Royal Naval Air Station,
December 17, 1939
Dear Mother & Dad:
I hope you received my last letter from London.
Lieut. Carson, an officer in the Royal Engineers who I met on the way back home, is a Canadian who graduated from the Royal Military College at Kingston. He has just returned from Palestine.
Some of the advance party of Canadian officers are here now and I met two who are in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
Carson took me to a club run for Canadian officers by a women's league of some sort near Canada House. They are mostly girls from colleges like McGill, etc., who are now living in London. We can obtain tea there, and they also have billiards, etc., and the place is ideal for meeting friends.
I took Lieut. Campbell - Horsfall R.N. to Canada House with me while there, and I must say that I was distinctly thrilled! - to be saluted by one of the R.C.M.P. on guard (red coat and all). Those heels clicked together like a report from a 16 inch naval gun).
Here in England one must wear uniform the whole time, which causes quite a lot of extra depreciation on one's gear.
Five of us had a grand time taking in the various shows at the Palladium and Hippodrome, etc. (A couple of days' leave.)
I came across a F?O in the Royal Australian Air Force who is in the all-Australian Flying Boat Squadron in the R.A.F. Stands 6'4" and is called tiny. He informs me that three other chaps in the squadron are much larger!
F/O Gofton, my friend from New Guinea who went to F.T.S. with me, was also with us.
Wherever we went, we had a good collection of uniforms. 3 army, 1 R.A.F., 1 R.A.A.F. and 1 R.N. - a bit of propaganda showing the good feeling in the services with one another.
We have just heard of the wonderful news about Graf Spec and our three small cruisers. To us who know something about different classes of fighting ships and armament, the successful fight was a great surprise and throws great credit on their Commodore Harwood and all officers and men.
The Royal Air Force and ourselves are doing a tremendous amount of flying. My friends in the fighting area are operating security patrols over the North Sea even to Germany day and night. This will certainly please their aggressive spirit and they can push any Nazi bombers right in the face when they make an attempt to take off.
I have, of course, picked up a cold - immediately on arrival in England. Still, the climate is much better for me. The Mediterranean is all right for a holiday but not to live in for a long period.
I hope Jean is studying French. It is very useful abroad, and laugh or not, I get on all right and found it exceedingly useful in the Near East, and although the French in Marseilles don't speak as good French as those in Alexandria, it is quite easily understood if spoken distinctly.
The French are grand people and treated us wonderfully - especially if we were flying people. They smile as if to say, "We saw you during the Great War and are proud to see you here again.
In Lyons and Marseilles I had coffee (café au lait) which turned out the finest that I have tasted since leaving home.
Flying Officer Warren and myself sat at tables outside a café in Marseilles and took it French style. Being educated in England, Warren's French was better than mine. (He had French tutors.)
I suppose you have heard about French taxi drivers - very expert and very, very fast. We both decided that they must have been ex fighter pilots of the L'Armee de l'Air Francaise. (I'll bet I have written that wrong.)
Travelling through France by train was a wonderful experience (in more ways than one!) and I must say the countryside, mountains, and valleys are beautiful.
At the end of the trip I was up $10 at poker and $2.50 at bridge. My vingt-et-un or pontoon (called Black Jack in Canada) is of still better quality.
The North Sea has been stormy - dirty blue grey - completely different from the placid blue of the Mediterranean.
I hope Max has returned those pictures. I take blessed few pictures and what I have will be nice to look at if I live through this.
Those pictures of my flight of three over Malta are particularly good. Excellent examples of formation practice carried too close! I'll send you a picture of a flying naval lieutenant in a few months or so.
Write often, and if I don't send you another address write here c/o Royal Naval Air Station, Eastleigh, Southampton Eng.
P.S. Is Ronny behaving himself?