211 Squadron Badge

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ME Walters

Flight Sgt Maurice EG (Monty) Walters 1324748 RAFVR

Late in 2007, looking towards the 7th anniversary of the 211 Squadron website in April 2008, I thought it could be a good be time to advertise once more for past members of the Squadron who may have missed seeing requests (of mine and of others) in earlier years. So I placed a small notice in the Australian Dept of Veterans Affairs ex-services newsletter, Vet Affairs.

In October 2007, to my surprise and considerable delight, Monty Walters replied by letter from Queensland to introduce himself and later his old Navigator, Ron Kemp. Monty and Kempie were still working pretty much as a team, though half a world apart.

As well as giving a hand in copying Kempie’s narrative, Monty not only put forward a handsome collection of his own yarns. He worked out how to make his scanner fly on the spot, to share a mass of photographs that add a great deal both to their story and to the record of 211 Squadron life: men, camps, operations and aircraft.

The tide of events
In March 1945, the sixth year of the war, change was in the air. In every theatre and on every front, the Allies were either advancing or holding the advantage. Despite a sense that the war’s end could not be far away, flying training and flying on operations were still both dangerous activities, where losses continued.

It was in this atmosphere of mingled optimism and apprehension that F/Sgt Maurice Ernest George (Monty) Walters 1324748 arrived at Chiringa from Ranchi. Posted to 211 Squadron with his Nav/W F/Sgt RC Kemp 1684520 (Ron, or more often Kempie), the pair’s arrival together with another crew (MacCaskill and Wagstaff) was recorded in the Squadron diary on 19 March. On a brief operational stand-down that Monday, by Tuesday the Squadron was back at work—though as a bonus the new Station cinema opened at last, in place of one burnt down the year before.

    Monty Don Muang 1946 3
    Monty Walters, Don Muang February 1946 (Walters collection)

Beaufighters over the wine-dark sea
The had pair trained on the
Bristol Beaufighter together in Cyprus, on Course No 11 or Course No 14 at 79 OTU Nicosia from 25 July 1944 to 20 November 1944 along with pilots Tom Taylor, Ray Wood and Ken Webster, all going on to 211 Squadron service in India.

    Yours Truly
    Yours truly (Walters collection)
    Over the Mediterranean, Monty at the Mighty Wurlitzer—the cockpit of the Beaufighter, stuffed with the latest in taps, knobs and dials. Presumably that is Kempie just visible in the back office.

    The faint hint of serial no, possibly ?Z???, is consistent with a Mark X in the LZ series. The roundel is of Europe/Middle East style, while the plain numeral 6 suggests an OTU aircraft. 79 OTU certainly had Mark X Beaufighters of the LZ sequence and used plain numerals like this on individual aircraft up to at least numeral 48—and no (so far recorded) two-letter code.

    This over-water shot is reminiscent of the Operational Flying Exercise elements of the 79 OTU Beaufighter Ops course. Monty and Kempie did three together, but this isn’t one of them. Monty logged their OFEs against individual numerals of other 79 OTU aircraft in his Pilot’s Flying Log for 1944. With the first of these he notched up 400 flying hours:

      Oct 25 Beaufighter X 17 OFE No 1 Photography at low level of Larnaca
      Oct 27 Beaufighter X 42 OFE No 2 Recce to near Rhodes
      Oct 29 Beaufighter X 17 OFE No 7 Low Level Photo & Recce of Jaffa.

    11 Course Pilots 79 OTU Nicosia02
    11 Course Pilots 79 OTU Nicosia, Cyprus c October 1944 (RAF official via M Walters)
    Of the 17 men in this formal group shot, four went on to serve in 211 Squadron, five to 22 Squadron, six to 27 Squadron, and one to 177 Squadron. Seven of them did not survive the war.

    Left to right, rear row:
    Tom
    Taylor*, Ray Wood*, Ed Whitehorn**, Johnny Hale (Wellingtons), Pete Hunter***, Pete Freeman***.
    Middle row:
    RD Mackenzie** (missing from operations Loikan Rd 3 March 1945 with Nav/W BE Tallerman), Dicky Jones** (missing from a Liberator search operation Akyab 28 June 1945 with Nav/W A Exley), Benny Scott**, Alan Perrin**, Hexley (apparently Nav/W F/O A Exley), Jimmy Millice**** (P/O JE Millis missing from operations with Nav/W WT Jackson Tavoy-Ye Road 12 March 1945).
    Front row:
    Monty Walters*, K “Corky” Webster* (killed,
    Mosquito air accident Yelahanka 2 July 1945 with Jack Hopes), RG Clifford*** (missing with F/Sgt NHW Stuart, Nav/W from Martaban Gulf shipping strike 19 February 1945—flew into sea approx 150 miles South of Rangoon), Frank Ashworth***, AFW Alec Taylor*** (with Sgt WA Bailey Nav/W, missing from Martaban Gulf shipping strike, after crashing into the sea 30 miles South of Rangoon 19 February 1945, cause unknown)
    Postings: * 211 Squadron. ** 27 Squadron. *** 22 Squadron **** 177 Squadron.

    Hexley, second from the right in the middle row, presented something of a puzzle, as a Flying Officer without aircrew badge in a formal OTU group of pilots. Monty initially recalled him as a pilot lost off the coast near Jaffa, however, there was no trace of any man of that name in either the London Gazette, in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Honour Roll, nor in any RAF Air Force List issue from January 1944 to April 1945.

    However, F/O Nav/W A Exley (whose loss is noted above) does appear in those formal records from January 1944 until April 1945 and in Bowyer’s 27 Squadron account Flying Elephants (albeit as GA Exley). Pilots did, on occasion, re-muster as Navigators if washed out of a course. Given all the circumstances of date, rank, Squadron and so on, it seems that Hexley was most likely Nav/W 153487 Armold Exley.

With the 211s
Walters and Kemp were to fly Beaufighter operations together over Burma from 25 March to 5 May 1945 with 211 Squadron, as Kempie recounts, staying on through the testing conversion to the de Havilland
Mosquito in June and the final deployment to Thailand in December 1945.

    Chiringa Basha
    211 Squadron aircrew basha Chiringa March 1945 (Walters collection)
    Monty’s account:

    “We had just arrived at Chiringa after a trip from Ranchi, many miles by train in a cattle truck to Calcutta, then another short rail trip, then on a coastal steamer to Chittagong, eventually picked up in 15 cwts [trucks] and taken to the airstrip at Chiringa.

    Most of us were the what I call ‘alphabetical joes’ on the Sqdn. Last in everything, because our surnames were from the arse end of the alphabet. I recall Tommy Taylor was always first, then came the W's: Webster, Whitehorn, Watts, Wilkes, Walters etc. [...] the photo of the forlorn looking bod in the basha is of the late Bill Wilkes.”

    Bods0001
    Bods, Chiringa mid-1945 (Walters collection)
    Left to right: Unknown, Chiefy Platineau (Station Warrant Officer), Rickey Watts (pilot), Ron Watling (Nav/W) and cousin of Jack Watling the film actor.

Monty and Kempie remained firm friends for seventy years, keeping in frequent touch by email, phone and post, from Surrey in England to Mango Hill in Queensland, their humour ever lively. In Burma all but 70 years ago they had a hand in this little bit of banter:

    The Squadron Song
    (To the tune of “Clementine”)

    Two-Eleven, Two-Eleven,
    Though we say it with a sigh,
    When the CO gets the Form B,
    Hopes don’t run so blinking high.

    (Loud cheers as someone’s name is drawn for Tavoy)

    Down the flights each blinking morning,
    Sitting waiting for a clue,
    Find we’ve drawn that blinking pipeline
    From the railway to Pegu.

    (Pause as the veterans exchange vivid reminiscences)

    Dripping wet with perspiration,
    Lugging navigation kits,
    When we reach our blinking aircraft,
    Find we’ve got the screaming shits.

    (Only applicable to crews with under 10 years experience)

    On the kites they’ve fitted rockets,
    Sixty Pounders for the trip,
    No one ever hits the target,
    But we give the Japs the pip.

    (It has since been discovered that S/Ldr. ……..hit a village once)

    Stagger off that blinking runway,
    Revs three thousand, boost plus six,
    Praying that the weather clears up,
    And we get a visual fix.

    (Beaus only, tech advice by W/Cdr. Pegg & W/O Alfie Wythe DFM)

    Navigator have you lost us,
    They’ve just shot one wing away,
    Then get weaving like the clappers,
    Bloody hell it’s Mandalay.

    (Here several members, notably W/O Pat P shudders & collapses.)

    If we saw a locomotive,
    We would die of blinking shock,
    ‘Cos the Yankee Liberators,
    Pranged the subcheese at Bangkok.

    (Printed by kind permission of “the Statesman”, obtainable nowhere)

    Firing cannons at the pipeline,
    Or RP’s at little ships,
    If they hole you down near Moulmein,
    Then you’ve had your blinking chips.

    (A certain W/O will now produce his ripcord)

    So we sit upon our arses,
    Drown our cares in lukewarm char,
    Only got ten blinking sampans,
    And a blinking motor car.

    (Here several W/Os produce log books and argue heatedly)

    Two-Eleven, Two-Eleven,
    Though our time is drawing nigh,
    We’ll just keep on being lone wolves,
    Every day until we die.

    Here the party breaks up, various members are carried out. A babble of excited chatter from new crews and a series of long drawn out howls from veterans clustered at the bar.

    Composers
    WO Webber: Nav/W to F/Lt Pete Smith DFC
    F/Sgt Jack Hopes: Nav/W killed with F/Sgt Ken (Corky) Webster at Yelahanka.
    F/Sgt Ron Kemp: Nav/W to F/Sgt Maurice (Monty) Walters
    F/Sgt. Maurice (Monty) Walters
    F/Sgt Vic Broome
    F/Sgt Ray Wood
    and others hidden, for the moment, behind the veil of the past.

Attached to each copy that was given to those involved in composing the new Squadron Song, was this:

    Glossary For New Crews:
    Blinking: A mild expletive.
    Two—Eleven: The Sqdn of world renown.
    CO: The Boss.
    Form B: A death sentence
    Tavoy: Maximum endurance.
    Flights: Where they hide the aircraft.
    Pipeline: Resembles a flaming torch when hit.
    Pegu: Town surrounded by garum pani [much water].
    Lone Wolves: Fine upright alert young men, symbolic of all that is bad in modern youth, usually covered in mud.
    Navigation Kit: Green bags, containing dividers and K-Rations.
    Screaming Shits: Insane Aircrew.
    Rockets: See Armoury for full gen. Also Tee Emm [Training Memoranda - the literary habitat of PO Prune and other RAF notables].
    Japs: Your own description is better.
    Pip: A Pukka Bibi.
    Runway: Never used by Beau Swingers.
    Revs & Boost: See Maintenance Sect also F/O. ……… (now F/Lt)
    Navigators: Usually jettisoned in an emergency.
    Mandalay: Musical town surrounded by guns.
    Locomotives: Very rarely seen, only by 177 Sqdn.
    Liberators: Large aircraft run on lines.
    Bangkok: Large town saturated by 200 pounders.
    Cannons: Steel piping seldom used.
    Moulmein: Ack—Ack range manned by Japs.
    Chips: Carried in the News of the World and salted.
    Sampan: Sort of Sweet Pickle.
    Char: Insipid stuff, not unlike “Naffi” beer.

On operations
Together, pilot and navigator completed 10 operations over Burma between 25 March and 5 May 1945, before the Squadron stood down from operational readiness to convert to the
de Havilland Mosquito FB VI.

    Fluid Pairs 1
    Fluid pairs (R Kemp via M Walters)
    Another of
    Kempie’s shots from the Nav/Ws cupola on their first sortie on 25 March. The aircraft are climbing while turning to port in loose formation.

On their fourth operation they were briefed for a long-range sortie, taking off at 6:00am for an outward leg of three hours to patrol for about half an hour over the briefed area. Hit in the port wing and engine by ground fire, they limped home to land safely at near maximum endurance after more than seven hours in the air. Sixty-odd years later Monty recalls the event:

    “...we got the shit shot out of us on a Ye to Tavoy road patrol. Hit with .5's in the port engine. I nursed the old Beau back. During what seemed a very long flight across the Gulf of Martaban, Kempie was very quiet. I thought maybe he had been hit or something. Eventually he said over the intercom something like, "Do your best, Son " (that was always his name for me, him being 5 months older than me) "and get us back safe and sound, 'cos today is my Wedding Anniversary". [Aircraft: Beaufighter X NV607 ‘K’]

Ron and Pam had married in mid 1944 before his departure to the Middle East.

For Walters and Kemp on their ninth sortie (30 April 1945), the approach of the monsoon and the timing of the Operation Dracula push for Rangoon were in some tension. The weather was already worsening as Monty recalled:

    “211 Sqdn with Beau's from other Sqdn's of 901 Wing were briefed, based on info that the Japs had MTBs and the like in the Bassein Delta and to attack same. We were all loaded with RPs and the normal 20 mm cannons.The weather was, to say the least, atrocious, with the monsoon moving through Burma. The attack was to be last light, looking back I believe it should have been an early first light attack but the powers that be had sent in the Form 700 and so were sent on our way. I was lucky enough to hit a "vessel", but the flight back from The Bassein Delta during darkness was one of the worst nights flying I had ever encountered in the Far East.”

Low-level Beaufighter operations were dangerous for a variety of reasons apart from Japanese AA and weather. The very proximity of the ground at attack speeds presented a risk of impact and also of blast or debris damage: 60lb rocket salvoes were seen as the equivalent of a broadside from a light cruiser.

    Flak 2
    Flak damage (Walters collection)
    The port wing leading edge of a 211 Squadron Beaufighter, with what looks to be impact damage (rather than cannon-fire). Though not remarked in the Squadron record, Monty recalled one instance of RP damage:

     “from an Op flown by F/Lt Pete Smith and with him his Nav/W W/O Ed Webber. Time...somewhere around the beginning to mid April 1945. I recall he got a bit of a "rocket " from the Old Man, as it was believed that some of the damage was caused by him not pulling out quick enough after firing the RPs.”

    This shot may show Smith’s misadventure, or perhaps that of NE688 ‘R’ flown by F/Lt WP Strumbos RCAF (Nav/W F/O CE Glazzard), damaged in a sortie 2 May 1945 by own RP blast.

    Flak 3
    Flak damage (Walters collection)
    Starboard wing and aileron damage from explosive shells.

    Flak 1
    Flak damage (Walters collection)
    More aileron damage, apparently the port wing. These two shots seem to be of one aircraft, possibly ‘X’ of
    F/Sgt TD Taylor and F/Sgt Vic Broome, which came under accurate 20mm fire from the ground late in the morning of 25 March 3 miles North of Lampe. Tom and Vic returned safely to Chiringa at 1305 hours, though ‘X’ suffered extensive damage to both wings. Sufficiently diverting that Tom omitted his usual complete recording of a/c letter and serial!

    Coastal Steamer
    Coastal steamer (Walters collection)
    One of “ours” perhaps?

    Near Yomas
    Ops Burma: Near the Yomas (Walters collection)
    Out on patrol near the Yomas, some 300 miles South of Chiringa, on the Irrawaddy plain beyond Prome.

    Ops Burma 1
    Ops Burma: Irrawaddy Waterways (Walters collection)
    Monty’s second operational sortie, South of Henzada, 29 March 1945.

    Ops Burma 2
    Ops Burma: River front at Thongwa (Walters collection)

    Ops Burma 3 Convoy Cannon Attack
    Ops Burma: Road Patrol (Walters collection)
    A Japanese gharry (truck) under cannon attack, near Prome.

    Ops Burma 4
    Ops Burma: Road Patrol (Walters collection)
    Another shot taken on patrol near Prome. The road is empty. Sortie report: “No movement seen”.

    Ops Burma 502
    Ops Burma (Walters collection)
    Possibly near Shitpin. Steep country. The hint that the aircraft is very low to a saddle in the range is to be seen bottom left.

    Ops Burma
    Ops Burma: Bassein Delta, near Moulmein (Walters collection)
    The river steamer has just come under attack, as a light spray rises from the first rounds on target. The aircraft is approaching in a shallow dive at around 250mph rather above tree-top height. If the river here is 300yds wide, Monty has about 3 seconds to finish his run and peel off so that Kempie can have a squirt with the rear Browning as they depart.

    Here, Monty refers to Moulmeingyun in the Delta, about 45 miles (about 10 minutes flying time in a Beaufighter) ESE of Bassein, and so referred to in the Squadron records. Moulmein proper lies far further away, across the Gulf of Martaban.

    The Arakan0001
    Ops Burma: The Arakan. (Walters collection)
    Taken on the way back from a trip, 200 miles or more from base.

 About the camp
Conditions at Chiringa were basic at best, as
Kempie has explained in his own narrative.

    Badminton
    Badminton (Walters collection)
    A favoured off-duty pastime.

    Bashas by night
    Bashas by night (Walters collection)
    An evocative shot. A vehicle has passed by during the careful, successful, time exposure. Not easy to get right, then.

    Broken Bashas02
    Broken bashas (Walters collection)
    The aftermath of the great storm on 14/15 May that heralded the breaking of the 1945 monsoon season, so well-described by Kempie and others.

    Beer Rations
    Beer rations (Walters collection)
    A light-hearted moment. Squadron diary 22 May: “There was a generous ration of American beer”. Hmm. True. They were half-bottles. Off-duty comforts were often far from automatic, with irregular hiccups in the arrival of letters and in supplies of “the necessaries” like beer and tobacco. The monthly beer ration was 2 quarts per man: four bottles.

More bods

    Harry Morrell group Chiringa
    Chiringa group (Walters collection)
    Rear: Harry Morrell, Ron Watling, George Price, Vic Broome
    Front: Tommy Taylor.

    Arms Officer
    Armaments Officer W/O Bill Williams (Walters collection)
    With pups and trophy. After one of the shooting expeditions mentioned by Ron Kemp, perhaps.

    Ed & Dogs
    Ed Webber with Puggles and Zift (Walters collection)
    Ed was Pete Smiths's Nav/W. Monty recalls:

    “Pete Smith had [Puggles] sired by a Dachshund “dog” belonging to an Army Capt, I think from an Ack-Ack Battery near the "strip" at Chiringa, and she had some dammed good pups. The white dog, a mongrel, belonged to me, called Zift. That's Arabic for shit, which she did, plenty of, mostly in the billets, when I first found her wandering a street in Bangalore. We wangled her back to our billets and fed her from scraps from the Mess. In co-operation with Ron Kemp we flew Zift in Ron Kemp's nav bag from, firstly Yelahanka to St. Thomas's Mount, then to Akyab and finally Don Muang.”

    Monty & Pups
    Monty with Puggles’ pups (Walters collection)
    And ready for a swim. Monty was on leave, at a beach house south of Bangkok.

    Puggles & Pups
    Puggles and pups (Walters collection)
    Monty:
    “Puggles belonged to F/Lt Pete Smith DFC. He took Puggles, a dachshund, hidden in Ed Webber's nav bag, on an op over Burma so that she could be the proud possessor of the Burma Star, which he stitched to her collar. I believe she was the only dachshund to ever go on ops in Burma. Puggled in Urdu means drunk or a wee bit mad and when Puggles was a mere pup, she was a bit stupid according to Pete Smith.”

    Sadly, in early 1946 there was an outbreak of rabies in the Bangkok/Don Muang area. Both Puggles and Zift had to be put down. Monty: “...we all got soundly drunk that night. Strange things happen in Wars...I found that most aircrew were very sentimental people.”

    Monty Out 4 Runs
    Monty out: four runs (Walters collection)
    The dejected batsman—’twas ever thus! The Squadron also took an active part in football matches.

    Ray & Johhy
    Ray and Johnny (Walters collection)
    Pilot Ray Wood and his Nav/W Johnny Sleight. Monty and Ray had trained together from their early days in the RAF, as had Johnny and Ron Kemp who had met up at the Air Crew Reception Centre. Taken at St. Thomas Mount just after promotion to Warrant Officer, sometime between mid-July and early November 1945. They had found a good tailor near the airstrip and having been down to bare clothing for some time, a number of the fellows spent up on some good uniforms.

    Alf & Toss
    Alf and Toss (Walters collection)
    Nav/W Tom Wilson, also Tug or Toss, with his pilot W/O Alan (Alfie)
    Wythe DFM. Alfie came from Southampton, and Monty came from Winchester: Hampshire Hogs together.

    Vic Seaton
    F/Sgt Vic Seaton (Walters collection)

    St Thomas Mt Scene RF711
    Hindu temple, St Thomas Mount c July 1945
    The scene is near the main gate at St. Thomas Mount, not far from the Eastern end of the 100/280 strip. Tall palms of this sort were close alongside the aircraft dispersals.

Mosquito exercises...

    Low Level Mossie
    Low level exercise July 1945 St Thomas Mount (Walters collection)
    The 17 July low-flying exercise also shown on the
    Mosquito page. Shot taken from Mosquito S-Sugar RF765 (with ME Walters the pilot and Nav/W Ron Kemp). B-Baker RF751 (seen at left) was flown by F/Sgt Ray Wood, Nav/W Johnny Sleight.

    Cockpit View Mosquito 3500ft 240mph
    Mosquito cockpit in flight (Walters collection)
    Monty’s hand on the control column. “Ht 3,500ft Speed 240 mph”, carefully noted on the back of the print.

...and a Mosquito mishap
The most likely candidate for this set of a single accident seems to be
HR568 ‘H’, which swung on take-off at Don Muang, 5 December 1945.

    HR568 HR554 2
    Mosquito mishap (Walters collection)

    HR568 HR554 3
    Mosquito mishap (Walters collection)

    HR568 HR554 4
    Mosquito mishap (Walters collection)

    HR568 HR554 5
    Mosquito mishap (Walters collection)

    HR568 HR554 6
    Mosquito mishap (Walters collection)
    The pilot was unable to correct the swing and in the resulting ground loop the undercarriage collapsed. Although the aircraft was a complete write-off there were no casualties and the loss seems to be unremarked in the Squadron Operations Record book. Another of Monty’s pictures of the result appears on the
    Mosquito page.

Don Muang: Duty Done
In late November 1945, after some delays, the Squadron moved to Siam (Thailand). Their new station was Don Muang, the main airfield of Bangkok and home of the Royal Thai Air Force since 1914. The RAF had set up its local HQ there in September.

The Squadron’s duties were now a mixture of training, “presence” and ceremonial. With the cessation of hostilities, the men could relax somewhat even in duty hours. For some, a certain distant look is also occasionally caught—that cool gaze that speaks wordlessly of experience dearly bought, best understood by those who were there and got away with it.

In turning to these lighter moments, then, it is worth remembering that the Squadron’s last casualty came while they were at Don Muang, when F/O SF Dunnett and his passenger were killed in the mid-air break-up of Mosquito RF588 in poor weather near Ipoh on 13 December 1945.

    Don Muang Quarters copy
    Quarters, Don Muang late 1945 (Walters collection)
    Monty: “One of the typical buildings we lived in whilst at Don Muang. Before WWll, they were the Thai Air Force Married Quarters.”

    KnobbyKneebone
    Ken "Nobby" Kneebone (Walters collection)
    Monty: “Nobby with some of the bananas that grew naturally around our quarters.”
    F/Sgt KR Kneebone 1587125 had joined 211 Squadron at Yelahanka in June 1945, a pilot in a draft of three qualified Mosquito crews. Nobby had a pretty close shave on 17 December at Don Muang, when an electrical fire in the cockpit damaged his Mosquito
    TA500 shortly after take-off on a formation flight. He promptly broke off and with smoke pouring from the fuselage, pulled off a good safe landing without injuries. The fire was extinguished but the balsa/ply composite Mosquito was a write off.

    211Soccer copy
    211 Squadron Soccer Team (Walters collection)
    Monty: “We played quite a number of games whilst at Don Muang.
    Tom Taylor back row in dark shirt [goalie]. Alfie Wythe front row, 2nd from left. Others made up of groundcrew.”

    MontZift
    Monty Walters with his dog "Zift" (Walters collection)
    Zift buried in the sand, as they relax at a beach resort south of Bangkok.

    Rick Cool
    Ricky Watts cools off (Walters collection)
    Here Rick is having a swim in the sea, perhaps at the same beach. The 211s had also found a pool to relax at in Bangkok, where Tom
    Taylor and Ray Wood were also snapped by Monty.

    Vic Shoot
    Vic Broome with game bag (Walters collection)
    Vic was
    Tommy Taylor's Navigator. Here he is on the verandah of their quarters. Monty: “After he had returned from shooting ducks and the like, I recall he gave it to our Thai bearers.”

    Vic B copy
    Vic Broome off duty riding in a rickshaw, Bangkok (Walters collection)

    Xmas45 Group copy
    Christmas 1945, Don Muang (Walters collection)
    Bods from the W/Os and NCOs Mess, letting their hair well and truly down. Ray “Woody” Wood seated far right, “just resting his eyes”.

    Woody Xmas 45
    Christmas cheer! (Walters collection)
    Ray “Woody” Wood, at ease.

    Menu
    Last Party Menu December 1945 (Walters collection)
    Possibly the last time the whole Squadron celebrated together.

The Victory celebrations in Thailand that January were well recorded by the Squadron, with Monty, Ron Kemp, Des Marsh-Collis, Les Ramsay, and Tom Taylor all adding to the story.

    Lord Louis
    Mountbatten arrives (Walters collectio)
    Don Muang,
    19 January 1946: Lord Louis disembarks from his Dakota transport to an RAF honour guard.

    King Siam
    A King inspects (Walters collection)
    The returning King of Siam, HM Ananda Mahidol, Rama VIII, with royal entourage at Don Muang on 19 January 1946. Ananda Mahidol died in June 1946 in unexplained circumstances at the age of 21, to be succeeded by his younger brother as King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX. Revered in his own country, at the time of his death in October 2016 King Bhumibol was the longest serving monarch in the world.

Life after 211
After 211 Squadron disbanded in March 1946, Monty went on to serve with 684 Squadron and then
81 Squadron in the Far East, equipped with the Mosquito Mk 34 for photo-reconnaissance work. His postings with them between April 1946 and July 1948 took Monty from Ceylon to the Philippines, and from Hong Kong to Darwin.

Repatriated to the UK at last in July 1948, he was posted to No 1 Air Navigation School at Topcliffe.

    Monty Summer 1948 UK
    ME Walters, summer 1948 (Walters collection)
    With a very nice fruit salad on the tunic. Monty’s yarn:

    “After I was posted back to the UK in July 48, my first posting was to No 1 Air Navigation School at Topcliffe. Went on my first parade...I was never pushy on what happened to me during the war...was really got stuck into by the Station Warrant Officer, some smart-arse five foot nothing, who proceeded to tear me off a strip about not wearing ribbons on my Battle Dress.

    He then continued to berate me about had I just joined up and how long since it was when I had received my wings. And so it went on with his last words, the norm in RAF language: “See Me In My Office, Pilot!”. He then went through my docs. and told me in no uncertain terms exactly what he thought of RAFVR and my ancestry etc.

    A few weeks later in my mess mail box came my gongs with a short note from "His Majesty" the Station WO telling me to have them correctly stitched on my battle dress by the Station Tailor and to report to him when all completed.

    The joke of this tale is that this Station Warrant office was wearing [just] a 39/45 Star, the Defence Medal & War Medal.”

And so it goes
Back in civilian life, Monty and Lorraine were based in Adelaide for some 10 years. Later moving to Brisbane for his career, they remained in SE Queensland thereafter. Their youngest daughter later joined the RAAF, rising from Aircraftwoman to Squadron Leader.

Monty and Lorraine found their little retirement paradise North of Brisbane in Queensland, where they kept pretty active. Monty’s birthday fell on Christmas Eve. Reaching 90 years of age in 2012, he and Lorraine set about arranging suitable celebrations: family flew in from Adelaide and Sydney for the Big Do which went off “better than clockwork” on Saturday 22 December. He later reported:

    “Had two beaut surprises within 10 minutes of each other on Monday morning [ie 24 December]. Phones calls from Kempie and Ricky Watts. Fanbloodytastic eh.”

Despite a major bout of ill-health in hospital in 2014, once back home Monty set about regaining some fitness with his usual determination, and getting back in touch with Kempie who had also been laid quite low for a time. While Monty continued to “press on” in Queensland, in England his old oppo Kempie finally reached the end of the long road home on 24 August 2014, bringing 70 years of mateship to a close.

The end at last
Batting on regardless, Monty still kept in close touch. He sent a typically newsy reply after the 211 Squadron 70th Anniversary update in March 2016. In closing the usual cheerful natter, Mont chose to note his own anticipated departure in characteristically laconic terms. We were able to exchange one more toast after that but Heather Mist could not hold back the gathering sunset.

Maurice Ernest George Walters, formerly of Winchester in Hampshire, latterly of Adelaide, of Bribie Island, and late of North Lakes in Queensland, departed this life on 24 July 2016 after a long illness. He will be greatly missed by Lorraine, their family, and many friends.

Sources
211 Squadron Operations Record Book TNA AIR 27/1303
211 Squadron Operations Reports/Sortie Reports TNA AIR 27/1305 to AIR 27/1310
22 Squadron records courtesy
22 Squadron Assn and historian Ross McNeill
RC Kemp personal correspondence
ME Walters Photograph Collection 1944-1945, personal correspondence

C Bowyer The Flying Elephants—The History of No 27 Squadron RAF 1915-1969 (Macdonald 1972)
R Sturtivant RAF Flying Training and Support Units Since 1912 (Air Britain 2007)
A Sutherland Brown Silently Into the Midst of Things—177 Squadron RAF in Burma 1943-1945 (Trafford 2001)

 

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Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 2 Mar 2017. Page created 13 April 2008, last updated 14 Oct 2016
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