My mother kept diaries of the trips to USA, the Middle East and Africa which my father undertook as Controller of Ordnance Services. This is a little of what she wrote; there is much more in the book.
"We all boarded the plane, gosh my tummy felt strange inside, but it was all so thrilling…then came the take off. I was so afraid of feeling ill at this juncture, and crossed my fingers hard…thank goodness it didn’t affect me, I only experienced an enormous excitement...We had to draw the blinds of the plane; I suppose this is in case any of the passengers are spies, and on the look-out for gun sites etc. However, being me, I made up my mind I’d look out, so I peeped behind the blind. We taxied quite a long way on the water, till we came to a good long stretch in the estuary. Then the engines were rev’d up and we speeded up. The plane went at such a speed on the water, before taking off, that the water sprayed up each side like terrific wings, and then – we were up. Peeping though the window blind, I saw the tiny Irish farm houses, looking so sweet and peaceful nestling by the sea shore."
She goes on to describe stop offs in north Africa before his first views of New York. One year later they travelled to the Middle East and Africa to release equipment for the expected land war in the far east. She wrote some vivid descriptions not least of flying across the desert.
‘We flew over miles and miles of this type of country, then eventually sighted the sea. We approached the coast at a point in the Gabez Bay near Mareth, the famous battleground. I have never seen such a beautiful sight as the blue of the Mediterranean Sea near the shore. It is the colour of turquoise, clear and bright and shimmering. We flew for miles and miles in line with the shore and I just lapped up its beauty. I could see the date palm trees below, and the blue-green of the olive trees and the brilliant shining green of the orange trees. The General pointed all this out to me and said “remember this for your diary”.
"How can one write a sunset? I cannot paint it. The words are hard to find to describe the beauty of the sunset tonight. The sky a deep purple blue, lit by a solitary but brilliant star, and then on the horizon ten thousand rainbows rolled into one, red, orange, indigo, blue, purple so blended together that the sky looked like a little bit of heavenly painting - a miracle of beauty and splendour."
A war and twenty five years earlier, my father had traded in East Africa and planted rubber in Malaya
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