#1 Y Depot.
Here’s just a line from the occupants of room 16, to let you know we’re still kicking as much as usual. Most of us arrived here on schedule, but Mortimer had a hell of a poor ground-speed and was twenty-six hours out on his E.J.A. He always was a smooth talker and he got away with it by telling a very fine story about blizzards and being snow-bound. He maintains, on the strength of pin-points on various pubs, brothels, etc. that he was on track during the entire trip.
Incidentally the occupants of room 16 consist of Mortimer (J24033), Hostetler (J24035) and Richardson (J24036.) We have McKillop (J24037) just across the hall, so we are able to maintain the prestige of Edmonton quite well. Wey (J24034) and Greenall (J24038) are elsewhere in the same building, so we carry on pretty well as a unit. We lost track of the Sergeants very shortly after we arrived, as they didn’t stay around very long, so the above-mentioned six are all that remain here of the old crew.
We were all very glad to hear of the arrival of an heir to the Cambrin fortune, and we hope you enjoyed the cigars connected with the occasion. The rest of us didn’t do so well in that regard. Wey, of course, is very safely married, and he & Mortimer are now the “responsible” (?) men of the crowd.
Life as officers, in its novelty, brings its disconcerting moments to all of us. My own came on the very first day I had my uniform. I went into the I.T.S. at Toronto to see my young brother. I picked the unfortunate moment when there must have been at least a million airmen coming out. Salutes came flying from all directions and I was completely flabbergasted. Frantically I dodged into the nearest building, thinking I’d be safe there. Imagine my consternation when I found that at that school they salute inside the buildings, too!
Les (Mortimer) felt very much embarrassed one day when he was on his way to the post office. At the last minute someone had given him some change to buy stamps, and rather than struggle into his pockets, he just slipped it inside his right glove. Then when the first party of airmen saluted him, Les returned the salute with a fine “jingle, jangle, jingle.”
Don Richardson was shaken absolutely rigid on Saturday. He was walking along on the station in a sort of day-dream when he met a drill squad, which didn’t fully register on his mind till they hauled off with a snappy “Eyes left!” Don was still trembling when he got into the room five minutes later.
Our time here is not particularly crowded with activity. Most of the first week was spent on documentation and some tests. There are several decompression tests, night vision & blood type. There is no ghastly spinal inoculation, which news should be welcome to the lads back there.
There are a few tips that might be of some help to the lads coming here. First & foremost – for God’s sake get the uniforms before arriving here. The shopping facilities here (in Air Force parlance) are S.F.A. With regard to baggage, we all checked our bags coming down here, but not straight through from Edmonton. We took them home with us and then checked them from home to Halifax when we came ourselves. On arrival here the reception office took our checks and got our baggage for us. Most of the bags got onto the station the day after we did, with a few arriving the second day. Overseas baggage may consist of not more than two pieces, which the individual must be able to carry at one time. This means that trunks are out. Most fellows try to operate with a kit-bag and the biggest suitcase they can carry while others take two suit-cases. It would be wise to have one’s luggage purchased, too, before getting here, because suitable baggage is scarce as hen’s teeth in this town. The main requisite for luggage is rugged durability, judging by the way it is manhandled.
Tell the boys not to arrive here broke after pay-day, because they’ll stay broke till the next pay-day. We thought that as soon as we arrived we’d get the difference between Sgt’s pay & P/O’s pay for the period of our leave, but no soap. When we arrived we were told very plainly we’d be paid on pay-day or when we went on draft, whichever came first.
There is an “overseas Canteen” on the station where great quantities of toilet articles, confectioneries, and smokes can be bought at low prices, so the lads needn’t load up with that stuff at home. This also applies to stationery. But all types of luggage, clothing, shoes, flash-light batteries should be brought along as the selection here ranges from poor to none.
Some few of us have been able to sneak up on the new Navigator wings. Don and I each got one, but so far we are the only ones of our crowd who have. There is also a sprinkling of the new Bomber wings to be seen. I believe they hit Toronto stores about Mar. 5, Montreal about the same time, and here considerably later. They’ll probably be old stuff in Edmonton by now.
You may have heard that my T.C.A. reservation fell flat when I was on the field to meet the plane. Consequently I travelled with Ted Thomas and the R.A.F. lads, leaving them at North Bay. After we arrived here, Don & I saw Ted before he left, but we’ve had no more news from the R.A.F. boys.
This station certainly is the melting-pot of the R.C.A.F. Since I’ve arrived here, I’ve encountered lads I had known on every one of the eight stations where I’ve been posted previously. No doubt, though, when we get to England there’ll be hundreds more. I’ll certainly see more lads from home there than I did at home.
When we passed through Rivers, Man., we thought of Alger, and as we gave the place the once-over, all we could say was “Poor Ross!” It certainly appears to be in the centre of all the world’s bleak isolation.
No doubt by this time you’ll be thinking “That guy always did talk too much.,” so I’ll quit. The boys all send regards, and we’d certainly like to hear from you, if you can find time to drop a line. Our members are all in this letter.
In the meantime, we remain,
P.S. – We’ve heard some good jokes, but there might be a lady censor, and we wouldn’t want to make her blush.