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Thread: Agla

  1. #1
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    Default Agla

    I have been meaning to research this matter for some while, but never got round to it, but lockdown has given me the opportunity to spend time on it.

    The following is an article from “THE MARKER”, written by Group Captain “Dixie” Dean (January 1950)

    _____

    AGLA

    First thing to do is admit that I haven’t got a clue what Agla means. For many years now I have always evaded giving a direct answer to the question by a knowing wink and an air of profound mystery but now I have to put on record that the result of a long investigation has proved that not only do I not know, but neither does anyone else! I feel that I can acknowledge this shortcoming because a recent enquiry was submitted to the Daily Telegraph information service by the Pathfinder Association and no trace of its origin was known.

    Agla means a lot to the older members of 35 Squadron. It was a fact that no crew went on operations without Agla. Agla was everywhere. Agla was the magic word for any and every crew. Agla always went. The method was simple, Agla was just chalked on the sleeve of the battle dress, or the front of the Mae West. It had to be freshly chalked for each operation and whilst the crews were hanging about waiting for crew buses, lots of pieces of chalk would be passed around, as the aircrew busily agla’d each other.

    It didn’t stop there, for Agla could be seen written on the fuselage of every 35 Squadron aircraft, just under the tail plane

    It all began about the time the Squadron moved to Graveley in the latter half of 1942. The Squadron was equipped with aircraft paid for out of funds collected by the ruler and citizens of Madras, and was, of course, known as The Madras Presidency Squadron. One day, the Potentate paid us an official visit, during which he is reputed to have said " To you I say Agla,' which means “God be with you." Mind you. I never met anyone who actually heard him say this, but it was generally accepted as the origin.

    Now, I was quite satisfied myself. It seemed to work too, certainly as far as I am concerned, but a little while ago I was browsing through a magazine which was featuring a story on witchcraft, illustrated by several old prints depicting unpleasant-minded people raising merry hell for their neighbours by devious means. One especially nasty looking character had had a particularly successful evening, judging by the varied assortment of demons surrounding him. His method was to draw a circle in the sandy soil by means of a stick, and, dividing up the circle, he proceeded to draw all sorts of strange signs and devices. I took a closer look and, prominent in the design, there it was — Agla

    That is why I have written this. That is why I must find out more about Agla. I do hope somebody can clear the whole thing up. The mail will, I trust, produce a letter with the real meaning. Let's hope it is not signed by Old Nick himself !

    _____

    I understand that Agla was used by the squadron (confirmed by one of the veteran pilots) but I was wondering if anyone can help with whether it was a translation of "God be with you" and, now to really clutch at straws .... does anyone ever recall seeing a photograph of an airman or an aircraft with the Agla chalk marks.

    ........ not really expecting much back on the matter, but thought some of you might be interested in the subject

    Regards

    PeteT
    Last edited by PeteT; 3rd July 2020 at 15:33.
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Agla

    Is this too obvious?

    Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai
    ,"You, O Lord, are mighty forever."

    Cheers , Mike

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Agla

    Mike

    Thanks for the feedback ..... it is one of the "possibles" that Google has thrown up; however, my thinking would be that the person referred to in the article would be more familiar with Indian language(s) and therefore would not be quoting a Jewish phrase ........ but you never know (and we probably will never know for sure)
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Agla

    In Hindi one of the definitions of AGLA is Forward or Advance. However, in Urdu (which at the time of the Raj was one of the two official languages taught to Indian Army officers) is Forthcoming. Both could be part of a longer phrase appropriate for a military situation but lost to time. Hence, one is left with AGLA is the sole word of a talismanic phrase. No more or less logical than a rabbits foot.

    A
    RAF Armoured Car Companies 1920-45 http://www.rafacciraq.com/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Agla

    Amrit

    Thanks for the feedback; much appreciated
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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