World War Two aircrew training day one...

This is the first entry in my father's journal from the 2nd World War, pictured top left above in one of the Wellington bombers he flew in. An earlier post, Wellington Bomber raid October 1941, narrates all the action pretty much in real time.

Entry 1 - January 7th HARWELL

I hope to be able, in these ensuing pages, to record a few of my impressions during the forthcoming year. Today has not been very productive in so much as we have done nothing.

My literary effort has been overcome by writing a foreword for Johnny's book, which has been bashfully completed. I should like to feel, that, if this book is to be read by any one other than myself (for whom it is primarily intended) they should tolerate it owing to the writer's complete lack of genius and to the environment in which it was conceived.

Harwell is an operational training unit where air crews are polished up for operations and many of us feel that, at the moment, we bear the mark of an early demise. If this is the case I hope that this book will be a close link between me and my closest friends and my parents.

Tonight I am feeling, as usual, fed up and we have expressed our feelings in no undisguised manner by turning our bunk into a beer garden. I have often wished to get to the bottom of the repression the RAF typically describes as 'browned' or 'cheesed'. I think it consists of many subsidiary feelings. Perhaps it is combined with a sense of homesickness and, above all, a sense of the futility of our present position.

Today, tuning the 1082 receiver I listened to a choir of German voices rendering a past song. I am no musician but to me it seemed inordinately beautiful and there swept over me a feeling which is practically impossible to describe. I was suffused by thought that all that was beautiful and worthwhile in this world was being overcome by brute force and not only that but I was subscribing my own effort to overcome them.

I feel in complete harmony with that group of German people, unknown to me, in a new spiritual sphere and the sense of futility is overwhelming. Am I still essentially the pacifist that harangued and argued in 1938? Have I not outgrown the out and out idealism? It seems these questions will probably never be answered and all that I stood for and set my heart on before the war will be wrecked. Could I but forsee the outcome of the next decade and I feel I should be able to die happily. Isn't something to be done for us who languish in despair at the probably fate of this world should we win or lose?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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