Tony’s troop ship arrived in England late in October 1943 where he was initially billeted in a nice hotel, apparently in the vicinity of Bournemouth. After a wait of two months, including several weeks leave, he was posted to 423 Squadron based at Oban in Scotland as the pilot on a crew operating a Sunderland flying boat. Tony remained there or at 423 Squadron’s alternate base at Castle Archdale in Northern Ireland until August 1944 when he was sent on a Captains Course. After that he went to 4OTU, apparently somewhere in Scotland, until March 1945. 423 Squadron was about to be reassigned from GR to Transport and Tony may have been training to fly Liberators at this OTU. In the event, however, his crew was seconded to 204 Squadron RAF and sent by ship to West Africa where they arrived in late April. They were to have shuttled a Sunderland back to the UK but the mission was cancelled at the last moment and the newly refitted aircraft condemned instead to be scuttled. So after a four month tropical interlude Tony and his crew sailed back north. By August he was back in Bournemouth waiting for a berth on a ship back home.
Tony’s letters from the BCATP give one a good picture of the daily life of an air trainee, be it in the classroom, in the air, in the barracks, or on leave. But because service personnel were forbidden to discuss military operations in their correspondence, the most interesting portions of this present volume deal with time spent on leave. When not partaking of metropolitan night-life, Tony spent much of his leave visiting his uncles. Some of the relatives mentioned here are his father’s brother Tom, his father’s half-sister Daphne, and his father’s aunt Violet; his mother’s brother Geoff, his wife Dorothy and daughter Valery; and his mother’s brother Reggie, his wife Mina, and their sons Stephen and Tom. Family legend has it that Stephen was part of the Bletchley Park code-breaking enterprise. Tom was taken prisoner while serving with the RAF.