December 24, 1942 (Thursday)

Halekulani Hotel

Met two Royal Air Force officers this morning through “Kingie” Kimball. They left London only a few weeks ago and are on their way to Australia, where they will be known as the RAF Mission. Their duty is to keep RAF headquarters in England informed of Japanese tactics and aircraft developments, in preparation for the day when Germany caves in and the RAF moves to India and China to start work on Mr. Moto.

Both Britishers are excellent chaps (good blokes) Group-Captain Grice and Wing Commander Morse. The group-captain (four stripes, “groupy” for short) is a veteran of the last war and has been flying for 26 years. That’s a long time. Concerning him Morse related some good stories later. It seems he seems that he was commanding officer of England’s largest fighter stations during the blitz in September, ’40. Station was named “Gembley Hill” or something like that. He was wounded in a big German attack on the station. Later on, while flying cross-country in a small training plane, he was attacked by seven Messerschmitts. Grice escaped them by flying under telephone wires and trees. He had no armament of any sort aboard the tiny trainer.

Grice himself told of the attitude of the Germans captured near his command. The first one, an officer, demanded to be taken to the German High Command, whom he firmly believed were nearby. The German actually thought that England was almost wholly in German hands. When Grice took him to the evening mess, after the gallant matter of the last war, the German made an ass of himself by making Grice to eat some of his food and drink before he’d touch it himself, firmly believing it was poisoned. He was kept at the station for number of days and finally realized what an ass he was being, whereupon he began to be a bit cooperative and finally supplied much good information.

Grice says that in the last war the Germans and British exchanged many gallantries, but in this war there is more of a feeling of fighting a pack of wild animals. The younger men Germans are the worst, they’re the most difficult to handle as there is almost no common ground of understanding. They are fanatics of another world.

Grice and Morse both stated that the “Mustang” (P-51) is one of the finest fighters of the war. The British have recently removed the rotten Allisons from a group of them and install the latest (2000 hp?) Merlins. Their performance has been superb. The English according to Grice are beginning to regarded it as the logical successor to the “Spit” (Spitfire). Morse stated that England’s three finest planes today are the Spitfire IX,  the Mosquito (a DeHavilland two-engine, high-speed, two-place wooden plane), and the Sterling. (“Hurricane” was “the” plane during the blitz.

Both men spoke of the wonderful time they had in New York City with the help of some Army air Corps colonel. In view of the many times I’ve been the guest of the RAF in different parts of the world I thought it only fair that I try to keep them entertained as much as possible. Took them both out to Marion Robinson’s for Xmas Eve.

2 thoughts on “December 24, 1942 (Thursday)”

  1. Group Captain Richard “Dickie” Grice joined the Royal Flying Corps in February, 1917. Nolan possibly has the names of the RAF bases mixed up. Grice was station commander of RAF Biggin Hill, and the RAF base at Hendon is located in the Wembley Hill neighborhood of London.

  2. A regular at the White Hart was Biggin Hill Station Commander in 1940, Group Captain Richard “Dickie” Grice (played by Kenneth More in the 1969 film, “Battle of Britain”), who won his DFC in the 1914/18 War.
    Every evening during the Battle of Britain the Group Captain would lay on a coach to take his war weary pilots to the White Hart to play a game of darts and eat a meal. Apparently he had a loud speaker fitted to the roof of his car and as he led the coach from Biggin into the hotel’s forecourt, he would announce “25 beers!” (or whatever number) on the loud speaker.
    Grice, clearly an eccentric was obsessed with a burnt out shell of a hangar on Biggin’s airfield. Convinced that the Germans believed it to be undamaged, and would consequently target the airfield with a bombing raid. The bureaucrats at the Air Ministry stubbornly refused to dismantle the large construction, so the intrepid Group Captain cunningly arranged for the Royal Engineers to dynamite the former hangar during an an enemy air raid.
    Unfortunately a subsequent investigation revealed that the Luftwaffe could not have been responsible and Group Captain Grice was court- martialled.
    Such was his popularity amongst his immediate superiors that he was equitted. However, as always, bureaucrats (even in wartime) got the last word and Group Captain Dickie Grice DFC spent the remaining four years of the war at a posting in Australia.
    To our knowledge this is the only example of an RAF Station Commander blowing up his own hangar at a time of war, albeit with the best of intentions.

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