Wednesday, June 11, 2008

war diaries

I’ve recently been looking through my father’s diaries from 1943+1945 (for some reason I don’t have his 1944 diary) from his time in India/Pakistan. He spent much of the war at Mauripur, near Karachi (now in Pakistan) with the RAF. It’s not mind-blowing stuff, but it’s still fascinating to me all the same. There clearly wasn’t much to do at the end of his routine day and he seemed to be watching “movies” virtually every evening (all duly listed)!
But the diaries also contain some quaint (and sometimes shocking) language from a bygone age, such as:
1 Jan 43: “had a wizard tiffin”.
11 Jan 43: “Nobby put the wog driver on a charge for not reversing”.
10 Aug 43: “Little disturbances on Gandhi’s anniversary of being a year under arrest”.
30 Aug 43: “Naini Tal, near Tibet, sounds a wizard place for leave. A lake there reminiscent of Lake Bala in Wales the boys say – but more beautiful” (with all due deference to Lake Bala, I think this slightly undersells the place - situated as it is in the foothills of the Himalayas!).
17 Dec 43: “Mr Churchill is ill – with a patch of pneumonia in the left lung – it appears as he is still in the Middle East” (I love the notion of Ron feeling that he had address the PM as “Mr Churchill” in his diary!).
18 Feb 45: “Black panther took the dog “whiskey” off (about 9pm)”.
He had malaria at the very start of 1945 and wasn’t finally discharged from hospital until the beginning of August.
Interestingly, there is a short list of “things to do” at the back of his 1945 diary, including:
a) “form City of Birmingham swing orchestra to play in Town Hall” (what? he was no musician!) and
b) “cellophane wrappings for food etc” (complete with a sketch!) – he always DID maintain to us that he’d invented the idea of plastic bags for food and so this could actually confirm it! He’s clearly got an awful lot to answer for in these eco-friendly days of 2008!
Photo: Corporal Ronald Broadway (with hat!).

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