This is a true story, enjoy it and remember, these are true words. 

Journey To Java 

By David Golding


In December 1941 I finished my OUT training in Bicester and thus our Blenheim IV crew of Les the Pilot, Graham the W/OP, AG and me the Observer were considered qualified to face the foe

We were posted to the Middle East Flight on 7th December and went to Filton (near Bristol) to collect a new Blenheim to take to the Middle East under the aegis of 44 Group ferry. We were supposed to be leaving England on Christmas Eve and we drew lots to see which of us would report sick the previous day so as to remain in the UK over Christmas. I lost and the station MO (suspecting the authenticity of my stomach ailment) dosed me with castor oil!

We left for Gibraltar on December 29th and from there flew low level to Malta on Jan 6th. En route we saw a German twin boom fighter (the Zerstorer) flying in the opposite direction; fortunately he just kept on flying. The following day we went of to Cairo to deliver our aircraft.


The newspapers announced that a ‘Vast Aerial Armada’ was being assembled to fly out to the aid of Singapore (in fact this consisted of 2 x 18 aircraft Blenheim squadrons) (84 and 211)). We were posted to 211 squadron on 25th Jan, the three of us plus a Corporal Fitter (Willy Hillman), who had to sit on my lap throughout, set off from Helwan (Cairo) for H4, a flat piece of desert on the oil pipeline through TransJordan where our beds overnight were composed of petrol cans – it was freezing so we slept in all our cloths (there were no bed cloths to be had)

Next day we set off for Habbanyeh (near Baghdad) then the following day to Sharjah – which was a fort in the desert and then to Karachi. On the 29th January we set off to Allahabad where disaster stuck. When we took off for Calcutta, at about 50 feet, both engines cut out and as Les had not fully retracted the undercarriage we landed with only minor damage which was quickly put right and so the next day we tried to take off again and the same thing happened only with slightly more damage. The fault Les realised was as follows’

To take off 100 octane fuel was used and once well off the ground tanks were switched to 87 octane filled tanks. I can’t remember which (inner or outer) tanks held which but the ground crew had got it wrong and the 9 boost needed for take off couldn’t cope with 87. All was put right and on 1st Feb we went to Dum Dum (Calcutta), we were however, behind the rest of the squadron and what with one thing and another no authority at Dum Dum knew what to do with us and we were stuck there for eight days while fingers were removed and we went of to Magwe in Burma and thence to Rangoon.

No one at Magwe or Rangoon seemed to know what to do with us but eventually we were set off for Lhonga in Northern Sumatra then Pakanbaroe in Central Sumatra (Lhonga, incidentally was wiped out in the tsunami of 2005). On 17th Feb we reached Batavia (now called Jakarta) and the day after we reached the rest of the squadron (What was left of them) at Kalidjati aerodrome.

Of the 18 crews that left Cairo there were only five left – all of the rest had been shot down by fighters on bombing raids on Jap shipping. Three more went west on an op the following day leaving us and the CO (W/C Bateson) the sole survivors.

The following day a Jap raid destroyed the rest of the remaining aircraft on the ground, so that was that.

I have no doubt that is the Indian ground crew in Allahabad hadn’t made their mistake we would have perished as did the others. – “Fate moves in mysterious ways”




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