February 16, 1939
ROYAL AIR FORCE STATION,
How do you feel these days? I suppose you still belong to the old bridge club. How is Bob doing - is he still working?
On Monday night we did squadron reconnaissance formation. The weather was beastly - low clouds everywhere. We were in and out of them all the time -- impossible to see most of them at night, and we had to fly very close together to keep in touch. Wednesday morning we had an exercise with HMS Nelson, Flagship of Home Fleet with Admiral H.F. on board and HMS Aurora off Malta. 802 were to carry out high dive bombing attacks and low flying machine gun attacks on the bridges. This latter was great fun, and we nearly made all the gold braid jump out of their skins. When we returned to Hal Far, a wireless message was waiting for us.
To: A.O.C. (Air Officer Commanding Med.) and a/c of 802 ff.
From: C. in C. H.F. (Commander in Chief Home Fleet)
"Thanks very much for very fine exercise."
That reminds me - you should address letters to 802 Fleet Fighter Squadron and not 802 Fighter Sqdn.
While cruising 15 ,000' preparatory to attack on Nelson, I saw six bombers speed away to the south, but thought nothing of it. On returning, we hard that they had been Italian on the way to Tripoli, and they had passed directly over Malta, disobeying all rules. (The naughty boys). P.S. They didn't look very slow to me!!
The other night one of the reconnaissance boys was doing practice night shadowing on a cruiser (all lights out in the ship) and found another one three miles to port. On flying down to look at her, he found she was Italian (obviously also practicing night shadowing). Only on our ships.
We occasionally find other submarines besides our own on practice anti-submarine patrols, which cause short flaps for a time.
During Abyssinian do, when the navy found a stray one or two around, they used to decide to carry out a practice depth charge dropping. Ities used to pop up to the surface in a very embarrassing manner!
Of course it is pretty difficult not running across them at times, as they are only 50 miles away at the closest points. Tomorrow I am carrying out dive bombing off Deimara Point on armoured motor boats - great practise, this.
Excuse me talking shop. I am afraid all this is Dutch to you.
P.S. Glad I got that holiday last Christmas!