[Note: While no written date was included with this letter, Gray was stationed at Manning Depot between July 2-22, 1940.]
R.C.A.F. Manning Depot [arrow added with note in large print: “Important R.C.A.F.”]
I have just finished a supper of cold meat, potatoes, bread, and apricot pie so will write you a letter. This is Saturday and by rights we are off from 11:30 A.M. until midnight but there are a large number of unfortunates who have no caps and so of course can’t go out since they would be improperly dressed. Last night however I managed to borrow one and so went down town and out to Sunnyside Beach for awhile. We must be in at 10:30. Today hats were renting for one dollar but I could no afford it. That is they were being rented by the fellows.
We have now settled down into the regular routine of things and so the day now consists of Reveille – 6:00 A.M. – Eat and all by 7:45 including polishing buttons, shoes, and brushing uniform. At 7:45 parade and then Physical Training until about 8:30; then shower and dress parade, inspection by C.O. at 9:00. Further instruction then till 11:00 including drill and a lecture. We have a fine corporal in B Flight by name of Eustace – a former officer in the U.S. Marines. Between 11 and 1:15 we eat and at 1:15 parade again with further drill and lectures on Air Force conduct until about 4:30 when we are dismissed until 10:30. Although I have been out only once since my arrival it really is not boring – in fact they have excellent entertainments every night sponsored by the Y.M.C.A. That organization is really good to the fellows and provide us with many things such as a fine library – all the good magazines as well – ping‑pong tables and all equipment (about 12 very good tables) as well as equipment for many other games such as checkers, chess and the likes. For example of their entertainments the past week have been – Monday a movie, Tuesday a concert with excellent entertainers (professional) from the city. Thursday was boxing between the Air Force and Army – there were some fairly good bouts during the evening. Last night I was out but there was a movie here. I don’t know what is doing tonight but it will be good. Of course Saturday is different – the whole morning is taken up with sports – I played Softball but didn’t make the Air Force team – there are some real slickers here – no fooling!
Tomorrow we get up at the same time and go to church parade at 9:30 and after that are off until 10:30 P.M. I may be able to get out for awhile tomorrow if I am able to borrow a hat from someone. Perhaps I might get out to the Ellis’ but can’t be sure.
That just about covers all the activities here just now. You may have gathered that I have learned nothing here so far. Well, aside from drill etc and discipline I haven’t but apparently that is all this station is for. I won’t be here much more than two weeks since as soon as you have learned all the above you are sent to the second training school for a time and then to the third and, I believe, final one. That is why I wish you would write air-mail. You might send me a white shirt too, because they are very nice if you are going out.
I forgot to tell you Dad but I met Ben Levi at Winnipeg and he was going as far as Toronto too. He spoke very highly of Grandpa. I didn’t have much of a chat with him since he was in another car – it is a nice trip thorough Ontario after you get farther south.
Another thing I am learning, Dad, is to leave my things all neatly laid away where I can get them with little trouble. The Air Force life all around is not too bad – the discipline is not so stern as in the army but never the less one must watch one’s step all the time – a number were
Good morning – This is Sunday and as I got no chance to mail your letter yesterday I thought I might as well add another page or two.
We got up this morning at 7:30 and went on church parade at 9:30. The chaplain gave us all the dope on the wonderful Air Force and all that sort of thing but it really was rather nice. It gives you a thrill to see and hear nearly a thousand men in full dress singing such hymns as “Unto the Hills” and “Fight the Good Fight” as well as “God Save the King.”
The breakfast this morning consisted of corn flakes and boiled eggs. We get rotten coffee and excellent milk – I am glad of that and so drink great quantities as do nearly all the men here.
Today is visitors’ day from 2-4 so we must be all spruced up or the corporal will be angry with us.
This morning I had a chat with the Tindale boy who is the only one here from our part of the country. That reminds me of the ignorance of some people concerning B.C. They have no more the idea of the size of the Province than I have of flying.
If I can get a hat I am going out to some church tonight but can’t be sure. Tindale (can’t think of his first name) has offered me his tomorrow night as he is C.B. on account of another innoculation. I get another on Wed. as well as a heart test – the dentist found my teeth in good shape. They really take good care of the aircrewmen around here. I hope there is a letter here tomorrow
Love to all