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Library Reference Number: 021

For Aircrew - It's a Small World! (or Who Dat?)

Ted Bracken, AE. Scottish Saltire Branch, ACA

Around 1944, I landed my 52 Squadron Dakota in mid-Burma with a supply of mules, Indian Army/for the use of, but my return load of wounded due to be taken out had not arrived so we stepped high, wide, and handsome down the fuselage which had a very interesting surface.

As it was dusk and no runway lights were available down the mobile steel planking, it did mean an overnight stay. There was not a lot to do in this encampment, until the great news broke that a film was to be shown and then it was all action to find a seat (on 45 gallon Avgas drums - still full) and be close enough to the screen (asheet slung between two trees).

It was a beautiful night, and one missed one's girlfriend - in fact, one missed anybody's girlfriend! Indian films at that time seemed interminable at around 3 hours a time. One of the most interesting things to watch was the obvious enjoyment of the Indian troops when the male star approached the female star to ten feet! Eventually it was over, and noticing the fag-ends stubbed out on nearby drums - it could have finished abruptly much earlier! Next thing was to find a suitable bit of jungle for a comfort stop, spoiled as always by some idiot shouting "Cobra!".

Looking for food, we were directed to a bell tent where a British Army corporal provided one of my best meals for weeks - eggs & bacon! Initially, we were the only two feeding but another lost bod arrived and joined us. He turned out to be based at Dum Dumas where we were but he turned out to be a Comms pilot for the Station, flying an Expeditor which had developed a fault. We chatted about the film which unluckily he had also seen. We discussed other Forces & ENSA shows; then I insisted they listen to a long boring story about a show I'd seen some time ago.

I started off, "In mid 1939, when 17 years old, I was at school in Kirkcaldy, and after school one day, three of us decided to go to the annual Links Market fair. Meeting three girls from our class, we invited them to join us in visiting a strip-tease tent, which turned out to be a most explicit and embarrasing performance, the act being egged on by a tent full of sailors. To heighten our embarrassment, the girl I was with spotted her brother also there." The Comms pilot had been listening intently to my story, then asked me to repeat all the details of time, place, the name of girl I had been with when all this happened. The Comms pilot looked at me for a moment, then said "Do you know you've been talking about my wife ?"

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