Posted by: eppingstrider | 17/10/2011

Comment: Voice recordings and other progress

After a summer break I’ve now acquired the technology to record the tapes onto the computer and then post them on here.  I’m currently planning to match the tape files to the posts already published here so you can listen as you read, but if you have any suggestions for other ways to do it, please leave a comment below. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 08/07/2011

6d: RAF and WRNS in Egypt

You’ll hear on the beginning of tape 5 b that I made pretty much of a mess of things and I tried in that place to sort things out, indicating I’d carry on editing on this and then go back to continue the chronological story.

There was an incident in 1940 when I was in Alexandria at Ras El Tin that I want to record because it’s the start of my tie-up with the RAF.

I was on duty, we were waiting for one of our ‘boats to come in, and there was an RAF float plane wandering around by our part of the harbour and round… and backing it up and down.  There was someone in the cockpit waving his arms like mad, and I recognised he was semaphoring, so I said to my coxswain “What is he saying?” And he said he wouldn’t know, so I said “Wait a minute, you’re supposed to be trained in semaphore” well, the requirements were for Morse and semaphore for coxswain, and he said ”Well, I’ve never had anything to do with that.”  So I looked up and this fellow was still waving his arms around, so I put my hands up in a signal I remembered from when I was a Boy Scout, no a Cub I think it was, indicating that I was conscious he was trying to do something, and he started off again but his arms were waving around like crazy.  Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 08/07/2011

6c: HMS Emerald

This is now some further information in connection to Lindi station which I appear to have overlooked, in fact I’d forgotten anyway.  It was an incident which was terribly important for us in Lindi, because it only happened once, but, anyway I’ll tell you about it.

Mike Murphy rang me from his Marconi radio station to tell me that he’d got a peculiar call, on the air, for someone wanting to know what time the flying boat was arriving.  So I said, “well, who is it that wants to know”, and he said, “well, I don’t know because he was very chary about identification, and quite frankly I think it must be a navy ship, the keying is that sort of thing and the type of message is very controlled, I think it must be a naval ship of some sort”. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 08/07/2011

6b: Mbeya ‘boys’

I notice when talking about the staff in Mbeya and then subsequently through that tape that I refer to the ‘boys’ frequently when I’m referring to the staff other than the European staff.  Now I’m afraid I refer to the ‘boys’ like that in the ‘colonial’ way – it meant any of the local employees.  We did employ as many as the local employees as we could as it was ridiculous to try and get some of the Europeans to do some of the jobs.  And besides which we liked to live with the country as much as we could and we had the native, the local tribes to do the jobs that had to be done.  I did however subsequently learn that there was one tribe that you had to be very careful of, and I’ve forgotten the name of it now unfortunately, but you had to avoid ever taking them on as a houseboy because they did not believe in killing anything at all, no animals, no bugs, no bits, no fleas, anything.  Consequently if you had them as a houseboy they would never clear up clean up or eliminate any of the bugs which would eventually eat… or got into your house sometime of other.  So that apart from any flies or fleas or spiders, you also got cockroaches, cockamongers and oh, I don’t know what you’d get in there.  So you would running alive if you had one of these boys as a houseboy as they would never kill any of them!

Posted by: eppingstrider | 08/07/2011

6a: The zeppelin and the milk-horse

In the very beginning I refer to my babyhood almost, and it struck me the other day that the earliest thing I can remember was being in my mother’s arms and being pointed down what to me was subsequently the east and being told that was a searchlight. In point of fact now I recall that it was the searchlight showing up the zeppelin which raided the Thames estuary in 1915 or 16, but I was very small, I was in my mother’s arms and I was wrapped up in a blanket, and she was holding me out in the front of the house that we lived in in Preston Avenue.  I remember that very clearly. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 08/07/2011

Comment: Edits tape

I’ve now finished transcribing tape 6, the edits tape.  There are a couple of new stories which I’ll post next but most of it was correcting things which had already been picked up as they were obvious in the original transcription.  He also spends time listing the dates from the paper which was already posted here (as Postings), which is a shame.  I was glad I had done that early though as it was very useful to cross-reference as I listened to the tapes. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 26/03/2011

Comment: Leaving Cairo

I’m afraid entry 5f ends the chronological tapes.  There is the edits tape which Geoffrey mentioned a few posts ago, which will be transcribed next and linked back to the appropriate sections.

When he said it was September 2004 as he started this side of tape 5 I was surprised he had dictated as much as he had, as he went back into hospital that month and only came out briefly on a couple of occasions before he went in for a final time in March 2005 and died on 31st March.


We don’t know exactly when Frances got to Cairo: her passport 1942-47 shows Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 26/03/2011

5f: The final entry

So I got back up to Cairo and then had to start thinking about my work.  As I said I was then Assistant Traffic Superintendent, Near East Region and had the responsibilities to the Traffic Superintendent for all sorts of things from the area up from the Western Desert out to Teheran and from Alexandria down to Juba and all stations on that section. Oh it was all part of the usual thing, routine, to me it was routine, we worked hard, we had to do time at night-time as duty officers, for emergency stuff that might happen during the night, but, ah, well, that was life.  But at the same time of course I was wondering how I could get Frances up to Cairo to join me.  Although she was now a wife, a wife travelling would have very low priority on the priorities board, where military requirements meant that priorities became the first requirement.  But oh, well, I just had to try and hope for the best amongst my friends in Airways. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 19/03/2011

5e: … and back again

After our five days honeymooning we had to get back, well I had to get back because I’d only allowed myself three days to get from Kampala back up to Cairo otherwise I’d be overstaying my leave, so we went back to Kampala and it was then that I got the message that the skipper who had kindly said he would make an experimental landing at Lirope in order to check the facilities said he wouldn’t be on the service, so it wouldn’t be happening.  So when I got back to Kampala after the honeymoon I had to scratch my head to work out how to get back up to Cairo now that my original plan had failed.  It was impossible me staying in Kampala because I knew there was a shortage of frequency and there were already passengers on the Imperial Airways queuing, priority ones that had been offloaded were sitting in Kampala waiting to get up.  Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 14/03/2011

5d: Cairo to Kampala …

In Cairo I took over as Senior Traffic Operator at Cairo Station.  That meant I was responsible for all the traffic handling and organisation for the station which covered of course not only Rod El Farag the flying boat station, but the land plane base at Heliopolis and the new station we’d opened up at Cairo West which was out beyond the Pyramids which was the station for serving the Western Desert. Read More…

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