1st July 1943
Nice day, breakfast at aerodrome. Nothing till after lunch, then with Jagger to Finningley for Wasp Wimp. Stbd engine would start. I tried and got it going first time (!). Straight over the hills, overshot Harwarden and got lost. Tea there, met Ellis. To Shawbury with rotten pilot. Two Beau’s to N Coates, lovely day, lovely A/C. Shot up Cos, Ros and Charnwood. Nice landing at N Coates, low cloud there. Stayed at P Legh’s billet, with Bartles. (Slightly confused account. Wasp Wimpey = Mk 4, with inertia starter motors and injection carburettors, needed precise, correct starting drill – but my comment a bit smug! Jagger must have flown it to Harwarden – not in my log. P Legh = Pennington Lee, Sherburn pilot).
2nd July 1943
Overcast. Lovely breakfast, nearly missed transport. Hampden to Edzell, fitted with ASV. Nice A/C, poor weather, low cloud, 400ft over the sea. Nice at Edzell, oil temp high. S/E flying, nice landing. Beaufort back, light one, with corporal as passenger. V bad weather at Alnwick, landed at Boulmer. Took off, back to E Fortune. Back at 6.000, v clear, nice landing. With Jagger to P Legh’s digs. Wrote to Ros. Fed geese and pigs, "ragged about" with Barbara and Kathleen Bartle. (Oil temps high = a common problem with well used Hampdens, battered cowlings gave fouled airflow through oil cooler. S/E = single engine flying practice. Log does not show actual landing at E Fortune).
3rd July 1943
Lovely morning. Beaufort to Edzell, lovely vis. Over Bolton Abbey, and over moors. Dirty N of Dundee, climbed up and went back to Errol. Duty pilot took me to the mess. Went to Edzell later. Surprise Defiant back, v fumey. Climbed up, dived into clouds and out. Rolled near Sher. Suffering from fumes. (Fumes, and rolls = not a very sensible mix to indulge!)
4th July 1943
Leave starts. Very little work. Given Defiant to take on to Desford. Port oleo said to be U/S, OK after lunch. Set out from Desford to walk to main road. Saw F/C arrive, rushed back but it was full. Caught 4 o’c works bus, 4.58 train to London, cheap 1st class ticket Staying at Ralph’s. V Hot. (Ralph = uncle, living in Hampstead). (Long leave began with short stay in London, seeing shows and dining. Windmill Theatre; "Bib and Tucker" with Tommy Trinder; "Sweet and Low", eating at Fortnums, Hatchetts, Simpsons, Waldorf. Then to Salcombe with with Ros till July 24th. Summary taken from diary entries).
26th July 1943. Back from leave.
Lovely day. Up early with Ros. Went to Wymeswold with her. Given Tiger to Sherburn. Flying not too strange. Murphy had pranged Spit at R. Given 2 Hampdens after lunch. Baulked at Edzell, but good landing, held off a bit high. Another white A/C to Sherburn. Oil temps high on both. Back to digs. Olieff, new 2nd adjutant, staying there. Mrs Metcalfe had pranged a Mosquito. Pass & Storer both 4+.
27th July 1943
Overcast. Martlet to Donibristle, rolled over Sher for the "boys". Caught up Lambert in Defiant. Felt rather ill, slowed down and opened up. Good landing at Donibie. Vine took me to Edzell in Anson. Hampden for Sher, flew over cloud under "George", fair but precessing. Fair landing at Sher. (Rolled for the "boys" = not sure now what this meant, probably other pilots who also indulged in aerobatics. But what about the C.O; Victor Cook or Ken Gill, Second I/C? Did they see it and acquiesce? Opened up = opened cockpit hood. "George" = autopilot, Precessing = failing to hold course).
28th July 1943
Fine. 2 Barracuda’s. Took Lambert with me. Over some cloud at 6,000 ft. Circled Winchester, Met Tony Bassett FAA. In Watch Office (Worthy Down) Hamble girl took us to Wroughton. Lambert cracked off. I had to wait for Dawson. Looked over Seamew. Dawson (seconded to Donibie), appeared at 8 o’c in Walrus. Barracuda v slow, 95 knots at ATA cruise. Fine evening (Tony Bassett = relative. Dawson = ATA Sherburn pilot who was seconded, with others, to FAA for a while as staff pilot).
29th July 1943
Overcast at Sher F/C to Yeadon, thick there. Anson to Hawarden via Ashbourne, lovely at Hawarden. Snack lunch and on to Speke for Hellcat. A developed Martlet with Double Wasp. Looked like a FW 190. Cockpit quite normal, flaps hydraulic, controlled electrically, A/S lever unusual. Good take off, round by Cosford and Ratcliffe, shot them up, rolling. Nice A/C in the air, not very fast, controls stiffened with speed, nice landing at Brough. Looked over Firebrand, talked with test pilot, back in Barracuda. (First time in Hellcat; presumably Blackburn wanted it for interest; I was to take a Corsair to Brough for a similar reason. FW 190 = a German radial engined fighter with some similarity in appearance).
30th July 1943
Nice weather. F/C to KB, via Skipton Gap, shot up Lake District, lovely weather, saw people on the tops. Lunch at KB, staggered back over Barnard Gap with four up. Given long Anson taxi at Sher over to Leconfield for army types, who were annoyed at waiting. Nine up to Rat good landings. On to Lich and Cosford to deliver 2 RAF. Straight back, cadet flying. (KB = Kirkbride. Staggered back = the Fairchild Argus was really overloaded with four pilots – three with parachutes, Cadet flying = handing over to ATC cadet in the air, quite frequently flew with us as supernumaries; some of them very bright and capable lads).
31st July 1943
Lovely day, Anson to Kinloss. Climbed to 6,000 ft, handed over to Shepherd. Went aft to play with turret. Stall turns, flaps up landing at Edzell. Dropped Shepherd, on to Kinloss. F/C to Lossie, with G John who arrived in a Warwick. Defiant that I was to take was U/S. Flew Beau to Edzell with Treen & others, Flew well (!) Beaufort back from Edzell with Shepherd. Heavy sod (the A/C!) Climbed to 6,000. Flew low over moors – great fun. Prang at Catfoss; chap killed. Pass waiting. Fire in local wood. (Shepherd = an ATC cadet, clearly capable of becoming an excellent pilot. Flew well = I believe that the others all expected a typical Beaufighter swing on take off and a dodgy landing!)