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More a woman than a girlie, And the West Virginian hills smiled in delight.


Now she’s livin’ in the city, She’s livin’ in the city, She’s livin’ in the town and doin’ swell. She’s wining and she’s dining, And on her bed reclining And the West Virginian hills can go to hell!


I stayed as an instructor at Brize until mid-August 1941. The War had progressed from the ‘phoney’ stage of 1939 and the first part of 1940, and the Germans had begun to mount their air attacks with some frequency. This sometimes interfered with night flying, and there was always the danger of intruders appearing even in daylight hours. Stations like ours had been presented with a Gloster Gladiator fighter to be flown, if there was a chance of an intruder approaching us, by whoever happened to be Station Duty Officer at the time of a Red Alert, the warning that attack might be imminent. The Gladiator, now renowned in wartime history because of the famous three which defended Malta at the height of its peril, was a very elderly biplane fighter, a single-seater fitted with a Vickers machine gun firing via interruptor gear through the propeller. I was called on to fly it on just one day, November 20th 1940, a date by which I had done approximately 350 hours in the air. It was interesting to think back that I clambered into the Gladiator cockpit, started up, opened the throttle and took off without for a moment having any doubts about my ability to handle it. Dual instruction on the type was not possible, it being a single-seat aircraft. I wish I could have had the same chance a year or two later, when I had put in a thousand or more hours on a single-engined Harvard and had learned what I then had learned about aerobatics. I would have revelled in that 1 hour 5 minutes in the Gloucester, but it was a lovely experience just to be able to know that I had flown one.


In mid-August 1941 Larkin summoned me and told me I was to be posted to Southern Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe then was) to do a two year stint as an instructor in the Rhodesian Air Training Group. Flying training had become more and more difficult in Britain, not only because of the interruptions by the attentions of the enemy, but because good old British weather was not the most conducive to continuous flying activity. Poor weather interfered more with flying training than the enemy did, so the Government had decided to establish training schools overseas, in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa and Canada, where there was no enemy and very much better weather. These countries were all parts of the British Commonwealth at the time. I said goodbye to my colleagues, some of whom had become good friends.


45


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