#5 British Flying Training School

Clewiston, Florida

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All in a Day's Shirk (Work?)

Here is an article published in the 25th December Xmas issue of the Embry-Riddle newsletter "Fly Paper".

It gives us some idea of the daily routine at Clewiston in 1942.

The original page images can be seen by clicking the page numbers below. The text has been reproduced below to improve readability.

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All in the Day's Shirk

Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of despair!

0614 Scene: Block Four, Barracks, aircrew for living in of. Enter a ghostly figure, gliding from room to room, switching on lights and, emitting wild howls of wrath and - despair.

0614½ In several rooms a dim form stirs from its blankets, leaps to the floor, and switches out the light, retiring once again.

0640 Above the sound of heavy breathing is heard the clangour of a bell. It is rung by a Cadet Under Officer who lies awake all night for this purpose. Sometimes, but not often, it is the first bell for breakfast

0645. Further alarums and tocsins. Noises off.

0650 Here a painful scene of horror is enacted over which a veil must be drawn. Indescribable confusion reigns and the towering figures of S.P.'s are seen in the whirl of sheets dragging powerless airmen from their beds and dashing their battered bodies to the ground.

0755 Surprisingly, a group of brand new aviators, washed, fed and variously attired, stand ready to go out there and fly and Keep 'Em Flying.

0800 "There" is the Flight Line at the foot of the Tower. Now and then a solitary cadet approaches the line of silvery monsters unprotected by an Instructor, but only to exchange a cheery jest with the line girls. Frequently, a harsh voice booms forth on the radio with the words: "Tell Cadet Kerr, W. he's wanted on the line to shoot a Stay". Since the aforementioned big game hunter is missing and nobody takes any notice anyway, this fell creature remains unshot.

1330 There are two minutes' shocked silence at the Mess Hall. The Flight then splits into two well-defined segments; the Epicures bear left to Mrs. Van's; the gourmets carry straight on to the Canteen.

1415 Those who can summon the energy meander Ground School-wards; here the urge to live and let live soon dies and rows of heads begin a series of formation stalls and recoveries, as we pedants, such as we are, are wont periphrastically to describe "nodding".

1615 After two hours blissful sleep, the approach of a strongly marked High Pressure Area disturbs the peace. It is none other than Professor "On the Bawl" Gowlishaw, our local A.R.P. expert and authority on the price of fish.

1715 An airman can stand so much and no more. Several close columns of Cadets are observed speeding westwards to sanctuary in their rooms.

1730 But not for long. There is a great rushing of winds and the mighty genie Hopkins appears, driving before him the halt, the maimed, and the blind to do battle with the mosquitos and the snakes, a sport which he dubs calisthenics; physical Straining is another name.

1815 Appetites are whipped up to a frenzy and on this occasion a number of intrepid men might be seen nibbling at pieces of dry bread and sipping dainty glasses of water. This time the gourmets bear left to see how the other half lives.

1830 Twin spurts of dust can be seen heading south to the bus rank. It may, or may not, be Open Post, -but it most certainly is Waterkeyn and Crawford heading for the wide open places.

1900 By now life in the barracks is settling back into its old groove after the brief disturbance of the day's work. Beds are made up with loving care, and soon many a weary aviator lies relaxed between the sheets. Here and there, a few lost souls are seated before their tables, gazing in desperation at virgin copies of A.P.129. The clatter of a sear-retainer-keeper striking a left-hand-top-plate-attachment-actuating-spring falls gently upon the ears, an evening lullaby.

In one room, a tiny group of airmen are seated round the radio, quenching their aesthetic thirst at the fount of wisdom that springs therefrom - how "Lucky Strike Green Has Went To War" and how "Coca-Cola knows only one thing, what it is like, what is Coca-Cola".

2359 All is darkness. And through the night softly creeping lurch two shadows, as the gloom blots out their progress and a stifled cough drifts across the breeze, a soft voice is heard exclaiming "SSH!"


Seasonal Postscript
I remember, I remember, nothing after that
Till I wakened up next morning on an alien lobby mat,
And 1 felt not unpersuaded, though my reasons were not clear
That I'd had a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.