July 17, 1942
On arriving here at a new station, after a rough day in these scruffy little trains, I got settled in my new bunk, then struck out for the sergeants mess and of course started hunting for the mail rack which is always our first question on a new station. More from habit than hope I ran through the mail and discovered a letter from you! It was quite a while since I had heard from you and I was a bit lonely just then, having come by myself and having no friend here that I knew of, so you know what it meant to me Jill – the picture changed from minus to plus in a moment. It was the sweetest surprise I’ve had for a long time darling, since the tin of tobacco in fact and now I shall try and make up for a good deal of lost time.
The tobacco was delicious sweetheart and how it reminded me of those perfect evenings in front of the fire at home and how I used sit and try not to laugh as you pushed and swore at my pipe as you tried to fill it. They are perfect memories Jill and they help me so much to keep a real faith in what I’m doing, which isn’t always easy here where one often sees through the veil and finds the sight pretty nauseating.
As the smoke drifts lazily away in fragrant clouds, I dream of a time to come when I will be with you again, where we can live in front of the fire in peace and security and plan together a life of freedom for ourselves and our children, with no fear of some mad animal seeking to ruin the world. A rather lengthy way of saying sweetheart that it has meant a lot to me, having this from your own dear hands.
All though my letters have been few and far between, you should certainly have received several since the one dated Feb 14. To tell the truth darling I have written three letters and sent two cables, but you certainly should have received the cables and at least one of the letters. Since I wrote to the family on the same approximate date as I did to you and they say they haven’t received any lately, it seems they must have gone astray or in the drink. There was also one to your Mum and Dad with the second lot, (about the middle of April) in which I told them how I had heard about Dick being missing and presumed gone and told them how sorry I was to hear about it. Since neither of you got these letters I’m afraid it puts me in a very poor light and I’m terribly sorry darling. I should have written to your folks again before this, but I had rather hoped for an answer from your Dad, because it is hard to know what to say and it would have been so much easier to answer knowing what to say.
I am terribly sorry to hear of your loss darling, he had done so much work for his service and it was pretty hard, having got away from two sinkings in good shape. There is only this I can say and it goes not only for Dick, but for all of us – there is no better way to go out than this – fighting for our ideals, our friends, our homes and the heritage that we must preserve for those who are to fill our places in times to come – our children. So my dear I know that Dick did his duty and went with a smile knowing he had done a little more than his share and gladly having done it.
Since I’ve been on this station a few days I’ve found several boys I’ve known during my training and especially Crag Coldron who is here as an observer on the same course as myself. We greeted each other like long lost brothers of course and have had a couple of good pow-wows over the old times and present things. I was late getting here as I had been off on a special course from my home station when my posting came through and Crag felt just as I did when he got here, so we were pretty glad to get together. We have had quite a time going over two papers from home, which I got from Mike East (Keromeos) who was at my old station up in Shropshire. From these we got ‘gen’ (knowledge to you) on the flood and it does seem to have been an awful mess. I guess its going to be pretty hard on some of the people around town having businesse’s and farms all washed out but they’re tough people there and they’ll get over it, just as your dad has had to do so often.
Last night as I walked out of the mess after tea I stopped in the hall to speak to one of the Aussie’s I bunk with. While we were talking in walked a bunch of Can. flight sergeants and I immediately recognized Bob Clothier, who was making just as much noise and looked just as fit as he used too, despite the op’s look all the boys carry as their trade mark. He has just finished his first tour of operations on Hampdons and is here for a period of instructions, so there is another of the old gang here. John is also over here as a pilot and is at the moment in London on leave, but we hope to see him soon and have an orgy in honour of old times.
Everywhere one goes over here there are men from home and you inevitably run into someone you know or who knows your home and your friends. There are boys from home in almost every corner of this country and we grapevine news of each other and home back and forth and keep more or less in touch. At the moment we are fairly close to Franky Haes Station and Crag and I are trying to get over together and have a pow-wow about things and also to try get hold of Brick McKay who is sort of a dark horse just now. Jackie Sammet and Butch Sinclair are around the Island some where but as yet I haven’t found them so that will be a story for the future. Adios for a while dear.
I left in haste a couple of hours ago, as I suddenly realized it was very close to bust time and I wanted to get into the village. As my main reason for going in was to send two cables, one to you and one home, I didn’t want to miss my bus, as it may be several days before I go in again. This means that you’ll get the cable well before this letter arrives, I hope, so you won’t die of shock on receiving it.
A word as to a few of the places I’ve seen. This will be curtailed of course by the fact that I can’t tell you any of the actual places I’ve been stationed at.
For a long time I was at the place where you thought I was (where your aunt Rachael lives) and it was from there I made three trips up to Ditcheat and also Salisbury and Bath. I won’t try and describe this again just now darling, as you may yet receive a five page description of the home of your people and I want this to get away to-morrow. Your aunt who is known as ‘Muff,’ immediately took me into the family circle and she is a perfectly adorable little woman, being possessed of a wit like a knife edge and a perfect understanding of people. Her daughters Joyce and Pam are a swell pair of sports and showed me a pretty good time, while your uncle and I had several rather deep but very interesting chats and I found him very good company but very reserved. If you have not received my letter about Ditch by the time you write again I will tell you all about it in another letter.
I was moved to the northwest to a station where I got back to flying and completely lost sight of my old gang. From my station I got into Shrewsbury several times and found it a delightfull old town with its historic old buildings and statues and the river Severn with flocks of swans and sculls dotting its reaches as they have for so many years. I also was able to get up to a place called Langothlen in the Welsh hills, (via Aswestry) and found it one of the most perfect bits of scenery I have ever had the luck to see. Of course I had found many lovely spots from the air, but this was the only one in Wales I was able to get to on the ground.
From this station I was sent of on two courses to another part of the midlands and part of this rather lengthy trip took us down the Severn valley by the Wrekin mountain, through Cambridge, over to Birmingham and on via Stafford and it was really lovely rolling past the little village by the river, then over the low hills into Birming where I once had a run in with a balloon while doing a cross country in mucky weather. This is just the middle of the trip and you’ll have to wait till I get home to hear the rest I’m afraid.
After each of my courses I was able to spend forty-eight hours in Nottingham on the way home and found it quite a lively city, especially the first time, as I met a party of American army officers there and of course we had a bit of a party in honour of God’s country.
Having completed my last course I was sent down here as soon as I arrived back at my old station, so here I am “somewhere in England,” seeing a bit of new country and as I start flying again tomorrow, hoping to get pretty familiar with it soon.
There is a joke on me sweetheart and it was that stupid business of the bill of sale on “Amigo,” I wrote one out and was going to put it in the letter when I realized that I didn’t’ know her brand and if she had one even, so I was going to put a note at the bottom of your letter to the effect that I needed that gen and also the date of my bill of sale from Crag. For some fool reason I forgot to do this and just shot the letter away as was and now I think the best thing to do is to leave it as there is no one who can dispute the fact of your ownership as mother has my bill of sale.
I’m glad to hear some news of Bud and am I jealous of the lucky pup – living in the same boarding house. Try and get the punk to put a note in some of your letters will you dearest? I’ve been hoping to hear from him and get his address as I can’t find it in my book. God, what I wouldn’t give to be in his boots, even for a wee while.
I do miss you horribly darling and I can only sit and dream of the day when I come home and we will be able to plan our lives out, then, when the time comes, to make those plans work out as perfectly as we can. There is one thing I want very much these days dear and that is some of those long promised pictures of you, as I only have a few I think I deserve some more, so please try and get some off.
Now my hearts delight I must close for the moment, but I promise you there will be another soon – very soon. Tell your dad and mother I wrote and that I’m writing them within the week.
May God keep you safe sweetheart,
All my love,
P.S. The razorblades are #1.