On 1st October at about 20.00 hours we arrived in Bulawayo. All the other cadets at the ITW (Initial Training Wing) gave us a most hearty welcome. We were given a very good meal and billets made from gum poles and hessian!
We were all anxious to get through ITW and get onto flying, but we were due for a big disappointment, having to wait in, what was called Receiving Depot for nine weeks before starting the ITW course.
Included in the activities that aspiring trainees undertook were "bundu bashes". It was recognised that whilst the skies above Rhodesia were clear of danger from enemy aircraft, the ground was a different matter! However the dangers came primarily from the inhospitality of the terrain and its animal occupants!
Trainees were given instruction about how to react if they were confronted by or encountered some of the region's more dangerous animals. Max's account in one of his letters makes interesting and amusing reading:
The Flight was driven into the bundu in trucks to an overnight camp, leaving on their exercise before dawn the following morning.
2 Flight in their overnight camp.
A dry river bed: Max, Denis and George
A kopje en route to the Matopos
The end is in sight: the hotel to the left and the Matopos lake
The cool refreshing waters of the lake enjoyed "a la nude"!
It's interesting that Max feels he has some understanding of how long his training as a bomber pilot was likely to take, though as things turned out he was wrong by nearly a year.
Besides the bundu bashes, trainees had to study a syllabus which covered many of the aspects that Max and Toby had studied in the ATC:
anti-gas, aircraft recognition, armament, drill and physical training, engines, hygiene and sanitation, law and discipline, administration and organisation, mathematics, meteorology, navigation, principles of flight, signals.
Above, pages from Toby's notebooks. When not studying they spent time at the baths in Bulawayo or exploring the bundu.
At the end of their ITW course they had exams before progressing to their Elementary Training Flying Schools, but things didn't go too well for Toby:
At the end of the primary we had an examination and here I was due for a further disappointment, having failed in maths. This meant that I had to start all over again! Several of my pals were in the same boat, and in that next six weeks we really enjoyed ourselves, going to all the pictures every evening and out during the weekends. This time I just managed to scrape through the examinations and so passed onto the secondary course, a further six weeks of lectures and studying – not that I did much!!
Max however was successful, so the two pals parted company at this point and to my knowledge, never saw each other again.
Toby wrote: This was my first Xmas in the RAF and one of the most miserable I have spent. I stayed in bed all the time, getting up just for meals. And his diary showed his frustration: