Tour December 1951 onwards
On Saturday December 15th 1951 I joined a detachment of Bristol Brigands and crews to Kuala Lumpur. Take off was 0835 hrs, landing at K.L. 55 minutes later. By 11.25 hrs we had been re-fuelled and 'bombed up' and carried out an airstrike in the Gopeng area. Next day - Sunday - airborne by 09.15hrs to carry out another airstrike in the Rengan area. On the 18th December we were airborne again at 09.35hrs to do a low flying exercise and a railway patrol in the Sliim River area .
At 0540 hrs on the 20th December we were again airborne to do a strike in the Lengang area. We started our first bomb run just as it was getting daylight, you could see the sunrise across the jungle and in minutes it went from night darkness to broad daylight. This time we carried a passenger - an Army Major who enjoyed the experience. Humidity in Malaya was very high and within a short while after daybreak the sun would cause the moisture to rise upwards and in cases where our target was near to Tengah i.e., in the 'Tanglin area' when we were heading (on 22nd at 0750 hours) back, a thin layer of cloud would appear a couple of hundred feet above the runway in the exact shape of the runway. On 22nd at 0750 hrs I was airborne for another strike - this time on the Frasers Hill area, followed at 100.50 hrs with a patrol over a road convoy up to Frasers Hill.
On Christmas Day we went to Kuala Lumpur for dinner ( see menu) mainly because the food in the mess was so poor.
Our accommodation in K.L. was not particularly good. We slept in old 'bashas' under mosquito nets and when it was quiet you could hear the beetles in the roof chewing away at the beams and actually see the wood dust floating down to the floor (see photo).
On the 28th at 11.55 hrs we were airborne again to carry out a 'target recce'. with the same Army Major with us to observe. At 14.30hrs we carried out a strike in the Kampar Hill area. We then enjoyed a three day 'stand down'.
On January 1st 1952 the first pilots of 45 Sqdn commenced conversion to Mosquito's in readiness for their Sqdn taking to the skies in 'Hornets'.
We of 84 Sqdn. carried out further strikes,,and armament practice at the local range from January 4th, finally flying back down to R.A.F. Tengah at the end of our detachment on the 11th.
During the remainder of the month I did spells of local flying, airstrikes and on a couple of trips I carried a R.A.F. F24 Camera and photographed all road, river and rail bridges between Tengah and Kuala Lumpur.
We had not been allowed to use our 4-20mm cannons from early August 1951 until Monday 4th February 1952.
On 14th January I flew over R.A.F. Changi to view a Lincoln Bomber that had flown in from the R.A.F .Flying College at Mamby. Lincs., also 'Aries' an aircraft flown in from the U.K.
On the evening of Tuesday 5th February '52 it was the 'Annual Dinner Evening' for 84 Sqdn which was held at the 'Shackles Club' in Singapore. Our guest being one of the Sqdn's past C.O.'sd Air Marshall Sir. Francis Fogarty. KCN.CB.DFC.AFC. who was also at this time A.O.C. in Chief. F.E.A.F. The meal included suckling pig which it was illegal to kill at this time.
On February 9th whilst on another short detachment to K.L. operation 'Firedog' was carried out in the Belum mountainous region of Northern Malaya. 54 paratroops in 3 Dakota's were dropped into the jungle just south of the Perak-Thailand border were the C.T.'s escape routes had been blocked by the army. I understand that each of the para's were issued with 200ft coils of rope in case they landed on top of trees which grew up to 200ft tall. We provided air cover whilst they were being dropped and protection after they were on the ground.
Later we landed at R.A.F Butterrworth. We had to fly into the Belum area between two mountain peaks and then dive down to patrol the D.Z. which we did for two hours when another Brigand would take over.
On Tuesday 12th February I flew with our acting C.O. Sqdn. Leader Peter Norman on my 175th airstrike to 'Karak' from K.L. We had a passenger Air Vice Marshall Hawtrey from A.H.Q. (F.E.A.F.). We also did a railway patrol before heading for Changi to drop off our passenger but due to engine trouble landed at Tengah. After the engine was serviced we again got airborne at 1810 hrs in heavy monsoon type weather and carried out a radar (eureka) homing into K.L. and landing safely and in the dark at 1905 hrs.
On February 14th I flew on yet another photo-recce, taking 65 photo's with the R.A.F. F24 camera we flew at 500ft (except over towns). Take off 0935 hrs, landing at 12.12 hrs.
On 15th February I flew on a strike to the Telok Anson area carrying 4 - 500lbs bombs and fully loaded cannons. The only result we saw was one tree, estimated to be 150ft tall lift slowly and vertically up from the jungle floor and then sink slowly back downwards.
It was reported that a large number of C.T.'s were again in this area so on 22nd February a similar operation was carried out with us bombing and strafing the area for the following four days together with the Lincolns from No.1 R.A.A.F. Sqdn.
On Thursday 21st a Mosquito belonging to 45 Sqdn was carrying out local flying. As it was doing tight turns a wing came off and the aircraft crashed killing the Navigator whilst the Pilot baled out and landed safely.
it is worth remarking here that on taking off from Kuala Lumpur, a short distance beyond the end of the runway was the railway on a steep embankment running at right angles to the runway, so you never had an option of aborting take-off. At the opposite end of the runway on your landing approach were situated a number of houses (basha's) in which the Chinese lived, the one nearest to the runway was a circular one and early one Sunday morning we were on an early call to proceed from Tengah, land at K.L. 'Bomb up' and take off on a panic strike. The two of us, my pilot and myself got airborne at around 0630 hrs and coming into land at K.L. our main wheels clipped the roof of the circular hut. We hardly felt a bump but looking back, I could see into the Chinese hut - they were having their breakfast at the time -no one was injured but it cost the M.O.D. a packet and my Pilot got 7 days as 'Guard Commander' at Tengah.