the other hand the organisation has been superb, the trains comfortable
and the meals, served by negro waiters, of a quality far superior
to British train food.
9 November 1941.
We arrived here [at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama] on Thursday
afternoon, the train having stopped alongside the camp where
newsreel men photographed us. Then it was straight into the mess
hall for lunch which was the best meal most of us had eaten since
the war began. We sit at tables for 12 and there is an unlimited
supply of food, two or three varieties of meat, probably five
vegetable dishes, a sweet, coffee and cream. Breakfast too is
a big meal of three courses of which my favourite is flapjack
soaked in maple syrup.
After our first meal we were shown to our quarters which are
very impressive in comparison with our billets at home - here
we are accommodated in long low buildings divided into rooms
for six men with a bathroom to each two rooms.
Straight away our training began in American methods of drill
and discipline, some of whose features are strange to us. At
parades (called formations here) we form up in fours and the
commands are quite different such as 'right face' for 'right
turn' and 'parade rest' for 'stand at ease'. Most of our drill
so far has been with rifles since every afternoon we take part
in a full dress parade on the flying field with colours carried
and band playing; the public attend in force and we are encouraged
to compete in smartness at rifle drill and the march past with
the American cadets. It seems that this drill is to be our main
occupation for the duration of our five weeks stay here and I
can foresee some grumbles at the delay in starting our real job
It is early days yet to pass any opinion on things but we are
all somewhat impatient to get going and there is a tendency to
scoff at the pomp and show compared with the RAF. However it
has to be remembered that America is not at war as we are, and
I think those who are prepared to take things cheerfully will
enjoy our course at Maxwell Field.
12 November 1941.
Things have settled down considerably now and life is quite congenial
with only one big complaint - the rule which not only confines
us to quarters after 7.15pm but prohibits us from visiting other
rooms. There are also stringent rules about room cleanliness
and care of equipment while I find bayonet drill rather difficult,
so far I have managed to avoid stabbing anyone but a little previous
experience in rifle drill would have been helpful.
First parade every morning is at 5.50 after which we do strenuous
PT from 6.30 to 7.15 and it really is good fun in this beautiful
climate - at that early hour there is a little frost on the ground
but the sky is bright blue and the sun is just beginning to shed
some warmth. PT takes place on the grass at the edge of the flying
field so that we can cast envious eyes on the planes piloted
by cadets on the advanced course.
Each day one Squadron is selected as the best and we in G Squadron
were awarded the prize on Sunday for which our privilege was
to attend the American Legion Convention on Armistice night.
The main event was a speech by the former American minister to
Luxembourg but this was not very inspiring and we were more impressed
by a little ceremony whereby two ladies (called daughters of
the Confederacy) presented crosses to veterans of the Spanish-American
war, descendants of Confederate soldiers.