[Editor’s note: The letter of December 1, 1942, was added as an extension to the letter of May 21, 1942. Both letters may be read together in their entirety under the earlier May date.]
My dearest Jill;
Here, my darling, is another one that “didn’t get through” – I hardly know what to say in apology for such a rotten trick. I’m so sorry I was so damnably careless Jill, but here it is – I think you’d prefer to have it now, rather than have me burn it, so I’ll send it along.
For the first time in seven months I cleaned out my suitcase and deciding to change the paper in the bottom, I pulled out the old piece and found a long lost writing pad and now I find this letter. I feel an absolute heel darling, but that will not help, so please forgive me in your next airgraph.
I have been waiting decidedly impatiently for a letter from you this week, knowing that there would be one, from your note in mothers airgraph, which I got last week. The law of averages says you can’t lose all the time and sho’ enough, there was a blue envelope in my box today.
You are a sweet woman darling, especially when you get on the letter theme. Every time I get a letter from you I feel like a man who has been lost in the desert and just hit an oasis, then later on in the day, when I read said epistle for the third time, I feel like a smallish urchin caught stealing jam, as I can’t ignore your hints that third time as it is mainly analytical. So I develop a concience and a letter writing complex for a while.
We are stuck here in the Cotswolds doing nothing at the moment and a letter certainly helps fill up the gaps darling. I can sit in bed and read this new one for the next week now, then look at your picture every evening after reading it and dream about you, conjure up pictures of you pushing the kids around and wrinkling your sweet brow over the household worries, and see you in my minds eye as you rush about the town – very much the modern young women – I’ll bet you look good these days too. Come and see me one of these evenings and I’ll tell you just how good you do look.
I fall a little more in love with your portrait every day Jill and now that I have the little pocket folder you gave me, I carry you every where I go and say hello ever time I buy a drink as it serves as billfold too.
My crew all know you quite well now and often say “hello” to you, as I do every time I come into the bunkhouse, but I’m the only one who gets the full depth of your sweet smile and the naughty twinkle in your eyes. The dimple is still there and on bright days it deepens, just as my feelings fluctuate with the weather.
“Moreton-in-Marsh,” God is it ever true. Every time one steps of a side walk here they have to get a tractor to salvage the remains. What with fog and drizzle, the everlasting dampness is increased till we “colonials”, wish for a nice warm day in Canada – anything up to forty below would be stifling. This is my biggest kick against England, but we are in good barracks and get a regular ration of coal so we are quite well off really.
You say your not happy to hear that I am back at work. Well don’t worry your sweet head about that because I haven’t done any operations since the Bremen raid when I crashed, this being due to my medical posting to the East which I told you of and having to convert on to a new type of aircraft. Personally I’d like to be doing some real work again, but we’ll be in it soon enough I guess and there is very little we can do to hurry things.
We were given a weeks leave ten days ago which I spent in Stamford (Lincolnshire) and London.
I went up to Stamford because it is so close to Cottesmore, where I spent quite a bit of time renewing old acquaintences. I also wanted to see Mike East of [Keromeos?] who is stationed there, but was very sorry to find he had had a crash while night flying and as I had promised to be in London I could not get over to see him at the hospital. While visiting the station I also went over to see Fred Williamson at the farm and have a look at the horses. I found Fred out on the tractor sowing wheat, so I rode around with him and had a good chat, then went over to see the the horses. Fred said they had got a bit wild being out on pasture, but the young gelding, my favourite, came up after I talked to him for a minute and was soon followed by the mare. They followed me around the field and gave quite a display, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I only wish you could have seen them darling.
After three days in the lovely old village of Stamford with its many churches and more pubs, I went to London.
On arriving in town I went straight to the Beaver Club from Paddington, got a shine, press, shave, shower and shampoo, went up to the café, after glancing over the message list, and sat down to a cup of decent coffee and a slice of apple pie – oh joy! As soon as one is settled in the B. Club people start turning up and I hadn’t been there five minutes before I had seen one or two boys I knew and in next to no time there were about half a dozen of us chattering like a bunch of women at a tea party.
Later on I phoned Mrs. Rowe (Mrs. Appletown), and warned her that I was going to invade her happy home and having made various drinking appointments for the following day, I caught the tube at Trafalgar square and was whipped accros the city to Baker street in no time, proceeding from there, to the residential section out in St. John’s Wood, by bus.
Arriving at the flat I received a really warm welcome from Mrs. Rowe, Joan and the dogs and was immediately overwhelmed with questions about home, my work, the whereabouts of other Penticton boys, what I thought about my engagement and God knows what else – they were certainly up to scratch anyway and gave me a real home from home.
Accepting Mrs. Rowe’s hospitality I made the flat my H.Q. and went up to the West end by bus and tube every day.
The second day in town, I went up to the Beaver club before lunch and had no more than got in the door, when I saw Brick McKay coming down from the café. We had a short talk while I got a press, then whipped out for a quick one, as he had to get away for a date, so that left me with another drinking date the following day.
While washing for lunch, in the club, who should walk in but Jack Hooper, looking a bit droopy, but seemingly quite pleased with life and in the course of the convesation it came up that he was looking for Bill McFarland. After much palavar we parted and I found myself with a date for lunch with Jack and Bill the following day.
I spent that afternoon getting things fixed at R.C.A.F. – H.Q. at 20 Lincoln’s Inn Field and over at the comforts centre where I collected clothes and cig’s, then down to B.C. House, just off Regent St., to get some more cig’s which Bud had sent.
That evening I picked up two strays at the B. club and went to a show at the Victoria Palace, using three tickets which Mrs. Rowe had given me. We all enjoyed it immensely despite the slapstick, which is ninety percent of English comedy. After supper in Leicester square, at a fairly classy dine and dance establishment, I made my way back to the flat and had a chat before turning in.
The following day I met Brick and Jackie Sammet at the Regent Palace, where we proceeded to drink a scotch lunch and discuss all the boys from home. Jack Cossentine is getting along very well according to Sammet who has seen him and Frank Acres is doing very well as a flight mechanic – which should mean a good promotion for him. After much talk and just enough too drink we broke it up and I trotted of to the flat for tea and a powwow with Mrs. Rowe.
On arriving at the flat I found that the doctor had just arrived back from Canada and Mrs. Rowe was in a great state of excitement at her husbands return, so after tea I went up town and left them together, proceeding to a theatre to see “Bambi”, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
For the last day of my leave I breezed around the West end having drinks with all the boys for the duration of an all day pub crawl, then went back to have a quiet chat with Rowe’s.
Then came the inevitable return to camp, square bashing and mud, so here I am at midnight writing to the most precious thing in the world and wishing to heaven I could be with you to describe it all in words which I cant seem to put on paper. However dearest, that day will come and we will have something to talk about.
You will be getting an airgraph before you get this, by way of warning, so the shock shouldn’t be too great, and speaking of airgraphs send bags of them darling, because they all come and quickly.
Now my dearest I must close and find a sack to send this in, so don’t forget to say a prayer for me now and then.
Tell me about horses and sunshine and fruit and things next time you write and make it soon sweetheart.
All my love darling,