Dear Ones All,
Father’s ever so welcome letter of April l9th. arrived yesterday, forwarded from our old quarters in Hounslow, and I have read it over and over and over again. Gee, it is great to get news from home! I wish I could account for that long gap of five or six weeks prior to April 19th. though. Surely all those letters can’t be at the bottom of the sea. They must be hung up somewhere on this side of the Atlantic.
I am sorry to hear of Ruth’s illness, and I hope by this time she is quite herself again. Grippe - or "influenza'" as they call it in England - is a mighty nasty thing. It sure did lay me by the heels for a couple of months last winter. I remember reading in the papers during February that the average number of deaths in London from influenza alone was 62 per week, which is going some.
There is a new pilot in our Squadron who comes from Goderich, Ont. His name is Foster and he went to Varsity with Arthur Robertson and Leslie Huether. There are seven Canadians here now. The other five are Capt. Le Royer from Montreal, Kent and Leishman from Toronto, and Davidson and McKinney (don’t know where they are from). Leishman says he knows the Fred Shaw’s. Le Royer got the M.C. the other day for bringing down three Huns in one scrap. They are all observers excepting Foster and I. This morning 6 machines were detailed for a photographic show, and 5 of the observers and 2 of the pilots were Canadians.
That is very funny about the Americans claiming the credit for the victory at Vimy Ridge. Isn’t it exactly what everyone predicted they would do though, as soon as they came into the war! What tons and tons of metal and explosives have been poured into that Vimy Ridge. It’s just a queer looking pock-marked desert seen from the air now.
This morning at about 11.30 we got a hurry call to go over and straf some Hun machines who had been making themselves objectionable over our front line trenches. We were over the lines in a very few moments but the Huns had buzzed off.
However we patrolled the lines for an hour and a half and, I trust, put the poor old infantry into a more contented frame of mind. We were flying at a level to-day which seemed to give us a great view of all the shells from our field guns, and we could see them quite plainly going past us in the air. I used to think before I came out here that it was all a fairy tale about people seeing shells pass them on route to or from Hunland, but it is quite true for I have seen them myself lots of times. Sometimes they just flick past you and other times you can see them almost from the time they leave the ground until they strike. None of our machines - or any machines, for that matter - ever seem to get hit though. Patrols are rather good fun if there is any activity on the ground. You can see the men go over the top if you are not too high up, watch the barrage, gas attacks, liquid fire attacks, and make (to your own mind at least) most intelligent criticisms of the disposition of the troops and guns.
Molly leaves the R.F.C. hospital to-day and on Thursday she goes to a hospital near Victoria Station. I don’t know the address yet but I think it is in the neighborhood of Grosvenor Gardens. She will be spending the intervening days in Hounslow with that old couple where we lived. They have been ever so hospitable to us both and have urged Molly to use the place as a home whenver she cares to. The matron from the R.F.C. hospital is leaving and is going to the other hospital which I have mentioned. Molly has become very fond of her and is going to the new position with her. Needless to say I am delighted at the prospect of Molly being able to get off whenever she likes when I am on leave, as she says she will be ale to do, and in fact I fancy she will get "leave" too, and then we can spend all our time together.
Father, I had a letter a few days ago from Mrs. James Johnstone of 33 Melville St., Pollokshields, Glasgow, a cousin of yours. She told me that her youngest son is now a cadet in the R.F.C. and hopes to get his commission soon. After that of course he has to learn to fly.
Thanks, Pater Dear, for your letter and for all the things you said. Here’s hoping for some more Canadian mail soon.
With much love to each one of you
Yours as always,