is a RCAF camp full of aircrew from all over the Empire for re-mustering
and subsequent posting; on Saturday we were addressed very sympathetically
by Squadron Leader Massey the CO and the next day we met a Board
in order to determine each individual's future. My interview
was very brief and I was told that I would be posted for Observer
training which was what I wanted.
On Wednesday morning we were on our way to Moncton to await our
next posting. Only a few days were spent in Moncton this time
and I left on February 9 for Pensacola, Florida where I am now
writing. I was included in a small draft of 30 - all my pals
Alec, Leslie, Dennis, Norman Hallett and Reg Smith were with
Pensacola is a magnificent base on the Gulf of Mexico for training
US Navy flyers but there are also a number of US Marine and about
600 British students most of whom are RAF pilots with a small
number of Fleet Air Arm pilots and RAF Observers of whom we are
only the third class.
We had no leave at our first weekend but a week later Louise
& Monk Wright with Eleanor & Charles Rush came to Pensacola
and took Alec and me to New Orleans about 200 miles away. We
arrived in the city late on the Saturday evening and, after failing
to get rooms in any hotel, we had a wonderful seafood dinner
at Arnaud's the world famous French restaurant. Then we visited
one or two night clubs and found ourselves in the old French
quarter where we had delicious coffee and doughnuts in a cafe.
By then we were tired and Monk set off on the return journey
but we travelled 60 miles to Bay St Louis before we were able
to get beds in a hotel; from there we drove along the beautiful
Gulf coast to Mobile for lunch. It was a lovely drive on a beautiful
So much for leisure but we are really here to work - it is hard
but I am enjoying it and honestly feel that I am more suited
to be a Navigator than a Pilot. We start classes at 6.30am and
continue until 3.15 with an hour off for lunch so it is a long
day - most of the work is on Navigation.
Most of us hope to be attached to Coastal Command at the end
of the fourteen week course.
9 March 1942.
Today we began a new schedule of classes which concentrate on
Dead Reckoning Navigation but also includes Semaphore and Blinker
in addition to the others I have mentioned. Photography is mainly
concerned with aerial map work and I would be keen to put it
into practice. In the cinema tonight we saw Tommy Trinder and
Claude Hulbert in '3 Cockeyed Sailors' which we found amusing
but was not appreciated by the American audience.
25 March 1942.
It seems probable we shall be home before midsummer - even earlier
if we fly which is remotely possible. But we are all disappointed
in that we shall not be awarded our Observer 'wing' until we
complete a course at home in Advanced Flying Unit, after which
we go to OTU and then Coastal Command.
Meanwhile we are quite happy at Pensacola both in our work and
play but a disturbing element has arisen in that days off have
been granted according to the weather forecast. This may upset
our plans to go to Auburn for Easter weekend as although the
weather has now improved we have had some severe thunderstorms
and very high winds which have been accurately forecast.