R.H. Gray, A.L.A.,
R.C.N.V.R - V13438.
Dear Mother and Dad,
Well we have been at our flying school for two days now and it is simply wonderful. I never realized that the navy would be like this. I shall try and tell you all about it.
To begin with we were brought out to our new lodgings. The fifty of us are the first to use them and they are all right. We are using approximately ⅔ of a huge country house belonging to Sir Felix Cassel. It is by far the biggest house I have ever seen. Of course the furnishings are mostly gone but there is a billiard room, a grand piano, a writing room, a canteen and two huge bath tubs. And besides all that there are sheets on our beds. After ordinary naval life this is pure luxury. We are quite isolated so that there is practically no danger of air-raids. (For which I am thankful). The place is really one of those country homes of which you hear a lot but seldom see so I consider us extremely lucky.
Yesterday I flew for the first time and then again this morning so that I now have one hour and ten minutes to my credit. I just love it and don’t regret for a minute getting into the Fleet Air Arm. We have very decent instructors, usually R.A.F. officers. Today he let me taxi the plane across the landing ground, a thing harder than it might seem, and then when we got into the air he let me take over the controls for a straight line flight. I got along well there except that I couldn’t keep the wings level. However I think I shall make it. After about ten or twelve hours in the air we are allowed to go solo so that is the next big step.
We are living about five miles from the air-port and must get up at 6:30 to catch a bus at 6:50. We eat all our meals at the airport and they are just about perfect. Real meals for a change do a lot to give one a better feeling about it all. Porridge and bacon and eggs for breakfast!
Poor Plymouth has just been blitzed. As you will remember that is where we spent the first eight weeks of our stay. It somehow seems worse when you knew the city and hear about all the buildings you knew being blown to bits. However I have come to the conclusion that it is quite impossible to beat these Englishmen. They are getting stronger every day.
Well my pen seems to be getting dry so I shall stop now and write again soon and keep you posted on my progress.
P.S. For a change we seem to be doing something useful and it gives us a great deal of satisfaction