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The civil engineers concerned had been arguing about the best route down the escarpment which separated the two countries and had eventually settled on one which passed right through the McDougall farm of Triangle Ranch. I hoped the old boy – as he would have been by that time – made them pay handsomely for the privilege. There were three of us who thought he deserved it!


* * * * * L


ife in the Officers’ Mess was comfortable and we had good sleeping quarters in our wooden huts, with the central Mess building offering


pleasant surroundings, tennis courts and a verandah (the ‘stoep’) on which, in the early evenings when we were not night flying, we forgathered for a ‘sun downer’ of brandy and ginger ale. The climate was wonderful and it was a pity it was not until a week or two before I left the Station that were provided with a swimming pool


But there was much that we all missed. At the top of the list, for the married officers who had been obliged to leave them at home some seven thousand miles away, was wife and family. Happily, there was regular mail in each direction and, at my instigation, Margaret got herself and little John on to one of those BBC radio programmes in which families could broadcast to servicemen overseas. I heard my son really speak for the first time, for he had been barely seven months old when I had left the UK. The broadcast came over clearly, but Margaret told me later that the two of them had suffered a very tiring time, what with the journey to London and being shoved around for most of the day whilst the BBC prepared for the programme to go on the air. One thing I missed during my first year was a motorcar. It was the first time I had been without personal transport since the age of seventeen and a car was a quite useful tool to possess even in Gwelo. Rhodesian roads were fairly primitive, for although the town streets were properly laid, he roads beyond the town boundaries, even main roads like those to Bulawayo and Salisbury, consisted simply of two tarmac strips on a dirt road base. If there was no other traffic on these roads you kept your wheels on both strips, and on meeting another car you had to pull off to the left, leaving only your offside wheels on the nearside strip, with your nearside wheels on the dirt track. Country roads did not even boast these strips.


It was useful to own a car or to be friendly with someone who did, even for simple journeys to the local cinema – the bioscope – on the odd evening off. I had a good friend in F/O Dan Eardley, the proud possessor of a big Ford V-8 coupé which I could occasionally borrow. In this I took the driving test which was compulsory for those without a Rhodesian driving licence and I remember


75


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