In 1918 my Great-Grandfather Charles Harold Jowett joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and was sent out to Italy from his home in Nottingham.
He kept a diary during this time which I’m lucky enough to have, so I thought I’d share a few extracts;
Jan 28 1918
Called out for draft at Aldershot, received pay (30s) & pay books, left Farnbro’ 12.50 arrived Southampton about 3 sailed on troopship 4.30 en route for Italy arrived off Le Havre 5 o’clock it was morning Jan 29th waiting for daylight a splendid passage asleep most of the time full moon a beautifull picture on the water escort of 2 destroyers rations for the day served out on board, bully beef & biscuits.
Landed midday Jan 29 & had a 5 or 6 miles walk with full kit uphill nearly all the way, absolutely fagged out very little sleep for cold.
Travelling all night up before the sun to enjoy the sights saw the sun rise over the sea a sight I shall never forget one big ball of fire with the reflection in the water like gold passed through Monaco, Monte Carlo Manton & San Remo where we had a fine reception, mandarins mangos & flowers were showered on us the sea and landscapes were magnificent we were to enraptured to have breakfast some fine buildings & churches had a wash & shave just over the Italian frontier.
Fri Mar 8
No rain but plenty of wind, getting used to it. Saw an Italian funeral which takes place at dusk a curious affair women leading, then the corpse, surrounded by priests, followed by the men both women & men carrying lighted candles naturally giving a weird & creepy look to the procession.
Fri June 7th
Inspection of an English Division on on aerodrome by King of Italy
Tues June 11th
No flying rain all day
(Sun June 9th Lt Comm’dr Captn Lowe, crashed on return from flight, pilot & observer injured one machine missing & one damaged by machine gun fire)
Thur July 11th
Bad weather, but machines sent out, one crashed, sent to fetch it in along with 4 other men & an officer at 9 O.C at night, travelled as far as Padova arriving about 1.50 A.M. lightening incessant, a very heavy storm soon after turning in.
Charles was sent home from Italy towards the end of July, as his daughter Irene, my grandmother, was very ill.
I’ve yet to research the background of his time in Italy & what the RFC’s role was there. I’ve bought a copy of this book Offensive Patrol: The Story of the R.N.A.S., R.F.C.and R.A.F.in Italy, 1917-18 which will hopefully shed some light on it.