The photograph above is a Fairey Fulmar aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm about to take off from HMS Spurwing on a coastal reconnaissance.
On Wednesday 5th April 1944, my dad wrote in his diary:
"Went in H.S. 599 on Radar test with Dick doing a W/T [Wireless Telegraphy] test at the same time.
Felt some nasty quakes when the pilot went into a corkscrew dive over the harbour but otherwise unimportant.
Pleased to write that I am no longer troubled by air sickness."
I particularly like this photo because I can imagine my dad up there in the clouds. I don't think this would have been the plane he went in but it gives something tangible to the diary extract.
On Friday 28th January 1944 my dad wrote in his diary:
"Visited Freetown for the purpose of renewing library books.
I rather think that Freetown is now one of the largest overseas naval bases.
The harbour is ideal being one of the best in the world and, although I have no idea of the number of men around here, it must be pretty big.
Freetown is the base for the South Atlantic fleet and a pool of ratings is always kept in two luxury liners converted into naval vessels.
Although I have never been aboard either of them, I am told they are very grim as they are so overcrowded."
As well as convoy protection my dad recorded that:
"Spurwing has two functions – a squadron for anti-submarine work, and a storage depot for naval aircraft; so that a carrier coming in with its planes shot up, can remain in Freetown and be completely refitted from Spurwing."
You can see my dad's collection of photos of HMS Spurwing in the earlier part of this blog or find them all together at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/i-think-i-prefer-the-tinned-variety.html