did have a couple of two hour flights for aerial gunnery a week
ago and I suppose they were of some value; on the first flight
we fired from each of four gun positions in the Catalina at sea
targets (50 rounds from each) but the second trip was much better.
Each man had 100 rounds of different coloured ammunition which
he fired at a towed target from the bow or starboard waist positions.
The gunners plane overtook the towing plane at about 30mph relative
speed and so a certain amount of deflection had to be given.
The front turret is hand operated and very difficult to manoeuvre
but, as this is the Observer's gun position in the Catalina,
it is the most important to us.
We have had two midweek days off recently but no weekends, and
on one of these days I had a wonderful trip with the Gervins
who took me to the Edge Water Golf Hotel between Gulfport and
Biloxi on the coast about 130 miles from here. This is a really
luxurious hotel which was a great contrast to service life and
Syd & Vera Gervin made this a memorable occasion.
I must try to get more exercise in spite of the wearing heat
as I find that my weight has risen to 12st 5lbs - I must be eating
12 May 1942.
Our crew of eight cadets - Alec Flett, Dennis Ansley, Leslie
Capp, Norman Mallett, Reg Smith, Jim Lawlor, Frank Lewis and
myself - had to rush around collecting the necessary instruments,
papers, food, parachutes etc and we eventually took off about
8.30am to patrol a sector 140-150 degrees from Pensacola for
250 miles on each leg. It was a beautiful day and we soon settled
into our positions - Alec and Norman tracking, Leslie and Dennis
DR navigation, Jim and Frank drift sights and Reg and I doing
astro work. Also a sharp watch had to be maintained for hostile
submarines which have sunk a great many ships recently in the
Gulf and for this reason we carried four 350lb anti-submarine
All went smoothly with little of interest until about midday
when a sub was sighted and the four bombs were dropped - we circled
for about 20 minutes and a large brown patch appeared but no
other evidence was forthcoming. The navigation worked out well
so that we made the coast after 7 hours over the sea, only six
miles from Pensacola within five minutes of our estimated time
of arrival. These were the first bombs dropped in the area and
we all had to appear before the CO to give evidence so it was
On Saturday it was my turn at DR Navigation and it was made difficult
by the fact that 250 miles out from Pensacola we contacted a
destroyer with which we patrolled in company for over an hour;
consequently our course changed frequently so that our position
was a matter of conjecture and we reached the coast some distance
from our base. However my log was favourably marked and I was
Again on Sunday we were airborne before 7am feeling rather tired.
On this occasion our track lay over the Mississippi delta and
about 40 miles from the mouth a torpedoed tanker which we had
been ordered to locate and pick up survivors. We had a doctor
on board but on arrival at the ship two auxiliary naval vessels
were trying to get the tanker in tow which they succeeded in
doing after 3 hours. The tanker was listing badly to port and
had two gaping holes amidships but I think that she would reach
port safely although an oil streak was visible for miles.