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Date: November 15th 1916
Ruth Robertson


My dearest Ruth,

I shall always keep the letter which you wrote to me when you heard that I was going back to flying again. My pride in your love for me, Ruth Dear, is one of the greatest things in my life.

There is nothing either particularly plucky or noble about my leaving a job which was quite safe for one which has more or less hazard connected with it- for the reason that the other job was distasteful to me, and this one is most fascinating. If I had had to tear myself away from my office at Brigade H.Q. it would have been quite different, you see.

You know, Sister, there is such a different atmosphere over here from what we have in Canada, and that accounts for a good many of the differences between the way that we look at things here and the way people on the other side of the Atlantic look at them. Young men who are not in khaki or blue are so scarce that they scarcely exist at all. Soldiers are everywhere. Every man you know is either at the front or fuming to get there. Wounded Tommies in their blue hospital uniforms and officers with bandaged heads, or with arms in slings, are not rarities but common every day sights. The question one asks now-a-days is not "Why aren’t you in the Army?" but "Have you been to the Front?"" If not, why not?" For the past twelve months I have been dabbling in aeroplanes, and for the greater part of that time they have been war machines of the latest type, and I have had to make a study of their service-equipment- bombs, darts, rockets and machine guns. One sees Zeppelines occasionally, and search lights every night. One hears musketry and big guns in target practice continually. Almost every officer you meet tells you about his experiences in France or Mesapotamia, or Egypt or Gallipoli. In a word, when you are in England you are in the very heart of the war zone, and the atmosphere pervades everything and everyone.

As you know, it is quite different in Canada, and ever so much different in the States. There the disturbance in Europe is a vague affair to which they are only connected by their friends and relatives who have gone across to fight, by their financial ventures in munitions, and by the fact that the mails are disturbed.

I cannot understand now why I did not come into the business two years ago instead of only a year ago.

There is another thing, Sister, (and I hope it does not sound like heroics) this war had made everything look so puny in comparison, even life itself, for since one has to drop out from this life into the next some time or other, what better time could there be than right now, fighting in a good cause. It seems to me to be a mighty good opportunity to atone for all the petty and contemptible stunts that a fellow has pulled off during his previous life. If he is lucky enough to come through it alive, so much the better, but it isn’t really necessary. In a way all that sounds very selfish, but it isn’t really for there is one big duty to be done right now, relatives, sweet- hearts and friends must for the meantime occupy a secondary place. That last part is what is hard to say to you and to the rest of the family; and even worse to Molly, but it is the truth, much as I should like to conceive it otherwise.

But you mustn’t think that I have signed my death warrant. Ruth, Dear, it would be almost funny to look at it as seriously as that. O’Malley says that he is going to develope me into an artillery pilot. That means that I won’t be put on a fighting bus or a bombing buss or a scout. I am getting rather good at wireless work, and can send or receive about 15 words per minute, which is nearly twice the rate usually used in flying so my work will probably be confined to reconnaissance work, spotting batteries, you know, and that sort of thing. I won’t have to fly at night, probably, nor have to fly in extremely fast machine, nor have to indulge in air fighting. It’s a fairly safe job, you see, and with machines of the present day type, flying accidents during training are comparatively rare.

I am glad Dr. Stuart brought you an R.F.C. badge pin. I wanted to send you one long ago, but never felt that I could afford it. I hope it won’t be very long now before there will be a similar design sewn on the breast of my tunic.

Thanks for the snapshots, Dear. They interested me immensely. What a wonderful trip you did have this summer.

Must kiss you good-night and leave you now. Sister please don’t worry about me. I am ever so much safer now than I was last year when I was flying those flimsy old Curtiss machines in Toronto.

With heaps and heaps of love,
Always devotedly yours,

Original Scans

Original Scans