23 August 1943
By this time you will have had my telegram from Montreal. It all happened very suddenly - when it did start to happen - although I knew there was a strong possibility of a trip this way two weeks ago - and think printed as much to you in my last two letters.
Now I guess you would like to know first what my plans are - well in detail I don't know myself, but what I plan to try is to spend a week here if necessary - and get my business rolling - then take two weeks leave at Victoria - then will probably have to come back here to tip up the business - and then away again to my old job, which I cant afford to leave for too long. Just got in here this evening - so can't make even my first contacts here till tomorrow - and even then it may take a day or so to see all the people I should. However we shall get my leave out of it anyway. Thought at first that you might like to come East to be with me now but it would be a hectic time, as I may be running around all over the shop - and you might be left waiting in some crowded hotel most of the time, so it seems best to plan two weeks of freedom together in our own home. Then we could go into the question of whether you & Mary should come back East with me, just for the last few days - It may be hardly practicable to do that either. It would of course be a chance for you to visit some of the Andrews relaishons on your way back to the coast. Theres Nora in Toronto, Mary in London, Betty in Winnipeg - Gertrude ? somewhere, and of course Leila at Gull Lake. Bill is at Ajax - don't quite know where that is. Just possible my business may take me to Toronto this week then I could see Nora - was going to phone her tonight but think a note is better. As soon as I know definitely when I can get home, I will wire about it. Will look into the possibilities of flying out.
You can imagine what a thrilling experience it was for me to fly across the old Atlantic - thought I'd like to just give you a few impressions while they are fresh in my mind - and can fill in the continuity later when I see you. In the first place what a scramble it was getting away -had 2 hours notice "out of the blue" to drive 10 miles to my H.Q. park, eat brunch, give a few parting instructions - and drive another 30 miles "to regret to a certain officer" - I was warned that my baggage must not weigh more than 44 lbs - Well I just dumped a few things into my suitcase - a few papers into my attachÃ© case - left my room in a frightful mess for Alf, my batman to tidy up after he got back from taking me up to London Then of course it would be a Saturday p.m. when all stores were closed - and all the army people I should have seen were away to brunch and in most cases away for the week-end - However "that certain officer" had people looking after me like a blue-ribbon bull as soon as I reported - didn't have to even think. Had a first class sleeper from London to the airport - sleepers are only available to "the most important people" - so I felt quite flattered.
The inevitable wait at the airfield - and all the briefing and formalities, fortunately I was within my quota on baggage weight - what a maelstrom the airfield was - never saw so many odd people from so many odd places - the predominant note however was YOUTH - carefree but keen young airmen - U.S., R.A.F., RCAF other odd A.F.s and Ferry services - never realized before what ununiformity of uniforms existed. Fellows in shorts & shirts with the sands of the African desert still on their boots - others bundled up for colder climates (as well as climbs).
We waited around all day - and then piled into the machine - what a graceful - huge thing - the most graceful concentration of great power there is I suppose - took off into a cloudy twilight - the voice of a 4 great motors was terrific at first - and peaking out of the porthole could see them spitting raw blue-yellow flame. I carried a small [?] altimeter out of one of my cameras to check our altitude throughout the voyage - there were a few bumps & tosses as we slid through cloud tufts - Soon nothing but a dark gloomy grey infinity to see outside as with only the little red & green wing light to give a point of cheery reprieve so we bedded down for the night. Got up over about Â½ way across - it was cold - and crept back to look out behind - it was one of those "impressions" of mine - the roar of the motors - smoothed out by this time - and far below from of moonlight on the North Atlantic - little groups of stratus cloud here & there, then the moon in last quarter - ruddy in the Eastern quadrant - to the North - just in glow of aurora borealis - off to one side some high cirro-stratus above us - and above that the velvet black dome of the higherspace - with the old familiar constellations - orion to the south east - the dipper to the north - and all the others between including the individualists - seeming that much brighter in their isolation - I just looked it for a moment - like an old Greek god in his sky chairs - then ended up trying to let sleep remove the discomfort of cold and cramped position. Checked up on the down too - and the first land full - a very lonely spread of wild country - finally the sun caught up to us - (we did give him a head start the night before) - He troubled about 5X our speed. Our clocks said 3pm when we landed but the Montreal clocks read that it was only 10a.m. - so today has been one of the longest in my life - 5 extra hours of time thrown at us all in one gulp. Havent had much sleep for 3 nights either so will soon crawl into my luxurious bed at this famous hotel - (was lucky to get a room. Had a few hours wait in Montreal - had 2 fried eggs & ham for lunch and had a delicious dinner on the CPR diner coming up to Ottawa.
There have been many impressions - some rather hard to sort out - the abundance of cars - all big ones and modern looking - even the peculiar smell of their exhaust fumes - realized that it is different from the English petrol exhaust. And what a delight to eat in a CPR diner - gosh the English Trains are grim. Also Can girls seem tidier or better groomed than the English - this may be a specialty of Montreal -
One of our party was a Cdn doctor returning to Ottawa from 8 months in Scotland - he & I combined our forces after landing at Montreal.
Offered to put me up at his home - but thought it better to be here especially as a room was available. Met his wife at the station and they want me to call some evening.
Another thing is Cdn heat & sun - boy its been hot and I love it. Wore battle dress over - as we were sprawled around on the floor - but fortunately had thrown in my drill uniform - which is a godsend.
Must get some sleep - tomorrow is rather important (I hope) - Am I the lucky fellow! To be seeing my wife & baby - Jean dear I cant tell you how happy & thankful I am.
Love to you both dear -