Posted by: eppingstrider | 05/03/2011

5c: Desert, sea and air manoeuvres

There was of course the other side of it.  While we were there we had a number of companies of troops for desert training or tropicalisation I don’t know what the term was now.  They were sent out to Wadi Saidna for training on desert tactics or something like that.

Now they lived under canvas, so, to start with, that was a pretty warm job. These lads out kitted with full battle kit, rushing around, fighting, doing manoeuvres, at between 10 and 12 in daylight with full kit; this to me was absolute murder!  How they, I.. how they… [trying to emphasise]  I was conditioned to at least be able to walk around, but there was these lads having just come out straight from UK, having been shipped out to West Africa and then flown across from West Africa to Khartoum, posted out to Wadi Saidna for desert training, there they were and [sigh] I don’t know, I sort of sympathised with them and all right so some of the training officers used to go frequently into Khartoum but I felt sorry for these lads having to do this sort of thing under those conditions.  But as the officers said, well it’s all part of the training and they have to go up and fight in these sort of conditions in the Western Desert so if we can get them trained for these conditions they’ll be so much more proficient as soldiers.  And I suppose that’s right but, oh, just to hear and see them thrashing about in those hours in the morning, really was… and it made me say, “well, thank God I’m a civilian”. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 03/03/2011

5b: Khartoum and Wadi Saidna

Anyway at the end of 1941 I had my posting, and I was posted up to Khartoum, which initially didn’t make me very happy, because I realised if I went up to Khartoum as I was going, I wouldn’t be a Station Superintendent at Khartoum, I would be an Assistant only, and having run stations for at least … several years, it didn’t do my morale any good to be posted up to a station to be there as an Assistant Superintendent rather than the boss.  However, you know, these things happen, so my rank then was TO2 so I had to move according to that and because my new Station Superintendent was a TO1 meant that I couldn’t argue about it. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 11/01/2011

5a: Juba – reprise and church

On the last tape I seem to have been talking about Mongalla, checking the alighting area up there.  Of course the place was abandoned because of yellow fever and they moved the administrative centre down to Juba, and established Juba as the southern port for the steamers the put roads in, I say roads, the road, down to the Congo and of course the other one they extended down to Nimule to continue what was theoretically the Cape – Cairo road.

With the war effort continuing in the Middle East and the desert fighting, there was intense effort in order to be able to reinforce the Middle East consequently Juba became quite an important part of the air network, and subsequently we built up there so that we had what now, two planes a week across Africa across the Congo, they were Sabena flights flown by the Sabena pilots who happened to be in the Congo at the time; they brought people across and took people from Juba, and Juba, in order to be able to cope with that, Imperial Airways operated a flying boat down from Cairo to Juba where they dumped the passengers and pick up those we’d brought in from the Congo route and then up.  So that Juba had [he counts] five night stops plus the four night stops of the South African Air Force which means we had a minimum of one night stop every night of the week, which means that we always had busy evenings and while our day theoretically was reasonably clear, of course we’d got had the transit flying boats down at Rejaf, so we had to move fairly early down to Rejaf to see that everything was all right down at the flying boat base.  So that our days were not free even if we did have these continual night stops. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 06/01/2011

4f: Busy, busy at Juba

During this year, what is it now, still 1941, things really became hectic down in Juba, so many odd things happened and I can only remember the outstanding ones like the time we had so many planes coming in for night stopping; so many passengers and crews to be put up that we got the married people sleeping along the married quarters of the hotel; we got beds put up all the way along the verandah there. We got another lot of beds put up on the verandah of the single quarters so that was full up, and I even had to call on the hospital, to let us have some extra beds, so that the hotel could put some of the extra beds and in fact we used corridors in the hospital in order to be able to accommodate some more of them.  By the time you’d got hospital beds made available, corridors in the hospital made available, the corridors in the married quarters of the hotel and the single quarters of the hotel, and the TUKLs doubled up as well, it really was quite a lot of fun handling these services.  Quite apart from the catering facilities, the chef of the poor hotel had never been so busy in his life!  It worked all very well, and we found that people took the rough with the smooth, because after all it was wartime and most people accepted that there was an emergency on, it wasn’t a standard operation and night stops had been called and not regular and so on and so on. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 04/01/2011

4e: Return to Juba

However things built up in the beginning of 1941 down in Juba because it became obvious that we could link up at Juba with several operations, not only the land planes up from South Africa but also there was developing the Sabena operation in the Congo and they started to operate across from the Congo up to us in Juba, and they used to bring up what loads they had and wanted to get onto our main line service either down to South Africa or up to the Middle East, or to the Far East for that matter, and we would pick them up on the flying boats and take them the way they wanted.  And at the same time anyone going out to West Africa and wasn’t able or it wasn’t practical for them to do the Khartoum-Lagos on the little land plane, they came down to Juba and waited there until there was some space on the Sabena operation which went through the Belgian Congo down via [thinks] it went from Juba down to Stanleyville, Stanleyville down to Leopoldville, Leopoldville up to Duala, and Duala up to Lagos.  Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 17/12/2010

4d: Alexandria and Cairo

[At the start of this section he refers to the flying boat base at Alexandria as Rod El Farag, but later he corrects this and refers to Alexandria as Ras El Tin and Cairo flying boat station as Rod El Farag]

At the time of course Alexandria was the centre of the Near East Division, which covered the area along the African coast down to the Southern Sudan border and out to Iraq and then on down the Persian Gulf to include the Gulf States, but it didn’t include Beluchistan, which was the other side of the water, which came under the Indian Division.  At Alexandria I settled into a pension called the Rienerheim, which was very a nice little pension, run by, naturally with a name like that, run by Austrians.  I forget now how many people there were there, there were not more than 6, there might have been ten of us, but I don’t think there were more than half a dozen.  It was on the Corniche between the two hotels that were used byImperial Airways, the Cecil in the front and I forget now the other one it was also just behind the Cecil. Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 08/12/2010

4c: Bristol and Victoria

[In Bristol] They were still pretty disorganised and not quite catching up with what the war was doing to them.  They were still operating services, but with the possibility of air activity over anywhere between England and Germany, they were having to send our flying boats around the coast of France to keep away from any possible activity from German aircraft. But, well, France was in the war too you see, so that they were operating down to Bordeaux then from Bordeaux across to Marseilles.  Subsequently they also did a call down to Lisbon, but, I don’t know why we started Lisbon, but that’s a later story.  But the services were continued through to Bordeaux and Marseille on to the Mediterranean and then out to India and Burma, and down to South Africa.  Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 01/12/2010

4b: Home Leave, Summer 1939

When I came back on holiday in 1939 my parents were living in Brogdale Road, Faversham and that was where I made my base.  It was equally the place that I operated around from;  I dashed down to Tankerton very early in my time there to see the possibility of getting a car, but realised I would have to get a licence first, because although I had an international licence, a Sudan licence, and a Kenya licence, the British licences authority wouldn’t let me have a licence, so I had to make application and go to Maidstone and plead my case so that I was allowed a visitors licence for three months.  Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 25/11/2010

4a: Juba, Khartoum and home

Of course at this time there was only the flying boat going north and south, I think we had, what, two each way, each week. So we had quite a lot of time on our hands, but amongst other things we used to go out in the car to look around the countryside.  If we went out we always took extra water, extra petrol, a mosquito net, a gun and a spade, just in case, but occasionally also we crossed over the ferry and went up the east side of the river and went up to the emergency alighting area which was created up at a place called Mongalla.  Mongalla had originally been the capital of the Equatoria province, but it had been wiped out; I think it was yellow fever that put paid to that area.  But we went up there and we had made this emergency mooring, and we occasionally used to go up there just to check that the emergency mooring buoy was still afloat, because crocodiles seemed to have a habit of trying to sharpen their teeth on the mooring buoys!  Read More…

Posted by: eppingstrider | 14/11/2010

3f: Life at Juba

I haven’t in fact done any description of Juba, I was doing other things, but it really was slightly different from Lindi, because Lindi, although it was the centre of a largish area and there was a district commissioner and a provincial commissioner of course, but, I don’t know, they were far less ‘official’ than the people in Sudan.

Juba was the headquarters of the Equatoria province and was, I don’t know I never saw an actual map of the delineation, but I imagine it was considerably more than the area of Great Britain. But of course the population in the area was nowhere near that, so although the governor had responsibility for a large area, the number of people he had responsibility over was quite big, but nothing compared to, if you related it to, the area of Great Britain. Read More…

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