By Christobel Mattingley
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Additional resources for Battle Order 204
Often they went to the cinema to see British films with war themes. They were riveted by Coastal Command, seeing in action Sunderland and Catalina flying boats and others they had studied so closely in aircraft rec. The bittersweet wartime romance Mrs Miniver had many in the audience in tears. But camp life did not provide opportunities for forming attachments, and although David wrote to various friends, he did not have a regular girlfriend. His heart was fully committed to the world of flying.
Indd 35 2/4/07 3:15:59 PM Battle Order 204 a phrase passed on to each intake – ‘Chairborne versus Airborne’. The station’s permanent brick buildings were not to be used by trainees, who occupied temporary quarters. Nor did the trainees fly at Point Cook. All training flights took place from satellite airfields, just paddocks at Werribee, Lara and Little River. Students were transported by open truck, and the flight office was a large wooden crate. The only amenity was a Furphy cart providing tepid drinking water.
David was pleased to be still with fellow Tasmanians Peter Lord and Ian Vickers, who had both travelled on Umgeni and been at his twenty-first birthday dinner. Ian, tall and lanky, nicknamed Skinny, had an assurance which Peter, quiet and rather shy, envied. But David appreciated the contrast and they made a good team. Their fifth-floor room had the luxury of hot and cold running water, but only standard Air Force iron bedsteads, as hotel furnishings were stored for the duration of the war. Lifts were not in use, so they challenged each other up and down the stairs.