June 11, 1941
Sorry to have been so long since I last broke out, but I just got back from my seven-days’ leave. I had a very good leave and visited South Devon. I spent two days with the Braziers in Brixham and a day and a half divided between Aunties May and Margaret. The rest of the time I spent in travelling and in London. I dropped off in Cobham to see the Ravenscrofts, who were very pleased to see me. I had supper with them and left for London on the last train. I had more time to look around London and saw considerable of the damaged areas.
I really makes my blood boil when I see the shattered homes and the ruins of what formerly were some of the world’s finest buildings. I think I would sacrifice one more year, just to be able to be in charge of a German work party and make them sweat blood cleaning up the mess. Art McLaughlin and I went to the Aldwich Theatre and saw a fine performance featuring the Great Tyle, a fine magician. The amusing part of the whole thing was that he called me out of the crowd to act as a stooge. I assisted him in a rope trick and helped him saw a beautiful blonde in two. In this particular picture, he needed two helpers, one to hold the lady’s hands and one to hold her feet. He asked which end I would prefer and, knowing how crude some of these stage jokes are, was a little hesitant. I finally suggested we flip a coin which we did, so it was thus decided I should take the head. I had to hold the lady’s hands while they sawed the box in two. I followed the cues given me by the lady and got quite “chummy,” quite to the delight of the audience. I really enjoyed myself and was surprised at how being in the limelight so little bothered me. I think this was largely due to the fact my boots were highly polished and my new Canadian uniform freshly pressed, so that I felt I wasn’t letting the Canadian troops down.
Well, the leave had to end and I arrived back in camp almost on time. I have yet another change of jobs and am at present a Command Post “Ack,” so I guess my ack course wasn’t wasted after all. Last night, I had to go up to the observation post with an officer and a signaller to watch the sea coast. It was a very cold job, as the building was situated on a high spot overlooking the sea and without a heating system.
We have a log book and record any unusual happenings along with the time and compass reading (bearing). Nothing happened so we had nothing to report. However, this isn’t always the case, as we are only a few miles from the French coast, so naval action occurs from time to time between our convoys and the German mosquito craft. We often see large formations of “Spits” on their way to sweep France and the Channel. My heart goes out to these modern knights of the air and their shining sleek fighters. Some of these dare devils come hedge-hopping back just clearing the housetops at about 360 per. You have no idea what a thrill you get when you see our fighters going in perfect formation to give those Gerries a belly-full.
Young Don Beirnes dropped in to see me again today and certainly looked very fit. He thinks he will soon be going out East and was very pleased with the prospect. We thought for a while that perhaps the time had come to do our bit, but I am afraid we are doomed to many more months of the same old stuff. I can’t say I envy anyone fighting through a Russian winter and marvel at the German organization that makes it possible for them to carry on. Old Uncle Joe seems to know what he is up to and I can’t help but feel that, given any kind of real help, he will yet prove Hitler’s downfall.
Well, so much for this stupid war and now for home thoughts. I guess you have completed the harvest by now, in spite of the wet weather. I often think of you all, though it seems a century since I sailed from Halifax.
Just a few lines to finish this effort. More cigs arrived today, so I’ll thank you now. I must say, the cigs have been coming through very regularly of late. Must close now and get to work.
In case you are wondering, I will add that we are still getting plenty to eat, in spite of the subs. Now to answer a few of your letters. I am greatly concerned over the sad state of affairs which apparently exists on the farm. I can see that you are really having quite a struggle to make ends meet. (Meat over here.) I can’t believe it’s possible that Alan should be made to take four month’s training, in view of the fact that your two sons have volunteered for their services. Has Dad taken this question up with the authorities? As far as the farm is concerned, I love it just as you do, but don’t feel that it offers many opportunities to a young chap with ambitions and none whatever for the girls.
My advice would be to sell the place and all the equipment if it didn’t mean giving it away. I realize, however, that when prices are so low, the land values drop correspondingly. It does seem to me, however, that if the place were seeded to grass, it wouldn’t even pay taxes, let alone interest on the mortgage. This would mean that you would pinch and save to hold a place which you would have little or no chance of clearing. However, you are on the spot and know best how to deal with the matter and I only hope you will be able to make a decent settlement one way or another. Above all things, don’t let your love for the farm influence your better judgement, as I firmly I believe that the Swinton destiny lies elsewhere. I mean by this that our family is much too old and proud to bury its sons in agriculture.
I don’t know whether it is the climate or the people, but I have definitely decided that I won’t be content to remain a nobody after the war is over. By the way, I went to town near us yesterday and went all through King Henry VIII palace (Hampton Court). It really was magnificent and makes you marvel at Christopher Wren’s genius. I think I mentioned a trip to this place last Fall, though at that time, I was unable to tour the halls because I arrived too late. Of course, all the tapestry has all been removed, along with most of the other priceless old treasures. In spite of this, it was well worth seeing. I particularly admired the huge banqueting hall with its sixty-foot ceiling.
There is one thing that makes me feel much better about not getting into the R.A.F. and that is this, that as long as I am with the Canadian forces, you will receive the ten dollars monthly, whereas you would lose this if I joined the R.A.F., so perhaps it’s just as well. No, I haven’t had the tooth replaced as the darn dentist refused to replace it, saying that the army wasn’t the least bit interested in my beauty. If I can save enough, I will pay the local dentist a visit and then have a photo taken. So, in the meanwhile, you will just have to hold your horses. Tell Alan that, if he does decide to join the R.C.A.F., I will expect him to put in a claim for me immediately, as I understand that one brother can claim another brother from a different unit without any trouble.