our leave John and I reported to Dorval full of hope that we
would be awarded our Observer badge and Sergeant's stripes with
a quick flight home - but we were disappointed. First we saw
Sqn Ldr Wight who told us we would have to go home to have our
status clarified and could not therefore be retained by Ferry
Command; this was a grievous blow.
I had just received the news when I ran into my pilot and radio
officer (Messrs Mirepois and Highfield) who were looking for
me to join them as Navigator on their next flight. This was to
take a Liberator to Egypt via Trinidad, Brazil and West Africa
so my disappointment was even more acute. However we still expected
to fly home within a few days until last Thursday the final blow
came - all Pensacola trained Wireless Ops and the three remaining
Observers were told that they were to be sent home by sea as
quickly as possible. Consequently we all caught the evening train
that day for Moncton where we now are in a state of gloom. I
think that for me the most depressing feature is the withdrawal
of the prospect which had opened up; that was of travelling all
over the world with Ferry Command and becoming a first-class
Now I am visiting Moncton for the fourth time to find the camp
grown out of all recognition since last October; there is an
inevitable tightening of discipline so that the former relaxed
atmosphere has gone. Or perhaps it is just my mood which is dominated
by a desire to get home.
28 August 1942.
(on the Atlantic Ocean on board P&O liner 'Strathmore') Our
stay in Moncton lasted until a week ago and was uneventful except
that, as lowly LACs, the three of us (Pensacola trained Navigators)
were detailed on occasion for unpleasant duties in camp - these
included one day of dish washing in the mess.
At last we left last Friday when 660 of us boarded a special
train in the new siding which has been built into the camp; we
unfortunates from Pensacola were the only ones in the draft below
the rank of Sergeant. On arrival at Halifax, and on boarding
the 'Strathmore', we were somewhat apprehensive as to our conditions
on the ship but we have been lucky. We have berths (not hammocks)
with Canadian Sergeant-Majors and have our meals with them in
a small mess.
The 'Strathmore' is carrying a contingent of Canadian troops
as well as the RAF draft, a few WAAF's and Canadian nurses; we
have the use of the Sergeants promenade deck, bar etc and altogether
this is by far the most comfortable of my three crossings. We
have hopes of sighting land tomorrow and naturally I am excited
at the prospect of seeing Moira - it has been a long and sometimes
discouraging time since last October.
7 September 1942.
(at Bournemouth) We landed at Shieldhall Dock, Glasgow last Monday
after a good voyage culminating in the trip up the Clyde from
Greenock. A special train brought us here the next day and now
we are just waiting to go on leave.
There is a gap in the diaries from 8 September 1942 until 21
January 1945. In 1985 Bill recalled his experiences and these
are recorded below along with extracts from original documents.