Being an Officer in the Royal Air Force entitled me to the services of a personal man servant or batman. The better class native was employed in such service, and I was indeed fortunate in the one I had allotted to me. His name was Kalile. He was about my age or a year or two younger. He had three wives and several children, and owned a small piece of land along the Nile river not far from the Pyramids. He could understand a little English. Together with his English and my "Gyppo" we managed to convey our meanings.
He was absolutely aghast at the information that I didn't have even one wife or any land. For the sum of three Piastres (15 cents) a day he did all the cleaning of my quarters and acted as valet, keeping my clothes clean and in press. Along with this he was just outside my door when I was in Quarters and would fetch tea and refreshments from the Mess whenever needed. Just by clapping my hands together quite loudly I could summon this person to wait upon me. This was indeed luxury to a person who had always blacked his own shoes.
One of my most vivid recollections of eastern luxury was the Mess Dinner we had upon the occasion of a visit from General Allenby (probably December 23rd, see Diary182) and his Staff. We went overboard on this one, rented silver and dishes from a Hotel in Cairo and hired a French Chef for the occasion. Dinner included Roast Quail no less, and consisted of some twelve courses. Between toasts and courses served, we kept a flock of hired waiters busy half the night. It must have been a wonderful party, my share of the costs on my Mess bill ran into two figures in Egyptian pounds. We had everything except dusky maidens dancing behind their shimmering veils and sheer pantaloons. This we couldn't buy.
All the while the war was raging in France and the Middle East. News would reach us of former friends and acquaintances who had made the supreme sacrifice. We would drink a silent toast to their memory in the Mess, and recall our association and experiences with them. I am sure that each and everyone of us present on these occasions felt guilty in some way, by reason of our "plush" assignment to School Flying. We would have no doubt had the opportunity to do our bit on Active Service, had the war lasted long enough.
After the cessation of hostilities, we put through two six-week courses at our school before disbanding. I, as a Canadian in the R.A.F. was sent back to England to a Repatriation Camp at Salisbury Plain. From there I went on indefinite leave awaiting assignment to a Draft bound for Canada. This transpired in about three months, the interval being filled with travelling and sightseeing. This was all at my own expense, so it was rather hard on my pay balance at Cox's.
I arrived back in Winnipeg on May 19th, 1919 just a little over two years from my embarkation overseas. I did not dream at that time how the experience gained in these two short years would influence the rest of my life.