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time in the Service to want to be released and they were legally entitled to buy themselves out of their contracts. What with that and the parties that were thrown with their unexpected wealth, it took some time for the Station to settle down to normal life. My time-keeper WAASie was one who picked up £500 but fortunately she decided to stay at her post.


There were other not so pleasant episodes which remain in the mind, one of them involving a fatality to a pupil – there were only two during my whole stay – whilst night flying. His crashed aircraft was spotted when daylight came and I had to fly the Station medico, S/Ldr Kelly, out to the site of the accident which was just near our forced landing ground at Kabunga. He duly clambered into my Harvard with his parachute buckled under him and, when we got to Kabunga I called over the Gosport tubes: ‘Right! Here we are!’


Kelly knew nothing about Kabunga, where I was going straight in to land, and I heard him over the intercom.: ‘Do I jump now?’


He did not realise we were to land on what looked like a bit of bundu to him and was perfectly prepared to use his parachute, a gesture all the more courageous but a bit stupid too as we were below 1,000ft. A lot of the flying was exceptionally enjoyable, for the Harvard was a pleasure


to handle, especially for aerobatics. Flying in the towering cumulus clouds above the Southern Rhodesian bundu was like flying down the aisles of great cathedrals. It was simply beautiful to be up there, and for me this is what flying had always been about. However immense those clouds, the were peculiarly free of bumps and could be flown through with impunity. They contrasted greatly with the cumulus I tried to penetrate at the end of June 1943 when I, together with F/Sgt Dunford who was one of my NCO instructors, was stuck in Capetown waiting for the weather to clear enough to allow us to fly two Harvards back to Thornhill. Our replacement Harvards were, by that time, being delivered crated to Capetown instead of to Durban, and we were to fly the first of the Mk.III versions back to the Station as soon as the weather permitted. Cloud over the Hex River Mountains which we had to clear on the way north-east had held us up for several days.


This particular morning was clear at Capetown but still cloudy over the mountain range. The weather report also told us that it was clear beyond the mountains, so Dunford and I decided we would have a go, hoping we could fly blind through the cloud-covered section of the route and make the first refuelling stop at Beaufort West on the far side of the high ground. Since we would be flying blind, and with no intercommunication possible, we took off separately, myself first, making for the mountains and the really mighty cumulus above them.


I felt no qualms about bashing into those snowy white clouds – I had done 80


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