Dec. 7, 1942
Briton Ferry, Wales
How are you all? Busy as bees I bet, getting ready for the big season. I sure would like to be there for a 48, but there's lots more coming.
I finally met Jim [his brother in the RCAF in England since the fall] and we had a whale of a good talk. I telegramed him from London and he was ready when I got to Bournemouth. We sat at a table at a dance all nite and only had about 2 dances but sure did a pile of talking. It sure was great to get together again. I would have had another day but he said there was no use hanging around there all the time if I had other irons in the fire (same ol' Jim) so I proceeded on to Wales, and must admit am having a real good time—not dancing either. The only drawback now is getting out of here without complications, but I think it can be arranged. I do know of worse places to stop anyway. I just had a rabbit dinner and I didn't know it was rabbit. I asked Mrs. Harding if it was fish.
I had quite an experience when I came here from Bournemouth. I changed trains at Bath and proceeded to Bristol but went to sleep on the train and when I woke up I was back in Bath again, so I had 45 min. to spend till the next train came and proceeded to look around the ruins—you know how they "bashed" in Bath one nite as a reprisal for Cologne & Essen. Well, I got lost and missed the next train so went to another station & caught one, and while waiting at Bristol I stood watching a train just pulling out and then realized it was the one I wanted so I grabbed her on the run and got into Briton Ferry about 10:30. I sure gave ‘em a surprise here when I walked in. The girls work in the factory a mile down the street from here. Milly works from 2:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. & Mary from 6:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. and next week they change around etc. Gwyneth is about 8 or 9 & she goes to school. Mr. Harding works in a forge at another iron factory and is on day shift this week, & Mrs. Harding works on a continual shift—whenever there's someone to see off to work. I guess she's just like you Mum, but she stays fat as pudding so it must agree with her. You should hear her trying to get the girls to bed so they'll be able to work the next day. Then she talks to me till all hours of the nite. I wish it was the other way around.
Austerberry & I came on leave together. I stayed with him at his Aunt's in London for a couple of days before going to see Jim. We bought a chicken and she cooked it, but it was tough as nails and it took me a long time to eat mine. Their daughter plays the accordion, so we had some music and she also took us dancing in a nearby hall. We saw Madame Tussaud's or "Madame's Torso", as Austy called it. They have all the latest figures such as Eisenhower, Hitler, Mussolini (Ill Duce too), Goebbels, Rommel, Anderson, a hundred and one other figures all in wax and you'd swear they were staring you right in the face. That was one thing Elmer & I missed—but may get another chance to see together soon.
Things are sure looking up, eh? It should go from bad to worse for the opposition now. I knew the Yanks would put some pep into the show. Wasn't that marvellous the way they whipped that road through to Alaska? I can still hardly believe its done considering we've been trying to build one thru Northern Ontario for 10 years and have only barely started.
The weather is sure warm down here. I go out with only my tunic on or up in Dyce I wear my long underwear, high neck sweater and overcoat to keep warm and hole up in 7 or 8 blankets at nite to keep warm. I can sleep anywhere now. If I were to get back in that old spring mattress again now I wouldn't sleep well. I don't sleep well here either. I have a swell bed, but Mr. Harding crowds me out a bit. If I had waited till Christmas, I would have been here when Harry was here but I tho't I'd take leave when the getting was good because you sure can't depend on our outfit for leave. I lost 7 days already. Its good for the pocket book anyway. You should see the crowds of people over here. No matter where you go, or when, there's big "queue's" for buses, trains, candy, any kind of shops, grocery's etc., etc. It sure isn't any fun travelling so I guess I'll stay put when I get back to Bonnie Scotland.
I hear from Jim that Pa is working hard as ever & happy as a king. I wish I could do as much for the war effort as you folks at home are. I haven't got the material to work with here, but we really don't seem to be doing a tap compared to the way we worked at home and now you must be working twice as hard. It's a good thing you have "Bunny" (I notice you do call her "Bunny") [Carol Newman Williamson, daughter of sister Bernice & Bun Newman] to pass the evenings. I seem to be out doing myself today but the kid's just come in from school so my time will be taken up now for the rest of the day. I never saw a kid with so much energy as this Gwyneth. She tires me out first (or bores me rigid). When she brings in the wee neighbour kid I just have to fight like mad to keep on my feet. If I toss one over my shoulder I have to toss the other one too or there's a scrap.
I'm having an awful time to teach these girls to like "jazz" instead of symphony and at that I think it's a losing battle. They can tell you the name of an opera, who wrote it, etc., etc., just after hearing a few bars.
Met a Spanish refugee gal and sure wish some like her had come to Canada. Boy o' boy, talk about your Hedy Lamarrs. Am sending this ordinary mail. I guess its just as good in the long run. Hope when you get this you've had a very merry Christmas and are probably started into a year which promises another victory for the right over the wrong. Keep up the good work Canada. I'll be seeing you soon.