war has not as yet changed anything here and no one knows whether
the duration of the course will be affected. We have so far had
no opportunity to contact people outside the camp to learn their
reaction to the new war but radio bulletins are depressing in
so far as Pearl Harbour seems to be a big disaster.
20 December 1941.
On Wednesday we left by special train for Albany Georgia which
we reached late in the afternoon. We stopped briefly at Columbus
where I took the opportunity to 'phone the kind people (Charles
& Eleanor Rush) who entertained us recently. Albany is just
80 miles away and they have given us a cordial invitation to
We are now at Darr Aero Tech which is our Primary School for
elementary flying training and after two days here I am impressed.
It used to be a civilian flying school run by Mr Darr and it
has been taken over by the Air Corps for training British cadets.
Today we all had our first flight - tonight everyone is busy
comparing first impressions of the experience. Mr Brown is my
instructor and today he spoke to his group for half an hour on
the rules which we must follow.
I went up with him at 3.26 and first I put on my parachute, adjusted
my safety belt and speaking tube which only works one way - instructor
to pupil. Mr Brown took off and told me in the rear seat to follow
the controls and generally observe. We climbed to 200 feet, turned
to the right, climbed to 400 feet and then turned left out of
the traffic pattern still climbing and when we reached 3000 feet
Mr Brown lifted his hands in the air telling me to keep the plane
in level flight. This was not difficult but soon he demonstrated
gentle and medium turns which I did not do well; also we did
shallow climbs and glides before landing at 4.08, a 42 min flight.
It was a thrilling experience somewhat tempered by worry about
my performance but I try to console myself by saying that it
was my first try.
The schedule here has been stepped up so that we are working
a 7 day week with staggered open post for each class. At first
it was thought that there was to be no open post, not even at
Christmas, but this is incorrect so we have been phoning to and
fro with The Wrights in Auburn; they are coming to pick us up
at 5pm on Christmas Eve and we have leave until 9pm on Christmas
25 December 1941.
The gloomiest Christmas Day I have ever spent. We were told that
all personnel had to stand by on Christmas Day and that open
post would cease at 2am. I hardly knew how to tell Louise in
view of her journey here and all the arrangements she had made
for us. However Louise insisted that we were to go to Auburn
and off we went. She drove like the wind for two and a half hours
so that we arrived at Auburn at 8.30pm. First we had supper with
Monk, Louise and their three children beside a huge Christmas
tree laden with presents for all. Then we went out on a round
of visits which was to have gone on all night until 5am when
Alec, Charles and I were to have played Santa Claus to the children.
Everything ended too quickly and we were back in camp about 2.30am.
I suppose the reason for confinement of everyone to camp was
to have all the troops on alert against a possible Japanese invasion
but surely that is a remote possibility in Georgia.
We listened to the King's speech this morning and it increased
my feeling of homesickness.