for our inexperience. We were a highly spirited bunch of youngsters and were constantly in the “poo”, or “dwang” as we called it, for some reason or other but the Sqn spirit was second- to-none. The other two Hunter Sqns tended to look down on us from their lofty perch of experience but our results in all facets of flying were of a very high order thanks to the wit and wisdom of our leaders.
The JPs ran a “Dwang Ladder” and if you had behaved your ‘effigy’ had its head above the dwang but if in trouble it sunk lower and lower and if in real trouble you were represented upside-down. Being a South African I just took being upside-down as a natural state of affairs for am antipodean! It was only when another antipodean came onto the Sqn that I realised the error of my ways. Visitors had usually heard of the ladder and would come in and refer to it before joining in the conversation. The Boss and Flt Cdrs would refer to it at times as well – I presume to check its accuracy! On one occasion I sent the Wing Commander Tactical Wing home from the range having twice transgressed the minimum firing ranges: on my return to the squadron I expected the worst. However, the Executives were very supportive but the dwang ladder had my effigy hanging upside down 6 inches below the bottom of the chart!
The operating conditions in the Middle East were tough: the temperatures in anything other than the cool season were very hot and humid. Most of us changed their flying suits for a clean one at least twice a week and even then, they became very uncomfortable. You drank copious amounts of water and as your time went on the amount of salt, you added to that water increased markedly. The standby pair never sat in the cockpit during readiness – the cockpits were just too hot to touch. Consequently you were allowed 10 minutes even on ordinary sorties prior to engine start and taxi. One of the Recce Flt’s pilots persisted in rolling his sleeves up between sorties and on one hurried start up, having omitted to roll his sleeves down, received severe burns on his fore arms from the cockpit sides. The desert sand got into everything and the outer surfaces of the aircraft were sand blasted to such an extent that for all we used temperate camouflage the sand blasting ensured that all the aircraft were well disguised. The canopies needed frequent changes if we were to see anything outside! In December 208 was detached to Embakasi for Kenyan Independence and that completed the full house because the Sqn had flown the independence celebrations for the three ex British colonies: Kenya (13), Tanganyika and Uganda!