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Date: September 9th 1941
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
John (Jack) Gray

Sgts. Mess
RAF Station
Upper Heyford
Sept 9/41

Dear Mother and Dad.

First of all I want to send all my love and best wishes for your anniversary although this letter will be a little late I am sorry. I wish I were able to send you some gift but it is impossible nevertheless I love you both and a little extra at this time.

Received a letter from you today dated Aug 22 so this is alright. I am looking forward to the one in a couple of days with the picture. The mail is coming quite regularly now and is it ever welcome. Today as well as your letter which was written by you both there were two from Joan and one from Phyllis, Bob, Bill Myers, Audrey and a note from Hilda with the parcel of letters. There were also a lot of papers which although old are sure welcome. It was the first mail for a week.

I am sure sorry that you aren’t going to get any mail from me for two or even three weeks but it will be alright from now on. I am glad though that you were receiving my letters fairly well and also the cablegrams which I have been sending fairly regularly just to keep in more immediate touch with you.

Last weekend Harry and I had a swell time before we settle down to some serious work. We set out from here about 5:30 on Friday and headed north through Northampton by hitchhiking. We were headed for Nottingham. It got dark when we were at a small town called Market Harborough about half way between Northampton and Leicester so we decided to stay there for the night. A very decent copper recommended the Three Swans Inn to us so we took a room there. The cop was on duty there as a sort of rest from Coventry and he was alright. If you meet a good old country chap he is hard to beat but the opposite is true too I think. Let me tell you about this Inn we stayed at. It was really alright.

It was built in the 14th Cent with a new wing added in the 16th Cent. I don’t know whether our room was in the old or new part. It is the hotel used by royalty ever since King Charles first stayed there. It was a lovely place really with old oak beams still standing with wood pegs – no nails in those days. Some of the ancient bits of furniture are still there too. There is even a signature on the wall put there a hundred years or so ago by a fellow about eight feet tall. The writing is ten feet up on the wall and he was in bare feet. You can still see the old staircase which is no longer used. The people who keep it try to preserve the old things although not in the manner that they would in America. The prop. is a queer old duck by the name of John Fothergill, a very clever old chap he is really and an author of some note. He showed us all around the place and was really proud of it. It was a bit of an honor to stay there as the hotel does not advertise or anything like that and encourages long stays I think. In peacetime the meals there were noted all over the country and still are good even now. I had quite a discussion with the boss about different things – I had to use all my skill at talking to keep in the same class with him. He is very learned in history and such things.

We left there about noon and caught a couple of rides through Leicester and into Nott. Nott. is a rather nice city in a way with the old castle where Robin Hood used to annoy the locals. Harry and I fooled around there all day and went to a dance at night where a lot of Canadians from another squadron were. It is surprising the different parts of this island you meet fellows you know. We stayed at a lovely hotel there and after bed and breakfast – as you know a hotel charge is always bed and breakfast which is alright – we left there about noon and started for home (?) and arrived back in a good time. One thing we have found in our travels is that on a whole the farther north you go the friendlier people one meets. I want to go back up to Scotland and will do so as soon as we get some leave.

I will try to get to see these people you speak of, Dad, when I have the chance but most of them are not a bit handy and are a lotter harder to get to them in peacetime when buses ran freely and the train service was a lot better. I have lots of addresses and always take them with me on my travels in case I am ever in a town where any of these people live. I don’t want to spend a whole weekend though looking for the sister of Syd Haydon although I know they would be a kind as anything. I think you see what I mean. There are some though who I will make a special effort to see such as Mrs. Potts and Ed’s sister and those people.

By the way Dad I am sorry you don’t know who the young lady from Metaline was – I didn’t think I got to know any girls there well enough that they would remember me.

Thank Harry Hughes for speaking so nice of me. They don’t come very much better than Harry even if he does do a third rate hair cut on a first class head of hair such as mine. Tell him that will you, Dad.

This must be the last page as I want to enclose some snaps which you can stick in my album. They were taken at Heston. It sure is good to get into the civie’s again after this long time. I’ve been in the service nearly 15 months now. I’m glad to see more of the lads joining up. Bob will be glad to go but he feels be has some responsibility at the store. It was a bad break to have Rick Germain quit now. He shouldn’t have.

Give Anne my love and the watchmaker my regards. Also love to Mrs. Boomer and other good friends. All my best loving good wishes to you both for your anniversary.

Your loving son


P.S. We had another armament exam in which I got 92 for an average of 96 as I had 100 in the first. That was 17 marks higher than the next best. In examinations on cross country work I had an average of 81 which is not bad. It is a little above the average. One of these times I will write the news a letter. J.B.

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