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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

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Wg Cdr Arthur Gill, OBE, DFC

Old 15th Aug 2016, 13:49
  #341 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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NigG (#939),
... his demotion was common to many who stayed on in the RAF after the war
Not a "demotion", by any means. Acting rank is tied to the post, if that vanishes, or you hand over to someone else, so your rank vanishes with it. It happened to me when I left India.

As Chugalug put it at the time: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away".

---------------

KJ994 (#338),

From Darjeeling.....Not a Gurkha, then, but close geographically and ethnically. Brave, trustworthy and loyal, the very best sort of bearer you could find. Far superior to the locals, I would've thought.

Thanks for your confirmation of the pure-white status of a "Miss-Sahib" in the days of the Raj. "Missy-Sahib" has a faint Chinese/Singaporean flavour (never been to either place, have I got the right idea ?

Danny.
 
Old 15th Aug 2016, 14:28
  #342 (permalink)  
 
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Acting rank can be a funny thing.

I came out high on a promotion list, and was slated for an acting rank appointment ... but for that you have to meet the Job Spec. So I didn't get the job. Two years later, I got substantive promotion ... and guess which appointment I got!

The guy I replaced had held the job in acting rank for 2 years (as he had met the job spec). We were both promoted substantive on the same list
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Old 16th Aug 2016, 09:45
  #343 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, your #341. Afraid I've no idea where Samson's Missy-Sahib variation crept in from, but he made it into a charming and certainly a respectful term of address.

I took him to the beach once, at Thandwe (Sandoway) in Arakan. Your territory, and not much changed since you were there I imagine. Samson had never seen the sea before. Lent him some bathers, a smallish wave rolls in and tumbles him over, he comes up spluttering but grinning. "Sah, this water is very strong!"
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Old 16th Aug 2016, 10:26
  #344 (permalink)  
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KJ944,

I believe the beaches of the Arakan, from Cox's Bazar * south, are the most beautiful in the world, and begging for development as tourist resorts (the Malabar beaches are pretty good too, but little known except Goa).

Note *: Who was Cox and why is his 'Bazar' remembered ? Nobody knew (then) - but Wiki does now:
...The modern Cox's Bazar derives its name from Captain Hiram Cox (died 1799), an officer of the British East India Company. Cox was appointed Superintendent of Palongkee outpost after Warren Hastings became Governor of Bengal...
Never saw the beaches (except from the air). Was in a Mobile Field Hospital there for a few weeks.

Danny42C.
 
Old 16th Aug 2016, 17:48
  #345 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Wander00 View Post
KJ994 reinstated a couple of years ago by part time basis from DA Singapore, first incumbent was my OC PMS from Wyton in 92-93, and a scribbly to boot
I'm going to be taking this to Bletchley Park... a cypher, surely impenetrable to all but the RAF. Respectfully implore pity on me and my like!
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Old 16th Aug 2016, 19:44
  #346 (permalink)  
 
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Danny and MPN11

Thanks for the clarification of Acting rank. That makes sense... Arthur's service record states 'relinquished Acting Sqn Ldr'... thus he surrendered it when he became 'supply DGO' at the Air Ministry; then two months later regained it on appointment as 'ADO'.

The fact that the appointment of Acting rank is contingent on meeting a job specification throws light on another 'mystery'. On being posted to 221 Group, Air Staff Plans, after Arthur left the command of 84 Sqn, he seems to have been tipped for promotion to Wg Cdr. In the event it didn't happen (much to the disgust of his colleagues back at 84). Probably he didn't meet the job spec and the Wg Cdr post went to someone else.

He stayed on at Air staff Plans for three months, involved in planning the relocating of RAF units as the Burma Front moved forward in the wake of the retreating Japanese. Still attached to 221 Group, he then got a rather pleasant job, using a Beechcraft 'Expiter' to transport senior staff to and from the Front. He called it 'my airliner'. Within two months he was designated to return to the UK, 'time lapsed', having spent four years overseas. Thus his little 'aerial holiday' drew to a close.



Beechcraft 'Expeditor'(Thanks for the correction below, Danny!) Photo taken by Arthur with his Leica camera, generously presented to him when he left 84 Squadron, in 1944.

Last edited by NigG; 17th Aug 2016 at 09:17.
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Old 16th Aug 2016, 19:58
  #347 (permalink)  
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Beechcraft C-45 "Expeditor", I think he meant. Had a trip in one (Indian National Airways), Bombay - Delhi. Very nice little twin.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 17th Aug 2016 at 17:47. Reason: Get it Right !
 
Old 17th Aug 2016, 13:00
  #348 (permalink)  
 
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Photo taken by Arthur with his Leica camera, generously presented to him when he left 84 Squadron, in 1944.
Nice gift. All I got on leaving Waddington was an Action Man doll wearing an exercise 'DS' armband!
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Old 17th Aug 2016, 15:43
  #349 (permalink)  
 
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Above: Arthur at Kumbhirgram.

A letter to Arthur, 1944

This is one of the wartime letters that Arthur kept. I tend to think of those five months when 84 Squadron was in action over Burma, as being a great adventure. A mix of apprehension, excitement, camaraderie and professionalism. This letter shows that other things, too, could be going on.

Dated October 1944. From one of Arthur's Flight commanders. Address: Base Military Hospital, Bombay. This man had served in the Squadron, alongside Arthur, earlier in the Western Desert, then in Sumatra, in 1941-42. Like Arthur, he managed to escape from Sumatra when the Japs invaded and the Squadron was ultimately lost. He then re-joined 84 in India when it was about to be reformed under Arthur's command. Two months before this letter was written, 84 had withdrawn from Kumbhirgram, the airfield from which it conducted operations over Burma. It was currently stationed at Quetta (now in Pakisthan). Arthur had just left the Squadron, for a new, staff appointment at 221 Group..

Dear Arthur

Was so glad to hear of your appointment, congratulations, I wonder if you will like it as much as flying, I don’t think so, or do you?

Have been in hospital ever since my second day in Bombay, they proved Amoebic dysentery, and the treatment isn’t much to write home about, but I look forward to a brighter future. It nearly made me weep with self pity, when I realise now that I have had it for over three years and all the time I have put my looseness down to nervous reaction. The MO here says it’s no wonder I feel sick and weak.

Was more disappointed than sorry for myself that I cracked up at Kumbhirgram. I felt worse than ever after my leave, and was asked to join the Army. This was an impossible task, I could not have gone the first mile.

It was never easy to start the day with a false smile and pretend to be well, I had lost almost a stone in weight, and practically prayed that Group would move us before I had to give up. My days off were spent in bed or on my bed, trying to catch up on lost energy. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

I felt it very much too, because I knew you were getting disappointed and I had been more than proud of the work my flight were doing. I have never ‘turned in’ a job of any kind in my life, and to think one more week and I would have completed it with the others, makes me very bitter.

Although I am sure old doc wouldn’t admit it, I think he used my own suspicion of malaria as an excuse to get me into hospital, and having to see the psycho in Calcutta, made me wonder what the hell was going on. I told them they were barking up the wrong tree, and that something was pulling my health down, but they wouldn’t even listen to it.

The MO here assures me that things will be different when the amoeba is cleared away, and ‘my God’ I will be glad, as I was quite reconciled to accepting a discharge on arrival home, if they suggested it. But not now, it gives me a new hope of seeing this to the finish, I wouldn’t be proud to drop out at this stage - !

Doc also mentioned that nearly all the old hands have been, or will be posted in the near future. Hell!! What a mess –

Who is the new CO to be? I hope he keeps up the good name and the old Shaibah traditions, it would be a great pity to see it die out.
[These were the, great fun, initiation ceremonies for new-comers to the squadron]

I saw Group Captain Whitley in Calcutta at 11
[----] when I was there. It was the day Blackie’s and Dick’s DFCs appeared in the paper. We had quite a long chat and he seemed to think you would get something in due course. I do hope he has the gen, the squadron did put up a good show of which you can justly be proud. Three years is a mighty long time [with a squadron] and I’ve never regretted it since the day you put me wise to the old BAF Boyce [84 Sqn CO in N. Africa, noted for the lash of his tongue], I was a bit miserable up to then. You’ve probably forgotten, but we flew our kites to 116 the same evening.

It looks as if I will miss my boat through being here, but Aub, Gabe, Darling and Bruce will make it. Tomorrow I have a final test then back to Warli.
[Worli was a Base Reception Centre for aircrew passing through]

You got off before I could say goodbye in Quetta and was more than sorry to have gone before you got back, I should liked to have said it rather than to write it here. But thank you for a pleasant stay, our jobs were not always easy, they never are. I shall always think and talk of 84 and the times we have had together. And so Cheerio, I hope we will meet again some day, and still under the same flag.

Do drop me a line when your fan mail is not too heavy. I will add my home address –

All the best with lots of rubber stamping!

Yours...
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Old 17th Aug 2016, 16:23
  #350 (permalink)  
 
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NigG,
That was one gently powerful communication.
Thanks for posting that.
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Old 17th Aug 2016, 17:54
  #351 (permalink)  
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What wonderful letter for a C.O. to get !
 
Old 17th Aug 2016, 18:40
  #352 (permalink)  
 
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There was, in those days, a certain standard of communication which has sadly disappeared. One wrote letters, deposited one's calling card, etc.

Now it's a "Like" on FB occasionally. At least, that's all I ever get from my daughter - I'm still waiting for her to tell me her new address!
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Old 18th Aug 2016, 01:01
  #353 (permalink)  
 
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MPN,
These days, it seems that the only letters one receives are offers from some real estate agents of "A Free Appraisal and Valuation of your Property".
The only calling cards that are left are those of the neighbours' dogs.
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Old 18th Aug 2016, 08:44
  #354 (permalink)  
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Came across the little copper plate the other day.....won't chuck it away, as thing'll come in useful one day (but it'll have to hurry up !)
 
Old 20th Aug 2016, 11:59
  #355 (permalink)  
 
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Yes... the late 1940's was, of course, a different age in many ways. As I say, it's intriguing to read through these letters that Arthur kept from that time. But one thing that seems not to be any different (if these letters are a dependable guide) is the way that people interacted on a personal level.

Arthur had a small story to tell about one of his colleagues when he was Station Commander at Old Sarum in the 1950's. It concerned a, then, Lt Colonel of the Middlesex Regiment, whose first name was 'Chris'.

The first overseas possession that the British lost to the Japanese was Hong Kong, which fell in December 1941, after a fortnight's desperate attempt at its defense. This man, Chris, was there as part of the defending force. He was duly taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in POW camps. When the war in the Far East came to a close in August 1945, thanks to the American deployment of atomic weapons, he was set-free and evacuated to Australia. Having recuperated there, he opted to take a boat back to the UK rather than fly. On that journey home, the ship stopped at Ceylon for a day to refuel, re-provision and transfer passengers. He went ashore and decided to take a taxi to the Galle Face Hotel ('gorl face'), a well-known venue for Westerners, that Arthur knew and indeed still functions as an up-market hotel, beautifully set, by the sea. The reason for his decision to go there was partly that it was his birthday and a celebratory drink was definitely in order, all things considered.

He strolled into the bar and glanced around for a table. Seated across the way were a couple of women, chatting, with glasses in their hands. At that moment, one of them looked towards him, and the colour drained from her face. Their eyes locked and she choked out just a single word. 'CHRIS!'

By an extraordinary coincidence, the woman who had recognised him was none other than his wife, who he had last seen almost four years ago when they were separated by the Japanese and subsequently interned in different countries. After their release, Red Cross records were incomplete and they knew nothing of each other's fate. At the moment he had walked in to the bar, she was just reflecting, ruefully, that it was his birthday and she doubted that she'd ever get to see him again!

There must have been many of moments of huge relief and happiness when husbands and wives were reunited after the war. Maybe this story stands out as being one of the more remarkable!



Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Don Arndt photo)

Last edited by NigG; 21st Aug 2016 at 20:52.
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Old 20th Aug 2016, 12:39
  #356 (permalink)  
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NigG,

What an amazing co-incidence, and what a charming story ! No novelist would dare to invent it - but it happened just the same.

And what a wave of nostalgia comes over you when you think back to those grand old colonial hotels. I only knew the "Taj" in Bombay and the "Grand" in Calcutta, but you have people (very old ones !) on the Forum who could tell tales of "Raffles" in Singapore and "Shepheards" in Cairo - and many others.

They speak of long past days of confident Empire splendour, built to impress the 'natives' with the omnipotence and dignity of British power. The ghost of Somerset Maugham must haunt them yet.

And now I suppose you can get a 14-day package holiday to them.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Aug 2016 at 13:32. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 20th Aug 2016, 12:47
  #357 (permalink)  
 
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The story of 'Chris' I have just dictated to my wife ... with some difficulty, as it was hard to read when your eyes are watering.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 20:48
  #358 (permalink)  
 
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Danny

Ah yes! I visited the 'Taj Mahal' (now with 'Intercontinental' tacked onto the name). To stay was out of my price bracket, but back in the early '80s, they did an excellent value buffet lunch. When I went, it was at the end of seven months of independent budget travel (back-packing) around India. The food was pretty, damned awful during those months... over-spicy, under-flavoured and dodgy nutrition (let alone unhygienic). So I looked forward very much to the prospective 'grand feast' at the Taj.

I, and my companion, made sure we were the first to go in at the starting time. Walking down the palm-fronded dining room, there before us, was something that almost brought tears to my eyes. The most sumptuous spread, beautifully garnished. Some was Indian cuisine, but most was Western. Plates of rare roast beef, golden roast chickens, fresh and colourful salads, mouth-watering desserts: mousses, trifles, bowls of whipped cream!

It was, of course, 'all-you-can-eat' and I'd skipped breakfast in order to get my full money's worth. However, the mistake I made was to overlook the fact that there's a delay between stuffing your face and actually feeling 'full'. Suffice it to say, I was in serious pain when I staggered slowly out of the dining room. In pain, but also heady with that euphoria you get when you fully indulge yourself in the most extreme of sensory pleasures!

MPN11

A touching tale, I agree. And one that can be fully appreciated by someone who knows what it is to be separated from their soul mate... at a period when they need them most.

Oh! And shame on your daughter! She takes you for granted now. But she'll be destroyed when you kick the bucket. (I speak from bitter experience... having lost a father... as you know.)
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Old 22nd Aug 2016, 18:35
  #359 (permalink)  
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TO ALL PPRuNers

My wife died peacefully this evening. You will not be hearing from me for some time.
 
Old 22nd Aug 2016, 18:46
  #360 (permalink)  
 
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Oh God ... so sorry, Danny.

My thoughts are with you, and thanks for letting us know in the midst of that.
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