In this entertaining autobiographical account, Humphrey Wynn, well known in aviation circles as the author of many authoritative books on aviation history and numerous articles in leading aviation magazines, recalls his own airborne experiences in World War 2 as a pilot in the UK, Europe, India and Africa, including a stint on the West African Reinforcement Route (also known as the Takoradi route) ferrying aircraft to be flown by the front-line squadrons of the Middle East Air Force against the enemy in the Western Desert and the Mediterranean.
The route stretched from Takoradi on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) via a string of staging posts to Cairo in Egypt – a distance of some 3,700 miles – and had been set up to enable the delivery of aircraft to the front line squadrons without enemy interference, the alternative of doing so via the Mediterranean being extremely hazardous. Disassembled aircraft were delivered in crates by sea to the docks at Takoradi, where they were reassembled, flight tested and flown across the African continent.
“We landed smoothly on the Nile in the centre of Cairo, rocking gently to a noiseless rest, with white-sailed dhows and palm trees reminding us where we were as the BOAC launch came out to take Clifton’s passengers ashore. As RAF personnel of an undistinguished vintage, we were hurried off to transit accommodation. At least somebody in the Middle East Air Force knew we were coming. Or did they? Perhaps the signal from Takoradi had not yet arrived. Only the morning would tell us where we were going and what we were going to do – presumably get in some flying practice and increase our hours before doing our first trip up the Takoradi Route."
It was 3rd November 1941 and we were about to be taken on the strength of MEAF – the Middle East Air Force – a vast Command stretching from West to North Africa and eastwards through Palestine and across the barren landscape of Iraq – territory with which we were to become familiar over the next three years.”
The Author’s subsequent adventures in India and Europe make up the remainder of this enjoyable and well-observed narrative.