My Granddad joined the RAF pretty much as soon as he could after his 18th birthday in 1941. His elder and identical twin brothers (Gordon and Keith respectively) were both in the army, but being partially sighted in one eye ever since a childhood accident Eric was barred from this. He loved aeroplanes, however, so I’ve always had the impression that he was quite happy with the job he ended up with.
After training and being stationed on various airfields all over England and Scotland, in 1944 he was posted overseas.
As I think I’ve said before my Granddad didn’t write much down; he did, however, keep a list of dates and places, which runs as follows:
* 5th November – left England, * 27th November – arrived at Suez, Egypt, * 5th December – arrived in Bombay, India, * 22nd December – joined 152 Squadron in Tamu, Burma.
* 15th January – moved from Tamu to Kan, * 7th February – moved to Sinthe, He records the bombing of their camp on 13th/14th February – he simply writes ‘camp bombed’, then what looks like ‘“Moved” into F.H.’ – my only guess is that perhaps this means moved into field hospital? I have heard that he was buried alive twice; perhaps this was one of the times. Or maybe living quarters were in short supply and fit men were given somewhere to sleep in the hospital?
*April – records moving from Sinthe to Magwe, by air,* May – Magwe to Meiktila by road,* August – travelled by air to Rangoon, then onto Bangkok,* August – onto Saigon until February 1946.
* 31st January – echelon disbanded, farewell party, * February – ‘Posted 3.R.S.U’ – no idea what this means!, * 25th February – by air to Bangkok, then onto Rangoon straightaway, * Posted to 1348 Flight,* 28th March – arrived in Pegu,* The next record is ‘Rangoon 26 PTC 23rd April to 27th’ – can’t work this out either!,* 27th-29th April – on board S.S. Aronda. Photograph taken from the Aronda states it departed from Rangoon, * 29th April – 4th May – ‘India Caleniter’ – not sure if this is a place name or not.
There is a story about him travelling right across India by train, which would make sense here – if the Aronda took him from Rangoon to the west coast of India, he then would have travelled overland to reach Bombay. * 6th May – 16th May – in Worli – as far as I can tell an area of Bombay. *16th May – boarded S.S. Alcantara, * 25th May – disembarked at Cairo, * 29th May – left Cairo,* 30th May – arrived in Aqir, Palestine.
The notes stop there, but somehow he got back to Britain. He wasn’t released from the RAF for another seven months, but I’ve not found much to suggest what he was doing during that time. He was demobbed at RAF Hednesford in Staffordshire in December 1946.
I would like to say a big Thank you to Hannah for all her hard work.