January 15th, 1944
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, the great day has come and gone and your son is now a qualified Observer and Navigator and a Sergeant, for at least a little while. There has been no word of commissions as yet but we know there are 15 given to our course so maybe I got one and maybe I didn't. It all depends on the recommendation Mr. Board sent in for me. But perhaps I had better give you a regime of the whole proceedings. We finished our exams nearly 2 wks. ago as I told you and we knew the results almost the same day and that we had all passed without having to write any sups. So we were all sure of at least one thing - graduating as ‘Sgt. Observers'. After this minor excitement, came the major excitement of the postings. There were 14 Overseas postings for our course and I was one of the lucky ones chosen. So I knew nearly 10 days ago that I was going to go Overseas again. But I decided not to tell you all until I got home because I have found (as a general rule) you can never be sure of a thing until you have actually go it in your hand, and even then it is not absolutely certain. Thank God I didn't tell you because as it turned out, I was not posted Overseas at all. Yesterday, in the midst of all the excitement of packing and getting ready for wing parade, they suddenly announced that I had been taken off the Overseas posting and was to be set instead to No. 3 AGTS. Three Rivers, Quebec. Not only that, but my seven days extra leave which I had got as traveling time for my embarkation leave was cancelled. So now I can't come home at all, so I am going down to New York instead. I am sorry - very sorry that I can't make it and only hope you are no as disappointed as I am. So far as I can make out, I have been posted as an instructor to Air Gunners, for this school is an Air Gunners Ground Instruction School. Do you remember my old nightmare about being posted as an instructor? It looks as though it is going to come true and oh! how I hate it. I was so angry yesterday that all the joy was taken out of ‘wings parade' for me. I didn't enjoy anything and still don't because I wanted so badly to go Overseas again. It's so unfair too, there were five married men in my class and every one is on embarkation leave now and here I am stuck over here, single, healthy and really wanting to go. It is so damn unfair, the only one on the whole course that wanted to go with his whole heart and soul, and the only one who didn't. But I won't talk about it any more.
We had our Flight Party on Wednesday before wings parade which was Friday, Jan. 14th. It was a marvelous party and everyone congratulated us on having the best party any course has yet had on the station. We had a marvelous banquet, I will be sending you the invitations and the menu for a souvenir soon, and you can see for yourself just how marvelous it must have been. Then we had a dance and party at the local dance hall, a marvelous success it was too. I think one reason it was so successful, was because we were the only flight that never threw a booze brawl. We had liquor at our banquet - marvelous rum punch, but practically none at all at our dance. We were the only course that has had a mixed party too, most of these are stag and nothing but an excuse to get horribly drunk. So we naturally felt very proud of our accomplishment because I had a marvelous time and I am sure everyone else did too. Then to top it off, we had the best wings parade yet on the station since I have been here. We have been so disappointed in the wings parades usually held here that we were determined to have a good one, and we succeeded. It was so totally different from any other that has ever been held here that it deserves special mention. We decided that there should be a running commentary by our officer at the microphone to tell the people something of the history and background of each graduate. That was different, the first time it had ever been done. Besides that, there were two parents there, one of them Mrs. Russell who had traveled all the way from Winnipeg to see her son graduate, the fourth she had given to this war beside two daughters and a husband. So our CO. - in his welcoming address, paid her a marvelous tribute (as well he might) for she is a grand woman. Then we marched in as a flight and formed extended lines in the centre of the hollow square instead of staying as a flight, as has been done heretofore. So altogether, we had a good wings parade. It was held inside one of the hangars as it is very cold down here just now. There were nearly 200 spectators too and we had a tea for them all afterward. The women of Chatham came down and sewed on our stripes and our wings which I think was very nice indeed. Margie Moran - the girl who got you your wool, sewed mine on for me and a very nice job she made of it too.
It feel very strange to glance down at my chest and see that little silver ‘O' there or to walk down the street and be called Sergeant. I have been as LOC. for so long now, that almost automatically, I give my rank as LAC. whenever I am asked about it. But I suppose the newness will wear off in time. I hope so anyway.
I have been to the bank here this morning to get my American money and shall toddle off to New York probably on Monday, can't say for sure though. I am visiting my friends here in Moncton whom I have been promising faithfully to come and see ever since I can remember leaving here last year! They were very glad to see me and I them, because they were very good to me when I was last here.
O - yes, one other thing before I close. I have finally got up enough courage to ask Mary to marry me again and she has refused again, so I guess it must be definite. My address you have. Write to me there and mark envelope HOLD.
Love to you all,
TWO AIR NAVIGATORS FROM BC.
Two BC. airmen - Sgt. HWA. Minnion of Prince George and Sgt. James Baker of White Rock, graduated recently from No. 10 Air Observers' School, RCAF. Chatham, NB as navigators. Sgt. Minnion - 32 and son of Mr. and Mrs. HJ. Minnion was a staff member of the Bank of Montreal branch at Bralorne before enlisting. Sgt. Baker, a graduate of Cloverdale High is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Baker.