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Date: February 13th 1939


February 13, 1939

Dear Mother:

Haven't heard from home for some time now, but expect a lot of letters next Monday when Glorious returns from Egypt.

We embark (fly on) on the 20th and leave on the 23rd for Gibraltar and the combined fleet manoeuvres. Expect to be back in Malta on or about the 23rd of March. Then Glorious leaves for Gulf Juan on the south of France, where she stays for eight days. (This is known as one real holiday!).

My new Flight Commander Lieutenant Marmont R.N. arrived, and Campbell, Horsfall and self flew in formation with him for the first time today. He has just had two and-a-half months' foreign service leave after serving in the aircraft carrier Eagle in China. He must be the right type, as he said after he got down, "I didn't think we have better do a formation loop, as I haven't flown for a couple of months."

Met a Canadian who was on the same team as Marshall of Calgary. Says the boys checked up on Marshall's line shooting and found he had never been in the air force before. Evidently he took a long holiday on his father. Said he had done 2,000 hours as a test pilot and then took longer than any of them to learn to fly.

Also said that Mr. Marshall used to be a millionaire, but in 1929 lost everything. It broke his heart when he had to sell his polo ponies. Can you imagine "the Guy." I hear he is now engaged to be married. (What a type!!). Incidentally, he has only been out of flying training school a few months.

I am night flying tonight - night formation and then individual aerobatics - rendezvous over Valletta and then a squadron quick landing. Weather couldn't be nicer here - loads of sunshine and swimming. I think I'll turn into a beachcomber - this is luxury. I feel a terrible hog grabbing all this paradise. In fact I could die out here under a palm tree and just looking at the blue Mediterranean. Most of the time it's as flat and calm as Lake Louise (and a whole lot warmer!).

We are below the north coast of Africa, i.e. on the east side of the northern tip and get wonderfully warm winds.

The Mediterranean Fleet is, of course, the cushy one. The Home Fleet is always operating in fog, cold, and rain with rough seas. I should hate to serve in her, but I probably will have to later on.

How is Ronny these days? Jean will have to start work soon to pass all her exams. The first two years are really the hardest.

This country of Malta is the most densely populated in the world. The whole island is like a big city. The Maltese are always smiling. They seem to have a monopoly on the happiness in the world. The Vatican flag (yellow and white) is flying everywhere, owing to the death of Pope Pius.

Well, write soon and give my love to the family.