No caption

Five years ago, that is how this blog got started. A photo without a caption shared by Cathy Swanson. She only knew her father was there.

Gil Gillis in the desert with Hawker Hurricane II C from 238 Squadron

Collection Gil Gillis

On April 24, 2019 Mark Gibson shared this page from his father’s logbook.

Collection Mark Gibson

Now, let’s turn back the clock to April 26, 1942…

Collection Mark Gibson

A.D.U. Takoradi Hurricane II BP564 Sector Recco 35 minutes

Uncrating a Hurricane at Aircraft Delivery Unit Takoradi




As the starting point of the Allied trans-African supply line to Egypt that became officially known as the West African Reinforcement Route (WARR), Takoradi became one of the most important bases for Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). On September 5, 1940, the first shipment of a dozen Hurricane and Blenheim aircraft fighters in large wooden crates arrived at Takoradi by boat from the United Kingdom, and like many more consignments to come, they were unpacked and then assembled locallyto be made airworthy for the flight to Cairo. The six-day journey was undertaken in stages with several rest and refueling stops that included Lagos, Nigeria; Khartoum, Sudan; and Luxor, Egypt. Nelson Gilboe, a Hurricane pilot, describes the Takoradi assembly plant as cut out of the dense forest with monkeys playing in nearby trees. (Simian residents of modern-day Takoradi still frolic in the trees of the Monkey Hill sanctuary.)

The first delivery flight to Cairo left Takoradi on September 20, 1940. Like the flights that were to follow, it was a journey plagued by problems. In the Sahara Desert portion of the route, sand took a severe toll on the aircraft engines. There was no map of the route, and many pilots used ominously burned-out aircraft on the ground as their guide.

In spite of these challenges, between August 1940 and June 1943, over 4,500 British Blenheims, Hurricanes, and Spitfires were assembled at Takoradi and ferried to the Middle East. Between January 1942 and the end of the operation in October 1944, 2,200 Baltimores, Dakotas, and Hudsons arrived from the United States (via the American base at Natal, Brazil, and a mid-Atlantic stop on Ascension Island), and virtually all of them were ferried in similar fashion. There were other final destinations via the Takoradi Route, including India.


Sometimes a comment goes a long way…

Having stumbled upon this blog by accident by looking at my Father’s logbook and trying to find out more about 238 squadron, since I sadly cannot ask him.
Not sure though of any interest, but in his log book he has a copy of the same photograph and names the pilots around the Hurricane.
He has recorded them from top to bottom as:
Punk, Kenya…..Self( Michael Gibson)
Robbie, Freddie, Jack, Chuck
C.O, Curly, Taffy, Eddie, Freddie, Ted, Percy, Bill, Gill, George, B-J
Ted, Nick, Bill, Chris
Any further information from anybody would be most welcome.
Mark Gibson


Sometimes a comment goes a long way…

Even more than you think…

238 Hurricane KC-G

Collection Mark Gibson


Colourised version

W.S. Hall’s Diary – September 1945

Only one 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.

We all know how all this will end don’t we…?


W.S. Hall’s Diary – August 1945

August 15th, 1945

Well, war has ended at last the fighting will no doubt go on for a while yet.

There is nothing much going on in the way of celebrations, a few flags are hoisted but there have been no parades.



August 2nd, 1945

Yesterday my kit arrived from Egypt after being in storage for over 12 months.

Fortunately, all my personal belongings were alright but the service underwear etc. was in a mess. One kit bag was wet half through and everything went mildewy.

It was great fun sorting it out last night – all my letters and snaps again and I also had 12 packets of ‘Greys” and only one was affected,

The back-pay for my W/O came through a few days ago x with a few other allowances. I drew 850 Rs.

With my banking acct and it I will soon have 2,000 Rs.

Hope we go within a few days, monotony increases with nothing to do and the lads are getting very touchy and sensitive.

I was squadron orderly officer yesterday.

August 12th, 1945

Arrived in Calcutta a couple of days ago after an uncomfortable train, boat, train journey when all our luggage had to be moved each time.

Have been doing a bit of shopping and bought a silver powder compact Rs 60 and a moonstone necklet Rs85 for Thelma. I bought another “kikkn so have a pair of them now.

I hope we soon get on the boat. They have been holding our mail in Australia but two letters came through today.

August 15th, 1945

Well, war has ended at last the fighting will no doubt go on for a while yet.

There is nothing much going on in the way of celebrations, a few flags are hoisted but there have been no parades.

I expect I shall still go to Australia and join up with my squadron, but to get home is the only thing that I’m interested in now.

Collected my photos from Bourne and Shepherd today.

Went to see The White Cliffs of Dover”.

August 27th, 1945

Still waiting for the boat but somehow I don’t think it will be more than a week before we are sea-borne.
Bought a pr of sheets recently (R.S. 24/10). I have been to see a few pictures and a play and yesterday spent the afternoon at the new Calcutta swimming pool.

I will be glad to get out of this place, the weather is very uncomfortable at present, no clear sun – just a humid swelter.

Mail has been coming through very well, but there are still a lot of parcels missing.

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.


Next time September 1945…

W.S. Hall’s Diary – July 1945

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 57

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 58

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 59

Flight Sgt Hall 238 squadron logbook 4 July 1945

July 5th, 1945

Yesterday I received eight “Auckland Weeklies’. Some of them were posted on Oct 3rd so it can be seen that 9 months must be nearly a “record!!”

July 8th,1945

Received a parcel from the Patriotic today.
Still waiting to move off on posting to Australia … it’s a bit of a job finding enough to do to fill in the days.

July 11th,1945

Received two parcels from Thelma – chocolate and cigarettes.
There has been a leopard prowling around our billets at night and causing much excitement. Its cub was run over by a truck about a week ago.

July 15th, 1945

The other day we got paid a month in advance so it’s a temptation to go on spending sprees.
Last night I went to town and bought a ladies velvet evening purse all worked in coloured wire and thread (28 Rs).

July 18th, 1945

Received birthday cable from Mum. It arrived in Bombay on June 30th. Bought Robin a pyjama set (18Rs) and a dressing gown (25RS).

July 20th, 1945

Still waiting for the word to get packed up and go. I have been made NCO I/C baggage – what a job!! We have practically nothing to do all day so this afternoon I shall describe a day’s operations over Burma.

The evening before operations we attended a briefing at 8.45 where the O.C. called a roll of the detail and gave out particulars of the sortie. The intelligence officer would then give out latest gen, where Jap troops were, and the condition of the air strips.

The signals would then give out radio information.

After that the Nay. section pointed any special routes to be followed. We next placed our names in a book for a call at 0300 the following day. My detail was take off 0500 for Myingan with 25 reinforcements and to then fly to Miktila bringing back 20 stretcher cases to base.
That journey would take about 5 hours, meaning an arrival back at base at about 11A.M. allowing 30 minutes stop at each place. We then went to a canteen and had a meal and back to the aircraft for take off at 1200. This time our load was supplies, about two tons of it and destination Magwe. Upon landing a truck backed in and coolies unloaded the aircraft and we sit off with a couple of passengers for Ramree Island where there were more casualties to bring out.

Arrival at Ramree was about 1500 hrs and there we managed a cup of tea whilst stretcher cases were loaded. Departing at 4 o’clock we arrived back at base again at 6.30P.M. – a 13½ hr day with about 11 hours flying. We then went to see the intelligence officer to report the day’s work and anything else of importance.

One place, I think it was Myingan, a chap told us to look behind a bush and there in a hole were a couple of dead Japs – grizzly looking sods. At one time the Japs had one landing strip and we had the other on the same ‘drome so when we were flying reinforcements in they all jumped out as the aircraft slowed up and we had to turn quickly and take off down wind occasionally with the Japs firing from their positions – as soon as our chaps arrived they went straight into action.

We used to strike some horrible weather over the Chin Hills and often went up to 17,000 ft. to keep out of cloud.

If we struck a storm along the Arakan coast we had to find somewhere to land as the weather closes in very quickly with great turbulence, thunder and lightning and rain. The Irrawaddy valley is quite a fertile one and is dotted with pagodas that show up white against the darker background.

Near the larger objectives and in them, most of the buildings have been burned and the bridges destroyed but our boys soon built temporary ones.

In fine weather the trip up the Arakan was very pleasant and over sea most of the way.

Next time August 1945…


W.S. Hall’s Diary – June 1945

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 55

Flight Sgt W.S.Hall diary page 56

June 1st, 1945
I have done several trips down to the forward areas and even though we have got Rangoon it doesn’t mean to say that the Burma campaign is over.
I usually fly every 2nd or 3rd day and then I fly all day from 8am until 5pm to dark.

June 3rd, 1945
I am getting into the way of the routine now.
The weather usually necessitates careful study as now the monsoon is approaching we strike some awful storms.

Flight Sgt Hall 238 squadron logbook 2 June 1945 to 19 June 1945

Have been flying wounded from the forward areas, and yesterday we just about had a death aboard; an Indian ex P.O.W.

He was unconscious when we took off and when he came to and found he was in an aeroplane he passed out, even stopped breathing so the medical orderly with the oxygen supply at emergency and artificial respiration managed to bring him around after about 15 minutes.

June 9th, 1945
There is big talk of going to Aussie but I’m not sure if they will be taking the recent arrivals which are we.

June 15th, 1945
Preparations are being made for the departure to Australia but they have not told us just who is going.
It’s very annoying I’d just like to know if we are going or not.

June 15th, 1945
The monsoon weather is really with us now.
Yesterday there was a terrific storm in the morning and lightning struck a hut and some trees, tearing them down.
The thunder overhead is deafening and one can actually feel the concussion and the lightning literally sears the sky and plays on any metal object.
Our mess bar has a metal top and tonight a flash caught it, now the barman requests that any money be handed to him and not left on the bar top where he has to pick it up.
I flew a kite to Chittagong this afternoon and came back with another chap. They are getting rid of all our old kites.

June 23rd, 1945
The other day I did a trip to Barrackpore and while my aircraft was being loaded I managed to get into Calcutta for a couple of hours. It just gave me time to go to the bank and have a decent meal. Last evening the officers’ mess invited us over to celebrate the wind up in this theatre and the pending move to Australia.
I’m very thrilled about going I haven’t really been in civilization since leaving England. Not the kind that I understand anyway.

June 29th, 1945
I am just waiting for further news of our departure from here – of course all is shrouded in secrecy and as usual our bearer can tell us things before they are officially announced which is a standing joke in India.

There is much speculation as to how and when we are leaving and from where.
I would like to get to Calcutta so to get my banking transferred as I have accounts at two banks there.

Went to the pictures tonight to see “English without Tears” and quite enjoyed it.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” will be here soon so I hope we are here then as I would like to see it again, the last time was in London.

Next time July 1945…