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Date: November 19th 1917
Charles Gordon Shaw

3rd Canadian Reserve Battalion, West Sandling, Kent

Nov. 19th, 1917

Dear Mother:

I received your letter of Oct. 15th about four days ago and the splendid box you sent me day before yesterday, and was delighted to get both. The fudge was wonderful and it kept perfectly. The biscuits, chocolate, maple sugar, etc. were splendid and in fine condition and Mac (the fellow I room with) and I are enjoying it all very much.

By the way I just moved into the room with Mac a few days ago. The fellow who was with him went away, so I lost no time getting in because it is a much better room than the one I was in. Most of the rooms here have 3 beds in them, but this one is a little smaller than the others and only has two beds. We have a nice dresser, a writing table and reading lamp, a couple of nice big wicker chairs, a wash stand and our trunks as well as a good rug on the floor. So we are well satisfied with the room and think we are a bit lucky in having such a nice one.

You asked me to let you know if I receive all your letters. With the possible exception of about two I think I have received them all.

You must have been working very hard doing all that varnishing and house cleaning as well as getting the garden fixed up for the winter. You must be careful and not overdo it.

I was awfully glad to hear about Ralph writing and saying that he was so comfortable there. I am sure he will get better quickly.

I had a very busy but pleasant time last week. I was training drafts for their final practice on the range before leaving. As it was a mock attack with live amunition I had to be very careful to prevent accidents. We had a doctor and a couple of stretcher bearers with us all the time but happily didn't need them.

Now I'm going to tell you about my really great experience. I have always wanted to know what this old globe looked like from the bird's point of view and although I have tried several times it was only last Thursday that I was able to realize my desire.

Mac and I went over to the aerodrome in the afternoon and were looking for Capt. Buck at the orderly room, when an orderly came running up to us and said we were just in time for a flight.

Believe me we didn't waste any time getting over to the lawn where the machines were parked in large numbers. We saw Cap Buck in one of the machines and he smiled and yelled something to us but the engine was making such a roar that we could not hear what he said. Presently he waved the mechanics clear of the machine and they pulled the props from under the wheels and away he went.

We waited till he came down and he said that there would be a machine going up in a few minutes. Mac went up in this machine as there is only room for one beside the pilot. Not long after Mac came down Cap Buck waved me over to a certain machine. I walked quickly over and as I was climbing into the observer's seat I noticed two Staff Colonels hurrying towards the machine. One of them called out "Capt Buck, here is a passenger for you" but the reply was "very well, there will be another machine going up in a few minutes." I winked at Mac and we enjoyed slipping one over the Staff.

The "Brasshats" (as the staff are called) never took their eyes off the machine an instant and I don't think they liked having to wait, but we enjoyed it.

Capt. Buck called the mechanics over and they cranked the engine by pulling the propeller down. After the engine had been raced for about 10 minutes so as to warm it up as it was a new machine and had never been up before, Cap Buck waved the mechanics clear. The mechanic holding down the tail ducked under the wire, and the one on either side of the wings pulled the props from under the wheels and gave the machine a push to get it under ay. We sped over the ground gaining speed quickly, till we were going at a terrific rate. When we had gone about 150 yds we began to rise, but so gently did we leave the ground that although I was watching closely I could not discern the exact moment we left it. The machine banked steeply and began to climb very rapidly. When we had reached 4000 ft we stopped climbing and sailed along on an even keel and I was able to get a splendid view of everything.

It is wonderful and we seem to be going very slowly now, as we are farther away from all stationary objects, although in reality we are going well over 100 miles per hour.

Capt. Buck looked over his shoulder smiling and mothioned to me to look down. I saw a beautiful old rambling castle with its wals and turrets in a state of decay. It was late in the afternoon and I looked to the other side and saw the sun sinking into the inky sea and making the clouds take on a beautiful crimson tint.

The gree fields and woods formed a striking contrast to the sea picture. The thing was wonderful, the colours and tints blended so perfectly that it was beyond description.

(Marginal note: drawing of aircraft and "The circle is also on the top & bottom of the machine. Tis circle is the mark on all allied machines. The German machines have a cross.")

It resembled an exquisite tapestry curtain slowly unwinding before us.

The canal looked like a silver thread stretching away into the distance. A train looked like a plaything. We passed over a village and the people looked like little specks. The machine banked steeply again, (so steep that I could look straight down the wing at the earth) and turned back toward the aerodrome. When we got near, the machine begain to descend with a long sweeping dive and an instant later we barely missed the top of one of the buildings and landed on the grasy lawn beside the aerodrome. But there was no bump, so gently did we land that I could not tell the exact moment we hit the earth.
As we neared the earth and stationary objects came closer we appeared to be going at a terrific speed although in reality the speed had not changed at all. The machine now slowed down and Capt. Buck brought it to a standstill exactly where started from.

Capt. Buck invited us to come again and we thanked him and started home great pleased with the afternoon's fun.

To fly very long you really need to be dressed properly for it, as it is very cold work, and the wind from the propeller is so great that unless you have a proper hat to protect your ears it is very hard on them. Then you need goggles, for without them when the machine banks you cant look out the front at all.

I always imagined I would like flying but it greatly exceeded my expectations and is simply splendid. The sensation is great. About the only time you feel a bit funny is when the machine banks steeply and you look down and see nothing under you but the ground. But you don't mind, you have a feeling that you can't fall out.

Well yesterday was Sunday and right after church parade I was detailed to act as escort to an officer who is awaiting Court Martial. I didn't like the job but it didn't last long. I was relieved at noon today as our Company Commander went on leave and left me in charge of the company. So for the time being I am acting major.

Well Mother I think I have given you all the news for this time. I wish they would send me to France, I've been in this country quite awhiel now. I would like to write oftener but I really don't seem to get the time. I try to write to you and Mabel each once a week.

I hope Papa, Winnie and the children are all well, & I shall write Papa in a day or so.

Good-bye for this time Mother.

Your loving son

Gordon Shaw.

P.S. When you get this you will be busy getting ready for Christmas.