British aircraftman served as mechanic with RAF in GB, 1941-1942 and with Fleet Air Arm on HMS Phoenix in Egypt, 1942-1943; NCO served at RAF workshops in Egypt, 1943-1945; served with No 1 Malaria Control Unit in Egypt, 1945; official collector of biological specimens for British Museum in Middle East, 1944-1945
REEL 1: Background in Birmingham, 1939-1940: reaction to outbreak of war, 9/1939; daily life and living conditions; memory of Anderson shelter; rationing; employment; problem of ulcer; memory of Christmas and New Year, 1939-1940; problem of bad weather and transport; social life. Aspects of training with RAF in GB, 1940-1941: enlistment, 1/Jun/1940; posted to RAF Cardington for basic training; accommodation; food; medical inspection; daily routine; trade test and deferred service; issued with uniform and kit; attitude to military life and discipline; story of hut; posted to RAF Hednesford, 8/1940; description of camp and accommodation; names of other recruits; daily routine and duties.
REEL 2 Continues: story of parade; inoculations; memories of home leave; question of passes; attitude to discipline; opinion of food and training; description of training courses; daily routine; memory of air raids on Birmingham; weekend leave; memories of Christmas, 1940; passed trade test and posted to 102 Sqdn at RAF Topcliffe, 1/1941. Aspects of period with 102 Sqdn RAF in GB, 1941-1942: description of duties; food; duties repairing bombers; description of camp and living conditions; memory of sleeping in Whitley bomber.
REEL 3 Continues: attitude to role as fitter; story of first flight; daily routine and social life; description of training course in hydraulics, 4-6/1941; story of fight; casualties in squadron; memory of fatal crash on airfield; washing facilities; memory of removing bodies from aircraft; problem of bad weather conditions; story of flying in Whitley bomber; memory of Christmas, 1941; comparison of Whitley and Halifax bombers; reflections on year's activities; attitude to bombing of German civilians; question of civilian morale in GB.
REEL 4 Continues: problem of snow; weapons training; story of Spitfire crashing on runway; memory of first flight in Halifax; role in supervising fitters; story of being transferred to Fleet Air Arm, 11/Mar/1942; posted to transit camp in West Kirby; transferred to troopship Maturoa on River Clyde. Aspects of journey from GB to Egypt via South Africa, 3-5/1942: description of conditions aboard ship; sleeping and messing arrangements; problem of seasickness; daily routine and duties; weather conditions; watch duty and role in submarine spotting; problem of rats; description of attacks on convoy; duties as mess orderly; church service; washing clothes; weather conditions.
REEL 5 Continues: amusing story of pageant; problem of sunburn; daily routine aboard ship; memories of shore leave in South Africa, 4/1942; transferred to camp in Durban; description of camp and conditions; opinion of Durban and relations with civilians; social life and recreational activities; attitude to apartheid system; sanitary facilities; embarked on transport ship Elizabethville; description of daily routine and conditions aboard ship; landed at Mombassa, 5/1942; memory of swimming in sea; opinion of food; weather conditions; medical inspection; story of shore leave; disembarked at Suez; description of journey to Alexandria.
REEL 6 Continues: issued with currency; memories of local civilians; accommodation on various naval land ships; description of journey to Ismailia; posted to HMS Phoenix, 29/May/1942. Recollections of operations as mechanic on HMS Phoenix, Fleet Air Arm, Egypt, 29/May/1942-13/May/1943: description of Suez Canal and environs; anti-mosquito measures; story of parade; memory of Fairey Swordfish; daily routine and duties; problem of insects; washing clothes; weather conditions; state of health; opinion of Albacore and Swordfish; problem of heat; guard duty; story of assembling Albacore; communication with home; description of accommodation in huts; question of hygiene.
REEL 7 Continues: story of preparations for evacuation from HMS Phoenix, Jun/1942; memory of German air raids; daily routine and duties; story of nature trips in desert; German air attacks and casualties; memory of visiting Cairo and pyramids; hobby collecting insects; promoted to corporal, 10/Sep/1942; nature of duties assembling Albacore aircraft; problem of sand storms; role as swimming instructor; description of nature trips and collecting insects; story of assembling Albacore; memory of locust in hut; daily routine and recreational activities; church parade; memory of donating blood.
REEL 8 Continues: memories of leave in Cairo; question of working hours; story of man bitten by scorpion; servicing of damaged aircraft; social activities; communications with home; memory of Christmas Day, 1942; reflections on past year; story of role in charge of recovery party, 1/1943; living conditions and rations; description of locating and disassembling Albacores in desert and transportation on lorries back to HMS Phoenix; story of trip to Moses Wells.
REEL 9 Continues: story of contracting typhoid and medical treatment; diet; sick leave; problem of weight loss; story of fourteen day leave in Palestine, 4/1943; memory of visit to kibbutz; transferred back to RAF, 13/May/1943.
REEL 10 Continues: Recollection of operations as mechanic with RAF in Egypt, 5/1943-1945: posted No 73 Operational Training Unit RAF, Abu Sueir, 13/May/1943; nature of duties in workshop; role as corporal in charge of hut; problem of lack of spare parts; daily routine; guard duty; question of leave; uniform; memory of visit by Sir Archibald Sinclair; description of servicing Sunderland flying boat; story of further period of leave in Palestine, 6-7/1943.
REEL 11 Continues: role of workshops and staff; story of designing and manufacturing trailer to transport Spitfires; attitude to imposing discipline; demonstration of trailer; story of crash landing in Harvard and injuries; reaction to news of Italian surrender, 9/1943; story of catching spider; role as PT instructor in gymnasium; story of leave in Egypt, 10/1943.
REEL 12 Continues: role as PT instructor for officers; natural history trip; problem of polluted water; visit by King Peter of Jugoslavia; guard duty; role in link trainer and mobile crane projects; story of accident and treatment; weather conditions; memory of Christmas Day, 1943; reflections on past year; state of health.
REEL 13 Continues: attitude to role with Operational Training Unit; evening classes; daily routine and activities; story of boxing match in Cairo; nature trip; problem of sand storms; memory of South African pilots; story of leave in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, 3/1944.
REEL 14 Continues: further memories of leave in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine; description of role as acting Flight Sergeant; reaction to news of Normandy landings, 6/Jun/1944; story of moving workshops to Fayid, Egypt, 6/1944; accommodation and sleeping arrangements; mentioned in Air Force News; story of being Mentioned in Dispatches; problems with health and treatment; memory of visit to HMS Phoenix.
REEL 15 Continues: daily routine in workshops; story of catching snake; story of leave in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, 10/1944.
REEL 16 Continues: further memories of leave in Lebanon and Syria; nature trip; memory of mirage; problem of cold weather, 11/1944; new recruits; cigarette ration; story of moths; question of collecting specimens for British Museum and special privileges; story of religious course in Cairo.
REEL 17 Continues: confirmed as official British Museum specimens collector in Middle East; problem with leg and treatment; death of Thunderbolt pilots; memory of Christmas Day, 1944; role as corporal in charge of billets; reflections on past year; story of accident with Spitfire and injuries; problem of staff shortage in workshops; first nature trip collecting specimens for British Museum; role as PT instructor; daily routine and activities; officers' gymnasium class; further collecting trips for specimens; visit to salvage units; story of leave in Lebanon and Syria, 3/1945.
REEL 18 Continues: further memories of leave in Lebanon and Syria; story of visiting plantation and collecting specimens; opinion of Arab workers; description of VE Day celebrations, 8/May/1945; memory of rain; description of specimens sent to British Museum.
REEL 19 Continues: description of nature trips and collecting specimens; story of being posted to No 1 Malaria Control Unit, 6/1945. Aspects of period at No 1 Malaria Control Unit, Edku, Egypt, 8-9/1945: description of journey to Edku; personnel; accommodation in tent; daily routine and duties; organisation of Arab workers; memory of Flying Officer Young; searching for mosquito laver; discipline; memory of Arab boy; use of motorcycle; areas covered by anti-malaria units; description of methods used to control malaria; role in command of No 1 Malaria Control Unit; use of Avro Tutor to spray infected areas; living conditions; opinion of Arabs; story of flying in Avro Tutor; collecting specimens for British Museum; memory of Arab wedding.
REEL 20 Continues: reaction to dropping of atomic bombs; story of flight to Cairo; relations with local civilians; reaction to VJ Day; flight to Nicosia, Cyprus; question of commission; demobilisation, 8/1945; reflections on period of service with RAF; description of period in transit camp, Cairo, 9-10/1945.
REEL 21 Continues: description of journey to Port Said; opinion of conditions aboard troopship; description of journey to GB via Malta, 10/1945; daily routine and activities aboard ship; landed at Toulon, France and transferred to camp; description of journey across France; question of high prices of goods; returned to GB and demobilised. Reflections on period of wartime service.