May 2, 1942
I guess the best place to start is at the beginning of my travels to give you a picture of everything.
I suppose I should have got a room at Kamloops but didn’t and spent the time walking—many miles and reading in the Plaza. So I was pretty tired when I got to bed and must have been one of the last in to breakfast. This, together with the meal ticket, didn’t go over very well with the waiter and he was loth to bring me grapefruit instead of fruit juice. All of us with the meal tickets found table service poor which annoyed me intensely, ptclry as I at least was tipping them. There were eleven men bound for Ed. and a whole car full of RCAF W. D.s. During the next day we drank a little beer but the trip was quite uneventful. Arriving at 9:30 we were all hustled into a car and driven out to the barracks to the Arena building (where I used to see hockey games) where we got our blankets. Then we were allotted to a hut and beds. Afterwards we wandered over to the Airmen’s mess to look it over and I met Henry. Saw him again at breakfast but not a sign of him since so I wonder if he has gone.
I have really no idea how many men there are around here but I would guess 1800—quite a bunch to feed all at once. It works this way. You pass down a long counter (buying a pint of milk if you like on the way) where you pick up knife fork spoon and cup, then a plate of food, then dessert (if pie it is slapped on top of the first course), then pause momentarily to pick up a bowl of soup and have your cup filled. Then try and find a place to eat while carrying the assortment you have picked up. Going back out each article is put by you in a different tray from where it goes through the automatic washers. Quite a good system. The food is O. K.—better than Yellowknife and a chap who has been in many army camps says the army does not begin to compare.
The Airmen’s mess building also has reading room, writing room, wet and dry canteens, poolroom, table tennis, and barber shop. All very nice which is all very nice as we new arrivals are CBed for the first 8 days. After that we have leave from 5 to 10:30 every night and 12:00 twice a week. Two of the boys could not wait that long and went over the fence last night. They came back at 2:45 and were seen by the guards. When he said “Halt” they took to their heels and got away O. K.
Thursday morning was spent being interviewed by various clerks such as for pay allowances etc and drawing our kit—the latter being down on the assembly line principal. All afternoon we burnt and polished buttons and marked our clothing. After supper I played some table tennis and had a little beer. That was that day. Lights are out at eleven and we must get up at 6:30, fold blankets just so, sweep and scrub the floor immediately around the bed etc. Quarters are not too crowded but it is advisable to get to the basin on the dot of 6:30. The majority of beds have a locker and you can expect to see the suitcase back fairly soon.
On Friday morning we were paraded for dental inspection where we had our teeth charted for future work. I got through this about as good as any altho I haven’t been near a dentist for 2 ½ years. In the afternoon we were given 5 inocculations and a blood test (at which several fainted) and then we were taken out and given our first real drill. So far we are pleased with the corporals instructing us particularly and easy going Englishman we had yesterday who seemed to give us many breaks for smokes. After supper there was quite a display in the Arena open to the public—boxing and wrestling etc. But best of all was an exhibition by our precision squad. Some 150 different movements all perfectly timed without a word of command from the time of entry until they all left the arena. I only saw one small error by one person. It is probably worth while trying to do well enough to be picked for this as it takes about 6 weeks guard duty off the length of the course and relieves them of all fatigue duty. They do nothing but drill all day. Nevertheless it must be quite a nervous strain if on exhibition. Saturday was spent having our reaction to inocculation checked and in drill. At present we are in D squadron. Next Saturday we should (but may not) proceed to B or C which are the same where we get more complicated drill and some fatigues. Then to A who are the chaps waiting to leave. They do most of the fatigue work. Then comes a six weeks step which I thought was part of I. T. S.—being guard duty or general duty gassing planes etc. So it is going to be longer than I figured before I climb into a plane. I played some table tennis after supper—quite good games and a game of pool. The latter was against a Phi Kappa who was a good friend of Dicks and recognised me from a photograph he had seen. There are a few others here I knew before a U. B. C. Phi Kapp who joined a month ago and Carruthers who was at the Hawkshaw’s cocktail party on Boxing Day. Sunday morning is the worst of the week. Inspection by the C. O. commencing at nine. Before it was over at 11:15 three men had been carried off. I guess most of us aren’t used to standing so long without taking more than a few steps. A dull church service tops of the morning and the rest of the day is ours. I spent the afternoon playing bridge in our hut, supper at 4:30 and now this letter. Tonight I will see a show in the Arena “Deanna Durbin in “A Thousand Men and a Girl”.
My uniform fits very badly but I hope to have it tailored tomorrow so that it fits perfectly.
First impression of the RCAF—Seems OK, no complaints.
With love from
[Note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]