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Eyeball

by BBC Scotland

You are browsing in:

Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Robert Salmond
Location of story: 
Middle East
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
A4198179
Contributed on: 
15 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Nadine from the People's War team on behalf of Robert Salmond and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

My doctor and optician have found I have a cataract, and that I am to attend the cataract unit at the Queen Margaret Hospital on 28/04/2005. Run-of-the-mill stuff.

On reflection, having disembarked with 46 Squadron of Tewfig on the 21st May 1941, found ourselves unable to operate as a squadron, as all the Beaufighters had been lost, sunk in the Mediterranean. I was moved to No.34 Air Park Stores on attachment, which was located halfway between Cairo and Alexandria (115 miles between). On the opposite side of the road from our campsite was a tented NAFFI Half-way House.

I was there for one year until August 1942, during that time came the deteriation of my eyesight, driving 60 odd miles to Alexandria in the morning to collect the rations, and back to camp. Do what work has to be done, repairs and maintenance etc., get cleaned up, then drive the Liberty-truck 50 odd miles to Cairo and back again at 11pm. Sun glare in the morning, black-out driving at night.

While I am writing this, other stuff comes to mind. Caught three times in one day for speeding. by the same Red-cap, on the Mena to the English-bridge, going and coming back and on the bridge! Received seven days jankers from WO Meager. At the time I thought it would be only a token punishment, simply to satisfy the Army Provost's Office. No chance. Into my crowded day I did a full pack, one hour drill at sun-down! This memory recall that I am having is quite a feeling after 60 years.

I had never met anyone that I knew since joining the RAF and then one day who should be posted to this Outpost in the desert, but the lad who actually lived next door to me at Aberhill. Johnny Becket.

Four of us, received an invitation to tea from the local Bedouin Sheik at his camped quarters in the Wadi. All very enlightening. Must tell you about it someday.

Changed an engine on one of the Bedfords. A Scrappie truck, two tow-ropes and a single branch tree! A South African Officer came into the camp looking for help with his broken-down jeep. When we returned, all the wheels from his jeep had gone!
Met literally hundreds of troops in the Half-way canteen, on their way up to the coast road and beyond. That was the only place where the flies could not crawl, fly or breed. How could they? The air was thick with V cigarettes! On the 29th August 1942 I returned to 46 Squadron. Allocated a base at Idku on the mud-flats near Alexandria.

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