No. 11 Squadron
Royal Flying Corps
11th April, 1917.
This is a nasty little war- a wet, muddy, noisy and disagreeable war. I can say all that with much feeling. Nevertheless I am fairly happy and content here. We are Quartered in little sheet iron huts, which with the aid of an oil stove or so can be made warm and snug. Our mess is also comfortable enough although the service and "the eats" are not quite up to the standard of the Ritz or the Savoy. There is just one thing that is a source of chronic complaint and that is getting up in the middle of the night when your eyes simply won't open properly, hurrying through a slim breakfast, wearily climbing into numberless articles of leather clothing slopping down to the aerodrome in the cold and mud, climbing into your machine and testing your engine, and then shooting up into the air while the sky is just beginning to lighten in the east, wondering meanwhile if the sleepy mechanics have remembered to grease your control wires and fill your petrol tank, and whether your observer (represented by the drowsy looking figure the other side of the wind screen) is feeling any more like fighting Huns and dodging "Archie" than your own unenthusiastic self. Nevertheless that is our program every morning so we have to make the best of it. You are wide awake before you get very far on your journey however- the cold air soon does that- and your "keenness" all returns.
As you will have seen by the papers, the R.F.C. has been kept pretty busy of late. I have been spending from three to six hours over the German lines every day and it is hard, if exciting, work. I have been in three scraps in the air, been shot down once, and my machine peppered with shrapnel practically every time I have been up on a "job" However when I hear that incessant booming of big guns every day and every night, I feel mighty glad that I am not one of those poor infantry fellows in those artillery-pounded trenches. It is an awesome sight to watch them from a few thousand feet. You watch a section of strong, well constructed trench. A few big shells fall- you can see them one after another, and that trench has ceased to exist, and no doubt its poor occupants as well.
I wish I could tell you all the interesting things I see every day both in the air and on the ground, but of course that is impossible.
So the funny little U.SA. with its elastic sense of dignity has decided that it just must step in and finish up the war. Their coming in has caused little comment on this side of the water, though the moral effect on the German people will doubtless be strong. I hope so, for it is a hellish business at best, and if it doesn't come to an end soon it seems to me that the very foundations of the world must crumble under the burden.
Must close now Sister with much unsaid for time is scarce this afternoon.
With much love,