Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Year’s Eve RAF party 1943

Booing out the old year and bringing in the new at 46 Squadron’s New Year’s Eve party, 1943:

‘The night before there had been an ENSA show, and many of the members stayed on for it. Together with the wrens, this made around seventy guests in all, and the biggest Squadron party ever. As before, after helping to decorate the Mess, I drove over to Alexandria with Jack Barnes and collected some of the wrens from the Sacre Coeur in Alexandria. It was a splendid evening. There had been a lot of rain over the previous weeks, so a large marquee was erected, and there was a huge bonfire outside. Once again the RAF Dance Band from Aboukir played for us. As midnight was counted down, Doc MacDonald made a dramatic entrance through the front door of the Mess dressed as an ancient old man, representing 1943, and was booed and heckled as he made his way through the crowded room and out at the back door. He was in fact the oldest member of the Squadron and, as it happened, I was the youngest. I therefore landed the job of representing the New Year, 1944, and, as the Doc exited bang on midnight, a flaming punch was served, and in I came, dressed as a baby with sheets for a nappy, and cheered to the nines. Not my finest hour, and no one from ENSA took my details for future bookings, but great fun all the same. We just about managed to squeeze everyone into a huge circle to sing Auld Lang Syne. It was 1.30 in the morning when Jack Barnes and I took our three wrens back into Alex. As Jack snoozed on the way home, I reflected on a year full of strange and powerful experiences. As I turned the car into the camp at 3.30 a.m., I knew that despite all the difficult things I had seen and been through, I was actually having the time of my life.’

From: ‘Flying Blind: The Story of a Second World War Night-Fighter Pilot’ published by Fonthill Media


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Happy Christmas

A happy Christmas to you all.  Keep following the star.


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Christmas Officer’s Mess party 1943

Extract from Chapter 8: ‘Christmas and New Year in North Africa’:  Some of you may recognise Charlie Peace, featured in the previous photograph, seated cross-legged on the floor at the front of the throng.

‘The next week was the Officer’s Mess Party on 10th December. This was a big affair for the Squadron, with around fifty guests invited to a dance and a buffet supper. Owen’s Cairo West detachment was now closed and all the aircraft returned to base, so the Squadron had its full complement. We spent all morning decorating the mess with whatever we could find; mostly palm leaves, which looked marvellous, I thought. OfficersPartyDec43In the afternoon I put on best blue and went into Alex int he CO’s car, with Dudley Arundel, Jenx, Jack Barnes and Atkins. We had a few drinks at the Cecil to get in the swing of things and then picked up the invited Wrens from the ‘wrennery’ and took them to Idku with us in style in the three-tonner.  The party was one to remember. There were plenty of girls and eats to keep us all happy. The RAF band had been brought in from Aboukir and we danced the evening away in the open under a brilliant moon. It was a magical setting.’

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Session in the Mess

46 Squadron held a lot of parties and was famed for its good spirits – not only its Cyprian brandy. Doc Macdonald’s daughter kindly sent me this great photograph of a ‘session in the mess’, on the back of which Doc had written the following caption:

‘taken after a lunchtime session.  I am on the piano with Sheriff Muir behind me and Oscar Wild standing up. Charlie Peace with Fritz in the foreground.’ 


Sherriff Muir (Squadron Leader Gilbert Alexander Muir DFC) was a Canadian, who, as a special signals officer in 46 Squadron, had devised a means of controlling night-fighters from the warships they were escorting. Charlie Peace had been with my father in 256 Squadron back in the UK in 1942.  He had adopted Fritz after the Dachshund had been left behind by the retreating Germans. Charlie was killed in action in early 1944, and Dad looked after Fritz from then on.  ‘Oscar’ was Dad’s nickname in the Squadron. I was very moved to receive this photograph in 2013, and wrote the following poem.

There’s my dad standing at the back,
Clapping or playing rhythm spoons,
Next to the smiling Sheriff Muir;
While the Doc bashes out the tunes

on the old Joanna, festooned
With flowers, as if they’re in Hawaii,
Not Egypt, under a desert moon.
In front of the draped Union Jack

Two chaps stage right are obviously
Dancing, pounding the boards, a blur
Of movement in the camera’s eye.
Charlie Peace, self-styled conductor,

With his back to the players sits
Waving his right arm frantically
And on his knee the Dachshund Fritz
Wags his tail and grins ecstatically.

The picture’s still, there is no sound
For me: no honky-tonk music,
No spoons’ percussion clacks, clapped hands,
No feet-taps or the dog Fritz’s

Barks, no creaking boards. I can’t smell
The frowsty, beery, tented air.
The Doc’s playing but who can tell
Now what song?
I see but can’t hear.

All these chaps are gone: weeks later,
Lost in action, Charlie died out there,
His final resting place unknown;
My dad in Derbyshire, last year.


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Owen Hooker


Here’s a photograph of Owen Hooker taken by my father in 1943 or 1944, at Idku. Owen is holding Fritz, the 46 Squadron mascot.

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A mention of Squadron Leader Owen Hooker in this blog about Flt Lt James Evans Jenkins

Flt Lt James Evans Jenkins

Clobbered was a word Dad used often, usually referring to some rugby match where the team he didn’t support lost. But during June 1943, we find clobbered has a much darker meaning – because another squadron clobbered an enemy aircraft and a New Zealand pilot was injured. I initially thought this pilot had died but some research proves otherwise.

June 1943 was Dad’s third month with the 127 Squadron, having joined on April 7, and we find him buzzing around in a Hurricane IIB, as the sole pilot. Logbook entries for June 1-16, 1943 show him undertaking more convoy patrols. I have to admit I don’t know what these convoys were all about but I guess they were Allied ships coming to the North African theatre of war with fresh troops and supplies. And so the 127 Squadron was providing air defense and I think night defence of Egypt. I…

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