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Date: January 18th 1941
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

R.H. Gray, N.H.2
R.C.N.V.R. V13438
℅ Canada House,
London, Eng.
Jan. 21, 1940. [dating error]

Dear Mother and Dad,

I got a letter today dated Dec. 28. It is the first letter for some months now that has come directly through and it was great to feel that I am again in more direct contact with you. The only trouble is that once again there seems to be a gap in my letters. How I wish there was some more direct and sure way of corresponding but I guess we shall just have to make the best of it. I was so glad to hear that my wire arrived on Christmas eve. That was the best time wasn’t it. By the way this is the sixth letter I have written home since Jan., so you can tell just how many of them you got and let me know.

I was glad to hear, Dad, that Christmas business was good. That is cheering news in times like these when business is so disrupted. I hate to think of what the Christmas business of the Jeweller’s over here must have been.

And you told me about the nice Christmas dinner that Phyllis made. I am so glad, too, that Ed is proving a good husband and that you like him. And one other thing that pleased me was that you saw Peter and had a chat with him. That was very thoughtful of him. As you say he is the best of my friends. I seem to feel that Blake must have come in to see you. He is a good egg, too and not as thoughtless as the McBride boys who would never dream that you might like to see them.

I have answered most of the other questions in recent letters. I have all the parcels (as far as I know) but no watch (It must have gone down) and no papers as yet. I wrote Grandpa a nice letter about a week ago so he will have heard from me by now.

For the first time in my life I am doing all my own washing. Tonight I washed a towel which was indescribably dirty. I had let it go too long. Since the navy doesn’t recognize even so much as a scrubbing board to help in washing you can imagine what a job it was. It was a good sized towel, too. The only thing about it was that I could see what progress I was making but it took me at least forty-five minutes.

We are well into our instructions now. I am able to pin the position of a ship on a chart, take morse accurately at four words a minute, tie numerous knots etc. In other words I am starting to get a basis of knowledge in me that will make me a decent pilot. Today, too, I was class leader. That meant that in the morning and at noon I had to muster the class, take the roll-call, report them smartly to the officer and march the class to its different lecture halls. You have to be on your toes at all times but I think I came through fairly well.

We leave here on March the second and go to our initial flying school. We can go to either a training school near London or one near Birmingham. They each have advantages and disadvantages so I don’t know yet where I shall go.

You mention Jane’s wedding. I feel sorry for poor Jack. With the exception of a Christmas wire (ten days late) he has not had a single letter from home in two months. He thinks there may be some other Diamond in the navy getting his mail. He feels pretty rotten about the whole thing.

Is Jack being moved anyplace soon? I expect he must be because it seems to me he has been at Calgary for a long time now. There goes the bugle “Cooks to the Galleys” which means that supper will be ready in about five minutes so I had better go and wash up. I am going to send this letter air-mail in Canada so tell me if it makes much difference will you.

Very much love to you both,

P.S. I asked in my last letter for a pad or two of writing paper like this. Could you send me some please. Don’t get the linen finish please?



[Editor’s note: As shown in the transcription above, Gray erroneously dated this letter as “Jan. 21, 1940.” It could not have been written then as that would have predated his enlistment in July of 1940. The letter’s content suggests it was written sometime in January of 1941, and this is supported by the envelope’s postmark “18 JAN 1941.” The postmark date is the date that has been assigned to the letter.]

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of 1941-01-18 from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC