England, May 30, 1942
Received your letter mum, and it sure came surprisingly quick. It was 21 days from the date of mailing until I had it. I got 4 all in one day, including one from George saying he was fixing me up with my $35.00. Therefore, having heard all is well over "home" and over here being the same, I'm in a first rate mood. I haven't been seeing much more country since I had wrote because we are limited to 5 miles radius without a pass—as if it meant anything to us anyway—but transportation is only by bicycle at a shilling & six for 3 hours if you can get a bike. However, after my leave, which is Monday till the following Monday, I hope to have one, as a "friend" is also on leave and is bringing her bike back after for me so I'll get around then. I think there are some fine views around here which I have not yet reached.
So Elmer is coming here from Camp Shilo. Well I'll be able to tell him where I am as soon as he is in England, but not until then. I shall probably be posted out to a squadron soon after I return. I won't know the first thing about aircraft if I don't get out soon. However, I know how to shine shoes, so I'll always have a trade. I would make Elmer a good batboy now. The old Spitfires are roaring by the windows all the time and seem to give you a great security. The weather is not as good this week—rains just when we want to leave to go out at night usually and we had to hand in our raincoats at Aylmer, and we need them more than our great coats. The order came through to keep them just after we left. We get bloomin' ground sheets instead—darn it. Well, I had a slight misfortune last nite. I went to a dance with "Turk" my chum and we hid our gas masks behind a screen and someone traded their old one for my new one. And the odd part of it was, I had my bag stuffed with paper & my camera & he got it and I got his respirator; so now I have two respirators & no camera & he has no respirator & a camera. He'll likely swipe another somewhere. I got his name off the one he left, but being a soldier I doubt if I can trace him. It was deliberate because my hat was tied to the bag when I left it & he had to undo it because my hat was still there. I hope he sweats in Hell for that—or that I can find him. I'll sure do my best. Now I have films & no camera.
We (Harry & I) are all set to go to Wales. We have our groceries packed & intend to stay at Mrs. Barker's over nite if she can handle us. I wrote her last nite. Got no reply from Bun [his sister Bernice's husband] or Razz [Barber] yet but likely will soon. We get travel warrants over here and it costs us nothing, also ration cards to give to the lady of the house where we stay so we really get looked after. The meals are still O.K.—had two helpings of pudding today (with a little flattery it's easy) and am full for the first time since I left Canada. The pudding (cake & sauce) is really their specialty over here.
My birthday arrived safely with all my chocolate bars, soap, shirts, butter, ham, etc. Not a thing was stolen and many of the fellows had a lot of things taken, even to uniforms. Our laundry is done free also, so what money we get is really clear—or a day or two. This spare time & in a town eats it up. I have 8 lbs. (£) to go on leave with. We even get a lb. subsistence allowance while on it so we'll present it along with the ration card to our hostess.
I have a place to get my shirts ironed so if I have any extra that I wash myself, I can have them pressed. There are numerous service clubs throughout the town where we can go to read, write or just sit & think. I usually read the papers there and right now they are quite interesting. They really print very unprejudiced reports over here. The papers are small but good reading right to the back cover with no room for ads or comics. They sure are backing Russia & well they should. I think when our air offensive really gets going, as it will in a month or two, Germany will begin to wonder, but not for long, they'll know for sure. They don't visit us very often now. I think they are frightened. Turk and I still have our 2 sergeant room mates and get alone fine. We have some interesting arguments but they never go very far. Of course, we don't let them put any fast stuff over on us—why should we. If they tell us something they don't like about Canadians, we always have the come back that they washed out as air crew in Canada so are not too smart either. The class distinction is what we really punch ‘em on over here, and the boys really go over with the girls on that account too. They like our freedom from convention & custom or whatever you call it. They are becoming jitterbugs by the dozens, so much to the disgust of the older people, but they'll gradually wake up too. The people sure are swell just the same.
Was in the gas chamber this week so really got to trust my old respirator. When we took ‘em off in the chamber we really "cried" as it were. The water just rolled out of our eyes so we got out fast. I am going to send this air mail so cramped it, but surely someone can make it out. They make 2 trips a week over with mail & passengers so mail should go very quickly.
Glad you got the work cleaned up without too much trouble. I guess Ed [his kid brother] will be through school and will be right into the hay & mangels, etc.—say, how about sending me a couple of pocket combs. They are scarce as hen's teeth. I'll be using a garden rake soon. Outside of that I'm pretty well set. Tell Jim when he comes to bring chocolate, sugar, shoe laces, combs (a mirror too). The amount you bring is not limited either so he can fill half a dozen kit bags if he wants to.
Best of luck. I'll be seein' you.