W.S. Hall’s Diary – December 1944

On November 30th, 1944, Stanley Hall wrote in his diary that he is leaving Poona for Risalpur.

He will be arriving in Risalpur on December 6th, after quite an eventful journey.

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 48


Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 49


November 30th, 1944
Have been in Poona again for a few days waiting for a train to go way up north west.

Pune to Rawalpindi
I’m very pleased to be going to a Transport job. Waiting is an awful bore really and I think I’ve done my share of it. I have bought a mattress and a pair of sheets to use in my next place so should be able to make myself quite comfortable.

Farewell at Poona


Arrival at Nowshera Dec. 1944
Look for Ray Spriggs…

December 7th, 1944
Arrived at Risalpur (Peshawar) yesterday after quite an eventful journey. The first stop was at Kalyan near Bombay where we had to wait for the main train.

Mac, Slim and Self Kalyan Dec 44

Late November 1944

When it arrived the carriage, a 3rd class one which is pretty awful over here, was full of wogs and stinking dirty; they turfed the wogs out and when we saw the state it was in we refused to travel so the night was spent in temporary accommodation near the station and we caught a train the following afternoon.

At Kalyan Station 44.jpg
Kalyan is a dirty looking place, we walked along what I presume was the main road where there were a few shops but I only bought a dozen boxes of matches.
The following evening we reached Delhi and stayed the night at the Wavell canteen – after a rather good meal and a hot shower (the first I have come into contact with over here). I was really ready for bed as it is practically impossible to sleep on these trains unless good accommodation is available.


Kalyan to Risalpur
The Wavell canteen is very up to date.
We left there about 8 the next morning. The country isn’t very pretty this side of Delhi. At some of the places we stopped the wogs would try to get into our compartment so several times during the night we were awake keeping a watch for them.
They are terribly crowded when they travel, about twice the number cram into one carriage and even some hang on the sides.
I’ve seen women trying to get aboard with their bundles get absolutely thrown off the steps, some landing on their backs beside the railway tracks. These of course are the lower class of Hindus. The “educated” types travel 2nd class the same as the average European.
We had day rations for the journey – such as they were. I think they were an excuse to avoid paying us meal expenses, so we ate in the dining car and at restaurants at our own expense.

We reached Rawalpindi at about 7am so it was a bit early to ring up the address I have there, we only stopped about 15 mins.


Rawalpindi to Nowshera

Now I am settled down in rather a nice billet and have a room to myself which adjoins another which is occupied by two N.Z. boys and an Aussie. We are going to hire a radio set and get some wood for the fire grate. We have a batman so haven’t much to worry about.

Will probably be doing a bit of flying soon.

December 19th, 1944

Have recently bought a few things to add to my collection of souvenirs to take home. I got another steel trunk to put the things in and I bought a silk square hankie Res 2/-, a vase bowl Res 8/-, a pair of vases Res 10/- made from cows horns and today I have ordered a table set made from satin and designed with peacocks etc. worked in wax for Res 45/-.

I went to Peshawar to play rugby for the station team.



It is quite a large town but after dark a bit dangerous, some officers were murdered recently and I believe quite a few shops have been violently robbed.

December 21st, 1944
Received chocolate from Thelma.

December 22nd, 1944
Received tobacco from Thelma.

Seasons Greetings
Christmas Dinner


December 27th, 1944
Received Farmers Parcel from Thelma. Parcel from Janet.

Patriotic parcel from Bombay.

About Ray Spriggs…


Ray Spriggs?

Next time January 1945…
January 3rd, 1945
Received Xmas parcel from Thelma and photo of Robin. Pyjamas and socks.

Intermission – Notes about 238 Squadron

I had found it hard to put a date and a location on every photo in Robert Davis’ collection of more than 150 photos sent by Wendy in 2015.

With all the hints I have now, I am trying to classify all of them by dates and locations for future use. One hint was the pet monkey which appeared on several photos and would have been taken at the same time and at the same location. Also buildings in the background were a big help as well as people we saw on Stanley Halls’s photos.

Stanley Hall moved a lot according to his diary and his record of service, but he had never mentioned a pet monkey in his diary.

W S Hall Service Record

Little by little, when and where Stanley Hall was when he was posing for posterity had become clearer each time I had more photos sent by his son Richard like this one of Trotman.

Trotman had lost his hair half off at the same location as Robert Davis and his pet monkey…

Bob Davis (113)

This next photo was easy to put a date on. I would guess September 10th, 1944 because Stanley Hall talks about getting all dirty getting to the jungle school.

Bathtime jungle school 300dpi

Bath time at the jungle school

But I could be wrong.

This next photo could have been taken when someone else was flying a Dakota and Stanley Hall was a passenger and not a second pilot.

Listening to the BBC during a flight 300dpi

Listening to the BBC during a flight


Interior Dakota in flight 300dpi

Interior Dakota – in flight

So many questions…

I know for a fact that Robert Davis and Stanley Hall were in the same 1331 CU (conversion unit) which was based at Risalpur, according to their respective log books. They flew on the same Dakotas (667, 425, 364, 667) late in February 1945 doing some local flying.

Bob Davis Log Book013 (2)

Robert Davis’ log book page

W S Hall 1331 CU

Stanley Hall’s log book page

This next page shows the next flight Robert Davis took. It’s on March 23, 1945 on Dakota 576 as a navigator with W/O Zohier (W/O Zeiher) for 30 minutes of circuits and landings. On the same day he does the same, but this time with F/S Hall (Stanley Hall) for 2h30! After he will fly as a navigator with F/O Simpson, F/O Sanders, F/S Clifton, W/O Massey, W/O Zeiher, and F/O Barnby.

Bob Davis Log Book014 (2)

This the log book page of Stanley Hall for the same period.

Flight Sgt Hall 238 squadron logbook 5

On March 22 he is the second pilot with Flight Sergeant Clifton to familiarise himself with the Dakota. On the same day he will be first pilot with Flight Sergeant Gibson flying circuits. On March 23, he will be again a second pilot W/O Zohier practicing short landings…

All through March and April this is what he will do.

To help me some more with my research I had found these interesting notes about 238 Squadron on a Website.


238 Squadron RAF flew Hurricanes and then Spitfires in North Africa and Italy in the early part of the war in Europe. The Squadron was disbanded on 26 October 1944.

5 weeks later on 1 December 1944, 238 Squadron RAF was reformed as a transport squadron at Merryfield, Somerset, and was equipped with the Dakota Mk III and Mk IV. As a transport squadron, the intention was for it to move to Australia to support the British Pacific Fleet which moving to the Pacific at the time from the India Ocean. However, while in transit to Australia, it was decided to use 238 Squadron to support the 14th Army operations in India / Burma. The Squadron moved to Rajpur in India on 22 February 1945.

The outward journey from Merryfield was via St Mawgan, Cornwall, to Istres near Marseilles then Castel Benito and El Adem, both in Libya, then on to Tel Aviv, Palestine and Shaibah Iraq. From Iraq the Squadron flew via Sharjah in the Gulf, to Karachi and the Raipur, arriving on 22 March 1945. On 13 March 1945 they relocated to Comilla (now Bangladesh).

After four months in India, 238 Squadron then relocated to Parafield, near Adelaide in South Australia leaving on 26 June 1945 and arriving on 2 July 1945. The Squadron aircraft flew in formation from Comilla to Australia via Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the Cocos Islands, Learmouth and then Perth, both in Western Australia, and finally Parafield. At the time this was one of the longest relocation flights (in formation) of any RAF Transport Squadron, though not all the Squadron personnel flew with the aircraft to Australia. Some personnel followed by sea.

A search is never ended, and hopefully someone else will find this blog and contribute like Wendy and Richard did.

W.S. Hall’s Diary – November 1944

There are no entries in Stanley Hall’s diary for November 1st and November 3rd.

However his log book reveals that on November 1st and November 3rd, 1944, Stanley Hall, flying Oxford MN363, had two passengers with him: Sgt. Spriggs and Sgt. Davis. We all know about navigator Robert Davis, but we are still uncertain about who was Sgt. Spriggs.

Bob Davis (24)

November 4th
Yesterday I went on a x/country flight for 3½ hrs and viewed some very nice country. Today I did some formation flying and we went over to the jungle school.

November 10th

Have been posted up to Jungle school again; it’s great there’s no course to do this time so just have to wait for a posting to a squadron which I hope won’t be too long now.

November 13th

This morning I went around my snares which I set to catch jungle fowl but there was nothing there. After that two of us walked to the nearest town where I bought a saucepan and some tea etc. We are getting our tent really organised now.

Make our own tea and manage to get a bit of bread from the mess for some toast.
On the table is an empty pear tin for a vase and in it I have some fern leaves and a pretty wild yellow flower which looks something like a snap dragon.

For supper last night we had coffee with sardines on toast.

Played a game of cricket this after-noon.

Bob Davis (22)

Collection Robert Davis

We also have a method of trying to eliminate swearing in the test – don’t want to get into bad habits for when we come home – so each time someone swears they have to put one anna in a tin and the proceeds go to the supper fund. I’ve paid 4 annas so far and I think there are about two rupees in for this afternoon but all the same there is some mighty polite language used.

November 17th

Today we had quite a victory with sports; our flight which consists of ANZACS played an English flight soccer and we beat them three to one. Most of our boys had never played before and were inclined to use Rugby tactics but we kept them hustled and we were on the offensive most of the time.

At present we are winning the revolver shooting and are well up with clay birds.

We are also leading in cricket.

November 20th

We received a challenge from a picked English soccer team: evidently they were a bit sore at being beaten at their own game the other day so we went out with the feeling that we could take a licking but it wasn’t long before we got the game in hand and eventually won by 4 to 2. A cinema has opened at Marbleshwar the village a mile or so from camp, so we went along to the opening night.

The building is constructed of a bamboo frame and the walls are made of bamboo lattice covered with baked dung which has been pressed into strips like thick cardboard. It is built on the slope of a hill, steps being cut out for the various classes of seats which are the ordinary camp chairs. The screen had about nine patches on it and most of the time the projector was going so fast that we couldn’t pick up the talking part.

It was Ginger Rogers in “Fifth Avenue Girl” supported by about 3 shorts.


When the show was over just about all the kids in the village came along to see the audience come out.

November 27th
We will be packing up again probably tomorrow but I’m not sure where to this time.
This afternoon three of us went for a tramp around the ridges and I took a couple of snaps. I have just balanced up our supper account and I’m keeping one of them as a souvenir on the next page. Bought a photo album yesterday.

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 47

November 30th, 1944
Have been in Poona again for a few days waiting for a train to go way up north west. I’m very pleased to be going to a Transport job. Waiting is an awful bore really and I think I’ve done my share of it I have bought a mattress and a pair of sheets to use in my next place so should be able to make myself quite comfortable.

Next time December 1944…

This picture might have been taken in November 1944 by Robert Davis, but I have no way of knowing.
Bob Davis (22)
Looking at Robert Davis’ collection of photos I am trying to figure out when and where this photo was taken as well as these two.
Bob Davis (30)
Bob Davis (24)

Unknown airman, Stanley Hall, Ray Spriggs ?, and Robert Davis

My best guess is that these three pĥotos were taken at No. 3 R.F.U. Poona (Pune) India.

Intermission – Thelma and Robin

Both those names appear often in the diary.

October 17th

I have been away on leave in Bombay for 6 days. I had a terrible job to get accommodation, a whole lot of messing around booking in here, there and everywhere and finally ended up by sleeping in the YMCA dance hall for the first night.

I went out to Work Camp and stayed there 5 nights but met an Aussie friend who had found a decent guest house and spent my last evening there. It was very warm in the city after being 2,000 ft above S.L. for a few weeks and even throughout the night the ground would never cool off.

I posted a parcel to Thelma with a pr of shoes and two for Robin.

Now I know who they are.

Adelaide, December 1945

Stanley, Robin, and Thelma

Intermission – Going Home!

This is the last entry in Stanley Hall’s diary:

Last entry

September 16th 1945

Still waiting on the boat.

The other day we got all our kit ready to go aboard and something wrong was discovered on the boat so that means another week. In the meantime my name has gone in for repat. and if the authority comes through before the boat leaves I will probably continue the journey to N.Z. Otherwise I will be repatted from Australia because all of us are being sent home.

I know we are still not there yet, but when was Stanley Hall repatriated? 

By plane? 

Interior Dakota in flight 300dpi

That’s what I first thought when his son Richard had sent me this photo a few weeks ago. Yesterday morning, Richard sent me these three new photos with captions that might help us answer that question…

Leaving Colombo… 

Farewell Colombo

Wrestling aboard “S.S. Sontay”

Arriving at Port Adelaide…

Dakota beat up. Pt. Adelaide

Stanley Hall’s record of service…


Repat to N.Z. 24-12-5!


Image and information taken from  the Internet

S.S. Sontay

We don’t know much about this, except that it clearly excited some curiosity on the Fremantle docks at the time.

Being pushed to her berth by the tugboat UCO is the 8917grt S.S. SONTAY, which in the 1930s had been used to carry French Foreign Legion troops to Indochina under the Messagerie Maritimes Line flag. But she is seen here bringing demobilized RAAF personnel into Fremantle after the end of WWII.

Originally named BAYERN the ship had been built and completed by Bremer Vulkan at Vegesack in 1921 for the Hamburg America Line, for whom she did one voyage to New York and then switched to the Far East Service.

In 1936 she was acquired by an affiliate of the French Messageries Maritimes to carry Foreign Legion troops to Indo China as stated, and re-named SONTAY [after an MSL liner famously torpedoed during WWI, in 1917].

As such she had fallen under Vichy French control and was boarded and captured by the British en route from Tamatave to Dakar in West Africa on Feb. 25, 1941, becoming a British trooper managed by Union Castle.

We are inclined to think that she is seen here bringing RAAF personnel back from Britain, as there had been thousands of Australians in the British Bomber Command during WWII. Seen here, the troopship has two guns in sponsons and a third on the carousel on her poop deck astern.

SONTAY was returned to the French in 1946, and the following year was used to carry Jewish immigrants to Palestine.

In 1949 she was re-acquired by Messageries Maritimes, and resumed work as a Foreign

Legion troopship. She was sold in 1955 to Panamanian owners with Wheelock Marden of Hong Kong as managers, and re-named SUNLOCK.

On May 28, 1958, she arrived at Kudumatsu, Japan, to be broken up there the following year by Miyachi & Co. [Source: “Messageries Maritimes” by Duncan Haws, via Dave Edge on the Rootsweb Mariners archive].


Gregg, WA Maritime Museum:

This photo was originally published in the “West Australian” newspaper Fri 19/10/1945 p7 under ‘Returning RAAF Reach Fremantle From India’/(caption) ‘When the SONTAY arrived at North Wharf, Fremantle, yesterday bearing RAAF personnel returning to Australia from India men of HMS MAIDSTONE, the Royal Navy’s submarine parent ship, crowded to forward deck rails in welcome’]

Photo: photographer not known, it is held in the Local History Collection at Fremantle City Library, Item 2040D, acquisition.