on the subject. I have never since heard this point put forward.

The time seemed to drag. We had learned and re-learned how to pack the big overcoat and all the necessary kit into the pack that the infantry were weighed down by. We wondered if we would get any leave before going. This came at last. We got four days in which to travel and say our goodbyes.

At home, they said they noticed a big change in me. "You've got bigger," they said. So apparently, army life was doing me good. It was a long time before |i was to see my family again, and by that time I had certainly changed a great deal.

I was glad to get back to the hoped for adventures, and sure enough, things were moving. We packed out kit, strapped our helmets onto our packs, and went off to the station. We were packed into a long train. It was an awful squeeze with our rifles, equipment and kit bags, so it took a long time to get comfortable. The modern corridor trains had not been brought in, so we were in separate compartments. It was soon obvious that we were going south-west, and sure enough we arrived at Plymouth.

We did not hang around, and were loaded onto a tender and out to our ship, the Tyndareus. It was a ship of the Alfred Holt Line of Liverpool, with a huge blue funnel. It was mainly cargo, with very little passenger accommodation. Apparently there was enough for the officers, because none were accommodated below decks with us. Not only was it my first trooping experience, but also my first time going to sea. This method, of treating troops as cargo, was kept in use, so that I experienced it a number of times. The cargo decks were fitted with long tables and forms fixed to the floor, on which to eat our meals. Rows of large hooks were fixed to the ceiling, from which to hang our hammocks in which we slept. There were so close together that the hammocks touched. There were about two hundred and fifty on this deck, and only half a dozen wash basins. If you wanted to wash, you queued for goodness how long.

I was on the second deck, and there was a lower deck covered with a hatch. I was resting for a while, lying on this, and pondering on the date. It was Friday the thirteenth of December, and looking up, I started to count a row of holes bored in the steel side of the upper hatch opening. There were thirteen of them. Was this pure coincidence? It certainly did rush back to me not much later when something really did happen. [original page 20]

We stayed anchored off Devonport for quite a while, and did not sail until well after Christmas. It was obvious that a large convoy was being collected. The Walmer Castle appeared, a large Cunarder whose name I forget, and several others. We did nothing, were not allowed ashore, and tried to get used to the horrible food we were getting. I soon started getting about, and crept down the iron ladders to the engine room. I was surprised that none of the engineers told me to buzz off, but let me wander around. I gazed in amazement at the enormous (for me) reciprocating engines. One of the chaps, seeing I was interested, tried to explain such things as triple expansion, and things miles above my head.

I crept into the stokehold, and watched the Chinese stokers. It was lovely and warm down there, away from the December chill up tom. I crawled along the 'tunnels' which took the driving shafts right aft to the propellers. I could be quite alone here, away from the crowds of troops swarming up top. The engineers were decent chaps. None of the other troops had dared intrude into the bowels of the ship, and I was never chased. I would like to have gone up to the bridge, but notices proclaimed that that was sacred territory. The only parts of the ship in bounds to the troops were the iron decks over the holds in which we were housed, and as it was winter and the hatches were on, the hatch covers themselves, which rose above the surrounding deck by a foot or two.

Christmas day came. It was like all the others, except that an effort had been made to get in something of a Christmas dinner. An effort was made to get a Christmasy atmosphere going, but it was a flop. I had many Christmas days on troopships, because trooping was always done in the winter months.

When our patience was getting exhausted, one very dark night, the engines finally began to rumble, and we crept out of Plymouth Sound. I climbed up and out on deck into the pitch blackness. Strict orders had been issued that when sailing, no lights of any sort were allowed on deck, not even a match to light a cigarette. The whole ship was moving in total darkness, which was weird. The ship began to heave and roll about. The sea was quite rough, and I began to feel very queer. With many around me, I was experiencing my first bout of sea sickness. I was to be sick many times, and never became free of it. I got through a miserable night lying rough in the open. Fortunately it did not rain much, but the spray flew around in the rough wind. When daylight came, and I looked over the side at the sea under a leaden sky, the sensation I got was terrible. At one moment I was looking down straight onto the sea, and next moment I was looking straight up into the clouds. I dared not move far from the scuppers, or anywhere where I could vomit away. Eating was out of the question, and I touched nothing all day. I noticed the other ships, and the cruiser and destroyers looking after us, but I felt that I would not mind if a German sub appeared to put me out of my misery. On the second day I was feeling pretty weak. Two or three chaps, who seemed to be enjoying it, tried to make me comfortable on the hatch cover, and brought me food. It was no good. Although I tried for their sakes, I could not keep anything down. The weather was still bad and the sea still rough. We had steamed far out and well into the North Atlantic.

On the third day they fetched an officer to me as I had begun to vomit blood, and he fetched a doctor. There does not seem to be a cure for sea sickness. Nothing could be done, but in the afternoon he brought a bottle of Schweppes table water, and I got a little of it down. A little later he tried some dried biscuit, and that worked. Neptune had relented, and decided to let me off the hook. The weather began to ease. The ship was not bucking and prancing quite so much. We had turned south, and were on the way to warmer weather.

We were nearer to the coast of America than Europe, so we must have made an enormous detour to miss the German submarines, which were causing havoc at the time. I got well enough to go down into the engine room to see those huge pistons going up and down, and the big cranks going round to drive the propeller shafts. I was surprised to count how fast the propellers went round, since they were so large.

In a day or two we turned east, and then we sighted land. It looked very pleasant. We found ourselves in Freetown harbour, Sierra leone. It was then known as the white man's grave, but to me, from the anchorage in the harbour, it looked inviting, and I would like to have gone ashore. The bum boats began to come out to us. After a bit of haggling, we would send down the money, and the goods would be pulled up in small baskets.

It was here that an incident occurred which was to change my whole life. We were two hundred yards from one of the big boats, on which we could see troops. Someone said; "I wonder who they are." I said; "Let's try and see." I borrowed two white handkerchiefs, and, getting a little height, I made the semaphore call sign. I had learnt to signal by semaphore with my sister while a child. After a time somebody answered, and we were in contact.

"Who are you, and where are you going?" I asked. Back came the reply; "Sixth Devons from Mespot." I signalled who we were and where we were going. I was carrying on with backchat when I felt a prod on my bottom. Looking down, I gasped to see the R.S.M. with his stick. I jumped down, and he asked; "Who are you?" "Catt of D Company," I replied. "Report to the Signals Officer at once. We want people like you as soon as we arrive at Singapore," which I did. The poor Sixth Devons. I was to see the big cemetery in which so many were buried north of Ramadi near the Euphrates, where they suffered heavy losses in one of the last battles of the Mespot campaign.

I would not have ever seen the Signals Section had it not been for this incident. Being an army signaller definitely led to what I was to do afterwards. Learning semaphore and Morse as a kid with my sister just for the fun of it let to a lot. Today, with TV and other distractions, kids don't have to get up to such games to mass the time. Today, not many can tap out Morse signals across the table with their knives and forks, as we used to, or talk to each other across a field by semaphore. I suppose modern walkie talkie sets have driven it out of use anyway. However, Morse is still used. I often read signals from ships when they break through on the radio. I have not forgotten semaphore, because I was to use it a great deal with the navy.

We stayed a long time in Freetown. It was very pleasant, even though we never went ashore. Eventually the whole convoy was ready, and we steamed out into the sunny Atlantic in conditions very different from those when we left Plymouth. From now on, it was lovely to be on deck listening to our band, which often played to us. The food got worse, but none of us starved. I often longed for a nice tasty meal.

We began to have P.T. parades on any suitable part of the deck, and I continued my sly visits to the engine room and stokehold, but it was getting warm down there.

We ploughed on through a tranquil sea. The horrible grey greenness of it had changed, under the semi-tropical sun, to a beautiful blue. Porpoises came to greet us. I never tired of their antics as they kept pace with us. How graceful their leaps are as, again and again, they leap completely out of the water. At times they are so close that the little glint in their eyes is discernible. And is that a grin they sometimes give? I remembered these first performances I saw when, years later, I was to see the marvellous exhibition they put on at Marineland near Los Angeles in California.

A large gun was mounted astern. We were told that a practice shoot would be carried out. A barrel was dropped overboard. When it was at the right distance, off went the gun. It was a good thing we had been warned. The crack it gave would have caused alarm. It really shook the ship.

It was January, so we were running into the southern summer. The weather became warm enough for drill clothing to start to appear. Except for P.T. we did nothing. I felt that if signallers were wanted as soon as we arrived, we should be doing a little practice. I found out later that no one on the boat had any experience, and could not give instructions. Had I known this, perhaps I could have started with a few of the 'clever' chaps, who later did form the section. At least we could have practiced semaphore, which we were going to use a lot.

We had church parades on deck on Sundays; a few well known hymns, a few well known prayers, and the colonel would give a sermon. He was quite good, and spoke sincerely on religion. In one sermon he expounded on the cosmos, probably inspired by the wonderful starry skies that we sailed under at night, and the enormous expanse of sea on which the sun poured all day.

The destroyers had left us, but we still had the cruiser to mother us. Now it kept ahead, and did not prowl around. The speed of a convoy is that of the slowest. Had we been on our own, I am sure we would have made better going. No day's mileage was given, as is done during peace time, so I have no idea how many a day we did. It was not until February fifth that we arrived at Cape Town. We did not stay anchored off, but went straight alongside a quay. This was wonderful, but would we get ashore? By jingo! We did. The buzz went round to get tidied up, ready to parade for a route march in our drill uniforms. We paraded just off the docks, and with our lovely band blaring away, we were off. We went right into Cape Town, along Adderley Street. It was obvious that we made some impression. Of course, the band did it. Soon the streets were lined with people. It was great to be able to stride on terra firma again after long weeks confined on the Tyndareus.

Back at the ship, we were dismissed, with instructions to be back on board at nine thirty. I hurried back to town, and dashed into the first restaurant I came to. Gee! Now for something to eat! I sat at one of the few empty tables. A flunky came to me all dressed up in the usual bib and tucker of the upper ten places. This made me realise that I was somewhere posh, but this didn't deter me. I asked him to being me some food. "What would you like?" he asked. I said it didn't matter; anything would do. He went away to get it, and I glanced around. It certainly was 'upper ten'. The waiter brought my dishes. I woofed it all like a wild animal, and asked him for more.

As I was about to finish, two ladies came and stood by me. One of them said; "You are very hungry." I blurted out that I was starved; that I had been on a ship for several weeks with almost inedible food, and had been very ill with sea sickness for some time. One of them said; "You are very young. What are you doing in the army?" I replied that I was old enough, ands added, "I'm older than I look." Would I be in Cape Town tomorrow? I said did not know, and the dear woman said; "If you are, come to me for the day," and she gave me her address. She said it would be lovely to have me.She was a Mrs. Alexander of Observatory Road, and the other was a Mrs. Franklin. They left, adding; "Do come." The waiter came, and I nervously asked for my bill. I had very little money with me. He said it was nothing, as the two ladies had paid for everything. I almost broke into tears, I was so overcome. Mrs. Alexander was to write to me all through the war, as I did to her.

What a disappointment it was when, at about six next morning, the propellers began to turn, and we were off. As we sailed out of Cape Town harbour, I could not help thinking about the lovely day I was missing. Little did I know what was in store.

As soon as we were clear it was obvious that we were alone. No other ship in sight. We were away from all danger, it was said. It was soon clear that we were travelling faster than we had ever done in convoy. Checking on the log being towed behind, and on the engine's vibrations, this was very evident. It was a lovely day, all seemed set fair, and we talked about being in Singapore soon. At about six in the evening, with the sun still shining, I was again working out our speed from the log, and I was saying we were doing..... a terrific explosion occurred forward and the ship shuddered. We stood agape, and some nit said; "We've burst a boiler." Within seconds the colonel shouted from the bridge; "Stand steady. Now is your opportunity to behave like Englishmen. Get to your stations and await orders."

I had been allotted to a raft with about twenty others, and so we stood by. I kept going to the side to see how fast we were sinking, and made a mental note that when the ship was down to a certain mark, I would get out of it and get clear of the ship. I knew all about a sinking ship dragging people down with it. We then got hold of the raft, and started to argue about how to get it overboard. I got a length of rope tied to it, and said we would lower it over and they could all slide down the rope. I would then untie the rope and jump down to them. Then I thought of the little money I had, and if we got out of this, I might want it. I had hidden it in my pack, but that was two decks down. I looked over the side, and decided to chance it. I don's suppose those deck ladders and steps have ever been done in the time I took that evening. I tore the pack open and got my few shillings, had a quick look round at the completely empty deck as I had never seen it, and bolted back up. I was so glad afterwards that I had done this.

Back on deck, all was calm. Checking over the side again, I noticed we were not sinking quite so fast.

Then something happened which will remain in my memory as one of the highlights of my life. Someone forward in A or B Company started to sing; "There's along trail a'winding into the land of my dreams;" a song we were mad on at the time; one of the great war songs. In no time, the whole battalion was singing, and the colonel looked down in amazement.

Newspaper report

It began to get dark. Then, over the horizon, covered with blazing lights, a ship was rushing towards us. It was soon steaming around our stern, and a terrific shout went up from us all. The colonel shouted down to us that they would get the rest of us off. The few boats on board were lowered and got away. Soon the boats from the other ship with an enormous red cross in lights were coming over, and we awaited our turn. Another boat appeared, which turned out to be another Blue Funnel boat, the Eumaeus. It started to send boats over too.

After what seemed an age, but really could not have been long, my turn came in the queue I was in. I got over the side and down the rope ladder. From the top, there had not appeared to be much of a sea running, but going down the ladder, the boat below rose and fell quite a few feet. One had to wait for the boat to come up to meet one and be grabbed by the chaps in the boat. There were a few accidents with chaps who were too hasty, letting go and falling some feet.

I got into one of the Oxfordshire boats. Soon I was being pulled over its side to safety, and I offered up a prayer of thanks. There were a lot of empty beds, and I was put into one; all snugly into clean sheets. The Oxfordshire was bringing wounded and sick down from East Africa, where the fighting was still going on. I must have been exhausted by all the excitement and have gone straight to sleep. I remember nothing more until I awoke late on the next day with my life belt lying by me.

For a few days I had had a discharging are from a vaccination which had gone pussy. This did not stop me from giving a helping hand with an oar in the lifeboat, but when I did wake, my shirt and clothing over my shoulder and sleeve were soaked, and my arm was quite painful. However, the exertion must have done it good, because in a day or two it had completely healed. We all got off. There was no one severely hurt in the explosion, and except for minor injuries such as flesh being torn from hands when sliding down ropes, there was no severe damage.

The boat did not sink, but stopped with its propellers well out of the water as though ready to dive. Some of the engineers I was friendly with had done a heroic job with masses of padding and stuff to stop the water from spreading to coal bunkers and other places. We were near Cape Agulhas, where in the same month, February, in 1852, one of the first steam troopships was wrecked; the Birkenhead. Four hundred and fifty-four were lost, and the gallantry of those on board, especially the troops, will ever be remembered. Regardless of all the stuff published about us at the time, and the illuminated card we all got from the king, I am glad to have experienced it all, and seen how a well disciplined crowd of men will behave at a nerve-wracking moment. Had there been panic to get on one of the few lifeboats, how differently it could all have ended.

Some of the crew stayed on board when it became clear that the ship might be saved. When all the rest were clear of the Tyndareus, the Oxfordshire and the Eumaeus made for Cape Town. We soon arrived there, and were unloaded with just our lifebelts slung around our necks. We were told to keep them with us, and they were later returned to the ship.

The news of us had gone before, and a lot of people were around to welcome us. That day's papers were full of the story of the repetition of the Birkenhead, but in my opinion, our little affair bore little resemblance. A tented camp had already been put up for us at Wynberg, and we were soon settled in. The weather was marvellous, as it can be at that time of the year. Loads of fruit and goodies of all kinds began to arrive, and enough pipes and bags of tobacco for everyone. I tried to smoke a pipe, but, fortunately, could get no enjoyment from it and gave it up.

As soon as I felt I could get away safely, I went to the station and took a ticket to Observatory Road, the Cape Town suburb where Mrs. Alexander lived. As I had nothing else, I was still in the rough outfit I left the boat in. I found her house, and the black servant opened the door to me. She called Mrs. Alexander, who came and, on seeing me, shouted; "You were on that boat!" and clutched me in her arms. She had seen the exaggerated report in the paper. The story had certainly been heated up, as journalistic reports usually are.

This was the beginning of a wonderful time for me. She did more for me than the best mother could have done. Mr. Alexander was wonderful, too. He was the Chief Engineer for South African Railways. I went on surf bathing trips with her to Muzenburg, party trips to Cape Town, and had lovely, quiet days with them at home. She had a niece from Port Elizabeth who might have been a year or two older than me staying with her on holiday. life was so happy-go-lucky at the camp that I was never missed. I made sure to be there if anything was happening.

The Tyndarus had not sunk, and the cruiser got her into Simonstown Docks. It was patched up, and I saw her months later in Singapore Harbour. I have a photo of her taken from the cruiser, showing her well down forward, with propellers in the air, ready to take the plunge.

Working parties went to collect all kit and equipment, a terrific jumble, which was brought and stacked in heaps about the camp. Then the fun began, sorting out over and over until one finally found the second pair of socks, and so on. Or perhaps a shirt left hanging out to dry. And so on. In a few days, everything was found. I lost nothing, because most of my kit was in my kit bag, with my regimental number clearly stamped on it. All kit was numbered too, and so we shouted out the numbers to find owners.

We were soon spick and span, and given the honour of lining Adderley Street for the pageantry of Parliament's opening.We marched behind our band, and took our places at the roadside. The crowded street of people cheered us, and along came the Governor-General with his plumed hat in his carriage, saluting us. It was good fun, and I enjoyed it immensely. After the show, we went to the enormous feather market building for a good meal provided by Cape Town, and most of the ladies of the town helped to serve us. The enormous feather market was a feature of Cape Town. Ostrich feathers were in great demand to decorate women's hats. I remember my mother's hats with the flowing feathers around them. They were one of South Africa's main exports. I wonder what happened to the building when the demand stopped.

We had a pay parade. I was one of the two detailed to accompany the 'pay bob' to the bank to collect the money. The bank was in Wynberg. The counter cashier shovelled gold sovereigns from a heap. Goodness knows how many there was, but it was a sight I was not to see again. Notes had already come into use in England, although, as I have said, my last pay was a golden sovereign. At this pay parade, I received two sovereigns. I held on to them for years, eventually selling them for four pounds each.

The fun and games, the visits to Mrs. Alexander, the climbs up Table Mountain, the spending of tickies (the South African threepenny piece) were at an end. A boat had arrived which could continue our voyage to Singapore. After the goodbyes, we boarded the Ingoma. She was a passenger ship, but we continued as cargo, packed down in the holds. We were used to this by now, and we made ourselves as comfortable as we could. This was easy, because the weather was beautiful. We looked booked for a pleasant voyage.

We ran into a sea which was unbelievable, the like of which I was never to see again. For days, it was like a sheet of glass, without the slightest ripple. I never tired of leaning over the very prow of the ship to watch the continual fan of flying fish which leapt from the water, flew for a couple of dozen of yards, and flopped back again into the sea. They were in their thousands. The water became phosphorescent, and at night, the pilot fish, which kept just a few feet in front of the boat, made a picture that I have never forgotten. I gave up sleeping in a hammock long before we got to Cape Town, as I found a corner of the deck more comfortable. Sometimes I would sleep on the mess table now that the boat was rolling. The food was quite edible, the washing arrangements were far better, and it developed into a holiday cruise.

The German cruiser Emden has caused havoc in these waters until it was caught by the Australian cruiser Sydney, hiding at Keeling (Cocos) Islands. There were rumours that there was another about, and one day the Ingoma turned off coarse and went like mad. In the direction we had been going, we saw smoke coming from a ship. We were never told the reason for the panic, but we were soon well clear, and on course again.

We saw no beautiful tropical islands, or land of any description, and I got some idea of the enormous expanse of the Indian Ocean. The glassy sea got left behind, and we were told that we were entering the Straits of Malacca. Here we were hit by a typhoon, which made a complete change. I think some warning must have been received by radio, because we were battened down in our decks. When it did come, it was very scary. The wind howled through the rigging up top, the ship began to pitch and toss, and I got alarmed. Then suddenly it was all over, just as quickly as it had started, and from then on all was calm again. Going down the Straits, we did see tropical islands complete with palm trees and tropical growth right down to the water's edge. This was the first land we had seen since leaving Durban, where we had stopped for a few days after leaving Cape Town, and where we had been fëted again.

While in Durban, I was taking a tram ride into the country late in the afternoon when a gentleman sitting near me leaned over and said; "Are you doing anything particular?" I said "No," and he said, "Would you like to come and have dinner with me?" Of course, I said "Yes." We got off, and he led me up the drive to a large house. I was introduced to his wife and two charming daughters. They played the piano for me, and we sang a bit before going in to a sumptuous meal. They got me to sign the visitors' book, and I found that he was the Chief Judge. These people were just too kind for words, and I cannot imagine why they gave me this treat.

Just before arriving at Singapore, we learned that we were not all staying there. A and B Companies were to go on to Hong Kong, and our beloved Colonel was going with them. He took the band, of course. C and D Companies were taken over by the second in command, the Major. On arrival, we were met by the band of the regiment we were relieving, the Somerset Light Infantry. We marched to Tanglin Barracks, about two miles from Singapore City. They were set in tropical surroundings. The first impression was one of perfect peace. I thought; "It's going to be fine here." I was soon in one of the huge bungalows which were thatched with tatti (coconut leaves). It being evening, I asked where I could get a meal. "Oh. In the canteen." With another chap I went for my first meal in Singapore. The canteen was run and staffed by Chinese, and just then they hadn't much on, but we could have egg sandwiches. We had not had an egg since Cape Town. This sounded O.K., and we had some. They were so nice, and so well cooked, that I had fourteen before I was satisfied, washed down with cups of tea.

Singapore had not yet been cleared of mosquitoes, and we had our first experience of sleeping under mosquito nets. It had not been cleared of tigers either, and twice we were confined to barracks when it was found that they had swum over from the mainland.

A signal section was put together. We started serious training under a corporal who came over from the artillery based on Blackang Mati, an island lying just off Singapore, where the heavy gun defences were. We worked all day and half the night, learning how to signal by Morse flag, semaphore, heliograph and the Begbee lamp. The oil lamp had a venetian shutter arrangement, which was opened by a plunger, all in metal, for night signalling. It made a considerable noise. I was never to use it. The equipment we used on the station was much more modern. I had played at Morse and semaphore signalling, so I had a good lead over the others. I easily came top when the flag officer from the naval headquarters station came to examine us. It caused some embarrassment when he said; "This chap must be promoted to take charge." I was still considered too young for this by the regiment. He insisted, so I became a lance-corporal. With the four other top people, I moved to the signal station on Fort Canning. This was a hill rising from the middle of Singapore. It had originally been a fort, but there were no longer any guns, except for the time gun, which was still fired at noon and when the English incoming mail boat was sighted.

There was still a barrack for one company of infantry. The Naval Headquarters was just behind the signal station, which was also the Lloyds Shipping signalling station., controlled by an Englishman, with four Malays who handled the flag signals. They were only there during the day, and lived down in Singapore. The site overlooked the Singapore Roads where all naval vessels anchored before the naval base was built. It was our job to do all the communicating between the boats and the headquarters. It was a marvellous job, and we did nothing else. We messed with the troops, got extra pay, got adept at handling the big semaphore arms and the flag signals which were pulled up a tall mast nearby. For night us, we had electricity for a mast head light, and for distant signalling a powerful light which could be beamed. We had a five foot telescope to read flag signals before the ship was on the horizon. This enabled me to see the moon as I had never seen it before, and we could easily see people in their rooms down in Singapore.

The Chinamen still wore a pigtail, and many of the Chinese ladies could be seen hobbling about on their tiny feet. Sun Yat Sen did a good job when he stopped this stupid practice. We heard about opium dens, and I was determined to see one, although they were strictly out of bounds. I strolled into one of the back streets one night where I knew there was one, and pushed my head through the curtained entrance. Just inside, a man sat with the pipes and things by him. It was almost dark, and it took some time for my eyes to get accustomed to the light. No one took any notice of me, and I stayed put and gazed upon the horrible scene. Down each side of the room were sloping low shelves full of chinks. Most of them seemed out of this world and in the land of the dreams they craved, while a few were leaning up and puffing at pipes. I can still see the picture, which remains imprinted on my mind after nearly fifty years.

Funerals were elaborate affairs complete with band. Very often we heard the funeral march blaring out from the street below. I went to the cemetery, which was on sloping ground. I was amazed at the size of the graves. The coffin was slid into a hole, and around it would be built an edging about eight feet across in the shape of, I was told, a womb. I never checked up on this, so I cannot vouch for it.

One could not be long in Singapore without getting to know the extensive brothel area, especially if one was in the service. We were keen to see Singapore, and soon after getting settled, Chickley, the illiterate dealer from Bromley, who bedded near me, said; "Let's go down to Singapore for supper." We walked to the road and got a rickshaw, saying "Chow chow, food." The rickshaw wallah nodded and trotted off. In Singapore, he turned into a well lit up area, and down a street lined with open windowed houses in which sat smiling bunches of the most 'entrancing' Japanese girls, all dressed in beautiful Japanese kimonos. The rickshaw stopped about half way down outside a restaurant, into which we went for supper. We were to find that this was the only area where we could get eats. It was the well known Malay Street. got to know it well.

When I was at the signal station I often ate there. I was never accosted, and never saw anything like the bawdy behaviour seen on the television during the Olympic Games in the Munich brothel area. The girls might have looked 'entrancing', but as I had never been 'broken in', I had no difficulty in treating them as nothing else but exhibition pieces. In any case, I did not have the money to throw away on beautiful Japanese prostitutes, thank God.

When I returned to Singapore twenty years later, I found that Malay Street was no longer the centre of Singapore night life. It had been swept clean years before, and had sunk into a miserable Chinese slum.

Of the many unhappy signals I have had through my hands, one I received remains in my memory. The crew of an Australian sloop on the station had caused much trouble with minor mutinies etc. Many courts marshal had not solved the troubles. It was decided to sack the ship, and return it to Australia. Leaving the Roads, it hoisted the calling pennant, and I received the following; "To C.inC. from Capt. Fantome. Ref. & Date.... Regret leaving you under such circumstances, and hope to return and serve under you in better conditions. Time." And off to Australia it sailed.

Our regimental padre was Padre Roberts, with whom I had little to do at the time. When I returned to Singapore later, he was Bishop of Singapore. I then got connected with the cathedral and go to know him well. I do not think Roberts had anything to do with the cathedral during my Fort Canning days. If there was a bishop then , I do not remember him. I did get refreshment sometimes by going down to the evening service. I was never spoken to by anybody before or after the service. During the time I was there, I made no friends outside the army. Mr. Braun, the Lloyds man, did not get very friendly, and I never saw him outside the station. He was a Rider Haggard fan, and introduced me to Alan Warterman, King Solomon's Mines, and others that he lent me. One day, when he seemed a little more communicative than usual, he told me he had made the Trans Siberian Rail journey. It was one of the most unhappy experiences he had had. By what he said about it, it must have been. I think his trouble was that he had a Eurasian wife. His daughter, who once brought him some books, looked the part.

All flags were made in the signal hut by a Malay who had been there for years. It was interesting to see him cutting out the different coloured pieces of bunting, and putting them together on the sewing machine. There are dozens of flags. Besides the alphabet and numbers, there are ship's company flags, special flags for special orders, and what have you. All this made the job very interesting. I consider myself very lucky to have fallen into it so early in my career.

I was able to start playing tennis. The naval people had a court, and allowed me to join in. I soon got the hang of it. Soon I was able to enjoy a good game. I made my first acquaintance with a billiard table. Although I would be glad to give a game, I never got much out of it. There was no snooker.

Walks into the country taught me what rubber was about, and how it was got. You could see Malays cutting the strips in the trees, sticking on the pots, and finally collecting the lacteous sap. Rubber was in great demand for the war effort. The planters were doing very well. Coconut trees were everywhere. Copra went by the ship load. Singapore was obviously doing very well.

We were lucky to be so far away from the fighting, and from the war conditions we read about in letters from home. Some of them were lost when ships carrying them fell victim to German submarines. The regular regiment we had relieved were soon in action in France, and in the casualty lists. We had the occasional Japanese warship in, but we did not see much of the crews. Fraternisation was not encouraged. It was said that during their stay, all important notices were taken down. If this was true, there must have been doubts about them even at this time, when they were allies.

Towards the end of the war, in 1917, better news began to come from home. We were having victories in France. Things were going well in the Middle East, and we began to think that the end was in sight. Little did I realise what some of us were in for.

The good time in Singapore ended. In the middle of December, I was considered A1, and so fit for anything. I was no longer the sweet little boy. I had grown considerably, had started to shave, and had been found capable of handling a job. I was a MAN.

I was part of a small draft for India just before Christmas. We boarded the Sanshia, a B.I. passenger boat. As before, we were cargo, and on the way to Rangoon. The ship was lousy with cockroaches, as only ships in the tropics can be. At night, life was anything but comfortable. There were two or three officers up in the passenger cabins, but they did not seem very interested in us. We spent Christmas Day in the region of Penang, but did not get ashore. On Christmas Day, one of the officers came down and apologised on behalf of the captain, as no Christmas fare had been put on board for us. However, cases of Nestles tinned milk were found and given to us as a treat. We splashed the creamy stuff over everything we could. I had loved the stuff as a child, so I got through quite a lot of it.

Well out in the open sea, we came upon a junk affair making distress signals. We went alongside it. There were four natives. They had lost their sails, run out of food and water, and asked to be taken aboard. This was done, and it was decided to sink the craft. I was right over the nose of our boat. Just before we hit it, I saw a rat creep out from under the floor of the empty hold. I can see the poor thing now. [original page 30]

Rangoon lies quite a long way up the River Irawadi, and for much of the way rice fields stretch away on either side. We went alongside at Rangoon on New Year's Eve. The Christmas had been my second running in a troop deck. More were to come later. At midnight an awful racket started, when every ship in harbour started tearing away on their sirens to welcome the New Year. Rangoon must have been alerted by the din.

We went sightseeing next morning with the officers, especially to Rangoon's pièce de résistance. This was the famous Shway Dagon pagoda, surrounded by mane Buddhist temples and shrines. We had to take our boots off before entering.

During the evening, we saw the officers leave the boat. We had orders to remain on board, but as the way down the gangway seemed quite clear, I and a few others went too. We found some food, and were quietly strolling along when we ran into the officers. We turned and bolted back to the boat. To our surprise, nothing was said about it.

We changed ships, going over to the Bharata for Calcutta. This was another B.I., but fast and sleek looking. But we were down in the hold again. (The company B.I. had a monopoly in these seas.) On this trip I became fascinated again watching the pilot fish showing us the way. Again the sea sparkled.

Calcutta is a few hours up the river Hooghly. I remember it being interesting, but have not retained any details. And so we stepped on to the soil of India at this amazing city. We were taken to Dalhousie Barracks. It was an amazing building for the tropics. It could have stood unnoticed in the middle of Aldershot. I learned later that two sets of plans had been submitted to the War Office for barracks at Calcutta and Portsmouth or somewhere in the south of England. The plans got mixed up, and the wrong ones went to Calcutta and the tropical bungalows were built in England. I did not see much of Calcutta city during my stay of a few days there. The enormous maidan , with its horse racing track, hockey pitches, football pitches and what have you was very nice for an evening stroll, and Singapore had given me a pretty good idea what cities in the east could be like. We learnt we were en route to Lucknow, where we were to join another Middlesex Regiment. So we had out first experience of an Indian troop train. These trains had single narrow compartments to hold six, complete with kit. There was nowhere to stow the kit away. Racks let down, three on each side, for sleeping. We could only move one at a time. We fetched our food at stops, and had to do all the necessaries at stops, too. These train journeys were horrible, and I never got used to them. It was a slow go, and took two days and nights.

On arrival at Lucknow, we were piloted to Havelock Barracks. These were stretched out over another enormous maidan, with long distances between bungalows. This was to combat cholera clouds. If a cholera cloud clamped down, it would not wipe out every one, but only those in its path. Such was the thinking many moons ago.

The Tenth Middlesex were a fine crowd. A lot of them were London University students. On the outbreak of the war they had joined the regiment. It had been one of the first regiments to relieve the trained regulars in India and France. For a time they had been stationed at Calcutta. I was soon settled with the Signal Section. As far as I could in the horrible climate, I began to enjoy myself. But I never got used to the terrible heat. During the excessively hot days, we did not move from our bungalow unless it was necessary between about nine in the morning until late afternoon.

There was no electricity. Over each bed a punkah was suspended. All were joined together by a cord which went through the end wall and was pulled by the poor punkah wallah. Tatties (mattings of leaves) were put over all the doors. The wallahs continually splashed water over these so that what air did come through was cooled. For a rupee, that is, one quarter in old pence, we bought charpoys, simple wooden frame beds interlaced with coarse string. These were carried well out of the hot bungalow, and we slept on them under a cloudless, starry sky. I began to study and get to know the constellations, which was wonderful.

Feeble old oil lamps at the ends of the bungalow were considered sufficient lighting at night. We had to buy our own lamps if we wanted to do reading or anything after dark. How cheap everything was! We never wore anything twice, even if we changed three times a day, yet we got all this dhobied for six pence per week. If you liked, you got shaved every day in bed for twopence.

Just outside the barracks was a Sands Home where we could get a complete supper, with tea, for three and a half pence. This became understandable when we saw the coolies being paid, after a day's work, in pies. A pie then was worth one twelfth of a penny. Our cooks got one rupee per month, which was general payment for all camp followers. It seems unbelievable now, but it is how things were. I had gone up in the world, but I was still only getting about twelve shillings per week. This was more than ample, because I neither smoked nor boozed.

In this climate, the heliograph came into its own for visual signalling, because the sun was always there. The sun's rays were directed by a mirror, or, if the sun was awkwardly places, two mirrors, up to a distant station. Using a plunger, the sun's reflection was brought up to a spot positioned in front on an arm. This had been aligned onto the station. Using Morse, away we went. If two stations were in a visible line, great distances could be covered. I remember once, up in the Hymalayas, we 'spoke' to a station well down on the plains, many miles beyond the foothills. The modern walkie-talkie will have replaced the heliograph, which will now be a museum piece. It is nice to know that I used it a lot.

Thursday was our day off. We were completely free all day unless we were on camp duty. Signallers were never called upon for guard duty or the like.

All calls were made by bugle. The last post, coming from a distant guard house across the maidan on a still tropical night was something to have hear, and to remember. For me, there was something emotional about it. It is no wonder that the last post has been retained for funeral embellishment. This was always followed by lights out fifteen minutes later, and so ended another day.

Sunday was not a holiday. Church Parade was the parade of the week, and all had to attend. We paraded in equipment, with rifle and bayonet, with ammunition pouches filled. It was the only time we did not parade as a section, but under the commander of the company to which we belonged, so we were in no way privileged. The inspection was rigorous. We were on this for a long time before marching off to church, led by the drum and Fife band. There was no band to compare with the band of the twenty-fifth. On the pew in front of one was a rifle rack into which the rifle went so as to be nice and handy. The clatter made by this, and the rattle of the bayonets as one got up and down, can be imagined. The whole business was completely uncivilised, and most degrading. I am not surprised that for some it drove religion completely out of their systems. The reason for all this was that, when the mutiny broke out about seventy years before, a regiment was caught on church parade and massacred.

I went to Lucknow only a few times. It was some distance and necessitated a long ride. For me there was little interest after I had seen the main sights. A survivor, who had been a very young soldier at the time of the siege, showed me round the famous residency. It seems strange that, through him, I had a connection with the Indian Mutiny, as I had a connection with Wellington through my baker boss.

During the cold weather we would go on manoeuvres. These meant long route marches as there was no transport, at least not for the troops. The transport we did have was bullock carts and mules. Along the roads of India were rest camps every twenty miles or so into which we would stumble after a long day's march, and put up our little bivouacs for the night. These were tiny bivies that we carried, which were just big enough for two men to crawl into after having a meal. This would have been prepared for us by the cooks, who had arrived before us in their bullock transport with the mobile cooking gear. At almost every rest camp were small cemeteries and monuments to troops who had died while on a march. A lot of them died from cholera. Thousands and thousands of soldiers must have found their last resting place in these camps. And as for the huge cemeteries at the main garrison centres, with the numbers of wives and children as well, we paid a pretty heavy price in lives for the proud possession of our empire. The garrison church walls were lined with memorials to members of regiments who had served there. I wonder what has become of these. When we were there, all these places were well kept up.

On manoeuvres we were always in a tented camp. We crowded into bell tents to sleep, and ate in the open around our field kitchens. The kite hawks knew the 'come to the cookhouse door boys' when it was blown for meals. They would swarm overhead. If you got through a meal without losing any you were lucky. They would swoop down and take it off your fork as you were lifting it to your mouth. One chap caught one day as it jabbed itself onto his fork. They were big birds, and their wings could give one's cheek a pretty hefty crack. Even at Lucknow, one day as I was carrying my little pat of butter enclosed in my hand, one of these birds swooped and clawed through my fingers to get at it. I got come severe scratches.

One time we went a considerable distance into the country, about five days' march, and camped within a couple of miles of a big religious gathering. Indians poured in from all directions, on elephants, bullock carts by the hundreds, and by any method they could. We were not supposed to go near, but I could not resist the temptation of seeing a bit of fun. So by making a detour, I got near. I saw some horrible sights, at least they seemed so to me. I saw a man tied up by his feet, and, head downwards, swung through the flames of a big fire. I doubt if he survived. If one got around, seeing fakirs was normal. I have seen men pulled along on a bed of nails driven upwards through a planked bed. I saw a man who had held his arm upright for so long that it had seized there. But enough of that.

We were on manoeuvres in camp on November 11th, 1918. Very late at night, when we were camped down, a chap who had obviously had a drink too many shrieked through the camp; "It's all over, you b...... It's all over." He was put in the guard tent, but in the morning we really got the news that it was all over. Funnily, it made no difference. We just carried on. We would have to await relief, which would take some time.

I managed to get a good break, however, due to an accident on the soccer field. I was carried into hospital with bad cartilage trouble, and the surgeon said I ought to be operated on. He warned me that I might be left with a stiff leg, but as I seemed to be crippled in any case, I consented. A cavalry officer was suffering from the same trouble due to a fall while playing polo, and we were operated on on the same day. I was lucky, but he wasn't, and went home with a stiff leg. The operation was in its infancy then, and was a hit or miss affair.

It was suggested that I go somewhere to convalesce when I left hospital. Did I know where I might go? I started to make enquiries in our Orderly Room. I found information about a holiday establishment at Mussooree, where soldiers were welcome. We knew this was one of the 'posh' hill stations where troops did not go en bloc for the summer hill period. I wrote, and they could accommodate me. I went off to Lucknow station, and took a train to Dehra Dun, the rail head for Mussoorie. The authorities had done very well for me. I had a dandy chair complete with coolies to meet me and carry me right up to Mussoorie. There were five coolies, so that rest turns could be taken. It took four to carry me.

With very brief rests, they took me almost at a trot. I felt very much a rajah. It was a climb of about seven thousand feet, and the distance some ten or twelve miles. It might have been more, but the trip was so enjoyable that it was soon over. I was welcomed by the proprietor and his wife at the guest house. I made a speedy recovery under delightful conditions. I was soon taking walks and playing badminton. After a couple of weeks I was almost fighting fit, and doing a little climbing.

The week of peace celebrations arrived. One of the items was a 'pagal gymkhana' (mad sports). There were all sorts of stupid races and competitions. I won a lot of lovely prizes. I remember a gold mounted cigarette holder in a case; a safety razor, which is still about me with my name on the silver case; a full painting outfit which must have cost pounds, and the silver cup for being the champ. I have it by me now, beautifully inscribed. I certainly must have made an amazing recovery, because I was carried there crippled only about three weeks before.

Between races there were mixed items which required a female partner. For these, I asked a beautiful young girl if she would partner me. She looked up to her mother, who nodded, so she joined in the fun and games with me. She had come out from England, where she was at boarding school, for the holiday. Her father was on the C in C's staff at Delhi. I made her accept the painting outfit I had won to remind her of the occasion. I never saw her again, and I often wonder what became of her.

At night there was a grand fireworks display, which might have ended disastrously when the store of fireworks caught fire. Rockets, squibs and bangers flew around in all directions. Thousands of Indians were there, and all the English holiday makers, so there was a bit of a panic. Happily, though, there were only a few minor hurts, but it put an end to the grand firework display.

I got very friendly with the proprietor and his wife. I spent a lot of time with them and their two charming little girls, who were aged ten and eight. I read stories to them at night when they were in bed with their armah sitting by. Armahs never seemed to leave their charges. They slept on the floor of the kiddies' bedrooms. I have a small photograph taken with them on the veranda, to remind me of this happy time in Missourie. I was invited to return when I got clear of the army, to take on the secretary's job at the Mussorie Sports Club. I might have done so, but I ended my service time ion India in bad health, and far from fit. But more of that later.

This was not my first trip to the hills. For the Summer break, I had been to one of the regular hill stations with the regiment. This was a pleasant experience, parts of which are imprinted on my mind. We left Lucknow in the raging heat at night for Kathgodam, the rail head for Ranikhet. Ranikhet is five days' march from Kathgodam, and what a walk with under decent conditions without equipment and rifles slung around one. The scenery beggars description. I would so like to do it again under less trying conditions. We camped at night at dak bungalow rest camp sites. One day, I remember, one of the chaps who had been there before, showed me that night's rest camp perched up ahead, looking no great distance away. What a time it took to get there, winding up the valleys, and at times doubling back on ourselves. I pitied our bullock transport heaving our kits and stores up this rough track. We passed near Naini Tal, with its beautiful lake. This was an aristocratic holiday centre, not for soldiers. We had to go much further up and on.

We had left the heat of the plains at Kathgodam, and were now in a climate which came back to me slightly later when I got above Lauterebrunen under the Eiger and Jungfrau years later during a summer break. But there is nothing like the Hymalayas as I remember them. I was fortunate to see a few different places up there.

Getting up in the morning, we felt like jumping over the nearest peak. On and on we went, getting higher and higher, until, on the last day, we turned a corner, and, Bang! What an amazing sight for a youngster of twenty-one. Nanda Devi in pure white, looking as though it was only a few miles away, so clear was the atmosphere, stretching up into an absolutely cloudless sky. No words can describe my feeling on my first sight of one of the world's most magnificent mountains. I was told that the slope coming down was the Pindari Glacier. It was sixty miles away, but so clear was the weather that it showed up in complete detail.

As the days passed, it became very familiar, along with many minor peaks within sight. Although it impressed me so much, I never felt the urge to climb it. There seemed no sense in doing so. Distances were vast. Across the valley to the next range would take three or four days of quick going. There was a place further in; Almoora, the recruiting centre for the famous Ghurka regiments.

We were not kept busy, but had heaps of time to take long walks along the range on which Ranikhet stands, or to do a little climbing up the nearby peaks. It was expedient to take things easy, or one was puffing and blowing, with the heart thumping a little. I was to remember this period when, years later, I entered a hotel at Flagstaff, Arizona, en route to the Grand Canyon. Large notices were displayed in Flagstaff warning visitors to move slowly because of the height, which could cause heart trouble. They must be delicate there, where it was not much over seven thousand feet high. But then they say that an American never walks ten yards if he can help it.

I did not stay the full time at Ranikhet with the regiment. A hasty call from Lucknow ordered me and another signaller, Nimms, to return post haste. We packed our kit, which was then taken by coolies to meet us at Kathgodam. After a last look across to Nanda Devi, poking up out of the eternal snows, I murmured goodbye. We were given horses and syces, and told to make Kathgodam in two days.

We made an early start, in conditions sublime. We did not take the road we had come by, but took short cuts via narrow kud paths, which were sometimes just wide enough to take us, and which had no barriers to stop us from dropping a few thousand feet sheer into the valley below. I began to get very scared when I found it impossible to pull my horse away from the very edge. I found myself leaning more and more towards the hillside, so that, when it did fall over, I might be able to stay aloft. At last I gave up. I shouted to Nimmo; "I'm walking," and found he was only too glad to do the same. We took off our equipment, and tied it, with our rifles, to the saddles, and handed them over to the syces, telling them to keep with us.

We did about thirty miles that day. What a jaunt it was, mostly down hill, with nothing to carry, easy going. We found shelter for the night at a dak bungalow; woke completely refreshed, and made another early start, because we had to make Kathgodam by late afternoon. Our short cuts took us so close to Naini Tal that we skirted the beautiful lake. I wish we could have idled there for a while. It was getting warmer, but still quite pleasant, and we made Kathgodam in good time. I had wondered whether our kit and baggage would arrive in time, but there was no need to fear. The smiling coolies were there. They were terrific in the weight they could carry on their backs, suspended by ropes attached to a band around the forehead. Practically everything was carried this way into the hills. By now, no doubt, the car and the means by which good roads can be made, these human beasts of burden will be a thing of the past. When travelling, troops always went second class. This was so as to avoid the third class, wooden bench coaches crowded with Indians. It was not unusual to see women travelling purdah, in little tent like contraptions. They could be seen standing on the platforms. They were so low that the females in them must have been in a permanent squat. The contraption would then be lifted into the train. I hope this stupidity is over now. It struck me as barbaric to shut women away from everything like this.

We changed trains at Bareilly. There was time for a stroll, but we went, because it was not too hot. We passed the government dairy, went in, and spoke with the manager. He gave us a lovely long drink of cool , fresh milk. Fresh milk was considered so necessary that every garrison station had its government dairy and herd of cows, usually managed by an Englishman. We had travelled through the night, and so arrived in Lucknow before next dark, and got into a tonga (a light wheeled pony cart used all over India) for our barracks. We were wanted for a signallers' instruction course, but some muddling had crept in, as is not unusual in military dealings. We did not get it for weeks. I had the cartilage operation and the holiday at Mussoorie before I did go.

About this time, the stillness and serenity of the night was severely disturbed by the blowing of the alarm. This soon had us awake, dressed, and parading in equipment, ready to go. We were hurried to the station, where a train was waiting, and on our way somewhere. We were soon to know. Bad rioting had broken out at Faizabad, a city about eighty miles away. We arrived there at about breakfast time, and were hurried out to parade outside the station, fixed bayonets, and marched right through the city with a battery of guns behind us. This must have had some effect. Quietness prevailed. After a few days, we returned. It was difficult to find out exactly what had happened. Some said it was one of the religious clashes, which were so prevalent in India; others that Mrs. Besant was in the neighbourhood again. What a remarkable woman she was! At that time she was continually in the news, and spending a lot of time in India. I wish I had been able to get to know more about her. What I did find out about Ghandi, and what a wonderful man he was, means that it might have been possible that Annie Besant was also a sincere person whose object in life was to right wrongs. It appears that her arrest at about this time for seditious writings was a mistake, as was the treatment of Ghandi.

The cool season came along, happily for me. I was then able to take long walks into the surrounding country, and see things as they were. There was a small river where snakes abounded. I actually saw cobras, which it paid to keep well clear of. One of the acts we often saw in the barracks given by the travelling galli galli men was a fight between a mongoose and a snake. The mongoose always won. The amazing conjuring that these Indians did right under our noses were always good entertainment. One had a small wicker travelling case over which the outer cover fitted closely. Into this a youth folded himself, and the thing was then closed up. Swords were then pushed through the case in all directions. We would say, "One here," and in there one would go. Of course, the boy came out unharmed. Another was for a dried mango nut to be showed around and then placed in a hole in the ground, and then well watered. It was then covered with a cloth, and with much incantatory blurb and more water, the centre of the cloth would begin to rise, until there was a full grown bush about three feet high. This trick always amazed me. I was very glad, a year later, when making a stop at a hotel in Ceylon for lunch with my wife and two children, we had a private showing of this trick. I had no answer to the children's demand to know how it was done.

Loose wallahs were always a menace, and the bungalows were never left unguarded. At night we would take turns at prowlers. Three or four of us would do a night, doing two hour stretches. Even then, there were cases of thieves getting in and lifting stuff. We had to take great care with rifles, which were locked into iron racks in the centre of the bungalow. Even then, the bolts had to be removed and held personally. I always put mine under my pillow, as did the others.

Christmas came along, my third soldiering. It was to be different from the other two, and we did have fun and games. Our section officer hired a piano for us. There were some very good pianists in both our section, and the band shared the other half of our bungalow. Although I had heard a lot of music from my mother, I now heard much that I never knew existed. I shall never forget hearing Rachmaninoff's C sharp minor prelude for the first time. I got to know Liszt, Chopin and others as I had never known them. When the chaps knew how crazy I was about music, they went out of their way to give me enjoyment. "I've got a very nice piece in the mail that you will like. Come and hear it," and I knew I was in for something good. Peacock, one of the band, was a grand chap for this. One of the section was a good organist who played the church organ, and I went with him when he played on his own.

Nimmo and I were to join the next instructors' course at Kasauli. We took the train for Kalka, the railhead for another part of the Himalayas. This time it was Simla Hills. Simla was then the summer seat of the Indian government, and a little further into the hills. But this was winter, and we got to know what winter in the Himalayas was like. I had seen no snow or frost since leaving England, but here we got it thick and heavy. The barrack rooms were built for it. There were small rooms holding half a dozen around a huge fireplace which burnt logs, and which was kept in all night. The classrooms were heated. For me, it was not a bad change. We made toboggans from large sheets of corrugated iron by turning up the leading edge. We had great fun. It was possible to get six or even eight people aboard.

At Kasauli, I got my first insight into electricity; Ohm's Law, what a transformer was, electric cells and accumulators, how a telephone worked and how a buzzer worked. I was fascinated by it all. There were half officers and half N.C.O.s , who all worked together. I was to learn how to lecture. I am very grateful for this. If many speakers I have heard had had my training, they would not be so difficult to hear. I gave my first five minute try-out. The chief instructor said; "See that officer over there in the far corner. Speak to him, and make sure he understands every word you say. Then everybody in the hall will hear you."

We did have parades. Every Saturday morning, if the weather was fit, we would assemble on the square with our Morse flags. These were not the usual cotton issue pattern, but lovely silk ones we could buy in the bazaar. One of us would be perched up in front. I don't know whether it was because of my musical tastes, but I found myself in this position. The instructor would order; "Ready." Up went the flags. Then "Ack to Emma by the front, commence," and off we would go. It looked beautiful, and the sound made by the silk flags, in absolute unison, was music to me. When the weather cleared, we did outdoor exercises in map reading, checking up on the viability of points we had worked out in the classroom. This was most important for visual signalling.

A Pasteur Institute had been inaugurated in Kasauli, it being the only one in India or the Far East. Hydrophobia was quite common. Should a soldier be bitten by a dog or jackal, he was rushed there as quickly as possible. Some did not arrive in time for the treatment to be effective, and the results were horrible.

I was to start playing rugby at Kasauli. Although I developed into a useful full back or three quarter due to being nimble and able to catch, I never came to like the game.

It puzzled me why I was sent on a course at this time. Since I was enlisted for the war's duration, I was due for demob now the war was over. However, it was by no means over for me, as I was soon to find out. We had been getting news of trouble on the frontier with the Afridi, but the Khyber Pass was a long way from us in Lucknow. Not so. Signallers were wanted there, I was to find, and I was to be one of them. With a small party, I took train for Peshawar through country I began to know so well. There was little hanging about, although we did have a night or two in Peshawar barracks.

Leaving Peshawar, we were soon passing Jamrudd Fort at the entrance to the Khyber Pass. We were not close to it. To me , it looked like a crude warship stuck on land. The rocky, desert-like country did not look very enticing. As we wended our way up the pass, I began to wish I had never seen the place. The towers of a cable railway could be seen at regular intervals up the valley, but the war had stopped work on it. I have often wondered whether it ever came into use.

We were to join the Royal Sussex Regiment based at Ali Musjid, about half way up the pass. We arrived there to start what was to be, for me, a miserable time. It was a tented camp, set above the pass in a big perimeter. It also held a regiment of Ghurkas, whom we were to get to know and admire. The main job seems to have been to keep the Afridis from the pass and from the lower regions around Peshawar, where they had caused considerable trouble. A Sangar Line (small defence points on hilltops) had been made well clear of the pass. In these hilltop sangars an officer and about twenty men would stay a seek or more on continuous duty. Owing to shortage, only one signaller could be spared. At time, I found myself having to stay on for an extra spell. The only connection with the base, about a couple of miles away, was my line, and I was required to wear my headphones night and day. If I woke in the night and found my phones had slipped, I would get straight on to base and ask if all was O.K. It was on Rocky Knoll where I had one of the frights of my life. After dark only whispering was allowed, so that the 'listeners' at the corners of the tiny perimeter could hear the slightest sound. Rocky knoll could not have been more than twenty yards square. Yet, one dark night, a corner collapsed and fell away. I had dozed off, as had those on listeners. Grabbing my rifle - we always slept with them wrapped in the blanket around us - I stood to with the others, absolutely scared stiff when we realised all was quiet. Some of the rascals had got through the lower defence wire and loosened some of the bottom rocks which built up the post. Fortunately, only a small part of the sanga fell away. No one was badly hurt. Only a short time before, the next sangar, about three quarters of a mile away, had been overrun and all killed. No wonder we had the creeps.

One time my line went dead. I felt I must see if it was near my end. I told the officer I would risk seeing, and would, as far as possible, keep within sight of the sangar. Two or three of the chaps kept watch on me from the sangar, and I did not mean to go beyond rifle range. I found the break, and repaired it O.K. I think I got a stupid mention for it [his only medal for bravery], but seeing there happened to be no danger at the time, it meant little to me.

I was to learn what it was like to be always tired. I never got a night's sleep. There was no cover on the sangars. We just lay rough on the rocks. The only cover for wet was our ground sheets, but there was very little wet. Back at the main perimeter, so many were required for guard, as there was a post at every fifty yards or so, within speaking distance. so every officer and N.C.O. and man took turns. I have been on a post with a captain and lieutenant for the night. Even this was not enough. One night, one or two of them got through the wire near the medical tent and killed the sleeping doctor. This sounds peculiar until one realises how tired we all were. One got so tired and numb that one lost all one's senses. At least, that is how I was eventually. I went thirsty. The water was so heavily chlorinated that I held my nose when drinking it, or when tea was mode from it. For a long period, the food was the worst. We never drew any money, as there was nowhere to spend any. In the main camp, we soon got to know which direction the bullets came from, and there were very few casualties from them. But there was always the fear, and one was never sure. I began to long for a long rest; to get into a bed with lovely clean sheets, to get a clean glass of English tap water. Had I ever lived where these things were taken for granted? There were tiny bright spots to look back on. Sometimes, when on watch at the main camp, in the middle of the night, when all seemed quiet, the field exchange operator would connect us all up and we would sing to each other. I remember a wit at Landi Kotal, a base camp further up the pass, where, if I remember rightly, a regiment of the Durham Light Infantry were stationed, who was a good entertainer. But patches of happiness were few and far between just then. People continually went down sick, malaria going rampant, and numbers got smaller and smaller. I often felt like crumbling, but managed to hold on by sheer obstinacy. There was another Corporal Catt in the section who was a regular soldier. Between us and the few chaps left, we managed to keep things going.

At last, it was decided to go right into Afridi territory and blow up the village from which much of the trouble was coming. There was a fort there which we had built for them during friendly days long past. This meant going over Chora Kundal, a range stretching to the west of the pass. For a few weeks, we would go out as protection to crowd of sappers and miners who were making the necessary track along which to get six inch howitzers to pound the fort. It was decided that the job could be done in one day. So all being ready, we set off before dawn to get the job over. The tribesmen retreated as we went forward. Eventually we came near enough for the guns to begin operations. The fort had been built by an Englishman, and the six inch guns did little damage to it. So it was decided to clear the village and let the sappers dynamite the place. This was done, but the time had gone on. It was early afternoon and necessary to make base before nightfall, so the scramble commenced. Our water bottles were empty long ago and we all got extremely thirsty. I sent a signal back to the nearest communication point to us for onward transmission to base for water to be brought out to us as soon as possible. It was during this retreat that I saw a magnificent display by the mountain battery accompanying us; the speed with which they dismantled the guns, threw the bits and pieces onto their mules and back to a new position to cover us. We would then go back through the guns and cover them while they blazed away again. It was so exciting, one forgot how tired one was. The water had come out. We scooped it up from a small trough as we hurried by, and felt a little refreshed. We had very few casualties, which was usually the case in these scraps.

After this affair, things quietened considerably. Soon, a sort of peace developed, and there seemed a chance that we would get away. Not too soon. I was beginning to feel anything but well. I did, however, march away with what was left of the regiment, and manage to make Peshawar on my feet. But on getting into camp, I collapsed, and was carried to hospital. O remember waking to find myself in heaven, with a beautiful angel stroking my forehead, and saying, "How are you now?" Then I saw she had no wings, which seemed strange. But I was in heaven, in a bed with lovely white sheets. Although I was saturated with perspiration, I felt cleaner than I had felt for a long time. I had at lest caught the malaria bug, although, no doubt, it had been hanging about me for some time. I had had feverish bouts off and on which I had not taken seriously. But to have waited until now before knocking me for six was a bit unfair. I really was on my way home at last. A little while before leaving Ali Musjid, the C.O. had sent for me and asked me to consider signing on with the regiment as a regular soldier. He said I would do very well, and the regiment was booked for a nice station in the West Indies. However, anybody who signed on as a regular after our experiences, the filth, the permanent discomfort, the rotten food etc., would have been a lunatic. I said as much, and of the duration of war troops, not one took the bait.

As soon as I was fit enough to travel, I was taken to a big hospital at Rawalpindi. I had to say goodbye to my angel. Malaria can be obstinate, and it was some time before my temperature would stay steady. It did eventually get to that point, and I entrained for Deolali. This was a long journey. Deolali is not far from Bombay, and it took four days. But nothing mattered now so long as we kept moving in the right direction. After the last horrible months, all was well with the world. December was nearly here, December 1919, and the war in Europe had been over for more than a year. We should have been home and demobbed ages ago. Lots of the chaps were definitely 'anti'., It was useless the controlling sergeant majors or N.C.O.s trying to keep order, although things never really go tout of hand. There was only one parade each day. All the demobees crowded round a small hill in the camp to hear the names of those who were for the next trooper home. If you missed your name, you'd had it, as no lists were published. You could have heard a pin drop while the names were being read out. There were moans when he shouted "That's all." [original page 40]

We were paid all the credits we had amassed. For those who had been on the war path for so long, these were considerable. We were even paid our war gratuity. Our standard rate of pay had been at fourteen rupees to the pound, and also our war gratuity. The pound had dropped to ten rupees, so were quids in. As soon as I could get clear, I went down to the Eastern Bank, Deolali, with my wad of ten rupee notes, and asked if I could open an account and have it transferred to England. "Of course. Which bank?" I remembered the Westminster Bank at Sandwich, and said "There." I was to see stupid clots lose the lot on the boat on the way home, when the crown and anchor boards came out. later I saw them in the dole queues. I was glad I had kept my little next egg.

My name was shouted at last. I joined the happy gang for the short run to Bombay. We were all experienced troopers, so we soon sorted ourselves out in the holds of the P&O Caledonia, and drew our hammocks, stupidly thinking and saying it was for the last time, and hoping for a pleasant journey home. I was glad to see Bombay disappear astern, and had no regrets at the thought that I might be losing a good life as the secretary of the Mussoorie Club. I had had enough of India, for the time being at any rate. I knew I would never forget the Himalayas where I had spent the brightest spots of the India saga. But the miseries of the marches, the times I had been really thirsty, and the awful time of active service in the Khyber Pass which ended so miserably with the bad spell of malaria. These last things would be best forgot. Yet, writing this after well over fifty years without notes, how well the times are imprinted on my memory. Incidents are there so clearly that they could have happened only yesterday. What is this memory that we have, and where is the mass of thousands upon thousands of trivial things stored, to come back to one after such a long time?

The voyage home was a change. We could now go via the Suez Canal, which I found interesting. Little did I think that I would be seeing it again so soon. We were no allowed off anywhere. and only saw Suez, Port Said and Malta from the boat. To cap it all, we struck one of the worst storms ever known in the Mediterranean Sea, and it was Christmas; my third Christmas on a trooper. There were no Christmas goodies for us. But, since everybody was sea sick, it didn't matter much. By now, ships were getting news by radio. The reports of the shipping losses around the Spanish coast were not very cheering. However, all was well, even if all the crockery and moveable stuff was getting smashed in the upheaval, so long as we kept going in the right direction HOME. Passing Gibraltar, the sea eased, and we were able to walk again. But on getting up towards the entrance to the Channel, we ran into thick fog. It was so bad, and as we were in the shipping lane, we were ordered to wear our life jackets. We could hear the sirens hooting off, quite near at times. Once, when the fog lifted a little, we passed so close to a ship that from our bridge we heard them asking if our position could be given. Obviously we were lost, and knew not our whereabouts. This was before the navigational aids which now enable a ship to know its position exactly, no matter what the weather. We started to crawl along, and had men posted right in front, up the mast, and everywhere. At last the man in the prow shouted "Hard astern", and the ship pulled up. Through the murk we could just see waves breaking on some rocks, and we all wondered where the dickens we were. Then a lighthouse appeared faintly, and the bridge recognised it as one of the Channel Islands. We pulled clear, did a complete turnabout, and made off for Plymouth, where we were to disembark. The fog lifted, and by the time we were anchored in the Sound, it was fine. How lovely it was to look upon England, and what a lot had happened since I had sailed out of this harbour three years before.

Tenders were put out to pick us off, and straight to the station we went to entrain for Purfleet.

Purfleet, on the north bank of the Thames, was where all troops from abroad went through the final stages of demobilisation. We had a medical check up, got measured for our civilian suit, received our final payment, and a travelling warrant for wherever we were going. With another chap with whom I had served from the start, I left Purfleet, and we took a train back to London. He was going to his home in Orpington. I was going to Sandwich, on a different train. We shook hands and parted at Charing Cross Station. It was all over for us, and neither of us wrote, or attempted to keep up any connection. To this day, I have wondered how Frank Leech made out.

The excitements and expectations of coming home are difficult to describe. I had grown up, and changed considerably. I was no longer the boy who had said goodbye over three years ago. I was inches taller and broader. I had not been in a normal house since leaving England. The house in which I had been brought up seemed tine. Everything seemed cramped, and it was some time before I got used to it.

The excitement passed, and there seemed nothing to worry about. As instructed, I went along to the exchange and signed on. We were known as the twenty-ninth division, because our dole was twenty-nine shillings per week. And so I joined the ranks of the multitude of unemployed. One only had to attend and sign on every day, and continue to enjoy life. It was not long before I got fed up with this.

I had met two chaps in the twenty-fifth who came from Eastry, only three miles from Sandwich. I found they had both got home, and visited them. One, the son of a farmer, invited me to stay at the farm for a day or two, which I did. On returning to Sandwich and going down to sign on the dear lady behind the counter barked; "Where have you been?" I quietly replied that I had been to spend a day or two with a friend. "You can't do that," she barked; "You must sign on every day, so you must stay here. "Oh, must I?" I said; "We'll see about that. This is the last you'll see of me." So I left the twenty-ninth division and the layabouts.

One of the first things I had done was to go to the bank and ask about the money I had sent from India. "Oh yes, it's all O.K." and the cashier disappeared for a moment, coming back to say the manager would like to see me. I was ushered into his office. We had a chat about what I had been doing, and he appeared surprised that I had accumulated so much money, until I explained how it had come about. He said; "What do you want me to do with it?" I said, "Nothing yet," as I had enough to carry on with. He then said; "Well, you should not let it sit doing nothing. Why not invest some of it?" I said I didn't know anything about that, and he replied that he could help me. He advised me to put it in a new conversion stock, which had started at five per cent, and this is what he did for me. That is when I learnt that money makes money. I transferred my account back to that branch after I retired. On asking the cashier if he had any record of me opening my account there, he disappeared, and then returned within a few minutes with an old ledger, pointing to the original specimen signature I had given, which had not changed one iota. If they keep all records fifty years or more like this and can find an item in a few minutes, they must have a pretty efficient filing system.

There were no jobs where I could fit in. Although I was not being idle, I felt I ought to get some gainful employment. The thrills of getting home soon passed. I began to long to get moving again. Eventually, I did find a job in the docks at the mouth of the river Stour. It was where the roll on, roll off train ferries started, and where there were a number of ocean going tugs for towing large barges of supplies to and from France. Every so often, these had to have their boilers scaled, and it was some job. It necessitated squeezing down between the boiler pipes, and chipping off the scale with long chisels. My only light was a smoky oil flare; a can arrangement with a spout, out of which poked some cotton waste, which sucked the oil up from the can. The only ventilation came down through the manhole in the boiler. As there were three of us in the boiler, the atmosphere got pretty awful after an hour or two. If anyone wanted a short life and a horrible one too, this was the job for him. I preferred the open air, and after four days I said goodbye to the manager.

A friend of my father's was down for a few days' holiday with his people. My father mentioned me to him, saying that I was finding it difficult to settle down. He had a good job in Marconi's, being superintendent on the transatlantic wireless station at Caernarvon. He asked my father to send me along to him for a chat, and I went. He thought I would fit in with him, and arranged for me to go to their school in Clapham Road, as I must get a diploma first. This seemed just the stuff. I went up to London and along to Clapham Road, where I interviewed the head at the school. As I had so much experience, we thought that I would only need a term or two, so I signed on. I got lodgings at a nearby Y.M.C.A., and settled in to kill the week I had to go before the new term started. I walked everywhere, and started doing all the museums, churches, Westminster Abbey, the cathedrals, and the lot. But I began to feel very lonely roaming about on my own. How lonely one can be in London, I was to find.

On Thursday morning, I was on my way up the Strand. On a switch box or something, opposite Charing Cross Station, on the street side, there was a poster. It was a chap in blue, and behind his was a mosque standing in the desert. It blared; "Join the Royal Air Force and see the world. Enquire round the corner, No. 4 Henrietta Street." This would pass a little time, so round the corner I went and into 4 Henrietta Street. "You are recruiting," I said. "Whom do you want?" An officer sitting at a table came forward with a list; fitters, riggers, turners, wireless operators, the lot, but for none of which I was qualified. I said I was a telegraphist, and he said I might be able to become a wireless operator. On saying, "Can't I join as anything?" he said I could join as an aircraft hand, which is a sort of labourer. I said that would do, but was there any chance of getting abroad? "You can go to Egypt next week." A chance to get away from it all! Gee, this was it! I was soon prancing naked in front of the doctors upstairs. "You've got malaria," said one. "I did have it in India, but since I've been in England I have ceased to have attacks." He had tumbled to it by me eyes, which were still showing the effects. I was told to report there tomorrow morning, which I did. Gone were all thoughts of joining the Marconi Company, or settling down to anything. I was off on a spree. I was a bit of a cad, because I did not even cancel with the school. I must have been in a sorry state. I was to find that I was not the only young chap left in a sorry state by the war.

Uxbridge 1920.

With a few others, I left Henrietta Street for the Royal Sir Force Depot, Uxbridge, hoping to become an aircraftsman second class in the trade, if one can call it a trade, of aircraft hand, the lowest of the low. It had not crossed my mind to ask what my pay would be. I just didn't care whether I got paid or not. I had asked it I could get out when I got fed up. I was told that I could buy myself out. As it wasn't much, I did have this up my sleeve.

The first thing to get over at Uxbridge was the entrance examination. No matter what trade one joined up for, the real duds were sorted out by a simple educational examination of two papers; Maths and English. There were a lot of duds, because few passed in the crowd I went in with. There were bank clerks, and all sorts of types who failed, who not only looked, but spoke as though they were up to passing such an exam. One wondered where the had gone to school.

Then we drew our uniform; khaki working dress, and blue walking out. Both uniforms had breeches and puttees. We also got a stupid little cane with a silver know on the end. It was only about eighteen inches long, and had to be carried horizontally. Other necessary bits and pieces were issued, such as hair brush and comb, cut-throat razor, knife, fork and spoon, and holdall with needles, cotton etc. Everything was stamped with 341185, my Air Force number. This was a bit bigger than my regimental number, which had been 49272. At regular intervals, there was a kit inspection, at which shirts, towels, pants etc. had to be folded so that the number showed.

I did not go to Egypt 'next week', as the chap at the recruiting office said I would, but commenced square bashing. I was taught how to march, salute, stand to attention, stand at ease, and the rest. I was not the only old soldier in my section. Most of us had done much more than the people instructing us. We took it all as a big joke. Life was all a joke, as we just had nothing to worry about. We did various fatigues, such as potato peeling in the cookhouse, coal lorry, general cleaning up, and what not.

Work had started on the sports stadium. When we had learnt how to march, salute and stand to attention, we became labourers on this. This was fine. With a few others, I became one of a team going to surrounding factories on a Leyland lorry to get loads of ashes. We went as far afield as Ealing and Southall, to gasworks, margarine factories, and anywhere where ashes were to be got. The weather was getting warm, and we wore nothing but boots, socks and a suit of overalls. We enjoyed every minute of it.

One just cannot talk about the Uxbridge of those days without mentioning the stupid clot who was in charge, Group Captain B.C. He was a product of the army. It was said he had had a distinguished career. If this is so, he must have changed drastically, because no pre-war officer I had served with would behave to all under him as this man did. As we were the lowest of the low, to whom he could do no damage, we delighted in taking the mickey out of him. We would go out of our way to meet him just to see what the poor idiot would find fault with in our dress, the way we were walking, dusty boots or what have you. We were always sure to have something wrong, even if it was only the stupid puttees the R.A.F. issue. It was impossible to put them on without having open gaps at the bottoms of the turns. We called them horse bandages. He had built up around him a gang of officers and N.C.O.s of like ilk. Even the corporals delighted in terrorising all who came under their charge. The damage this gang must have caused before the Air Ministry did eventually sort them out was alarming. There was Stiffy, in charge of training, and the proud boaster of having the loudest voice in Christendom. It was said that when he was the officer in charge of the R.A.F. detachment on any ceremonial occasion in Central London, he would try to make his voice heard in Uxbridge umpteen miles away. How lucky we were, we who had seen the rough side of service, in the trenches in France or, in my case, the heartbreaking time I had had in India. There was clean water in the taps, a bed of sorts at night, and the bawling and shouting from these poor simpletons just blew over us. Those of us who had seen army or naval life in the raw were able to comfort some of the younger ones who were finding the life a bit too much. We could not believe that the R.A.F. was going to be like this. We told them life would be different when we got away from Uxbridge, as indeed it was. But even then, one met vestiges of this mentality some years afterwards.

I can only refer you to T.E. Lawrence's chapter in 'The Mint' for a better account of this mad house as it was. He was there two years after me. It is possible that he had something to do with cleaning out the rubbish there. I wonder if B.C. would have tried to humiliate Lawrence had he known who he really was. To B.C., he was 352087 A.C.2 Ross. I was to serve with, and get to know, Lawrence fairly well later on. In my humble opinion, B.C. was not fit to lick Lawrence's boots.

I was getting the princely sum of three shillings a day, all found. I neither smoked nor boozed. The summer evenings were coming on. I could take long walks, or take the tram, which then ran all the way from Uxbridge to London, and into the country. I very much liked to go and sit on the canal side, and watch the endless stream of barges go by, and listen to the quaint patter of the bargees. I would take every week-end pass I could get, generally going to London for a theatre or music hall. Everything was on the cheap. We got cheap railway tickets. We could get a good bed at the Union Jack Club for one and nine. We got into Lords Cricket Ground in uniform free. We could sit in Hyde Park and listen to the band for nothing. What more could one want, except to get away from it all and on the way to Egypt, as I had been promised.

At last, I was put on a draft, and issued with sun helmet and drill clothing for the second time. I was the old sweat this time, able to help the others to put pugrees round the crown of the helmets.

We left at night, and carried all our kit to the station, where we entrained for Baker Street. About fifty of us were on our way. Again we carried our kit across London to Liverpool. It was an uncomfortable journey with all our kit with us, and I was jolly glad when Liverpool was reached and we detrained not far from our boat. This was the old Teutonic. I couldn't scramble aboard fast enough. Down in the cargo hold we went again, and drew hammocks. We were not the only ones going, as a number of army personnel were en route for Egypt too.

I wonder why it was, but the relief of seeing Liverpool disappearing from the stern of the ship was great. Thoughts of new excitements ahead were very cheering. I must have had the adventure bug deep within me. I said to a chap nearby; "I don't care if I never see that place again." Thank goodness I grew out of that eventually, but what a lot I was to do before I did.

We had a lovely trip, stopping at Gibraltar and Malta, as most passenger ships did. How nice it was to get into drill again, and have the comfort of wearing the lightest clothing. It was nice to see the interest the porpoises took in us again. Hardly a day passed without our having their company. Was it the same shoal, or is the sea full of them? After seeing all the oceans, can anything equal the blue of the Mediterranean on a calm sunny day?

Both the army and the R.A.F. personnel disembarked at Alexandria, where a lorry was waiting to ferry us out to Aboukir, a few miles along the coast. It was early summer, the weather was glorious, and for me just what the doctor ordered. The only snag in this pleasant state of affairs was the food, which was pretty awful ,by any standards. This was to culminate in unpleasant behaviour on our part. It was breakfast time. Some rissoles had been produced which were absolutely inedible. They seemed to have been made with some bad bully beef, but even that was a guess. The Orderly Officer, with the Orderly Sergeant, came in as usual, and asked; "Any complaints?" It seemed quite spontaneous, but we all pelted him with the so-called rissoles, and rushed out of the dining hall. We went to our hut, collected our towels and went to the beach some distance from the camp. We stayed there all day, returning at dusk. We were surprised to find no one awaiting us, and more surprised when nothing was said to any of us. I can only assume that the rissoles had been found to be inedible, and to have charged a whole section with mutiny might have looked bad. But it ended our fun and games at Aboukir, and within a couple of days we were all moved to Ismalia, half way down the Suez Canal. We were paraded there under another curious type of Royal Air Force Warrant Officer (discip.), and were met with "Mutinous behaviour, eh? Well, we'll show you what we do with that." He proceeded to show us by doubling us over the desert. So we ran away from him, ignoring his commands to about turn. When he caught up we were resting, almost livid, we meekly said we didn't hear his order. That taught him a lesson, and the chases across the desert stopped.

We had come to Eight Squadron, who were equipped with the wartime R.E.Eights, under the command of Squadron Leader Guilfoyle. Some of the others had enlisted as aircraft hands, with a view to becoming wireless operators. I joined with them in a class under a couple of N.C.O.s. After the efficient instruction I had received in the army by people who knew their stuff, this was pitiful. The officer read a lot of blurb straight out of a book, explaining nothing, and we found neither of the N.C.O.s had a clue. It was obviously a hurriedly rushed up business by someone with the mentality of our old friend B.C.

We were kept more or less busy doing camp guard and other fatigues. None of us ever went near an aeroplane. I was on main guard duty when the aforementioned W.O. Discip. caught me with my equipment off. I could see the delight in his eye as he started talking about putting me on a charge, until I said; "In the army, we were allowed to take our equipment off to go to the lav." He was so surprised to hear that I had been in the army that he dropped the bluster a little, and said; "Oh, all right."

Except for the stupid camp life, Ismalia was not too bad. It was a pleasant stroll into the town, which was nicely laid out with houses, mostly occupied by the pilots and people employed on the canal. It was on the shore of Lake Timsah. The swimming was good, and one could take a boat for an evening row. It was also on the canal itself. There was a good restaurant, where I could make up for the trash we were expected to eat in camp. I had come to the conclusion that the R.A.F. was very different from the army in its feeding standards. All the camps I had known were much the same. We had not been here long before some of the chaps started to show signs of malnutrition. There was no reason for this. They were getting as much pay as I was. Using a little common sense, they could have kept as fit as I was able to do. I had no qualms, as there was enough clean water to drink, and a bed of sorts at night. With the filthy time I was having less than six months before in India still very fresh in my mind, this was all a cakewalk, and I was able to smile and laugh the world away. I still have a photograph taken at this time. I don't look very miserable in it.

One feature of the place was the teeming swarms of flies, from which it was difficult to get away during daylight, and the swarms of bed bugs at night. We were housed in platted rush walled huts, through which you could see, which just served as shelter against the sun. For the short time I was in Egypt, it never rained once. The bed bugs were overcome by blazing a blow lamp over the whole iron frame of the bed, and then standing the legs in oiled water. To stop them from coming down from the roof into the mosquito nets and thence to the bed, a tin of oiled water was fixed to a metal rod through its bottom, and placed between the roof and the net.

I was not sorry to leave Ismalia, with two or three others. I moved along to Abu Suier, to 216 Squadron. Here were the Handley Pages which had been designed to bomb Berlin. They were never used for that, because the war ended. They were being replaced by the new D.H.10, which turned out to be so dangerous that half the squadron were killed in a few weeks.

We found a different atmosphere at Abu Suier, immediately on arriving there. The W.O. Discip. who met us was a kindly man, and we took to him at once. At Aboukir and Ismalia, there had, as I expected, been some jiggery-pokery with the rations. This was made obvious by the big difference at Abu Suier. In Ismalia neither I, not anyone else, had been made into a wireless operator. It had been an awful waste of time, but I was detailed to the wireless section. I became a sort of lackey to a mechanic who was supposed to be fitting up the radio gear in the D.H. 10s. He did not seem to know much about it. Some time later, when I had risen a little in the world, he was posted to my section, still only a leading aircraftsman. I amused myself about the section in the office. There was a typewriter, and I got much pleasure doing my correspondence.

At that time, Abu Suier was a great sand yachting place. The surrounding desert was ideal for it. Chassis were made from aircraft wheels and axles, and the sails from fabric. I did not stay long enough to be able to enjoy this because I was soon in for another move. The powers that be considered that I would be of more use elsewhere, and off I went to Suez to join a small party for Mespot. We had heard of the disastrous episode of the Manchester Regiment at some place on the Euphrates, but whether our quick move had anything to do with that, we never knew. About thirty of us collected at Suez. Although it was no longer a flying station, there was an officer and a small section there as a maintenance squad. We were to wait for a boat, and did nothing but amuse ourselves. But we did give a hand at times in dismantling the besaneau hangars which were being taken down. We wandered down into Suez, especially at night. There was a good small orchestra in one of the beer gardens. I think it was Rumanian. They liked to play pieces requested. One evening I asked a chap named Oddy to go up and ask the conductor if he would play 'The starving barber'. The conductor had long hair, and didn't appreciate the joke.

After two or three weeks messing about at Suez, the day came to say goodbye to Egypt. We bundled into the lorry which had given us many bathing trips. Port Taufiq is not far from Suez, and we were soon there. We approached a fine looking passenger boat, thinking it was our boat. It looked as if we were in for comfortable voyage. But we passed right by it, and stopped by a filthy tramp ship of a few thousand tons. We asked if we were going on this thing, and got a yes in reply, but that it was only a short trip. We were soon to find out that this was to be the trooping ship to end all trooping ships. "Where do we go?" we asked. "Oh, there's no accommodation. You must camp down on deck." We put our baggage on one of the hatch covers. We numbered about thirty, with not one N.C.O. among us. Just before we sailed, two officers appeared, both R.A.F., and disappeared to the upper regions of the bridge. They were on passage, like us, and had little interest in our welfare. One was a junior officer, and the other an engineer officer for the R.A.F. Headquarters Baghdad. We did not hang about, but were soon steaming down the Gulf of Suez. We set about staking our plots on the hatch cover, without mattresses, and with one blanket each. Pillows were made with our kit bags and spare clothing. As it was summer, and pretty hot, clothing did not matter much, and one blanket could be used to soften the hatch cover.

The name of the boat was Horncap. I have never found it difficult to remember it. It ranks, almost, with the two Marus that I found myself on years later.

As the first afternoon out of Suez faded, we began to wonder when we were going to get a meal. It was not long before we began to shout so. The Medical Officer came down to us. He said he was from the captain, and that he had a pretty grim admission to make. No rations had been put on board for us. They would do the best they could by eking out what food there was on board. Soon after coming aboard, we had noticed a pen on the forward deck with four live Asiatic type sheep. Goodness knows where they had been picked up, but the ship had been wandering around the Eastern Mediterranean ports. We were doing nothing strenuous, and had to be satisfied with the bits and pieces we did get. On the third day, some inedible stuff appeared. We were told that a barrel of salted pork had been found down below. We found that it was from Gibraltar, where it had been in the siege store since the 1880s. The mate said it had been picked up during the war, but had remained unopened. It was absolutely vile, but we ate some of it. It was sweltering hot, as anyone who has sailed down the Red Sea during summer knows. The sea was dead calm, except for the slight breeze made by the ship as it staggered along at seven or eight knots. There was no wind. We had no shelter over the hatch, until a bit of canvas was produced, with which we could make a little. Then we got a hose pipe, and took turns showering the whole bunch of us, huddled together stark naked in a corner of the deck. We wore nothing but a jock strap or underpants, and we got burnt almost black.

But worse was to come when we approached the bottom end of the Red Sea. The heat had begun to cause trouble among the engine room and stokehold people. So many of them fell sick that the dear squadron leader came to us and said we must take turns helping out. We did not want to be marooned in this hell, so we said we would try. Those days helping out in the stokehold and engine room of that ramp were a nightmare. We tried to do two hour turns, but found that even that was almost impossible. We would do about fifteen minutes struggling to get the hot ashes out, splashing water over each other as we did so, and get the fresh coal along into the furnaces. Everything one touched was burning hot; the shovels, the rakes, the buckets which hauled the ashes up to the deck, and even the iron stairs and hand rails. After a short spell of this, one would get up the stairs as quickly as possible, out onto the deck to hang over the side to cool off as much as possible, before getting down for another spell. Except for a pair of boots, which had to be worn because the iron deck in the stokehold was burning hot, we worked stark naked. But I had joined the R.A.F. to see the world, and, by jingo, I was seeing it. By doing this work, we had to be helped out with as much of the crew's food as could be wangled, but an extra thirty mouths to feed on a small boat took some wangling.

The weather cooled a little as we got into the Indian Ocean, for which we were very grateful. To while away the spare time, four of us started a bridge school. We often played all day, and even half the night. We ran quizzes, and argued about the various star constellations which gazed down upon us out of the cloudless heavens. And the days passed. It took nearly three weeks for the Horncap to lumber along to Basrah, but at last we dropped anchor as the mouth of the Shatt-El-Erab to await the pilot. We suddenly saw two huge fish leap out of the water in a frolic. They were too big for porpoises, and one of the crew said they were a very large type of shark. "Shark," I said; "Get a hook." A hook was produced, baited with a chunk of the inedible pork, and thrown over the side. Within a minute, we were hanging on like grim death. Eventually, we pulled a shark about four feel long over the side. We slashed it into chunks, and the cook dished out the nicest supper we had had for a long time.

We did not move until the next morning. The Arab pilot came on board, and then began another trip very much like the Irrawaddy and Hooghly. Miles and limes of dead flat country stretched for miles on either side. There was the occasional village, with young Arabs waving to us. Soon we could smell it, although we were still some way away. Yes! OIL. Abadan came into sight, with its oil tanks shining in the sunlight. Although this was only 1920, it was a foresight of what was to come. The night before, we had anchored off Kuweit and seen only a miserable little village. How different from the Kuweit of today, with its fine buildings, schools, fleets of large American cars, and all its modernity.

i was determined to go and look see some food as soon as we arrived at Basra. I was glad to see that the edge of the boat was only two or three feet above the quay. As soon as I saw I could make it, I was off. I ignored the shouts from the officers on the bridge, and ran to a bunch of people. One of them was an Englishman. "Can I get any grub anywhere?" I asked. "There's a place at the end," he said. After a bit of arguing about my Egyptian money, they brought me something civilised, which I bolted like the wild animal I was becoming. I didn't care two hoots what would happen when I got back to the boat, and was surprised when nothing did. After the nightmare we had had, I had a jolly good reply to any supposed breach discipline that might have been thrown at me.

We left the boat for the Transit Camp, run by the army. News of us must have been sent before us, because a lovely thick stew awaited us. Although I had had the meal on the quay, I still had room for this. The roads about the camp were made of empty bottles turned bottom upwards. It must have taken millions of bottles to make them. They were stacked into solid rows, a complete road's width.

The Basra transit camp was quite civilised. It was a treat to be looked after by the army after the tomfoolery of the R.A.F. that I had experienced for the past months. I am sure no army authority would have exposed any bunch of troops to the conditions we had undergone for the past three weeks. The whole episode wreaked of inefficiency and a couldn't care less attitude. Those of us who had seen other services realised what a mob we had entangled ourselves with. But we had joined the R.A.F. to see the world, so whose fault was it? By now, as I found was the case with Lawrence, I was keen to see how it would turn out, and was determined to soldier on.

First Baghdad and Iraq.

There had been a serious fire in Basra a few days before our arrival. One of the first things to do was to look see the damage.

It was bad. Streets had been burnt out, and were still smouldering. We started clambering about the ruins, and came upon what must have been a beer merchant. Under the wreckage were cases of bottles of beer, absolutely untouched. This seemed a mystery. We reported it back in camp, and then found that the whole area was out of bounds until things could be sorted out.

There was no railway to Baghdad then. It was completed during my stay. The way to Baghdad was by river boat to Kut al Amara, and thence by train. The boats were huge paddle boats, very much like the Mississippi stern wheelers, except that they had side paddles. There was plenty of room, and we kitted down on the covered deck. Two barges were strapped to the sides outside the paddles. It was palm trees all the way. Now and then, stops were made near villages, where dates, eggs and things were brought to the boat side. The food was good, so it was not necessary to buy any. We had no news that one was on the way, but one brilliant moonlight night on this trip I saw one of the grandest eclipses I have seen. It was almost total, and remains in my memory distinctly. Going upstream against the tide made it slow going, and the barges often hit a covered sand bank to hinder things. But after three days we were at Kut, and entrained for Baghdad. The railway was narrow gauge and very slow going. The plain wooden seats were uncomfortable.

The station was well outside the city of Baghdad to the west. This meant crossing the Tigris to get to the city. Baghdad aerodrome was between the city and the railway, so we did not have far to go. The whole aerodrome and buildings were surrounded by an enormous barbed wire fence. It had block houses at regular intervals, with Indian troops manning these. Even this did not stop Arab loose wallahs from raiding the camp. Shortly before I arrived, a large opening had been cut in the fence, sufficiently big to get a few officers and horses away.

All accommodation was tented. The tents were not the stupid little bell type we had been crowded into before, but the large Indian type square ones you could walk about in. There was only for to a tent. As well as room for a bed in each corner, there was room for a trestle table between the two supporting poles in the middle. The party I had come with was split up around the various squadrons. I found myself with No.6 Squadron, in a tent which already had three occupants. These were a mixture. One, fairly old, had been a pre-war London bus driver, and had driven busses in France. He must have been Irish because he was nicknamed 'paddy'. He was in the transport section. Another was a fitter, actually working on aircraft. He was soon to get me my first flight. The third was youngish. He said he was an operator on the wireless station. The tent was fitted with electric light, and all was comfy. The weather was perfect. It was the period between the extreme heat of May, June and July, and the rainy season of the winter when things get pretty awful.

I was given a job in a big technical store, given a bucket of paraffin, and told to wipe all the engine spare parts ranged around the shelves. It was a job like painting the Forth Bridge. When they come to the end, it is time to start at the beginning again. It was obvious that I had a job to last me the duration of my tour in Messpot. After about three days of this, the Flight Sergeant came to me and said 'they' had been talking about me, and considered that I was a bit above doing this work. Would I let 'them' reclassify me to a storekeeper? In disgust, I shouted; "A storekeeper?" "Yes," he replied. He seemed quite surprised when I told him not to worry about me as I was quite happy and contented, and wanted for nothing else.

After a day or two, I got a trial in the squadron soccer team, and jumped to the top of the graph. The adjutant was an ex blue soccer. From then on it seemed I had nothing to worry about. Catt was a find. He asked me what the dickens I was doing as an A.C.H., to which I replied; "Just passing the time." People did seem to want me to get on in the world. Years later, when I hinted at the same sort of stuff to T. E. Lawrence, I remembered these days, and knew just how he felt. [original page 50]

Coming into the tent one evening, I heard the wireless operator moaning about his job, and I asked him what it was all about. He said they were so short handed that life was getting too tough. I asked him what they did; how many words per minute they worked at, and the rest. He said they had to do about eighteen words per minute, and generally explained the job. "Eighteen words a minute," I said; "That's pretty slow. I'd do that and read a paper at the same time. And so would Steve," I said. "He's been a telegraphist." Steve was one of the originals I had palled off with. He used to come over of an evening, and we would go to supper together. This chap went straight to his sergeant next morning, told him about me, adding; "He's a decent chap, and I think he's telling the truth." Immediately, a message came from the wireless station, instructing the squadron to tell me to report there. Similarly, Steve. We went along together, thinking this was a joke. On arrival we were met by the officer in charge. He asked for our histories. Satisfied, he said; "Will you have a Morse test?" "Not 'arf," I said, and we sat down by the sergeant, who started scribbling out Morse. I looked over to Steve, and saw that he too was able to take his time over it. We did a chuckle. When he had finished, I said; "Let's have a go, Sarge," and we changed places. I soon had him wondering what it was all about. I said; "Get it, Steve." Steve said "O.K., but what a pity you are out of practice. I could have done with it a little faster." Like everything else in the R.A.F., the communications system was a shambles. Why the devil didn't they drop some of the stupid bull, and encourage sensible people to work sensibly?

I was immediately whisked into the operating room, and told to sit down by the chap who was on watch. It was Nat Gould, I was to learn; an L.A.C. operator; a big noise. I soon got the hang of the log that I was to keep. The procedure was not unlike what I had been used to. O began to wonder what happened inside all the lamps (valves), and what all the knobs and switches did. The hum of the transmitting generator was music of a kind, and I was on top of the world. next day, I felt a little restless. When Nat took the bundle of traffic for Jerusalem off the hook, I said; "Let's have a bash, Nat," and we changed seats.

I had seen quite enough to know how far the transmitter valve rheostat wanted adjusting, and the generator switching on procedure. This was a cakewalk compared with flag wagging and heliographing from hill to hill in India. I was in my element when the officer in charge walked in and murmured to Nat; "Send him in when you can." I cleared the Jerusalem batch, and went in. He said; "You've never seen a wireless station?" in an amazed voice. "No," I said, "But it's only another form of communication, very much like what I have done." He said; "You are an aircraft hand." "Yes," I said, "But that;s all right with me. I will like this job."

I got on like a house afire, and on the fourth day I was considered good enough to rake over the watch. This started at six a.m., and my second operator was the stooge from my tent. I wondered if all the lights and things would come on O.K., and if they didn't, what I should do about it. I had little faith in the chap going in with me. But all went well, and life became very pleasant. Steve followed me by taking over another watch within a few days. WE soon found ourselves king pins of the station. We were transferred to headquarters staff, but I remained with six squadron for accomodation and rations for the time being. Entering the office a few days later, I was asked; "Seen orders, Syd?" There it was. I had been remustered to Group Two, and up to L.A.C. wireless operator. I spoke to the officer about it, saying I had not been asked. He just replied that I was doind the job, was making a very good show at it, and that was that. This was the Flying Officer named Coward who had come over to the R.A.F. from the navy, whom I became very friendly with later on. He was one of the good ones.

The way into Baghdad from the west aerodrome was via the Maud Bridge. It was a pontoon bridge thrown across the Tigris on the fall of the city to General Maud. Owing to the very strong tide, it needed very solid anchorages. Although it heaved and waved when anything heavy passed over it, it still looked very serviceable after the three and a half years it had been there.

I spent a lot of my time exploring Baghdad. There was something fascinating about it. With its tangle of narrow streets, barred windows and the permanently closed doorways which, should one be able to peep through, led to enclosed patios, which always looked cool.

A wide street had been blasted right through the centre of the city, leaving the jagged edges of houses, which looked very unsightly. It appears to have been necessary to make it possible to get the heavy military vehicles through the old city. I never tired of watching the craftsmen working in the bazaars, the amara artists chiselling out the pictures on the silverware and filling in with a black substance which was a trade secret. I have a gold soccer Iraq Championship medal, in the centre of which is a mosque with its muezzin tower and palm trees. It is done so delecately that it seems hardly possible that it was cut before putting in the black picture. This was the 1922 championship, 54 years ago now. It might have been made yesterday. I was to get more soccer medals, but none to compare with this one.

At this time, Baghdad had thge reputation for being the place for Persian carpets. One day, I strolled into the biggest dealer's store, and started to look at those on show. I told the Arab who appeared, who understood some English, that I could not buy anything, but just wanted to look see his lovely things. There was nobody else there, so he said; "I show you," and topok me into an inner store and unrolled carpets worth thousands of rupees. He seemed to get pleasure from showing them to me, and rolling off the names of the various makes, each of which had their distinctive features.

Life became very pleasant, especially when tented accomodation was supplied right by the wireless station, with our own cookhouse and sooks so that we were self-contained. I played a lot of football. I was in the combined R.A.F. side, and also in the Baghdad area representative side, which included the pck of all the league; R.A.F., army and civilians. The Baghdad side would go to Basra to play the pick of the Pasra area for two matches in a week. Then the Basra people would come up to Baghdad to give us two more games. These matches drew thousands of Arabs, as well as thousands of R.A.F. and army. King Faisal was always there at all the big matches. The excitemend was intense. I loved to hear the swarms of R.A.F. followers screaming "Seed, Seed," (Syd) when I did something which pleased them. I was Syd to all the R.A.F. chaps, and that's where the Arabs got the 'Seed' from.

An attempt had been made to settle the Arab question. Abdullah had been proclaimed King of Transjordan and put on the throne in Amman. Faisal had been enthroned as king of Iraq. A large open covering had been set up on the outskirts of Baghdad. I went along to look see the durbar, at which the surrounding sheikhs came to offer obeisance. Faisal looked magnificent in his full Arab dress. Nobody appeared to object to my presence, and I was able to get a very good view of it all.

You could not be long in Baghdad without hearing something about Gertrude Bell, the "Uncrowned Queen of Arabia," as she became known. She had become an authority on the Middle East, and was an associate of Lawrence. She played a big role as an adviser to the early Iraqui governments, and was instrumental in setting up the archeological mjuseum in Baghdad. She died in Baghdad in 1926. Shortly afterwards, on my second trip to Baghdad, I was able to visit her grave there.

Christmas 1920 came. For the Bosing Day, a trip to Babylon was arranged. I was lucky enough to get on it. We started early, takiing picnic lunches. There were then absolutely no tourist facilities. The railway passed near the site, but there was no station. We were met by a German archaeologist who spoke English. He hoped to start excavations there. None had taken place yet. We saw things above ground which had survived time and wear, but little of the magnificence of Belshazzar's time. This is where the Tower of Babel was built. The hanging gardens were, and so forth. It would be interesting to go again, now that more work has been done there. What really happens when a city like Bebylon completely disappears? Inundation can certainly be one answer. With two big rivers and the flat country, it probably was the answer.

The woireless equipment I woked with would be real museum pieces today. The short wave in common use today had to wait a few years. All wavelengths were so many metres. The Middle East chain of stations worked on 1,200 metres. There were so few wireless stations that there was no interference such as one would experience today. Continuous wave transmission had recently been invented. This was an enormous improvement on the spark system, following Marconi's efforts. I used one of the first type sets, and all the bits and pieces were fixed onto a wooden board. The aerial tuning coil was in a large box, with tappings which were brought to plug holes at the front. Plugs were inserted to put in or take out p[arts of the coil, to tune to the wavelength required. The 250 watt valve hung in brackets. These valves were so costly that a record was kept of the time of every transmission. I wondered what every bit and piece did, as I sat in front of the thing during the first few days I was to operate it. Accumulators were used to supply filament current, and a step up motor generator for the high tension.

The receiver would send a modern 'ham' into hysterics. Agauin, all its bits and pieces were fixed onto the wall. The space occupied was enormous, compared with the small box required today. Again, the tuning inductance was in a large bos about a foot cube, over which a leaved slider moved to roughly tune to the wavelength. The tuning condensers were huge brass affairs in large glass containers about six inches across, operated by a huge external knob as big as your fist. There were two of these, becsause the primary aerial circuit was coupled to a secondary circuit via an adjustable transformer. This was fed into a single rectifying valve panel, and thence to a simple three valve amplifier. The valves were about as big as a modern electric bulb. They were the early three electrode type. The filament took six volts from accumulators, and the high tension from batteries of cells. Whe I get out the old photographs and compare with the modern little box controlled straight off the mains, I cannot but feel amazed at the changes that have taken place.

It is highly probable that I did the first bit of radio telephony in Iraq. We had heard of the experiments being carried out elsewhere, so I thought we might as well have a go. I removed the microphone from the telephone, and over the W/T told Basra to listen out for music. I fixed the mic. to the transmitter, and sang; "Somewhere a voice is calling for you....". On going back to W/T, Basra said they received it O.K., but my voice sounded so sorrowful that it made them all weep. It was some time before I did R/T seriously.

We had a three hundred feet tubular steel mast. This had been left intact by the Germans (or Turks) when they were driven out of Baghdad. We wanted to bring it into use. All that was required for this was to fix the halyard, which had come adrift. A search was made for a steelpejack type to come and do it. There was a ladder right to the top. I saw no reason why we should wait. I told a couple of the other chaps to come out at dawn to help me, and I would fix it. I made a rope belt with a hook, with which to anchor myself, and had no trouble in doing the job. In fact, I found it most exciting. I got a mild ticking off for supposedly risking my neck, but really, to anyone not affected by height, it was a simple affair.

February 1921 came along, just over a year since I had been demobbed from the army and and wandered quite a bit. But more was to come. One afternoon, while I was on watch, the Flight Sergeant from headquarters appeared to interview the operators to select one for a special job. He came and sat by me. When I could get free, he asked me to come and have a chat with him. He told me he was going to fly out into the desert with a complete wireless station, and that I was going with him. I remonstrated with him, saying I had no experience of anything like this, and that I wouldn't be of much use to him. But he seemed to have made up his mind, and we began to get organised. It meant taking seventy foot masts, an engine with generator, a small tent, and the dozen and one other necessary items. We were to be an advanced point to assist in an aerial survey of the Western Arabian desert. Also, Churchill was flying out to see King Faisal, and it was thought that an advanced aommunications point was necessary.

After much weighing and sorting out, it was found that we, and all the equipment, could be carried by four D.H.9s. I had to dismantle the engine from its base plate, and disconnect the generator and switchboard, so that heavy items could be distributed around the aircraft. We found it possible to strap the eleven foot mast sections below the bottom of the planes.

A spot had been selected west of a pooint on the Euphrates, between Ramadi and Hit. At last all was ready, and we loaded the aircraft for an early morning take-off next day. We woke to a lovely spring-like day. As I walked down to the aerodrome with F/Sgt. Dobson, I worried about ahta the day held in store for us, and whether this amazing adventure would be a success, as everyone hoped it would be. We were taking enough food to last us about four days. The arrangement was that we would be replenished by air after that. My aircraft was so loaded that I could not get right into the cockpit, but had to sit perched up on top of the equipment. This meant getting the full blast of the slip stream. Dobby was in the same boat, and we made the best of it.

The way to start the eninge in those days was for three men to join hands, while one took the bottom of the propellor. Shouting "Contact!" the pilot would switch on. The three chaps would heave the prop round. If you were lucky, off it would go. As we taxcied out, I gave the thumbs up sign to Dobby. Soon we weere roaring away in fairly close formation. We flew over the desert between the Toigris and the Euphrates, flying under a cloudless sky. We crossed the Euphrates at Falluja, and proceeded to our spot in the desert.

On arrival, one of the pilots threw over a smoke candle to give wind direction. These were nothing like candles. They were containers the size of milk tins. An igniting device was set off by rubbing a knob in the top with a rough piece of material attached. They gave off a lot of smoke lasting for a few minutes. We were soon all down, unloading our equipment. When this was finished, we assisted in starting up the aircraft. They left immediately, leaving us two on our lonesome.

We did not hang about. There was much to be done. We tackled the masts first, as we wanted to establish communication as soon as possible. Getting up seventy foot masts is not as difficult as one would imagine. The sections all slot in. There are three sets of guys at equal heights. One lays out the mast, complete with guys, on the ground. The bottom of the mast fits into a boot which slots on to a peg driven into the ground. Hinged to this boot is another, into which goes the derrick. The holding pegs are driven into the ground about thirty feet from the base of the mast. The derrick consists of two mast sections, to the top of which one set of guys are attached, and the pulley block for lifting. The derrick is lifted upright, and a second pulley block and lifting rope attached to the guy peg. Then, by heaving the derrick down, the mast is pulled up. As there were only two of us, it meant continually stopping lifting, and dashing round to adjust the stay wires. At last we had the two masts up and solid.

My next job was to assemble the engine. The small tent was only big enough for the transmitter, which had to be under cover, so the engine had to stay outside. I had lettered all the wires and connections, and made copious notes on how everything joined up. I was wildly elated when, pulling the starter cord, it burst into life. This was my first bit of motor mechanics which had worked. I found later that Dobby knew as much about it as I did.

We worked like niggers all through the day. At about half six in the evening we called Baghdad. Everybody, including the A.O.C., was there to get our first call. They seemed as excited as we were. The A.O.C. sent us a "Well done" message, and everybody seemed happy.

It was now late evening. We were both exhausted. Having made arrangements with Baghdad as to what time we would call them tomorrow, I got the primus going, made a cup of tea, and we had a well earned meal. Then we rolled into our blankets and slept like logs until well after dawn. The weather was perfect, but cold enough to necessitate serge clothing. We spent another busy day getting things shipshape in our little camp. I felt a wonderful sense of elation, and utter peace at being so far away from everything one takes for granted. Dobby was an ideal partner. We got on wonderfully together. He was much older than I, but it made no difference. He appeared to be able to withstand the tough side of this sort of life, as I was. To me, it was a cakewalk compared with what I had had to put up with in India not so long back. I do know what Gertrude Bell was trying to express to her father in a letter she wrote after her first trip into this desert. Again, I became deeply aware of the cosmos, as the stars and moon at night, and the sun by day, steered their ways through the heavens. Again and again, I wondered what it all meant. I never discussed these things with Dobby. In all things, he seemed very 'earthy'.

The Churchill trip was cancelled, so we did not have to wqorry about that. The reconnaissance flights were infrequent. They did not last but a few hours, so we were able to take life very easy. On the fourth day, Sunday, we expected a plane to come with stocks to replenish our larder. In the afternoon, I asked Baghdad what had happened. I was told that the aircraft had crashed into some very high telegraph wires which crossed the Tigris near the aerodrome. Fortunately, the pilot was not killed, but our grub had gone for a burton. Another plane would come tomorrow. But that night the rains came. Anyone who knew Iraq in those days knows what this means. Nothing is able to move. The only way to get about is by slithering about on foot. Cars cannot move on the unmettled roads. An aeroplane is bogged down, unable to move. We did not have to be told to conserve what little food we had, and we put ourselves on very strict rationing. I had a small bag of flour left, but very little else. In a couple of days, I was making two small plain sugarless pancakes twice a day. There was a panic in Baghdad. The two starving chaps in the desert became big news. Yet it was all very funny, and we continued on with the job. One night, as we got into our blankets, Dobby turned over and said; "You know, Syd, there's many a man in Vine Street tonight who wold give five thousand pounds for my appetite." I shall never forget that little bit of poetry. The weather did not let up, and means were hot as to how to get to us. A corporal of the aircraft depot went to his C.O. and said he could get through to us with a tender. He selected a tough aircraftsman to accompany him. He used planks, wire and sacking to get beyond the mud, and reached us in less than a week. This was a wonderful ewffort, but half the sack of rolls and cakes were quite inedible after so long. I cannot imagine why they were put in. But the large tins of oeat, biscuits, sugar and what have you were very welcome, and we had a great spread. After their effort, the two chaps rested with us for a few days before returning to Baghdad.

If there was no flying on, we would close down for the day, and roam the desert. One loovely morning, Dubby said, "We'll go for a long walk today." "Where to?" I said. Ho pointed to a low rising in the distance, and said; "Over there." So we filled our water bottles, took some biscuits and cheese, and started off 'over there'. It was absolutely marvellous. I felt as though I could have gone on for ever. Climbing up the side of what had become quite a hill, we found it to be impregnated with mica. Getting to the top and looking ahead, we looked upon a yellowish desert, and wondered whatever it could be. So we wandered on. The desert began to crunch under our feet, and it suddenly struck me that it was sulphurated. On up another slope and looking ahead, we saw what appeared to be pools of water. WE hurried to see what we had found. They were certainly pools of beautifully clear water. It gugled up from holes in the bottom of the pool, with an occasional black substance which floated to the top and out by the runaway. I felt the water, and found it to be beautifully warm. I said "I'm going in for a bath," anbd stripped off and got in. It was the first wash I had had since leaving Baghdad, and I was so enjoying myself that Dobby was soon in with me. It was fantastic to think that here were two nuts having a warm bath well out in the Arabian desert with nothing to worry about. Back at Baghdad and talking about it, we were to learn that we had found some of the finest sulphur springs going. The bitumen spurting from them became a commercial proposition. We got out and dressed, and began to go on, when I began to feel as though I was being pricked all over. I noticed that Dobby was twitching too, and he said he was being pricked all over. I said it must be the water, so we should get straight back to camp. We hurried as much as possible, and to our great relief it eased off. A long time before we were 'home' we felt all right. How can one describe times like this? I had had the feeling before, when I climbeds to a height in the Himalayas and sat alone looking around me. What did it all mean?

We were to give up our isolated spot. A troop of Indian cavalry had set up camp near the river. It was thought that we could carry on there, so we moved to the camp and put up our masts and set up our equipment in a large Indian pattern tent. it was an aristocratic regiment called Harrianas Lancers, or some such name, and the officers seemed glad to have us join them. They tried hard to get me on to a horse and teach me polo and peg sticking, but I would have none of that. I had never taken to the four legged mount, and always made excuses. But I admired their riding in these events, especially the tent pegging. At full tilt, they charged down upon a peg, and picked it out of the ground with a lance as clean as a whistle. I don't think I should ever be able to control a horse and lance up to their standard.

Hit was within walking distance if one took the time. I itched to see the place. It had a bad reputation, since it had played a leading role in the uprising of the year before. It was considered a dangerous place to visit, but regardless of that, I hinted to Dobby that I would like to do it on a free day. He was not too keen, but in the end agreed to come with me. So taking some grub, we set off. We certainly got some pretty dark looks, but, salaaming all we passed near, we walked the length of the main street, which wasn't very far. We turned and looked into one of the open fronted shops, which are usual in Iraq, and asked how much some oragnes were. The Arab didn't seem to want to have anything to do with us, until laughingly I said something about Allah being good, and what a good chap he was. We got our oranges, and a few other things, and left the best of friends.

1921 was flipping away. The warm weather was drawing to a close, and we discarded our serge for drill clothing.

I experienced a curious kind of fishing here with Mills bombs. Throwing one into the water, the explosion stunned fish within quite a distance. They floated to the surface to be picked out. Thet went by the name of Tigris Salmon, were terribly bony, and to me, not very likeable. I did not take to them.

The Lancers moved on, as we did, to a site just outside Ramadi. The Indians returned to India, and we returned to civilisation again, even if it was only an Arab one. This was the third time we had pulled up our masts. By now, we knew all about it. Dobby thought he had had enough, and suggested to headquarters that I was quote capable of running the station with another operator, to allow him to return to Baghdad. This was agreed, and an aeroplane appeared with Sid Baker as a replacement, and my very close arssociation with Flight Sergeant Dobson was over. But what a wonderful experience it had been. In the long time we had been alone together, never once did we argue or fall out about anything. When we were hungry, things could have been so different if one of us had turned awkward, but there was never a semblance of this. I think my experiences in the army helped me, as did some of the times Dobby had had in the mavy. Neither of us were products of this new shambles we had volunteered to see the world in.

Life at Ramadi continued on a smooth path. There was a proper market, into which we walked every morning to buy all we needed to eat. The dealers soon got to know me, and what things I wanted. Everything was amazingly cheap, according to our standards; half a dozen eggs for an old penny, a kilo of tomatoes for half that. I used to buy all the stuff for the day for about sixpence, and this included meat. I bought sugar in the bazaar, where it was sold in solid cones. I have never seen sugar in this state before or ssince. The cone qeighed about a pound. Looking round the sheelves of one dirty llittle place one day, I picked up a tin. I was absolutely amazed to find it to be a tin of peas from the small tinned peas factory at Sandwich, my home town. The Arab had no idea where he had got it from. I can only think that it came from some army supply source. They were very, very nice, and I wished there had been more of them. I was quietly going Arab, and liked to sit among them in their tea drinking dens, sipping the over-sweetened tea from the small glasses they used. As I did not smoke, I did not share with them the ever present hookah. I could never pluck up enough courage to try it. To hear them coughing and apitting over it was enough. The whole idea of this exercise was to prepare for the desert survey proper, which was to take place in the summer.

As soon as the war was over, thoughts turned on an air route to India. The long stretch between Jordan and Iraq was quite a hop for aircraft of the day. A scheme was afoot to make a string of landing sites across it, and meant carrying out a survey of this little known desert. There was a secondary survey party by the Engineers under a Major Holt, to establish whether a railway was feasible. The two parties were separate endeavours, but had a lot in common. Major Holt had already done much preliminary work on the Iraqui border. He also had an R.A.F. wireless operator, a sergeant from the Baghdad station who had been in the army. I got to find out what was going on when the party of Model T Fords went through Ramadi. All this never bore fruit; the railway never materialised. I wonder how Major Holt and his dog Peter, who accompanied him in all his desert rambles, made out.

July came. An aircraft arrived with a corporal from Baghdad to take over from me, and to fly me back to Baghdad. I had received instructions about this, but was amazed to learn, on arriving back in Baghdad, that I was to join the desert survey party as the wireless operator. I went to town over this. I asked whether I had not already done enough, and earned a rest. I suggested that another operator ought to go. I had been away since February. I had done a lot of roughing it. But it was no use. "We must have someone reliable. It's a very important job. Only you can do it." and like rubbish was thrown at me. I made the retort; "Jolly fine being the only reliable wireless operator in the R.A.F. It's time they began to get some reliable people to do things properly."

I had only a few days to get the equipment ready. There was to be no engine. A stupid generator driven by hand was to supply the high tension to the transmitter, which was the small T57 used in aircraft. WAs I expected to get signals over hundreds of miles with this lot? "Yes," I got, "You must do your best." I replied that I hoped nothing serious would happen.

July fourth arrived. How I remember that date. For me, the date we started on was to be anything but a picnic. This would have taught Gertrude Bell just what the desert can be like.

The convoy consisted of three Rolls Royces and five special high chassis Crossleys fitted with secondary radiators in the back to conserve water, which might become a problem. Some crank had thought that it would be a good idea to get all forms of R.A.F. transport across, so a five ton Leyland lorry and a P.&M. motor cycle were included. The motor cycle, ridden by Flying Officer S. D. Culley, who had won the D.S.O. for bringing down a zep. during the war, actually completed the crossing to Cairo. The lorry, like the Crossleys, had had an extension radiator fitted in the back. Otherwise it was the standard hard tyred vehicle of the period. It was into this that I loaded all my equipment, and in which I was expected to travel. It was too much to have seventy foot masts on this, so I had to make do with easily erectable thirty foot masts. With the gear I had, everybody realised what a difficult job I would have in getting communication of any sort at some hundreds of miles range.

The reason for taking off during the heat of the summer was to ensure hard, or rather dry, going. We were to see by some of the ground we traversed that it would have been impossible during the wet season.

There were seven R.A.F. officers and fifteen other ranks, under Squadron Leader Welsh. All were from Egypt except for me. So it was left to me to carry the can for Iraq Command.




He had gone to another aquadron. He used to come over of an eveni

typed by Ivor Catt, sept 97 My father's autobiography from his birth up to the time of T.E.L.'s death is now all typed up into the computer. It will help P.M. to determine the level of significance for the TEL story of a career which has parallels. (Ivor is too close, so his judgement is valueless.)

Ivor Catt 5.9.97


July fourth arrived. How I remember that date. For me, the date we started on was to be anything but a picnic. This would have taught Gertrude Bell just what the desert can be like.

The convoy consisted of three Rolls Royces and five special high chassis Crossleys fitted with secondary radiators in the back to conserve water, which might become a problem. Some crank had thought that it would be a good idea to get all forms of R.A.F. transport across, so a five ton Leyland lorry and a P.&M. motor cycle were included. The motor cycle, ridden by Flying Officer S. D. Culley, who had won the D.S.O. for bringing down a zep. during the war, actually completed the crossing to Cairo. The lorry, like the Crossleys, had had an extension radiator fitted in the back. Otherwise it was the standard hard tyred vehicle of the period. It was into this that I loaded all my equipment, and in which I was expected to travel. It was too much to have seventy foot masts on this, so I had to make do with easily erectable thirty foot masts. With the gear I had, everybody realised what a difficult job I would have in getting communication of any sort at some hundreds of miles range.

The reason for taking off during the heat of the summer was to ensure hard, or rather dry, going. We were to see by some of the ground we traversed that it would have been impossible during the wet season.

There were seven R.A.F. officers and fifteen other ranks, under Squadron Leader Welsh. All were from Egypt except for me. So it was left to me to carry the can for Iraq Command.

A dear old chap named Ball did the actual mapping and surveying. He had an assistant named Sullivan. Ball was on loan from the Egyptian Survey, and became Professor Ball to us. Throughout the trip, Ball nursed his chronometer on his lap, to ease any jarring. It was so important for him to have the exact time for his observations so as to plot our true positions. This meant that I had a very important job checking the chronometer. There was only one station in the world giving out a scientific time signal. It came from the Eiffel Tower, which transmitted a very gruff, powerful spark which merged into the atmospherics. These were vicious at night in this part of the world. The signal was transmitted around midnight from Paris. In the desert, I had to get out of my blanket at two in the morning for it. So I never got a good night's sleep. After each gruelling day, I badly needed it.

We had two Arabs with us from tribes who were acquainted with the parts of the desert we were to cross. I doubt that they were much help, because we were mostly going well off the beaten track.

We were seen off from Baghdad by King Feisal the First and Sir John Salmond. he had come out from Air Ministry for the event. Later, he became Marshal of the R.A.F. During the second world war, he was Director of Armament Production at the Ministry of Aircraft.

I have photographs of the party in which Feisal, in his robes and half white shoes, looks a kingly character. Another shows me looking from the lorry as I drive away. It shows the old acetylene gas headlamps and the oil sidelights then in use. I see the number L 8678, so it could have been the 8678th registration in Glamorgan. I wonder how many cars have been registered in Glamorgan since then.

We were soon in trouble with the lorry. After about thirty miles it sank into the sand up to its axles. Dragging and heaving and planks made little progress, so we abandoned it. I moved all my gear into one of the Crossleys.

We were on the ancient caravan route between the Euphrates and the Tigris. We passed by Khan Nucta caravanserai, in which Sheik Darrie had murdered Colonel Leechman shortly before I arrived in Iraq. The whole army was out hunting for Darrie. When I was in the Hit area, I had some exciting trips around the desert with an armoured car section which was out searching there. He disappeared into thin air and out of the news. Many years later in England, I saw in my morning paper that he had been caught in the Mosul region.

After discarding the Leyland, we soon reached the Euphrates at Falluja. There were no bridges, so arrangements had been made to get everything across in dhows. This was dicy with the heavy vehicles attempting to run on to the light craft. It was more by luck than anything else that w eventually got across without mishap. We still had daylight left when we reached Ramadi, where we stayed the night.

Our route from Ramadi was practically due west. Without any definite landmarks, it wasn't unlike being at sea, which meant travelling by compass. After Ramadi, the desert rises gradually, and soon the nights were comfortably cool. Water was strictly rationed from the start, and doled out a few times a day in what seemed miserably small quantities. There was no shaving or washing, and I was soon sprouting a full set. At times, the going was good, over the hard gritty surface. If it had not been for the essential map making stops, we could have covered many miles in a day. Every fifty miles or so we marked and numbered landing areas. This was done by using a rope as radius on some fifty yards for one of the cars to make a huge circle, around which two or three other cars would tear around to form a very clear ring. In the middle of these we pegged numbers made from empty shiny four gallon petrol tine which had been cut into strips. These enabled aircraft to report their exact position. So as to make a distinct track, all cars kept to the wheel tracks of the leading car. When I flew over the track later, I saw the horse sense of this. The track showed up very clearly from the air.

I wore a pair of shorts, and a cotton singlet with a spine pad and hola topee. I soon attained a rich brown under the dust. On my bare feet, I wore a pair of Arab sandals.

We struck an enormous stretch of dried mud, absolutely flat. During periods of heavy rain, this must be a shallow lake of hundreds of square miles. It was like sailing over a glassy sea, and reminded me of the South Indian Ocean on the trip from Durban before mentioned, but here no flying fish leapt out in front. We reported this as an ideal spot for a car speed record exercise to the high speed people of the day, and it was considered for this.

For the first few days, I had little difficulty in contacting Baghdad. Through the atmospherics, I was also able to get the Paris time signal for dear old Ball. [original page 60]

After the mud flat, we ran into stretches of wadi country, where the rains had torn the land into steepish river beds, and where the ground was not only very rough, but of loose sand. At times, it was necessary to manhandle the cars one at a time over long stretches/ This would have stood us in good stead as a tug-of-war team, had we run into such a competition after the survey was finished. We were in the middle of an extra big heave one day when the officer behind me pushed me for six. Picking myself up and beginning to shout; "W....," I saw him finishing off a sand viper that I was about to tread on in my sandaled feet. This is a deadly snake, and I was a little shaken.

A couple of nights afterwards, I did have something which caused me considerable pain for a day or two. A scorpion had crept into my blanket in the night, and it stung me right under the crutch. Fortunately, it was only one of the small sand variety, but even this was bad enough as the pain lasted for three days. We had no doctor with us; only a medical orderly, who did not know much about scorpion bites, or anything else for that matter. Fortunately, we did not need any medical assistance until we were within fairly easy reach of the Transjordan side by aircraft.

The ground had become undulating, which was a change of sorts. We would wonder what was coming after the ridge ahead. By the professor's reckoning, we were about half way. The difficulty I was having establishing contact with both Baghdad and Amman with the transmitter I had, brought this home to me. The evening before, I had the whole crowd in line grabbing the handle of the hand generator one at a time so that enough power could be got to get through two or three words, before one man staggered away and the next man took over.

All days were alike. Up at dawn, a few miles, and the mapping table would be out. The cars rushing round to make another circle, spells of heaving and pushing, and the longing for a long, cool drink of water. Then making camp at sundown. Then for me, getting my aerial up and into contact with civilization. For the mechanics, an hour or two having a good look see at the cars, which required a certain amount of servicing every day. Major Holt's party was still north of us, with his T Fords doing well. We made arrangements to meet him ahead.

One afternoon, there really was something over the next ridge. When we topped it, an Arab camp came into view. We gasped, wondering who the devil they could be. We had hit the spot which is now Rutba. Now, a staging place has been set up complete with hotel. The oil pipeline from Persia to the Mediterranean now passes there. As we approached the camp, bedlam broke loose. Nothing like our party had ever been seen by the Arabs there. We drove right in, and soon saw Arabs over wells from which they had been drawing water in skin buckets to water the animals. For these Arabs, the cars were something out of this world. At first, they looked scared to go near them. At last one of the braves plucked up courage and touched the mudguard. When it did not bite him, the others were soon stroking them. We didn't wait long before getting at the water, which we realised was clean, so we drank our fill. As we stood and watched, one of the chaps took out a packet of cigarettes and handed the packet round until it was empty. He threw the empty packet away. I saw the youths standing by look at it with interest. At last, one of them pounced on it and picked it up. Immediately, the others swarmed around, trying to grab it. Those who got pieces turned them over in their fingers, obviously wondering what it was. It was obvious that they had never before seen a packet of any sort. It would be very interesting to know how long those wells had been there. The leather thongs with which they had pulled water up for what must be thousands of years had worn deep ruts in the rocks around the top of the well. It was a small tribe with a few tents or lean-to shelters. In one, I saw a woman weaving rough cloth on a machine which must have been old in Mohammed's time. It was an amazing contraption. Women were spinning thread by threading from a bundle of wool held in the crook of the arm, and feeding it down to a spinning piece of stick fixed into a weighted base. There was a hook at the top of the piece of stick to hold the thread until sufficient had been spun to wind on to the stick. Every so often, the stick had to be given a twist to keep it going. I had seen exactly the same process being done in some of the remote places in India. I saw a chap start a fire using a flint and some fluffy stuff. I wondered how long it would take me to become as adept at this as he was.

It was summer, so absolutely nothing grew there. There was not a tree in sight. One can hardly call it an oasis, but we understand that a miserable existence is eked out by a few tribes along this semi-fertile strip running north - south down the central part of the desert. I suppose I should have said was eked out. Since then, the desert highway and the oil pipelines run through there. This must have made a big difference to the manner of life of these isolated tribes.

We would all have liked to stay at the well with its lovely water for a good rest, but the heads considered this might be a little dangerous. So we moved on before camping for the night. I keep saying 'camp', but it was nothing more than just to roll up in a blanket, sleeping under the open sky.

In a couple of days, we came to a known water hole, El Djid, where we had arranged to rendezvous with the Holt party. This really was a water hole. One could walk down into it, to the water. However, the water was a bit rank, and we did not risk drinking it. On the previous evening, I had told Major Holt that we would be there on that day. I had also received notice that a Vickers Vimy with Group Captain Brook Popham from the Air Ministry on board, already four days on the way from Amman, would also drop in on us. The Vimy had had a few breakdowns with engine trouble. As I watched Brook Popham digging into a tin of bully beef with four days' growth on, he looked a bit fed up with the whole business. When Holt drove in, he had an amazing story to tell. On the previous day, he had met a small tribe, in the same fertile strip as Rutba, who the previous day had been raided by another tribe and badly beaten up. Their camels and animals had been pinched, and their sheik had been badly wounded in the tummy. Holt suggested that it would be a fine thing if he could be got to Baghdad in the Vimy for good medical treatment. He would go back and talk to the sheik's wife about it. This he did. He brought the sheik, who went back to Baghdad, where he was cured and flown back. Fortunately, the Vimy had no further trouble after leaving us. This was the limit of Holt's meandering. He went back to Baghdad with his T Fords. Frank Lowry, the operator with the Holt party, was jolly good to be getting back to the comforts of civilisation. But I was to go on.

After El Djid, we ran into lots of wadi country. With its heaving and pulling, we began to suffer casualties. It was pretty hot. The long stretches in the sun began to tell. The transport corporal and one or two others went down with heat stroke. We were now much nearer to Amman than to Baghdad. I called for aircraft to collect the sick. It was easy to find a landing ground, which we marked. Aircraft came and took them off. I myself was not feeling too good, and would have liked to have been wafted out of it. One the other hand, I don't think I would have left the party while I was able to carry on.

The next luxurious spot was the Azrak pools into which we were really able to dive. But before we reached Azrak, we experienced a real spot of desert life. We met up with the tribe of one of our guides, who had been recruited because of his knowledge of this part of the desert. There was much rejoicing. The fatted calf was to be killed for our benefit. It really was a sheep. It appeared in an enormous, shallow bowl about four feet across and six inches deep. The head stood up in the middle, and around it was the rest of the meat and veges in a lovely stew. We knew all about eating with the right hand only, keeping the left hand out of sight. We all crowded round the dish together. We were told to just make a gesture of drinking the bowls of water which came round every now and then, as it was definitely doubtful. I don't know whether I could tuck into a meal of this sort now. But as it was the first cooked meat we had had for weeks, to me it was delicious. I've never forgotten it. When we had finished, the sheik and his chiefs got stuck in. After them, we noticed the women mucking it. Finally, all the children, when the dish had been carried out of the sheik's tent. What an amazing party to be able to look back on!

A morning or two after this, we crested a ridge. WE saw, in the distance, what I can only look back on as Hell. We were approaching the basalt rocky region, and very black and menacing it looked. Our super rapson tyres of the period got torn to shreds in the jagged edges of these rocks, which in places were only just under the sand. Planes had to fly over and drop replacements at frequent intervals, and recce for us from the air for ways and means to get through the stuff. At times, we did a few miles a day. But at last we got clear, and on the way to Amman. We had been seen off at Baghdad by Feisal, and we were to be met at Amman by his brother Abdullah, who had been put on the throne of Transjordan.

It was with a terrific sense of relief that it was all over. All the party felt the same. I felt very, very tired, and wanted nothing but a long rest.

e slept a few miles short of Amman so that we would arrive there fairly early. After a short walk with Abdullah, we were ready to push on to Jerusalem. As we left, I noticed we had picked up a lady passenger, who took a seat in the front car. We were told that she was a member of Peak Pasha's household, and was taking advantage of the opportunity to get to Jerusalem. Peak Pasha, as he was known, was the English officer who had formed the Jordanian army, and was in charge of it. Later he was succeeded by General Glubb, who was to become quite a big noise in the running of Jordanian affairs until King Hussein (Abdullah's grandson) was forced to retire him.

At last we were on a real road, even if it was rather dusty for a convoy of cars. The summer was passing, and the weather was perfect. The valley down to our left looked beautiful. We passed pomegranate trees. The fruit was just right, and we tucked into it. At about midday, we arrived at Jericho. As a gazetteer of the time said, we found it to be a miserable little village near the banks of the river Jordan. WE looked around for somewhere where we could get some sort of a meal. There was nowhere. All we could get were some bottle of warm beer. This wasn't to my taste because I was T T.

The country around the Dead Sea looked horrible, reminding me of the sulphurated country around the sulphur pools Flight Sergeant Dobson and I had come across during our memorable tramp into the desert from our desert wireless station about seven months before. The whole outlook was extremely uninviting. We did not think of going over and taking a dip in the unsinkable water. Withdrawal on the valuable mineral deposits had not begun, and Dead seemed a proper name for it.

We had dropped considerably coming down from Amman. It was curious to think that we were over twelve hundred feet below sea level. Somehow, it felt like that. I was not sorry to get over the Allenby Bridge, looking down on possibly the very spot where Christ was baptised. I was crossing the river Jordan . My thoughts flew back to my childhood, when I was asked whether I was over Jordan, meaning, of course, whether I had been saved.

I was very excited at the thought that I was going up to Jerusalem. How strange that I was going in by the back door, not by the conventional route via Palestine. Up and up we went. I began to wonder where the Good Samaritan incident took place. We passed the notice informing us that we were at sea level. We continued to rise, until we saw the walls of the Holy City. How I felt at this moment, words fail me. Here was the place we had sung about, and about which we had set all our religious thoughts. I did not worry that we were not stopping. I knew I would come again under more favourable conditions.

After a brief rest, we carried on downhill, round the hairpin bends. In a short time we arrived at the R.A.F. Station at Ramleh.

This was the end of the road for me. I did not belong to Egypt Command. After spending this last night with the team, which had been my little world for what now seemed ages, and with whom I had seen and done so much, I said goodbye. F/O Culley set off on the motor bike for the last leg to Cairo in company with the eight cars. They now looked the worse for wear. Everyone was copious with thanks to me for the part I had played. With the usual cheerios, the desert survey party was over.

After I had shaved off my beard and moustache, and had a good clean up, I felt at a complete loose end for a day or two. The Ramleh people were kind, and saw that I joined in any bathing trips that were going. When I expressed the wish to get to Jerusalem, I was taken for the day. I took long walks into the surrounding countryside. One day I came across an Israeli village, which seemed completely co-operative. I asked if I could get a meal anywhere, and was taken to a house where I was given an excellent meal. The young woman, who spoke fairly good English, was pleased to explain the whole set-up. At the time, it sounded a most satisfactory state of affairs.

I was told that I was to fly the first air mail to Baghdad. I was to go to Amman, where I would join it on its way from Cairo. A Handley Page dropped in to collect stores for Amman. I got on it, and off we took. We flew right over Jerusalem at no great height. I had a good view. I was in the big back bomb bay with the engineer. I was thoroughly enjoying the trip, when suddenly, over the Dead Sea, we dropped like a stone for some distance. We had hit an air pocket. This was then a frequent experience. It took some time to make sufficient height to get over the hills. I turned round to say something to the other chap, and he wasn't there. He must have fallen through the loading hole. I tried to shout to the pilot and navigator in front. This was useless. As soon as we landed at Amman, I dropped out to run round to tell the pilot, when the missing engineer appeared. He was so thin, that he was able to get through the bracing wires twixt the pilot's seat and the bomb bay, and this he had done.

I had a few free and easy days in Amman, waiting for the air mail. I was able to look around a lot. The aerodrome was on high ground, not far from Amman itself. It was a short walk to town. Except for the Roman amphitheatre, there was little to indicate what a centre it must have been during the Roman occupation period. It did not have the ruined palaces and archways that I was to see at Jerash later on. But to have warranted the building of this theatre, there must have been a large population. There was one small hotel. This seemed completely out of place. At this time, Amman was right off the map, compared with the number of tourists attracted there in recent years. Petra, with its rock temples and tombs, had not become the attraction it now is.

During a long walk northwards along the valley stretching that way, I passed some squatting Arabs. They were in conversational mood, so I squatted beside them. We spoke about the small fish in the small river and things, and then one said; "Aurens, he come back?" I hadn't the slightest idea what he meant, and bypassed it. After a time he said; "Where Aurens now?" Suddenly, it struck me. He was asking for news of T. E. Lawrence. "Did you know Aurens?" I asked. "Yes," he replied; "We," motioning the others, "Fought the Turks with him." Stumbling on with the chat as well as I was able, I certainly found out that they adored Lawrence, and hoped for his return.

Years later, when I spent a long time with Lawrence having many talks with him I often thought of mentioning this incident. But I always drew back from doing so, thinking it might be presumptuous on my part. But more of him later.

At last, news came that the air mail had left Cairo. Two D.H.10's! What a shock! But one of these crashed in lower Palestine, leaving one. A D.H.9a was top replace the crash, and I was to fly in the 10. Was I scared? But it was all right. I 'found' the wireless unserviceable, and said I must transfer to the D.H.9a. It was as easy as that, and I had no trouble in finding it serviceable in the 9a. The D.H.10 was getting a pretty bad reputation, and this was one of its last flights before it was taken out of service. On the test flight for the return journey, I saw this one crash in flames, killing the two officers on board.

The 9a, with its long range tanks, could just about do the trip Amman - Ramadi non-stop. Arrangements had been made for refuelling at Ramadi. I was with Flying Officer McDonald, who was later to become Air Vice-Marshall. I had no warm clothing with me, and took a blanket to wrap around me if I wanted, and wanted it was. McDonald went up to twelve thousand feet, and I got frozen. I had difficulty keeping the blanket around me. Eventually, the slip stream really got hold of it and whipped it out of the cockpit. I can only hope some wandering Arab eventually found it.

Aircraft W/T was pretty crude then. The H.T. generator was swivelled on a bracket. This was pushed out into the slipstream. It was powered by a small two bladed windmill about eighteen inches long. The aerial was one hundred yards or so of wire, wound on a reel, by which it was let through the floor via an ebonite tube. A lead weight was attached to the bottom of the aerial. Filament current was from accumulators. The receiver was self-contained, with its own accumulator and dry cell H.T. With the roar of a four hundred horse liberty engine a few feet in front, in a completely open cockpit with a borrowed helmet, this was a different kettle of fish from operating within a closed office on the ground. Conversation with McDonald, only two or three feet in front of me, was impossible. Fortunately, we had little to shout about to each other. Desert, desert, nothing but desert, stretched away as far as the eye could see. The monotony of it began to pall. I began to wish we could get a move on. I was stiff with cold, and thought it would not be a bad change to get down onto the baking desert for a warm up. The huge rings we had made looked very small from this height, and the car tracks the narrowest ribbon.

With economical cruising, we hoped to make Ramadi in six and a half hours or so. For me, time began to drag heavily. But at last, there was the Euphrates in front. Excitedly, I pointed Ramadi out to the pilot. We were down first, and anxiously watched the 10 land. I remember the co-pilot, standing up in the front cockpit, motioning with his arms to the pilot to drop her or lift her a bit before touching down. By now, I was feeling definitely groggy, and anxious to get on, and after we were refuelled, glad to get into the cockpit for the last bit to Baghdad. But just as we were getting off the ground, I felt the aircraft hit back onto the ground. and the engine switched off. I saw the rough ground ahead rushing towards us, and with great relief felt the thing pull up just in time. I jumped out, shouting "What's wrong?" McDonald had jumped out too, saying "Can't move the rudder." Some of the people had dashed over. We soon found what was causing the trouble, taxied back, and got off O.K. I was so glad to get down at Baghdad, where Steve and some of the others were there to greet me. I knew by then that I was running a temperature. With some help, I got to the hospital, where I was put straight to bed. How like the Khyber Pass picnic, when I collapsed at Peshawar in the same way.

It was now September. I had been away since the middle of February, except for a few days before I joined the survey party. I had had enough of the desert to last a lifetime, and wanted no more of it. I had lost a lot of weight. Fortunately, the fever was nothing like as serious as the malaria I had gone down with at Peshawar. After a few days, I was able to leave hospital and return to duty.

I was told that I was a corporal, which did not excite me in the least. I was patted on the back by the A.O.C. for a very good show. I was told to get fit as soon as I possibly could, because the football season was under way, and I was needed.

The accountant sent for me. He was concerned about all the pay and allowances that I was credited with. I had had but a few dribs and drabs since I flew away with Dobby in February. I told him I would have the lot, and he paid right up. I took a bundle of big old ten rupee notes from him. He must have told the C.O. of the squadron that I was attached to for pay and accommodation and rations. He sent for me too. "You have drawn a lot of money," he said; "Are you going to keep it on you?" "No," I replied, "I shall try to get to Baghdad and pay it into my account." "You've got a banking account?" he said with some amazement. "Where?" I said; "With the Westminster in my home town." "Good God," he said, as though it was the strangest thing in the world for an airman to have a bank account. He was very helpful, and said; "You can have my car, and go as soon as you can." He rang the transport officer, and told him to have me taken to Baghdad when I was ready to go. He certainly was not following in Group Captain B.C.'s footsteps. The last thing B.C. would have done would have been to allow an Other Rank to have his staff car for a private journey.

Again, just as had happened after my miserable time in the Khyber Pass, I came into another nice little nest egg. I was seeing the world alright, and, at this rate, not doing too badly. I could drop the R.A.F. just as soon as I felt like it. But I didn't feel like it just yet.

I managed to get fit enough to get my place in the first representative match of the season. This was against the army team. Sir Percy and Lady Cox were there with King Feisal and all the upper ten of the time. The Arabs were very soccer minded, and swarmed in in their thousands. We got well on top of the army team, and won 5 - 2.

Wireless personnel were headquarters staff. We joined in with them for sports, and together got a very good soccer team going. Squadron Leader Saul, a staff officer, was a first class centre forward, with whom I would have friendly connections long after our soccer days were over. We won the Iraq Championship, beating the Aircraft Park Depot, which had an establishment of a couple of thousand or so. We played the rousing match before a crowd of something like ten thousand. We had two semi-international weeks in which Southern Iraq played Northern Iraq. Early on, the pick of all the south came up to Baghdad and played two matches. Later on, the pick of the north went down to Basra and played two matches. Included in the Baghdad area team were two civilians who had played in big football. They were an Oxford blue goalkeeper named Glendenning, who was something in oil, and a Casuals player, who was on the Baghdad Times. The centre-forward was an army chap named Saggers. I think that later on he went onto the Norwich staff. I was one of the four R.A.F. in the team. We won all the matches, both at Baghdad and at Basra. But we had more people around Baghdad from whom to pick a team.

What an amazing life I was living. As in India, I never came into contact with any females. The only ones one saw were the Arab bints who were always hidden behind their yashmaks. They were only outside camp. No females ever came near our quarters. How different things were then from now. As soon as a kid leaves school or college now, it thinks about getting married. There were two dozen of us on the main wireless staff. Not one of us was married, and I was young compared with some of the others.

Christmas 1921 came, my second in Iraq. As is usual everywhere at this time, we made merry.

More squadrons had arrived. Baghdad West was not considered big enough, so a second aerodrome and accommodation was established at Hinaidi, some distance from Baghdad. Flying had increased so much that a separate channel was opened to cope with aircraft traffic. I took over this aircraft station. New sites were found both for the main station and for my box of tricks. I moved to Hinaidi, and Steve and Co. went to a site on the other side of Baghdad.

My new station was housed in an all-wood building, mostly made from aeroplane packing cases. It had a second stand-off roof raised about eighteen inches above, into which were packed rushes and stuff to give more protection from the heat during the hot weather.

I was in the habit of going to a cafe, run by an Arab, for a good supper. The cafe was only just outside the camp perimeter. One evening, I was enjoying a good supper, when the waiter rushed to me, saying; "Wireless on fire!" I rushed out, and saw the blaze. Dashing headlong in the dark towards it, I ran into a barbed wire fence, gashing my leg badly. But this did not stop me, and I arrived in time to see the place a roaring furnace. I shouted around for the duty operator, and found him badly shaken. He had only just managed to get through a small window, but his little dog, who always went on watch with him, had perished.

This was a how d'you do, which was to impress on me just how quickly things can be done when necessary. The very next day, a gang started building a mud brick building, which was completed before nightfall. I went to the main stores in Baghdad, where fortunately they had a 56B transmitter and motor generator, which I began to install right away. I ran loose wires all over the place, as there was not the time to cleat it all up tidily. That could be done later. I had two of my best chaps to help me. We worked through the night and all the next day. Although we began to feel tired, I felt we could go on, and after a snag or two, we got the thing humming around midnight. On switching on the receiver, the first dots and dashes that I heard were the Eiffel Tower time signals. These were the signals I had struggled over in the desert. So in two and a half days, we were on the air again.

Every twopenny halfpenny job in the service must have an officer in charge. An officer named Hartley from Eight Squadron was appointed in charge of the wireless station. He usually looked in each morning to see if I wanted anything. Since he couldn't help me if I was in difficulty with the equipment, I never wanted anything from him. He used to fly a lot. Although the squadron was equipped with D.H.9's, there was one dual-control Bristol Fighter. When all was quiet, I started flying with him. One morning, he came in and I was busy on a fault with the spare receiver. "Come on," he said; "Let's hit the sky." "Sorry," I said, "I must straighten this thing out." And so off he went. A short time afterwards, the telephone operator dashed in, shouting "Mr. Hartley has just been killed." It was an appalling shock. I had difficulty in controlling myself. Looking down at the receiver I was working on, I murmured to it; "You've saved my life!" I ran out on to the 'drome, and over to the still burning wreckage. "Who was with him?" I asked. "The fitter," was the reply. I could not but help thinking; "Why did it have to be him, and not me?" Anyone dying in the morning was always buried on the same day. At the funeral that afternoon, my thoughts can be better imagined than described. "In the midst of life we are in death" seemed very real.

No. 1 Squadron had arrived from India with its Snipes, the single seater fighter used towards the end of the war. There was no opposition in Iraq, and they were no use as carriers. One wondered why they were sent to Baghdad. Now we had Vimies, D.H.9's, Bristols and Snipes at Hinaidi.

The summer of 1922 passed peacefully enough. I got none of the excitements of 1921. Since Baghdad was only a two year station, I began to look forward to the trooping season, and a change. I got into the station cricket team, mostly as a bowler, and played quite a lot. But I was glad when the soccer season started again. The army match to be played in Baghdad came along again. I was fetched by a headquarters car. Stupidly, I did not take a change with me, going in just my soccer gear. This would have been alright, but after the match both teams were entertained to a dinner in Baghdad. I had to clean myself and make myself as presentable as I could. But underneath, I still had my sweaty soccer shirt on. I was driven back to Hinaidi in the cool of the evening, and thought everything was O.K., although I had felt the chilliness of the drive. Next day, I felt quite poorly, and in the evening I went to see the doctor. He immediately sent me to the camp sick bay. I did not hang about there long, but was rushed by ambulance to the Baghdad General Hospital, where rheumatic fever was diagnosed. I had a very rough week or two, and cursed myself for my stupidity. I had only been in hospital for a few days when a caller came from headquarters asking if I was well enough to go and put something right at the wireless station. What a joke! I couldn't move, and certainly didn't care whether the station was working or not. England had managed to survive without Kitchener, and no doubt the R.A.F. could survive without S.E.C. It must have managed, because I took no further part in things. It was recommended that I be posted home by the first available boat. Strange that I had to leave Iraq a sick man, as I had left India. But again, I was to make a good recovery.

There was no boat trip down the Tigris on this homeward journey. The railway had been completed all the way to Basra. There was no lingering at Basra either. The Braemar Castle was waiting there to collect us. The usual trooping conditions prevailed. Down between the decks we went to the hammock issuing, and to scramble a sleeping bag corner, if, like me, you disliked being slung up in a hammock. The Braemar had passenger decks. Parts of these were allotted to the lower herd All the time we were in warm waters, there was a rush at sundown to bag a place on which to kip down for the night. This covered a large part of the voyage, well past Port Said. This was my second trip up the Suez Canal, so I knew what to expect.

The serious unemployment problem had hit Malta as badly as it had hit England. To ease it, a large number of Maltese carpenters had been recruited into the R.A.F. for service throughout the Middle East. Quite a number were on board, and nearer to Malta the excitement among them was terrific. The shout that went up from them at the first sighting was something to remember. They hugged each other, some cried, and some went down on their knees. To us cold blooded members of a northern race, this exhibition seemed fantastic. What meetings they must have had as soon as they were able to meet their families!

Again we had some very rough weather crossing the Bay of Biscay. Even if the rolling and dipping of the boat had not upset me, the propeller thrashing the air when it heaved out of the water would have done. We did not get lost in a fog in the Channel this time, and got to Southampton without trouble.

In those days, all returning troops went to the depot at Uxbridge before going on leave. When I arrived there, I was met with; "Glad you have got here in time. You are wanted to play against the guards on Saturday next." Sure enough, there in the centre half position (where I usually played) in the notice for this R.A.F. team was Cpl. Catt or A.N. Other. My fame had run ahead of me, and my name had been seen in the trooping list. It was all completely stupid, because, had I been well, I would not have been fit enough, after a few weeks cramped in a troopship, for a big soccer match.

One got a good leave after a tour abroad, and I soon got fit enough to play for Sandwich Town, a class of soccer which was just right for a work in.

I had a piece of luck in coming home by that particular boat. Had I been fit enough to come by a boat just before, I would have gone to Air Ministry. Being a job in the centre of London, I would have hated it. As it was, I was wanted on another job. I went to Old Sarum to carry out some tests involving the reception signals from aircraft using ground aerials and crystal receivers. Those old fogies who remember the first days of broadcasting with its crystal receivers and cat's whisker will know what I am talking about. A valve transmitter had been developed to give out tonic train signals which could be received on an audible frequency, as the crystal was able to do. I soon came to the conclusion that it was no good, but the stupid signals officer over me sent in reports that results were very good. So a try-out was arranged in the Farnborough area. I went, and was all set up on one of the listening posts. Trenchard and some senior officers from the Air Ministry came along, and he asked me how it was going. I asked if any aircraft were up as I hadn't seen any. "Yes," he said, "Of course they are up. Haven't you heard them?" "Oh no," I replied, "I shan't hear them until they are about there, well in sight," pointing up at an angle of about 45 degrees. "What's the fool talking about?" he said. A Wing Commander shouted at me; "What the devil do you mean?" I answered that I had done all the tests at Old Sarum for the past few weeks, and this is what I had found. Trenchard stopped the whole exercise, and ordered the party to break up. The fool at Old Sarum got his deserts, and I left there smiling.

Another interesting job was found for me. I went to Farnborough to work on the first telephony sets which were being produced at the Royal Aircraft Experimental Establishment there. I joined No. 2 Squadron, who supplied the Bristol Fighter for the tests. I fitted the transmitter. It was quite a small box of tricks on a piece of five ply wood, and a new double voltage generator by Lucas which supplied both H.T. and L.T. current was fixed to a permanent position on one of the wings. A ground transmitter and receiver was fitted at the R.A.E.

A Flying Officer Pratt was my pilot. He was on the last few weeks of his service. He finished the tests with me, and said; "Shan't be flying with you again. I've got a job with Imperial Airways." Very soon afterwards, on one of his first flights, he killed himself and seven passengers on a flight to Manchester when he hit a hill a little north of London. At the time, this affected my greatly, as did the death of Hartley at Hinaidi.

I finished testing the apparatus and fitted four other aircraft of No. 2 Squadron. Then I went to Tangmere to take part in some army manoeuvres taking place over Sussex and the surrounding country. A receiver was fitted up and operated by one of the squadron wireless people in army headquarters, so that my reports could be received direct. It was a binding job, searching for troops, guns and what have you among the woods and countryside, then looking up the map references to send back. I flew from early morning, sometimes until late evening. I would do a two hour stint, return, and jump into another waiting aircraft for another recce. At times, it was very bumpy over the downs. I got very air sick. On one particularly busy day, I was sick on the early morning recce., again after breakfast and dinner, and again after a spot of tea. After this last effort, I said to the ground operator, who was nicknamed Doc., "There goes my tea, Doc, as well as my gunfire, breakfast and dinner. It's been a vile day." The general happened to be there. As the receiver had been fitted up with one of the first Brown's horn loudspeakers, he heard this. Doc had to explain to him that I got air sick when conditions were bad. Apparently, he replied; "Poor blighter."

I like to think that I played with the first air to ground radio telephone, but as there is nothing new in the world, it may not be so. I certainly did the first R.A.F. effort.

I have mentioned my cousin Joseph Woodward of sea lion fame. His wife Anne was also a first cousin of mine. While on this Tangmere picnic, I was able to contact them. They lived along the coast at Kingstone. I began to see a lot of them. I also visited another cousin who was married to a Bognor outfitter, William Baker, whom I had never seen. I had many a pleasant holiday with them. These first two cousins were much older than me. Two younger girl second cousins, children of another cousin who had died, who were being guardianed by cousin Flo. Baker, were more of my generation. I became very much attached to the younger of these, Marjorie. [original page 70]

My uncle Alfred was the harbour master at Shoreham. He and Auntie Isabel had open house for my frequent visits. So I never wanted for somewhere to go on free weekends or longer holidays.

Although the motoring craze had not started yet, both cousins Joe and Will Baker had cars, which was uncommon in 1923. The Morris Cowley was appearing. With the T Ford, it was to make for cheaper cars. I rode a pre-war New Hudson belt driven motor bike, which would be a real antique today.

At the end of the manoeuvres, 2 Squadron did not return to Farnborough, but went to Andover. I stayed with it. All the R/T equipment went back to Farnborough for the necessary modifications. One bad item was that I had used one of the old stand-up microphones which were in standard use on all G.P.O. telephones. There was no screening against engine or slipstream noises. It was no easy task to work the system. I had got the hang of it more or less, and for that reason I had to do so much flying. I never saw the stuff again. I was to have nothing more to do with R/T until years later when I caught up with Fighter Command. By then, short waves had become controllable, and completely new equipment had been developed.

Life during winter, for an army co-operation unit, was quiet. The army only played at soldiers during the summer. 1923 was a cold winter at Andover, and the weather at Christmas was Christmassy.

Every R.A.F. station was then linked by radio. Most of the inter-station communication was done by air. Teleprinters were to replace this later on.

One day the C.O. sent for me. He told me we were on a quick move to Germany. We had seen in the press that they were re-arming, and had marched into the Rhur in breach of some clause in the peace treaty. Some of the papers were calling for some action to be taken. We were to be part of the action. He said he would lead the squadron, who would fly in formation. I would fly with him. We would refuel at Hawkinge, near Folkestone. I think our destination was to be Wiesbaden. He gave me the relevant maps, and said "Get down to it right away." I got down to it, and told him about the various landmarks. We were all ready to go. I drew a lovely life jacket from stores, complete with spirit flask in a pocket. I began to look forward to some more excitement. We were inspected by the Air Officer Commanding our group. On the day, we went to the hangar all dressed, ready for the picnic. All kits were stacked ready for onward transmission, and the ground personnel paraded ready to leave by train.

Suddenly, the buzz went round that the whole show was cancelled. We returned, with our kits, to our huts. The Germans carried on, with results which were to turn the world upside down again. If the allies had clamped down then, who knows how things would have been years later.

Shortly after this, the squadron moved to Manston, in the Isle of Thanet, my third move in less than a year. There were no aircraft stationed there, but the old war hangars were still there, with all necessary accommodation. The main activity was a school of technical training, and a transport pool. Number Nine Squadron, with its Virginia bombers, soon followed us; also a small ab initio flying training set-up, with its original Avro 504Ks. An aerodrome then was just a very large field. No runways, no control towers. One just taxied from the hangar, and getting a convenient run into wind, took off. It became a habit to land as near as possible to the front of the hangar. I landed there years later, after the second world war, on its enormous runway which seemed miles from the hangars. It seemed unreal that such changes could have taken place in such a short time. It had been twenty years since I last flew out of Manston in a Bristol Fighter. But to get back to 1924.

I was to remain stationed at Manston until the autumn of 1926, travelling around the country on army cooperation jobs. For most of the summer of 1924, I was up at Catterick with a detached flight to cooperate in live shoots with various artillery units on the Yorkshire moors. Catterick aerodrome had been closed down after the war, but the hangars and buildings were still in pretty good shape. I found an unused stores shed in which to set up the wireless station and stores. In a way it was a nice holiday. I could please myself at to whether I flew, or went up on the moors with the wireless tender, acting as go-between for the aircraft and guns. In the open cockpit Bristol, it was lovely flying up and down the moors on a fine summer's day. It was also lovely to have a day out on the moors with the gunners. This all ended with a real bit of fun and games. We had been doing individual shoots with batteries of a brigade, which was to terminate in a grand finale on the last training day. I went along to do the ground work. I got all set up as near to the batteries as I could. The aircraft came over and carried out the preliminaries. We then settled down to get on to the targets. After a few minutes, it was obvious that the W/T in the aircraft had gone sick. This had happened before, so I was prepared for it. I had a map, and had plotted the four target areas. I carried on giving corrections, and the positions in which the shells were falling in relation to the targets, amusing myself immensely until I had all guns on target. I knew the pilot would attend the gunner's headquarters for the shoot inquest, so I scrambled everything together and hurried back to Catterick as quickly as I could to give the pilot the record of my shoot. I was too late; he had already gone. I expected a hell of a row on his return, and, sure enough, he tried to make one. I explained to him and to the Flight Commander (S. D. Culley, who rode the motor bike across the desert) that it would have looked a bit weak if I had told the gunners the W/T had gone sick, washing out the shoot. Whereas everybody had had a good time, and if I had caught Rybot with my shoot, nobody would have been any the wiser. That night the gunners had a party, to which the flight commander went. He said to me next day that the general had said to him, after the good laugh they had all had at being fooled by a corporal; "Tell that Corporal Batt, or whatever his name is, I'll kick him in the pants if I see him again." After this, I went further up the graphs, as the story soon got around.

I had never been north before, and found the people there very friendly and hospitable. I made some good friends. On an evening stroll with another chap, I met a party on an evening ramble who had rented a cottage for a country holiday. They were a youngish man, wife and baby, her sister and a cousin. They invited us to supper, and from that a long friendship developed. he was a Tyne pilot. The wife's father was superintendent of police at South Shields. I often visited them at South Shields, and became very friendly with the father. We used to go to see Sunderland play in the Warney Cresswell and Charlie Buchan days.

I mentioned Rybot, who nearly shot me out of a Bristol one fine day at Manston. We had been on a trip. Arriving back at Manston, he must have felt a bit lively, as he started throwing the machine about a bit. He went into a loop, and hung in it a bit. The accumulator flew past me. I just managed to hang onto the scarf ring (gun ring) to stop following it. There were strict orders about aerobatting with W/T gear on board, but I let him get away with it.

1925 training season saw me in Devon. A flight had been sent to a large field about seven miles from Okehampton to do live shoots on the moors there. As I had lots to do in the Manston area, a L.A.C. had gone to look after the E/T gear. A panic signal was received, asking for me to be sent down, as the W/T was useless. I left right away, and caught the midnight train for Exeter. Arriving at the flight's camp, I found everything haywire, and nothing working. I put a set in a machine for a test, and immediately saw that the accumulator hadn't the power to light the transmitter valves enough/ So I sent the L.A.C. for another, and this was the same. I thought this was a funny kettle of fish. Going to the accumulator charging lorry, I found all the accumulators flat. I tested for acid strength and the usual things one did, and told him to put them all on charge. I went and told the flight commander that there could be no flying that day. I went back to the charging lorry to check up, and, to my amazement, found that the fool had put the acs. in the wrong way round for charge. On shouting; "Have you been doing this all the time?" he replied; "Yes. Isn't it right?" We had sent a L.A.C. who couldn't even charge an accumulator. I experienced other cases of R.A.F. trained tradesmen quite as bad as this.

I was at dinner at Manston once, and the motor cyclist dashed in, saying that an aircraft was on the tarmac waiting to fly me to Colchester. A flight was there on the polo ground doing some coop jobs. Again, trouble with the W/T. "What's the matter?" I asked the operator. "Can't tune the receiver," he said. Sure enough, the tuning knob of the receiver would not move. The shaft had seized in the bakelite front. "Go and get some paraffin," I said. He looked a bit dazed, but went and found some. "Got a match?" I asked. He produced one. Turning the receiver on its back, with the match stick I put a few drops of paraffin in so that it would run down. In a few moments, the thing was absolutely free. I called Manston, and that was that. It seems incredible that these faults that I have mentioned could happen. The number of deaths that must have been caused by similar incompetence by flying personnel gives on pause for thought.

Airships were always in the news. At Manston, we nearly got caught up in a dramatic incident with the R34. During a gale it was blown out well over the North Sea. In the afternoon, we heard that it would try to make Manston. We all stood by on the 'drome to help make it fast. But the gale abated, and it managed to make its base at Cardington.

While at Tangmere, I had badly twisted the cartilage in my left knee playing against a local village on a very rough ground. This had given trouble ever since. The medical people did not think an operation would be as successful as the one I had in India. I carried on playing, being nursed up for important matches, but the end was in sight. Playing for the Manston team against Cranwell in the 1926 senior R.A.F. cup final at the stadium in Uxbridge, we were one all at full time, and during extra time my knee went. As we were still one all, it was decided to play again the next day. My knee was too bad for me to attempt to play, and a sub. was brought in. Manston lost.

I had enlisted for six years, and was due for discharge in April 1926. I had been promoted Sergeant, and in the autumn of 1925 I went to the School of Wireless, Flowerdown, to be examined for confirmation in rank. It was all double dutch to me. All I could do was to make a copy of the exam paper for future reference. The school sent a report to the Air Ministry requesting an investigation into how such a stupid clot like me had been promoted to Sergeant. R. E. Saul, who had played soccer with me in Baghdad, was now my C.O. He sent for me and handed the file to me, saying; "What the hell's this all about?" I explained to him that I knew nothing about the stuff I was examined in, and told him I had made a copy of the paper. "Go and write it all up," he said. I did this, with a few extras which I knew would bite. He sent this to the Air Ministry, with reports on me from my documents about my work in Iraq, and also in England, and my annual trade assessments, which were all 'exceptional'. Before it went, I saw his reply. all I could murmur was; "You make me blush, Sir." This caused the first reshuffle at the Wireless School that I had a hand in.

Signing On.

I had kept in touch with Feast, the outside right with whom I had played in the R.A.F. reams, and also in Baghdad and Basra with the combined North Iraq team. He had left the R.A.F. and gone to Australia, where soccer was getting a grip. He was playing for the Western Australian team as a semi-professional. He had been given a good job as perks. They could do with a centre half, and he had fixed it for me. I arranged to be available for the 1926 season. But it was not to be. Early in March, I was playing for the squadron in a twopenny halfpenny local cup match, when my knee went badly. I had to go into hospital with it. Squadron Leader Saul, who knew I was soon due for discharge, had approached me about signing on, as I would do very well in the R.A.F. I thanked him, but replied that I had no intention of making the service my career. One morning the P.M.O. (Principle Medical Officer) came to me and said that my squadron had received a request from Records that I be encouraged to re-engage, and that my C.O. had asked him to tell me to give the matter serious consideration. He asked me what I was going to do, and I told him about the Australian offer. "But," he said, "Your playing days are over. You will never play again as you have been doing." This was a fine kettle of fish, but I realised that he was right. "But," I said, "In that case I'm not fit enough to remain in the R.A.F." "Oh," he replied, "I will make that all right. You will always be fit enough to carry out your work. You will just have to take sports a little easier." I just did not know what to do, and asked him to let me have a little time to think it over. I finished up by tossing up; heads I stay and tails I go. It came up heads. The times I have wondered what I would have done had tails come up, and I had left the R.A.F. The P.M.O. came to me in the afternoon, and I told him I would stay on. He was delighted, and immediately rang the squadron. A despatch rider soon arrived with the papers, which, it seems, had all been made out ready. And so, in that hospital bed, I re-engaged for another six years.

I wrote to Feast explaining everything, which caused some disappointment there, as he had obviously built up a bright picture about me. I thought it might be a temporary measure. If it became feasible after all, I could always get out of the R.A.F.

There was a lot to be said for the life I was living. Lots of travelling around, the excitement of flying, all for free. Except for the occasional snag or awkward job to be done, nothing to worry about.

The new Triumph motor bike had come out. I had got one a few months before. It enabled me to spend enjoyable breaks with the relatives at Bognor and Kingston on Sea, or to hound off anywhere I fancied. Life was pretty good.

My uncle Jim Woodward, of sealion fame, had returned to his native Ramsgate. It was only just down the road from Manston, so I spent much time with him. He was always interesting company. I made a wireless receiver for him. To save him from taking the accumulator for recharge, as was necessary then, I fixed him up with a charging circuit. What times those early days of 2LO were, with the aerial masts at the bottom of the garden! By law, an aerial earthing switch was outside the window. One took turns with the headphones, or put them in a basin so that all could hear faintly.

My frequent stays at Shoreham with cousins Joe and Anna enabled me to make many charming friends. Joe often drove me on visits to the Sangars estate, where the permanent training sheds were for the training. Marjorie and Tris, the two daughters, were delightful company, with whom I had many happy times. Mr. Sangar was, for me, Uncle Jim. He was still Uncle Jim the last time I was with him at Cousin Joe's cremation after the second world war. I had wonderful parties with them, particularly the annual dinner parties at one of the London hotels. Not only all the celebrated circus people would be there, but other celebrities of the time. Marjorie was to have an early tragic death, when she did not survive a simple tonsil operation.

Cousin Joe was a great fan of Wilhelmina Stitch. He often drove her around on her lecture tours. With him, I used to visit her in her lovely Hove home, where people of letters would congregate on a Sunday evening. Fortunately, my travels enabled me somewhat to hide the fact that I did not belong to their set. Her doctor husband was a cricket fan. I was good company for him to go to see Sussex, who had Duleep Singh in his prime at that time.

What a lot happened during 1926. I was still paid Acting Sergeant, and didn't care two hoots whether I stayed that way or not. But I was told I was to attend the Wireless School again for confirmation. I argued the point, saying it was a waste of time for all concerned, since I had made no effort, or wasted my time trying to get the hang of the rubbish they wanted me to know. I had heard from the C.O., who kept me well posted, as he got copies of what went on, about the rumpus the Air Ministry had made over my first fiasco there. Sqdn. Ldr. Saul said; "You will not be examined this tome. It's a matter of form. They have to sign your papers." And so it turned out. I was met with smiles, but I did notice that they seemed a little wary of this chap who had pulled a fast one on them. I felt as though I was the examining body. I came away a full blown Group One Sergeant, but in my heart I felt extremely sorry that the Royal Air Force was still a shambles in some quarters.

I began to have mixed feelings about the whole business. I knew in my heart that I would never 'belong' as B.C. of Uxbridge and many similar men did. The idea of giving up one's body and soul to a service of any sort did not make sense to me, but this was the attitude of some fanatics that I came up against. Beyond my job of work, I found that my interests were outside service life, especially if any music centres were within reach, which was often the case. I made an effort with myself to justify this by giving of my best in everything I was called upon to do, and this satisfied most people. I was no disciplinarian in the service sense, but I never had any trouble with any underlings, whether in my own section or in others.

As a teetotal, non-smoking, non woman chasing Group One Sergeant, I found I was getting more money than I knew what to do with. Except for a few pence mess charges a day, everything was on the taxpayer. As my wants always seemed to be few, money did not enter much into my scheme of things.

When the General Strike broke, I was on leave. It meant little to me until I saw the news that the army were being mobilised. After a couple of days, I thought I had better return to camp in case the R.A.F. were wanted. I went into the orderly room, and the adjutant said they had been trying to find me to recall me. he asked me what jobs I would be willing to do. I said I could help in a generating station, or drive a train. As it turned out, the strike collapsed, and I was not called upon. I really would have liked to have got a railway train under my thumb.

Cousin Joe Woodward's sister, whom I had never met as she had remained in America when the rest of the family returned to England, arrived with her husband and three children for a long stay during the summer of 1926. I saw quite a lot of them because they stayed for much of the time with Uncle Jim at Ramsgate. They were keen that I should visit them in America. I said I would do this on my next long leave. I was at Tilshead, on Salisbury Plain, when they left Southampton on the old Majestic. I slipped down on my Triumph to see them off, with Cousins Joe Anne and others.

I was at Tilshead, in camp with a detached flight, for shoots with the Larkhill Gunnery School, and various artillery units encamped thereabouts. It was a lovely summer for weather. It would be difficult to find a more pleasant spot for a nice holiday, which was what this was. From the air, and tootling on the ground, I got to know all the distinctive features the plain had to offer.

I ran a cricket team from the flight to play the surrounding village teams. One Saturday morning, I received a note from Lavington asking if we could play them that afternoon. There were no telephones, and no way to let them know in time. I suddenly had a bright idea. We used to use message bags to drop messages to ground units. They were little bags with coloured streamers about two feet long attached. I went into the flight tent and told the C.O. I wanted to fly over Lavington and drop a message confirming the match. There was a young pilot officer who had just joined us, with whom I had never flown. He said he would take me, so off we went. Over the village, I pointed to where I wanted to drop, and he dived down. I dropped the message, looked up, and saw he was still in a dive. "Up!" I shouted, as I saw a huge tree coming at us. We went right through the top of it. Had there been any tough branches, I would not be writing this now. Bits of tree flew in all directions, and I was badly shaken. As soon as we landed, I asked him what the dickens he was up to. He meekly apologised, saying he wasn't used to Bristols yet.

The flight sergeant and I had been noticing that flying discipline was getting a bit haywire. We both went and saw the new flight commander and told him so; that if he didn't stop some of the antics going on, there would be trouble. In any case, I said, I was flying no more there. He laughed it off, saying we had nothing to worry about. So we stood by waiting for it to happen, which it soon did. A chap named Reedman was taking an army major up for a joyride. We were all standing by when he did something absolutely stupid, and dived in. I was actually standing by the crash tender. With a couple of airmen, I was the first to get to the crash, with the ambulance behind me. Immediately, I saw that Reedman was finished, but I heard the major moan. Others had arrived by now. I shouted; "Don't worry about Reedman, but help me get the major out, as he is still alive." We did this as carefully as we could, and I ordered the ambulance driver to hurry as fast as he could to Tidworth Hospital. I rang the hospital to be ready for him. The flight commander and the other officers seemed to be in a stupor, and just left everything to us other ranks. We got Reedman out by hacking stuff away. When the ambulance returned, we sent it back with Reedman's body. On enquiring as to what this flight lieutenant had been doing, I learnt that he had been off flying and on some staff job. What I had to tell the squadron leader when I got back to Manston was not in time to save Reedman's life, but it may have saved others. I am glad to say that the major did recover, but it was a long time before he returned to duty.

I often ran down to Bognor for weekends, but Cousin Marjorie was no longer there. She had gone off to Italy for singing lessons with a recommended teacher. She had a lovely soprano voice. She often tried out her songs and her favourite bits of opera tête à tête on me, which I loved. She had gone to Florence, and I was getting letters from her indicating that life was not altogether a bed of roses. She was able to tell me much more than she felt the older ones would understand.

On one of these weekends, Cousin Will Baker asked me if I would go to Italy with him for a longish holiday. I said it might be possible; I would find out, as I would love to go with him. I checked up the regulations on foreign travel, submitting a request to Air Ministry through the squadron, asking for permission to visit France, Switzerland and Italy. This was O.K.'d, but I had to report to the relevant embassies when I got to places. Off I went to Bognor, and we got out the itinerary; Paris, Lucerne, Milan, Florence, Rome, Perugia, for Assisi and Venice. Will wanted to go to Assisi. In 1026, pilgrimages were being organised worldwide. He was a keen high churchman. He had never been abroad before, and asked me to arrange everything, which I was glad to do. Lunns, the travel people, had recently started business. I went to their London office and asked if they could do anything. I gave them all particulars as to where and how long we wanted to stay. We had arranged to pick up Marjorie in Florence, and she would continue on with us. Lunns were just the thing. In a couple of days or so it was all settled, right up to being taken across from Folkestone, and where the different couriers would pick us up and hand us on, and fix us up in the various hotels. .I took a full month's leave for it, so I was able to allow a week at Florence and Rome, with shorter stays in Milan, Perugia and other places. This satisfied Will Baker.

When I handed in the request to the flight commander, with the necessary pass form, for forwarding to Manston, he looked up at me very much as the C.O. had done in Baghdad, when I told him I had a bank account. This was years before the rush to the continent had started. To think of doing Italy on this grand scale was completely beyond his comprehension, as it was with the heads at Manston. He mumbled something like; "Gosh, you're lucky to be able to do this. How do you manage it?" Although I had insisted that I pay for my expenses, since by now I had lots of spare cash, I said I was lucky in having some well off relatives who liked to take me around. In a way, this was true. Usually, when they took me around, neither the Bakers nor the Woodwards would let me pay for anything. I had a good figure, and Will Baker got much fun out of fitting me out in the latest thing in clothing. Plus fours came in, and soon he was having me measured for a real splash up. I was a proper Jekyll and Hyde. My R.A.F. life had nothing to do with the life I lived away from it. Plus fours were all right when it came to visiting people like the Sangars, but would have looked a little out of place in the anteroom of a sergeants' mess. And the Oxford bags I had to slip into one time. What a stir they would make in Oxford Street now! I was an advertisement. I would be asked; "Where did you get that nice suit?" I would nod to Cousin Will, and say; "Oh! He does all my clothes."

I have had many lovely holidays on the continent since, but that first one remains in my memory as the highlight. To describe it all would be a book in itself, we did and saw so much. The wonderful scenery of Switzerland after Paris; Rome, Assisi, Perugia, Villa d'Este with its fountains and waterfalls. We had cars and guides to wait on us and show us everything worth seeing, and first class hotels all the way. I was not to complete all I planned to do. At Perugia, I received a wire calling me back to Manston. I replied with one asking for three days' grace so that I could do Florence, but on arriving Florence another wire waited, telling me to get back at once. It all seemed rather strange. I wondered what the dickens it was all about.

Third trip eastwards.

Back at Manston, I learned what it was all about. I was for posting overseas. The necessary medical, inoculation and vaccinations were to be got through before sailing. I was sorry to leave 2 Squadron. I had had a pretty happy time with them. But I did not forget that I had joined the R.A.F. to see the world. Who knows what this jaunt might bring.

On the 7th December, 1926, I left the depot at Uxbridge with a large draft for Southampton. We embarked on the troopship Derbyshire, which sailed that afternoon. The senior N.C.O.s had a small corner of the troop deck to themselves, but we were still cargo, and very crowded. I bagged the mess table as my sleeping place. Being December, we struck the usual rough seas. Like most of the others, I got very sick.

The news soon got around that Shaw (T.E. Lawrence) was on board, and I was impatient to get a glimpse of this famous character. So much had been written about this 'uncrowned king of Arabia' and his exploits with the Arabs, assisting, to great extent, in clearing the Turks from the Hejaz. It was general knowledge that he was in the R.A.F. as an aircrafthand, and an air of mystery was being built around him.

I first saw him sitting on the deck reading a large book which I later found was a volume of Pepys' Diary. He would queue at the ship's canteen and buy an apple, or anything that was going, with the other troops. He seemed quite contented with the life he had chosen. The weather had turned as lovely as it can at this time of the year in the Mediterranean. Sailing along the coast of North Africa and seeing Tangiers shining in the sun in the distance all come back to me now, as does the remembrance of watching the endless chain of coolies with their small baskets, with endless chanting, coaling the ship at Port Said. The port was arrayed in glad rags because, we were told, King Fuad was making a visit there. We dropped about 360 chaps who were for Egypt and Palestine.

Although I had come up the Canal twice, this was to be my first time to go down it. The Canal organisation must have been very good, because we only arrived at Port Said at 4 O'clock in the afternoon, and yet we were coaled and had taken on the necessary stores to sail at midnight.

I was orderly sergeant. next day, going down the canal, when inspecting No. 2 Troop Deck, I asked which mess Shaw was on. he was on the corner table, and I asked the Mess Orderly where Shaw slept. Ho nodded to the corner, and said that Shaw curled up there. I guessed that it was as comfy as many places he had slept in during his desert days. As I came on to the deck, Shaw was standing in the hatch, gazing out over the desert. There was no one near him. I looked at him for a bit, then went up to him and said; "A lovely picture, isn't it." He turned to me and quietly said; "Yes. And to think that I was the commanding officer there at one time." I could have made conversation by mentioning my desert experiences, but I did not like to do so. After a few inane remarks I left him to his thoughts. I thought of the Arabs who had spoken to me near Amman, asking if he was coming back. I wonder what he would have replied to that.

I was to speak to Shaw again. I was Orderly Sergeant as we travelled across the Indian -Ocean. I paraded all aircrafthands and asked them where and what they wanted to do on arrival in India, where they all seemed to be going. Shaw just replied, when I asked him what he wanted to do; "I really don't mind at all." in that beautiful, quiet voice that I was later to become so fond of listening to. I have a diary written at this time. I see that we passed Aden on December 23rd, and it was very hot, the temperature in our troop deck being 80oF. As I wrote, it was not a bit Christmassified.

This was my fourth Christmas on a troopship, and we were sailing along the coast of Arabia. It seems to have been the best of the four. I see that I enjoyed the dinner of roast turkey etc.

Hereabouts, I saw my one and only whale at sea. It was sighted from the bridge. The skipper changed course so that we could run alongside it and watch the magnificent beast blow. It did not appear to be at all scared that the ship was close by it.

Into the Persian Gulf again, with the weather getting much cooler, until here we were again, disembarking at Basra. It was the 30th, and the journey had taken three weeks and three days. Nowadays, it takes a few hours by plane. What a difference! I see that for the railway trip to Baghdad, we were accommodated in dirty trucks. I remember that well.

For my second stint in Baghdad, I arrived on new Year's Day, 1927. As it turned out, this stay was to be a very brief one. I was met by Flight Sergeant Hibbens, and taken by car to the main wireless station. It was a different place to the main station I had known before, which had been on the other side of Baghdad. Now, this was the receiving and transmitting part of the works. The transmitters were some miles away, operated by remote control. So several channels could operate at the same time. Hibbens took me to the small sergeants' mess , and a 'boy' came to take my baggage. He stopped, stared, and then said "Seed sahib," and a smile broke over his face. I replied; "Yes, Syd Sahib." To the surprise of those around, I went and took his hand. I felt deeply touched when one of the others said; "H
e knows you." I replied; "All the Arabs in Baghdad know me. I was their idol." I asked the 'boy' who he was. He said he was at Nammo's, and many times gave me supper. I remembered him, although he had grown somewhat. When he asked; "You still football?" I replied; "Not the same, as bad knee now."

Trouble had broken out in Aden. No. 8 Squadron were preparing for a hurried departure. The Flight Sergeant in charge of the transmitting station was to go, and get the communications set-up going there. I had to visit the transmitter end. He seemed very unhappy about the whole business, and had a big moan about it to me. It didn't appear to be his cup of tea. I said I'd take his place if H.Q. would agree. I went to H.Q., saw the head of signals, and fixed it. The job at the main station was going to be routine work. The job in Aden looked as if there were going to be things to get my teeth into. In any case, I had done my Baghdad, but had not done Aden. I had a week or two to spare. I was not to leave with the main party, but would follow with a few details.

I had just a month before I went to Hinaidi to join the Aden party. During this month, two interesting things happened. One was the first direct link between Air Ministry and Baghdad, by the new short waves, which had been found to be possible on relatively low power. I did this myself. When I asked who the operator was at A.M., I got the reply S.E.W. 'ere. It was my old friend Steve, and when I replied S.E.C. ere, the excitement at A.M. was only equalled by that in Baghdad.

The passenger service to India was opened by a flight which included, I believe, Sir Samuel Hoare. When the aircraft was contacted, I took the Morse key and asked the operator his name. This was because I knew many of the early airways operators. Back came Booth, and I replied "Syd Catt ere, will meet you at the aerodrome." I had a good party with him and the crew.

This time, my stay in Baghdad had really been short, just eight weeks. Here I was on the way back to Basra, en route, with the remnants of * Squadron, to Aden. For a change, we had comfortable carriages, and enough room for comfort. We turned out at Ur Junction at half past three in the morning for an early breakfast, and arrived Basra at ten-thirty, after twenty hours' journey. This was a ridiculously long time for such a distance.

At Basra, we went straight on to the Varsova, one of the three boats of the B.I. Company which plied between Bombay and the Persian Gulf, the other two being the Vita and the Verrella. As there were only a few of us, we were accommodated comfortably. We sailed next day, a Sunday, at 8 a.m. So the whole river trip was in daylight, arriving at the Bar at 5 p.m. We dropped a lot of pilgrims at Bushire. They were en route for Mecca. The boat made only a short stop for this. The trip to Karachi took four days. We left the Varsova and boarded the Vita, which was leaving for Bombay that evening. Karachi to Bombay was only a day and a half, so we were soon there. We had two days to wait for our Aden boat. This was spent at the army barracks at Colaba. Although it was only early March, I note that it was so warm that I was able to sleep without bedclothes.

We left Bombay for Aden on the P&O Rasmak. This was doing the Bombay to Aden mail run at the time. This was trooping par excellence. We travelled second class. There were so few passengers that we practically had the boat to ourselves. For me, the four day trip went too speedily, and we were soon in Aden. It was a short lorry ride to the aerodrome at Khormaksar. This was on the narrow isthmus which joins Aden proper to the mainland. The sea was near on both sides; that of the harbour on one side, and the open ocean on the other. The huts we went to were most crude affairs; simply bamboo and tattie shelters. As it never rained (or so it was said,) these wee ample. In the distance, one saw what looked like small hills of snow. These turned out to be heaps of salt from huge salt pans. This was the one and only time I saw Archimedean screws in use. Windmills drove them to lift the sea water up into the pans.

The squadron had not brought the machines from Baghdad. New ones were arriving crated from England for assembly. When I arrived, this was being done. It was still to be the old liberty D.H.9a. Like the Bristol this was having a long run in the R.A.F. There was lots to do, and little spare time. The aircraft were urgently needed for the job we had been hurried there to do. I was not only responsible for getting the ground station going, but also for the installation of the wireless gear in the aircraft. In a couple of weeks or so, things began to run smoothly, until the rains came. It hadn't rained in living memory. I was awakened by Ali, my boy, bringing my early morning tea, and was amazed to see he was ankle deep in water. "Plenty water, Sahib," he said, as I jumped out of bed top get my boxes and things out of the water. We carried my stuff to the canteen building. This was a few steps up out of the water. Others did the same.

It soon became clear that we must rescue what equipment we could. With the rest of the W.T. section, I waded to the stores and workshop. We lifted all the vulnerable things, such as generators, wireless sets, accumulators and what have you, above the highest point the water was expected to reach. Nothing could be done with the aircraft, which were left in the hangars.

Accommodation was found for us in the army barracks in Crater. The rains had done serious damage in Aden. The houses were not built to withstand rain. In many cases, they had just disintegrated. This was not the only rain I was to experience in Aden. Nearly three years afterwards, before I left, we had another shower. Although it was nothing like the first lot, it did quite a bit of damage. [original page 80]

As soon as the waters subsided sufficiently, parties went out to the aerodrome for rescue purposes. I lost little equipment. Even the generators and suchlike were soon made serviceable, after being stripped down and baked in the hot sun for a couple of days. The water did not reach the engines of the aircraft, so these had not suffered serious damage, and were soon flying.

Shortly before leaving Baghdad, I had received a cable telling me that my cousin Anne at Shoreham had died. This was a sad blow. The lovely times I had had with her and Cousin Joe Woodward were still very fresh in my memory. I was now getting the follow up letters about the sad affair.

On a level ground, not far from our camp, the army had a nine hole golf course. It was completely bare. There was not a sign of a blade of grass, or any other vegetation of any sort, anywhere. The 'greens' were flat dried mud, with a loose covering of sifted sand to slow them up a little. In a way, it worked. I had no clubs with me, so immediately sent home for some, and some balls, which took two months to reach me. It was nice to be able to take up golf again, even under such poor conditions. One could not play without the help of 'boys'. Without them to pounce upon the ball, kite hawks would swoop down and snatch the ball up and carry it away. This is the only time I have played golf under such conditions.

At this time, water was in very short supply in Aden. Drinking water was condensed from sea water. The ration was three gallons per person per day. This had to serve all purposes, including cooking etc. A supply of brackish water flowed in from the mainland via a crude aqueduct, but this had to be severely rationed too. I got used to having a shower by sprinkling a couple of cigarette tins of water over me, lathering down, and then swilling off with a few more tins of water. There was the warm sea, but this was very salt, and not very refreshing.

This was before cold storage. Food was a problem, as everything had to be fresh. There was an early morning market in Aden, where beef and mutton of very poor quality were obtainable, as were eggs. Fish was plentiful. Indeed, sharks were very plentiful. I ate many shark steaks there. Tinned food had not reached the standard we expect today. Vegetables were almost non-existent, and were sorely missed. We were not there long when signs of beriberi began to appear. Weekly pin sticking parades by the medical people were considered necessary. One lay on the table and shouted as the M.O. stick a pin into legs, arms etc. If one shouted, one was O.K. Unlimited quantities of Beemax, marmite and other vitamin foods were then issued, until we got heartily sick of them.

Not long after the floods subsided, plague broke out. It was one of the worst outbreaks Aden had ever had. The natives died in their thousands. Lorries went round collecting the bodies for burial. It was reminiscent of the plague of London. This greatly curtailed our activities. Everywhere was out of bounds, and the port was quarantined. It was several weeks before the plague was got under control. No service personnel were involved, thanks to the stringent measures taken by the medical authorities. We certainly got very plague-minded. We paid great attention to the condition of the spleen, where we were told the complaint was first felt.

As was happening elsewhere, the R.A.F. were taking over in Aden, and the army was on the way out. The Indians left the Crater, and the Welsh Regiment were preparing to quit Steamer Point. Only the Garrison Artillery were to stay to man the forts. A regiment of Arab levies was set up as replacement for the infantry.

The R.A.F. took over the army headquarters at Steamer Point. This was in a pleasant situation, right on the sea, near the entrance to the harbour. I left the squadron and the Khormaksor strip with all the short wave equipment and half a dozen operators, and set up the station there. There were only a few staff officers to start with, and no R.A.F. accommodation for the other ranks. I got settled in a lovely bungalow up on the hillside, with a view of the harbour entrance. I joined the artillery mess, where I fitted in very well with a fine bunch of chaps.

At Lucknow, I had experienced one or two sandstorms. They were very unpleasant affairs. But Aden produced the real goods, which were horrible in the extreme. It is an awesome sight to see the storm approach. It looks like a solid wall of sand against the blight sunlight. Everybody rushes around to cover up as much as possible. As there are no windows, it is impossible to keep the stuff from burying everything. It is so thick, that darkness almost falls. One ties a wet towel around one's face to save being choked with the stuff. A howling wind, red hot, accompanies it, to make it all the more unpleasant. After it is over, it is days before the effects of it are cleaned up completely

Locusts always pass Aden during their migratory season. During the 1928 season, they really showed us what they can do. They came in their clouds. The air was thick with them, and they dropped, covering everything in their millions. Boats arriving told us the surrounding sea was thick with a coating of them. It was easy to appreciate what terrific devastation the can wreak on a cultivated area.

A few tennis enthusiasts ran a court. I played with them most afternoons. Due to the heat, we could not start before four O'clock. There was very little twilight, so we could not play long after six.

I had been in touch with two other cousins of mine. I had seen neither for years, but I was able to see both in Aden. Cousin John Catt, son of my uncle Alfred of Southwick, was the chief electrical engineer in Malaya. He lived in Kuala Lumpur with his wife. I had short but happy times with them when they passed through on home leave. My cousin Will Jordan had gone to New Zealand, and was a member of parliament there. He was the son of my father's eldest sister. On political jobs and holidays in England, he and his wife and two children spent a few hours ashore with me. I would see a lot more of Will Jordan later, when he was High Commissioner in London for many years. Like my first cousins, they were much older than me.

I continued to rise in the world, finding myself a flight sergeant.

I got friendly with the 'Works and Bricks' people. The Clerk of Works was an Italian. I had an amazing party with him and the 'under officers' of an Italian warship which called in. They gave us a magnificent dinner, with wines and everything. Although my Italian was nil, I enjoyed every moment of it. I repaid it by having them out to our mess.

At Steamer Point, I was able to get a good English meal. Along with another flight sergeant clerk, we went onto the P&O boats on their outward and homeward trips. The outward called in early on Sunday morning, and the homeward on Wednesday afternoon for the evening. In time, we got to know the head stewards. As most of the passengers went ashore during the stay in harbour, we had the dining room to ourselves. These meals were a wonderful change from the meagre diet of Aden.

One Wednesday evening, the steward said to us; "We have a notable character of yours on this trip; that chap Shaw." I had seen the press connect his name with some how d'you do on the Indian frontier. I thought it was all rubbish. But things had reached such a state that it was thought best to send him home, and this boat was taking him. Later on, as we strolled on the deck, we did pass him. He was strolling too. I thought it best not to approach and say anything to him, although I had met him on the Derbyshire going out.

As usual with a headquarters, it began to expand. More clerks and staff officers arrived. A large barrack block was converted into offices. I took over the end top rooms. On a flat roof, using quite a bit of engineering know-how, I got my masts and aerials up. The army hospital nearby had been taken over and staffed with R.A.F. nurses and medical staff. Now that there was quite a number of R.A.F. senior N.C.O.s, a mess was started.

One of the sergeant clerks was an organist. He took over the job in the church. I soon got working on a choir with him, which I felt improved the services a lot. In particular, I remember one Sunday morning when Lord and Lady Irwin, en route to India, came to church. Walking up the aisle, he looked a magnificent specimen, and a typical viceroy.

There was a railway, which ran from the port to Lahej, and trains puffed by Khormaksar once or twice a day. Lahej was only a few miles into the mainland. This was the nearest sheikdom. We had not been there long before the sheik invited the sergeant's mess to his 'palace' for a day, and we went along. We were met by the foreign secretary. He spoke little English. He put on what he thought was European dress for the occasion. In reality, it was a most amazing outfit, in which he was obviously very uncomfortable. The sheik was pleased to have us there, and we really enjoyed our day there. We were shown round the 'garden'. In it there were a few palm trees and semi-tropical plants of sorts. After the barrenness of Aden, even this was a change. We had a meal. Unfortunately, an effort had been made to Europeanise it, so it was nothing like the meal I had had some time before in the desert, in real Arab style. The railway went out of use some time before I left Aden. I last saw the engine rusting in its shed.

Quite a few times, I made the climb to the top of Shum Shum, the barren mass rising almost from the sea, on the top of which was Lloyds signal station. There was a long mule path of from the crater. After several failures, I finally made the difficult climb up the harbour side, which I did alone. The signalmen always had glasses of water ready for their sweating visitors. I was always glad to give the expected tip.

Soon after I left Manston, No. 2 Squadron had been rushed off to Hong Kong, where trouble had broken out. It appears to have been a storm in a teacup, and they were on their way home again. I was off to it as soon as their boat dropped anchor. I was soon having a rousing time with both the officers and chaps I knew so well. They were all sorry that I had not joined in this trip with them. They thought it would have been much better than stooging in Aden. I suppose they were right. Their stay was very short, but it was nice to see the old squadron.

I was to become entangled in another display of inefficiency, which demonstrates what jobs for the boys can lead to. Flight Lieutenant Charlie Attwood, the H.Q. Signals officer, came into my office one morning and said the Works and Bricks could not get the X-ray set, which had just arrived from England, working. It was being returned to England. The medical people were very concerned, because it was badly needed. He told them that I would have a look at it, and would I go and do so? I replied He told them that I would have a look athat if the highbrows couldn't get it going, it wasn't much good me having a go. In any case, I had never seen an X-ray machine. However, after a bit of arguing, I went to see the Principle Medical Officer, a wing commander. I told him that although I knew nothing about it, I would have a quick look see. I got the operator. He knew nothing about the works, but understood the switching. There was no pamphlet with the thing, so I thought it best to start from A. I plugged it in, and there was no response from any needles, so I unbolted a plate into which the lead went. This was the transformer box, and I shouted with glee. The braided copper connections to the transformer windings had corroded away, just like rotten string. I was now on ground I knew something about, and it took a couple of seconds to have the thing wired up. We now had some needles flickering. After a few more minor faults, which, with the help of the operator were soon cleared, I went to the P.M.O. and told him everything was O.K. He went crazy. Patting me on the back, he asked me what had been wrong. When I told him that any hall-baked electrician could have done it, he told me to write a full report on it. On the strength of my report, there were soon a few empty chairs in the office of works and bricks electrical department. I wrote to the makers with a few suggestions. I got a curious explanation. They said that some highly corrosive substance must have got at the transformer connecting wires and eaten them away. What it was remains a mystery.

I had saved the expense and delay of the complete equipment being sent back to England. As I told the P.M.O., any half baked electrician could have done what I did. I wonder how the salaries of these people were compared with mine, since they were civilians with hefty expenses.

Some time around |October 1928, the Prince of Wales took a trip to East Africa. He dropped off at Aden on the way. he Resident meeting him asked him what he would like to do. "I'd like a game of tennis," he said, so he was taken off to the tennis club. The Aden football cup final was being played that afternoon. It was decided to get him to present the cup. He agreed, continually pulling up his stocking, which would not stay put, as he arrived at the ground. All the drinks in creation were on the table, but to everyone's dismay he said he would like a cup of tea. This caused panic, but some bright spark immediately dashed off to the officers' mess. His cup was a long time coming, but he did get it.

The prince was not long in Africa when his father became so ill that it was decided to get him home as soon as possible. One of our fast cruisers was in Aden at the time, and rushed off to collect him. The prince had obviously hurried to the coast, leaving all his kit behind. He was picked up in just the loose shooting jacket he had landed at Aden in. The cruiser, with blackened funnels because it was going full out, only stopped for a short time in Aden. I was doing the traffic with the cruiser. A signal from Cairo asked the prince to call in there when the ship passed through the canal. He said he would, but since he had no clothes, everything must be very informal.

Squadron Leader Cochran, one of the few really upper ten in the R.A.F., had joined headquarters staff. In October 1928, he came to me and said he was making a trip into the hinterland, and I was to go with him. I didn't like the idea at all, and recommended a good operator I had, if that was what he wanted. It wasn't only a good wireless operator he wanted, he said, but you. It was bad enough being in Aden by the sea, so goodness knows what it would be like up in the desert. As there was no getting out of it, I got together a load of W/T gear, and got ready for a miserable time. We were five in all; Squadron Leader, Flight Lieut. Ginger Williams, the best driver we could find, and the Squadron leader's own servant to act as interpreter, and do for us. We had a six wheeled truck for the job. The idea was to mark out landing areas towards the north-east. We kicked off by doing a considerable distance east along the cost. This was easy going, but then we turned north before reaching Hadhramaut. There were supposed to be tracks. We were on one until it ended by running under a huge sand dune. You could see the fine wisp of sand being blown over the top of the dune and settling on the lee side, showing how enormous dunes creep across country, swallowing up everything in their path. We got round it, going over its shallow end, but had to use the mats and planks we had brought for this. This was really hard work for all of us. After this, we had easier going, until we reached a dried up wadi. We had no tent, but slept under the stars, as I had done with the survey party. The squadron leader did have a camp bed and a camp canvas bath. The drive made himself comfy in the truck, as did Abdul. it was not all barren. We did see permanent villages around oases. We camped near one. The sheik was very friendly. He arranged for skins of water to be brought so that the sq. ldr. could have a bath. I thought to myself; "Luck blighter," but when he had finished, he said, "Like to jump in, Flight?" In a moment, I had my shorts and shirt off, and was truly in. We arrived near another settlement, surrounded by nearly flat land, and decided to mark out a strip. The Arabs looked a fantastic munch. Most of them carried rifles of antique makes. They had slung around their necks bandoleers full of the most antiquated types of bullets. They looked a murderous crowd, and we were to find that they were. We got everything laid out, and while Williams and I stayed to finish things off, the sq. ldr. said he would reconnoitre ahead a bit. He went off with just the driver. I had fixed up the W/T, and had already spoken to Aden. We stopped to have a meal, and the mob crowded round us. I said to Williams; "I think the poor lot are hungry," and I started to give bits of the sandwich I was eating to the ones crowded near to me. They were certainly hungry, and ate like wild animals. Then they started making aggressive noises, and I made a move towards the wireless set. They pushed me back with their rifles. I said to Williams; "What do we do now?" I then saw the sheik at the back of them, and so I said to Abdul; "Tell him that if Aden doesn't hear from me soon, the aeroplanes will be over to look for us, as they know where we are." This was a shot in the dark, as no one knew where we were. It seemed to work. They quietened down, and we called the sheik forward, and had a chat with him through Abdul. We dished out a little more food, but had to keep enough for ourselves. I said we ought to get out of it and follow the boss. I asked the sheik if he would let us have two camels. This caused a pretty big argument, but at last two camels appeared. I dismantled the wireless and strapped it on the camels' backs. As soon as the camels got to their feet, they bucked and reared all over the place. I screamed, fearing the whole lot would go for six. The accumulators did fly off, but were not damaged. At last we were off. We had two Arabs of the tribe with us, and the only thing we could do was to keep going up the wadi, hoping for the best. The heat was terrible. I said; "Aden will be a picnic after this." Willy agreed. I could not have had a better companion. He was a great chap. It was sad to read a few years later that he had been killed, as a wing commander. I remembered this trip then, and again, I remembered sharing the bath of Squadron Leader Cochran when he was killed as The Hon. Sir Ralph Cochran, Air Vice Marshall, some time later. I may be the only one left to talk about it, and I wonder why.

We had gone some distance, and were having a rest, when I thought I hear the car. Gosh, I was glad to see it, and to meet up with the boss. We had a pow wow at once. As we had done quite a lot for a preliminary survey, the sqdn. ldr. thought it unwise to risk any more meetings with the locals. So we made tracks for Aden. Again, the slogging with the planks and mats through the dunes. At times, we would have done better on foot, and certainly better with camels. I was jolly glad to get back to Aden. Freyer Stark and Co. can have their Southern Arabian trips for me.

I was looking forward to leaving Aden soon, as my two years were nearly up. I even knew who my relief was to be. I would go to Egypt for three years to complete my five year tour. But, again, the best laid schemes of mice and men can go wrong. The admin bloke came to me and asked me if I would consider staying another year in Aden. He said we might be getting busy, and all were keen to have me stay. This was asking a lot, but I said I would stay if, at the end, I could be posted home. The reply was as I expected it would be. "Oh, that could be arranged all right." So I said I'd stay, and I did. It was a gamble. I knew perfectly well that the Aden Command could have no control over my movements when I was due to leave Aden.

Sqdn. Ldr. Cochran left H.Q. to take over the squadron at Khirmaksar as he wanted to get back on flying. So he did not drag me into the hinterland again. As no more expeditions were arranged while I was in Aden, neither did anybody else. So Southern Arabia was left to Freya Stark, Philby and the others who have written such glowing accounts of their travels therein. I do wish we had had Freya Stark on our picnic, so that she could have given her tough hands to help us to get a six wheeler through the sands dunes and wadis. She seems to have met with none of the aggressive, starving mortals who caused me to get more than a little alarmed at the time.

As 1929 progressed, I saw no reason why I had been asked to stay. Life continued more or less free and easy. I seriously considered asking for a spot of leave to get over to Addis Ababa. Ginger Williams said he would fly me over to a landing strip we had in British Somaliland, and I could get up to Addis Adaba fairly easily from there. But little snags kept cropping up, and I was never able to make it, for which I have always been sorry. I stayed in Aden for three years without a break of any sort. So by the end of 1929, I was quite ready to quit the place.

Second Egypt.

On the 29th of February 1930, I waved goodbye to Aden from the deck of the troopship 'Somersetshire'. As expected, I was bound for Egypt, not England. I put on a slight act of remonstration to Borthwick Clark, the admin. bloke, but he said; "Don't worry, they want you at H.Q. Middle East, and it will pay you to go." I really didn't care two hoots where I went after Aden. Cairo would be a great change.

Not long before this, Borthwick Clark had come into my office. Sitting on the corner of my table, he said; "I've been looking at your docs., and I see you are not going to be in the R.A.F. much longer." I had been unable to get some of my good operators signed on, although they were keen to do so. I replied; "Not that I want to, but even if I did, I couldn't stay on now. The R.A.F. appear to be cutting down considerably." I mentioned my chaps. "Ah," he said, "You are different." He went on to say that I would be a fool to leave the R.A.F. There was nothing to stop me from getting anywhere I chose. I said; "We can settle this," and handed him a signal pad, saying, "Go on. I hereby apply to re-engage to complete 24 years." and laughed like a drain. It was just a joke on my part. I thought I was taking the mickey out of him. The last thing I would be able to do was to sign on for a complete spell. Saying, "I'll get the old man [A.O.C.] to add something to this," he went off. He was back with the signal to R.A.F. Records. Taking it, I said; "I'll send this." I got the set, and did so. He smiled, and so did I. While I was at dinner that evening, the runner came with the message which, to my amazement, read; "In reply to your so-and-so of so-and-so date, F/Sgt Catt is accepted for re-engagement for 24 years." I went straight to the phone and rang the officers' mess, asking for Borthwick Clark. I read the signal to him, saying, "What the hell did you know?" He said he had been on the staff at records before coming here, and roared with laughter. It made little difference. I could walk out at any time if I wanted to. If I didn't, I had a likeable job for some time to come. At that time, I certainly had no intention of remaining in the R.A.F.

I was still cargo on the Somersetshire, but is was fairly comfortable, and I was only going to Port Said. We stopped at Port Sudan, which my diary said was a miserable hole. I did go ashore, and had a good look at the place. The whole trip to Port Said was only six days. By now, being used to sailing up and down the canal, it had nothing exciting to offer me.

As my accommodation was not free at Cairo, I went temporarily to the mess at Heliopolis. From there I went daily to headquarters. I relieved a warrant officer, and started getting down to what was going to be a far busier job of work than I had left in Aden. We dealt with hundreds of signals a day. The first class crowd I had to handle it made it rather easy. They were the pick of the command, and a pleasure to work with. I wonder what they are doing now. For years I was able to keep in contact with some of them, but the years have gradually swallowed them up.

Squadron Leader Tait was a wonderful boss. He had a lot of horse sense, and was kind and considerate to a degree. I look back on the two years I spent under him as a very bright spot in the whole of my service. I don't know if he was R.A.F. trained, but being under him was like working with the average good army types I had been with during the war. He had a second dicky, a Flight Lieut. Lloyd Williams, but I had little to do with him.

there were other staff officers, who became big names later on, with whom I had almost daily contact. Wing Commander Harris, who was to become Bomber Harris and Marshal of the R.A.F., often played under me in the cricket team I ran. Wing Commander Babbington, as he then was, was another of the real type who had horse sense. I was to see more of him later when I had become somewhat elevated, and also his charming wife and daughter in their lovely home. Then there was the Earl of Bandon. As a Flying Officer, he was personal aid to the A.O.C. he was to go to the top eventually. I was to box his ear once under strange circumstances.

I used to like the occasional weekend at Aboukir, where I had friends, to enjoy a spot of sea bathing. Sqdn. Ldr. Tait took me at times in the old 504 Avro, which was the staff officers' run about aircraft and was kept at Heliopolis. One weekend I particularly wanted to go, and could not find an officer who was going. I went in to Air Staff and enquired. Someone said; "Try Bandy. He'll take you." So in I went to 'Bandy'. As soon as we could get clear, I went with him to Heliopolis, and we left in the Avro. For some way the route follows the Sweet Water Canal. We were flying gaily along when I noticed an Egyptian standing on the bank of the canal. We were flying quite low, enjoying the scenery, when suddenly he started a dive right at the poor gyppo. If he had not taken a header into the canal at the last moment, he would have had his head knocked off. I biffed 'Bandy' on the side of his helmet, shouting "For God's sake, get up!", and made a motioning movement with my thumb upwards. On landing, I said "You overdid it a bit there, you might have hit him." At which he laughed, and said; "Oh, no, Flight, we wouldn't had hit him." But I noticed that on the return flight on Monday he kept well up. I never met the Earl after Cairo.

After a few days, my room in the flat in Shawaby Pasha was free, so I moved right into Cairo. I must have been athirst for things civilised. I notice that in the first week I went to three different plays, including The Admirable Crighton, The Informer, and also my first 'talkie. Talking films had been developed during my stay in Aden. Like most other people, my first talkie was Sonny Boy, which was all the rage. I also got great pleasure walking in the public gardens, lying on the grass and stroking it. It was wonderful to see it again, and to fondle the flowers. I had been very silly to stay in such a barren hole as Aden for longer than necessary.

On my first Sunday, I made a beeline for the museum, and had a good look at the marvels of Tutankhamoon. This had been world news since Lord Caernarvon discovered them in 1922. Words cannot express my feelings as I gazed on these objects for the first time. The inlaid gold coffins fitted one inside the other, until the very large outer one. All were worked in the same exquisite manner. The golden headpieces could have been made yesterday. This alone was worth coming to Cairo to see. I went again and again, and during the quiet season, found myself almost alone with these treasures.

I had only been in the flat four days when I made my first quick dash to the pyramids. This was high on my lists of musts. I did not have time to climb to the top. Although I must have gone there dozens of times, swimming at the Mena House Hotel nearby, I never did climb to the top.

I was having a cup of tea on the veranda one afternoon when a chap in a dog collar appeared. We got chatting, and I learned that he was Archdeacon Swan of Cairo Cathedral. I had been to the service there once or twice, and noticed the good choir. I asked him if there was any chance of getting into the tenor line. I explained that I was a trained chorister, good at music, knowing the psalter and the usual stuff very well. He said I could go along to a practice if I liked, which I did on the next Friday. I fitted in all right, and became a regular member of the choir. There were no boys; just women and men. I was now getting with people outside the R.A.F. I found this very refreshing after Aden, where I had nobody but service people around me morning noon and night. There was only the mess and my room, and I'm afraid I had spent most of my spare time either in my room, wandering around on my own, or in my office. The operators worked 24 hours a day in shifts, and I could always find something to do.

Archdeacon Swan was one of the famous rowing blue brothers of the twenties. We became great friends, which lasted for many years until his death. One Sunday evening in the vestry after the service, he said he and his wife ran a small madrigal group, and it would be a great help if I could find the time to come and join in, as my voice would help a lot. I said I had done a bit of madrigal singing and loved it. I would certainly come. We sang at his house. As most of the party were choir members, I was no stranger. I was fitting in very well with Harry French, the other tenor from the choir. General Dobbie's wife and daughter were in this select little party. The archdeacon was very proud of his rowing exploits. The three oars he had used were strapped up on the wall of his sitting room. These were lovely evenings, which were to lead to many more for me; hundreds and hundreds of lovely evenings.

The Swans were within walking distance to our habitations. One after the other there would be 'goodnights' as I went off here and there, until I found myself alone with French and Enid M. "Hello," I said, "Where do you live?" When she replied, I said; "We are close. My flat is in Shawabi Pasha." So, week after week, we three went 'home' together. She was there with her father, a teacher under the Egyptian government. She was not a member of the choir. We began to meet after supper some evenings, and to go for a quiet stroll together. We even went out to the pyramids on the tram, which went all the way. Again, this was a complete change from Aden, where the only women I met were the few wives who had joined their husbands there. One evening, I suggested a trip to the Barrage. This was a well known picnic place some way from Cairo. I understood a boat went there. We decided to go next Sunday. I got the cook to prepare a nice meal, which I had in an attaché case. But when we got to the supposed place where the boat left, there was no boat. There were a few large sailing falukhas there. I suggested taking one, which we did. There were two gippos with it. As we sailed off, I got comfortable on the cushions on the port side, and Enid M settled on the other side. I had taken Ten Sixty-Six and all that to read on the way. The weather was marvellous. We had got some way north of Cairo when one of the gyps came back, pulled the boom tight fore and aft, and put a hitch round a cleat. I thought to myself that he wouldn't do that in Pegwell Bay. Neither should he have done. Soon after, when we were in the middle of the river, where it was about four miles wide, I felt a lurch, and saw that we were going over. "Can you swim?" I cried. "No." was the answer, so I said; "Hang onto me." And we found ourselves in the water. Somehow, I managed to get her up onto the bottom of the boat, and began looking for help. The lunch and Ten Sixty-Six had gone to the bottom. Soon I saw a large falukha in the distance. Eventually it saw my distress signals and came to us. It was loaded to half way up the mast with coal, but we scrambled on the stern. It was going to Cairo, and before we got there we had dried off. Even my cotton suit was quite dry. I thought it a good idea to get a meal, so we went to the German café. Then I saw her home. This all sounds a bit of a joke, but it was far from it at the time. What it did do was to make us both think differently about each other. We passed from being just good friends. But it was not until one night after we had had a lovely stroll by moonlight round the pyramids, that I realised fully how little Enid M. felt. We had left the tram and were strolling home, when she suddenly clasped hold of me, saying, "Why don't you kiss me?" I must have been an idiot, because it gave me quite a shock, but I kissed her. She was devoted to her father, so I thought I should go to meet hi and talk things over. I called on him one Sunday afternoon, and we had a long talk. I explained how Enid and I had got mixed up together, and that we had more than a little fond of each other. I explained fully my background, and what I now was; just a ranker in the R.A.F. He then told me of her brilliant academic career; that she had won all the highest honours at London University, including the Lubbock Prize as the top mathematics student of her year. I learnt a lot about her that she had kept under her hat. She had got a first class honours degree in maths. "But," he said, "I have noticed how happy she has become in the last few weeks. She has changed a lot, and it is obviously because of meeting you." He seemed surprised I had what money I had, until I explained how it had happened. Money had not meant a great deal to me, as I was not at all ambitious. He wanted the big armchair he was sitting it moved, and asked me to do it. When I picked it up as though it was a bag of feathers, he said; "You are very strong." I replied that it was because I had very strong forearm muscles from kneading loaves of bread by hand in my youth and signalling with large flags in the army. Pulling my sleeve back, I showed him the muscles of my arms, still bone hard. After a long chat, he patted me on the back, saying; "Don't worry. Everything will be all right." We were to be good pals until his death, which happened under my roof.

I joined the Wilcocks Sport Club, where I could get all the tennis and cricket I wanted. I even played a few games of soccer with them. 'Jock' McRea, the Scottish International, had come to Cairo to manage the All Egypt soccer team, and he played with us. He was a great guy to get on with. Although my knee was still apt to be a little shaky, I found I was able to fit in with him. These activities kept me from golf for the time being, although there was a respectable course there. I found tennis mostly satisfied my needs, although I did play cricket regularly for both the club and the headquarters team. Right from my army days, I had been a first class rifle shot. I automatically fell into the small rifle team. Fortunately, it did not take up too much of my time, although I did have to practice a lot before any important match.

Singing in the choir led to my being asked to take part in the Cairo Dramatics. They were always well staged shows, given in one of the large theatres to packed houses. They were always good fun. I did 'Ambrose Applejohn's Adventure' with them, a piratical farce. We on stage got much more fun than the audience. Our small madrigal group gave small rehearsals where we thought they would be enjoyed most, but we did not make a habit of doing this.

At this time, Cairo was a grand place to be. There was always something going on. We saw many of the great virtuosos of the day who found Cairo a happy hunting ground. There was the opera. For the season, we found on our doorstep the best that Italy could produce. I saw the great opera stars of this period, getting to know the operas which I had only heard about so far. Verdi composed Aida for Cairo. You have to go to Cairo to hear and see Aida at its most spectacular. I do hope that lovely opera house is still functioning as it did in the early 30's, when I was privileged to go.

Although Enid M and I had very little in common academically, there was the music which we both enjoyed. We could talk Tallis, Byrd, Morley, Bach and heaps of others we got to know. This was the great tie. Otherwise, it was a case of one of the first laws of magnetism; 'unlike poles attract, like poles repel'.

Life became very pleasant. By working in the evening, I was able to go to the club for a game of tennis or a swim every afternoon. I became friendly with people I had known in the R.A.F. I had met Bill Foyle at the Air Ministry when I visited Steve Wills there. He was in charge of the Marconi transmitting station some miles outside Cairo. I was always welcome there. There was also an old R.A.F. friend at the receiving station at Maardi, with his charming Greek wife. Life was very full. I had very few dull moments, but there were things and places that I wanted to see. I really wanted to get to Cyprus and Greece. Getting on top of things at the office, I said that, since I had not had a break for over three years, a spot of leave would do me good. Sqdn. Ldr. Tait agreed immediately, but seemed surprised when I told him I wanted to go to Cyprus and Greece. He thought I could be spared for three weeks, and I thought this enough. I took a garlic smelling boat from Port Said to Famagusta. After a look see there, I went on to Nicosia. I booked in at the first hotel that looked suitable, and after a clean up went down to supper. I was the only visitor in the whole place. The manager seemed interested in me, and wanted to chat. He asked later if I had anything on. I said no, so he asked me it I would like to go to his club with him. This seemed all right, and off I went. On entering and being introduced, I was amazed to have one blurt out; "Hobbs and Sutcliffe, what great game." We were playing a test in Australia, and our two openers had made a big score. These chaps were full of it. I had a very lively evening with them, which ended with a moonlight car drive into the country with some of their girl friends.

After Nicosia I went to Kyrenia, the delightful little place on the north coast. here, in addition to the lovely bathing, there were the two historic attractions. These were the beautiful old abbey at Bella-Paise, and the St. Hilarion Castle which figured in the activities of Richard Coeur de Lion during the time he was supposed to rule Cyprus; which, no doubt, he did for a time. There was then only one small hotel there, but a room was found for me. I found Kyrenia so delightful that Rhodes went for six, and I stayed there. I got to know Sir Percy and Lady Strickland with their two teenage daughters and governess. One daughter, Mable, became a big noise in politics in Malta. There was a major with his wife and baby on leave from Egypt, and two young women from Jerusalem. One was a schoolteacher, and the other a nurse from the hospital there. On my second day there, an aeroplane buzzed over and landed quite near. The pilot turned out to be the R.A.F. commanding officer at Amman, who owned a Gipsy Moth. I had know him by name, but fortunately had never met him. So all the time we were having fun and games together, he had no idea that I was a humble Flight Sergeant. I don't know what Sir Percy or his lady would have done had they known that they were having fun and games with a ranker, because at the time he was C in C Egypt. On my first morning, I asked the Major what we did. he said we all go for a swim first, so off I went with them a short way along the sands. Sir Percy and co. went into a tiny hut, and I asked the major where we stripped off. "Oh," he said, "In the hut." So after the big noises had come out, I went in and hung my panties up next my lady's. I really did hope that now I would just remain Mr. Catt, but need not have worried. One morning I did have a mental tussle with the governess when she swam out to a rock on which I was resting. After the usual casual preliminaries, she asked me where I was from. When I said I was from Cairo, she said; "But you don't live there, do you?" I said, "Yes, for the time being." She replied, "Funny, because we don't know you." I said I had not been there long, and did not expect to stay long. She seemed a reasonable type, so I did agree to meet her in Cairo when we got back. Through her, perhaps I could let on exactly who I was. This I did, but even then she appeared too keen to see me again to go to a highbrow Egyptian club to hear a famous Egyptian singer perform. I did go, because it seemed interesting to me. But I did not meet her again. When Kyernia was so much in the news during the 1974 troubles, I thought very much about this lovely holiday. It made it all seem so sad. I went down to Limassol. There I found the aircraft carrier Ark Royal (or perhaps the Hermes) anchored off. In a café, I got to know some of the crew. I wanted to look see the ship. It was to my advantage, so I said I was an R.A.F. flight sergeant on leave. When some of them were due to go back I joined them on the liberty boat, and had no difficult in going aboard with them. Although they were 'lower deck', they managed to give me a good look around, which was very interesting. [original page 90]

Like many other English people working in Cairo, Enid M's father went home for the hot summer months. The time came for them to leave. This time, he was not coming back because he had decided to retire. He asked me to go to Alexandria with them to see them off. I got leave for this, and off we went, me wondering whether that was the last I was to see of my Enid M. He had booked rooms at the Windsor Hotel. At that time it was an upper ten place. Although I wanted to pay my own exes, he insisted on doing so. I spent a lovely day there with Enid M., taking a very long walk along the Corniche, and on the morrow I took my lonely way back to Cairo, just wondering.

The summer of 1931 was coming. I was due home next trooping season, so I should be home for next summer.

About this time, the squadron leader said to me "I've been looking at your records. You seem to have done quite a lot. I think you ought to be more than a flight sergeant." I replied that to reach group one flight sergeant from aircraft hand in the time I had taken would be the only case in the R.A.F. In any case, I was not ambitious. He laughed at this. On his enquiring, I said that I could never pass the higher education certificate. I had not done the maths, and in any case I didn't want it. He said he could get me some coaching, and would very much like me to do it. I was always keen to please him, so I agreed. He got on to Major White, who was on the Ed. side, and asked him to spend the time with me. So I spent a lot of time learning the rudiments of mechanics and other such stuff.

Soon, I got a letter from Enid M. saying she was coming back for the winter alone, to be with me. She had been teaching in Egypt, and had now arranged to come back to it. She arranged lodgings with an English woman, who had married a Russian named Pasvolsky. I had been in Cairo for about nine months before Enid M. arrive originally. She had come straight from Königsberg University. She spoke German pretty well, so she left me far behind in languages and in maths, ad in most academic subjects. We seemed a peculiar couple, but again, unlike poles attract.

I got leave to go to Port Said to meet the Dempo, a fine Dutch boat of the time, when Enid M. arrived. She looked 'sparkling', and all seemed right with the world. We got rooms at the Hotel on the front, and spent the afternoon and evening sightseeing Port Said, and gabbling about what we had been doing during the weeks apart.

We left on the morning train for Cairo. We must have looked the part. The conductor, seeing we had got into an empty apartment, pulled down the corridor window curtains, closed the door, and locked it. I think I gave him the tip he expected for his thoughtfulness when we arrived in Cairo, and he came and freed us.

We now began to talk seriously about getting married, even to do it in Cairo, and not to wait until I got posted home. We told the Swans in a day or so. They were delighted at our engagement, and the fact that we had met under their roof. He would have liked to have married us. Enid M. disturbed me, one evening, by saying; "We must not have anything to do with mother." I laughed, saying that if I married her, I must be friends with her mother. How I wish I had taken her advice. So much anguish and unpleasantness would have been saved. I was to have the same warning from people in Barnsley who had known my mother in law since early womanhood. It was said that she had been an unholy terror, and this turned out to be true. I am so glad she was not in Cairo when Enid M. and I got to know each other.

During the summer I had been getting boils. An enormous one appeared in the middle of my back. I must have looked poorly, because the Sqdn. Ldr. said; "You are looking rough. What's the matter?" I told him, and that I was getting treatment. The P.M.O. and he decided that I should go away somewhere cooler and have a good rest. Dear old Tait said he would fix it. He said; "You know Coward at Jerusalem, don't you?" I said; "Yes. We were in Baghdad together." He phoned though to Jerusalem H.Q. and arranged for me to go to stay at the Palestine Police H.Q. It was outside Jerusalem in a very healthy spot on Mount Scopus. He told me to get off as soon as I could, and not to worry about anything until I was fit again. End M. understood, thought I should go, so I packed my bags and caught the night train.

Jerusalem was much cooler than Cairo. The boil soon cleared up, and I had a marvellous holiday to recuperate. I spent days doing every nook and cranny of the old city. I discarded any form of transport, and walked the road to Bethlehem. It was out of season, so I had the place to myself. I strolled down to the Garden of Gethsemane, and sat and rested there, thinking of all I had read and been taught about it. Somehow, it all became very real.

This police force was the aristocratic force it had the reputation of being. Its educational standards enabled it to pick and choose, and get the best type. I fitted in well, and found them helpful in all I wanted to do. Howard and Tait arranged some sort of detachment, so the whole thing cost me nothing, with the understanding that I did nothing.

After two weeks, I thought I ought to get back to Cairo. I went down to H.Q. to see Coward. While talking to him on the flat roof when a dust covered Crossley drove up. I asked him what it was. "The weekly run from Amman," he said. "Amman. Gee, it would be nice to see it again." He said; "We can fix that. Half a mo." and off he dashed. He was soon back, saying I could go back with the party if I hurried and got my luggage. I said goodbye to what police there were around, thanking them for everything they had done.

We left in good time to make Amman by daylight. This time I took the road down to Jericho and crossed over the Jordan going east. It was ten years since I had come down from Amman with the convoy on the last leg of the desert trip. We were getting on nicely along the heights of Gilead, when suddenly the road slipped away from under us, and the car seemed on the verge of crashing down into the valley below. No car ever shed its occupants quicker than did this one. We were soon pondering over how to get the thing back onto the road. It was impossible to use its engine, and we found it impossible to manhandle it back. So we waited. Just before it got dark, a car with four Arabs came up. It was going to Amman, so they took a message for us, and we sat down again, hoping it would be delivered. WE were quite high, and I was only in cotton dress. I began to feel the cold, and we made a fire. The message was delivered, and a six wheeler appeared which soon had us back on the road. WE soon reached Amman and had a welcome meal in the mess. I got talking to an old friend. He said he was sorry he would not see much of me. He was leaving on the morrow to go to Jesr Majami up on the Jordan on a detached flight job. He was going with the ground party cross country. Thinking this would be a nice trip, I said; "Can I come? I'd love to." He said he would ask the C.O. I said that would be awkward he mentioned my name, or if I saw the C.O. myself. I explained about my time in Kyrenia. But there was no trouble because he said an old friend of his had appeared on leave.

We made an early start in gorgeous, springlike weather, going north-east towards the Sea of Galilee. There was a profusion of flowers, including what looked like a little orchid. I had not been told what to expect. Late in the morning, we crested a brow. Before us lay a wonderful sight; the ruins of Jerash. None of them knew anything about it, and they were not interested. But I said we had to stop for a look see. As it was time for a meal, we did see. I didn't care about the meal, and dived through the triumphal arch along what must have been the main street. To my joy, I found a man with a tripod, who was surveying. He was an American, and delighted in showing me the most important aspects of the city. It must have been a wonderful place in its heyday. There was everything a Roman city should have. This was well worth giving up Amman to see. We got to camp before dark. I was told that the large building I could see in the distance was the power station that was being built on the Jordan. I had read that the Jordan was being harnessed for a hydro-electric scheme, and this was it. The chief engineer who was there was pleased to take me round the whole works. The huge generators and propellers were already installed, and the damming of the river completed. It is unlikely that anything remains of this scheme since such havoc has been played with everything within reach of the River Jordan.

At supper that evening with my friend and the two officers of the flight, including Flight Lieutenant Williams, we got talking about the vast number of interesting places of historic value in this part of the world. I mentioned Petra. "Have you been there?" Williams asked. When I said no, he said; "You must. I will take you. When can you come?" He was just crazy about Petra, having made a study of it. It would have been fine to have gone with him, but I had to explain that I had to be getting back to Cairo. He asked how I was going. I said I had to find a way back to Ramleh to catch the train. He said he would have me flown there. He sent for a sergeant pilot and handed me over. he said that if I wanted to see anywhere at the same time, to tell the Sergeant. I said I would like to have a look at Mount Hermon and fly right down the coast, seeing Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jaffa. This we did before landing at Ramleh, where I said goodbye to Sergeant Bell. This wonderful tour around Palestine and Transjordan had cost me practically nothing. Also, during my stay in Jerusalem, I had been able to hear concerts by the Jerusalem Orchestra, which was beginning to make its name.

On the train journey to El Kantara, I shared a compartment with a fascinating woman who told me she was the wife of the C in C of the Chilean navy. She spoke beautiful English, and I am sure she was what she said she was.

I had had a lovely time, but it was nice to get back to Enid M., and tell her about my wonderful holiday.

1931 was now slipping away. I expected an early posting home, so we decided to leave our wedding to that. Major White, who coached me, had given Sqdn. Ldr. Tait a good report about me, and he had given me an inkling that I would have a surprise soon. He was right. I landed in England to find myself a Second Class Warrant Officer, posted to Mount Batten, Plymouth. It happened quickly, and Enid M. was left behind to follow on. In any case, she could not have come with me. I had some leave to come, and went to Brighton to see Enid M.'s parents. She was an only child. In spite of her age, 25, her mother was trying to keep a fast grip on her. I saw from the start that I would not mix with her as easily as I had with Enid's father. He had taken a liking to me, and it was a pleasure to be together.

Mount Batten

How lucky I was to get to such a delightful spot as Plymouth, and to find myself with an interesting job of work. It was my first connection with seaplanes and flying boats, there being no land planes at all. From the wireless point of view, it was the same as other places, with one exception; it had one of the three direction finding stations in the country. The other two were at Andover and Bircham Newton. Compared with modern direction finding equipment, these were crude affairs, with large frame aerials suspended on a 70 foot mast, working on the long wave band.

Unlike land plane stations, there was a large marine section for the necessary boats needed, and on the strength of this was Leading Aircraftman Shaw. I had caught up with him again, and from now on I was to see him almost daily in one way or another, meeting him to talk with him on matters in which I was involved. I tried hard to get to know him, but he was a bit of an enigma. I doubt if anybody really got to know him. He was fascinating to talk to, if only to listen to his voice and look into his wonderful blue eyes. He was musical, so I was able to talk music with him. I remember discussing the B.B.C. with him one time, when he said the B.B.C. could close down and we would still pay our receiver charge and get its worth from the foreign stations, which were so much better. He had a lot of records, and if I was on duty and stuck in the mess for the evening, I could always go to him and borrow some.

There was a bad crash in the Sound, and Shaw was in the first boat to hurry to it. He realised that if he had had something faster than the antiquated dinghies and pinnaces then in use, lives might have been saved. After much discussion, Air Ministry agreed, and Shaw, who had some very good ideas about speed boats, went to work at Southampton with Scott-Pain, to produce a high speed power boat with its stepped bottom, which was one of Shaw's ideas.

One day, as I was going into a hangar, Shaw was in a dinghy cleaning up the filth and grease and oil from under the engine had just been removed. I couldn't help but say to him; "Do you have to do that, Shaw?" He quietly said to me; "Somebody's got to do it, Sir."

He was ten years older than me, and therefore quite old to be in a barrack room with a crowd of young airmen, but on my asking some of them how they got on with him, they always said; "Fine. He's one of us."

He had one of the powerful Brough Superior motor bikes with the huge V twin engine, which he changed every year for a new one. One time, the discip. was on leave, and as his office was opposite mine, I did some of his work. Late on morning, I heard Shaw's bike hounding down the road, to stop outside. He came in and handed me his pass form. He said he had been to London to see Sir Philip (Sassoon was Air Minister at the time). "What time did you leave London?" I asked. "Soon after breakfast," he said. He had done London - Plymouth in a forenoon, and I quietly said to him; "You will be killing yourself on that bike at this rate." How I thought of that conversation with him when he did actually kill himself on his beloved Brough.

The troops always called across to him for the meaning of any awkward word they might see. One day, one of them said to him; "Gee, Shaw, you must know every word in the dictionary." "But I do," he quietly replied.

I wish I had kept some of the letters he wrote about electrical equipment, which I handled, and had to talk to him about. His writing was beautiful, and all the things he tried to get done were sane and sensible ideas.

Warrant Officers took turns at being Orderly Officer of the Day. Since I was living just outside the gate, and staying put for Xmas, I did the duty over the holiday so that as many as possible could go. One of the duties was to inspect all flying boats at moorings to see if any were making water. About midnight on Christmas Eve I noticed a light in the marine section shed, and found the door unlocked. On making my way through the boats, I saw a light in the office, and was amazed to find Shaw scribbling there. "God, Shaw," I said; "Having a Merry Christmas?" "Oh yes, Sir," he said, "Just passing the time." After chatting a short time with him and pointing to the sheets of paper on the table, I said; "You seem to be busy, so I'll buzz off. Night-night." I wondered what the dickens he was doing, and found he was working on the Odyssey, which was published later. I just cannot understand a brilliant brain doing a work of this standard in a boat shed on a scruffy table on a cold winter's night. As I walked away, I thought, What a pity!

I am sure of one thing about him. He was much happier hobnobbing with humble folk than with the high and mighty.

Once I asked him if he still had any connections with the tribes he had worked with during the war. He said he did get news from some of them at times.

We all knew about Clouds Hill, his retreat in Dorset, and he did say to me once that I must go and see it, but I never got round to it. He did not want the limelight, and the beautiful monument of him in the little Dorset church in not the sort of thing he would have wished for.

Coming from shooting practice, I ran into Shaw and walked into camp with him. Patting my gun, I said; "You have the reputation of being pretty useful with one of these. Why don't you come and have a crack with us?" He turned, smiled in the cheeky way he had, and said; "Yes, I did get a few notches in mine, but that's all over." Since he once hit a petrol tin four out of five shots at 400 yards, he was a very good shot. But that was before the war, and his desert revolt exploits. [I don't know what Syd's talking about here. I.C.]

I find it very difficult to believe that the T.E. that I knew was the same T.E. as depicted in his letters edited by David Garnett, or the T.E. of the Seven Pillars, but I do understand the T.E. of The Mint, because his mental attitude in that is akin to my own. [Ivor gave Syd The Mint in 1955, and Syd expressed surprise and sorrow that T.E. had bleated in that way. This tends towards contradiction with Syd's story. Syd told Ivor he went through bad basic training under awful war damaged Baden Powell in Uxbridge in 1920, within two years of Lawrence, and that although bad, T.E. must have been through far worse before, as had Syd. Ivor had similar basic training hell in Hednesford decades later, in 1953. The concept of sadism masquerading as strict discipline was first (to Ivor's knowledge) broached only in a 1997 reminisce on National Service by Auberon Waugh on TV. (I think it was AW).]

Years later, I was to meet his mother and brother at Charney Manor. I was to find out what a marvellous woman she was. After supper on our first evening, we got chatting archaeology with two females in the small lounge. We got on to Stonehenge and Avebury. An elderly lady and a man sat by reading, and on one of us querying a point, the dear thing said; "Perhaps I can help you,", and forthwith went on to give a most interesting explanation of the whole subject. As soon as I could get clear, I ran to the warden and asked who the charming little woman was. He replied that she was the mother of T.E. Lawrence, and was with his brother. There were only six of us there, so we were soon mixing well. They had no car, so the doctor came to oxford with us to do some business. I made no mention that I had been with T.E. since he had been dead for some time. I now wish that I had, because we were the last people to be in her company. She caught a chill, was hurried into hospital in Oxford, and was dead within a couple of days.

I was well settled at Mount Batten before Enid M. got home. She had managed to get onto a P&O which called at Plymouth. I was on the tender which went out to bring the passengers ashore. She looked radiant, thanks to a calm voyage.

I had fixed up accommodation for her, taking a flat in the village of Oreston, ready to go to as soon as we could get married. It was the end of June. We were both keen to get settled as soon as possible, but the local vicar told us he could not marry us inside three weeks. We decided that in that case, we might as well get married in Brighton , letting her father and mother in at the kill. Enid rushed off to Brighton to arrange the licence. She visited Rhondda Williams to give him the good news. He had known her from childhood, and was living in retirement in Hove. He said he would love to marry us. He was a wonderful preacher. I had heard him, and seen some of his writings, but had no idea he had a close friendship with Enid M. With the licence all fixed, he parried us at the Union Church, Brighton, on the morning of the 15th July 1932. It was almost as quiet as I wanted, but we had told the Shoreham and Southwick relatives, so with some other close friends, they came to see me off. Enid M.'s father and mother came, with a few close friends, and that was all. I kept the news from my own family until after the event, so as not to drag them miles for an event of such short duration. WE arranged it for early morning so that we could get right off to Plymouth. Rhondda Williams gave us a marvellous little talk, and Enid M. asked him to make a copy for us. We still have it among our prized possessions.

There was no champagne; no booze; no photographer; not even a best man. I was told I could do without. I suppose that if I had had my way, we would have had a small ceremony together before God alone, and plighted our troth in real humility. But without a marriage certificate in this modern world, one can be severely handicapped; especially a woman.

I took a chunk of summer leave. It was mid summer in a part of the country neither of us knew, so the settling down period looked rosy. I can still see the other people in the compartment we shared on the London to Plymouth express. I still wonder whether they realised we were newly-weds; not that either of us would have cared two hoots. We had arranged things nicely. It was still daylight when we got to our flat. We were above the people who owned the flat. Everything was ready for us, even a good evening meal. I had a curious feeling of contentment. I had been such a loner, but now I had somebody with whom I could share everything. It was a prospect that seemed too good to last. As to that, there was no need for alarm, as the years that have rolled past have shown. I was church married, but it was a few days before we were truly married. Like many others, I suppose, we found that what comes naturally was not so easy for us. In some ways there is something to be said for pre-marital exercises, although again perhaps it is as well to experience some initial difficulties. For our ages we were somewhat 'green'. If all the news we read now is anything to go by, I wonder if there are many now like we were. We did Devon and a lot of Cornwall on day trips, always returning to the flat at night. We had a gorgeous honeymoon, finding it most satisfying to be wrapped up in each other to the exclusion of everybody else.

Staying in on a wet day, Enid M. Suddenly said she must learn how to cook. She said she ought to be able to make a cake. This was right up my street. We went down the street and bought all the ingredients. I gave her the first and only lesson in cake making. She picked it up quickly, as I had done on starting my bakehouse job.

I had told nobody at Batten that I was getting married. I had not got sufficiently intimate with anybody. On my return, the duty officer was surprised when I told him I would be living out with the wife I had brought back with me. After the event, we sent notification of marriage to all our friends, and were amazed when presents started piling in every day from all over the country. This went on for weeks. We got in the habit of saying; "I wonder what'll come today." It was good to know we had so many well wishers. In my wanderings I had made many friends, keeping contact. Enid M. had done the same. In time, I was to meet many of her friends in the academic world, as well as many influential people in The Society of Friends. Enid M. had become a Quaker during her time teaching at Oxford High School. She had got to know Lucy and Henry Gillett there, and they remained friends of both of us until their deaths. It was wonderful for me to stay at their lovely house in Banbury Road. It was very far removed from service life. Henry was inclined towards pacifism. I had a long talk with him in his study when I realised that war was inevitable. You could not listen to the rampage of Hitler without realising it. I explained one or two incidents in the Middle East I had been involved in, where I was sure the use of force had been necessary and justified. I was thinking of getting out of the service, but when war came, I would be very useful in the work I did. After the talk, he patted me on the back, and said; "You do what you think right, Sydney boy, and perhaps we shall be glad to have chaps like you." I think he was still mayor of Oxford at the time.

If it had not been for Enid M., I would never have met the class of people I did meet. Except, of course, I had met one or two when I stayed with the Woodwards at Shoreham. I was now to meet, and continue to meet, people with high academic honours. They were as far removed from me intellectually as I was from Faraday.

We sere soon able to move into a three bedroom married quarter, giving up the small flat at Oreston. The quarter was in a lovely position, overlooking the Sound. We were to spend three years there.

I have since seen that the fertility rate among first class honours graduates is high. This might account for our first child being almost a honeymoon baby. We had a lovely girl just ten calendar months after our marriage. She was a wonderful baby, grew into a wonderful girl, and then into the beautiful woman she now is.

Two years later, our second child was born, a boy. We decided this was enough for us to cope with, and cried "Full house."

Soon after our wedding, Enid M. received a letter from an old French friend. She was headmistress at Evron, and lived in the tiny village of Louverné about five miles from Laval. Before the, Enid's father had met her brother. He was in Brighton to study English. This was to set up a friendship between the families which lasted until mademoiselle Travers died at a ripe old age nearly sixty years later. Enid was a toddler when they first met, but continued to visit the Travers throughout school and college days. The brother had been killed at Verdun in 1915.

The letter said that I must be brought as soon as possible, to be shown round and become acquainted too. Although Margery was still little more than a baby, we went. Enid M. had said what a wonderful woman Mademoiselle was, and so I found her to be. For me, she shines out as, apart from Enid M., the most marvellous creature it has been my luck to know well. Her mother was dead, and she was the last of the family. She had never married. She retired just after my first visit. This must have been early, because she lived for many years afterwards. Louverné became a French home to us. We were very much drawn towards Mademoiselle. It was a loveable friendship, and lasted very long. Enid went as a toddler. Our children went as toddlers, and their children have gone as toddlers. We continued until the tragic news came, as we knew it must, that our adorable Mademoiselle was no more. We have gone once since, to see the family grave, where Mademoiselle knew she would rest. One is not privileged to meet many angels in this life. In Mademoiselle Travers, we met one. I see her now as we left the last time, as she said; "Come early next year, and stay a long time." But there was to be no next year for our darling Mademoiselle. If I were a Tolstoy, what a beautiful story I could write with her as the centrepiece. We had a long break from her during the war, as you will read later. But as soon as we could make it, even though the railways had not recovered, and life in France was very hard, we got back to her, and continued to go yearly. It was on one of these visits, some time later, when I opened the bottle of liqueur by my side to put a few drops in my coffee. I said; "You know, Mademoiselle, this is exactly like the liqueur I had on my first visit." She answered; But it is. It is yours." A big lump came into my throat, and I almost broke down. I had a job not to make a fool of myself. I knew what a bad time she had had during the war with the Germans. I knew she had buried everything of value in her garden. With them, she had buried my bottle of liqueur. It may sound a small thing, but it touched me deeply. WE made many French friends, and still have them. But we have never replaced our love of Mademoiselle Travers.

I never wore any medal ribbons. One day I got talking about the war to the officer in charge of my section. He seemed amazed when I told him I had been in the infantry. "But where are your ribbons?" he asked. "Oh," I said; "I've got no time for such rubbish. I haven't bothered to get the medals to which I am entitled." He looked at me as though I was a lunatic. It was something outside his comprehension. I found this with all service people. They seem to have a craving to display splashes of colour on the left breast. I thought that was the end of it, but after a few days, he said I must wear my medal ribbons. I ignored this. But the clot reported it to the Station Commander. he sent for me, and I said the same to him. He also quoted King's Regulations, which I knew, of course. He seemed embarrassed about talking to a warrant officer about it, especially since we were on very good terms with each other. I felt a little sorry for him, and after a little more arguing, I agreed to wear the stupid things

The Direction Finding Stations I have mentioned were no good for aircraft flying in the Western Approaches. I started to look for a site for one in the south-west. After inspecting places in Devon and Cornwall, all of which were too close to Plymouth, it was decided to place it on the Scilly Isles. I found a spot near the lighthouse at Pinninis Head. This is how I got to know the Scillies well, as I was expected to inspect the station at least once a month. There were no R.A.F. on the islands, so I recruited civilian operators to man the place. I went by flying boat if the weather was calm enough to allow it to land. But as it was usually too rough, I had to take the Scillonian, the little steamer which serves the islands from Penzance. This bit of sea is a s rough as any round the whole coast. Many is the time I have been helplessly seasick, as the trip took about four hours.

It was nice to leave Penzance in a snowstorm, arrive at Hugh Town St. Mary's, and have lovely new potatoes served up for lunch, and then to bring back bunches of spring flowers They were weeks ahead of any flowers grown in England.

I often met interesting people on the Scillonian. On one trip, I met Sir Alan and Lady Cobham. We had a little in common, because I had seen some of the places, and flown over some of the world, where he had flown on his record breaking flights. I told him the day before I returned that if the weather was fine, I would ask for a flying boat to come for me. He said; "Any chance of coming with you?" I told him I doubted it, since he had his wife with him. Civilians were barred from service aircraft. But I said I would ask the C.O. at Batten. However, as I expected, poor Sir Alan and wife had to suffer the Scillonian for their return. I had the same experience with managers of the Duchy of Cornwall, making their annual check-up of the islands. They introduced themselves as Colonel and Major. But I do not think they were still serving officers. By the way they talked, they had too much on their hands. Even they could not get a lift to Plymouth. When I said goodbye to them, I was handed a magnificent box of flowers for Enid M.

The Duke of Cornwall, as Prince of Wales, flew down to Plymouth for a civic function. On the way, the wireless set in his aircraft got sick The C.O. asked me to go out to the aerodrome and look at it. I had never seen one, but I went. I was lucky again, and I got it going O.K. I got a thankyou letter which I threw away, stupidly. However, if royalty thanks everyone for every little service, it is unlikely that the signature is a true one.

I was appointed to the rank of Warrant Officer on the 26th of January, 1932. Late in September of that year, I received a beautiful sheet of parchment signed 'Londonderry'. He was Secretary of State for Air at the time. All very nice. I did not realise that I had reached such an exalted position as to receive such a document. Possibly Lord Londonderry's signature was true, since it took so long to reach me.

I was at Mount Batten during the worst days of the slump. So I was one of the lucky ones, with a very solid, well paid job. Everything was so cheap, so a little money went a long way. Twice a week, a woman from Plymouth brought fish. For six old pence we would get enough for two or three meals. I paid civilian wireless operators, who were white collar workers, £2 17 6 per week. With this, they ran a house and family in Plymouth. I paid no rent. Coal and lighting were free for me, and I got a ration allowance. We were well off in the R.A.F. in those days.

One incident pushed me up the graph. The C. in C. Home Fleet was flying from Portland to Devonport by flying boat. He ran into thick fog over Lyme bay, and force landed. There was a panic, but I said I could get him in. I was told to carry on. I dashed up to the D/F station, told the boat to taxi due south, and to give me his approximate speed. I repeatedly took bearings from him, until I got a good idea of his position. Then I gave him bearings which got him safely round Prawle Point, and right into the Sound. The C. in C. was late for his appointment, but grateful for being got out of the fog.

Almost from the start, I made some very good officer friends. This was brought home to me at Batten. A flight to Gibraltar was to take off at dawn, taking some senior Air Ministry men. All the communications side were buttoned up. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing to worry about. However, at about three in the morning, gravel rattled my bedroom window. A warder said I was wanted on the slipway. I jumped into some togs and hurried down, thinking something was seriously wrong. Of all people, I was met by R. E. Saul, who had played in front of me in the soccer team at Baghdad when I was a humble L.A.C., and who was my C.O for a time at Manston. He was the big noise, now a Group Captain. He apologised for dragging me out of bed. He had just heard my name mentioned. "I thought it must be you, and I couldn't leave without seeing you." II nearly wept. He took me to have some tea in the officers' mess. I said I couldn't go in there, but he replied; "You can come with me." In I went, and had tea and biscuits with him, talking over old times. Goodness knows what the C.O. and the others thought as he waved them away. He would not leave me on the slipway, but insisted on my going out in the dinghy with him, and even onto the boat. I stayed with him until the last minute when the engines were started up. I had the feeling he would have liked me to be going with him. As we waited for the sun to rise that morning, he said that I shouted at him just as I would to any of the others in the team if they did the wrong thing. He said I was marvellous. I saw him a few years later, when he came to see me again.

The wonderful, happy life we had at Mount Batten could not be expected to go on for ever, but it did last until October 1935. [original page 100]



typed by Ivor Catt, sept 97 My father's autobiography from his birth up to the time of T.E.L.'s death is now all typed up into the computer. It will help P.M. to determine the level of significance for the TEL story of a career which has parallels. (Ivor is too close, so his judgement is valueless.)

Ivor Catt 5.9.97


S.S. Manela. [original page 100]

The wonderful, happy life we had at Mount Batten could not be expected to go on for ever, but it did go on until October 1935.

Mussolini ended it. Something happened which gave rise to the belief that he was about to take over Egypt after his successes in Abyssinia. One rumour had it that an Italian aircraft which crashed near the Egyptian border had on board plans for executing this, and these plans fell into our hands. At the time, a chap named Scott was doing a record breaking flight to South Africa, and had reached Egypt. Suddenly, he abandoned his flight, and to everybody's surprise flew straight back to England. It got around that he did this to bring Mussolini's plans to London. Whatever caused it was something very serious. The navy from far and wide started rushing into the Mediterranean and into Alexandria Harbour. A British India passenger ship, which was lying up at Plymouth, was requisitioned and hastily made into a mobile base for R.A.F. Mount Batten. The holds were converted into workshops, and R.A.F. wireless equipment installed in the normal Marconi quarters next the bridge. With another Warrant Officer, I shared a first class cabin, and most of the airmen were accommodated in second class cabins. The full ship's crew were kept on to run the ship.

The Manela left Devonport on the 3rd of October 1935. It was a sad parting for me. Enid M. was carrying our second child, which was expected in December. It was odds on that I would be away from her at the time. But she was very fit, and we did not expect to be parted for long.

On leaving Portsmouth, we ran into rough weather. Again, I was badly seasick, lasting until some calmer weather on the third day. Although most of us were sick, we managed to keep the wireless watches going O.K. The two Marconi operators were still on board, but they were not allowed to touch their equipment, as everything about the move was top secret, as is usual with any government action of this sort, even though no doubt everybody in Devonport and Plymouth knew about us. Our move might have been top secret, but walking out onto the deck as we approached Gibraltar, I saw the signal station trying to call us. One of the first things I had got into the habit of doing after the signal station job in Singapore was to read the ship's name flags under which the ship is registered. This is also the ship's call sign. I hurried up to the bridge to tell the officer on watch that it must be for us. I said I would take it if he would write it down. Also from experience, I knew that the average ship's officer was slow at reading Morse, and he was jolly glad to let me help him. The signal was for us. The captain, who had come in, was surprised at my being able to deal with the matter so efficiently, until I explained my experience with the Navy in Singapore. This experience was to stand us in good stead when we reached Alexandria, as you will see.

I had already met the captain, as my office was just behind the bridge. I don't know to what extent he had been briefed. To have a landlubber almost take charge of all communications, as I was doing, must have seemed strange to him. But he was a grand chap, and we got on wonderfully together. I spent a great deal of time with him and the ship's officers on the bridge.

The bridge led out onto the boat deck, which was out of bounds to the rest of the R.A.F. personnel. I was in a marvellous position. It enabled me to get away from the madding crowd any time I wanted. The engineers' mess and quarters were also up there. I got friendly with them, and spent much time with them. The chief engineer was another fine type who got on well with me. It was all very interesting. I got much pleasure when I was of some use to the crew. We were in a hurry, and only stopped at Gibraltar long enough to drop mail and receive instructions. Then we were off again. The weather was lovely now, as it can be in the Mediterranean. I was feeling fine, and developing a good appetite. As we passed close to Tunis on October 10th, I note that it was warm enough to change to cotton clothes.

We arrived at Alexandria late afternoon on the fourteenth of October. Entering the harbour, we found it swarming with British warships of all sizes. We were now under the navy to a great extent. I was to thank my lucky stars that I had worked with it before. We were to start visual signals watches at once. I had no one in my whole section with any experience in semaphore or lamp signalling. I picked out my four brightest boys and started training, while at the same time keeping handy to do everything myself. I drilled them in semaphore and lamp all hours of the day and night. In a week or so they had got it, and in a short time they could hold their own with the sailors. On the first day I had gone over to the Queen Elizabeth, the flagship, and had a chat with the flag officer to explain my difficulties. He was very considerate, saying that all traffic would come through him. so his signalmen would understand and help as much as possible until my chaps were O.K.

We had been in Alexandria for a week or so when the C.O. came and congratulated me on my promotion to Warrant Officer Class One, dated from October 1st, 1935. This meant that now I could wear the coat of arms on my sleeve, and wear gabardine uniform. I said to the C.O.; "Where can I get a uniform made?" He said there was a first class tailor at Aboukir who was making him a uniform. I could get him to do it. There was this big distinction between W.O.2 and W.E.1. A W.O.2 wore ordinary serge uniform with a crown on the sleeve.

I had now reached the top. There were no more rungs to climb, so we would see whether the Peter Principle applied in my case. In the following March I was surprised to receive another inscribed piece of parchment, exactly like the last, appointing me to be a Warrant Officer. I thought I had been one since January 1932, by the first bit of parchment. This new one was signed by 'Swinton', the Secretary of State for Air.

The flying boats soon arrived, and buoyed around the Manela. Life continued in a normal manner. A magnificent Italian passenger boat which did the run Italy - Alexandria was included among the ships which regularly came in and out of Alexandria. This was the Ausonia, by far the best boat in the Mediterranean. I went over it one evening for a look see. Everything about it seemed luxurious. It left as usual one morning, but soon returned and dropped anchor fairly near us. The passengers disembarked into boats, and we wondered what could be wrong, until we saw the harbour fire fighting boats appear. Although everything about her looked normal, there being no sign of fire at first, later it was obvious that the firs had taken charge. By evening she was well ablaze. She burned for days from stem to stern, until the beautiful white sides and decks were black and warped. The hulk was eventually pushed out of the way onto the breakwater, where she remained until I left. It was a tragic end to a beautiful ship.

We had only been in Alexandria sixteen days when the hurricane which hit Alexandria and did so much damage to shipping and property struck on 30th October. The Devonshire, a large cruiser, was sweeping up other ships and bearing down on the Manela. We were all standing by with life jackets on, waiting for the worst. I kept out of the way on the bridge, where I saw one of the most spectacular pieces of seamanship it has been my luck to see. With engines going full out and head into the gale, we were gradually going backwards. On the far side of the harbour, we could see a small empty wharf. Using the engines and the wind, the skipper skilfully let the Manela be driven broadside on to the wharf, where we stuck. Ho got the cheer he deserved. One destroyer was driven hard onto the breakwater, and many were the buckled sides of other warships.

We left harbour a couple of times to cooperate in exercises. On one of these, we stayed at Haifa. We had one full clear day there. I did a real tour with four of the ship's engineers. We got away from the boat at 7 a.m. and hired a car. First stop Nazareth for the sights. Then on to the Sea of Galilee, Tiberius and the ruins of Capernaum. We seemed to be the only people in the region that morning. The kind Franciscan who took us round had ample time to spend on us. He made the story of Jesus in the synagogue very real. This was a wonderful day. It was lucky that we started early, because after we left, shore leave was cancelled for the day. I was the only airman to get ashore.

A scheme for commissioning Warrant Officers had come in. The C.O. was keen for me to have one. Regardless of my side of the argument, he arranged an interview for me with the air officer commanding Middle East at Cairo. Off I went for it. This was fine. I had been trying to get in a run to Cairo to look up my many friends, and here it was on a plate. I got there as early as I could on the day before the interview, had all the day of the interview, and a lot of the third day. The interview was wonderful; proper R.A.F. as it should be. It took about three minutes. "So you want a commission?" I was asked by this mighty of mighties. "Well," I said, "My commanding officer is keen for me to have one." "Oh," he said, "How long have you been in the R.A.F., and where did you go to school?" I said I had gone to the elementary school up to fourteen, and then started work as an errand boy because my father had not got the money for schooling. "Are you married?" Inside, I was laughing like a drain at the poor clot. little did he know that I was putting him on the mat by just being honest, watching his reactions and my replies. I was glad I was not in a position to tell him I was the product of Eton, Winchester, Harrow, or even a lowbrow grammar school. Obviously, he knew absolutely nothing about me, so who was I to tell him? When the report came back, poor I.T.L. was amazed, and could not understand it. But I did not enlighten him. Unfortunately, it did not cook my goose for good, as you will see.

I had been getting very frequent news from Enid M. She seemed to be coping well with the help she was able to get. At last, the good news came that we had a boy, who was born on December 15th. [Actually 19th. Correction by the boy himself.] Now I began to hope that this business would be over soon. Obviously, Mussolini had been put off by our show of strength, and life after Christmas became quite quiet. I started to go into Alexandria almost every evening, as there was not much on. I attended French classes, to try to improve my French. I was lucky enough to hit the short opera season, where I saw and heard Butterfly done very well.

All was quiet, so I started putting out feelers to get hack home. Enid M. was experiencing some little after birth trouble. I got a letter from the doctor to that effect. I talked about it with the C.O. I said my Flight Sergeant was capable of handling things, so he said he would fix it.

No. 2 Bomber Group.

In a way, I was sorry to leave the crowd. I had had such a happy time with them. Had things been normal, it would have been nice to stay on in the pleasant atmosphere of Alexandria. I took passage home on the P&O leaving port Said, sharing a cabin with a chap homeward bound from India. I had seen Port Said so many times now that there was no longer anything exciting about it, except, perhaps, passing the statue of De lesseps, with his outstretched hand, on the breakwater. On its steps, Enid M. and I had sat that evening of the day she returned to Egypt.

I was met at Tilbury by an officer. he told me that I was to join the staff of No. 2 Bomber Group at Abingdon, which was then being formed, and to report there before going on leave to Plymouth. There was little doing yet. I was given ample leave to settle things up at Plymouth, and look around for somewhere to live near Abingdon. As I could catch a train at Oxford, I made my way there to let our friends, especially Doctor and Mrs. Gillett, know that we would soon be living near them. As I expected, this news pleased them. They had a soft spot for Enid M., who had got deeply attached to them during her Oxford days.

I got to Mount Batten in the early afternoon of the next day. It was lovely and sunny to see my son lying on his back, kicking his legs in the air, on the little front lawn. He looked marvellous. My meeting with Enid. M. has been seen in hundreds of 'soft' film, although not twixt us two. She was almost fit again, and everything in the garden was lovely. We had had a lovely time at Mount Batten, which gave our marriage a wonderful send-off. Now, with two marvellous children, we felt we could face anything. My advertisement for accommodation in the local paper brought in replies. I took a bungalow with three bedrooms in Dry Sandford, not far from Abingdon aerodrome. It was a very nice spot. We were soon installed, looking forward to another nice spell. There was a good crowd of officers on the staff. Although I was the only Warrant Officer, they made me understand that I was one of them. A standing order permitted officers to wear civilian clothes on Saturday mornings. Group Captain Air, when he saw me in uniform, asked me why. I said the order was for officers only. He replied; "Rubbish. You are one of us." Henceforth I went to the office in civvies on Saturdays.

At once, the commission business started again. They said I was doing an officer's job. But I was happy enough as things were. A commission would not have made the slightest difference. I had the respect of all, right down from the A.O.C., who was a fine Australian. However, I saw their point when it came to visiting units. I could not go into an officers' mess, and in most cases I had to discuss things with officers, although, in my experience, I could always get what I wanted from the N.C.O.s, who knew more than the officers as to how things were working.

After only a few months at Abingdon, I was hastily posted to the wireless school at Cranwell, to experience some real fun and games. I knew why I was sent, but the powers that be at Cranwell were not going to have any interloper interfering there. When I saw the Wing Commander, I knew that things were going to be tough. He said my posting there had obviously been a stupid mistake, as I would be of no use there. I smiled, and walked around for a couple of weeks doing nothing, except for getting Enid M. and the kids along, as I had reason to believe that I would stay there. As usual, I got all the dope from the Sergeant Clerk, with whom I had become friendly in the mess. The poor Wing Commander tried every way to get me out of it, until finally Records told him I was to start on the duties for which I had been sent. I was to take over the training of the men's wing. Now, one can realise what my position was. I knew I was on top of them all. I was in a position to prove all I had written in reports about the training being given there. I now felt that I could bypass them and go to the people I knew would accept what I had to say. Tait, for one, was at Air Ministry. He was probably involved in my being sent to Cranwell. I would always get a sympathetic hearing from him.

Everything was on a big scale. With war approaching, the R.A.F. was extending in all directions. Wireless operators would be needed in large numbers.

I had to be the new broom. Curious as it may seem, I got no opposition from any of the old hands. From the start, I got on well with the civilian instructors. Some of them were science graduates, who normally lectured on electronics and the electrical theory required. In my talks, I made everybody understand that if anyone had any complaints they could come direct to me. This upset some of the hard baked Flight Sergeants and other N.C.O.s., who had ruled the roost as they did in Uxbridge under the notorious B.C.

Coming back early one day after lunch, I found one of these characters doubling a class round and round the buildings. They were almost exhausted. I called them over, dismissed them, and told the Flight to come to my office. I had marked him as one of them. I gave him the biggest choking he had ever had. I told him that if I caught him at any antics like that again, I'd kick his bottom out of it. These men were here to learn wireless, not to be bullied by types like him. This was beyond the idiot's comprehension, but I got no further trouble from him or the others. I let it be known that if any pupils wanted any extra help, I would be available in a classroom between six and eight of an evening, and be pleased to do it. The response was terrific. Although it meant extra time and loss of evenings for me, it was well worth doing. This way, many chaps passed who would otherwise have failed. Before, the failures were some fifteen per cent. In my third term, I had cut it down to five per cent. This really put me on the map. The heads who had said I would be of no use there, were licking my boots. The senior padre came to see me. He thanked me for the wonderful job I was doing with the men. It seems they were telling him what a fine boss I was. I was to see much of Padre Giles. Later, he became Padre in Chief of the R.A.F. We remained good friends until long after we both retired.

I had had fun and games with Borthwick Clark in Aden over my extension of service. He came as administrative officer. With others, he brought up the subject of commissioning again. Everybody was at me about it, until one day I was made to go to see Air Vice Marshall Baldwin to discuss it. He was at the R.A.F. College for officer cadets. This was some interview compared with the farce in Cairo. A typical English gentleman, Baldwin was charming to talk to. There was not "Where did you go to school, and are you married, a dhow long have you been in the R.A.F.?" or any of that trash. I couldn't put him off, especially when I told him I had served in India in the army. We found that he had been in the same barracks in Lucknow as a gunnery officer. His adjutant kept popping in because other things needed doing. But he seemed to be enjoying himself so much talking with me that he waved him away. Why didn't I want a commission? And I told him what he already knew about the average officer, saying I could never be one of them, that I could never fit into an officers' mess, that I was quite happy as I was. I did not mind doing an officer's job, if that was wanted. He countered this by saying that I could do it much better as an officer. As for fitting into an officers' mess, he honoured me by saying that officers' messes could do with a few like me. We argued for quite a time. I left without giving him a direct answer. I wanted a little time to consider his side of the argument, and would let my C.O. know in the morning. I would be better off as an officer financially, but as we were able to have all we wanted now, this did not enter into it. As before, I finished by tossing up for it, and the commission won. Things moved very swiftly. I was posted immediately to the fighter station at Kenley, as Station Signals Officer. Obviously, there was a dire shortage of signal officers. I had no time to get uniforms made, and had to get the tailor at Cranwell to put rings on my W.O.'s sleeves. I took the first train to London to get measured for mess kits and other necessary stuff. It seemed absolutely crazy as I was doing such a useful job at Cranwell. I saw no sense in having to go to a fresh job because I had become an officer. Enid M. took the whole business quite philosophically. In any case, it would make no difference to her. It was wonderful to have a partner who didn't care two straws what I was, as long as I remained me.

Soon I received the largest sheet of parchment of them all. George VI, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, etc. etc. To our Trusty and Well beloved Sydney Ernest Catt Greeting: a load of flowery English followed, finally signed by the King. This did not reach me until nine months after I was commissioned, so I think it likely that this really is the King's signature. I still have it stowed away, but do not think I have ever showed it to anybody.

If every officer in the navy, army and R.A.F. gets one of these, and I assume they do, it must keep an army of calligraphers employed. The details; name, dates etc., are filled in by specialists. It may give a fillip to a young sub pilot officer just out of school, but I don't think I needed to be told what was expected of me after many years of experience in handling people.

There were two squadrons of single seater fighters at Kenley. It was the first time I had been closely connected with them. I was in at the start of radar. The station at Bawdsey, on the Suffolk coast, had been completed and was ready for exercises. I found it most exciting; scrambling the fighters off the ground, then vectoring them until one got the Tally-Ho, indicating they had struck 'bandits'. The City of London Squadron came for training during weekends. It was a pleasure to give up one's weekends for them. They were as keen as mustard, and a delightful crowd. After the war had been on some time, I was not surprised that they topped the most victories list.

I soon had a very pleasant surprise. The C.O. asked me to his office. I was delighted to see him with Squadron Leader Nutting. At the time of the desert survey, he had been chief of signals Baghdad Command. He was now Air Commodore Nutting, Chief of Signals, Air Ministry. He asked the Wing Commander to excuse him and me. Taking me by the arm, he led me outside. "Where can we go for a quiet talk?" he said, and added; "Let's go for a stroll on the aerodrome. It was marvellous. I had not seen him since Baghdad, and he hadn't forgotten me. He had seen my gazetting, had got me posted to Kenley, and had made this trip to see me. I had been a humble L.A.C. at the time of the desert survey, and my name had stuck with him. He was delighted to find me an officer. We talked about the others who had been in Baghdad, including R. E. Saul and Coward. I can't think what the flying people thought to see me with a 'wide band' walking on the 'drome in close conversation. On being chivvied afterwards, I just said we were old friends.

Having been sought out by Air Commodore Nutting, I was soon to see Group Captain Saul again.

A large scale exercise was run from Hornchurch. I went along as one of the controllers. I was in the controller's seat, getting on with some vectoring, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was R. E Saul. He had come with the heads of Fighter Command, to see how things were going. Watson-Watt himself was with them, with two of his wonderful team. I managed to speak with the underlings, but not with their brilliant leader. R. E. Said he was very pleased to find me in the officer's uniform, adding that there was nothing to stop me. As the C.O. of 2 Squadron, he had fought hard to get me on one of the early N.C.O. pilot's courses. I had completed the medical tests and examination, and was waiting to start, when he received a letter from Air Ministry washing it out. It said I was too valuable in my trade to be spared for flying duties. They indicated that anybody could learn to fly in a few weeks., but it took years to make a good tradesman. I had then given up flying unless it suited me to do so. It happened just after the affair at Lavington in Wiltshire, when the young pilot nearly crashed me onto the village green.

I had a wonderful life again at Kenley, with Enid M. and our growing children. Cousin Will Jordan came as New Zealand's High Commissioner in London. he took a house at Wimbledon, near enough to visit frequently. We saw much of him and his family. We made many good friends in kenley itself, as well as in nearby Purley. We could run down to Chateaurenard and visit the Sangars, whom I had not seen for ages, and join with them in the gorgeous circus party in London.

We had a lovely house at Caterham, with a large garden, and room to enjoy visitors. I began to think I was set for some time to some. But it was not to be. In hardly a year, a snap posting for Singapore came up.

2nd Singapore.

It was real panic stations. I had only a couple of weeks to get everything squared for the move. I had recently bought a new Rover car. I tried to sell it, but cars were two a penny. Even in the London area, the best offer was £120. So I decided to take it. It was difficult to get it shipped, until I went along to the E.A. I was a member. I said I couldn't get it on our boat, the Ranpura. I was amazed to hear next morning that my car would go on the Ranpura. Why couldn't the P&O agents do it?

Enid M., as placid as ever, took everything as though it was the most natural thing to be doing. Anyway, this time we were going together. Margery was just getting old enough to understand a little what was afoot. We packed cases of books and other things we thought we would want, and sent them off. I dragged Enid M. up to one of the leading dress stores, letting her go to town on evening gowns and things, although she said she had enough of everything.

In these days of air travel, it is very different. Travelling first class on a P&O liner to the Far East could be a pretty snooty affair, as I knew well. We sailed from Tilbury. We had two adjacent cabins. Enid M. had Ivor with her, and I had Margery. The children had different eating times. They were not in the dining saloon with the adults. We were on a table for four, with a doctor and his wife who were returning to India after a holiday. We got on very well. As I had been in India, we had something in common. I compared the conditions I was now sailing under with those as deck cargo, crowded in a hold, trying to find a spot where I could kip down and lie stretched out. Also, I had been packed with about twenty others at a table, trying to get down inedible food. It just did not make sense. Here was I, dandying myself up in evening clobber, taking my lady in a sparkling evening gown to mix with a mob got up in the same fashion. It was taboo not to dress for the evening meal on :&O ships. You were not allowed in the saloon. If you can get anything to beat that, tell my aunt Fanny. If you were an American millionaire, and had left your dinner jacket behind, you had your food brought to you in your cabin. Just how far can snobbery go?

Naturally, we ran into rough weather in the Channel and in Biscay. We were all seasick, even in first class cabins. But this cleared as we got south, and by the time we entered the Mediterranean, we were enjoying ourselves. One outstanding V.I.P. on the passenger list was Baron Hankey. It has been said that, as Secretary to the Cabinet, he had run the country. He took his morning exercise round the deck, and certainly appeared capable of running anything. He left the ship at Malta.

Although it was cold, we had a good day ashore at Marseilles. We did some of the sights, and also had a good car trip along the coast road. Although all places from the past for me, Port Said, the canal, Suez and the Red Sea, Aden and even Bombay were all new to Enid M. I had not seen Ceylon. WE hired a car and saw many of its delights. I would remember this day when, long after, I was to see it all under far different conditions.

Sure enough, when we docked in Singapore, an A.A. Malaya chap was heard asking for me. Soon I saw my Rover being hauled out of the hold and put on the quay. I was met by an R.A.F. officer, who escorted us to the hotel accommodation which had been booked for us. I was in Singapore again. How different would it be from the place I had left in 1917?

It was very fortunate that I had managed to bring my car with me to Singapore. I needed it right from the start, as our delightful hotel was some ten miles from the Seletar air base to which I had been posted.

Life was just too good. I was soon murmuring to my wife Enid M. that this heavenly state of affairs could not last. Seletar was a pretty big station. From a wireless point of view, it was the biggest job I had so far had. The receiving end, from which all transmitting was done, was attached to the headquarters building, and had a Flight Sergeant supervisor. The transmitters were a mile or so away, on the shore of the Jahore Straits, with a Warrant officer supervisor. As usual, I held all the top cipher books, and was responsible for all high grade ciphering. As the was came nearer and nearer, this became almost a full time job.

But the war was not here yet. Before it came to spoil everything, we were to enjoy life to the full.

I was soon able to take over a house in Orchard Road, Singapore, from an officer who was posted away. It was the next house but one to padre Giles, whom I had known at Cranwell. We were to become lasting friends of theirs, as we both got entangled in the tragic events which followed.

Enid M. had no difficulty in getting three amahs; a cook, a house amah, and one to look after the children. The house was very roomy. It had no windows, but shutters, which were closed to keep out the rain. The ceilings were high. Large ceiling fans were fitted in all rooms. It was very nice and comfy. Comfortable cane furniture was made to order in Singapore, ad was dining room furniture. There was a good turnover of special tropical pianos. We managed to get a very good one. Enid M. would now have time and to spare to play. One of the loveliest things about my married life was that I could sit back while she stroked off a Beethoven or Mozart sonata for me. She had studies both piano and organ, and was real entertainment value. After leaving home, I had never had a piano near to practice on. Except for a little doodling, I was no good. Until I gave up singing, I always found it useful to be able to play my tenor line, to get a good grip on any choral work I was doing. As in Cairo, my tenor voice enabled me to get into the musical world of Singapore. Visiting a cathedral service, I found the choir very good. I got hold of the choirmaster, and asked him if he wanted help with the tenor line. He said that, at the moment, he didn't. I expressed my disappointment, saying hod I would love to sing with them. At this, he said; "Well, come along to the next practice, and when there is room, you can come in." I went along, and noticed him standing close by me. I was lucky again. The anthem was one I knew well, and the choral communion was one that I could sight read. After the practice, he said; "I think we can make room for you. I will be glad to see you on Sunday." After that, I had no difficulty in joining the choral society, and getting involved with the dramatics people. Music in Singapore was of a very high standard at this time, much higher than I had found it in Cairo or in many places in England.

Office hours at Seletar were from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Unless anything untoward was afoot, I kept to these hours. I was able to play a lot of golf, as Tanglin Club was near my house. I rang the changes from golf to swimming club, to take Enid M. and the children. This was a wonderful place for them. Both Margery and Ivor took to water like fish, and soon were dog paddling across the pool. There was always a swimming instructor there to give a hand.

One of our first runs out was to Fort Canning, where I hoped to show Enid M. where I had had fun and games signalling to the naval boats in the Roads, and to look see the signal station. What a disappointment I got. The old gate was there, very overgrown, but nothing else. Everything had been swept away. Gone were the barracks, the naval headquarters building, and the tennis court where I played my first game of tennis. Although I remembered where the signal station had stood, there was no trace of it. It would have been refreshing to have twirled the semaphore arms again, although they had gone out of use long since. The top of the hill had become a large reservoir. I wonder what became of the time ball I used to haul up the mast, to be dropped at exactly one O'clock, and the old cannon we used to fire when the incoming mail boat was sighted. This fort had stood since Stamford Raffles, and then had disappeared in this short time. The huge brothel area had been cleared out too. It was now little more than a Chinese slum. The restaurants we now ate at were far from the district.

A few Jews who had managed to escape from Hitler soon began to arrive in Singapore. Enid M. could speak German, so we were of use to them. We became very friendly with one, Werner Baer, a very good Berlin organist. When the war started with Germany, they were shipped out to Australia with other refugees, but he was soon allowed out because he wanted to give recitals to the troops, and to help in the war effort. Later, he became a big name in the Australian Broadcasting Service.

Seletar was a very happy station when I arrived there. It was made so by its very good station commander. But he completed his time soon after my arrival, and was replaced by 'Batchy'. He seemed to have got his nickname early in his service, and it had stuck. He soon took a dislike to me, as he did to many others, and I began to have tiffs with him.

My promotion to Flight Lieutenant came through, and he tried in all manner of ways to stop it, until the Air Ministry got fed up with his, and told him that if he could offer no better reason why I should not be promoted, my promotion was to stand from ..... That ended the argument, but we were glad to see him go.

Time flies when one is having a good time. Soon, the was at home was big news to us. That was all it was, since we were well out of it. I could not but think that, with the training I had done at Kenley, I would have been of more use in England than having a gay time in Singapore. But it was not up to me to decide where I ought to be, so the only thing to do was to go on having a good time. It is a good thing we did know how disastrously this good time was going to end.

As time sped away, and the Japanese started to trample over mainland China, we continued to feel nice, snug and safe in this quiet corner of the world. But the Japs continued to creep lower and lower down the coast of Asia, until we began to sit up and take notice.

As the Japs moved into Indo-China and Siam, and began to build up their strength there, things began to look ominous. Yet there was a peculiar feeling that nothing would happen to us. The crippling of the American fleet at Pearl Harbour, with the bombing raid on Singapore without the slightest warning or declaration of war, dispelled all ideas that we were not going to be tangled up in things.

Things moved fast. Soon the Japs were landing on the north of the Malay Peninsula. I began to with Enid M. and the children were out of it.

We had no good fighter aircraft. A squadron of Hurricanes were hurried out, but these did not last long, and we were left with no fighter cover. The Japs had the air to themselves. The Prince of Wales, with the Repulse and accompanying destroyers, arrived at the naval base. In my mind, I can still see these two fine battleships sailing down the Straits as I sat on the veranda of the officers' mess. And next morning, the terrific shock on hearing the news of their sinking by Japanese torpedo bombers. To me, that spelled the end, unless a miracle happened. A large force of Japs started landing a short way up the east coast. All our antiquated biplane torpedo bombers took off to see what they could do about it. Again imprinted on my mind is the picture of them as they flew off in formation to their doom. Only two of them got back. They were no match for the Jap Zeros.

But something always turns up. Sure enough, I was told to get Enid M. and the children to the docks, as a ship was there to pick up families. She was an American ship, braving the constant raids to do this. I am for ever grateful to the crew. They did manage to get to Ceylon, although it was years before I knew they were safe.

I returned to the house where we had had such a glorious time. I felt terribly, terribly lonely. The bottom had dropped out of our lovely dream world. I wondered if that was to be the end. The amahs were still there. I had orders to stay at Seletar, so I told the amahs to stay if they wanted to, and I would try to come back to tell them what to do. It was a week or more before I saw them again, when I returned to the house with two or three other chaps to get some clothing and what food there was. The end was pretty near and, almost weeping, I told them "Everything finished." I gave them a supply of money. The house was as spick and span as ever. Waving my hand round, I said; "All yours, I no more want." Taking them by the hands, I said goodbye.

As I passed the piano, I noticed the big copy of Mozart's sonatas open on it. To this day, I wonder who is playing it now.

I had gone over to the mess a couple of days before to get a late breakfast, as a bad raid had been on, only to find it absolutely deserted. There were half eaten breakfasts lying around the tables, and even half drunk cups of tea. It was a proper Marie Celeste. There were no servants or cooks in the kitchen, and nobody in sight. There must have been a terrible panic, as everybody had bolted. I and a few wireless people were the only ones in the whole of Seletar. owing to the shelling from across the strait, the transmitting station had been out of action for a couple of days, although it we had still been working we were getting no traffic to handle. Not only Seletar Station Headquarters had ceased to function, but Headquarters Singapore had gone phut too.

I got my few lads together and told them the position. We were completely on our own, and there was nothing I could do about it. Everybody else had bolted into the rubber plantations, and they could go and join them if they liked. Not one of them left me. They said; "We will stick with you, Sir." The Japs must have known the base was vacated, because the bombings stopped for the time being. My Rover had been knocked out by a bomb, but cars were lying around for the picking. I had got a small Fiat and a truck standing by in case we could all get away if necessary. As things were quiet, I walked over to the hangars. I was amazed to find that everything had been left, including aircraft under repair. I had an idea where the people were, and jumping into the Fiat, I eventually found them. There was a tent full of officers. I told them what I had seen, and said they all ought to return to camp and give a hand in smashing everything up, as I had not enough chaps to do it. I implored them to help, but no one made an effort to move, let alone get any of the men to come with me. I made my sad way back to Seletar. They were all frightened to get within a mile of it, and perhaps they were right, because I was spotted as I got near the camp. A shell burst about thirty yards in front of me, and in the blast I went into the small ditch by the road. A few more came over, but not near enough to cause any damage. When I thought things were quiet enough, I managed to get the car back on the road, and back to camp.

The first few days of February 1942 were a real nightmare. I still had all the high grade cipher books, but nobody in authority to give me any instructions as to what to do. I had sledge-hammers handy, and had told each chap to get cracking as soon as I gave the word, so that no wireless equipment would escape destruction. I told them that all cipher books must be burnt.

My birthday was February 11th, and during the three days leading up to it I hardly slept a wink. I kept going up onto the roof to see if anything was happening close by. The oil tanks o Pula Bukum were burning, as were the oil tanks at the naval docks, and soot rained down over everything. The guns at Blackang Mati and at Changi thundered away, but goodness knows what they were firing at, as everything was chaotic.

With all telephones out of action, there was nowhere I could go for any news. I could just stand and wait. I began to feel very tired, but the chaps with me were wonderful.

And so came the morning of my birthday. I told them that this was to be our lucky day, and something was sure to happen. I could hold the ciphers no longer, so the first thing we did was to have a bonfire of them, and all secret documents that I held. I locked the two big empty safes, and buried the keys in a corner of the wall surrounding the building. We had a supply of tinned food and milk that we had scrounged from the deserted cookhouses and stores, and could have carried on for a time.

I got onto the roof for another look see, and listened to the rumblings, which were getting closer. So I decided to smash up everything. Just then, the station adjutant dashed in and said; "Good God, Syd, you still here? Somebody has just said you might be." I said; "Yes, I'm still here, Pat, trying to finish up, but what's the excitement?" "Get right down to the docks if you can," he said, "There's a boat in to take us off. I don't know how you are to make it. So long, and the best of luck." And off he went.

Corporal Wake took most of the chaps in the van, and Paddy O'Reilly, a wonderful Irishman, came with me. I told Wake to keep close behind me, since I knew the back roads. We got as far as Bukit Timor Road, when an Army sergeant stopped me, saying we couldn't get through there, as there were Japs just down the road. Saying I would risk it, I carried on, but on getting near the General Hospital, a burst of machine gun fire blasted around us, but jamming my foot down on the accelerator, I barged on. I dreaded looking round, but when I did, it was to see Wake grinning all over his face, and making the thumbs up sign. As we drove along the dock road, a bomb exploded ahead of me, but it did no harm, and we made the boat O.K. So began the string of appalling nightmares about which I find it difficult to write.

I was absolutely dead beat after the sleepless and nerve wracking days of the past two weeks or so, and it was with the utmost relief that I staggered up the gangway and flopped down on the deck. The guns roaring away from nearby Blackang Mati appeared to be keeping the Jap aircraft from coming too close to this part of the docks. Regardless of the din, I think I fell asleep just where I had dropped, because when I came to, I found I was lying under a gangway which led up to the bridge. I was on board the 'Empire Star', but this was to be no Star boat pleasure cruise. There were lots of women who were making a last effort to get away, with a mixture of civilians, army and R.A.F.

As soon as it was dark, we left harbour and set off due south as fast as the boat could make it. I continued to stay in the position in which I had flopped down, and did not feel capable of taking any interest in anything. I worried about neither food nor drink, but only wanted to rest. After the nerve killing time of those last days at Seletar, this was peace indeed. Although the hard deck must have been anything but comfortable, I slept all night, and woke up to find the sun well up, and conditions perfect, with a beautifully calm sea. How much pleasanter it would have been had we been blanketed by low clouds and a little less perfect weather.

We were soon found by a Japanese aircraft, and the horrors of the day began. The morning was not far advanced before a large formation of bombers appeared and made a trial run over us. They turned, and we all knew that this was it. We saw a shower of bombs leave the planes. Immediately, the captain shouted; "Hard a'port.", and the boat heaved off course. The bombs appeared to drop all round the ship, but there were no hits. I offered up a small prayer as I continued to hear the engines chugging away. Run after run was made, until all the bombs were finished, and the shouts of "Hard a'port" and "Hard t'starboard" were, for the moment, over. We were seeing an amazing exhibition of bomb dodging and a piece of seamanship unequalled, in my humble opinion, by anything that happened under like circumstances. The Japs must have been really wild, because they were soon back. The nightmare continued, but the stupid clots continued to pattern bomb in close formation, and the quick manoeuvring to port or starboard was just enough to leave the bombs churning u the water alongside. But every moment I thought would be my last. It was frightening to see the bombs raining straight down at one, and then see them veer aside.

The horrid business went on until the afternoon, and the Japs must have wasted hundreds of bombs around us. It had been a magnificent performance by the skipper of the Empire Star.

How glad we were when dusk came, and we felt safe. There was no chatting, and very little movement. Everybody just sat put and, I suppose, they were wondering like me how we had survived to see that night. Except for the starlight, it was quite dark, as the ship was under blackout conditions. Everything was quite still and calm, when suddenly someone on the other side of the deck started singing 'Abide with me.' It was electric. Within a minute, all had joined in. Although I had sung it countless times and was to sing it countless times more, never have I heard it sung with so much fervour and deep sincerity;

I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless:

Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness:

Where is death's sting? Where, Grave, thy victory?

I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

When I hear the mobs shouting this beautiful hymn down at Wembley on cup final day, how I wish they could have heard it that night on the Empire Star.

After the hymn, a lovely voice offered up a prayer of thanks to God for our deliverance. So ended a day which, with other days to come, was to remain in my memory with the utmost clarity, and one about which I have spoken very little.

By the next morning we had put a good many more miles between us and malaya, but we wondered whether we were far enough away yet; but as the morning progressed it became obvious that we were too far from them, and peace reigned until we arrived at Batavia.

In view of what was to happen in Java I cannot understand why we did not stay on the boat. Without any aircraft and without any arms we were little better than useless, but there appears to have been an Air Headquarters of sorts in Batavia (now Jakarta), and possibly it did have some reason for keeping us.I was tyo learn that everything was in such a chaotic state that there was nobody capable of handling this shambles efficiently, because it was soon to deteriorate into a complete and utter shambles.

We were escorted to a school which had been converted into comfortable quarters for us. We were told to make ourselves comfortable, which we did. Within a day or so I was told that I could go for a few days' rest with a Dutch planter and his wife, and although I felt that this was like fiddling while Rome was burning I did go, and had a very pleasant time with two charming people who did not survive the war.

I returned to Batavia hoping to find that something was being organised, but there was nothing doing, and I could find no one who had any idea if anything was going to be done. Boats were getting in and out of a port on the south coast, and it was hoped that we would all be got away. But things were moving quickly, and the Japs were knocking at Java.

It was difficult to get any definite news as to what was really happening, everything was so hush hush. We knew that Singapore had fallen just after our departure and, as far as I could see, there was nothing to stop the Japs from walking into Java. Although we were not being told so, that was what was ahppening.

When I had been in Batavia for two weeks with the crowd off the Empire Star absolutely nothing had been done to get us into any sort of fighting force so as to give the Dutch a hand. Being a humble Flight lieutenant, I was unable to get senior officers to see my point of view, and perhaps they were right to think that offering any sort of resistance was hopeless. For me, remembering my triaining, this was soul destroying. Although I could see no signs of it, I suppose things were getting too hot in Batavia to hold us. We were hurried to the station and took a train for Poerballingo, a longish journey down into Java, where we found ourselves billetted in the drying sheds of a tobacco factory. We might as well have stayed in Batavia and saved the loss of life which resulted from the running away tactics we were about to start.

When we had been in the tobacco sheds a couple of days a Squadron Leader appeared to collect all arms. I still had my revolver and fourteen rounds of ammunition. I was loathe to part with this and said so. He said he had come from Headquarters, and this was an order. On my saying that this was very un-English and something I could not understand, he said something about the Dutch wanting it done, and it became clear to me that the end was very close. I just cannot explain how I felt whan I had been brought up on such heroic stories as the relief of Lucknow, Rorke's Drift and the hundred and one other incidents like this in which Englishmen stood fast.

And so I became one of a hounded rabble.

We left Poerballingo for Poerwakarto, where we had just got settled in a sugar factory when panic stations broke loose and we hurried to the station and entrained, in trucks, for Garut, a place in the hills. I made no effort to get on it, but as it was pulling out I saw some of the Seletar boys waving to me out of the open door of their truck. A Wing Commander was in charge of operations, and quickly saying to him "I'll go with those chaps," I jumped in with them.

Darkness came on, and I was looking out upon a dazzling display of fireflies swarming in the bushes by the railway when terriffic bursts of m,achine gun fire began pouring through the trucks. None of my party were hit and we continued forward, but the train began to slow down and eventually stopped. Fortunately we had run a few miles beyond the ambush, and all around seemed quiet. We all jumped out, to find that the engine had been knopcked out.

Luckily there were only a few wounded, and I began to hunt around for officers, only to find that I was one of three officers on the whole train. The railway people told us that Mause was only a few miles ahead, and that we should get there as soon as possible. Carryuing the wounded, we set off along the line.

We reached mause to find it almost deserted, but someone there told us to get on and get over a bridge which was being blown up. We were told to leave the wounded there for collection.

Getting the chaps organised as well as we could, and telling them to hurry, we reached the bridge. it was a huge affair over a wide river, and there were Dutchmen shouting to us to hurry and get over. I ran past lots of chaps, taking their time over it. I dashed off the bridge and was just diving off the line when, with a terriffic roar and a blast which nearly floored me, the bridge went up behind us. How many chaps went up with it will never be known, because nobody knew who was on the train.

Things should never have been allowed to deteriorate into the disorganised rabble we had now become. We should have been made into units wqith an officer in charge who would have been responsible for a complete unit.

Near the bridge was a small detachment of Dutch troops with an officer who told us that the Japs were quite close behind us. He said we could not stay there, but I insisted that we have a short rest because veryone was very tired. It was now midnight, and we decided to rest until three a.m. There was no transport of any kind, and the Dutch told us we must carry on as best we could on foot and try to reach Chamis. That is anjother day which has remained in my memory to dream about. It would have been bad enough in England or a cooler climate, but in the tropics it was killing. Every so often I would stop and collect as many men together as I could. I would try to give a cheerful and encouraging talk, although inside me I was as low in spirits as any of them.

I almost lost the sole of one of my shoes, and could not help thinking how sensible the solid boots were, and how I wished I was in a pair.

We staggered on to the station where we had been told we should leave the railway and carry on by road. The station was deserted, so, after a short rest, we staggered on through deserted country. What had happened here? Where had all the people fled to, and why?

we had seen no Japanese aeroplanes or anything to warrant such a state of affairs until, on rounding a corner, we came upon an amazing and horrible sight. A convoy of cars was wrecked on and by the roadside, and dead bodies were strewn around. It could not have happened long before, and i could not see whether it had been done by aircraft or ground attack. It all looked very mysterious and horrible, but as we could do nothing, and without tools it was not even possible to bury the dead, we staggered on. It was getting late morning now, and lots of the chaps could not carry on. We could not stop, so we made them as comfortable as we could in what shade we could find, and saying that I would send help as soon as I could, we staggered on.

We passed no villages and saw nobody, and it was difficult to believe that we were in one of the most densely populated islands in the world. We were walkikng, for the most part, through open country. Except for the short rest at the bridge, we had now been on the go for well over twenty four hours, and I began to wonder how much longer I could carry on. We were getting very, very thirsty, and could have done witha a good meal, but the main thought in our minds was to get on as far as we could, and hope that soon we would find some civilised place.

How I wished I had a map to see if there was anywhere we could reach before the mystical Chamis that we were aiming for. I thought I was seeing things, and that I too was going round the bend; but no, it really was a car coming towards us. In it were two Dutch officers. My spirits rose as I realised that I would, at any rate, now find out what lay ahead. But after a bit of a pow-wow, they told me to get back to the railway station we had passed through, and a train would be sent for us. This was miles back now, and I wondered if any of us could make it.

So we about turned, andyhelped by the knowledge that help was at hand, we kept on our feet. We even gathered up the chaps we had left behind, and taking it as easy as we could, slowly staggered on.

Getting back to the spot where the straffed convoy was, I was surprised to find that the bodies had been removed; by whom, or how, was a mystery, as there was still nobody about, and nothing had passed us on the road. We all eventually made it back to the station, and I flopped down under a siding shelter absolutely exhausted with the tattered remains of a shoe on my left foot.

I must have fallen asleep alomst at once as I remember nothing more until something woke me up. I opened my eyes without moving, but i was soon sitting up and rubbing my eyes and thinking i was going over the edge. Within two feet of me was a pair of new shoes. I was too scared at first to see if they were real, but eventually i did, and real they were. Of all the things I wanted then, a pair of shoes topped the list. I am sure they were not there when I lay down. Calling the chaps who were around, I asked whose they were, and what they were doing there. Nobody knew anything about them, and no one had seen them before. I began to feel a bit strange, and through my mind flashed; "Somebody is looking after me." It all reeks of the occult, but if anybody had been miles and miles from my thoughts, it was mind healthy me.

I tried the shoes on, and they had been made for me. They were typical English pattern and were to see me right through my prisoner of war period, keeping solid and sound for the three years plus. The mystery of that pair of shoes, which turned up at the deserted little junction in the, at that time, uninhabited part of java caused me to meditate many times.

The train did arrive. We crowded into it and were off. It was composed of goods trucks, but I soon sorted out my little party so that we could lie down fully stretched and get some rest. We were all filthy dirty and hungry. There had been water only at the station.

It was late at night when we arrived at Chamis, but we found some activity there, and a little food was found for us. There were some senior officers who had somehow made the trip by road. Possibly, had I not jumped into the truck with the Seletar chaps, I would have come with them, and missed the noightmare of the last twenty-four hours. I was told we could not go on before the morning and, with the others, lay down beside the railway track and got some sleep.

We were called early. After having a little food, we were put into a passenger train to carry on to Garut, where there was a lot of activity and Dutch soldiery about, and then we went on. In a short while the train stopped. There was another engine on the other line which backed to our engine, and soon we were on the way back to Tasik. On getting there, we were told by the Dutch that the war was over as they had capitulated. What this meant took a little time to soak in. It was more than a little stunning, although it had been hammering at my mind that this could be the obvious end. But I had continued to hope that something would happen to get me out of the frightful merr in which I was becoming entangled. We left the train and, being told that we were prisoners of war, went to an empty school to await events. There was not a Jap in sight, and it was a day or two before we saw one. It was lovely to get a good bath and to clean up, and at last food was plentiful.

At once I began to think of the possibility of getting away and making a dash for it, but I found my legs in a sorry plight after the gruelling time they had had, and considered it better to wait until i felt a little fitter. I could not expect to get help from the Dutch, and I knew nothing about the natives. I did not know exactly where we were, or how far away the sea was. No one had a map, which was absolutely necessary. I did not discuss it with anybody. All seemed content just to sit pretty. The bunch of senior officers, in a small place on their own, soon began to make merry as it was possible to get out and get booze. This to me was just about the limit, and I soon realised what a pitiful bunch of rascals the staff officers of Singapore headquarters had been and were. I only hoped I would soon feel fit enough to get out of it. I was surprised that nobody made the slightest suggestion about getting out of it. As it turned out, perhaps it was as well that I had not felt fit enough to risk it. In later camps I did meet chaps who had tried it but found it impossible to get off the island. They were eventually picked up by the Japs.

I was at Tasikmalaya for three weeks, and on March 31 I left by train with a large party of officers and men. Where were we going? We retraced our steps, and came to thje blown up bridge on the tragic night of the train ambush. The spans of the bridge had collapsed and were resting on the river bed. It was possible to scramble across the wreckage, and this we had to do and then get into another train on the other side. We slept in the train, or rather we tried to, in great discomefort, and went on to malang. There we found ourselves quartered in the barracks of an aerodrome. We were quite comfortably housed, with beds and normal facilities, and we wondered what was on.

We were soon to learn. The senior Jap officer called for all officers, and we were informed that we were to work at making the 'drome serviceable and make a runway. We remostrated immediately, saying that as P.O.W.s we could not do that. On quoting the Hague conventions and things we got the reply that Japan did not conform to any such things, and that we were servants of the japanese Emperor. We must do as we were told. If we did not we would be shot, and, by the way he said it, it was clear he would do it. We saw that there was nothing more we could do, anmd we went and told the troops, warning them that we were in the hands of a bunch of heathens who would stick at nothing, and they would be glad of the opportunity to shoot us.

I soon got around among the troops, instructing them upon ways and means of sabotaging the work as much as was within our power. At the same time, I gave them to understand that should we be caught out doing anything it would be a shot through the head. At all times, work as slowly as possible. Get to know your particular guard, and see to what extent you can kid him.

Besides the general clean up, the main job was the runway. For this we took lorry trips into the country to collect boulders and rock. I found I was able to drift away after a time and meet the natives, but I soon found that one could get no help from them. They were very scared of the japs, and with very good rreason, I found. All the Jpas were not bad however, and I experiences a few instances where they pitied us and tried to be kind.

I was in charge of a party moving a lot of large bombs. It was tough work, and the guard drew me aside and said; "Me very sorry for you, but I can do nothing for you." I smiled at him, saying; "Me understand your position but thank you; you are a Christian." He understood what I meant. A few of them could speak a little English.

As soon as the Japs took over a place, that place changed to Tokyo time. This meant that in Java, as we were getting up at dawn, it was about eight O'clock. I asked a Jap what would happen when they had conquered the whole world, which they said they were going to do. "All world one time," he said, "Tokyo time." It was alarming to talk to some of them as they were so cock-a-hoop with the ease with which they had walked over East Asia. They really believed that nothing could stop them from taking England and America. They had the idea that England and America were already beaten. Although they were supposed to be allies of Germany they would take over Germany as well.

Every morning at dawn we paraded and bowed towards Tokyo and the Japanese Emperor, or made pretence at doing so.

In one of the hangars the Americans had left an unserviceable B29. Although it looked to be in a very bad way, the Nips got working on it. One day it actually took off, to the surprise of all of us.

We had a padre with us, Padre Wanlas, and we were allowed to hold a service every Sunday evening. The Japanese had no rest day equivalent to our Sunday. One just took every day as the same, so we worked on Sundays as usual. I soon mustered a choir to enliven the singing, and the troops came en masse. We had no instruments, so to start off a hymn I would quietly give a note. I thought I had a good sense of pitch, and it went well until one Sunday evening I started them off on "Onward Christian soldiers". Before we had gone far, I realised I had been too confident as we were all adrift and I had to start again. Next morning I got into the bamboo grove and cut a pipe. Teh note I produced was, I considered, middle G. This solved the problem. I was very pleased, some time later, when I tested it with a piano, that I found it was G.

When the work at the 'drome was approaching its end a large party left, Padre Wanlas going with them. This was the party that went to the Island of Celebes, where they all perished.

We were now without a padre, but many were keen to carry on with the services and asked me to do them. I willingly did so, and found myself acting both as choir master and vicar!

Escape was still on my mind. I had been discussing it with F/Lt Gordon and F/O Cheesewright, but I wanted to be certain that we could make the coast on our own and, at the moment, I was not sure that we could.

I had just come back from church on the Sunday evening when I found them all dressed with small kitbags packed. "Come on, we're off. Get ready." they said. "Not on your life," I said, "It will be madness until we are sure we can make it." "All right," they said; "We'll go without you." I tried all ways to stop them, but it was no good, and through the fence they went. At the same time a W.O. Kennenen and Sgt. Poland went with them.

Only a couple of days afterwards, one of the guards told me that all men caught would be shot. I nearly collapsed. In the afternoon we were all paraded on the aerodrome. There was a very large guard all round us with fixed bayonets. The four were brought out in front of us and shot. I just cannot express what ran through my mind, or how I felt. I could hardly march away. What had stopped me from being with them?

They were buried where they fell. Fifteen days afterwards, four of us were permitted to go and fix crosses to mark the graves and to hold a short service. When we had finished, i was amazed to see the Jap guard with us go to each grave and say a short prayer with all sincerity. He was feeling something of what we felt. After that, all thoughts of excaping left me.

Soon, aircraft began to land. They looked very good aircraft, especially the two engined bombers. We were to see one of these dive in on the edge of the 'drome and kill both the occupants.

All orders had to be given in Japanese, so I got my squadron behind a hut in two ranks and gave the front man his number; ichi, ni, san, shi, etc., and we had a practice run. They paraded in this order, each man remembering his number, and was the Nip guard surprised when it rang out! I knew he knew no English and I turned to him, saying, "What do you think of that, you little thingamey?" to the amusement of the troops.

I had been having bad tooth ache. There were no facilities for treatment in the camp, so I went to the Japs. To my amazement, arrangements were made for me to visit the hospital in Malang. I went there, and was treated by a Dutch doctor who was still being allowed to work there. Malang looked a fine town, but quite dead. There was no traffic or life, but a few shops were open.

I had been at Malang exactly five months when, on the first of September, along with the rest of the P.O.W.s, I was packed into a lorry and sent by road to Soerabaya. The Yaarmart at Soerabaya had been turned into a large P.O.W. camp. Here I met quite a number of people from Seletar. One of these was Padre Giles, who found bed space for me near to him.

There was nothing to do here except to make ourselves as comfortable as possible, and pass the time as pleasantly as possible. Although poor, we were getting enough food, and everybody appeared to be fairly fit.

The monotonous days crept by, and Christmas was upon us. We made an effort to cheer things up. The Japs gave us mermission to have a carol concert on Christmas Eve, but after we had given forth for a while we were told we were making too much noise, and we had to quieten down.

On Christmas day, some of the captured army rations must have been produced. I got a small quantity of bully beef. This was the last piece of tinned meat I was to get for a long time.

I was beginning to think that I would stay at Yaarmaart for the duration when, during March, i was called to the Japanese office. "You are Captain Catto?" I was asked. "No," I said, "Flight Lieutenant Catt, Royal Air Force." "You get ready to move. You go to Japan. You must take a servant with you. let me know who it is."

My heart fell into my boots, and I wondered what had been found out concerning me. It could only have been something connnected with signals or cyphers. There was a Corporal Wallace who did little jobs for a few of us and, after a chat with Padre Giles, I spoke to him about it. I said that I was obviously for the high jump, but that whoever came with me should not be involved. He immediately said, "I'll come anywhere with you, sir." I told him not so fast, but to think it over quietly for half an hour since it meant so much. But he came back and said that regardless of what it might mean, he would come with me. So I took him to the Jap officer. "You are English?" he was asked. "No. Scotch," he replied. I could not but smile. "You go to Japan with this officer and look after him." he was told, and Jock replied, "Yes."

At the end of March we left Soerabaya for Singapore in a filthy ship. The holds had an extra sleeping floor fixed about three feet above the deck which enabled double the number of people to be carried. Even then we were terribly crowded and had difficulty in getting enough room in which to lie stretched out. There were 2,000 Dutch officers and men. Sanitary conditions were appalling. I would not like to see animals transported in such conditions. Even the Japs softened, and many were taken off at Batavia, where we stopped en route. Fortunately it was a short run to Singapore, and we managed to walk off hell ship number one.

We were taken out to Changi camp, about which so much has been written, and where so many P.O.W.s lie buried. I was there some little time, and funerals were the order of the day. Officers, although no longer allowed to wer#ar badges of rank, were living in messes.

As I was going on to Japan, I was asked by the senior British officer if I had anywhere I could hide a copy of an extract from the War Diary of the Alexandria Military Hospital. I shewed him my small mirror. It had a wooden frame with a thin board backing, and we tacked it in there. Although I was stripped of all papers at times, this was never found, and I still have it. It is the account of the behaviour of the Japanese when they overran the hospital on Febriary 14th, killing doctors in the wards and bayonetting patients in bed. It is an account of one of the most uncivilised acts of modern times. It is a horror story of two foolscap pages closely typed.

I had been joined with Pilot Officer Hard. This seemed strange until I asked him what he had been on. He was slow to answer, and on my asking if it was cyphers, he nodded. I did not embarrass him by asking him how the dickens he had been rumbled, as I did not know how I had been.

Hard, Wallace and I sailed from Singapore on the third of April 1943 on the Haiwan Maru with 1,000 Dutch officers and men. We were not quite so crowded, but conditions were the same, including an extra floor space. In three days we arrived in the Saigon River, where we stayed at anchor for two days. The Dutch began to go sick. We had no medical supplies or facilities, and when we arrived at Tainan, Formosa, where we stayed for three days, nothing was done to help us. Dysentry was rampant, and soon the Dutch began to die. We could only wrap them in anything the Japs would produce and throw them over the side. Words cannot express how I felt at being entangled in such an appalling business in this so-called civilised world.

I told Walllace and Hard to eat as little as possible and drink little. TRhere was aporthole near us. As soon as it got dark I opened it, although there were strict orders that portholes were to remain closed. We did get a little fresh air from this to alleviate the awful stench which pervaded the atmosphere.

We disembarked at Moji on the 25th after a trip of just over three weeks, and although we three Englishmen walked off, we did so over a deck covered with dead and dying people. It was just too horrible for words. Who and what were these people who had sunk so low as to exhibit so low a state of human behaviour?

Our trip was not the only disaster. I have a statement by an Australian Doctor Bristow on his arrival at Moji to help with the sick off the Singapore Maru in February. Then, he says, 46% died. I never found out how many died on our trip because those who could walk were hurried off. As I left the hold, a bunch of superior-looking Japs who had come on board were looking down on the horrible scene. They showed no sign that any help was going to be given, and I felt that they were getting some sort of sadistic pleasure from it.

Although we had got off the ship, we lay around in various places in utter misery until late that night. Then we started on a long walk. The great part was through a covered way which seemed endless. At last it brought us to station where we boarded a train. The fresh air, after the filthy atmosphere of the ship, revived us, and I was able to get a little sleep on the train.

We travelled all night. Early in the afternoon of the next day we were jherded off the train in some large city, taken outside and placed on exhibition. The crowds soon surrounded us, but by now I was considering myself to be little more than an animal. I was very sorry for poor Wallace who had volnteered to suffer all this for me, but in no way did he show that he was sorry he had taken it on. What was in the mind of the Jap in Soerbata who told me I must take a servant to look after me? It all looked a pretty bad joke now, and was to become more so.

We were herded into another train in which we spent the night, and early on the morning of the 27th of April, after two nights on the train, we arrived at Yokohama. here we three got out, but Hard was taken away by two Japs to a different camp from me. Wallace and I got into a crowded local train, and soon got out at Kawasaki and walked to Number 2 (Mitsui) Camp, which came to be known as the Mitsui madhouse.

I was taken up to a small room where five officers were quartered. There were two young American officers called Carney and Schwartz. Carney was to killed, with many others, in one of the bombing raids later on. There were two Dutch; Looijen, the chief engineer of a Dutch submarine which had been caught, and an army officer named Naber. Surgeon A. P. Curtin was R.N.V.R. and formerly of St. Barts Hospital London.

The sleeping arrangements were a two tier affair, three up and three down, since the room was far too small for six to sleep on the floor. There was an ordinary casement window which was boarded up because it overlooked the road. We were at the end of the upper story of the building, connected by a short passage to the larger rooms for the troops. The building was just inside the gates of the dock area and had possibly been offices or a large store. We were a mixture of American and Dutch troops, the Americans being those captured on the Phillipine Islands. Some of them were pretty tough guys, and not a bad crowd to be mixed up with. The Dutch had been shipped up from the south.

Wallace was fixed up in the Americans' quarters, although all rooms were inter-connected. Right from the start there was no thought of him being my servant. He joined an American outside working party. Hard by was the huge Nippon Steel Works, and regular working parties went there. Other work was in the docks, handling goods off the ships. The officers did not work, but remained in camp. There was only a very small yard in which to exercise, but most afternoons we were taken to a nearby field where, if enough troops were off work, we played American football or netball. As the troops were working, the food was enough to keep fit on, although by our standards it was rough. We did get a certain amount of rice.

The sanitary arrangements were absolutely primitive. There were holes dug in a corner of the yard over which one squatted. Excreta was used in Japan as a fertiliser, and every so often a Jap would come in with a long truck arrangement in which was fitted half a dozen tubs, and cart it away.

When Wallace and I arrived we were in a filthy state, and so were our clothes. I asked the chaps in the room where i could get a bath. I was told there were no proper bathing arrangements, and it wasn't easy. However, there was a shed in the yard near the ablution bench. We went down to it, stripped off, and although it was very cold, we did have a bath.

I was told that there was a supply of clothes. I asked for some, and a pair of trowsers and a tunic were found, along with some rough underclothing. When the American embassy staff left, they had handed over a lot of stuff for the P.O.W.s, and this pair of trowsers might have belonged to the American ambassador. The tunic was an ordinary twoop's drill tunic.

After a few days I found out why I had come to Japan. I was called to the office, where I saw a silk shirted lot of stiffs, some of whom were leaning on their samurai swords. They were seated at a long table, and I took a chair at the end. On the table was a pot of tea and some sort of buns. Had things been normal I would have loved to have got stuck into them. As it was, I ignored them.

The meeting began very friendly and smooth, which was a little frightening. They asked me what I did in Singapore. I said I ran the signals and communications, that I was in charge of the wireless station. Gradually the discussion led on to cyphers and the work I did with them. I told them that cyphers were done at headquarters, that I only transmitted the messages. However, it became clear that they knew something. I began to pray for a little inspiration. At last, when one of them began to lose his patience, insisting that I did have to do some cyphering because I had to make out my own messages, I suddenly had an idea. "Oh yes; this is how I did that," I said. I turned round to the blackboard which was in the room. "I take any word to use as a code word, which both I and the receiver know." I asked the nearest rascal his name, saying, "I will use your name as the code word." His name was Takaushi, and I wrote it on the board. With lots of flannel, I then went slowly through the simple Boy Scouts' transposition code, and got away with it. I can hardly believe they were all so daft, and yet that was the end of it for me, except that I was a marked man for a time. It all sounds very funny now, but at the time, knowing the ruthless gang with whom I had to deal, I came away from the battle of wits mentally exhausted. As when I found the new pair of shoes, there was someone looking after me.

Four of the men running the camp seemed to be competing to be the championm straffer and terroriser. They were allowed to behave as utter savages, without let or hindrance. When they decided to go on the rampage no one was safe. Many bruised and battered faces resulted. In one case, an American had his arm broken trying to defend his head. It was terrible to see then when they lost all control of themselves and just went mad.

One night I was set upon, taken out into the snow, put against a wall opposite the armed guard and told to stay there all night. I gradually got colder and colder until I lost all feeling, but I knew I would get a bullet if I did anything so it was useless to make a fight of it. Early in the morning, almost lifeless, I felt a touch on my shoulder. A guard beckoned me into the guardroom, but they had to help me to move. I was put by the fire, and thanked them. Nothing was said, and I sat there until I had recovered somewhat. Then, motioning me to be quiet, they let me into the building and I crawled into my blanket.

About once a month we were allowed to write one short card. I did not know where Enid M. and the children were, so I sent these to her father in Brighton and my father in Sandwich. Few of these got anywhere until near the end.

My anxieties ended after a very embarrassing and nervewracking interview. With Schwartz and Doc. Curtin I was called to the office to see a gang of staff officers and someone who said he was from the Swiss legation on behalf of the Red Cross. We distrusted anything involving the Japs, so we just sat dumb when he started asking questions about conditions in the camp. He was getting nowhere until, looking directly at me and giving me a slight twinkle in his right eye he said, "Well, everything is all right then, and you have no coplaints." Suddenly it struck me that he might be genuine, and off the hook I went. I told him we were in the hands of a crowd of savages; what they had done; how we got no news of our loved ones. I beseeched him, if he was genuine, to try to find out for me where my wife was. I told him to let the world know how these people were behaving. All this time the japs tried to stop me, but I waved them down. He took the addresses of Enid M.'s father and of mine, saying he would give them mews of me. As for the straffing he had mentioned, i said it was worse than ever, and that only two nights before some of the men were brutally handled. If he cared to stay he could still see the results. Poor Doc. and Schwartz. I did pray that I was not letting them down, but I had to do it. this was on the 10th of July 1944. On the night of the fifteenth, after we had wrapped ourselves in our blankets, the camp interpreter was heard shouting as he came up the stairs; "Catto lucky Catto." He handed me three letters which had obviously been in Japan for months. Enid M. and children were happy in Cape Town, and everythings in the garden was lovely. No one can realise what this meant for me. But the interview was to have its repercussions. Soon after the interview, one of the straffers came shouting up the stairs; "No food for the officers, officers no food." And so it was. The officers were to go hungry. I a[pologised to the others for the mess I had got them into. Both Doc. and Schwartz said I had done the right thing. It was worth going hungry for a bit to have heard me. As soon as the troops heard the story, they went to town to do the best for us. Wallace was working at the docks on rice. He made a narrow bag which fitted under his crutch. He smuggled it into camp full of rice. Comiong in from working parties all troops were searched. I dreaded his being caught with it. But he got through. An American Sergeant worked at Nippon Steel. He was very well in with the Japs there, so he took the rice to work and cooked it there. They were not gone over to the same extent as the chaps from the docks, so he was able to get it back into camp. For the or three days we were off rations, we managed O.K.

It was very unusual for the camp to be visited by any higher authority. Lt. Washima, the commandant, and his gang of ruffians had a free hand. But experience had shown that any higher authority of any sort was just as heartless as the underlings. There was no one to appeal to when things were very bad.

I had been in the Madhouse for about four months when it was inspected by a colonel. He saw us sit down to a meal the like of which had not been seen. During the week before his visit we had been issued with two pieces of soap. He said nothing to anybody, but it was obvious that he was 'flannelled' by Washima and Co.

A few weeks later, we were interviewed by Professor Fujisawa. It appears that at one time he had been the Japanese representative to the League of Nations. He waa certainly an intellectual of sorts. He spoke perfect English. He got on to me about Japan's guide to the world, trying to put over a load of propaganda on her behalf. I began to wonder it at last some Japanese realised that they were not going to win the war after all.

Chaps who cleaned up the office and the Japs' quarters brought us the papers lewft lying around. Using the Japanese we had picked up with the maps of the war zones, we followed the Russian advance and out victories i Africa. There were other indications that the war was moving in our favour. The day following the interview, officers were taken into the town by Kondo, the interpreter, to shop. We were amazed at the state Japan was in. There was nothing in the shops except old odds and ends, which nobody wasted. There were no food shops. There was no food to buy. Employers rationed all employees with any available food. When I asked, "If man no work, what then?" I got the reply; "He get no food." We had heard that Berri berri was bad among the civilians, and they were showing signs of it. I myself had continual bad attacks of diarrhoea, which were very weakening.

Christmas 1942 came upon us. The American boys came to ask me if we could have a Christmas church service. If we could, would I take it. I said I would see the Nips. If they gave permission, I would organise it. I exaplained to the Nips what Christmas was to Christians. After a little haggling they gave permission, but I had to show all I was going to do. So I wrote everything out, including the sermon, and they were satisfied. I wrote the hymns on the wall in chalk, so that all could read them. I knew that the three Japs who sat in on us were not English speaking, so I'm afraid I drifted from my script a little. I still have that old exercise book in which I wrote that service, in which I tried to give a little cheer.


Into 1944, wondering what it would have in store for us. Our food was deteriorating. We were getting little proper rice, and few vegetables. I was having bad bouts of sickness, and berri berri was affecting my legs. But the news we were able to scramble from the papers was cheering. The Japs were beginning to report losses in the Pacific.

As officers are supposed to be paid as P.O.W.s, we occasionally received driba and drabs of useless yen. They were absolutely useless. One could buy nothing, not even cigarettes or tobacco, let alone food of any sort. I still have hundreds of these, although I have given away further hundreds as souvenirs. At the collapse, they suddenly realised that we had not been getting anything near what we were entitled to. Just before our release, we got bundles of hundred yen notes. They looked as though they had been printed for us. As we learnt they were useless, they make a good relic of the miserable affair.

That No. 2 Prison Camp had become known as the Kawasaki Madhouse will be understood by what I now have to relate. There is no memorising about this. I have here the small notebook in which I wrote it all up at the time, and I put it here in full.

August 1st, 1944.

To say that I am in a state of utter bewilderment is to speak lightly of today's happenings/ We have had another anniversary, and for anniversaries, these beat our small chapel people hollow.

Today's has been in celebration of one year at No. 2 Prison Camp.

To begin with, it has been a holiday for everyone. WE had an extra hour in bed, getting up at 6.30 instead of 5.30.

At 8 we paraded in our cleanest clothes, went out to the patch, and lined up before tables upon which were the presents.

When we were all ready, with the prison staff, the civilians who took over the working parties at the factories, and a few Tom, Dick and Harrys hanging around. Teh camp commandant arrives, and was saluted in the approved manner; Kioski, Kashiri nakai, naori, etc. He then gave the following speech in Japanese, which was afterwards read in English and Dutch;

"Last August, we started this camp. Since then, one year has passed. Four your good obeyance of orders, your good conduct towards the imperial Jamanese Army, and all Japanese that you have had occasion to some into contact with, also for your help to the Japanese Empire, I, at this time, wish to extend my appreciation.

"In future, any time or anywhere, your treatment will be the same. Humane treatment to be accorded to all. Contempt and severs punishments are not allowed by rules and regulations of the Imperial Japanese Army. This is your camp. We are very proud of your camp, and we want you to be proud of it also. In the future, if there is anything that I can do to help you make this camp more enjoyable to you or your comrades, let me know. You must trust the Impewrial Japanese Army for your treatment. You must do your assigned jobs at the factories. That is my wish. During the past year you have worked in all kinds of weather, sometimes very hot, sometimes damn cold. Your spirits have remained high, your conduct good. Some men have shown themselves exceptional by working hard, obeying orders and doing good work at the factories. let these be an example to all. In appreciation to these men I offer my thanks, and a present to each. I hope that I can do the same for you all next time.

"This day of leisure and these presents have been given to you by the factories where you work. Tomorrow you will go back to your jobs in appreciation to them. Do your best."

After this speech, the commandant gave out citations and presents to the worthy individuals. The citations were printed in Japanese and English. The presents consisted of cigarette cases, fountain pens, cigarettes, packets of tea, bottles of fruit juice and sauce.

They wer for the best workers, most attendance at work, etc.

Wallace had the 'honour' of being No. 2 worker. He got, besides his citation, a packet of tea, a bottle of fruit juice, and ten packets of cigarettes. Thw citation read as follows;



To: Cpl. Wallace. British Army.

For your outstanding work at the Mitsui Bussan Coy. On this your first anniversary I want to thank you and show my appreciation by giving you this present.

August 1st 1944

Signed, Lt. L. Washimy

Camp Commandant.

I wonder if we are giving any Nazis or Italians citations and presents for helpin gour war effort? I wrote at the time. After food, a conceert was arranged. The saxaphone, guitars and a mandoline p[came out and disturbed the atmosphere somewhat. The usual turns performed, and everyone made merry. All the Japs came up, and a few females too. We had extra food of sorts, and Chinese lanterns were hunga about the rooms. On eor two things of interest were noticed. The champion workers put in 354 working days at the factory. I wonder if there is a German prisoner who has had onle 12 days off from work during the past year. None of the camp 'straffers' were in attendance at the parade.

Included in this mad performance was the taking of photographs by a professional photographer. The six officers were taken on our own. As I look at it now, I wonder where Doc., Curtin, Schwartz and the others are, except Carney, who was killed there.

My days at the madhouse were numbered. On the 24th, Schwartz and I were called to the Jap office and told we were leaving the camp next day. We had a goodbye get-together that evening. I felt sorry to be leaving the chaps I had got to know so well, and for whom I had been of some use. I was sorry to loeave Wallace. he went to the H.Q. camp in another part of Tokyo. I was glad to see the last of Shawozawa and Saito, who would no longer be able to expend their hate on me.

Fifty officers left the H.Q. Camp at 2.30 in the morning of the next day, for an unknown destination. We had to walk some miles. In my state of unfitness, I found this very painful. We eventually arrived at a staation. We entrained at 6 O'clock, and travelled south all day. We spent the night on the train. The blinds were kept drawn so that we could see nothing. When we arrived at a port, we had no idea where we were. We wer #e herded straight onto a ferry. After an hour's run we had crossed the Inland Sea. We entrained again, and in about an hour arrived at our new camp Zenzuchi. My little kit bag was combed through, and all visible papers thrown away. My bible was thrown over a fence. I saw whewre it landed, and kept my eye on it for the rest of the day as much as I was able. I was determined to risk my neck to get it back, and I did. After dark, with the assistance of one or two others who watched out for guards, I got through the fence and rescued my precious bible. That battered and worn book is still with me, to remind me of so much. Zenzuchi Camp was all officers. Except for the food, which was very short and bad, it was very comfortable.

Schwartz went to an American room. I joined fifteen R.A.F. officers in a large room. There was a Wing Commander, two Squadron Leaders, ten Flight Lieutenants, and two Pilot Officers.

Although there were large supplies of Red Cross food in the camp, none was issued. On the miserable ratons given out, everybody was losing weight badle, and all were hungry. There wee also supplies of medical stores which were badly wanted, but none of these were ever issued. It was the same story at all camps, where Red Cross parcels were stacked away. During the whole time I was at Kawasaki, not one parcel of Red Cross food was issued, and chaps were starving.

I began to lose weight. Flesh disappeared from my bones, but I was nothing near as bad as some of the bigger chaps. Flight Lieut. Moulden, who was sleeping next to me, began to show signs of distress, but the Japs would do nothing. He died during the night of November 21st., purely of starvation. There was nothing else wrong with him. When I helped another chap to pick him up, there was nothing more than skin and bones; a pitiful sight, as he had been well over six feet tall. We took him to the local crematorium. The following day, I, the Wing Commander and two others, and the Padre, were allowed to go and collect a small pot of ashed. WE took it to a nearby hillside to bury near those of others who had died.

Poor Moulden had shaken the Nips up a bit. When I returned to my room, on my bed I found a complete untouched box of Red Cross food. A complete box had been issued per prisoner. If this had been issued two days before, Moulden would not have died. i am sure of that.

What a change had come over the camp on the instant! We were like a crowd of infants. All this gorgeous food after the long period of semi-starvation. WE knew there were stacks of these boxes in the camp. Even if the Japs stole the amount they did, we should get another before Christmas.

What a difference this food made from the horde of men crawling about waiting for death from starvation, as poor Moulden had, without any hope, to smiling faces with a definite hope of survival.

Four days after this, we heard that the rascally camp commandant, Col. Sugiyama, was leaving the camp. To what extent was he responsoble for the treatment, and the general unsatisfactory state of affairs? The puzzle was, were there any other types in this so-called Imperial Japanese Army? This chap was no different from Washima at Kawasaki.

Teh good food sopon made a difference. Like everybody else, I bewgan to feel another man. The berri berri and diarrhoea eased off, and hope returned. Two days after the parcel was American Thanksgiving Day, and we were allowed a service in the evening. This truly was a service of thanksgiving. We really had something for which to be thankful.

January and February were bitterly cole, with ice and snow. Although we wore all available clothing, it was impossible to keep warm. My hands and feet and ears became a mass of chilblains, which made washing conditions outside very painful. We had no heat of any sort. If we had not received the Red Cross food every so often, I dread to think how we could have survived. But during this February of 1945, we noticed the air raid alarms going most days and nights. Also, from bits of Japanese papers, we could see that things were going ery well for us in Europe. The Japs tried to keep us completely in the dark over news. But we got wnough to make us ask ourselves; "Is the end of all this really in sight?"

The issue of Red Cross parcels stopped. By the end of April we were again frightfully hungry, dreading the return of last year's starvation times. We were all weakening badle. Regardless of the strong representations made to the Japanese authorities by the senior officers, there was no relief. We started a disastrous period of feeding on dried turnip top soups, with a small issue of grain. This alternated with a small issue of vegetable soup but less grain. During one week, we went on to two small rice-cum-barley-cum-millet flour buns, which made the equivalent of a one penny currant bun.

The following is the sort of representation that we made;

To: Camp Superintendent.

Subject: Immediate issue of Red Cross food package.

In view of the conditions enumerated below, the immmediate issue of a Red Cross food parcel is requested.

1. There had been no improvement of the prison rations in either quality or quantity. It is entirely unadequate for the maintenance of a proper state of health and nutrition.

2. Officer P.O.W.s are now showing the same signs of malnutrition as existed last year, prior to receipt of Red Cross food supplies; i.e., the presence of constant hunger, blackouts, fainting attacks, exhaustion on ascending stairs, berri berri. Pains of the extremities and hypo-proteinemia as manifested by many cases of morning and evening edema of face and extremities.

3. These food parcels were packed in 1943 and are already showing some deterioration. More loss by deterioration can be expected with the advent of the hot weather.

(Signed) W. T. Lineberry Capt. (M.C.) U.S.N.

The answer received to this was;

No Red Cross food parcels would be issued immediately but when conditions grew worse he would issue. No date of issue could be obtained. W. T. Lineberry

At this I remember saying; "But still, God is good, and something will turn up to pull us through."

An incident at this time beggasr description. The Japanese cooks were seen throwing cooked rice onto a dump. Somehow, rat poison had got mixed in with it, and it was too dangerous for them to eat. This got around. After dark there was a scramble to get it and clean it up as much as possible. The whole lot was eaten. Nobody suffered any ill effects. The episonde reminded me of the thirst-mad troops drinking the cholera stricken water in India so long ago.

It was on April 29th, the Emperor's birthday, that I was room orderly for the day. One of the jobs was to collect a can of hot water from the cookhouse in the afternoon. I was carrying it up the stairs to our room when I had a complete blackout. I fell and gashed my nose at the bridge on the steel strip edging the stair in front of me. I was picked up and taken into a nearby American room, where an American doctor stitched me up with a needle and thread. He made such a good job of it that it healed without trace. Now, at the end of April, we were getting news of the overrunning of Germany. We began to wonder it our release this year was too much to hope for.

The ice and snow had log since gone, and the weather was lovely now that May was here. If it had not been for our miserable conditions, everything in this beautiful world would have been lovely.

On the afternoon of May 3rd, a load of frogs arrived and were put in the yard. Although we had heard that the French eat frogs, none of us had tried them. Now was our chance so to do. They were sooin torn to pieces in the cookhouse. They were marvellous. The trouble was, there was only a fleabite for each of us.

Things were now brightening up. Two days after the frogs, on the 0530 hours muster parade, we saw an American recco. plane going south. At 1100 hours we saw a magnificent formation of big American bombers right overhead, going north. How the Japs panicked to get us in under cover, so that we would not see too much. But they were too late. What pleased us was that it was in broad daylight. The Yanks seemed to have the air over Japan to themselves. How marvellous, after Singapore, when it was the other way round.

By June, things began to get chaotic. We were put into national parties for moving to other camps, but the Japs seemed unable to move us. The Americans had been the forst to go. Two or three times, they had been packed ready, only to be cancelleed at the last moment. The prison staff left, with all office furniture and our medical supplies and food supplies. But to us, it all looked very good. The reaids were very frequent now, although no bombs were being wasted in the remote country of the Island of Shikoku.

On the fifteenth, we, the English party, were told to pack and be ready to leave. But after our kits were stacked ready, it was cancelled, sand we found ourselves in the same state as the Americans were in.

These were terribly hungry days. We were getting practically nothing to eat which was at all substantial; just a little cereal with cabbage water twice a day. We were stimulated by the wailing of the raid sirens. The Dutch and American parties did leave. This meant p[arting with Schwartz. I had been with him all the time in Japan. The departure of our American friends was depressing as it was difficult to imagine what was going to happen next.

It was on the 25th that I left Zentsuji with 100 British officers, with six buns for rations en route. We were all crowded into one coach, and were unable to get a drink of water on the journey. Late in the morning, we stopped at a desolate spot where there were only rows of platforms. By the side of one was a smashed up train with a knocked out engine. On wiping our eyes, we found ourselves looking upon a horrible sight. The platforms were bare of any cover, and there was no sign of the station. We looked out across stacks of ashes. It had been the town of Toyahashi. There was not one building left, or even a part of a buiulding. We were numbed at the sight. "By God," said someone, "!They're getting the stick all right." Where had all the people gone? There was no one in sight. It was a junction. An electric train appeared, and after a three and a half hour trip through magnificent hill scenery, we arrived at our new camp, Mitsuishima.

There were some American troops there on working parties. An effort was made to give us better food so that we could work, but on endless seaweed and turnip soup I was having serious diarrhoea again, which was very weakening. Most of the others were in the same boat. Air raid alarms wailed away in the distance. We saw the B29s going over. There must be many more places suffering as Toyahashi had done. It was just a matter of how much longer they could hold out.

We were housed in flithy sheds with earth floors and double tier shelves on which to sleep. We got up at 4.30 for breakfast. I tried to do a little gardening with a few of the others in the hope of growing something, but the Japs tried to get us up the hill to tap the pine trees for turpentine. We were supposed to collect it in pots, which we placed under the cut, into which the turps dripped. But I's afraid they got very little turps from us lot. By the time we hads climbed up to the trees, we had no energy left to do anything. There are no Sundays or rest days in Japan other than festival occasions. We had a rest day every fifteen days, when we were supposed to do nothing, but even on these days we got up at 4.30.

On the evening roll call on the fifteenth of July we had reason to believe that things wsere really happening. We were told that all working parties were finished. All must remain in camp and await further orders.

The next day, rumours ran riot. The Nips were very quiet, and kept out of the way. As we got up so early, we were always in our blankets by 8pm. But this night, at 8.45pm, there was a scuffle in the shed. Two Americsan boys thrust a paper up to Henderson, who was three places from me. They had broken through the wire, gone to the house of the foreman of the place they worked at, and demanded a paper, which he had given to them. Henderson took the paper, and quietly said; "It's all over." He read; "The Japanese Emperor graciously consents to the termination of the South East Asia War." The Prime Minister had made a broadcast to this effect the previous day.

Two incidents this day had led us to believe that we could expect some news like this. We all feared Sergeant Watanabi, who was over us, as he was dangerous. He bragged that he was Japanese P.O.W. Number One Straffer. He had not been his usual self. We all knew this arch-sadist as the beast, and to see him in action was frightening. Rank meant nothing to him, except that, the higher the rank, tjhe greater the pleasure he got out ob bashing up the victim. Both Colonel Lindsey and Captain (R.N.) Gordon, two English gentlemen of character, were beaten up by him, as were many others in the camp. Once, he told us that he had the authority to kill any of us, and would be pleased to do so. But on this day, he had found the man detailed to look after the verminous blankets spread out on the river bank in the sun, asleep. Instead of lashing into him with his favourite weapon, a sheathed Japanese sword, as he normally would have done, he just woke him up and strolled away after saying something to him. On rest day we were allowed a bath. It was a huge tank affair. We all got in after cleaning off by splashing water over ourselves to take off the rough stuff. The Beast appeared at the door. We all sprang to attention. He waved us at ease, and from a bottle he sprinkled some bath salts or something into the water, saying it would so us good. Japan was obviously out of the war, but now, this night, we knew it to be so.

We did not worry about hearing any details from Henderson. There was no cheering or shouting. All was quiet. Everybody was left semi-stupefied by all that it meant. i settled down quietly, as did all the others. The thought of what it meant to me. The return to

Enid M. and the children was uppermost in my mind. The ending of this terrible hunger, and the filthy conditions under which we had existed for so long now. I don't think anybody slept that night. As for me, the stupendous news took time to really soak in.

The morning parade was held as usual. The Nips said nothing, but the relief from the continuous mental strain under which I had suffered for the past three and a half years was beyond understanding. I felt scared that it might lewave some permanent effects. At the usual evening parade, Watanabi told us that all work at the camp was finished. We would shortly be moved to another camp, possibly for agricultural work. He did not know where the camp would be. The whole performance mystified us greatly. We were all the more mystified whan the raid warning sounded that evening, and the All Clear about two and a half hours later. Were the Americans still carrying out raids? We told the Nips we knew the war was over, but they disagreed, waying we go to another camp soon.

A few anxious days followed, with no news, expecting something to happen at any moment. The camp commandant was supposed to be trying to get back from Tokyo. Teh stupid Nips at the camp said we would soon have news of our new camp. Our food incresased in quantity, but it was the same sewaeed, corn and beans. Watanabi said communications were bad. From what we saw at Toyahashi, this was obviously true. He could be held up for some time. We stopped cow-towing to the Nips, and they let us alone. This was a relief after the way we had had to conform.

We knew the war had ended on the fifteenth, yet on the twenty-second, strange and disconcerting things occurred. A large armed guard of an officer and thirty men arrived with fixed bayonets. They were stationed round the camp, facing inwards. We wondered what it could all mean, but they left us alone, and all was peaceful. A Nip told us that Sergeant Watanabi had bolted with a little rice in his bag, after one of the American troops had told another Jap that Watanabi would be shot for his cruelties. The old civilian sataff people gradually disappeared, but the interpreter stayed. On this day, the Camp Commandant returned. Commander Richardson, the other senior Naval Officer with us, saw him and asked him, among other things, when we were going to be officially told that the war was over. he replied that that depene3de on the emperor. Richardson asked if we could have any information regarding out move. He was told that he could not, but that we would soon be moving to another camp. This story had become sickening, and we wondered what the game was. We had seen that each Jap C.O. was a law unto himself. It began to look as if this chap was not going to surrender. The miserable ration had returned to normal. But as we were not having to climb up the hill to try to work, we did not feel it so badly.

Commander Richardwon went to have another go at the Commandant. He came back with the news that the Armistice had been concluded. A telegram had gone to Tokyo asking for some medicine and food, which was badly needed. If possible, we would have some vegetables today. (We had had none in this camp.) An aeroplane would fly over the next evening at 6 to find us. We were to make ground signals. This was marvellous, and he left most of us on the point of tears with thankfulness. A small pig weighing thirty kilograms was cooking in the galley for tonight's supper. Things were moving at last.

But on the next day, the twenty-sixth, nothing happened. Nothing, except that the Japs told us that some food was being sent from Tokyo, and should arrive today. What was beyond us, and seemed very strange, was the fact that no Red Cross official or representative of American forces, if they were in Japan, had contacted us. Captain Gordon was not allowed to try to contact anyone on our behalf. With the big guard around us, we were more prisoners than ever.

That evening, the Nips unloaded onto us a big store of Red Cross clothing. They had been hanging onto it all this time. Blankets, woollen pyjamas, boots, and clothing of all sorts. During the time this stuff had been lying around, we had been going about in rags, with some of us almost bootless. The blankets would have been a real help during the cold weather.

It was twelve days since the end of the war. We were getting impatient. So we asked for a letter to be sent to the International Red Cross representative in Tokyo. The Nips gave permission for this. One was written, explaining our difficulties, and handed in. Later, we learned that it was never sent. But from this day, we supervised our own parades, with no Nips about. But so far, no aircraft had appeared over us.

A smuggled newspaper relieved us to a certain extent. We learned that Japan was being garrisoned by American troops, which were arriving in numbers. American aircraft were already dropping food on P.O.W. camps. This gave us hope that we would be included soon. The paper stated that P.O.W.s would go to Manilla, where preparations were being made to receive them.

The Nips started to make an effort to find some food for us. I got a small apple, a small tin of salmon, a small tin of oranges and a little sugar. These were luxuries indeed.

On the thirtieth, fifteen days after the war had ended, Captain peel went sick with some obscure fever which our two doctors were unable to diagnose. He was quite ill. We demanded that he be taken to the occupying forces at once. After some arguing, during which we stresset that, should this officer die, the Commandant would be held responsible, we took Peel to the station, where he and one of the doctors went to Tokyo. He was suffering from typhus. To save us from panic, our doctors had not told us. he was soon in good hands, and recovered.

On reaching Tokyo, the doctor found that the Nips had not reported our camp, and no communications had been received from us. Our rascally Camp Commandant had been lying to us all the time. At the American Headquarters, Doc. pinpointed our camp on a map. Orders were given immediately to sent aircraft with food.

Not I quote what I actually wrote on the First of September, 1945;

A day, I think, of the greatest thrill in my life. Six aircraft suddenly appeared over the camp, did not see us, and disappeared. I screamed to get everything white and get up onto the roof tops, as I was sure they would come back. They did. Loads of food were dropped; annd what food; huge tinned hams, tins of chicken and roast beef, chocolate, tinned fruit, soups, cigarettes, shaving cream, soap, razors, etc. There was everything we had been short of. We all just went frantic, and tears of joy were nothing. Even chewing gum was among the goodies. It was all the greater surprise, because we thought that, in our very awkward position here in the hills, it would be impossible to drop foot to us. The pilots had a difficult task, but after much manoeuvering, they managed. Two of them made wonderful hits, dropping their loads smack into the tiny camp. One bundle broke from its parachute and buried itself in a nearby garden.

In an article in the Sunday Pictorial on the 7th October 1945, David Grant, for many years editor of the Sunday Pictorial, wrote a dramatic account of this day, which he headed "Wanted to Cry." The article ends with; "I felt a lump the size of a cricket ball crawling up my throat. I turned to hide myself. I said to the next man to me; 'Will you let me pass please. I think I'm going to cry.' 'That's O.K., old boy;" he said in a broken voice, "Half the bloody camp is crying already.'" And this was true. We were.

Now that people knew about us, things moved rapidly that day. A representative from the Red Cross arrived, also a Swiss with wonderful and exciting news. The boats were waiting for us. We would be away from here in a day or two. We were told that Peel, who left yesterday, went directly to an American hospital ship.

The next day, four more aircraft came over and dropped more loads of goodies. It was marvellous.


I was far from well. The excitement was beginning to tell on me, as it was on many of us. But we were on top of everythjing now, getting really well. Regaining the lost weight was just a matter of time.

At last the great day came. On September the fourth, we walked out of Mitsuishima P.O.W. camp to freedom and home. This was a great emotional experience. Had our release from the filthy flea infested camp come just in time? Of we had stayed there much longer, would a typhus epidemic have broken out, with disastrous results? Had it not been for Peel being taken to Tokyo, and news of us given there, how much longer would we have had to stick it?

We were taken by rail to a spot where the line ran along near the coast. Here we got onto landing craft, which ferried us out to a large American hospital ship, which was anchored some way off. Meeting with the first Americans was wonderful. The organisation for our reception was too wqonderful for words, getting us clean and into new clothes. We stripped off our rags and dumped everything, except that I was allowed to keep my few bits of paper, from one of which I now type. There were rows and rows of showers. We cleaned off the filth of Japan. Then along to rows and rows of clothes, where we were rigged out. Everybody was so helpful and kind. It was difficult to keep from bursting into tears.

Then we were ferried over to a spanking warship. To us it looked so spick and span for a ship which must have seen much active work for the past months. I remember feeling quite ill, and very, very tired, but how happy, words cannot express. I lay down and had not a care in the world now. So I was at peace.

Next morning, we ran into Tokyo Bay. I felt better, and gazed with a thrill at the magnificent sight. An enormous fleet of warships glistened in the sunlight. I wondered what the Japs, who had been so cock-a-hoop with us, thought of this lot. I looked around for some familiar sights that I knew from the Madhouse. The big power station nearby was a shambles, as was everything else, including Nippon Steel Works. These people had taken a terrible beating. A smashed up aircraft carrier lurched by a quay not far off. Yokohama was as desolated as Toyahashi had been. We had been given, for us, a wonderful breakfast; lovely bread and butter, milk and shreddecd wheat, scrambled eggs and fried sausages, etc., with lovely coffee. Remember, we had not seen bread and these things for years. We had no meat on our bottoms through lack of them, and here they were in abundance. i began to get better from then onwards. The berri-berri was still there, and would be so for some time, but with this treatment, it would go. After the excitement, and being on the go so much, my legs were very painful during the night. But I could expect relief soon now.

We were transferred to the hold of an enormous tank ship which had been filled with rows of beds. I had not slept in a bed since Java, and here I got into one between lovely clean sheets. I know exactly wehat heaven is going to be like! I was having trouble from the diarrhoea right up to now. I had good noew from the doctor, wqho said it would cause me little trouble from now on, and he was right.

It was the Americans who did everythings for us. Although there were British warships in plenty, we saw no British officers of representatives.

I met five of my old friends from the Madhouse. They told me the sad news of it being blown off the map in a big raid. All in the camp had been killed, so many of whom I knew. Fortunately, all working parties were out, or many more wuld have been killed. Wallace was out, so he survived. How fortunate it was that I had been moved. As I have said, there was someone looking after me.

The Americans were certainly going to fly us all out. They had started to do so. It was just a matter of waiting ones turn. I was keen to get going, and glad when I got into a batch of thirty for the trip.

Away from the Cesspit.

I had not long to wait. In a couple of days, I left with my batch by train for the aerodrome at Sugi. After having time to scribble an air mail letter to Enid M., we embarked onto a huge transport plane. I was told it was a C54, and we were soon taxying out for the takeoff.

The sight at Sugi was unforgettable. There were hundreds of these huge transport aircraft. Again, the might of America was brought home to me.

I was not going to let all this go unrecorded. I still have the small notebook in which I scribbled continuously as we took off, and during the flight. In it, I read;

"16.45, taxiing out to strip for take-off, 30 on board but heaps of room. Engines revving, and about to leave Jap soil. Even have a beautiful American girl hostess on the plane. Away we go! Hurray, we're off, 16.55 hours. 17.00 hirs, already well over the sea, with hell fast disappearing astern. Darling, this is the hour we've prayed so much for."

With Enid M. in my thoughts the whole time, I continually wrote to her.

"We are a mixed bunch, there being three colonels and other officers of all ranks, four of whom, I noted, were just beginning a game of cards. The dear little girl, who i have just learned is not an air hostess but a nurse, has handed books round. I have taken a copy of 'The Army Nurse.' Looking round at the others, I can read the expressions of thankfulness. I know that they feel just as I feel. The nurse doesn't rest a minute, but continues to make her rounds to us, asking our every need, bringing food, drinks, sweets, etc. The plane is flying as steady as a rock. She tells us it takes about five and a half hours to get to Okinawa, and it will be well after dark when we arrive.

"1827 hrs. The sun is settingin gorgeous splendour on our right front; a beautiful sight. The small puffs of cumulus above which we have been flying have cleared, and there is only very high stratus above us. An appropriate thought strikes me at the moment; Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar.' 'Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me,' etc. That is, I write, if one can aptly apply them to such an occasion as this.

"The sun has just gone, and darkness comes on apace. It is really wonderful up here, high over the Pacific, winging my way home to you as, regardless of the roar of the four powerful engines, I have a feeling of absolute peace. 19.30 hrs. Have just had a gorgeous supper up here; Ham and eggs, spaghetti and meat balls, pork, loads of chilled coffee and cream, and buttered biscuits and jam.

"22.15hrs. Touched down at Okinawa after a good flight."

Okinawa had been turned into an enormous American base. The huge fleets of cargo ships and transports stretched for miles in all directions. Again, the might of America beggarred description. How came it that this stupid gang of little yellow thugs thought they were going to conquer the world. In the early days, they bragged to us that this is what they would do. What do they think now, about the whole world bowing to Topkyo and to the Emperor every morning? We had learned the American way of doing things, and again, everything was laid on at Okinawa. We were made comfortable. Here, I caught up with Wallace. He was fit and on top of the world.

Every means was adopted to get us away and home as soon as possible. After three days, I left okinawa in the bomb bay of a B24, for a very uncomfortable six hour flight to Manila. here I net up woith many of the old madhouse crowd, including Doc. Curtin. I was very glad to see him. British boats were coming in. I said goodbye to Wallace, saying i would see him soon in England. I soon followed, joining a party boarding the Empress of Australia. We sailed on Septembder 20th. there was troopdeck accomodation for everybody, but now this was luxurious compared with anything we had had under the Nips.

It was September, the weather was ideal, and I was very glad to have time in which to get home, to put on some flesh, and return to normality as much as possible. The medical people knew what we wanted against the state of malnutrition we were in. Among other things, three bottles of Guinness Stout per day were included.

We stopped for three days in Singapore. I thought of the conditions under which I had left it on the Japanese hell ship. How different things would be now. We did not leave the ship. It was hopeless to think that anything of our home would be left. In any case, it would have meant quite a long journey from the dock where we were.

I managed to find a good spot on a deck on which to curl up for the nights under the tropical sky, and just lie and think, how lovely everything was now as we steamed across the Indian Ocean.

I did go ashore at Colombo, where it was brought home to me what the war had meant to places like this. The big stores and shops had rows of empty shelves, and there was very little to buy. Even tea was in short supply. Only by getting one pound at three different shops was I able to get a supply to bring home.

They were ready for us at the big base near Suez. Now that we were running into October, we needed warmer clothing for home. We were handled by German P.O.W.s. They were a bright set of chaps, and went out of their way to see that we were all prim and proper. I could not help coparing their lot with how we had been treated in Japan. They had comfortable, roomy quarters, they said they had good food, regular mails and nothing to worry about. What a difference to what our lot had been. I not only got kitted out, but got a satrong camel hide, double handled bag to carry it in. That bag has remained strong and useful to this day, and has travelled quite a few thousand miles with me. So, another trip through the Suez Canal, of which I knew every landmark by now. As we left Suez at 07.00 and arrived at Port Said at 19.00, we did the whole canal in daylight, which is not usual.

Our weight was being checked continuously. I noticed that I was still g on weight at about two pounds per week. I now had a bottom again, and my legs were not so skonny. I would arrive home looking fairly normal.

Home, Sweet Home.

Although it was the end of October, Liverpool looked marvellous. It would have looked marvellous if it had been raining, snowing, or blowing a gale, as this was home at last. Due to the rough passage under the Japs, the seven years I had been away had been long ones. I had missed the entire war from an English standpoint. I wondered what changes I would find.

We were met by the Mayor of Liverpool and a reception party. Again, I found it difficult to speak to anybody. That big lump rose in my throat, and I wanted to be away, away and onward to Enid M.

We were soon entrained for Cosford, which had become the reception depot for Far East P.O.W.s. Here, we had a thorough going over. The doctors considered I was not yet fit enough to go straight home, but should stay to undergo treatment. I laughed at this, saying I would go home even if I crawled there. I could get all the treatment I needed there. Enid M. and the children were at her parent's house at Withdean, Brighton, where there was ample room for all of us.

Like many others, I was having eye trouble, but they soon fixed me up with satisfactory glasses. Although it was late afternoon, I made my way to the station, saying I would report to the R.A.F. Medical in Brighton as soon as I could. Otherwise, I would await further instructions. I reached London, and got a car across to Victoria Station just in time to miss the last train. I had an airman with me who also lived in Brighton. I said we might as well keep together. So we went out into London to look for beds. Now I came up against war stricken London. There were no beds to be had in London for passing travellers. I was feeling unwell, and asked the police for help. But they could do nothing. Apparently there were hordes of people bed hunting. We were told to go back to the station. When we got there, it was locked for the night. We banged about, and when a policeman came we told him our predicament. he unlocked the door and let us in. We found the waiting room full of people lying about all over the place. This was some first night in England, to be sure. We managed to squeeze down under the table, but it was an uncomfortable night. I was glad when dawn came, and we caught the first train to Brighton. It was still early when we arrived in Brighton. There were no taxis, and it was some time before some kind soul found me a car and ran me out to Withdean. Only those who have been through such a thrill know the rapture of the next hours. I was home.

The next days and weeks went like a dream. Rationing was in, but I had extra coupons for any extras I wanted. For some time, I found it difficult to meet old friends. I had made up my mind not to dwell on the horrors of the past, but if possible, to forget it all. So I spoke to no one about it. In our quiet moments together, I spoke to Enid M. abvout it sometimes, but even to her I said very little.

After a long leave, suring which I returned to something like normality, I went to the R.A.F. Station Wittering for a rehabilitation course. There was a lot of horse sense in this. The R.A.F. had changed so much during the time we had been away from it that it would have been very unnerving to have been thrown straight back into it.

Besides the medical treatment that I still needed, we were taken on interesting outings. One was to Marham in Norfolk, where we saw jet aircraft for the first time. What an amazing thrill it was. I had thought the Hurricane and Spitfire exciting, but as I stood on the roof of the control tower at Marham that day and a meteor came at us full out, passing just over our heads, I wondered if I was in a nightmare. Away went my thoughts to the Bristol and H.D.9s I had flown in so much in the early twenties. Ninety miles an hour to five hundred and ninety miles an hour is such a short time. Where do we go from here?

It wasn't only the aircraft that had changed. progress had been so rapid during the war that we were left behind in all departments. I began to wonder if i would ever catch up. I had a good look see at the radar equipment, all of which was completely new to me. I really wondered whether my P.O.W. - battered brain would be able to take it all in. I had decided to soldier on for a bit longer if I possibly could. I was not due for retirement until I was 55, and I thought I ought to be of some use. I was now forty-eight, and did not like the tyhought of being thrown on the scrap heap.

After Wittering I had more leave. When the next posting came, it was to Cranwell for a refresher course. The quick brain which had stood me in good stead so much before was now definitely dulled. I could no longer get a grip on things as I was once able to. I found the course a struggle, as it was all new to me. But I got a rough idea of things. When a group of the new Training Command asked for an officer for a staff job, the chief instructor asked me if I would like to have it. I had always had a poor opinion of the general run of staff people, but as it was something to get on with, I took it. I was keen to get settled down somewhere for a time so that I could see more of Enid M. and the children, and this seemed a chance to do so.

This led me to Middle Wallop, in Hampshire. Soon, I found myself entangled in what was, to me, the most disgusting waste of time, money and energy that any Service could inaugurate. The A.O.C. was an Air Commodore. Under him were Group Captains, Wing Commanders, hordes of Squadron leaders and Flight lieutenanta. I joined a Wing Commander, two other Squadron Leaders and two Flight Lieutenants who were supposed to organise training of Air Training Corps cadets. Except for the Oxford University Air Squadron, we had no flying units as such, but we did have a couple of old Ansons and pilots in which we joy rode the kids of the A.T.C. units.

our area covered the whole of the south-west, including Gloucester and Oxfordshire. It was thought that each unit should be visited at least once a year. This was an impossible task, in view of the number of units. There was a facade of a lot of important work being done. Bundles of files were passed from office to office; minutes and notes on a lot of useless trivial rubbish which served no useful purpose for the R.A.F., England or anybosy else. The waste was enormous. This was the R.A.F. I had come back to.

I could have sat back and done nothing, as others were apt to do. But that was not my cup of tea. I spent two or three nights a week visiting A.T.C. units, hoping that I could be of use somewhere. But it was useless talking to them about training in anything. Training required instructors in engineering, wireless, radar and what have you. They just did not have them. I started a scheme to enthuse a little interest in radio by getting every unit issued with a complete radio transmitter and receiver set. I should have known better. This added to the waste. In most cases, the equipment was stuck in a corner and forgotten about. At this time, the only good the A.T.C. did was to keep the youngsters off the streets and give them the opportunity to wear uniform, which youngsters delight in. Without all this supposed supervision by a gang of distant officers, I learnt more in the boy scouts than most of these kids did in the A.T.C.

I would start off late in the afternoon, and go as far as Sunningdale, Tiverton in Devon, or Lydney in Gloucester, look see a unit, and get back in the early hours of the morning, having the satisfaction of knowing that I had served no useful purpose to God or man. I did all the big schools; Marlborough, Cheltenham, Downside, etc., wqhere I could sometimes help in some little way. At Downside, I was very lucky to have a tête à tête with the Abbot in his study. He had the reputation of having one of the best brains in the country. He was very charming, too.

I was surprised to find that all the people I was with had come up through the war. This brought home to me the enormous wastage the war had caused. There were few with permanent commissions. I was looked upon with some envy, as; "You've got a nice fat pension lined up, and nothing to worry about. You can afford to be honest," was the jibe. Perhaps this was true, and did have something to do with my not being just a 2yes man" to the rascals aloft. Yet I don't think it was in my nature to be anything but straight. I have never lost out by always being so.

It all came out when I ran into something very 'sticky' in Bournmouth one evening. Although I had an idea that I might lose out, I went ahead and wrote it all up in my report. It was certainly very 'sticky', so 'sticky', in fact, that it had soaked right back to my H.Q.

I had made myself rather unp[leasant by trying to stop some of the waste that was going on. The country was going through a bad period. Everyone was being asked to economise in the use of everything. here we had a big service establishment which didn't care a hang about economising. I was a bit too dangerous to have around. I was got rid of, which did not upset me much.

I had got friendly with the Middle Wallop Station Commander. He was a Group Captain. Knowing he was losing his Signals Officer, I told him I would like the job. He was very glad to have me, and soon fixed it. So I was able to stay there. The two children had both got into Andover Grammar School. I had a nice quarter, and life could now go on on an even keel. This was a much more satisfying job. There was something for me to get my teeth into. It did not take me long to get into the ropes again. Was there a possibility of my being able to stay there and see my time out?

I was in my element again nmusically. I was soon able to join a small first class singing party in Andover. It was run by a Mrs. Ponting. She was a first class musician, and knew what she wanted. We went to the Winchester Festival, and won every class in which we wntered. We also went to Newbury, and won that. I also joined Salisbury Choral Society. It was under David Wilcocks, with whom I was to become very friendly. he was a great chap to sing with. I was lucky enough to do all the big choral works with him. I did my first Bach's B Minor Mass with him, which was wonderful From then on, it has for me been the greatest and most satisfying thing to sing, with the St.. Matthew Passion not far behind. The first time I heard the B Minor Sanctus bursting around me,. I knew again what heaven is like. I was in a marvellous festrival performance of the Creation in Winchester Cathedral with Isabel Bailey under Dr. Havagel. The huge crowd that had poured into Winchester for it could not get into that big nave. Every nook and crannhy was filled, yet lots were left outside. To hear Isabel sing at this time, when she was at her height, was just too wonderful. At this time, I sang the Messiah with her at the Albert Hall under Ernest Reed. This was one of the best of the dozens of messiahs that I have done.

I was able to play a lot of golf as there were three courses handy. I could manage a game most Wednesdays, as well as weekends. Group Captain MacPherson, who was R.A.F. champion, had taken over the station. I was the only one who could give him a reasonable game, so I played a lot with jhim. He thought I was good enough to play for the R.A.F. I played against the nbavy at West Hill. But I was not at all keen to play big stuff golf, and never went out of my way to do so. I got just as big a kick driving 280 yards plus right down the middle on my own as I would have done in the samateur championship.

Both the children began to show signs of being intellectuals, which was gratifying. One day, Ivor asked me which was the best university for maths and physics. I told him that Cambridge was, and that Oxford was for classics. He said he would go to Cambridge. I told him he was aiming rather high. If he could make it there I would support him. It would please me immensely if he did get there. He had little trouble in making it, and when he went up to
Trinity, I was really pleased.

I was driving them both up to London to take them to the zoo, where neither of them had been. Just before we got to Englefield Green, I said; "We shall soon pass Mummy's college. It's a lovely building in a lovely setting." it was a sunny day, and the college looked its best. Margery was thrilled, and said; "I'm going there," and she did. As she was the elder, she went up first. Ivor walked into Cambridge on a State Scholarship. Margery was not too bad. She got a top County Scholarship.

As soon as we were all home from the war, safe and sound, we let Mademoiselle Travers of Louverné know. Enid M. had kept in touch with her as and when she was able. It was eight years since we had seen her. We had to go as soon as we possibly could. She beseeched us, and although wse knew that travelling would be rough, we had to try it. From Wallop, we went via Southampton and St. Malo. On that first trip, the travelling was rough. The French railways, especially the rolling stock, was in a bad way. It was worth it to see our beloved masdemoiselle again. We found her as fresh as ever. it was a wonderful reunion, which was to last for so many more years.

Rationing was not too bad in the French countryside. We were feasted as well as ever. Like many others in that part of France, she had had Germans foisted upon her for almost the wnole was period. At times, it had not been pleasant. This part of Mayenne suffered badly during the last weeks of the war when the allies advanced through it. The scars still showed everywhere. The railway stations had not been repaired. We saw the results of amazing work by the local people during the last days. As the Germans retreated, they blew up the nearby bridge over the river Mayenne. As soon as they were away, the locals all got cracking in their dozens. Working all night, they had the bridge repaired in time for the American and British tanks to swarm over. The job remains just as it was done. It was not patched up. The arches were actually rebuilt. it seems unbelievable that it was done in a few hours.

It had been interesting to notice the improvements made in the French villages since the war. None of the villages we knew had piped water. But saince the war, as we drove over the ground we had got to iknow so well, we saw the water towers going up. Now, even the most remote places get piped water.

Through mademoiselle Travers, we made other French friends. Among them was a retired headmaster and his wife named Leveque. They lived in Laval. They had us in for parties. When they laid on a party for us, we could be certain of a right royal one. m,adame Leveque, like Mlle Travers, knew how to do things in style. They had one daughter. Over the years, we saw her grow up, marry, and have children. Both the Leveques died before Mlle Travers, but we continued to see the daughter until we had no Mlle Travers left to visit.

We got to know the locals. We liked to meet them. I shall never forget the first time we went into the farmhouse just outside the village. I had never seen anything like it in the kent countryside. The living quarters of the house consisted of one huge room, in the four corners of which was a double bed. There were no screens, or partitions, or any sort of privacy. It was a surprising first look see at how the French live. Doen the middle of the room was a long table with forms upon which to sit. At one end was an enormous open fireplace, over which always hung an enormous iron pot. Except for the grandfather clock, there was little other furniture. A couple of chests of drawers sufficed for linen storage space. Attached to this room were the animals' quarters. We got our milk from here, in a large can kept for this.

Mlle Travers had a large paddock and garden, and kept lots of rabbits and chickens. Shje always had a dog. The big Belgian Frontier dog, a Gronandale, named Mamoo, which she kept through the war, and which we already knew, caused a near panic during our first visit after the war. With meat in short supply, Mademoiselle had managed to get some lovely steaks for dinner. They were left in the kitchen until wanted. Mamoo got at them and made short work of them. It showed Mademoiselle's wonderful nature. She blamed herself for carelessness. She took the whole incident in her stride, and we hade do with what there was.

I would have liked to stay at Wallop to see my time out. But the powers that be decided otherwise, and I mopved to Valley in Anglesey. At the time, it was a ket training establishment, flying Vampires, with a few other odds and ends. Normally, I would not have minded the move, but I did not want to be without Enid M. and the children. As the children were settled at Andover, it seemed quite on the cards that they would stay behind.

As soon as I got to Vally, I asked about schooling. i was told there was a very good school at Holyhead. I rang up the headmaster, who asked me to go along to see him. I did so, and had a longish chat with him and with the headmistress. I was very struck by the atmosphere of the place. They both said how pleased they would be to have my two. This was a great help, and I sopon got accomodation in the nearby hamlet of Caergeuiliog. We were only sharing a house, and were glad when later I managed to get a three bedroomed bungalow at mona.This was the only accomodation on a disused aerodrome. It was in a perfect position on the main Bangor to Holyhead road. We were to spend a happt time there until I finished.

A little before this, the retiring age had been cut from 55 to 47. people like me were given the option of taking it. But like T. E. Lawrence, I hung on to the last moment, although at this time I would have been glad to leave it all.

At this time, the poor R.A.F. were suffering from a surfeit of lunatic senior officers. For me, to live to see the R.A.F. sink to the days of lunatic B.C. was very sad. I had four C.O.s after the war. Three of them were suddenly replaced by senior officers, who appeared and took over. But things had to get pretty bad before this happened. The trouble and distress these rascals caused before Air Ministry took this drastic action can be imagined. One lunatic had me up because I had rendered nil reports on my petty crime sheet. As I had a first class crowd of chaps in my squadron, I had no petty crime. But it was useless frying to explain this to the fool. I continued to submit nil reports after this, to his disgust. What terms was I on with such a type?

I had to visit Command H.Q. I was having coffee with two Group Captain friends. Suddenly, one of them asked me how was the lunatic behaving. it was some moments before I realised whom he meant. If this was the way he was looked upon by senior officers, why was he allowed to carry on his miserable antics for so long? As in one of the other cases, he was a Wing Commander, so it had to be a Group Captain to fly in and get him out. In both cases, the Group Captains were charming, sensible chaps. At once, they were able to turn a chaotic state of affairs into pleasant order.

Every month I had to go to Shawbury, near Shrewsbury, to collect secret documents. I got to know every inch of that lovely run through the Nant Ffrancon Pass to Llangollen, via Bettws-y-Coed. On a summer's day, it was a lovely trip. But duroing winter it was not so pleasant. Often there was snow on the ground.

We had a delightful view of Snowdon from our window, and spent many short holidays doing North Wales. Enid M., being half Welsh, loved it. One way or another, we did every nook and cranny. Margery and Ivor got the climbing bug. They started going off on their own to do the Welsh climbs, which I had no care for doing. These ended suddenly. It was a long time before they let us know why. They had decided to do one of the more dangerous tracks. The weather had clamped down. They got hopelessly lost, and almost exhausted, before they got places. We knew nothing about it, because they stayed at Youth Hostels, which abound in the Snowdon area.

I also had another trip, to Ton-Fanau, on the coast between Barmouth and Aberdovy. I had a small radio station there manned by my chaps from Valley, to work with the aircraft co-operating with the gunners there. This was anice day's outing for a summer day.

My P.O.W. nerves had to cope with one snag. Aircraft were in the habit of flying into the North Wales mountains. I was responsible for all the navigational aids in the district. Many a night, when conditions were bad, I would lie awake. If I heard an aircraft, I would hope and pray that all the works were functioning satisfactoprily to hemp him on his way. This was all very stupid of me. There was nothing I could do. But, knowing that the 'works' were my responsibility, I worried about it.

During our period in Anglesey, margery finished school. She started at Royal Holloway College, doing languages, but specialising in French. After a short time there, she broke off to do some time at Poitiers University. There, she met and made friends with some French women. We have become attached to them. They are always glad to welcome us when we go their way, as we are when they come our way. One has married, and lives with a family of three girls at Chateauroux, and another has five children, living at Montbellard near the French-Swiss border. Even with these families, there always seems room in their largish houses to accomodate us.

We now had a much longer journey to a port for France, but still we went from Southampton on the evening boat to St. Malo. Having cabins, we were still able to make Louverné by early afternoon of the second day. So that they would have their bicycles there, Margery and Ivor have cycled to Southampton, picked me up there, gone over on the boat with me, and then left me at St. Malo to cycle down to Louverné . I waited ther on tenterhooks until they arrived. At this time, we had lots of chickens, a dog and a cat, so Enid M. stayed at home to look after them. we thought one of us should go, as it was the first time the children had gone on their bicycles.

On the north coast of Anglesey there was a redundant radar station. I was responsible for it, so every so often I would visit it to see that the huge wooden masts and everything else had not been pinched. Wylfa is an atomic power station now on this spot. It has completely changed the surroundings of what was a quiet spot.

Time crept on, and we had to begin to talk about where we were going to settle down. I didn't care where it was. For me, Anglesey was as good as anywhere else. But Enid M. was not too keen, and our thoughts drifted back to Wiltshire. We decided that on my retirement, we would investigate that area.

I started to get the usual bumf, informing me that after the eleventh of February 1953, I could no longer be employed by the Air Ministry in any capacity. Of all things, I received a letter from the Secretary of State's office addressing me as "Dear Squadron Leader Catt", and ending "Yours sincerely". I suppose I had received a few thousand official letters, but this was the first to Dear me. He had it in command from the Queen to convey to me, on leaving the active list of the Royal Air Froce, the thanks of Her Majecty, etc. etc. I wonder why they dish out this tripe, which is obviously a load of bunkum. It waan't even signed by the Secretary of State, or anybody known.

Against my wishes, the mess put on a farewell party for me. I had no wish to be responsible for the usual booze up that these parties meant. I wanted to fade away quietly. On the morning of the party night, a pilot was killed. This put the party off. I was sorry to get out of it this way. A couple of nights later, the Group Captain had a small party for me with a few friends. For me, this was much more enjoyable. My squadron ran a party for me in Holyhead, which I was delighted to muck in on. They did me grand, and the sincerity they showed at my going from them was rather touching. The clock they gave me is still ticking away, reminding me of them. That was twenty-two years ago. i wonder what they are all doing now. I can see a lot of them now, and not just as in a dream.

My relief came. I gladly handed over 'the works' to him. On the afternoon of the eleventh of February, my birthday, I quietly walked out of the Royal Air Force at the Royal Air Force Station Valley on my own. I did not even go into headquarters office or anywhere to cheerio anyone. I said "Goodbye and all that" to myself. And it was. i dropped everything R.A.F., and became plain Mr. It had been easy to drop it, as I have made a few moves since. When people ask me what I did, I say, with truth, that I was in communications, mainly working on the large wireless chain over the world. I see no reason to add that it was an R.A.F. wireless chain. This satisfies people who learn that I have been in Baghdad, Singapore, Aden, Cairo and places, since I ran wireless stations there. [p140]


He had gone to another aquadron. He used to come over of an eveni

typed by Ivor Catt, sept 97 My father's autobiography from his birth up to 1953 is now all typed up into the computer. (Three quarters of it is now typed.) It will help P.M. to determine the level of significance for the TEL story of a career which has parallels. (Ivor is too close, so his judgement is valueless.)

Ivor Catt 18.9.97


We sailed about midnight, but crept out so quietly that I heard nothing. But perhaps the tiring day we had had was responsible for this. I would have liked to have sailed out through that part of the Inland Sea in daylight, but by the time I was awakened by the rolling ship we were well clear. We woke up to the roughest day the ship had had for two voyages, we were told, but we both felt fin and enjoyed a good breakfast. It was nice having the steward bring in early morning tea at 6.45. There was more deck space. As we expected to be on board for a month, this was an advantage.

I could not but help comparing this trip in luxury to that on the Haiwaian Maru, which I had left with so many dad and dying troops lying in the filth, and also comparing the kindly, friendly Japanese I had just left compared with the sadistic hooligans in charge of the P.O.W. camps. It was all too strange. We passed Formosa, there the Hawaian Maru had put in, and the sea became quite calm.

We woke up on the fourth day to find we were steaming into Hong Kong harbour; really a pretty sight in the morning light. The tall rise buildings soon showed up on both the island and the Kowloon sides, and we were tied to our buoy for breakfast.

This is where we got the advantage of being on a large cargo boat, as the stops we made gave us lots of time to see places; unlike the fast passenger boats which hop in and out. We had two full days ashore, in which time se saw quite a lot of the place.

WE were soon ashore, and engulfed in the crowded streets. The shops were full of everything at fantastically low prices.

The first must; a ride to the top of the Peak by cable car, after a visit to the Pose Office to get rid of a pile of mail we had written on the way.

The Peak rises 1,800 feet right above the town, and from it one gets a splendid view of it, the harbour and Kowloon. At night, the lighted hotels and buildings rising up its side make an unforgettable picture.

After a meal at a Chinese restaurant, which was crowded, we took a bus trip to Aberdeen, the amazing floating 'town'. Here, everything is floating. Large families live on small boats. Schools, temples, restaurants and what have you are all afloat.

On the way we had made a call at Arthur and Hedi Hintons, but the were out. We left a note saying we would call again. He was a headmaster there.

Here was a chance to get my hair cut. Seeing a hairdressers, we went to it, but it turned out to be a beauty parlour. A notice on the door said "Gentlemen are not entertainment". I think that beats the band for pidgin English. However, we soon found a place, and I got trimmed up.

We were able to catch Arthur Hinton next morning, and got the full impact of what the terrible water shortage was meaning there. The water was on for two hours every fourth day, and he was living in a spacious luxury flat. We missed his wife again, as she was a nurse on duty. We got an interesting account of his school in Kowloon, where he had been some few years.

I bought two terylene shirts for a pound, and a suit of silk pyjamas for a pound. I noticed that everything in the radio and electrical lines was ridiculously cheap. But since there are heavy duties on these it is not very advantageous to buy them.

As we ran south, we got into lovely tropical weather. We all got into shorts and tropical clothing. A large canvas plunging bath was fixed up, in which we spent much time. We ploughed through shoals of flying fish which sprang out of the water and glided, glistening in the sunshine.

It was three days to Singapore, where we were to have three days. I had a nephew there in the R.A.F. with his wife and family to whom I had written. Sure enough, as we pulled into the dockside Marion was there with one of the children. As soon as we could get off, we were away with her to their rented house Seletar way, where he was serving. We were in time for lunch, and to see Raymond from work. We stayed with them for two nights.

Raymond got the next day off, and we drove around the sights we had known so well, but we found things altered beyond recognition. The Botanical Gardens were the same, but our house, where we had spent such a lovely time, was a shambles, and ready to come down. Where was our lovely piano, and the book of Beethoven sonatas I had looked upon as I walked out for the last time that sad day 20 years before? Orchard Road, which had been all open, was now built up with hotels, shops, cinemas etc., and was no longer the Orchard Road we had known. It was the same all over the island, with big housing estates and high rise flats going up everywhere. We went to Changi, where I had spent the time between the two boats from Surabaya to Japan, and saw the beautifully kept cemetery where so many were buried, but I could hardly recognise anything. I went to Seletar, where Raymond was stationed, and searched where I thought I had buried the keys to my two secret document safes, but I could not find them. It was all so different. I was glad to get away, as those last few horrible days there were printed on my mind.

Our next stop was Port Swetenham, where, owing to the difficulty in getting any work done, we were to remain for three days. I wrote at the time that I began to wonder whether the creeping paralysis which is strangling all activities in these ports will eventually stop all trade. As trade is still going on, obviously it was not stopped.

Going ashore, we took a bus to Kuala Lumpur, although we knew there was not much of interest to us. After a walk round, we returned to the Mariner's Club at Port Swetenham, which had a fine swimming pool.

It was only a night's trip to Penang, which we knew, and which had not altered much. We took the able car up the 2,300 foot hill for a cool walk round, and to admire the view. We looked in at the snake temple again, then back to the boat, since we were only there for the day.

We arrived at Columbo at a very unhappy time. Strikes, riots and chaos seemed to be the order of the day. We could not go ashore as we were at a buoy in the harbour. Besides, since it was dangerous ashore, there were no boats or launches on which to get there. Our table mate, Miss Black, got off here to buy gems before going on to finish a holiday in France and Scotland. An amazingly well read female, able to talk on every subject under the sun, she ran a small business in Hong Kong after having lived many years in China, particularly Peking.

Another lady passenger, who had just come aboard, joined us at our table. She was going home, after 20 years there, to be married. It sounded strange to hear a grey haired, middle aged woman speak about her fiancé, boyfriend, etc.

Another Christmas on the boat. Strangely enough, it was near where I had spent Christmas 1926 on the Derbyshire on my way back to Baghdad. We were about half way between Columbo and Aden, but going the other way. We started the day at 7.30 with a dip in the pool.

I had got the 9 lessons service the evening before at 7.30 as we were that much ahead of London time.

We had time enough in Aden for a run up to Crater and to mix with the complete bedlam of Arabia which was always a feature of the place. Here again, large open spaces that I had known were now built up shopping and living areas. The bringing of piped water had made a terrific difference to the place. Of all the places we had seen after America, this was the only place with unlimited water. In Tokyo it was off at 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. In Hong Kong, on for two hours every fourth day. Singapore, off from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The area around the bay, which was pure desert, is now accommodating wireless stations, barracks, and the huge oil refinery area of Little Aden.

And so up the Red Sea again, which we entered in heat, and noticed getting cooler as we proceeded north, until at Suez we were sleeping under blankets. At that time, there were three convoys a day through the canal, one northbound and two southbound. The convoy entered the canal with ships at ten minute intervals. We made a stop in the Bitter Lakes, which was not unusual. A huge tanker ran aground. As there was trouble getting it off, we left it behind. The part I always found interesting, between Lake Timsah and Port Said, was done at night, so we did not see much of it. I did wake about 2 a.m. when the lights of Port Said were going past, and the long breakwater I had walked along with Enid M the evening she returned to Egypt and me.

We made no more stops, and arrived Liverpool 8th January 1964, after a wonderful time which had lasted just over four months, during which we had seen enough to cover volumes in print should it be written up.

For long afterwards, we found ourselves in demand to share with others some of the lovely times we had, especially Women's Institutes, where our experiences in Japan went very well. Sometimes it was two or three nights a week, and I was not sorry when things cooled off a bit. I brought home a good selection of transparencies of most of the places we saw, some of which it is nice to run through to recall places.

Margery, who, as I have mentioned, married Derek Hyde, who was to get the Senior Lecturer's job at Nonington College of Physical Education. They were settled at Cop Street near Ash, Canterbury.

After Grandpa Jones died, I thought it would be a good idea to live nearer to them. A property next door to them had come on the market. It was very suitable for us; a two bedroomed bungalow with a large garden. I suggested to Margery that I buy it so as to be nearer to her. She thought it a marvellous idea. I bought it, and we moved in the spring of 1962. We were well settled before we went on the world trip. It was strange coming back to within four miles of Sandwich where I had spent my childhood. I had only made short return visits since joining the army in the first war. I found a few old cronies still there, with whom it was nice to become reacquainted.

I soon got entangled with the choral societies. For a few years I sang with Canterbury, Deal, Sandwich and Dover, besides helping our village and small madrigal parties. I always found the concerts in Canterbury Cathedral thrilling. For the first few years we did the S. Matthew Passion at Eastertide. This always filled the cathedral, as did most of the performances.

It was unusual to come up against something I had not done, but this was to happen with Britten's War Requiem, which I don't think I had ever heard. This was with Canterbury. The only enjoyment I got from it was to be next to two B.B.C. tenors who came to help us out. I am not surprised that it is rarely done, but no doubt in a couple of hundred years it will be top of the bill. Although I spent hours at the piano drumming into my head some of the difficult passages of the War Requiem, and at the performance had a jolly good idea of it, not one note of it ever comes back into my mind, as do passages of Bach, Verdi, Handel, Brahms, Stainer and others whose music I have got pleasure from singing.

2nd American Trip 1964.

We had hardly got back from visiting Louverne and Charbonnieres when Ivor suggested we go and spend Christmas with them as he could arrange a charter flight for us through a Santa Monica club. This would give us a month with them. We fell for this right away, even though it meant flying, and he made the arrangements. But not long before we were due to go, Ivor got inveigled with Motorola in Phoenix, Arizona, and moved there. It seems that, at this time, he could have gone anywhere. He was receiving requests from all over the place from firms who would like to have him.

This suited us fine, and I was keen to do the trip. As we did not intend to do too much travelling, the necessity of going Greyhound did not arise.

We left
Heathrow on 16th December on an Air India 707 for New York. I had not flown for years. As I stepped into this amazing aircraft, my thoughts went back to the Bristols and D.H.9s in which I had done most of my flying in the 20s. I did fly in the first troop carrier, the pot bellied Victoria, in the late 20s and early 30s with its two engines, but from that, it was an enormous jump forward.
[Was he not flown out of Japan as P.O.W. to Hong Kong? - Ivor Catt, 5oct02] It made it all the more fantastic when I easily remember the morning Bleriot flew the Channel.

I see we flew at 37,000 feet, an impossible height 50 years ago, so we saw little except the tops of clouds in bright sunshine. Through a break in the cloud it was wonderful to see practically the whole of Southern Ireland as if looking at a map.

Right from the start, charming Indian girl hostesses kept us supplied with eats and drinks. The marvellous lunch produced - hot chicken etc., egg salad, fruit and cream with a bottle of good white wine - brought us right up to date with modern flying.

We had left Heathrow at 1300 and arrived New York at 1400 New York time. We had a two hour break before getting on a C.L.44 of Flying Tiger Air Line. This machine had four Rolls Royce turbojet propeller engines.

As our booking was to Los Angeles and back, we had to go to Los Angeles non-stop.

Owing to head winds and delays, we were two and a half hours late in L.A. and we missed our connection to Phoenix. We had now been on the way for 21 hours and we were tired. Although it was 2 a.m., we managed to get a bed at a motel.

It was very easy to ring Ivor and let him know what had happened, and to give him the time of our arrival on the morrow.

The trip to Phoenix in an extremely well fitted 707 of Continental Airways only took 45 minutes, and we found the whole excited family there to meet us.

Again, we found the house quite aristocratic as compared with English standards. As the 400 mile plus journey was only £8 each it is no wonder that we saw derelict railways and stations being dismantled all over the place. We were glad to get out of our winter woollies, in which we had left England, and get into cotton.

But in a couple of days we were to experience some very freak weather for Arizona as, on Ivor's birthday Dec 19th, we woke to a thick fog. The temperature outside had dropped to 50 degrees, and the central heating was started. This worked from a central gas heater. Warm air was blown via ducts to all parts of the house.

I am so glad I was given this opportunity to see Arizona. It changed so many of my ideas about America. One hears so much about it being a new country, so it was good and refreshing to find so many ancient monuments and history. It was as far removed from the eastern fringe of America as England was from America.

In the same way as the dry, frost-free atmosphere of Egypt has helped to preserve the relics of its ancient civilization, perhaps the dry climate of Arizona has something to do with preserving the buildings of peoples who have long deserted the country.

One our first Sunday, we went to the Quaker Meeting in Phoenix. It was a fine Meeting House. The whole of one side was glassed in, looking out upon Camelback Mountain; a fine view to gaze upon as one meditated.

Barry Goldwater was headline news. We were run up to his house and the district of posh houses which he was keeping very select.

For coolness, all large buildings, schools and offices only have windows on the north side, the south, sunny side being blanked in.

On this first Sunday, we did quite a lot. In the afternoon we continued to the Coronado School Theatre for Motorola's children party. I was amazed at the whole school setup; palatial classrooms and equipment of a high standard. Classrooms fitted with headphones per pupil so that instruction in 4 subjects could be given at the same time from control desks.

Next day, we were invited to a party at one of the university lecturer's houses. I ran into something I had never struck before. It was a toffee pulling party. We went into the kitchen and grabbed big chunks of freshly made toffee. We proceeded to pull and stretch it just as the machines we used to see in shop windows did when we were kids. This improves the toffee. I don't know why, but it was good fun. We sang carols and folk songs, which were mostly Negro spirituals. The hymn books contain quite a number of these.

Getting around Phoenix, one drives across what was the Salt River. This is now completely dry. All the water is diverted into irrigation canals and domestic supplies. Some of the large bridges which spanned it still stand. It is said that the time is coming when all American rivers will be like this. None will reach the sea; horrible thought.

Shopping was interesting; especially buying oranges and grapefruit by the small sack.

We all decided to go up to the Grand Canyon for Christmas, as we wanted to do it again.

We went up via Oak Creek Canyon. Then we climbed a few thousand feet up to the ice and snow of the Flagstaff heights. The road was clear, so it was all plain sailing. We made a detour to take in Montezuma Castle, one of the national monuments of historic value. It is an ancient cliff dwelling in a good state of preservation. It has no connection with the Aztec emperor whose name it bears. It was named by the early settlers, who believed it had been built by Aztec refugees. Much is being done to unravel the history of these people, now disappeared. As a defence, it was first class. The only way up to it is by a series of ladders.

I had not been feeling too well when we left Phoenix. By the time we reached the Canyon, just as it was getting dark, I was running a bit of a fever. I had a rotten headache, so I went straight to bed. This was a how d'you do, for a Christmas holiday miles from home. But next day, Christmas, I felt much better, and did some of the sights with the others. It seemed strange, looking down into the canyon where it was obviously warm, from our snow covered situation. I managed to enjoy a special dinner of turkey, or goose, which was laid on. Freda had brought the kids' presents, and we listened to the fun and games going on in their room before it was light.

On Boxing Day I was not feeling too bright, so we thought it advisable to cut things short and get back home to Phoenix. We had a good stop at Desert View for a last long look at the Canyon. From there we went via Cameran, a road running within sight of the Little Colorado River Gorge which, if it were not for the proximity of Grand Canyon, would itself be a Grand Canyon. This road took us through the Indian Reservations, with their very humble dwellings in very barren country. We made a detour to look see Wupatki National Monument. Here are the remains of Indian buildings and a citadel which have been derelict for hundreds of years.

We also passed through Sunset Crater, another Monument, with its amazing heaped up masses of lava; a most gruesome sight.

In Arizona one realises that Spanish was the number one language at one time. All the old monuments have Spanish names; Pueblo Grande (Big Town); Casa Grande (Big House), etc.

At Pueblo Grande are the ruins of an Indian settlement which flourished about 1,200 A.D., where there is a very interesting museum of their arts and crafts. Excavations have unearthed ruins of their houses, and remains of irrigation systems can be seen.

Casa Grande is a four story tower of packed earth, built about 600 years ago by Indian farmers in the Gila valley. It is the only surviving example of such a structure. It is 56 miles south of Phoenix. Excavations have shown that the area was flourishing thousands of years ago. It was discovered by a Jesuit missionary, Father Kino, in 1694. He gave it the name it is known by. It was in ruins even then.

On the way, just on the edge of Phoenix, we passed the enormous stock pen area with thousands of cattle. I notice that most were Herefords, although there were a few humped Indian cattle too. At time, the smell from the stock pens is so bad over the whole city that windows and doors have to be kept closed. Even then, the smell permeates everywhere.

We were having a lot of rain, which is very unusual for Arizona. It was raining as I went with Freda to do the shopping for New Year's dinner. We got a 16 pound plus turkey for £2.65, a supply of meat for the deep freeze, oxtail at 1/5  pound, sheep kidneys 1/-  pound, steak 5/-  pound, eggs 3/6  doz., margarine 1/- pound. Some of this would have been dearer in England, especially the big turkey.

Would we go across the road and have coffee with Ann? We did, and learned that she had three small children, had had SEVEN pregnancies in FIVE years. So, to put a stop to it, her husband had the 'operation', which seemed very fashionable hereabouts!! They were Mormons, some of many thereabouts.

In the evening I was invited to go with Ivor to a New Year's party of Motorola engineers, the hostess being one of the lady engineers. It was a rum affair. I did not find it easy to make conversation with anybody. I did get going with two ardent Goldwater fans, who believed that under Johnston the U.S.A. was heading for complete disaster. One of them started talking to me about Kipling; did I know any? When I started on "By the old Mulmein pagoda looking eastward to the sea" etc. etc., they all went crazy. I had to keep on with Gunga Din and all the other stuff we learned as kids. They lapped it up like a crowd of young army recruits. At about 1 a.m. I thought I had had enough. With Ivor, I tendered my thanks for a nice party. On the way to the door I thanked the hostess again, and she said; "It's been wonderful having you. YOU SOUND SO CIVILISED". I almost fell out of the door, and said to Ivor; "Gosh, did you hear that?" He just replied; "Yes! And so you do". What sort of a chip have these people got on their shoulders to think of us like that?

Although it was a late evening party, most of the men were in scruff order. As a matter of fact, scruff order is the order of the day. If you enter one large restaurant with a tie on, the waiter grabs it, snips it off, and hangs it up on the wall, where they hang in rows.

Qujite near Ivor's was the Papago Golf Club. It was completely floodlit, enabling play at night. I did not play, but one day I walked round with a 79 year old retired maths master I had met from Michigan. His wife was carrying for him. He played with two balls, to double the amount of game he got in one round. Like many others we met, he had a house in the north for the summer, and a house down here for the winter; a jolly good idea, if one has the money.

Phoenix has a completely roofed over air conditioned shopping area in which are both high and low priced stores of all sorts; also restaurants. Being all closed in, there is no need for shop doors, so everywhere is open to the street, where beautiful fountains please the eye. A most refreshing place to get into on a hot day, as so many days are in Phoenix.

A good outing from Phoenix is to South Mountain Park. It is an area of over 14,000 acres. From its heights one overlooks the whole of Phoenix and the hills beyond. Visitors are warned to watch out for centipedes, scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and gila monsters, whatever they might be. Here, as in Papago Park, one sees almost all the varieties of Arizona cactus, from the giant Saguaro, which is seen everywhere, to the small types we have. Ancient Indian picture writings may be seen in many of the interesting canyons in South Mountain Park. Although it is not high, some two to three thousand feet, we found a cold wind biting through our cotton clothing, and were glad to get down to the warmth of Phoenix.

If in Phoenix for any time, a must is to do the trip up through the Tonto National Forest, with its lakes and wonderful mountain scenery, via the Apache Trail. Soon after leaving Phoenix Superstition Mountain, the scene of one of the early gold rushes, and about which a lot of queer stories have come forth, is passed, and a climb is started on an unpaved road. After climbing some distance, a nerve-wracking drop is made by hairpin bends down to the bottom of Fish Creek and the Canyon Lake. This is the second of the series of dammed lakes on the route. Out came the food box, and we had lunch.

Freda's picnic box was a marvellous affair, with its ice chambers and what have you. Although it would be an awkward thing to cart around in our small cars, it took up little space in Ivor's big Chev.

After Canyon Lake, the long mountain drive past Apache Lake with its dam and power house. Large boards inform one of the amount of water in these lakes, which is given in acre feet. As Apache must be 20 miles in length, it would take a lot of noughts to give the quantity in gallons. One acre foot is an acre of water one foot deep.

The Roosevelt Dam, towards which we were climbing, had been in view for long stretches as we came up the 20 mile length of the Apache Lake Gorge. It was quite a picture with its power house low at the bottom of the dam. Then the final run up to the enormous dam, which holds back the Roosevelt Lake, which I suppose is too big to measure in acre feet.

There are so many highlights on this part of the Apache Trail that it is difficult not to keep stopping to digest them. But we still had a long way to go.

From Roosevelt we struck a fast paved road and were able to get on at 50 or 60 mph. We were soon passing the mining town of Miami, where ugly slag heaps of enormous size have developed over the years. Again more beautiful scenery where, even high up, the giant saguaro cacti are prolific. One cannot get away from them over the whole of Arizona.

We made a stop at Mesa to visit the magnificent Mormon Temple in its lovely gardened grounds. It was impossible to see inside the temple, which was tightly shut. We were told that only the higher ranking members were allowed it. The rank and file never see inside. To be married in it necessitates an exalted position among the hierarchy. Being married there is for eternity, and not for life only!

Our next Quaker Meeting was followed by a very good lunch. It is a monthly event here in the Meeting House, so that people who come some distance to the Meeting can have a good get-together. Then, the weather being agreeable, into Phoenix and to Encanto Park, which really is a park according to our standards, with luscious grass, lakes and trees. On a fine coolish Sunday, crowds are attracted to this spot. The nearby picture gallery, which is well laid out, is worth a look see, as is the attached exhibition of various style European rooms of different periods.

Scottsdale, which is struggling to retain its wild west atmosphere, but which it is obviously losing, is almost engulfed in the greater Phoenix area, as are both Mesa and Tempe. Expecting some fun, we joined an escorted tour of the Mesa Mormon Temple grounds. It was really worth it. It struck me as being a subtle chunk of Mormon propaganda. None the less, it was good fun, and interesting. The grounds are beautifully kept; very refreshing after the desert surrounds.

During the beginning of January we had much rain, which was unusual. I hoped to see the desert sprout green, as the Arabian desert does after rain.

There was much to see on a long run south. With a fine day breaking, we started for Tucson with the food box well full.  There was much of interest to be seen on the way, but the best was when we left the main road and took an unpaved track through miles of the National Saguaro Forest to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This stretches over a large area. One can see almost everything connected with the desert; a most interesting and educational place to visit. In a few miles we came to the 'Old Tucson' movie set. This is a complete Wild West movie town, which we have all seen in wild west films. Nobody lives there permanently. The surrounding hilly country has been made all too familiar over the years due to the number of films churned out here. It was nice to really see it.

We thought Tucson a pleasant place, but it was helped by not being a hot day. We had a good look see at the buildings and grounds of the University of Arizona, which were spacious and inviting. It certainly had an atmosphere about it. Unlike the California freeways, there was no speed limit here, and I found driving the big Chev at 70 on the wide empty desert a piece of cake. We were soon back in Phoenix.

We came to our last Sunday. Off we went to Quaker Meeting to say goodbye to the many good friends we had made, and with whom we had enjoyed many parties. Most of them enjoyed the high standard of living so common in the U.S.A., but there was one unemployed man to whom we had spoken before. He gave us a very grim picture of conditions among the thousands of unemployed. Just before Christmas, I had been surprised to see appeals in the papers for contributions to a fund to supply Christmas dinners to the poor, so that no one in Phoenix would go dinnerless on Christmas Day. In this land of such apparent plenty, it all seemed very strange.

We were due to leave Los Angeles on January 17th. We wanted to do a few things there, and to stop at Palm Springs on the way. So we all piled into the Chev with a loaded food box, and got away from Phoenix on the 14th.

We made good going across the desert to the Arizona - California border, where the customs people searched us to make sure we were taking no fruit or plants across. On our previous passings, we had noticed that these restrictions were very strict. Here, we crossed the Colorado River. On its bank we had our picnic lunch in pleasant sunshine. Here, the town of Blythe is the start of a 75 mile trip across the Mojave Desert before the divided highway is reached some 25 miles short of Palm Springs. Having got rooms at a morel, we had time to see this millionaire's paradise, and get a taste of the extreme wealth for which Palm Springs is famous. We were shown into the grounds of a seven acre estate with apartments which rented for 1,000 to 1,500 dollars per month. Nearby was a house which had cost 130,000 dollars, and which was used for only a few weeks each year. The many golf courses, for which Palm Springs is mainly known, were luscious for a spot so near to the desert. No one walked. All the players had motor buggies.

Palm Springs is only 100 miles from L.A., so we made a detour into the San Bernardino Mountains as far as Lake Arrowhead. There was a lot of snow, but the road was clear. This was wonderful mountain scenery again, but we had left the saguaro cactus in Arizona.

It is on these runs that one appreciates the enormous built up area of Los Angeles. The freeway from Redlands for about 60 miles is through built up country. Although by now it was not new, I still found it most impressive to be streaming along on a freeway again with the amazing interchange flyovers.

We had all the next day to visit old friends and look around. We went along to Alsace Avenue, where we saw how near to Ivor's house the floodwater came from the burst Baldwin Hills dam. We saw the small gorge the water had made as it swept dopwn, sweeping away houses and everything in its path. We went up to the dam itself, to see the gaping hole and empty reservoir. The authorities were still arguing about it. We went to Santa Monica for a last look at the Pacific, and for tea with the Murray Shaws, whom we had got to know well before.

We left L.A. at 8.30 in a big C.L.44. We had a marvellous view of the Grand Canyon as we flew over it. We also saw the snow covered Rockies, a glorious sight. From the Midwest onwards, the whole country looked frozen up. It was bitterly cold at New York airport, where we arrived as it was getting dark, it was bitterly cold, with heaps of snow about. We changed to the 707, and took off at 8.30 p.m. , landing in London at 8 a.m. to find the weather mild.

IN Los Angeles we had had to dress in the heat in our winter clothes, which was uncomfortable until we took off. We were glad to have done so when we landed in New York, where it was several degrees below.

This loos like being the end of our wanderings in America. Ivor left Phoenix to join a firm in Connecticut, where he did not stay long. Sick of industrial cut-throatism, he returned to England. In his book The Catt Concept, published in America by Putnam and in England by Hart-Davis, , he has tried to give some idea of the jiggery pokery which exists in the industrial world of America. All the industrial nations have published the book. It is now obtainable in French, German, Italian and even Japan. No doubt all peoples, more or less, are getting in the same mess.



[Typed by Ivor Catt on 5/6oct02]