The Burma Campaign

Wartime Diary of Captain Geoffrey De Egglesfield Collin, M.C.

© Tim Collin 2019

Editor's Note: I am indebted to Tim Collin, son of Geoffrey Collin, for granting permission to publish the diary and accompanying texts in full. 

For an introduction to the diary see here.  For Captain Collin's account of the defence of Morgan Hill, Shenam Ridge 1944, see here.

Foreword by Tim Collin

Geoffrey Collin was born in Kandy, Sri Lanka 18th July 1921, the son of a Boer War and WWI Western Front veteran Captain Charles Collin MC, who was then working in then called Ceylon as a rubber plantation manager. His uncle George Augustus Stevenson (‘GAS’) Collin MC and Bar, served in Gallipoli and the Western Front. After being sent away to be educated at an English prep school and then Wellington College it was not surprising that Geoffrey signed up early in WWII and joined the Royal Artillery as a commissioned officer.  He spent two years training in England before being posted to India.

Captain Geoffrey Collin, Ceylon 1942

Captain Geoffrey Collin. The photograph was taken in Ceylon, probably shortly after his arrival in 1942.

For all of 1944 Geoffrey meticulously maintained a journal in a small pocket diary, and later in life he deciphered his own short hand writing and added some commentary to tape, all typed up by his daughter-in-law Carolyn Collin and contained below. The twelve months covered periods of training, illness, recuperation and two months of intensive fighting at the Battle of Imphal in March to May during which period Geoffrey was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.  The diary is a fascinating insight into the life of an artillery office in India and Burma in WWII.  Despite much soul searching as described in the diary, Geoffrey continued on as a regular soldier, reaching the rank of Major General and retiring in 1976. He died aged 87 in North Yorkshire 14th February 2009, having just celebrated his 60th Wedding anniversary with his wife Angela and leaving a family of four children and several grand and great grandchildren. He definitely counted himself as one of the lucky ones of Slim’s ‘Forgotten’ 14th Army.           

1st January - 31st December 1944


I bought my small little pocket diary in Bombay in late December 1943, it's only a pocket diary, and it is entitled Collins Gentlemen’s diary, rather appropriately!  It measures only 3" by 4.5" and each page deals with two days and has about 8 lines for each page and the writing has got to be very small if anything can be put onto each day; for this reason the writing is very difficult to read in some parts, particularly when written in ink!  I carried the diary with me throughout the twelve months, including when on operations in Burma.  At times it got soaking wet, and it is amazing that it has survived so well to the present day.  The diary itself makes quite interesting reading in the preliminary paragraphs, where it offers a wealth of advice of all sorts on matters of interest at that time, for example instructions of about how to black out the headlights of your car, and the fact that passports cannot be obtained during war time except for about three or four countries, including Brazil!

The 1944 diary of Captain Geoffrey Collin

The 1944 diary of Captain Geoffrey Collin.

I would always try to write up the diary at the end of each day, but on one or two occasions, particularly during operations, it had to be written up one or two days after the events.  I often wrote it in some dramatic situations, sitting in the bottom of a slit trench with very little light, usually just before dusk.

The period of 1944 covered a multitude of activities for me, including active operations, a lot of training in both India and Ceylon, and a period in hospital.

As a brief background to this year of 1944; I joined 114 Field Regiment in 1941, and we left from Glasgow in a troop ship in February 1942 arriving after a long particularly unpleasant journey at Bombay some two and half months later.  We then went down to central India, and later again by ship to Ceylon in early 1943 or late 1942, where we trained as a Division intensively in the Ceylon jungles for future operations in Burma. 

In some ways it became a frustrating time in Ceylon because we wanted to get on with the war against the Japanese, and of course the war in Europe was very active and particularly in the desert; although I loved being in the Field Regiment, I volunteered for various other things, hoping to get into the war quicker and in particular I asked to go and be trained as a naval FOO which means Forward Observations Officer with the Navy. 

When I rejoined the regiment in mid 1943, after this training, I was always liable to be recalled for combined operations on the Burma coast.  When the regiment moved from Ceylon to Ranchi in India, prior to going to Burma in October 1943, I was called away for the combined operations work, which I resisted strongly but all to no avail.  The diary, therefore, opens when I was training in combined operations on the coast north of Bombay for operations on the Burma coast.

114 Field Regiment consisted of 3 gun Batteries, 231 Battery with A & B Troops, 232 Battery with C & D Troops, and 479 Battery with E & F troops.  Each troop had four 25 pounder guns and was a marvellous command for any young Captain.  Before the regiment moved to Burma it was re-equipped with 4.2" mortars, and 3.7" howitzers which were much easier to move about in the jungle country than 25 pounders.  However, during the Burma campaign as things progressed, the Regiment was re-equipped with 25 pounders which of course are far more effective and have longer range than the mortars or the 3.7" howitzers.

The letters FOO stand for Forward Observations Officer and often also called OP officer.  This officer worked with a small party of two Signallers and one other soldier, continuously with the forward elements of the infantry directing artillery fire as and when required.  It was an exciting and demanding job, because one had to be physically fit to move rapidly with the infantry and carry one's equipment including a heavy wireless set, and at all times be mentally alert and capable at directing the artillery fire by day or night very close to one's own position.  In the jungle, with very limited visibility, the observation and direction of artillery fire was always extremely difficult, but it always meant the difference between defeat and victory at whatever level of command from infantry section upwards.

Saturday, 1st January

The New Year!  I wonder what it will bring?  Victory in Europe within the next few months I think and launching of campaign against Japs in Indian ocean within six months.  Will be an adventurous year.  Went into Bombay with Fitz Paddy, Marley and Brian; saw "Du Barry Was a Lady" saw plenty of "good girls" and good music.

(At this time, I was training at the combined operations unit about 10 miles north of Bombay on the sea coast of Juhu.  A marvellous place with plenty of swimming and sunshine, but we were extremely busy and had to get ourselves fit very quickly.  There were about eight officers, all captains from different regiments, and we were organised to go to war in small FOO parties, consisting of one Captain, two Indian Navy Signallers, and one or two British soldiers, a total of about 4 or 5 altogether; each party had to be totally self-contained for food for several days and had to carry all its' radio equipment including spare batteries;  quite a weight!)

Sunday, 2nd January

Went sailing all morning with two Captains in the Signals in "Wendy".  Learnt a lot.  Sailed up to Juhu beach, and picked up a Chi Chi girlfriend of theirs, who I had to haul into the boat, to my embarrassment. "Wendy" went beautifully, fairly gets along.

Monday, 3rd January

Endurance march with all FOO parties: everybody carrying wireless sets etc.  Pretty tough going.  Barns nearly collapsed, so I had to carry his wireless set as well for 2 miles - nearly finished me off!  Fortunately, we ran into a water purifying station at the critical moment.  Pretty done in when we got back in.

(The wireless set weighed about 18 lbs so I was carrying about 36 lbs of wireless set when the wretched Barns collapsed, in addition to rifle and other kit.  I remember it vividly as it being an extremely unpleasant exercise, and the heat was terrific.)

Tuesday, 4th January

A bit shattered after yesterday.  One foot very sore.  Went out on "Sending on the March"; very nervously took over sending myself for short periods and was very gratified at being told sending was good!  Letter from Fay and Sandy saying he's at Sandhurst OC TU lucky blighter, sounds OK. 

(All our conversation on these particular wireless sets were in Morse, operating over long distances from the shore to the destroyer or other war ship out to sea.  We had to work at about 21 words a minute which was fairly fast Morse code and needed a great deal of practice.  The two naval signallers were very good, but I did make a point of being almost has good as them in case of casualties etc.)

[TC note: Sandy was Geoffrey’s younger brother who had just left Wellington College. Fay Hawkins was Geoffrey’s cousin]

Wednesday, 5th January

Drew my issue - 3 months - of air letter cards and wrote home.  Glad I have got my supply guaranteed for a bit.  Tragedy - Egan has come back and taken his gramophone and records.  However, he is only one block behind me so I can still hear it at times.  Night march started at mid-night. 

Thursday, 6th January

Night march was not at all bad; very cool and quite good going.  Had to carry three batteries, total 30 lbs; hardly felt it after 1st mile or so.  Paddy suffered from bruised heel.  Inoculated TAB and vaccination; very nearly sick!

(we did a great deal of practice marching both day and night, and all the time remaining in touch with the theoretical warship which was some miles out to sea represented by the staff;  the Indian sailors took a long time to get used this rather tough work, as it wasn't their way of life at all, but in the end they were really quite good.  Paddy was a great friend of mine, Paddy Kent, and we served quite a lot together in later months).

Friday, 7th January

Felt absolutely bloody all day, stayed in bed. Temperature 103 degrees and over.  Thought I was going to have another go of heat exhaustion, but sweated it out before the evening, thank goodness.  Never felt as bad before as a result of TAB and vaccination. 

[TC: Geoffrey suffered severe heat exhaustion in 1943 early on when training in India see 12th January entry.]

Saturday, 8th January

Temperature down but still feel awful in the head.  Doctor insisted that I get up, which made me feel much worse at first!  Parcel from Mummy. Tragedy-cigarette lighter has been stolen enroute.  But there is pipe and tobacco very welcome. 

(I didn’t smoke cigarettes at all, but I did like the odd pipe and tobacco was almost impossible to buy.)

[TC: ‘Mummy’ was Katherine Collin with his father Charles had both moved back to live with Katherine’s parents at ‘Greenroyd’ in Ripon, North Yorkshire, England]

Sunday, 9th January

Volunteered officially today to train as a parachute FOO!  More I think about it the more frightened I feel.  But I suppose it’s worth having a go and will certainly be something accomplished if successful.  Would like to take part in a straight forward combined operation first, which I have hopes of.  Feeling better today but still weak, sunbathed on the sand with Fitz, Paddy and two stray dogs.

Monday, 10th January

Still feeling mouldy, had a strong dose of salts which I trust may have beneficial results as well.  Feeling very depressed at this out of sorts condition, dislike missing marches and training.  One this morning evidently not too energetic.  Got snaps of Teddy developed two days ago, came out quite well, one very good, now adorns photo frame next to Sandy.

(Teddy Fisher was a WREN and the sister of a great friend of mine who was in the regiment before we left England, Bill Fisher.  I sailed across in HMSO Kenya from Colombo to Mombasa and to my amazement I heard that Teddy Fisher was serving there.  We had a few short excursions at Mombasa, when I managed to get leave off the ship, but it was a pretty tight schedule and we set sail again for Colombo, zig zagging because of the reported presence of Japanese submarines. This was part of my training as a Bombardment Liaison Officer, and it was fun, I found myself trained also as the ships Cypher Officer, working in the bowels of the ship on very top secret signals; I was also put in charge of one of the Ack-Ack guns on the starboard side)

[TC: ‘WREN’ refers to the WRNS or Woman’s Royal Navy Service, colloquially known as WRENs]  

Tuesday, 11th January

A somewhat memorable day.  All told by Freddy Marsh that a major operation was planned for this month, that has now been cancelled.  If it had taken place Paddy and I would have gone off as parachute FOO - what an amazing thought!  But now it seems that no chance at all of anything firm happening at present.   All most depressing.  Felt sick all day.

Wednesday, 12th January

Whisked off to hospital, suspected Jaundice.  Really very pleasant to be able to relax at last.  Wish I could overcome continuous sickness feeling.  Otherwise not too bad.  Colaba Hospital pretty good.  Plenty of room.  Awful ride here in ambulance with Indian driver.

(I had obviously been feeling very unwell because of the beginnings of Jaundice.  This was my second spell in hospital, the first being in Bangalore in 1942 when we had just arrived in India, and I was admitted into hospital with heat exhaustion and a temperature of about 106, and evidently had about 20 minutes to live!  My life was saved by drinking concentrated salt water and being packed in blocks of ice.)

Thursday, 13th January

Still sickness feeling.  Not very yellow yet, except in the eyes.  Everybody expects me to blossom out soon in yellow it seems.  Probably stay in hospital for about 4 weeks - what a thought!  Reading hard all day, only thing to do. 

Friday, 14th January

(very difficult to read some parts of this entry)

Feeling not quite so sick today.  Quite decent RAF man in bed on one side of me, other side not so good, came back rolling drunk last night.

Saturday, 15th January

Feeling distinctly improved.  Had welcome visit from Fitz and Prosser, who bought letters from home, at long last after 3 week gap.  All been ill at Greenroyd over Christmas, poor Mummy must have had a rotten time.  Fitz talking about getting back to his regiment, shall be bloody envious if he does, would like nothing better myself.

Sunday, 16th January

Visit from Paddy bringing sea mail from Greenroyd dated 1st December, pretty quick. Daddy been casting eyes at my bedroom slippers but firmly rebuffed by Mummy, good work.  Feel very homesick these days, thinking about Greenroyd the garden nursery etc and all the old haunts and memories.  Much wish I was back there, with Sandy for a few weeks.

Monday, 17th January

Reading about one book per 24 hours, not much of a selection here unfortunately.  Wireless on occasionally in the background.  I wish I had the gramophone and some decent records.  Wrote a note to Mrs Robertson and hope she may come to see me and may invite me to spend my sick leave in Ootacomund.

(Mrs Roberston was a person I had never met and had had letters from and she was the mother of my contemporary and great friend at Wellington, Jimmy Robertson who went into the RAF)

[TC: Ootacomund or ‘Ooty’ was a hill station 128 KM south of Mysore. It was used as an officer club and was pleasantly cool because of the altitude. It is now a Taj hotel.]  

Tuesday, 18th January

(this day is almost impossible to read)

I wish I had not got to wait so long for somebody to bring out my mail from the CTC, expecting several letters soon.

Wednesday, 19th January

Wrote six aerogramme and two letters, good work.  Surprise visit from Paddy, who is just off on three weeks leave to Ooty.  Parachute training starts towards end of Feb, so I may make it.

(several lines illegible). See letter from Fay, who has just put ‘Ceylon’ flash on her shoulder.  Ruddy cheek!

Thursday, 20th January

Yellowness definitely coming on (….) and they insist on giving me salts!  New man moved into bed next door been on some very high fever; has a wife, nice looking girl, sits by his bed all day.  Rather embarrassing especially as I am wearing sarong.

(The hospital was a very airy and nice building, typical colonial style, it was very hot, and we had all grown accustomed to wearing a native sarong for sleeping at nights, which was usually quite difficult to keep up if we got out of bed!)

Friday, 21st January

Vaccinated again much to my disgust owing to an outbreak in Bombay.  Last lot on me didn’t take so perhaps this may do.  Suffering from very unpleasant tooth ache.  Horrible visions of the dentist! 

(rest of entry illegible)

Saturday, 22nd January

(whole entry illegible)

Sunday, 23rd January

(mostly illegible)

Rumoured that Viceroy may be visiting the hospital tomorrow; got a good mark from Sister for tidiness of my bed, quite the blue eyed boy.  Military band played outside for our benefit.

Monday, 24th January

A very black day. Got up for two hours and telephoned Major Robertson who told me that John had been killed in flying accident, Mrs Robertson taking it badly, and I won’t go and see them for bit yet.  I can’t hardly believe it’s true; never again to see old mother Robertson.   That’s two of my best friends killed, both Johns.  I pray that Bill and David will be spared.  All done something in the war except me.  I could almost kill myself if nothing happens soon, eternally waiting and waiting and nothing happening.

(John Robertson was, as I have mentioned, a great friend in the Orange with me at Wellington and he was killed in a heavy bomber flying accident, I think. Bill and David were two other friends from Wellington who both survived the war in various theatres.)

[TC: Orange was Geoffrey’s school house at Wellington College]

Tuesday, 25th January

Got up for four hours, feel extremely weak, and was almost exhausted after trip downstairs and back, weighed myself, 9 stone in clothes; must put on more weight.  Rang up CTC; as a result of recent conference I evidently have option of re-joining regiment permanently.  Told Mainwaring that I wanted to do this.  Marsh rang up later and is coming to see me tomorrow, obviously to dissuade me.  But I feel determined to get back, and feel extremely happy at the thought, and have weighed up all considerations.

Wednesday, 26th January

A truly momentous day, Freddie Marsh arrived and explained everything.  He badly wanted me to stay and be a parachute FOO, but although that will give me plenty of fun and glory, I feel sure I will never be happy without a troop to command and work with ordinary gunners again.  So, I asked to go back to 114, about a 2/1 chance.  Major Jackson was in Bombay yesterday; just got his note asking me to dine, feel absolutely furious at missing him it was just what I most wanted.  I have written a long letter to him, also the CO explaining all.

(Major Jackson was my battery commander in 232 battery in 114 regiment, a man for whom I had a great respect, and I had hoped that I would enlist his aid in getting me back to his battery)

Thursday, 27th January

Several letters and a parcel from England; batteries from Stuart for my torch.  Long letter from Yvonne who seems to be having a fascinating time in Colombo!  No letters at all from Teddy since I left Kalindi on Dec 2nd!  Got up for half day and went for a very short stroll outside hospital. - still groggy and very pale but definitely improving.  Feel very worried over this posting business, hope it goes well and I get back to 114 and not shoved into another strange regiment

(Yvonne was a Wren officer in Colombo who I met briefly when I was there, and Teddy Fisher was also a WREN but a rating stationed in Mombasa, and was a sister of a great friend of mine Bill Fisher)

Friday, 28th January

Really feeling much stronger, up for half the day and went out for a short walk without collapsing!  Also did a spot of sunbathing to take away my ghastly paleness.  Letter from Mrs Robertson now in hospital, asking me to visit her if possible, rather pathetic.  Now plunged into Dickens and Barnaby Rudge, most enjoyable book.  I perform each evening and make Horlicks and milk for myself and others in the ward; lost half the milk last night by boiling it over, otherwise pretty good. 

Saturday, 29th January

Visit from Wigram, just back from RN.  He suggested we go on leave together and is booking by telegram at possible Officer hostels which are supposed to be excellent.  Doc let me up for a whole day today and says I seem to be going on well and possibly out by next Saturday.  Went for about one hours walk this afternoon and felt fairly good but a bit shattered on my return.  Got confirmation from Lloyds buying me a further 133 savings certificates.  Ought to be able to send back Rupees 2,000 fairly soon and should get my savings certificates up to £500.

Sunday, 30th January

Went for a shopping tour in the town, very successful but managed to spend an incredible amount of money!  Bought Wingate’s Phantom Army, as it may give some useful pointers for my future operations!  Tried to buy some grey trousers for leave price 70 RS!  Quite beyond my pocket, at least beyond what I intend spending.

Monday, 31st January

Another stroll around and definite general healthy improvement, getting a spot of colour back chiefly due to sunbathing!   Enjoying Barnaby Rudge, great joy.  String band and banjo concert in the hospital, absolutely excellent and just out from England.  Playing at the Palladium.  Played and tried to learn Mah-jong, great fun and very fascinating scoring and rather difficult. 

Tuesday, 1st February

Wigram called, all fixed up for leave in Ootacamund, booked at officers’ hostel with excellent name.  I am not having a medical board but being discharged straight from hospital, and then going on privilege leave.  I don’t want to risk being downgraded for a few weeks when my posting to 114 may be considered at GHQ.  Excellent letter from David encouraging me to think about post war careers; wrote to M and D about the careers question.

(At this time, I was very uncertain as to what my future career might be after the war.  I felt in my heart that I would enjoy soldiering and be quite good at it, but I was also anxious to do something more specific and demanding possibly, and I hankered after engineering and read several books.  Unfortunately, my mind was extremely rusty about higher mathematics, and it was daunting to think of having to go back to square 1 again.)

Wednesday, 2nd February

Fairly quiet day, visited by Harding Roberts who bought two more torch batteries from England; have now got a supply of about 12!  Rang up and spoke to Mrs Roberts and I am lunching with her at Yacht club tomorrow.  Patient in here just come from V Force in 14th Army.  Pointed out to me where 20 Div are around Tamu area, where I thought they were.  He says conditions there are pretty bloody, with probability of advancing to River Chindwin. 

(V Force were a strange and unconventional group of officers, many of them had worked in Burma before the war and who penetrated well behind the Jap lines and fed back invaluable information.)

Thursday, 3rd February

Lunch with Mrs Roberts at the Yacht club, not nearly as bad as I dreaded.  Mrs R was very sensible and seemed quite well, and we talked a lot about John, in fact, I myself felt quite miserable after talking about old times etc.  With John, David and myself.  We talked a lot about them, and Mrs R evidently very fond of both of them and realised that David’s family background is pretty grim. Poor sod!  I kick myself for the way I stopped writing to him after leaving Wellington, but we are OK again and I would much like to see him again.

(John was Mrs Robertson’s son who I mentioned was killed in the RAF, and David was D’Arency Martin, another friend of mine in The Orange at Wellington, who got polio at the outbreak we had at school; he was completely paralysed, and I went and stayed near Oxford and visited him in the Nuffield hospital there; he could only move his neck at one time, and it as incredible that eventually he was fit enough to join the Sudan Civil Service but not, unfortunately, the Army.)

Friday, 4th February

Visited CTC; collected all my kit etc for leave; bloody journey there and back which may have shaken up my old liver a bit; collected two letters from Fay and Barton and arranged for other mail to be forwarded.  Taking my SD and my battle dress up to Ooti and warm shirts etc and no room for a great coat.

(Fay is my cousin, now Fay Hawkins.  Barton refers to my Godfather Tommy Kirk and his wife Peggy who were extremely good at always writing to me).

[TC: SD is Service Dress, formal every day officer uniform, not combat fatigues)

Saturday, 5th February

Visited dentist before leaving hospital; will have to go back to him after leave. Caught 18.47 train from Bombay to Madras, with Wigram, the accommodation OK.  Not feeling too good, nasty headache this morning.  Journey so far quite comfortable reading a lot; excellent book by Stephen Leecock. ‘Our British Empire’.

(We travelled overnight in the Indian sleeper, which was quite reasonable accommodation but I remember not feeling particularly well having just come out of hospital and as I mentioned I managed to avoid having a medical board which would have downgraded me, and hence I was just sent on normal privileged leave.)

Sunday, 6th February

Arrived Madras 19.00; caught train 19.45 for Ooty.  Accommodation very short; train absolutely packed with school children, English, all going back to school in Ooty.  All looks very English all screaming around the platform with harassed parents.  Detected a slight yellowness in my eyes this evening, hope to goodness I do not have relapse.

Monday, 7th February

Last 6,000 ft by rack and pinion railway.  Glorious scenery arrived here, Arrived at Officer’s hostel about 2.00.  Seems a glorious place got Doc here to give me a run over but gave a favourable report, just said must take things very easily.  Sharing a room with Wigram and one other; own bathroom beautifully equipped.  Glorious hot bath and a bed with piles of blankets!

(Ooty was a hill station 6,000 ft up, with a very English climate with fires in the grate and so on.  It was an absolute blessing after the years of heat and so on.)

Tuesday, 8th February

Cruised very gently around the grounds.  A truly wonderful place, wonderful building like old English country house, beautiful garden, two tennis courts etc.  House run by most capable Lady Stowe.  Food is excellent and making an absolutely pig of myself and be hanged to the diet.  Service very good and a bearer supplied.  Feeling and looking much better today.  Rang up Fitz about 10 miles away, coming over Thursday.

Wednesday, 9th February

Finished "Our British Empire", and badly bitten by idea of emigrating to Canada or NZ after the war.  Sounds great place.  Went for a short stroll, feeling miles better.  This is really a delightful place, excellently run and beautifully clean.  Weather is absolutely glorious, but one feels out of breath at the least exertion owing to great height.  Sun is very hot but beautifully cold out of it.  Fires indoors in the evening; eating glucose.

(As I have mentioned it was an unsettling time and the idea of emigrating after the war was attractive but didn't last very long!)

Thursday, 10th February

Fits and Posser came over for the day by bus.  Good fun seeing them again, discussed bombardment unit at great length and with much amusement!  Had strawberries and cream in the village at Davis, marvellous.  I walked down to Ooti and felt a bit wobbly at end of the day, decided to write to Marsh and request four weeks leave, consider it would be foolishness to go back before then, I would obviously be very unfit.  My two possibilities now are 114 or Parachute FOO; feel about equal between the two.

Friday, 11th February

Quit a long walk into the town with Wiggy and didn't feel too bad after it.  Could not see anything worth buying, except cashmere shawls which are rupees 64 each!  Big dance on tonight but don't feel strong enough to go to it, much as I would like to.  Wrote to Yvonne and sent her the snaps taken at Mount Lavinia.  Met two 115 officers up here Hubbard and Hazelrigg. 

(Mount Lavinia is a lovely (____) on the coast about six miles south from Colombo, where I met Yvonne on one of my trips to Ceylon!)

Saturday, 12th February

Played a few shots at tennis with Wiggy and found my eye was quite well in.  Wondered up to and around the golf course and joined the club for a week.  Very nice open country around the course, rolling down, very cold out of the sun.  A few rowdies started singing filthy songs in the lounge this evening; one wants if possible, to get away from that sort of activity when on leave.

Sunday, 13th February

Went to church; pleasant little place, but hymn tunes much too high and sermon not very interesting.  Choir consisted of six young girls rather attractive, who giggled rather a lot but sang lustily in high voices, with which I was quite unable to compete.  Knocked tennis balls again and felt very tired by the evening.

Monday, 14th February

Spent the day with Fitz and Posser at Coonor.  Lovely bus ride down there.  Both excellent friends, especially Fitz, I wonder very much if I shall see them again?  They certainly seem to be having good fun with plenty of civilian acquaintances, but their billets did not have a bathroom etc. with running water, which of course we have, and I consider most essential.

(I cannot remember whether or not I saw Fitz and Posser again, but by nature of our work as (___) FOOs we were very much dispersed and on our own; we knew that operations were coming up, and hence the gloomy comment about seeing them again.)

Tuesday, 15th February

Got batch of letters forwarded; news from Greenroyd at last.  Nothing yet from Teddy, so I finished off a letter started on Christmas day, and sent some snaps.  Cannot understand why she has not written, unless the mail has been sunk, unlikely.  Wrote home a rather aggressive letter putting down my thoughts and opinions about the white population here and their attitude towards service people.

Wednesday, 16th February

Played eleven holes of golf with Wiggy; for myself I did quite well, several quite decent drives, but need a lot more practice and had a difficult job to refrain from losing my temper at times!  Wiggy a good player, did badly.  Very easy to lose golf balls, and ball boys are absolutely useless, pick up and hide the balls - they have you entirely at their mercy.

Thursday, 17th February

Walked up to golf club and back for a cup of coffee; very cold.  Played tennis after tea, a foursome; one player was quite hopeless, so we all played badly.  Heard and recognised Beethoven’s 7th on the wireless.  Finished reading "English Saga", excellent, but most depressing; how are we ever going to make a decent England after this war?  It's going to be a hell of a job and will influential people at home play fair?

Friday, 18th February

Cold and cloudy morning.  Three good sets of tennis with Wiggy, which he beat me 2-1.  Played quite well for a change, feel that I am still not nearly so good as in days gone by.  I'm petrified of doing certain strokes, like the forehand drive

Saturday, 19th February

Played foursome at tennis - not very good - stopped by rain.  Allamore dance; quite good show.  Served behind the bar from 10.15 - 11.15 and learnt quite a bit about mixing drinks!  Introduced to some elderly ladies by Lady Stow.  So, managed to have a few dances with the old beans!  Two of them very decent and one asked me up to her house anytime (civilian contact at last!)  Another one is writing me introductions to people in Bombay.

Sunday, 20th February

Church with Wiggy; quite different from last week, no organ and Parson was very flat.  Lots of male voices all singing lively but getting flatter and flatter.  Wiggy left to return to CTC by 22nd, and still awaiting reply from Marsh about my decision to remain on up here.  Brigadier ‘Hair Trigger’ Stevens just arrived here - help!

Monday, 21st February

Suffering from a cold in the head therefore taking things fairly quietly.  Wandered up to Mrs Gibson’s house by the golf club; she seems a decent old lady and lent me two books; she is evidentially guardian to the children of some royal or other.

Tuesday, 22nd February

Cold worse and feeling pretty bloody.  Stayed in most the day.  Reading Douglas Reed’s ’Profit at Home’.  Most excellent and all very true; I’m afraid I am becoming rather anti-school tie or anti-Tory party!  Due perhaps to my horror of any people who are inefficient, lazy etc at vital jobs.

Wednesday, 23rd February

Cold has reached climax, I hope.  Finished Reed and starting ‘Silas Marner’, an opposite type of book completely.  But I delight in Elliot’s character studies of the old village folk.  Ought to be hearing soon about my posting or otherwise, though we can’t expect too much from Fred Marsh’s army!

Thursday, 24th February

Cold miles better; went for a delightful two hour hike wearing boots through the surrounding forest.  Saw many beautiful and new trees, birds and butterflies.  Received film from Madras; took self portrait of myself wearing slouch hat!  Brigadier Steve is making thorough nuisance of himself.

Friday, 25th February

Eight mile hike along roads, very pleasant but ended up with feet a bit tender and strolled up to Mrs Gibson’s in afternoon and borrowed Random Harvest and Jekyll & Hyde.  Had tea at golf house after a pleasant forty winks on the hill overlooking the course.  Weather absolutely delightful again, hot and clear air but cold in the shade.  Feeling quite recovered from the cold by now.

Saturday 26th February

Still a bit of catarrh in nose.  Fairly quiet day; went for a walk around club hill and met three boys picking wild guavas and joined in and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  First time for years that I have spoken to children and it was a really great pleasure.  Indian nurse rather disgusted me by her insinuations.

[TC: Guavas is a tropical fruit]

Sunday 27th February

Went to morning service my unfortunate cold prevented my usual beautiful singing!  Another quiet day of reading.  Putting some hard practice on the billiard table, at last showing some signs of progress.  Met two decent chaps just arrived here RAF and RM commando; more my age and not quite such drunken types as most of them seem to be here.

Monday 28th February

Called again at Gibsons and collected Wind in the Willows, Wuthering Heights and A Scot.  Had coffee at Golf Club.  Was settling down for evening writing when I was [embagled] into Lady Stow’s party at Primrose Dance.  Much as I expected; only danced Paul Jones; whole evening rather bored me, except the eats were excellent - meringues!

Tuesday 29th February

Went down to town with RAF and RM Lieutenant; morning coffee at Davis’s.  Just heard that Audrey and Mrs Banks are staying at the Ooti Club what a small world.  Played threesome at golf in afternoon; 15 holes; best I’ve ever played; quite a lot of confidence now.  Average 1.5 strokes over bogie each hole, driving very well but putting very weak.

Wednesday, 1st March

Took RAF Pilot for walk in the woods and arrived back on his knees, RAF do not like walking!  RM Lieutenant is extremely nice man; we’ve got tastes very similar and get on excellently.  We discuss books, politics etc such a change just to be perfectly at ease and natural with someone of one’s own age and type.  He. like me, is beginning to think and see the whole world, books, music etc in an entirely new light and to appreciate their great work.  Had one and quarter hours ping-pong with him.

Thursday, 2nd March

Played 18 holes with RAF, quite successful; very energetic course; RAF quite on his knees again!  Met couple of civilians here on leave in the evening who asked me up to meet the Banks tomorrow at the Golf Club.  Quite anxious to see Audrey again.

Friday, 3rd March

Met Mrs Banks at Golf Club; would hardly have recognised her in her thick clothes and dark glasses!  She was very pleasant.  Heard on the wireless that there is great agitation in the Commons for increase on army pay; good idea but doubt whether anything is really possible; but anyhow the soldier will at last be getting some highly deserved praise.

Saturday 4th March

Good day, went to pet show, good fun.  Two cats escaped!  Joined Bank’s party at the big dance here and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Sunday 5th March

Church and HC.  Afternoon packing and getting up to date with letters and said goodbye to Mrs Gibson.  Dinner at club with Banks; Audrey looked a bit weepy after saying goodbye to her Squadron Leader!  Pleasant evening rather spoilt by being joined afterwards by two slightly boozy civilians who were at the dance; lovely walking back in the evening.

Monday 6th March

Left Aaron Moor with regret at 13:30, after a pleasant four weeks.  Though wish I had been thoroughly fit all the time.  I had known some decent civilians etc.  Mrs Gibson rang up and said she would write to Mummy, very thoughtful of her; a decent lady and realises that soldiers in India are human beings!

Tuesday, 7th March

Arrived Madras 07:10, just in time to catch Bombay train.  Quite pleasant run though it is damned hot, especially after Ooti.  Can’t do any reading owing to having broken my glasses at Ooti, on the bridge of the nose, and they keep falling off, despite plaster - most amusing.

(Looking back the few weeks at Ooti were a marvellous time for me, having arrived there feeling pretty ill, and managed to get back my strength and fitness, ready for the rigours of the next few weeks.  It was also a change and a pleasure to meet a few ordinary people and civilians, which was something which we never normally did).

Wednesday, 8th March

Arrived Bombay 12.45 with 8 annas in my pocket.  Discovered to my horror that the banks were closed so had to cadge 10 rupees of a perfect stranger in the Taj.  Arrived out here, Juhu for tea and learnt from Major Mainwaring, new chief instructor, that I am liable to recall from my regiment for parachute training etc.  Rather browned off, but it is useless kicking against the fence perhaps it will work out for the best. 

Thursday 9th March

This is a good place; lovely house and camp right on the sea shore.  Four chaps have gone back to England for liaison - lucky beans!  Half the unit in Salom for few months also lucky beans!  Rest of them are attached to various regiments.  Mainwaring still annoys me.  Got all my kit out and sorted and packed and one hell of a game, trying to decide what to take with me.  Huge lump of mail received, lovely. 

Friday 10th March

Went into Bombay with intent to shop, and disgusted to find yet another Hindu holiday, banks closed.  Everybody (natives) going around with all their clothes covered with red Okar and coloured water.  Managed to borrow 50 rupees and did some valuable shopping.  Saw Heaven Can Wait - quite amusing and hardly correct moral teaching I suspect!

Saturday 11th March

Frantic rush into bank in Bombay; afternoon lazing and then left for station.  Well here I am in Calcutta train, next stop Chin Hill!  What an adventure still can’t decide whether I prefer to stay in Combined Operations or back to 114.  Think I will see what the lie of the land is in the Regiment, and if OK put special request to stay.

Sunday, 12th March

Quite pleasant days travelling.  Almost empty carriage.  Started Kidnapped and dipped into my Golden Treasury with great pleasure; discovered I remembered a lot of poems I learnt at school which I had entirely forgotten about.  Met a dust whirlpool in evening, most unpleasant in carriage.

Monday, 13th March

Arrived 04:35hrs!  Waited six hours for truck to 35 Reinforcement Camp.  Not a bad place here but hope not to have to stay too long.  Huge camp practically empty at moment.  Saw a shocking film excerpts from Steven S Henges Stated.  Met a Sergeant Major Handley, ex 231 Battery left us in Salom.  Used to be in my Carlo class at Haywoods Heath!

Tuesday, 14th March

Very pleasant to get movement orders so soon.  Bit of a flap before leaving - discovered I had lost my glasses but found them in the cinema thank goodness.  As I get headaches when reading but want to read badly.  Left camp 13:00.  Had to change late tonight.  Trust I didn’t get Malaria at Gaya, thousands of mosquitoes.

Wednesday, 15th March

Arrived at Casealdon, RTO said no accommodation for five days!  However, I managed to get a seat on the one o’clock train.  Very comfortable.  Far too much so, considering we are travelling to a war front.  I find the whole thing very difficult to believe, and still can’t decide whether or not I’d like to stay with 114 Regiment.

Thursday, 16th March (starts combat operations through to 20th May)

Cross the Bramaputra this morning; will arrive Manipur Road at midnight, awful!  A lot of bamboo jungle around here, and people beginning to look more like Ghurkhas with snub noses and slit eyes.  Much pleasanter than the Indians.

Friday, 17th March

01:00 hours arrived re-enforcement camp.  Left 09.30 by bus for 20 Reinforcement Camp near Imphal.  Hair raising drive in back of three tonner driven by Indian.  Goodness knows why we weren’t killed!  Road is really excellent, far better than anything I would have imagined.  Rumours flying around about Japs breaking through around 20 Camp.

Saturday, 18th March

Japs had definitely done some damage at the front.  Tiddin fallen and 20 Div seems to be rather surrounded.  Imphal being bombed three times a day and a general flap is on!  I am going forward as soon as road in opened again.  Wish I had got in before.  Harry Freeman must be in the party good and proper!  Bloody cold up here!

(The whole business of moving up to the war zone was really quite extraordinary; we had very little news, and rumours that we got were that things were pretty bad at the front and the Japs had broken through at various places.  However, we had no idea how far down the road the Japs had come and how big was their encircling movement.  In fact, as I later discovered the Japs were not very far away from either side of the road where I was staying that night, climbing up in the jungle before they attacked the road fortunately after I had finally got through and on to the sharper end.)

Sunday, 19th March

News from the Front is not so alarming today and am impatiently awaiting transport.  I am in a complete mental conflict as to whether or not to try and stay in 114.  If I don’t, I may miss the parachuting and then would I be happy as an ordinary FOO!  I ought to be but I am not sure, an FOO has everything to offer - books, health etc - except the command of a troop. 

Monday, 20th March

Three refugee officers arrived last night, being besieged five days by Japs on Tidden Road, but broke out after a nasty journey through the jungle with wounded men from the hospital.  Lent my trousers and shirt to one officer, who had got nothing at all.  After much agitation I am going up in a convoy tomorrow, fighting is evidentially going on but road is clear; hope I get through OK.  Japs certainly seem to be doing well.

Tuesday, 21st March

Arrived in evening at Palel rest camp, in convoy of 80 BOR reinforcements.  News is definitely worse but rumour is impossible to believe and get the correct story.  Evidently Tamu has fallen and 20 Div fallen back a long way.  News of Jap large patrol all around the area.  Have to leave here at 04:30 tomorrow morning.  Have myself taken charge of draft from Borders, who have been a bit mucked about. 

Wednesday, 22nd March

Reached the Regiment and am in 479 as extra Captain.  Because 100 Brigade forming a stop here in Moreh, with a lot of Gunners.  Fighting to last man last round.  Regiment evidently had a party, and did very well, before coming back from Iitak.  Jap force evidently about 1 ½  Divisions with tanks and artillery.  John Boss is up on Shark, a hill about 1,500 yards away and being heavily attacked, two other attacks also developing tonight.

(So after quite a hair raising journey from Calcutta by train and eventually by lorry I reached the Regiment when it was in action, having fought quite a lot and now falling back.  Looking back it was a bit of luck that I got through, as shortly afterwards the road was cut completely and nothing further got up it.)

Thursday, 23rd March

All attacks last night successfully beaten off.  John Boss had a grim time.  Most of his Madrasi platoon fled including their Captain.   Three of his signallers were wounded he is being relieved and come back.  Shouldn’t be surprised if he gets a gong.  1st troop 25 pounders in action in battery.  I have command of a mobile section of 3.7 howitzers, with Bob as GPO.  Several casualties in the regiment.

Friday, 24th March

It’s grand to be back here with the Regiment again and I have arrived just at right time.  All my troop have been most kind and thoroughly welcomed me back.  Hoping I would stay.  Spent most of the day digging hard to put my section underground.  Had some bad Jap CB fire last night.  Two Jap planes flew over today.

(CB stands for Counter Battery fire; fortunately the Japs had very little artillery and therefore we did not suffer too much.)

Saturday, 25th March

It’s funny to think that I really have been in action at last, except for actually killing Japs!  First night I was definitely a bit scared and it’s funny how everything seems much worse at night and how much better everything seems when dawn has come when one has had a wash and shave and the sun is up.  Brought another troop into action; Ted is the GPO.

Sunday, 26th March

Got orders to accompany two companies at dawn on an attack towards a lonely outpost on perimeter.  Set off OK but Japs had hopped it and our own men held OK.  Came back shortly afterwards, was absolutely exhausted, the climb was up and down the whole time, filthy going and damn fast.  Saw a dead Jap while out, horrible sight.  Also registered some DF tasks.  My first ones in action!  Also did GPO last night for the first time in action.

(That was my first really hard action patrol in the most appalling conditions of heat and country.  The DF means defensive fire tasks which we recorded round our positions in case they were needed to be fired on at night.)

Monday, 27th March

Went up to Shark OP to relieve the OP party.  Seems to be fairly good position here, forty Punjabis and bags of wine all round.  We are right outside the main perimeter and the hill is damn steep and fairly small on top we are very well dug in.  Enemy started firing about 18:45 fairly heavily into gun area, and one landed a few feet outside my trench, a bit shaky!

Tuesday, 28th March

More shelling again this morning, could see flashes from enemy guns.   Three Jap bombers came over after breakfast escorted by Zeros and bombed the area very accurately but casualties pretty light evidently.  Where were our own fighters?  BC arrived here very puffed, to have a look around we are pretty comfortable here really have some good men and plenty of food.

(Zeros were the Japanese fighters who escorted their bombers we saw quite a lot of them during the campaign)

Wednesday, 29th March

Saw a section of Japs with aid of telescope, in area of new Tamu.  Also large number of villages.  Everything seems much too quiet just now and I wonder what the Jap is up to.  Reports have come in that he pushing strongly around and behind us towards Imphal and Kohima; if he cuts the Imphal/Manipur road things will get a bit sticky over supplies etc for us.

Thursday, 30th March

Type 38 Jap recky plane flew a few feet over my OP - bloody nerve!  Heard from the Sikh Captain who is a damned fine fellow and we get on exceedingly well, that we are evacuating Moreh.  I can hardly believe it.  It will effect the morale of the men adversely I fear and goodness knows how we will every manage to recapture this road. Evidentially the Japs are seriously threatening in Imphal.

(This was the first real indication we had that the Japs were well behind us - about 40 miles behind us and cutting the main road and supply routes forward.)

Friday, 31st March

Yesterday evening got permission to engage an enemy battery I have spotted firing from a Mullah, but it was too dark to observe properly.  I engaged it this morning and all rounds reported to have landed bang on the guns, although I couldn’t quite see them come down from OP in afternoon.  Came down from OP in afternoon and went straight to the Ghurkhas as FOO.  Practically everybody has now left the area and withdrawn. 

Saturday, 1st April

Rather hair raising night last night with Japs patrol making hell of a row just outside the wire.  I was FOO in Moreh, and thank goodness we got away OK apart from some shelling.  Came straight here to Shenam, bloody cold hail and rain!  Feeling rather miserable, but morale of men is pretty high.  I am afraid we lost a hell of a lot of kit and men Moreh.

(I had a section two guns and some infantry and myself with artillery on call, and reacted as the final rear guard coming out of Moreh, it was quite a hair raising business and the guns were sighted on the road in case the Japs used any tanks, which fortunately they did not!  We were very lucky to get away unscathed and drove like made up to the next field which I think was about 20 miles away and was extremely high about 6000 feet hence the cold.  Quite a dramatic change after the heat of the lower jungle).

Sunday, 2nd April

Palm Sunday. Spent whole day digging in gun position right on top of a ridge, almost 6000 feet up.  Still damned cold, but we have now got some tarpaulin, and also issued with great coats and extra blankets; we certainly need them here!  Although in the day when the sun is out everything is rather lovely, and we have a magnificent view all round, right on top of the world up here.

Monday, 3rd April

Another heavy days digging, feel quite exhausted.  Japs are dug in a bunker position about two to three miles away, quite visible from here.  We shell it continuously, and attack also, but they still hold on.  Magnificent soldiers they must be; got three letters from home, very pleasant and Mother suggests I should be a lawyer!  Well it certainly appeals to me if it’s at all possible!

Tuesday, 4th April

Another move impending; perhaps it may be a bit warmer than this ridge. Position at Kohima sounds very grim, but evidently troops are being flown in rapidly into Imphal, including 33 Corps.  Food is still very good, and not much doing in our immediate vicinity.

Wednesday, 5th April

Moved forward to a very exposed position, only a few hundred yards from the Japs.  Most of the digging already done thank goodness. I share a small hole with a Battery Commander and his assistant, just room to turn round.  Have taken over Barrett as Batman, heaven help me!  My official number on the radio net is 13 - good luck! 

Thursday, 6th April

Went as FOO with 3/1 Ghurkhas to Sita, but nothing much happened.  Japs were in very near vicinity.  Registered DF target to cheer up the old Madrasis, and put one round 25 yards outside the wire, which shook them up a bit.  Marvellous how many jeep tracks there are in these hills, literally honeycombed with them.

(The Madrasis were not a particularly military race and were mostly in administrative jobs; there was a Madrasi battalion with us at some time, and they behaved pretty poorly; they were usually pretty frightened at night and tended to fire off their rifles continually.)

Friday, 7th April

Moving once more; tonight.  Even closer to Jap positions now only 800 yards away.  Still things seem pretty quiet and getting a bit boring, though I suppose that’s foolish of me to say so.  Golden Treasury is a great blessing, but simply cannot get into the mood for writing any letters.

(I bought a copy of the ‘Golden Treasury of Poems’ just before going out to Burma, and I carried it throughout the campaign in my haversack; I read it through from cover to cover, and it was great joy to me and I remember even now many of the poems.  I still have the little book, although it is fairly part worn and quite difficult to read in some parts!)

Saturday, 8th April

Another tricky night occupation accomplished without mishap.  Still more digging to be done, guns much too close together, and altogether a bloody awful position.  Japs on bunker very visible and we engaged them over open sights, rather like shooting at disappearing targets at the fair!

(A night occupation was a particular gunner exercise which involved getting guns into action with the minimum of noise and without lights and was always a tricky business and required much training and rehearsal if it wasn’t to turn into a shambles!  The guns were on a narrow ridge firing across the road and a small valley at I think it was Nippon Hill where the Japs had been dug in for two or three weeks, and the hill had been attacked unsuccessfully by us several times.)

Sunday, 9th April

E Troop moved back towards Palel with BHQ.  I’m now in charge here; spent day cleaning up gun position and getting things generally straightened up.  Water is a great problem as we may be completely cut off at any time.  Defence of gun position a tricky problem, and I moved my bed in the middle of night to a safer area!  Shelling starting up a bit now.

(It was a strange position, we were extremely exposed but fortunately the Japs hadn’t got much artillery although they could mortar us and attack with machine guns; we had to rely entirely on our own defence, a difficult business at night when the Japs often came in between the guns.)

Monday, 10th April

Relieved ‘The Count’ at OP (Morgan), shortly afterwards we were heavily shelled and attacked.  My signaller, Duffin, was hit but mercifully killed almost outright but a nasty mess.  Line cut and wireless set smashed; thank goodness for the lamp.  Jap attack was beaten off eventually.  Things looked distinctly sticky, as the OP is a damm small hill and shelling very accurate.

(This action on OP Morgan was a tricky business; the hill was very small only about ten yards across at the top and was a key position occupied by a platoon of Indian infantry plus a Gunner OP.  It was astride the road and clearly visible to the Japs who wished to attack it.  I arrived at the OP about 5 o’clock, and shelling started about 15 minutes later; I was busy trying to use my compass to get a bearing on the flash of the Jap gun when a shell landed in our little slit trench; all our equipment was smashed except for the signalling lamp, and the signaller died shortly afterwards, and I had the unpleasant business of trying to give him morphine injections.  The two remaining signallers were absolutely first class, and we jacked up the signalling lamp to maintain communications with the gun position which we could see about 800 yards away.  It literally saved our lives.)

Tuesday, 11th April

A grim night; Jap attacks beaten off, and we’ve got several dead and wounded; Devons attacked and took a bunker position; damn good show; they suffered heavy casualties.  Hurricane bombers did a fine display and we had a grand stand view.  We took on a few Japs on the hill during the attack, but our guns are too close up to be really effective; more shelling on our OP.

(I have written an article somewhere else about that particular night; we used morse code on the lamp to direct the guns all night, to control and call for fire.  Every time we used the lamp, we were greeted by a burst of machine gun fire from the Japs who were all around our little hill, and attacked continuously throughout the night until about three in the morning.  The infantry held well, but I don’t think they would have stayed unless our OP had been there, and suddenly they would have been completely overwhelmed; I directed the guns all round the hill and into the valley below, and had to rely entirely by the sound of the shell burst to direct the shell fire.  Clearly it was very effective we broke up a lot of attacks just as they were beginning, when we heard the Japs starting to climb up the little hill towards us.  Altogether a difficult night, and we were lucky to survive.)

Wednesday, 12th April

Japs counter-attacked Nippon Hill last night but lost at least 45 men.  After frantic efforts on my part, as nobody seems to be co-ordinating things, I moved my OP back to the Bunker Hill, and just had time to register the guns before dark.  Have 232 on call as well as F Troop.  Infantry expect attack tonight and seem very nervous; Piffers now occupying this hill and hate the Jap shelling.

(The Piffers were the name given to the frontier force regiments, who were usually first class infantry; 232 battery was deployed some two miles back but were invaluable as extra support to me.  The Nippon hill bunker was a dreadful place; it had been fought over several times and there were Japs already held up in bunkers inside the hill, trying to get out; the place was extremely unhealthy and smelt of death and everything one can think of unpleasant; I had a very small hole or trench on one side which I shared with the Infantry Company Commander.)

Thursday, 13th April

Night went off uneventfully though infantry kept seeing lights etc., begging me to shoot; have to be very firm at times can’t help getting very annoyed; every little bang they rushed to me to tell them what it is, and can’t I engage them/it with guns.  Afraid this shelling has shaken them but think they will fight OK; nights are a bit unnerving.

(This was a classic case of the infantry whose moral had got very low, because they had been engaged in constant operations for several months, in the most difficult of conditions, and had suffered very heavy officer and soldier casualties.)

Friday, 14th April

Fired some DF fire last night which greatly improved infantry moral.  C Troop landed two shells in our own troops, due I think to bad laying; we were shelled several times today, Japs bringing up lots of guns, using them singularly, and they are very hard to spot and destroy.  I engaged a 75 mm gun and stopped it firing.  Two more POWs today seemed fairly OK.  They still keep popping up out of the bunkers in our very midst.

(As I mentioned the Japs were inside the position dug in, and periodically they tunnelled their way out.  They were treated as great curiosities by us, as we had taken very few prisoners.  They were in a thoroughly aggressive mood, despite their condition, and even when offered water and cigarette refused to take them for some time and one had to be very careful that they did not produce a grenade and pull the pin out suddenly.)

Saturday, 15th April

Shelling in morning; relieved by The Count.  Jeep had five splinters before leaving!  Went back to F Troop and then down to E Troop.  Had delightful bath, and very much needed clean clothes, and then relieved John at the OP.  Very peaceful here, and no sign of the enemy.  Last night two more Japs got out of the bunker.  I had a marvellous good nights sleep, feeling utterly exhausted, presumably anti-climax.

(Basically we were totally on foot and carried all our kit, but on this occasion a jeep came up to behind the hill with new batteries and food, and that is where it got its shell splinters!)

Sunday, 16th April

Last night Japs attacked and took Morgan, bad show.  Piffers evidently ratted out.  Expect battle will intensify up there.  Got three letters from home very quickly.  Feeling much better today, had my heel patched up and did a spot of registration around the OP.  Everything very quiet and peaceful but guns in distance.  Will be going up to the OP again in seven days time if it’s still there!

(Morgan was the little hill on which I had a battle a few days before; the heel I referred to was wounded slightly by the shell that burst in our trench on Morgan, and it took the heel off my boot, but fortunately was only a very slight flesh wound and I hardly noticed it until the next day!)

Monday, 17th April

Last night was a pretty poor show.  Heard the Japs attacked Nippon Hill, Piffers skinned out and the OP party left everything behind including their wireless set.  Piffers now hold Crete, moral pretty low.  The Count back at F Troop, and Fred up as FOO.  Hope to hell they stick there.  F Troop had a direct hit last night, one killed and two wounded, also RHQ.  3rd/1 Ghurkhas doing damm well on seater track.  Japs shelled Palel this afternoon.

(My reference to The Count was an officer called Aino, who looked rather like an Italian!  Unfortunately, he and his party left Nippon in a tremendous hurry and left their radio set there and switched on also, and short while afterwards we heard the Japs talking on our radio net.  All the little hills that we were holding had code names, and Crete was a small one on our left front astride the track.)

Tuesday, 18th April

Japs attacked Crete Hill last night but were repulsed thank goodness.  Devons have now been reformed.  All here is still peace and quiet and excellent feeding!  Reading Golden Treasury with great enthusiasm, also managed to write some letters to home and Aunt Joan.  Heard that I have got to return to Juhu by the 30th May, plenty of time to finish this battle first.

(Although the battle was raging on hills on either side we were somewhat quiet and undisturbed for some reason or other, although our turn came later.  We were busy registering and firing targets on the neighbouring hills but were getting a bit of rest on our own little hill.  Juhu was the headquarters of the naval bombardment unit, from which I had come up about six weeks previously, and obviously they wanted me back with a view to further combined operations in the near future.  It all seemed a long time off just then!)

Wednesday, 19th April

Another day of lazing around, feeling awfully tired as a result of it all.  Got six films from England, and good work on D’s part.  Also, a book from M and papers coming through fairly regularly from Mrs Gracely.  Wish I had my camera here.  Another attack on Crete successfully beaten off last night.  We fired and hit and damaged a Jap tank, and it slide off the road.  OPA was killed by a shell.

(That Jap tank stayed there some time and figures in the drawing I made later; OPA stands for OP Assistant, which we had one in each OP party.  I can’t remember the incident clearly, but he was killed I think at night by a stray shell).

Entries for April 1944 in the diary of Captain Geoffrey Collin

Entries for April 1944 in the diary of Captain Geoffrey Collin. It is fascinating to think that these entries were written in a front line trench surrounded by the Japanese

Thursday, 20th April

Came down from OP to guns to get things tidied up.  Everything seemed pretty tough on Crete, and I suppose I ought really to be feeling thoroughly frightened.  Somehow, I am not, partly because I have got such faith in the Devons.  But it certainly looks like a nasty spot in the next few days.  BC I think also thinks the same and I sense a slightly forced heartiness.

(It was always a marvellous feeling just to get back to the gun position for a few moments to wash and get things organised, although in fact the guns themselves they had a pretty tough time with shelling etc.  The battery commander, in retrospect, was fairly apprehensive of our chances with remaining on Crete for very long!)

Friday, 21st April

Arrived at OP with much sweat and greeted with very dismal story.  Fred pretty scared and glad to get out.  Devons seem completely demoralised and evidently almost packed up completely last night.  Things looked altogether grim and a large number of graves around the position.  However, I tried to be as cheerful and confident as possible, and really wondered whether this was the end!

(I remember very clearly my arrival at that OP and being shocked at the demoralisation that had suddenly started amongst the Devons.  They had had a very tough time for about eight months almost continually in action, but they had lost a lot of officers and NCO’s.)

Saturday, 22nd April

A horrible night.  Japs took two bunkers just inside our wire.  Devons panicked and I had a hell of job trying to quieten them down.  Company Commander was excellent but very short of men officers and NCO’s.  In the early morning Japs shelled and attacked; our infantry fled, and I and one bugler had to get out pretty quick; a nasty business but we managed to get out the wireless set and established OP on Scraggy Hill.

(An altogether hazardous morning; my reference to Warren was a major bugler who was on Crete just close to us, and when they got out we both met up briefly on Scraggy.  I felt desperately sorry for the Company Commander when his Company began to retreat all around him; I stayed with him and we engaged the Japs with artillery fire right close up, and we also fired our own rifles and pistols; in the end there was nobody left on the position except about six of us, and it was agreed we should leave as best we could; this involved for my party of four men a run along the top of a crest fully exposed, for about 200 yards. I sent on my first signaller carrying part of the wireless set, and he very nearly got to the far side before the Japs opened fire on him, but he managed to get over the lip of the hill, but not before his braces broke and his trousers came down around his ankles which was quite a remarkable sight!  I then sent the other two men of my party at intervals, and finally I and the Company Commander left almost together and ran for our lives!  I remember it seemed a long way, and when I got to the far end I just rolled all the way down the hill, and my haversack fell off, and most of the contents fell out, including my precious torch which I had had throughout the campaign.  After quickly reporting to my Battery Commander on the radio about what had happened, I established another OP on Scraggy Hill and we tried to re-organise ourselves as best we could.).

[TC: Geoffrey was awarded the MC for his actions over this period and specifically on this night staying with the company commander and ensuring he and all his wireless equipment made it back safely.]

Sunday, 23rd April

Fairly quiet night.  I registered several new targets.  We still hold Crete West.  Devons in a shocking state, and 3rd/1 Gurkhas have come up and taken over.  Their moral is terrific, and one feels completely confident again.  They dig like ants.  Very annoyed at losing my small pack yesterday with my valuable torch.

(The Company Commander of the Devons I think was called Pine-Coffin, for whom I felt very sorry, but he was ordered back to battalion headquarters and he is probably for the high jump for letting his company retreat without orders.)

[TC: This would not appear to be the highly decorated Lt Col John Pine-Coffin but maybe one of his brothers.]

Monday, 24th April

Some shelling but otherwise fairly quiet.  Looking back on our hasty retreat two days ago several amusing moments stand out; signaller rushing along with wireless set, with trousers falling down and a shell landing 15 feet in front of him!  We were indeed lucky to get out alive; but I can’t remember ever feeling really frightened somehow.

(It was an odd thing, events moved so fast that one had really little time to feel frightened, except in those moments of peace and quiet when ones mind could wonder about and think of what might of happened or what might happen in the future!)

Tuesday, 25th April

Relieved by John Boss, who has just got DSO for previous action, came back to forward gun position and then back to rear troop, where everything seems as quiet as ever.  Strong rumours of war in this area soon, had most welcome wash under Gunner Mortan’s care, and hair wash, my scalp was BLACK!

Wednesday, 26th April

Started a spot of digging and tree felling in the gun area, also tried to start a forest fire with cordite; great fun but quite unsuccessful.  Heard that I was to go out with 4/10 Ghurkhas next day, spent several hours at Palel at their HQ.  Evidently big Jap offensive supposed to start on 29th towards Imphal and Palel.  We ought to see some fun.  Lovely riding on a decent motorcycle again!

(I always loved riding a motorcycle and did so whenever possible although it was a hairy business on those little tracks!)

Thursday, 27th April

Arrived OK 4/10 Ghurkhas and found myself under command of the Battery Commander of a Mountain Battery, with whom I mess.  All excellent chaps and very good food!  Sihks in the battery seem an excellent type.  Core plans laid on to meet the Japs, but I feel pretty certain that he won’t come down this valley as we expect him to do.  Two companies here, and two companies outlying in ambushes in the valley.

Friday, 28th April

Climbed up the local feature behind battalion area.  Bloody hot and most energetic.  Recc’ed possible OP with Battery Commander.  A really magnificent view up there, a sight one would come miles to see in peace time.  Flies and mosquitoes here are absolutely shocking; my OP party, with Reaves and Wild, are a bit sulky and bulshy, low moral I think, but guess they’ll improve.  Youngman is OK.

(I think the two soldiers I referred to had had a fairly rough time for three months, and by this stage everybody was pretty tired; I was lucky in that I had only come into the war about two months before, and was still relatively fresh and my moral was remarkably high!)

Saturday, 29th April

Climbed up a still higher OP where John Newboat has his OP, poor devil.  He has to manage all day and night.  But his orderly brings up his food so he is not really so badly off!  Weather is bloody hot.  Moved off to C Company headquarters in case of an alarm.  Mess now with OP party, who are not very good cooks I feel.

Sunday, 30th April

Various Jap activity in neighbourhood, but no sign yet of intended big attack.  Beginning to think that the Ghurkha CO is a bit of a twit, and he knows practically nothing about artillery fire.  Feeling badly in need of a wash and change of clothes; really feel that I am unnecessary here but the CO refuses to let me go.  The battery now has three OPs out permanently.

(I can’t remember the Ghurkha CO, but it was vital to understand the row and method of using artillery fire in that sort of very close country, and without gunner support the infantry simply couldn’t of maintained their position, so anybody who didn’t understand gunner support didn’t get high marks from anybody.)

Monday, 1st May

Big flap last night, had to take up position at 2.30am.  Japs set fire to a hut near Palel and later attacked Madrasis in rear of our position.  Nothing serious happened.  My present OP in a most precarious position, with only three soldiers protecting and no wire or booby traps.  Let’s hope the Japs don’t decide to come this way.

(The small gunner OP parties always tried to be in an infantry position for obvious reasons for protection, and in that particular case I remember being entirely out on my own and feeling extremely vulnerable!)

Tuesday, 2nd May

Another flap last night, and another Jap attack in which Madrasis fired off an incredible amount of ammunition.  I fired several DF tasks which I thought quite unnecessary.  But CO ordered them.  Shells fell plumb right after silent registration, but a Ghurkha platoon was there also very poor map reading, and one was wounded, a poor show.

(Silent registration is when the details of where the shells landing are worked out without actually firing to check it, and in this case the shells were absolutely accurate but a Ghurkha platoon had lost their way and were hit by our own shells, always a most unpleasant experience for any gunner and one he dreads.  In this case I was entirely blameless, but even so it was a horrible feeling.)

Wednesday, 3rd May

Jiffs attacked our position and on the west, which was decisively driven off.  Their FOO was wounded.  30 Jiffs captured.  Evidently very poor sweep types, and no guts, they have very little food and abandoned all their equipment and ran paramel.  Things seem quite quiet again, but CO still seems as damn stupid as ever.

(The Jiffs were ex-members of the Indian army captured by the Japanese, who tried to form them into units and fight on their side; they had very limited success, especially when the Jiffs concerned were sweeper types which were totally unmilitary and hopeless soldiers.)

Thursday, 4th May

Was due for relief at ten, but was suddenly ordered to go with Ghurkhas on a platoon patrol, to top of a huge hill.  Set off and got there but Ghurkhas who had been fighting all night were utterly exhausted, and only three got up there with me.  I sent the rest back and completed rest of patrol myself with OP party.  Utterly exhausted when we arrived back at night.

(Not often that one could criticize the Ghurkhas, but on this patrol they were so exhausted, they simple couldn’t go any further, and I had no option but to go on myself with three of them and my own OP party; fortunately, we met no real opposition and got back safely.)

Friday, 5th May

Came back to the battery for a rest. Tick relieve me at OP had a glorious shower and change of clothes and feel just heavenly now just want a real good rest.  Wish we could get a spot more mail and more news from home.  Feel quite emotional, probably result of action and exhaustion, and ante-climax.

Saturday, 6th May

Feeling much recovered and rested.  Aircraft are giving some of the villages on Jap L of C to Imphal a terrific pounding.  Brigade attack going in tonight; Tick is off on a two day hike, rather wish I was going but I don’t think he’ll have much to do as a mountain Battery is going also.  Great amount of reading today from army digest, weekly comic etc all excellent stuff.  Have arranged with Adjutant to fly back on 22nd, hope it will be OK then.

(I had been ordered back to the combined operations unit near Bombay for possible future operation, and I had no option but to go and that’s why I had arranged a flight on the 22nd.  In fact, I was beginning to feel pretty ill by this time and as it turned out I had amoebic dysentery but more of that later.)

Sunday, 7th May

BC put in various names for decorations every few months, I have put Hawthorn in for a mention after Morgan Peak.  Rained like stink last night, first effort of the monsoon.  Must admit the prospect of returning to civilisation especially before proper monsoon is rather inviting.  Have a long day with Golden Treasury, have now ear marked most the poems I like and will like, and am now going to concentrate individual poets and other works. 

(Hawthorn was one of my signallers on the OP and in fact he got a Mention in Despatches later.  I met him some forty years later at a regimental reunion in Eastbourne and he was an extremely nice chap and a very successful business man, and he was killed by a car about six years ago and I had a charming letter from his wife who said how much he used to speak of those days in Burma and I liked him a lot.)

Monday, 8th May

Several Japs came over this morning and 9 Zeros; turned away by AA fire but returned and to everyone’s surprise dropped about 50 antipersonnel bombs, but well out of area and at least 800 yards east of regiment.  I just missed being hit by a large and hot piece of AA shell!  Afraid my stomach has started troubling me, awkward.

Tuesday, 9th May

Stomach still awful and feel rather bloody; can’t eat much.  Went up and did a lot of registered DF targets around local area, with 25 pounders.  Some pretty close shoots which shook up people a lot with flying splinters!  Doing some useful reading and a lot of letter writing.  Excellent factory cooking here all credit to cooks.

Wednesday, 10th May

Spent all day in bed feeling very sick.  Am due for OP in two days time, hope I am OK by then, quite stiff.  Fighting going on at Scraggy Hill where OP is, also all round this area is warming up.  One gun is shelling Palal air strip, which has been evacuated.  F Troop was bombed today, cook house destroyed and two cooks wounded.

Thursday, 11th May

Scraggy attacked and half captured last night, I was rushed up to Malta felt quite bloody and sick but decided to stay on and things definitely sticky, and Borders very jumpy and morale not good.  Japs hold half Scraggy, Third/1 Ghurkhas suffered very heavy casualties but fought excellently.  BC was up here too as local CRA.

Friday, 12th May

A quiet night but we had 100% stand to as there is pretty scarce protection around here.  We have got three gun numbers up here too.  Carried out some registration but nothing much doing.  CRA and new capital CO came up to see us.  Stomach still very bad.  Tried to get in as much sleep as possible despite interruptions, including visit from CRA!

(The three gun numbers who came up were purely for protection around the OP as we were pretty exposed and the infantry pretty thin on the ground.)

Saturday, 13th May

Japs attacked about 03:45, and captured small pimple between us and Scraggy got section 3.7” onto it, very close shoot, only 15 yards from own troops!  Were shooting solidly until 11:40 when we have terrific fire plan and the Borders re-took the pimple. 40 Japs dead.  We were shelled and narrow shave myself.   Medium OP and knocked out completely.

(The 3.7” Howitzer was a small and extremely accurate gun, but only had a range of about 6000 yards; I used it because the distance of the targets from our own troops was only about 15 yards.  Having ranged as close as possible, I had no option but to tell the gun position officer to run the gun back about 15 yards, which is known as halving the bracket.  The next two rounds fell plum on the target, but one of the subsequent rounds fell amongst our own troops, but fortunately with no ill effect but it was a very nasty feeling from me, as one dreads putting a shell amongst our own soldiers.)

Sunday, 14th May

Went down to forward OP last night; very windy sort of place, and not at all comfortable.  Also much too far to walk in my present physical condition!  Things fairly quiet again.  Heard that 20 Division is going back to reform and been released by 23 Division - Hurray!  Everybody very pleased.  New Ghurkhas moved up today.  Slight enemy shelling. 

Monday, 15th May

Horrible night; cramped and uncomfortable and no sleep.  Japs creeping around the place.  Had to speak so softly into telephone that the gun end could hardly hear me.  Thomas’ voice was too loud use telephone at all.  Was relieved by 232 OP and came back to E-Troop, which has moved up.  Huge packet of mail including one from Yvonne, and some from the Command Pay Office, deducting over issue Rupees 800!

Tuesday, 16th May

Came down with 2 IC to recce Battery area in Ball Box about three miles from Imphal.  Filthy place.  Had a few words with 2IC who has most objectionable manner.  Met Peter Gillet in HQRA 23 Dip, and Peter Thorpe and self slept near his office and mess at HQ Div Mess; clean shorts and shirts and electric light there.  What a contrast! 

Wednesday, 17th May

Stomach giving me pretty good hell, can hardly eat anything without feeling horribly sick.  Basha was flooded last night and all my kit including this diary.  The Battery arrived in evening in driplets and got up some sort of cover for night.  BC in a filthy temper, everything a bit shambolic.

Thursday, 18th May

Kept dry thank goodness and the men had a chance at getting tarpaulins etc up.  Really quite comfortable now but when it rain everything gets quite bloody, and covered with filthy thick mud.   My air passage ticket on 22nd May has come through must say that the prospect of being here during the monsoon is not a very pleasant one!

Friday, 19th May

Visited 231 in BOX and picked up some DF targets, to be surveyed in.  More heavy rain.  Still feel terribly weak in the knees, but I think stomach is at last slowly pulling together.  Trying to get clothes etc cleaned up a bit but this is a helpless task.  Very pleasant routine here, if only 25% stand to - seems incredible.

Saturday, 20th May (his last day in Battle of Imphal)

Suddenly heard last night to fly out today.  Frantic goodbyes.  Flew Inmphal and arrived Calcutta 4.30pm most comfortable and interesting journey in DC3.  Spent some time looking out of door and wondering what it would be like to parachute!  Perhaps not too bad I hope!  Excellent accommodation at grand hotel now at Officers hostel.  Seems incredible to be really back in civilization.  Paddy and Wiggy and others are also here.

(It was a remarkable transformation to come out of an area which was in close contact with the Japs, by air and in a few moment to be in the civilization of Calcutta; at the same time I was still feeling extremely groggy and sick.)

Sunday, 21st May

Horrible night, terrific heat and drench in sweat whole time.  Tummy still giving bit of trouble, but can’t resist this lovely food.  Frantic morning getting priority tickets for the train.  Paddy and crowd suddenly flew off to Inthal.  Met the RM Commander Barret down here who I met at Ooti.  We went to see Colonel Blimp and thought it was very well done.

Monday, 22nd May

A morning of terrific shopping and spent vast amount of money in the bazaar but it all seemed worthwhile.  Had bought a pair of suede walking shoes, also a new razor, toothpaste, etc amazing!

(The rest of the entry for that day has been smudged over but I don’t think it was very interesting).

Tuesday, 23rd May

The heat is shocking have bought tickets from camp ------------------.  Guzzling myself on fudge.  Sent £4 to 479 Officers Mess.  Also cabled home and wrote.  Visited bank at last all my old advances of pay etc are catching up, ---------------.

Wednesday, 24th May

Went to an excellent Grammar Phone recital last night at Top H.  Hyden’s military symphony, Carnival of Animals etc.  Tried to buy myself a green beret this morning but price was exorbitant - 18 shillings!  Caught 15:30 train with Bill Hill our CO Colonel Window arrived at Grand Hotel before we left gather he is in a fifthly mood but G1 SEAC also there; evidentially something in the wind about Bombardment Unit - what next I wonder!

Thursday, 25th May

Not a bad compartment, three other gunners one of whom I know.  Weather is bloody hot still, my face is coming out in a lovely blotchy prickly heat.  Stomach also playing up merry hell.  I must go straight to the dock in Bombay or I’ll fade away.  Have been discussing air OP with ex-IG Deolali; says there are still courses.  I would very much like to get into that, I wonder what chance there is with old Windows?

Friday, 26th May

Back once more in Bombay, and what haven’t I done since last leaving here!  I am lucky to be back with a whole skin.  Went to hospital with Bill but couldn’t find a doctor.  Came out here to Juhu mess only Windows and Bill Knight here.  Windows never even asked us where we had been or how we had got on, rude blighter.  So during diner I talked hard about all we had been doing at the front, and the CO was completely ignored!  Others were naturally very interested indeed. 

Saturday, 27th May

CO has softened a bit by breakfast and actually took part in the conversation.  Some local Doctor who has given us Malaria blanket treatment pills (entailing 14 days quiet!) and some stuff from my stomach which is still very dicky.  If it doesn’t clear up I will have to go to hospital but don’t want to.  Found a glorious pool of mail awaiting me here including letter from Dad and Field from Broom and Two Cities from Granddaddy. 

Sunday, 28th May

Writing with an Eversharp I bought in Calcutta what a relief, provided I can refrain from losing it this [time]. Juhu is really a beautiful place; we have been sun and sea bathing and trying to get rid of our Burma whiteness.  I’ve got prickly heat on my face, most unpleasant!  Went to holy communion in Garrison Church first for some time.  Since Ooti!  I’ve great deal to be thankful for and I find that I much miss not getting to church these days. 

Monday, 29th May

Visited Doc, got necessary pills etc to carry out blanket treatment and it requires 14 days rest, which will be most welcome.  Got some stomach dope hope it is OK and does some good, I feel sure it is my liver that is troubling probably aftermath of Jaundice, all symptoms the same.

Tuesday, 30th May

Large numbers of letters been written and settling bank account etc.  Very satisfying all round.  CO is really most pleasant in the mess.  I had an interview and put in an application for Air OP, which CO said he’d forward.  But I’d have to come back to FOB for operations etc.  Reading some Field and Punches sent out by Mrs Broom she’s a kink sort.

(This is the first occasion that I have applied for training as a Pilot in Air OP however I thought there was very little chance of the application coming through.  The CO made the point that I would have to come back to the Bombardment Unit if there were any operations etc)

Wednesday, 31st May

______[Duty] Officer today, doesn’t entail very much unit certainly has things organised here now office work, discipline claims etc better than those awful days of confusion and chaos with Bob Spiller and Co.  Have been learning Liar Dice and lost heavily so far but it is good fun and causes much amusement.

Thursday, 1st June

Morning packing.  I really believe that my stomach is beginning to improve; but still feeling a bit shattered.  CO gave us a short talk before we left for Karachi, intimating that he wasn’t going to stand for undisciplined officers!  Quite right too.  The unit needed some order.  Left Bombay 19:30, quite descent carriage with Wiggy, Bill Hill and Nanson. 

Friday, 2nd June

Early change at Ahmedabad; another descent carriage, and excellent restaurant car.  Was again beaten at chess by Wiggy, after very nearly having [check]mated him!  Played wist, most enjoyable.  Reading Tale of Two Cities which Godmother sent me - great.  This Sindh dessert is absolutely miles of bloody nothing!

Saturday, 3rd June

Another train and horrible hot wait of four hours at Hyderabad.  Awful this heat, but it is at least quite dry.  Nearly finished Two Cities, read my Treasury and learnt two poems.  Have been talking and thinking about careers and at last I think I am seeing some daylight; law or engineering.

Sunday, 4th June

Arrived Karachi station 10.30, met by Royal Indian Navy and long and tedious waiting round, but eventually arrived here at HMS Himalaya, Gunnery School.  Took thirty minutes by launch.  We’re really almost at sea except for slight stretch of land.  Glorious feeling of being clean again and clean clothes etc.  Everything dirty was sent to the old dhobi.

[TC: ‘dhobi’ is army slang for laundry, probably from the Indian caste group whose traditional occupation was washing clothes, i.e. laundry]

Monday, 5th June

First days work quite interesting getting Naval fire control well buttoned up.  Very good FOO miniature range here, and I don’t think RIN officers know very much about bombardment!  Wrote two very important letters to Dad and Uncle Tommy [Kirk] about careers.  I feel that engineering is my line, five years apprenticeship possible with Vis, and it will mean no pay until I am thirty, but C’est la Gar [guerre]!

Tuesday, 6th June

My stomach is much better but I still pretty weak at the knees, but trust this easy life and sea air will pull me through.  Food here is good but administration in the war room is bad appalling service.  Heard this morning that second front has started at last!  Sitting here undressed it is damned difficult to believe that such a vital event is going on.

Wednesday, 7th June

I am once more making terrific efforts to learn Bridge, last time when I was in the ranks.  Have played three evenings with David Selby and Nanson and instructors and am getting on quite well but it is all a matter of constant practise and experience.  Finished Malaria blanket treatment today, I attribute to this my awful shattered feeling so I hope I’ll now improve stomach still a bit uncertain.

Thursday, 8th June

Wrote to Yvonne; I hope I’ll be going down to Ceylon. I’m am just pining for a bit of decent female company of the right sort and Colombo would suit me down to the ground.  Reading a lot, administrative instructions here are pretty poor, first naval place I’ve met which is not 100%, but it’s Royal Indian Navy! 

Friday, 9th June

Letters from Anne and D and Peggy forwarded from Bombay as usual.  Peggy letter was charming thanking me for the bracelets and says she hopes I find a nice wife who’ll appreciate my good taste!  She sounded quite serious and interested.  I also wish I could find one, if I hadn’t got to think about earning a living after the war.  M sounded great relief at hearing from me.  It must have been a very anxious time at Greenroyd.

(I’m referring here I think to the fact that they probably didn’t get much correspondence from me when I was on operations, and clearly must have been quite a state of anxiety which I hadn’t appreciated really until I got back.)

Saturday, 10th June

Visited Karachi a most pleasant although quiet day.  Spot of shopping, saw a shop with practically every Grammar phone Symphony, and determined to start a collection if we settle down at all.  Saw a film Spitfire most excellent.  Came back about 8.45 for dinner RIN ran quite an efficient boat service except I got covered with spray and filthy black smoke!

(The only way to get from the Naval Gunnery school to the shore was by this picket launch which was a fairly old fashioned type.)

[TC: The film ‘Spitfire’ is probably better known as The First of the Few]

Sunday, 11th June

At last I beginning to feel a little better and what a blessed relief it is hope soon to be able to do PT etc again.  For the last few weeks I have felt so physically weak that I have sometimes felt that I’d never have the energy to walk again.  I am rather anxious about the rate my hair is falling!  On British News today great praise was given to FOO’s in France, also said that FOO’s were training in India!  Hurrah!

Monday, 12th June

More Bridge last night not quite so successful came across several new conventions.  Having some very interesting lectures just now I think at last I am thoroughly understanding the fire control system etc.  Spent afternoon in HA school BCT and AFCB; great sport!  Dick and I went sailing, regret we were completely beaten by very strong tide and had to be towed back, awful stigma now attached to us, but we actually are rather proud of our effort!

Tuesday, 13th June

Dick, Wiggy and I went into Karachi in evening and collected photos, some quite decent ones of self, looking tough in slouch hat!  Saw Gert and Daisy Waters in a fifty minute open air show, most excellent.  Laughed myself silly; a great change in entertainment.  They are returning to UK tomorrow.  Excellent dinner at club; I launched into rum and lime and first liquor for five months. 

[TC: see Gert and Daisy Waters]

Wednesday, 14th June

Really feeling miles better now more like my old self.  Spent afternoon on close range weapons.  Dome wasn’t working, despite working and efforts of two fair and English RIN Wrens, who are half the attraction!  I am afraid I have got rather unsettled, seeing far to many attractive girls in Karachi last night, Oh for Salome!

Thursday, 15th June

Fired close range weapons and Dome, great fun, I was rather good!  No mail coming from Juhu can only presume that the twit Mainwaring has returned.  I hate running a man down but it is damned hard not to when that chap is grossly lazy and inefficient.  More bridge last night even only Wigram says he wants to play and after all the things he said against it.  Just heard that two Gunnery Officers took out dingy and got it stranded; we are exonerated from further criticism!

Friday, 16th June

Today received formal forms from GHQ saying War Office have decided to give me a regular commission and asking whether I still want to take one.  I am in a frightful dilemma, it is such an overwhelmingly important decision to make and I’ve had no reply yet from home or back about my career questions.  I am beginning to swing round once more to the idea of staying in the army, [how] fickle I can be!

(It is amazing that during the war one suddenly got this confirmation that ones application for regular commission some 18 months or two years before, had been approved!  The policy of the War Office was to recruit regular Officers during the war so that there wouldn’t be a bounce of age group after the war which is very sensible, but it was a difficult decision for me to consider, particularly as I wasn’t feeling very well.)

Saturday, 17th June

Went on destroyer Napier with three others for firing and did two shoots one of each sort.  Quite successful, now that conditions were very bad, poor visibility and heavy seas.  Felt very ill because not actually sick and poor Bill Hill was pretty bad and David Seminy nearly got washed overboard.  Start awful journey back to Juhu tomorrow still suffering from local prickly heat.

(That last ten days had been with the Royal Indian Gunnery School at Karachi learning about the technicalities of conducting a shoot from a destroyer from the point of view of controlling it from the destroyer and not necessarily from the man on the ground.  It was a very interesting time particularly as we were allowed to shoot all the close range air defence weapons on the destroyer.)

Sunday, 18th June

After terrific battle and much loss of temper managed to get my laundry back from the dhobi in time and refused to pay him.  Left Karachi 4:40, hope to get to Bombay in three days with a good journey.  Not sorry to leave Imal Himilaya, and looking forward to a decent dhobi at Juhu also a batman and a good mess and mail

Monday, 19th June

A comfortable journey in the morning, we then had to change at Lahore; of course RTO knew nothing about us, no accommodation booked so am going to Dehli in a filthy little coach!  In restaurant ran into Atkinson, Ghurkha officer I met in Colombo who used to plant in Ceylon; also met Bishop, of the Devons, who has been re-graded, was in hospital with Bob Blockard.

[TC: RTO probably stands for Regimental Transport Officer or something similar]

Tuesday, 20th June

Absolute shambles, won’t reach Bombay until Friday, five days instead of two a curse on all RTO’s, a miserable and useless breed.  Bloody hot and prickly heat very bad also stomach is starting to revert back into bad habits.  Arrived 5pm Agra.  David and I dashed out, and hair raising ride in a taxi and managed 13 minutes to see the Taj Mahal, a truely magnificent site which I will never forget, well worth the dash!  It’s almost unbelievably beautiful all in white marble.  Tried some photos but suspect poor light.

Wednesday, 21st June

Still ploughing along on our endless journey.  Not quite so hot but all very dirty and unpleasant.  Must admit food at stations is quite good, though the shocking train stops at the most amazing and awkward hours for meals.  Saw amazing sight at small station; several trees absolutely filled with lovely green parrots are very tame and most colourful.  Hard at the Bridge all evening even converted Dick George into playing .

Thursday, 22nd June

My stomach is feeling better so I am hoping it is only a temporary relapse.  We had a lot of time arguing in the carriage about everything under the sun including careers, and I still feel quite amenable to the army but will I continue to do so!  The chief thing I have against is the graft and red tap and sinacure well paid jobs.  Perhaps it will be different after the war?  Here’s hoping so.  Anyhow I will at least be able to marry when I am 29 or so and I’m quite keen!

Friday, 23rd June

Arrived Victoria 06:00, all of us in a filthy temper and conditions.  Saw Lloyds and arranged to transfer my account to them.  Truck fetched up here, to take us to Juhu. Very few here, scuttle still in Ceylon and no news on future developments.  Mail from home; Sandy commissioned and wanting to catch a boat out here; wish he wouldn’t, as Mummy sounds so very miserable but I suppose I’d do the same.

(That was quite a long journey it was suppose to be 2 or 3 days and it took us 5 and it really was a most amazing time being cooped up in a rather hot and dusty train for five days, only interspersed with stopping at odd stations to have meals!)

Saturday, 24th June

A day of getting things straightened out, and arranged to the satisfaction of my orderly mind!  CO’s in Ceylon so I can’t send in my regular army form yet we’ve been divided up into troops, I am in A Troop, with Freddy Marsh, a good set of chaps, but I rather wish Tim was the troop commander.   There are Teddy, Bill and Wiggy and Brian etc.

Sunday 25th June

Finished off some more letters.  Reading a most interesting and attractive Kodak book of photography.  I feel convinced I should take it up as a hobby; feel almost inclined to buy a good camera now but I suppose it would be great expense and I would not be able to buy any films.  Tried to see the Doc to get a tonic, not there.

Monday, 26th June

Started off on a proper full training program which is a relief.  I have undertaken the job as Troop QM as well!  Spending most of my time making out ledgers at present!  Went on PT this morning and took it myself.  At last I am feeling almost fit again what a heavenly thing it is to feel well again after weeks of weakness and not really knowing what wrong.

[TC: QM- is QuarterMaster so in charge of stores and provisions, PT is Physical Training]

Tuesday, 27th June

Robin took PT this morning, most energetic.  Feeling quite stiff but otherwise no ill effect with stomach, thank goodness.  Robin and Harper here are both regular candidates, but evidently are still only on the register.  I have definitely been offered my commission so feel a bit superior!  Although I wish I could feel it was really worth going for. 

Wednesday, 28th June

Energetic day as Orderly Officer; what with that and being Q[M], I am quite busy which is a pleasant change I enjoy.  Rained like cats and dogs at night, and spent considerable time running around naked trying to stop water coming into the flimsy basha.  Prickly heat very bad and septic under my arms, what a country.

Thursday, 29th June

Letter from Yvonne at long last - my thoughts about her are somewhat mixed but predominantly one is that she is a great girl and that one day maybe we shall marry?  Ambitious?  I wish I could see her again and perhaps get to know her better and also in less unreal surroundings than Colombo.  She suggests that I go to Junior Welcome in September when she has leave.  What a marvellous thought but I fear it is slightly castles in the air. 

(Yvonne was a WREN who I got to know in Colombo and the Junior Welcome was a small private hotel up country in Ceylon run by my Uncle Sid’s sister).

Friday, 30th June

Most Officers have returned now, what a crowd.  Paddy Kent is not back, rather worried, hope he has not got a packet.  Bridge going strong here now, have some very good players whom we call 1st 15; I play in the 2nd 15 and there is a colts team for those are just facetious!  A lot of ragging and caustic comments go on particularly in good heart and causes endless amusement.

Saturday, 1st July

Into Bombay; took luggage to Cooks - three boxes, glad to be relieved of so much my kit.  Heavy day shopping and rather expensive.  Managed to get some powder for Yvonne, also some scarves for Pat’s 21st birthday.  Imperial bank was as usual closed - seems to be an Indian holiday every other day.  Saw Charley’s Aunt and laughed until I was almost sick. 

Sunday, 2nd July

A day of rest to try and get my prickly heat better, the powder we bought at Karachi certainly seems to be wonderfully efficient.  Sunbathed on the beach, nice and cool and peaceful there and the monsoon is really breaking; strong winds and rain and lightning at night.  Why our little basha doesn’t just blow away I don’t know.

Monday, 3rd July

All the naval Tels joined us today.  Busy try to get all the Q stuff sorted out; not any easy job but I am quite enjoying it as it a pretty full time job just now; and I’m a bit sick of going on miniature range etc every day.  Our equipment is pretty good now, very complete in all respects. 

(The naval telegraphist in our naval FOO parties were all from the Indian Navy, and although they were very good at their job they were not particularly good or keen at working with soldiers, marching and so on.)

Tuesday, 4th July

Another hard day in the stores.  Letter from Storrar, amazing how all my fellow workers at College are now scattered every little front.  Jimmy Robertson has got engaged he is a paratrooper, I feel he is much too young but it seems to be the fashion just now.  I really feel quite out of it myself out here.

(Storrar was a master at Wellington, and of course college refers to Wellington College and my old school mates and teacher was there.)

Wednesday, 5th July

Am thoroughly enjoying a book The Napsap, contains bits of everything, especially interesting articles on philosophy, although it is a bit way above my head!  Raining hard all day and night but it is at least cool and gives my prickly heat a good chance to recover.  Stomach still OK and altogether feeling OK.

Thursday, 6th July

Started a real hard training program for six weeks.  All Tels now work with us.  My Morse is about 11’s; CO just arrived back and I’m very glad, Manning and Mainwaring are quite useless.  Hope Freddy Marsh shall return.  Wrote to Teddy a card asking for my negatives back, will she reply!

(Teddy Fisher was another WREN who I met in Mombasa I think the previous year and was a sister of a very great friend of mine called Bill Fisher who was killed shortly after the war and was my first Troop Commander in England.)

Friday, 7th July

3.5 [mile]route march, absolutely drenched in sweat; very bad for my prickly heat.  It is now rumoured that we are all going up to 14 Army complete with Tels etc.  Really very glad as it would be quite useless wasting our time here.  But greatly fear we won’t get to Ceylon after all - oh dear very sad.

Saturday, 8th July

A delightful day visited Wellington Club with Bill and Brown Flemming.  Played squash and thoroughly enjoyed it with cold shower, large bath towel and nice real soap!  Watched the dancing and large number of beautiful single women!  Saw news movie of shots of fighting near Nippon Hill, Scaggy and Crete, most were taken from my last OP!   Great thrill!

Sunday, 9th July

Usual quiet day of make and mend and reading.  A spot more Bridge and sunbathing in the afternoon.  Bit stiff after my squash, but still feeling much fitter all round, than I have done for some time.  A most amazing Mess meeting MN lots of factious suggestions.

Monday, 10th July

Billetop, my subaltern seems a good chap, also my Tel, Watson, and one IRN Tel is OK, but the other is a bit dumb and bolshy.  Went out on jungle traversing and got a very good answer.  Heard from Paddy Kent who is not allowed back at the moment but is having an exciting time.

(Jungle traversing was a means of trying to find one’s way by compass in totally thick country, and eventually hoping to end up where you started from if your figures were correct!)

Tuesday, 11th July

A bloody day. FOD exercise, rained buckets, the whole time and so we were just soaked and cold.  All my radio sets got through OK, but goodness knows why.  Exercise was cancelled at 11:00 instead of 4am and we returned to revive and maintain sets etc.  A big job.  Wiggy gone to hospital.

(The weather was appalling and the means of waterproofing our radio sets was fairly primitive and we spent a great deal of time in drying out and making them work, because without an official radio we were quite useless.)

Wednesday, 12th July

Still pouring with rain night and day; our slouch hats are beginning to look very ‘Chin Dig Charlie’ and ‘I was there sort of appearance!  Invasion in Europe all seems to be going well, in fact the whole war does, except for our combined operations here!  But Imphal is a great victory for us and not properly appreciated.

Thursday, 13th July (New tape side 1)

At long last a letter from David, poor man, he's more or less a civvy now and hating it; miles from anywhere. He's thinking of taking up medicine after the war; good luck to him, I think he'll do it well. His sister, Angie is training to go to Yugoslavia!  I remember her in the Old College days.

(David de Renzy-Martin was one of my best friends in The Orange at Wellington and he got polio during the big scare we had. I visited him at the Nuffield Hospital at Oxford, when he was almost totally paralysed. However, he did recover remarkably and when I heard from him he was in the Sudan, I think and had been made some sort of political office in the service there.)  

Friday 14th July

Played a game of rugger [rugby] with troop. Ground was rather like a huge bog; the ball burst half way through so we had to finish with a soccer ball. I am not really fast or heavy enough for rugger I'm afraid, except in inferior types of games!

Saturday 15th July

Party of us went once more to The Willingdon and played squash, frightfully hot, but definitely getting more skilful!  Spent rest of evening there, unfortunately misjudged our train timings and had to spend 45 minutes on the platform, during which I fell asleep.

Sunday 16th July

A busy day for me on QM work; getting out returns and lists etc; but it's quite fun, and gives me a certain amount of satisfaction when things go well. We hope to have a service here on Sunday, as otherwise there is no chance of getting to church at all, except on a trip to Bombay. 

Monday 17th July

Back to work again. We are really working very hard these days and time seems to fly. My morse code is now about 12 words a minute with almost complete brain fever into the bargain! We have to take some sort of test I believe.

Tuesday 18th July

Another FOB exercise on which I got rather worked up and sulked! Mainwaring came round and made ridiculous comments and my W/T set was not working awfully well. Bill was my DS and was very patience with me. Today is my 23rd birthday but I am not celebrating at all. It seems so silly really to do so.

Wednesday 19th July

Reading a delightful little book lent to me by Bill, called Cross Creek, a rambling story about nothing in particular. Mail is rotten now and I am still waiting to hear home comments and suggestions on my engineering ideas.  Evidently mail has been heavily delayed, particularly exasperating at this moment.

(This was a difficult time for me, as I was going through great doubts as to what I wanted to do after the war and I had suggested that I might consider taking up engineering.)

Thursday 20th July

Bill is going to be Unit Adjutant, and that little twit Mainwaring is coming to this troop in order to get battle experience when we go to Burma!  What's more, Mainwaring is coming to my section. I see trouble looming ahead and feel bloody annoyed.  I'll trust I'll remain in charge of the section or there will be a row.

Friday 21st July

CO just got back from hospital; glad he's back as he absolutely tore Mainwaring to pieces. Why is it that during the last year it's my lot to be inflicted with utterly incompetent senior officers?  I am afraid my headstrong will is sorely tried, and I get depressed at times and it makes against feel very much against going into the army. 

Saturday 22nd July

To The Wellington once more, but this time we played foursomes for a change.  David Cook and Bill Hall wore such disgusting clothes to play in that I made them buy some decent ones for next time. Met Wiggy who was on journey from hospital. Saw Sparky, off film but all the soldiers insisted on roaring with laughter at all the grime parts!

Sunday 23rd July

Letter writing day. Wish a service could be fixed up here but have hopes of next Sunday. Feeling rather lonely and homesick today. Wish I could get to Ceylon and see Yvonne. I know it would do me all the good in the world, this business of simply never talking to civilian or a girl is just not natural. What a life!

Monday 24th July

Leslie Mainwaring has now taken over the troop which is horrid!  I feel thoroughly rude and unruly when he speaks to me, though I suppose it is very wrong of me. But he is so inefficient and useless, gets on everyone's nerves. But I must try to be more of a Christian and get out of this awful habit of mine of running down people.

Tuesday 25th July

Heard from Mummy that Fay is engaged.  She seems to be very worried about Sandy. He seems to have some of my headstrong will.  I am glad that he is coming out here as I may be able to put him right on a few things, if he will listen to me at all!

Wednesday 26th July

An air letter from Aunt Joan; they all seem to be much at home in New Zealand. I bet Jimmy is a fine lad now and quite unrecognisable from the little boy whom I used to put in a chair! The news these days is very encouraging, and an early end to European war seems more than likely; then for the Japs I hope!

Thursday 27th July

A half holiday, in order to get into the banks. Went to Lloyds and was absolutely delighted with the service.  Went to the Club, more games of badminton, getting much better. Went two more games with two Parsee gentlemen, who were very skilful! Bought a new slouch hat!

Friday 28th July

Had an interview with CO about going on a course instead of Burma, but he firmly refused. He is a queer bird, a great deal of common sense but has knack of appearing suddenly to get into a filthy temper all over nothing! Mainwaring is getting intolerable. Played touch rugger and got badly kicked!

Saturday 29th July

Went round our assault course, one telegraphist got stuck on the aerial ropeway, I tried to rescue him but failed, so he had to drop into a blanket!  Reading Tallboys, about Wellington, absolutely delightful and so typically Tallboys! Reminds me very much of old College days etc.         

Sunday 30th July

Church service here. Not very good one and I couldn't feel very enthusiastic although it is ages since I last went. I wish I could get news of Paddy Kent. I miss him a lot. It's strange what a liking I had for him and also for old Bill Hill. Although he is eight years older than me.

(Paddy Kent I've referred to before. We were in the same excises in Ceylon and we got on well.  I think at this stage he was away on operations somewhere and we'd rather lost touch with him.)

Monday 31st July

My cut on my thigh is sufficiently bad to act as excuse from morning PT.  Gets rather boring going for a run every day. One gets so frightfully hot and sticky before breakfast!  My batman is on a charge for being out-of-bounds in Bombay. First time he's been in for months!

Tuesday 1st August

Stomach not feeling so good as it might be, rather a lot of griping after meals. Acted as BLO for first time on troop big scheme today.  Rained hard all day and I got soaked and all my beautiful maps and messages ruined when running from basher to basher!

(BLO = Bombardment Liaison Officer)

Wednesday 2nd August

What a job it is keeping enough radio sets on the air to keep things going.  B Troop exercise tomorrow and as usual we have to land about six sets. They all seem to go unserviceable the moment they leave the stores. The old AR 8 generator has been particularly active today.

Thursday 3rd August

B Troop scheme was very successful and ideal weather conditions. We went on a cross country march by compass. Terry Egan and I managed to end up quite a long way off our mark but fortunately we knew the RV so everything was OK. Quite hard going most of the way and very wet.

Friday 4th August

Letter from Mrs Gibson. Wrote also to Fitz who is evidently now a regular solder! I didn't know he was as serious about it at all. He seems to be having a cushy job in the Arakan. The Japs are being thoroughly beaten up North and we are only seven miles from Tamu!

(Tamu was the place that I originally had my first action and afterwards we withdraw rapidly up into the hills and this was on the "return journey" apparently, although I wasn't with them.)

Saturday 5th August

Another visit to the Wellington for Badminton. I wasn’t feeling too bright so didn't play too well. We had booked to see For Whom the Bell Toll and didn't realise until we were inside that the tickets said Sunday, so we had to see Cry Havoc instead.  Rather a depressing film. A most interesting letter arrived about careers from Uncle Tommy at last.                           

Sunday 6th August

Stomach worse and looks like an occurrence of the old thing I fear.  Felt in bad temper all day and couldn't write letters properly all due to my internals I'm sure. Played more Bridge in the 2nd XI and I really think I'm fitter now and have some more confidence at it at last!

Monday 7th August

All day on the ranges. My stomach was rotten and I have decided to go to hospital and get some definite ruling on it. Handed the Q stores over to a very disgusted Wiggy. Paddy Kent just got back, leg a bit stiff otherwise OK. Much the same as ever but a bit subdued.

(I think Paddy Kent had been off on a parachute course which he hadn't liked very much! I'd also volunteered to go Parachuting but somehow my application got stuck somewhere.)

Tuesday 8th August

Funny being back here in hospital again. Don't really feel ill but can't eat much. They insist on me staying in bed, blast it. Spencer and three others here also. Quite a contingent!  Stomach not feeling so good and I only hope that they find out something definite.

Wednesday 9th August

Another sample taken of stools but so far negative results.  Now allowed to stay up most of the day which is a great relief. Wiggy came in off duty and bought some mail. Evidently CO on good form on the ranges yesterday.

Thursday 10th August

(Rest of entry illegible.)

Friday 11th August

Still no results from stool test, so tomorrow I am for it. Awful thought.

Saturday 12th August

Was today subjected to the indignity of the sigmoidoscopy! I have definitely got amoebic dysentery. What a frightful thought. It means four weeks course at least and it's pretty bloody. In a way I am glad that at last I know definitely what's wrong because I have not really been at all fit these last few months.  Bill and Paddy came today and took me to tea.

(This was the first firm diagnosis of amoebic dysentery, which I had obviously picked up sometime in Burma and had been making me feel pretty miserable on and off.)                                

Sunday 13th August

Have got six days of emetine injections to look forward to. They’re not too bad but fairly painful afterwards. I am still putting in a lot of work and liking it, with reading etc, it is all coming back amazingly quickly, which is very encouraging.  The Sisters, Kirk and Scar, are perfectly charming. Scar particular is real good looker and quite melts my heart!

Monday 14th August

Sister Scar is one of those people who makes one feel at ease, which for once that's a real pleasure as I feel almost out-of-touch with female conversation! A large convoy came in this afternoon. I wondered very much if Sandy is on board, but I feel he won't be staying long in Bombay.

(All this time I was in the big Military Hospital at Bombay, a pre-war and beautifully built set up with large airy rooms and all the staff were medical or Queen Alexandra Nurses. Sandy was Geoffrey’s younger brother, also born in Kandy, Ceylon and who had got a commission after leaving Wellington College.)

Tuesday 15th August

Feeling a bit off colour as a result of injections and have to keep quiet.  Morley was boarded today. I’m sure he is not well yet and really ought to go back to England but I expect the grateful Indian government will keep him here until he drops.  How the army organisation of Delhi infuriates me sometime.

Wednesday 16th August

First day of retention enemas. Not very successful with mine - only lasted 20 minutes! And felt quite bloody. Must make a real effort tomorrow. Two men in here came straight out from England, very much wonder if Sandy is in that big convoy! Heard from Bill a few days ago, sounds in good form, but I think tired of war at last. Was badly wounded in France.

(Bill refers to an old friend of mine Bill Fisher who I knew slightly when I first joined the regiment in Sussex. He was killed later in the war, I think.)

Thursday 17th August

What a momentous evening. Yesterday Sandy suddenly walked in and I almost fainted! Although he's changed a lot, he is still the same old Sandy underneath, very independent, terribly keen and quite the young man. Even trying to grow a moustache! He came in again today and bought his friend Ron along. A nice chap.

Friday 18th August

Sandy has been posted to a Tank school. Not yet known when, hope not too soon. He unfortunately smokes quite a lot and also is trying to grow a moustache. He has really changed a lot but has grown up and improved beyond all recognition!  He's very good looking, except for the spots! 

Saturday 19th August

Sister Scar was very sweet yesterday evening and brought us some ice creams. She has gone off to Ceylon for a week today so the ward hardly seems the same.  My first EBI pill last night. Made me feel bloody this morning. Bill, Paddy and Terry in to see me. Freddie Marsh now back, a good thing. Just finished reading Good Companions, excellent.                                

Sunday 20th August

Sandy visited at 3.30 and 8.30, thought he was going tomorrow, but his moved now cancelled. I'm very pleased. He is in great form and makes me and my bed neighbour roar with laughter. Took a very important step today and wrote to Delhi saying I wished to cancel my Regular Commission application!  I only hope and pray it is for the best, but I feel sure it must be.

Monday 21st August

I'm suffering a lot from the treatment, sick every night and feel bloody, can't hold the enemas. I can see that I'll be exceedingly weak after all this treatment. No letter from home for two weeks. Sandy in again and full of beans as ever. Tried to teach him the elements of bank account keeping, he seems to have a hazy idea, only hope he realises he must not spend all his money!

Tuesday 22nd August

Have applied for a correspondence course in mechanical engineering. I may be able to manage it, or maybe not. Anyhow I'll keep the old brain working. Parachuting is definitely on this year, feeling pretty scared of the idea. Sandy arrived in his new bush jacket, really looking very smart. Even bought a pair of suede booties. Young man here from the Devons. Very decent and we yarn about the Crete and Malta battles etc.

(Throughout all this time I was very undecided about whether to be a regular soldier after the war or to take up engineering, hence my letter about cancelling my commission and taking up a correspondence course in mechanical engineering.)

[TC: Crete and Malta were battle names for hilltops in the forward areas around Sherman Ridge in the Battle of Imphal – see April and May entries.]

Wednesday 23rd August

Visit from CO, he mainly talked about ordinary subjects and he was quite pleasant really. Sandy has heard he is not going for several days yet. I am feeling very weak and exhausted now and rather depressed into the bargain.  Still can't hold retention enemas and the EBI makes me very sick, what a treatment!  Rather dubious about where to go for sick leave. Ceylon seems rather out of the question. Thinking of Nianital, nice climate and sailing etc.

[TC: Assuming this refers to Nainital, a British hill station at 2008 metres elevation in the state of Uttarakhand northern India. )

Thursday 24th August

Visit from Paddy, we talked very bolshy for a long time and came to the conclusion that the whole of India needs completely reforming, which is just about true! Paddy says I am out of the parachute business, because I'll not be well in time; I feel very disappointed, but I suppose I ought really to be glad.  I spend my time in the Army volunteering and then being prevented at the last minute!

Friday 25th August

Have now got a few days quiet from treatment and I really need it as I feel on my knees!  Sandy still comes in every day he's very good, and we've now got over our mutual embarrassment and shyness and back to the old familiarity. It is a great joy having him here all the time because otherwise I get awful fits of depression about life in general.

Saturday 26th August

Stomach not playing up quite so, good lately. Seems as if it was back to old tricks but we can hope for the best. Went out to lay in the sun for 15 minutes to try to rid of ghastly pallor!                           

Sunday 27th August

Have been very concerned about my falling hair and really am going to make an effort to massage the scalp. Awful though to be prematurely bald. Rather wish I could get to church. Went with Sandy to the garrison concert and quite good.

Monday 28th August

Sandy came to say goodbye and left on the evening train. Feeling very lost and sad and don't know when I shall next see him. He is off to the Tank School and hope he does not have too awful a journey. He us bursting with enthusiasm and energy and I only hope his hopes are not dashed and he gets into a decent regiment. 

Tuesday 29th August

Feeling a little stronger. Went to see For Whom The Bell Tolls and was very emotionally moved!  Met Jimmy Bull in the unit and he is off to Burma now and hears a rumour that I have missed the parachute business, which seems very strong. Feel very depressed today.

Wednesday 30th August

Another deep mood of depression which was enhanced by a cable from Daddy saying "Take regular commission". Felt absolutely awful for sometime, but when I gradually realised that I have done the right thing in not taking the army, I am sure I'd never be happy there. And had a long talk with Wiggy which cheered up a bit.

Thursday 31st August

Feeling more cheerful and confident today. Tried to write home and explain about my chucking the army. Only hope everybody not too furious with me. Went into town for a bit of shopping. Tried to find out about flying to Ceylon for leave but it is no good.  Starting EBI tonight. Oh heck!

Friday 1st September

EBI now having it effects. I am reading books by the score but feel very little inclination to write letters perhaps because I have received so little mail for the last few weeks.  Mainwaring came to see Wiggy and I had a rather embarrassing interview as one never quite knows what to say to him! Fellow opposite me having operation tomorrow, poor chap.

Saturday 2nd

Am really trying to long something about Anthony Trollop. A long job and I can hope to get just a smattering. How I feel I wasted my time at Wellington when I could have been learning and improving my general education and background. I am also reading several plays, mostly modern ones. Don't feel or look particular well by now, but I suppose it's natural.

Sunday 3rd September

Sister Scar has been posted back to our ward, great excitement! The others were awful old duffers. Feel absolutely no inclination to write letters, my face is beautifully spotty and pale, so I look and feel a complete wreck with awful fits of deep depression.

Monday 4th September

Feeling complete weak today. Been on the run to the loo for the last 24 hours, which leaves me feeling utterly exhausted in body and mind. Nearly all the patients in the ward here have changed since I arrived.  Bill Bunting visited us.

Tuesday 5th September

Sister Scar is giving me some marked attention which makes my heart go all a flutter! She has such an easy manner, which makes and helps me a lot.

Wednesday 6th September

Thank goodness I finish EBI today. Feel just about all in and doubt I could have stayed much more. Had a bit of tiff with the Doctor about my sick leave. He got on his high horse because I presumed I'd automatically get some! Silly man. Sister Scar didn't help things by being a bit too confident and the doctor obviously took offence.

Thursday 7th September

Have made arrangements to go to Nianital for sick leave, hoping to leave next Thursday and provided everything goes to schedule. Hope to get 28 days and I'll certainly need it. Getting on very well with Wiggy these days and I am so glad because he’s a really nice chap and I have tried to be really nice to him, heaven knows why!

Friday 8th September

Today I felt in a frightful state and I feel absolutely on edge and ready to cry at anything. Also in the depth of despondency. Evidently all this is the result of the Amoeba, I'd no idea what a terrible disease it is.  I spent all afternoon trying to pluck up courage to ask Sister Scar to come out and failed!

Saturday 9th September

Staggered into town with Wiggy, who hopes to be discharged today and met Bill and went to see a rotten picture. Getting thoroughly fed up with all this American propaganda in the film. Still felt pretty well in the dumps. Practically no interest in anything. A shocking state of affairs!  Actually plucked up enough courage to ask Sheila Scar to come out on Sunday which she accepted which astonished me!

Sunday 10th September

Now here in the ward on my own. Fixed up sick leave but can't get rooms on 20th which is a bore. Had a long chat with Sheila Scar in the afternoon and helped her to clean up innumerable somewhat rusty medical implements!  She is a super girl, and a great help.

Monday 11th September

After a tricky business, managed to evade Captain Parker's advances to Sheila and we both went out to Bombay. Enjoyed myself and the war seemed a long way away. Saw awful film and then back to the hospital.

Tuesday 12th September

Am feeling a little better today and spent two hours waiting for the Medical Board but they'd lost my papers, so we will have to wait until Thursday.

Wednesday 13th September

Quite a day. Went out to lunch with Bill and did a bit of work for the Sister in the ward. Then heard that Sheila Scar was in hospital and went over there after supper and visited her.  She has Dengue fever with temperate of 102 but looked OK.

Thursday 14th September

Visited Sheila Scar twice, afternoon and evening. She was still unwell but charming as ever. Leaving hospital tomorrow, feeling sad in some ways but glad to be leaving this place at last.

Friday 15th September

Popped into see Sheila before leaving the hospital and coming back to Juhu. It is quite peculiar seeing everybody again but a real tonic seeing old Bill, Paddy etc; Bill is really a super chap and is taking infinite pains to help me quite unobtrusively to get back to normality.  My mind still feels a bit vague and is wandering and I am not really fit yet.

Saturday 16th September

Hectic day getting all my kit sorted out for leave. Letter from Uncle Tommy, rather advising me to stay in the Army but at the same time saying he would help me financially if I decided not to. He really is too too kind. I feel depressed but I am going to try and forget about it all and enjoy my leave and get really fit again.

Sunday 17th September

Lunch with Bill in town and then at 4.00pm went to see Sheila. She still remains rather an enigma to me but gives me a great deal of pleasure and support.

Monday 18th September

Caught 18.10 train from Central Station last night and changed at Muttra this afternoon and caught another gauge to Kathadam. Very comfortable so far but extremely hot. Had deplorable drinking party with a Yank last night. I got rather drunk and feel ghastly today, no booze from me for a long time in future.

Tuesday 19th September

Arrived up here at NainiTal. What a marvellous place it is. I am billeted with a Dr and Mrs Souza, he's a Goanese or something but most charming.  Arrived here 1.30pm, and then bathed etc. Four other officers here all seem very pleasant. I am really looking forward to a marvellous holiday.

Wednesday 20th September

Feeling miles better already! This is a fantastic place. No taxis allowed. Only four men rickshaws and the house is about 500 feet above the lake; quite a climb. Weather glorious but not too cold, but gloriously sunny. Went walking this morning with Tony and again with Mrs de Souza and did not feel in the least tired. Taking lots of snaps.

Thursday 21st September

Went rowing in skiffs this morning with Tony; Highly dangerous sport but great fun, and have now got aching back and arms. Tony is a good chap and we have made plans for an energetic time here. I feel really good already and am getting sunburnt. The beauty of this place is enchanting; The yachts and the lakes, and the lights at night etc are beyond description.

Friday 22nd September

Hillmen carrying immense loads supported on their heads; locals spinning wool while talking and standing in the street. Two Indian Sheikh women energetically rowing; English soldiers bathing in the freezing lakes. Anglo-Indian girls flaunting themselves in the mall. This and more make up the local colours but above it and over it all having the surrounding mountains and beautiful hills; all stable and unchanging.

Saturday 23rd September

Delicious éclairs in the Shadow Grove. Met Basil, and John Boss, and had tea with them at boat house. Yesterday went for 2 hours riding, very gentle; getting on well at rowing, and feel quite confident at it now despite blistered hands! Reading several plays from 1940. Am really enjoying myself but have decided to keep right way from social life. It would only make me nostalgic and rather unhappy! 

Sunday 24th September

Church for first time since Ooti. My old spots are a bit bad but it's a sign they’re clearing up. Am feeling a little bit depressed today, the old career question. But must put it out of mine mind during this leave. Feeling fine physically. My only grouse is that we have to talk after dinner when I'd rather read. Went for 2 hour walk past snow view etc.

Monday 25th September

Six officers staying here now, mostly very decent chaps. Met John Boss for a row. He is not a bad man when one gets to know him. Had a long talk with Mrs Souza about music, poetry etc, she’s an astonishing woman and knows a lot about art etc but not in a high brow sort of way. Had a conversation about books after diner. Mr Souza has a marvellous book about music which I must get; went to bed too late as usual.

Tuesday 26th September

Went up Cheena Peak in the afternoon, quite a pleasant climb up to about 8,500 feet. Could just see the Himalayas. Marvellous view of the lake at Naini. And also of the plains. Came down as sun was setting, the glorious colours, ranging from all shades of pink on the mountains and clouds was past description.  It just took my breath away with its brilliance. Tennis in the morning.

Wednesday 27th September

The Souzas decided to go up Cheena at dusk so I did the trip again but the mountains were hardly visible. Tony came up too. Mrs Souza is a tough old girl, I can hardly make her out at times, she is so childish and a great pity she has had no children. A bunch of letters forwarded and an amusing epistle from Bill. His sense of humour is infectious.

Thursday 28th September

I am feeling glorious fit now and looking much better too, if only my hair didn't keep falling out, I massage it frantically.  Boated with Tony and got one or two quite good snaps. Was tempted to buy a RS (Rupees) 400 camera but wisdom prevailed. Saw The Stars That Shine, pretty good trash. But it was worth seeing Bette Davies and Ann Skelton singing.

Friday 29th September

A frantically energetic day. Rowed by myself in the morning, excellent boat. Played squash in the afternoon and was beaten and was uncomfortably hot.  After tea, borrowed a dog, Rufus, from next door; and went on 2 hour walk to Lands End and Tiffin Tops. Rufus was grand and stayed with me all the time; what a joy it is to walk with a dog if one is alone.

Saturday 30th September

Suddenly decided in morning to climb up cliff face of Cheino.  Did it OK but was distinctly glad to get to the top;  the loose stones made it very dangerous and practically impossible to come down again if one got stuck. Tennis next door and I am gradually improving, but the standard of play of the others is very low unfortunately. Only another weeks leave. Great pity!

Sunday 1st October

Church and Holy Communion, first for a considerable time. I'm still worrying a lot about career question, wish to goodness it was settled definitely, because I still feel I could revoke my last decision and stay in Army after war. Slight symptoms of tummy trouble today I only hope it's temporary. Weather still glorious, took a day of rest from recent energies.  

Monday 2nd October

Tummy definitely bad today and felt pretty rotten, but went for walk up to Cheena by the long way and sunbathed at the top. Can't help feeling depressed about stomach, but still hope for the best, and it's not much help going on worrying. Saw Lassie Come Home which I thoroughly enjoyed and it made me long to have a dog of my own sometime.

Tuesday 3rd October

Signs of improvement in stomach. My opinion at the moment is that I ought to stay on the army; how I chop and change! Wonder how it’ll all turn out. Have gained about 4 lbs since being up here, weight now about 9 st 4 lbs without clothes; have a lot to put on yet, wonder if I'll ever get the chance to do it! Recent announcements about Army pay increases sound rather like a fairy tale!

Wednesday 4th October

Took Ronald Kennedy and John Story up Cheena, good view of the mountains and took several snaps; came down along the ridge, quite tricky and rather good fun. Felt quite fit and young again which is better news.

Thursday 5th October

Both ears have gone very deaf, so visited local Doctor who gave me oil to loosen up for syringe tomorrow. Stomach feeling more or less OK again now. Tony left, only Ron and I in for diner so we went with the Souzas to Cross Lorraine, rather grim in parts. Took rickshaw back, most amusing thing.

Friday 6th October

One ear was successfully done but other one is obstinate.  Again tomorrow. Rather an unpleasant experience!  Went for farewell row in lake in evening but got very bad boat which had faulty rowlocks and rocked dangerously from side to side

(new tape)

Saturday 7th October

[TC: Geoffrey did not dictate any more of the diary. We will try and decipher the handwriting for the remaining entries.]