An Erk’s Progress: The Memoirs of W.A. Hamilton

W.A. Hamilton (Corporal in the R.A.F.)

Bill Hamilton, my maternal grandfather, wrote his memoirs during the 1970s and early 1980s.

As far as I’m aware he only ever intended “An Erk’s Progress” to be read by family members and close friends. However, as a historical source, the recollections of his years of service as a wireless operator with the Royal Air Force before and throughout the Second World War, and of his childhood in Scotland, may be interesting and useful to a wider audience.

The original manuscript, consisting of around 48,000 words across ten chapters, was first transcribed by my parents. I’ve since re-transcribed and edited a hard copy of that version. The first eight chapters are presented here, covering the period up to the author’s demobilisation in 1946.

The vocabulary used, and the attitudes represented, in “An Erk’s Progress” include many examples of what can now be recognised as cultural naivety, gender and colonial stereotyping, and casual racism.

Despite having read “An Erk’s Progress” several times in the past, it wasn’t until revisiting it in 2024 that I realised the extent to which my grandfather’s travels echoed those of Charles Agnew and the 16th Lancers 75 years earlier.



  1. Early Days
  2. I Join The R.A.F.
  3. A Passage To India
  4. 20 Squadron
  5. The North West Frontier
  6. Bangalore
  7. Blighty… And Romance
  8. Iceland… And Home Again



Comments are closed.

ThreesWrite in your Inbox

See the next #ThreeGoodQuestions historical research example, updates about Avarice of Empire, and my latest blogs before they’re published on the website. The ThreesWrite Newsletter is free, and you’ll never get more than one email per month.