Permission to publish by WorldWar2BurmaDiaries.com
This story is something that was made by an air force legend and will be passed on from one RAF station to another for as long as Paddy, the Earl of Bandon, is remembered. Some parts are a little bit unclear but the main gist of the story will stand out.
Paddy Bandon, as he was affectionately referred to by the 'erks, was the Air Vice Marshal, Commanding the Royal Air Force in Burma in the late stages of the war when the British were used to keep the Japanese from reinforcing their Burma front. Morale was very low when the Earl , 34th in line for the English throne, arrived on the scene and decided to do something about it.
The army supplied the staff cars, in those days, for the officers and, as per regulations, the cars were painted black. The Earl of Bandon took one look at his staff car and immediately ordered it to be painted green - Kelly Green, it was! When the army called it back for servicing they painted it black again. Needless to say the E of B had it changed back to Kelly Green forthwith. This tug of war went on for quite some time but it did wonders for the morale of the 'erks'.
Finally came the day when the car returned from servicing still painted Kelly Green but this time with all the regulation stenciling done in white and the RAF Roundel applied to each front fender just below the head lights.
Word soon got around that the army C in C had heard of this struggle and so had the C in C Far East Forces, who was Admiral Louis Mountbatten at that time. Both had a good laugh and ordered that it, his staff car, stay Kelly Green. They realized the uplifting effect that it had had on the morale of the men.
Many years later, in 1957, while I was in the RAF serving in Singapore, I heard the story straight from the horse's mouth, whilst we quaffed a pint of Tiger beer, he said: "They couldn't do anything to me. I outranked the bastards anyway!"
Editor's Note: Brian Burke was born in Nagpur, India and was educated in Poona (now 'Pune'), and at St. Mary's Anglo-Indian High School, Bombay where he graduated with a Sr. Cambridge High School certificate, along with this writer, in 1951. His family moved to the U.K. where he joined the Royal Air Force, and then to Canada whence he transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force. He left the air force as a Flying Officer for academia where he quickly earned bachelor's, master's and a doctorate degree in Education. He remained in the teaching profession for some 36 years before his much earned retirement.
Besides air shows and his beloved (and sometimes rambunctious!), dog Rover, Brian loves to travel and every spring he is sprung when the sun gets warm over his beloved Calgary glaciers and mountains, he is out seeking new scenes in Tahiti, Hawaii and all points north and south of the Equator.
Copyright 2008 by Joseph Alwyn Valu. All Rights Reserved.