Bill Goodall's Diaries: 1941/1945 
 12 May 1942 to 3 June 1942

After the tanker was safely in tow we set course for base and again passed over the Mississippi running through the middle of a vast expanse of green swamp land.
And so in four days we put in over 30 hours of operational flying and on the whole made a good job of it as a crew, all of whom had a turn at each of the four duties. Since then we have rested while our classmates have begun their flights none of which have been so exciting as ours. Our Navy pilot on all our flights was Lieut Jester who was great - always calm and he accepted our courses without question. The Catalina flying boats are perhaps too slow for operational flying but ideal for their present task where they carry two pilots, eight student navigators, two radio operators, two ordnance men and a mechanic. They carry four guns which we have to man if necessary and there are four bunks for occasional rest periods in rotation but the food was poor !
I mentioned earlier that we were all very tired on Sunday morning and it is not surprising as five of our team went to Panama City along the Florida coast to meet Charles Hollins with some of his classmates at the training field in Bothan. We hired a car to drive the 103 miles mostly along a straight road with pure white sand on either side so that we seemed to be travelling through a desert. It was good to share experiences with our ex classmates who had succeeded in getting past the elementary stage of pilot training and ten of us sat for hours in talk so that we only got back to Pensacola at breakfast time on Sunday. This meant that we had a long day in the air after a sleepless night. The most interesting and sad story which Charles told was that ten of our classmates at Darr Aero Tech had been killed in flying accidents and he was sure that all of them were border line cases as pilots in that they had only just passed the elementary training. I now realise that my elimination from pilot training has probably saved my life and possibly the lives of others who might have been in my crew.
No special news from home lately but I am very anxious to get back and surely our departure from Pensacola must come soon.

Wednesday, 3 June 1942. I only had one more flight at Pensacola which brought my total flying hours there to 41 and a half. On this final trip we saw a tanker ablaze with decks awash with oil and smoke for miles around - we circled for some time and saw rafts and lifeboats but no sign of life. The submarines are doing a lot of damage in the Gulf.
Our final exams in Navigation and Gunnery were very stiff and we expected to leave Pensacola on May 23 but to our delight we were given seven days leave from Thursday May 21 until the following Thursday. With Alec and Dennis I had a marvellous time in Auburn where Louise and Monk Wright entertained us royally but it all came to an end with a somewhat emotional farewell to them and to other friends in Auburn.
On the Wednesday afternoon Louise drove us to Montgomery for the 8 o'clock bus to Pensacola; this involved a few hours at Mobile in the middle of the night and we eventually got into the base just in time to shower and change before our interviews. The three officers who conducted the interviews were very searching in their questions to all 37 in the class; later in the day it was announced that four had been selected for transfer to Ferry Command in Montreal - McIwaine, Evans, Barras and myself. Naturally I felt very elated at the news, not only for the chance to fly home, but because it seemed to be a sort of atonement for failing as a pilot.


© 1995 William Motion Goodall & Ian William Goodall 

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