Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945

6 November 1941 to 12 November 1941

On the other hand the organisation has been superb, the trains comfortable and the meals, served by negro waiters, of a quality far superior to British train food.

Sunday, 9 November 1941. We arrived here [at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama] on Thursday afternoon, the train having stopped alongside the camp where newsreel men photographed us. Then it was straight into the mess hall for lunch which was the best meal most of us had eaten since the war began. We sit at tables for 12 and there is an unlimited supply of food, two or three varieties of meat, probably five vegetable dishes, a sweet, coffee and cream. Breakfast too is a big meal of three courses of which my favourite is flapjack soaked in maple syrup.
After our first meal we were shown to our quarters which are very impressive in comparison with our billets at home - here we are accommodated in long low buildings divided into rooms for six men with a bathroom to each two rooms.
Straight away our training began in American methods of drill and discipline, some of whose features are strange to us. At parades (called formations here) we form up in fours and the commands are quite different such as 'right face' for 'right turn' and 'parade rest' for 'stand at ease'. Most of our drill so far has been with rifles since every afternoon we take part in a full dress parade on the flying field with colours carried and band playing; the public attend in force and we are encouraged to compete in smartness at rifle drill and the march past with the American cadets. It seems that this drill is to be our main occupation for the duration of our five weeks stay here and I can foresee some grumbles at the delay in starting our real job of flying.
It is early days yet to pass any opinion on things but we are all somewhat impatient to get going and there is a tendency to scoff at the pomp and show compared with the RAF. However it has to be remembered that America is not at war as we are, and I think those who are prepared to take things cheerfully will enjoy our course at Maxwell Field.

Wednesday, 12 November 1941. Things have settled down considerably now and life is quite congenial with only one big complaint - the rule which not only confines us to quarters after 7.15pm but prohibits us from visiting other rooms. There are also stringent rules about room cleanliness and care of equipment while I find bayonet drill rather difficult, so far I have managed to avoid stabbing anyone but a little previous experience in rifle drill would have been helpful.
First parade every morning is at 5.50 after which we do strenuous PT from 6.30 to 7.15 and it really is good fun in this beautiful climate - at that early hour there is a little frost on the ground but the sky is bright blue and the sun is just beginning to shed some warmth. PT takes place on the grass at the edge of the flying field so that we can cast envious eyes on the planes piloted by cadets on the advanced course.
Each day one Squadron is selected as the best and we in G Squadron were awarded the prize on Sunday for which our privilege was to attend the American Legion Convention on Armistice night. The main event was a speech by the former American minister to Luxembourg but this was not very inspiring and we were more impressed by a little ceremony whereby two ladies (called daughters of the Confederacy) presented crosses to veterans of the Spanish-American war, descendants of Confederate soldiers.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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