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Date: January 3rd 1917

No 6 Reserve Squadron


My Dear Mother,

Your letter of Dec 8 enclosing draft for �2 received yesterday. Thank you very much. It is very kind and thoughtful of you indeed. When I mentioned the fur gauntlets I did not intend you to buy any, but just to send them on if there happened to be a pair lying around not in use. I fully expected to have to buy a pair. Now however I shall buy a pair with your money, and I shall be able to get a very nice pair with that. I had already bought a pair of leather ones but they are only good up to about 3000 feet. After that the hands get quite cold in leather, and for high flying fur inside is the only thing.

My chum, Capt Coates, got a beautiful fur lined Burberry coat, with a huge fur collar. It cost him about $75.00, but I got a very nice fleece-lined Burberry which is quite warm enough, when I get a fur collar for it, for very much less than that. Gradually I am getting fitted up. Next time I am in town I shall get a proper fur aviation cap. So far I have had to wear the issue helmet, which is very heavy and cold, but it is used as a protection for head in case of crashes. I think I told you how fortunate I have been. In three crashes I have not been scratched (I am touching wood) but I have messed up the machines pretty badly. However in each case I was told it was not my fault and that I did well to get out of it. So I feel quite cocky about it.

I don't think I told you much about this place when last I wrote. Perhaps it was just as well I didn't. I was feeling very miserable when I landed here and everything looked and felt very wretched to me. Now however I am feeling much better so things are looking ever so much better.

The aerodrome is very well equipped. The hangars are all up to date. The machines are rather a disappointment to me as I had hoped to get right into the real fast ones, but these are not so bad. The fastest ones will do about 92 miles, but that isn't much these days when they have them doing 120?130 miles per hour. However if I am lucky I may get into a scout squadron later on.

The mess is going to be quite nice, I think. The place is very well equipped, with the exception of bathing arrangements which are nil so far. The anteroom is very comfortable, has nice large chairs and writing tables, with a nice open fire. I don't know whether I mentioned my muscular rheumatism in the last letter or not, but if I did forget it as it is nearly all gone.

I was quite disappointed that I could not get down to Folkestone to see the Reades and Alf at Xmas. However I could not make it owing to several reasons, railway accommodation, or lack of it rather, and from fact that I had already been posted up here.

I did however spend the Xmas holiday with my friends the Newton?Jones of Finchley North West London. They are really very fine people. Mrs Jones could not have treated me better if I had been her own son. I went out on Sunday afternoon about two o'clock, and stayed until Tuesday morning. All the family were home with the exception of one boy who had been home on leave & had just returned to France. We spent Xmas in the good old fashioned way, eating turkey and all the other good things and enjoying games and music in the house. One of the boys who is a cadet in Royal Flying Corps at Oxford was home, so we had real good times together.
Sunday evening Mrs Jones and I went to church. Then later Gordon and I had to take Marjorie back to her hospital. She is a V[olunteer] A[mbulance] D[river] in the Weymouth St. Hospital where I was last spring and where I first met her and later the family. While downtown I sent off my cables. did you get yours in time alright? I hope you did. Mrs Jones asked me your address, why I don't know, unless she wants to write to you. If she does you might write and thank her for all her many kindnesses. As you say there are lots of fine English people and I seem to strike a lot of them. Had a nice letter from George a couple of days ago. He says he is a poor correspondent, but he is not half so bad as I am. I must write him soon. He is sending some cigars too which is most thoughtful of him.

Am so sorry to hear of Gertie Simpson's death. She never did look very strong, but I did not know she had been sick. I take it that death was the result of an operation of some kind, so that it was probably quite sudden. I shall write Aunt Louisa as soon as I can find time.

We are very busy here now. While not flying we have to put in hours a day on machine guns and wireless work. It will all come in handy some day, I hope, and in the meantime it is most interesting.

I hope that next Xmas I shall be able to make up to you all, what I have neglected or have not been able to do this Xmas. I think chances now are pretty good for peace by next fall and if so that will be Home for Xmas. Then we can have a good celebration to make up for last two.

I feel most optimistic now about the war. I feel that the changes in the government and navy of this country will mean great things. It is by far the greatest victory for the Allies. Much more value than any victory on land or sea so far. The English people rather than government, just woke up to the fact that there was a war on about three weeks ago, when they made those changes, Now we can hope for a speedy victory, which was quite impossible under the old regime. I say Hurrah for Lloyd George.

I hope Father is all better of his accident in the garden. It might very well have been much worse. He should let Jake Whethan do those stumps, or someone else if Jake is not available. Don't take any more chances Father.
And just a word about money. Your offer is very kind indeed, and if I need any I shall know where to apply. Up to the present I have had ample for all needs, both at home and abroad. I mean for my Winnipeg affairs and personal expenses. I think I still have a little to go on with in Winnipeg but if the war lasts too long, I shall call on you to help me out. Many thanks.

Will you give my love to Aunt Lizzie and all the Armstrong family. Also to Amelia, and thank her for the cookies which were so good. Also love to Aunt Maggie Uncle Wm. and the Addisons, the Woods and Taskers, Giles and all the rest. And most important, much love for Father, Emily and own dear self.

Loving son

Kindest regards and best wishes for Miss Smith
W. H. G.

Original Scans

Original Scans