On May 15th 1945, and, after many months of operational flying in Burma, XI Squadron was stood down and received orders to fly all serviceable Hurricanes to Chettinad in Southern India. Ground crews and remaining
pilots were to follow by other means. It was assumed by one and all, that after the rigors of the jungle, that meant, well deserved R. and R. for everyone.

Twelve aircraft made the flight down to Chettinad, refuelling at several
stops on the way and finally arriving at out destination on May 21st.
Within a very short while, we were advised that the reason for out
withdrawal from Burma was that we were scheduled to convert to Spitfire
XIV's and to train for 'Operation Zipper', the planned invasion of
Malaya. A quick look at the map, had us wondering how the hell we were
going to get to Malaya. We were quickly enlightened that we would be
taking off from an Aircraft Carrier somewhere in the Straits of Malacca
and landing at a Japanese airstrip, hopefully captured by our troops and
then in close support of the invading forces. Not everyone was happy to
hear that and one disgruntled pilot, who shall be nameless, was heard to
remark "If we wanted to fly off a f***ing boat, we would have joined the
f***ing Navy". Still, ours not reason why etc etc..

Ground crews finally caught up with us and the conversion to Spitfire
XIV's got under way, though we were sorry to see the last of our old
Hurricanes. The first priority after familiarization was to start to
learn the rudiments of deck take-offs. At our initial briefing, we were
advised that the Carrier we would be taking off from, was 400 feet long,
which again brought words off disbelief. Our first attempts did nothing
to bolster our confidence. A white line had to be painted 400 feet from
the end of the runway and we were supposed to be airborne by the time we
crossed that line. Our best attempts were well over the 400 feet, but,
we were told, that wind speed, combined with the speed of the Carrier
would help considerably. Still not convinced, we sort other ways of
gaining extra lift. We knew that of we could select our flaps at 20
degrees, that would give us extra lift, but, like most fighter aircraft,
it was full flaps or no flaps. It was left to the ingenuity of one of
the groundcrew to come up with the solution, small wood chocks were cut
at a 20 degree angle. The pilot selected the flaps down and with members
of the groundcrew holding the chocks in place, one under each wing,
flaps were selected up and 'hey presto' 20 degree of flap. Once the
aircraft was well airborne, the chocks would be discarded by selecting
down. We now became more confident that we had reasonable chance of
making a successful take off. At the beginning of August 1045 the
Squadron moved to Madura, and, joined by 17 Squadron, we began our
training in earnest for the proposed invasion of Malaya.