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The Rushden Echo, 23rd April, 1943, transcribed by Gill Hollis
A/C1 C. Smith
Proud of Home
Rushden Airman’s Message from India

Serving with the R.A.F. in India, A/C1 C. Smith, whose home is at 170, Cromwell-road, Rushden sends a long letter to the Editor.

“I have had wonderful experiences since leaving England,” he writes, “many of which can’t be put on paper and must wait until I am able to come home again. My destination was India, and I arrived here early in July. It was very hot then; it was 103 degrees in the shade, and it sure took it out of us for nearly two months after which we had partly got used to it.

“We were at Karachi for a time, and it is a place I don’t want to see again, unless on the journey home. It is a place of sand. Sand got in everything, and with the heat it was terrible.

“Karachi isn’t much to describe. I admit it has a few picture houses, a Y.M.C.A., and a few cafes, but apart from that it is nothing.

Nightmare Journey

“Well, the time came for us to leave Karachi and take a military train for Calcutta. That journey was a nightmare one. We had to travel over the sand desert, and the heat and dust were terrible. Each compartment had an electric fan, but that didn’t improve matters.

“Day after day went by, and then we came to the agricultural country, where we felt a little better. The scenery was grand, and we relaxed a little then. When we arrived at Calcutta, after about a week’s travelling, we looked like scarecrows. Water was scarce, and we all wanted a good shave and a good wash. Our clothes were full of dust and grime, and I bet the Indian people thought ‘What specimens of airmen to fight for us!’

“Anyhow, we soon went into a transit camp, and there we were able to have a shower and change our clothes.

A Good Spot

“Calcutta is a very nice place with modern picture houses, two or three Y.M.C.A.s, dance halls, and everything you could wish for. Good things all come to an end, however, and I was posted with three other chaps to a very lonely place far from anywhere. There is no means of enjoying yourself of an evening and nowhere to go. We just stick where we are till we are relieved – perhaps to be in the push when the time comes to go into Burma.

“Of course, it is very healthy here in the wilds, and I feel quite fit and strong. It gets very cold at night- terribly cold when you’re on guard even if you have your blue suit and great-coat on.”

A/C Smith dislikes the Indians habit of “chewing the beetle nut and spitting the red juice everywhere.” In railway carriages at night he has been unable to sleep because of their noisy conversation.

Rushden News

He appreciates the “Echo and Argus” which he receives in batches of two or three copies. He reads nearly every word, and his mates in the same tent always look at them.

“I was glad,” he says, “that Rushden did well at the fete. Though we aren’t a very big place we always give a good hard punch at whatever we endeavour to do, and when we chaps read of such things as the fete we feel happy to know how the old town is doing and of its wonderful achievements.

“In my travels I have met many Northamptonshire chaps, many of whom come from our district. Among them were Sergt. Perkins, cousin of Marie Perkins, Ron Hodgkins, who lives in the shop opposite the Adult School, Bob Bayes of Harborough-road, and my cousin Jack Smith, of 149, Cromwell-road, with whom I went out three nights a week for about a fortnight at Calcutta.

Word of Thanks

One or two of those mentioned have met other Rushden lads who have not come my way yet. I’ve met chaps from Irthlingborough, Wellingborough, Northampton, Kettering and other places all around – I think the East Midlands is well represented overseas.”

A/C Smith expresses great appreciation of the Parcels Fund gifts which have helped him “in more ways than one,” and he asks us to thank the people and organisations who remember the boys in the Services.

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