Bio / Text:
Served in 81 Sqn during August 1943. Also 152 (Hyderabad) Sqn.
Movements of 91 squadron show as Malta Jun 1943, Italy, India Nov 1943, Ceylon util 20-Jun 1945 which fits with my recollections. Monty is mentioned on http://www.152hyderabad.co.uk/ in Double Moorings (Chittagong) Feb-Mar 1944 and Imphal (India/Burma border) Jul-Sep 1944.
152 squadron took as its badge the head-dress of the Nizam of Hyderabad with whom my Mother had family connections when she was brought up in India - my parents hadn't met at that time. My parents moved to Suffolk, in mid 1950's, just down the road from Wattisham where Monty was made an honorary member of the mess;152 were based there around that time. Small world.
Sadly logbook of my father, Monty Baker-Munton, was stolen, so all I have are the stories that he told that I can remember - accuracy uncertain, and may have gained with the telling. Googling has found some data:
06/04/1942 Lysander W6939 Unit=1AAS over the coast
This aircraft was slightly damaged when it collided in flight with Wellington L7784 whilst on a target-towing sortie at 1130hrs. Pilot Sgt M Baker-Munton was unhurt.
I remember my Father telling me of a Polish pilot towing a drogue for artillery practice. The first round went off in front of the aircraft and the pilot came over the R/T "What you think I do with this drogue? You think I pull him, or I push him?". Maybe a similar time period. 1AAS was at RAF Manby Aug 1938-1940 "The role of 1AAS was to train Armament Officers, Air Gunners and Air bombers in bombing and gunnery, using the coastal ranges of Lincolnshire and Norfolk"
He was stationed in North Africa in support of Malta. I have a poem he wrote with reference to Sicily, from a similar time interval.
He was also stationed in Burma. Only stories from there were that when the base was overrun by Japanese during the night they got airborne, milled around for a bit whilst the Gurkhas sorted out the problem, and then landed again. Even as a slim young man I could not do up his khaki shorts from that period.
He wound up in Ceylon where he met my Mother - although not married until 1955. My understanding is that my Father was PA to Air Vice Marshal Sir Cecil "Boy" Bouchier (not sure of his rank at that time), so possible that my Father was with him at the time he took the Japanese surrender in Burma.
My mother (PA to Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick "Boy" Browning [1st Airborne Division, Market Garden / Arnhem]) was present at the Japanese surrender in Singapore; not sure at what time my Father returned from Asia, but Mother cadged a lift back to UK on Mountbatten's plane! In the 60's my Father had business in Japan, and I spent two years there in early '70s, which provided a chance for my father to meet "Boy" Bouchier again (Boy had made his life in Japan after the war). Boy and his wife Dorothy were very kind to me during that time.
Of North Africa: Instructed to take off South, to minimise chance of encounter at the extreme range of Messerschmidt whilst climbing to altitude, before then turning North towards Malta (and Sicily maybe). On one occasion plane failed, Father ditched in the dunes, grabbed the fuel can to soak aircraft. Before lighting it seeing Bedouin Arabs on camels coming over the dunes he feared the worst and realised his revolver was still in the plane, now covered in petrol. His worst fears allayed when they turned out to be SAS recovery team!
On one of the squadrons a new pilot arrived, older than the rest (8 years older than my Father), to which the youngsters took umbrage assuming he was far too old to be any use! ... between sorties he was scribbling away in a notebook; on being asked what it was about he said "There is a prize for the best novel by someone in the forces, and I've having a go". A Google turned up this:
To commemorate their centenary in 1943, Macmillan & Co. offered to men in the Forces awards of £,500, in addition to the usual royalties, for the best novel ... received by 31 December 1944 ... additional award of £??? each was made to Flying Officer Dobson for China Cycle, an account of his adventures as a tobacco salesman in China ... I can't find his Service No. but he later wound up as chairman of British American Tobacco. (Sir Richard Portland Dobson)
Many of my Fathers poems from that period are dark; some slant at a fallen comrade, others appear to be eulogies dedicated to a loved one left behind.
Your long low languorous lines, sheer loveliness,
Your angles curved and graced with stately comeliness,
Aristocratic, ardent and amorous,
Yet faithful, yet youthful, yet glamorous,
Form beautiful, incredible, all-loveliness,
Hides Hercules’ strength, hides your toughened might,
Sinews that slacken and grow strained then tight,
Standing huge forces and carrying great weight,
Hitting out hard and, quite heedless of hate,
Accepting the blows of the foes that you fight,
You are gentle and loyal, well-mannered and true,
Courteous and vice-less, and up there in the blue
I watch you my beauty, and fill with desire
For my kingdom the Heavens, my throne, you, Spitfire.
and my favourite, which I have always assumed was in memoriam of a commanding officer and related to Sicily
TO A FLIGHT COMMANDER
Italian peasants work the soft brown earth,
Oxen, no horses, pull the steadying plough,
And foreign mountains, gazing ‘cross the firth,
Keep sentry’s watch beneath the gum trees’ bough.
But foreign ‘scapes are here of little worth,
The feet of God were walking here just now
And, as the footsteps died o’er yonder brow,
The fields grew green, and England here gave birth.
For here there lies a leader, friend, and knight
Who, skilful, with us rode the hostile sky,
Four times he gained distinction in the fight.
- His rich warm life with us will never die,
And, resting here, it seems the sun shines light
Of glory lion-gold to passers by.