Sept. 28th, 1943
Dearest Mom and Dad,
Your lovely parcel arrived today and I was thrilled to get it! The lighter is so much better than anything I had imagined, I have never seen one like it before in fact, I like it so much that I am seriously considering getting Mary one for her 21st birthday and taking it back with me. It was her birthday on 6th of September and she never told me till just a week ago. She evidently had a marvelous birthday party and hundreds of presents. Just the same, I would like to get her a present, a case and lighter like mine would certainly be the thing. I'll have to start saving some money for it. The watch you sent me is swell too, just exactly what I wanted. It has a 24 hr. face and the seconds are numbered, just exactly what I needed. Thanks a million times for it, and for the case. My initials are engraved in gold on it and it's a lovely velvet case. The watch was in a jeweler's display box - looked most attractive, I almost hated to put it on.
Well, I think I have found the person you referred to in your letter although I must say, you were very vague about the whole thing. So far as I can figure out, it must be Mrs. Minnion. Minnion used to work in the bank at Cloverdale in 1938 - 39 and I've probably seen him hundreds of times before, but certainly didn't recognize him. He used to play badminton at the ‘Blue Moon' and knows all the kids I know. His wife was Grace Kellway who used to live on the Mud Bay Road. She is a very nice girl I have seen once at the local dances, but have never spoken to her. I must do so next time I see her. Probably Minnion will introduce me anyway, so I won't feel too much like a buttinsky. Minnion is our ‘gem'man - the smartest man we have on the course, but you'd never know it to look at him. He's immensely quick on the uptake and grasps everything the minute it is given to him.
The watch came just in time because today we got our sextants. We have to plot and observe 300 star and sun readings while we are here - and we must work to seconds. So you can see how important an accurate watch is. We work in ‘Greenwich Time' all the time which is 3 hours faster than here so we really need 2 watches, one for Navigation and one for ourselves. I will have 2 pretty soon, they are going to issue us with Navigation watches after all.
I was very sorry to hear about Burt's accident and hope he has fully recovered by now. It must have been very painful.
Well, winter is just around the corner here it seems. It was very cold today and some of the boys say the temperature was 0 C. at 6000 ft. this afternoon. We are using the old ‘Mark 1 Ansons' here with no facilities for taking Astro shots from inside. You have to open the window and stick your head out into the slipstream. You can imagine what that is like in the middle of winter! It gets to be 20 and 30 below here too....brrrr! I hope we get new planes before then. I saw my first bender working today. It almost made me feel homesick. The leaves have all turned red and yellow and the bush country looks very lovely from in the midst of the surrounding evergreens, like blood on a green cloth. The lakes are like tiny jewels, sapphires set in jade and rubies and the rivers and inlets are the silver ribbons used to wind the box. It's surprising how Much you can see from the air and yet how Little you see too. Everything is thrown out of focus because there is no depth to it. A house is a square blotch with no walls to it. Your mind imagines them there because it knows they are there, but you don't see them.
We have a new Sergeant Major in the station now and he's doing his best to make the place a worse hell-hole than it already is. It is bad enough being set out here in the wilds - miles away from anywhere with no chance to get anywhere for twenty weeks (because that is what it amounts to) without our life here in camp made a misery for us. But this new iron man is the type that delights in strict iron handed discipline. Discipline is the very breath of life to him, and he roars and rants like a ravaging beast at the tiniest deviation from his own strict code. He's a great hulk of a man, built like a barrel with a cruel sharp hawk-like face, and is seemingly all voice from his neck up. And his opening speech to us was a typical sergeant major's vocabulary, from "You play ball with me and I'll play ball with you" to "If you have any difficulties, just step into my office and I'll be glad to settle them for you," the first in a tone of thunder with great flashes of lightening and dinning of swords, the second in a voice dripping with milk and honey. Dad probably knows what I mean. I must close now. Have to go on Duty-watch.
Many thanks again for the lovely watch and case.
Yours ever affectionately,