Diary of Neil Ralph Blunden RNZAF

10 Squadron RAF Leeming

6th November 1941 to 31st December 1941

Thursday 6th November 1941
Cool day and cloudy and cool in evening.
Went to N.Z. Club for lunch and tea. Met some of the old gang. Bob Dil died of wounds received active service a little while back.

Friday 7th November 1941
Cool day cloudy but clear sky p.m.
Had night out with Ganger and Bill Henman and Jack and Shorty. Went to Tatts and Captains Cabin after being at Sussex and N.Z. Club. Supper at Corner House, Piccadilly Street.

Saturday 8th November 1941
Cool day. Shorty and I went out to Dorchester in Kent for afternoon and evening- very nice people and day. Name of Fox. Back at Regent by 2330 hrs.

Sunday 9th November 1941
Cold day 10/10ths low stratus cloud.
After breakfast walked down and through Hyde Park with Jack and Shorty. Bus to Campton Town and back again to Lambeth Bridge- walked to N.Z. Club. Late dinner and saw show i.e. picture at Odeon. Tea N.Z. Club and home to bed.

Monday 10th November 1941
Cold day 10/10ths cloud low stratus.
Catching a cold but hope to kill it!? Saw theatre with boys- Phoenix starring Dixy'.as star show. Sussex and N.Z. Club afterwards, bed early.

Tuesday 11th November 1941
Jack went home early today. Did a spot of shopping at Austin Reeds. Shorty and I went to N.Z. Club in p.m. and Sussex, saw Don Biscoe and Ralph Wilson. Bit of a party after tea.

Wednesday 12th November 1941
Warmish day 10/10ths stratus low and showery drizzle in late afternoon settling into steady light drizzle in evening- quite mild.
Shorty went back this morning to camp. Wrote a few letters in morning and also afterwards after having dinner at N.Z. Club. Saw 'Ships with Wings'- not too foul but marvellous bombing! Went to Captains Cabin after dinner and met Sgt Bob Whitlock AG- was only survivor in crash when Dick Austin went for a'burton'. Dick was piloting plane at the time. Capt. Sgt Stuart.
Wrote home no.18. Also Peter, Arnold, Dick White.

Thursday 13th November 1941
Warmish cloudy day 10/10ths low stratus frequent drizzle showers day and night.
Met an old friend who was at Harwell when I was at Abingdon. Saw a film in afternoon and a few drinks in Regent after dinner- in bed early.
Cold is not very bad and have easily got the best of it, and no cough? Strange with all the tenners I've been smoking.

Friday 14th November 1941
Warm day. 10/10ths low stratus and few light showers in afternoon and evening.
Saw 'Apple Sauce' at London Palladium in Oxford Circus, W.1. at 5.15 performance.

Saturday 15th November 1941
Cool day 10/10ths low stratus. Wrote a few letters and did some shopping in morning- shops shut in afternoon in city. Went to bed early after packing etc. as am returning to camp tomorrow.

Sunday 16th November 1941
Cold day, overcast and cold wind.
Train Kings Cross at 1050. In the Flying Scotsman. Dinner on train 3/4 York 1520. Train for Northallerton at 1740 arriving 1825. Bus to Leeming Bar at 1920 hrs. Managed to get a transport to camp arriving at 2045 hrs and had a scratch dinner. Bed early!

Monday 17th November 1941
Cold day 7-9/10ths stratus cloud 2000'.
Not due back till tonight so did nothing all day and didn't have to!

Tuesday 18th November 1941
Cool day 5-8/10ths stratus 3000'.
Non Halifax crews transferred to B flight for time being. Expect to go on next Halifax course approx end of week with crew etc.
Leeming Bar with Dick and Ganger.

Wednesday 19th November 1941
Cold day 8-10/10ths stratus 1000' and some ground fog most of day. Detailed for ops but scrubbed at 1230 hrs- bad weather report icing etc.
Dance at Sergeants Mess but we just drank a little bit!

Thursday 20th November 1941
Cold day 10/10ths stratus and ground fog all day ceiling 300' and vis 500 yds at times. Interesting lecture by S/L Tait on Merlin X engines performance and consumptions etc.

Friday 21st November 1941
Cold day ground fog all day sometimes lifted to 100'! After tea 31 of us went to theatre at Darlington and had fish supper afterwards- hired station bus.

Saturday 22nd November 1941
Cold day. Ground fog most of day.
Went into Harrogate after tea with Dick, Shorty and Val and Max Nelson a N.Z'er.

Sunday 23rd November 1941
Cold day. Ground fog all day.
Went to bed early.

Monday 24th November 1941
Medium day. Ground fog in morning lifting to 10/10ths stratus 600-1200' in afternoon.
Actually flew this afternoon! Did Air Test on'G' starting at 1550 hrs. Did 40 mins and had a game with 2 Spitfires! Great fun.
Concert by E.N.S.A. Quite good too.

Tuesday 25th November 1941
Cool day 4-6/10ths cumulus stratus 3000'.
Air Tested for ops- scrubbed 1330 hrs!
G had George u/s. T.R.9 working well. Did some astro after dinner- shot several starts etc and will plot same tomorrow hope to fix myself over Officers Mess!!!?
Letter Jo. Home 19. Including clipping Hamburg trip!

Wednesday 26th November 1941
Cold day 7-10/10ths stratus 2000' fog early a.m.
Crew training most of the day and a lecture on Met. 'Icing clouds' etc in p.m.

Thursday 27th November 1941
Cold day 10/10ths stratus 2000' down to 800' at times. Detailed for ops did Air Test and were briefed for Bremen. Were in plane almost ready for take off at 1610 hrs when ops were scrubbed! Damn pleased ahem! Damn bind after getting everything ready etc.
Met crew with Dick Hughes down at local pub and had a good yarn.
Walked home 3 ½ mls at midnight ugh!!

Friday 28th November 1941
Cool day 7-10/10ths stratus 1-3000'.
Did some formation and fighter coop in afternoon 2 hrs! Damn tiring work in a Whitley, believe you me!

Saturday 29th November 1941
Cool day 10/10ths low stratus and ground fog. Detailed for ops which were scrubbed at 1400 hrs. Went into Harrogate with Dick, Ganger, Val Gandy and Shorty. Home by 0215 hrs.

Sunday 30th November 1941
Cool day 8-10/10ths stratus 500-1500'.
4 nurseries went off at last!! Have got 18 Halifaxes on station now.
Dick Hughes has gone on 12 days leave. Went to bed early.
Letters to Ken, John C, Terence.
Max Nelson P/O a N.Z'er Capt. went missing.

Monday 1st December 1941
Cool day. Ground fog all day vis 1400 yds.
Detail for ops. Briefed 1200 hrs Achen. Couldn't Air Test for fog and scrubbed 1430 hrs.
E.N.S.A. concert quite good Denham Girls with their bagpipes. Booze up in Mess afterwards- bad thing what! Ahem!
Parcel from Dad, Barbara Jekyll and N.

Tuesday 2nd December 1941
Cool day. Ground fog 10/10ths al day poor vis. Up by 0830 hrs. Swung C instead of G! Swung G afterwards! Bad show.
Went to Catterick, 40 of us, and saw some combat films, quite interesting.
In bed early! Silver fern from Dad is most acceptable.

Wednesday 3rd December 1941
Cool day 8-10/10ths ground fog or stratus.
No flying. More or less had latter part of afternoon off- played vol. snooker!
Sky cleared after 8 p.m. (local) so took some astro shots did some star recognition.

Thursday 4th December 1941
Cool day 10/10ths ground fog and stratus- lifting to 1500' in afternoon and 5-8/10ths cloud. Saw film on Sea Rescue dingy etc.
10/10ths cloud night so no astro.

Friday 5th December 1941
Cool day 6-9/10ths cloud: low and no chance of astro. On ops- scrubbed afternoon early and instead did 1 hr local night flying with crew- what a bind!

Saturday 6th December 1941
Cool day 10/10ths low fog and cloud. Went into Harrogate in evening.

Sunday 7th December 1941
Cold 6-9/10ths low and medium cloud 1-3000'.
On ops in G with Stew Beattie P/O a N.Z'er for 2nd Pilot. Air Test in a.m.
Target Achen S.W. German, among other things Nazi Headquarters.
Briefed 1400 hrs and after tea at 1600 hrs went to bed! Up and had supper 2230 hrs. Ready in plane by 0001 hrs and did usual check and running up etc. etc.
Airborne at 0040 hrs and set course at 0053 hrs on schedule at 4000'. Had met warning of probable severe icing up to 16000' over France and target so crossed Orgenness at 8000' and climbed keeping above alto-cumulus cloud and was at 12000' just North of Ostend.
About 50 miles North of Messieurs or turning point just staggered over a layer of stratus Cu at 17000' with temp at -30 degrees C. Quite cold!
Came over clear sky over mountains snow capped and clear in bright moonlight but 10/10ths cloud round and about target area and up to 17800' at least.
No gaps so s/c for Bonn on Danube due East of us. About half way came over clear ground again, so thinking that there was only high cloud over target area re-set course target and descended to 1000' but no go and not liking alto Cu cloud and its icing re-set course Bonn and bombed it at about 0445 hrs and set course home before daylight came!
Over England before dawn came and 10/10ths cloud all South England at approx 6000'. Cleared at approx Linton and landed at base at 0905 hrs. Trip of 8 hrs 25 mins and average miles per gal of 1.756.
Very quiet trip and did not have any flak or searchlights shot up at us all the time- Stew very disappointed?

Monday 8th December 1941
Cold and frost but 5-8/10ths cloud.
In bed by 1200 hrs. Up for tea at 1600 hrs.
Concert in N.A.A.F.I. evening, quite good.

Tuesday 9th December 1941
Cold day 6-9/10ths cloud 1-2000'.
Did a Q.G.H. at Z.Z. practice in afternoon.
In bed early and slept well.
Flew G to Shipton for dispersal.

Wednesday 10th December 1941
Cool day 7-10/10ths cloud and fair breeze.
Did not fly today. Lecture in p.m. on Hun flak and searchlights.
Letter home 20- not put in though. Received two from Janice and one from Bob Ensor last night.

Thursday 11th December 1941
Cool day 6-9/10ths low stratus.
Detailed for ops in G. Stew Beattie 2nd Dickie. First target Duisburg, then changed to Cologne and then at 1530 ops scrubbed for 6 of us and only 2 went in 10 Squadron. Halifax nurseries scrubbed again- 8th time.

Friday 12th December 1941
Cool day 5-8/10ths stratus 1-3000'.
Nothing much doing all day.
Our two machines crashed on return. John Kenny hit a hill just West of Ripon and 2nd Pilot went for a burton- plane caught on fire but Shorty Burgess and Jack Taylor 2 N.Z'ers Obs and W/Op resp. put it out and saved Kenny who was jammed in pilots seat.
Other plane Sgt.....Captain landed in funnel instead of on flare path- all ok.
Going back to A flight tomorrow- good.

Saturday 13th December 1941
Cool day 7-9/10ths cloud 1500-4000'.
Did not fly. Am in A flight again- good.
Expect to go to Halifax conversion flight tomorrow at Leconfield.
Went to Harrogate in evening with Stew Beattie (y 2nd Pilot) and Dick Barker and Jack. All N.Z'ers.

Wednesday 17th December 1941
Cold day 10/10ths ground fog and low stratus. In consequence did not fly. Cold not too good but has broken now and should be ok in day or two. A dance this evening in Officers Mess; it wasn't so bad but ours was far better. Sing song after it stopped at 0001 hrs.

Thursday 18th December 1941
Feel reasonably fit. Flew as passenger up to Leeming where we stopped for an hr or two. 75 crates on a daylight raid on Brest today and 5 of our Halifaxes are on, 'Bags of panic'! Returned here in afternoon with some more warm clothes, including long woollen underpants.

Friday 19th December 1941
Cold day 10/10ths ground fog. Went into Beverly after tea and back by bus at 2130 hrs.

Saturday 20th December 1941
Cold day 10/10ths low stratus 300' and so no flying today. Had afternoon off and we, Dick and Stew and self- walked into Beverly arriving 1600 hrs.
Saw the town which his very uninteresting, small etc. Went to a picture 'Sky Devils' bus back to Station at 2120 hrs.

Sunday 21st December 1941
Cold day 10/10ths low stratus and ground fog. No flying.
Had 11 mins of the concentrated sunshine machine and skin is getting a bit brown with it!!
½ hr in gym afterwards- morning.
Wrote letters in afternoon- Peter, Dick White, Arnold and J J Cuddon. In bed early. This Mess is very cold compared to Leeming. Being so near to sea and Hull and it's smoke results in a lot of fog and in consequence not much flying.

Monday 22nd December 1941
Cold day but clear sky- almost.
Sgt O'Driscoll and self went in a Halifax with P/O Dobson to Driffield in morning. Up for 2 ½ hrs and both of us went solo after 3 or 4 circuits duel. Damn nice machines to fly.
Did an hour each same place same thing in afternoon- solo.
When we got back found out that Dick Barker and Stew Beattie had gone for a ride with F/Lt Owen in a Halibag south somewhere and had crashed into a 400' hill and all of the 8 in the plane were killed. Damn bad luck as both of them were the best of chaps. Have also lost a fine second Pilot in Stew Beattie.
Frank and Bill are damn sorry too. Jim Murray, Dave Joyce and 3 Poles on same course and I had quite a good drunk- too good for me.

Tuesday 23rd December 1941
Cold day 6-10/10ths low stratus.
Some flying in afternoon. Went through Dick and Stews personal clothing and effects- bloody awful job but one which a close friend should do I consider.

Wednesday 24h December 1941
Cold day. No flying. Cannot get back to Leeming- crash has upset usual passenger planes etc. Had a bit of a session in the Mess. Don't like this Mess much- trouble is presumably that Station is neither Fighter, Bomber or Halifax Conversion!

Thursday 25th December 1941
Cold day. Entertained Sgts for about ½ hr before dinner- cold. Then the Officers and Sgts served the men their Xmas dinner in the Airman's Mess. We had our Xmas dinner at 1930 hrs and it was quite good, turkey too! A bit of a do in the Mess.

Friday 26th December 1941
Cold day 5-8/10ths stratus 2000'. Did a bit of solo flying in a.m. 50 mins.
In bed reasonably early.

Saturday 27th December 1941
Cold day. A few light sleet showers during day and cold wind from North Pole- felt like it too!
Did 50 mins circuits and bumps in afternoon. Xmas card from D! She appears to be on a H.M.S. ship by post mark- good to hear from her again.
Temp while flying at ground level +4 degrees C or + 39 degrees F.

Sunday 28th December 1941
Cold day- fog making frost into a black one which didn't thaw all day- B.... cold too!
Jim Murray and self and 4 N.C.O's went by 1550 train from Beverly to Grantham R.A.F. for funeral changing at Hull and Doncaster.
Arrived about 2200 hrs and we experienced a most lavish welcome from a Mess that I've experienced yet.
No central heating in bed room- but a coal fire!

Monday 29th December 1941
Cold frost and ground fog.
Attended funeral in late morning. 3 chaps including Barker. Beattie being buried privately by relatives at Torquay soon.
Caught 1550 train Grantham to Hull- 1 hr late and connections to Beverly M.T. to camp supper and bed.
News moving so packed first.

Tuesday 30th December 1941
Cold frost and ground fog which cleared sufficiently in afternoon for us to fly over to Marston Moor a new R.A.F. Station exclusively for the Halifax Conversion.
Built under F.A.F. dispersal plan and we sleep about 2 mls from the Mess in single rooms and have to walk there and back!! Good exercise though and it will do us good. Trouble is that the bathrooms are dispersed too!! Small Station as yet as it is by no means finished but quite sufficient for our purpose.
Approx 8 mls West of York.

Wednesday 31st December 1941
Cold frost and ground fog so unable to fly. Walked over and around runways and dispersal points to get familiar with layout etc of landing area. We found a convenient little pub quite handy to one of these dispersal points in the wee village next to aerodrome- no boundary fences as yet so we may see it again soon!
Lecture in afternoon. Village is Tochwith . Five of us stayed in Mess in the evening as did Squadron Leader Tait and we had a little party. He has done a lot of operational trips, 47 odd on Whitleys and 11 or so on Halifaxes and in those, daylight on La Pallice and Kiel!
Finished up by having supper on food parcels from our homes in my room at dispersal point Oflag 7 at 0100 hrs.

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10 Squadron at RAF Leeming
t January 1942 to
29th March

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