Dec 2nd 1918.
Darling, Please excuse this paper but the stationary is being packed up today & they seem to have made away with the kind I usually use. [This letter is written on a legal-sized sheet of newsprint, lined in blue with an unlined margin on the left marked off with a double line in red. The sheet is unlined on the back.] I will speak to Miss Rea or Ray (I don’t know how she spells her name) about it. She’s doing the packing & she should have left some out for me. A tin of bickies arrived today, most opportunely as I bought a bottle of port wine this morning & have it hidden away. Duff & Neal & myself will have a little celebration tonight.
A nice long letter today regretting that you hadn’t written for some time. Oddly enough there hadn’t been a long gap between your letters. You were lucky not to scald your face when you took the cap off the boiling radiator. Please be more careful. It would be too tantalizing to come home & only have a mass of bandages to kiss. I’m sorry now I wrote such a grouchy letter about going on flying. I seem to have made rather a fuss about nothing.
I got the key safely this morning. I hope you made sure it fits the grip you are sending me. (Don’t get mad!)
We had a young blizzard on Saturday night & theres a thin layer of snow over everything today. I spent a very peaceful day yesterday. I’d made up my bed close to the stove & there I slept till about 10 o’clock then went down town & got some breakfast & came back & hugged the stove till tea time. Neal & I kept house for the weekend as everyone else was away. I went out for quite a walk after supper to blow the cob webs away.
This morning we are back at the old job, hauling coal & shipping off packing cases.
I enclose you some photos I took of some of the Q. M. staff. The girls have got on Officer’s flying coats & goggles. They always insist on dressing up when there’s a camera around.
Nothing definite has come through yet about the mechanics getting away. All the Cadets are supposed to cease this week & then I suppose it will be our turn.
No more now. Heaps of love. I’m rather thinking you won’t get another proper letter from me. I’m getting much too unsettled to sit down & write a real letter, so you’ll have to be contented with letters like this till I get home again.
R. A. F.
DEC 4 1918
School of Aerial Fighting
Something original in kissy things for Dickie
Darling, This must be getting on for my 200th letter. [About 60 are extant in 2021.] Its unfortunate I’m finishing off with such rotten letters as I used to think some of them were rather good (!) I enclose some more photographs. You will probably be able to decide what they are. The single building is Q. M. Stores. The interior one shows 2nd Pte. Stubbs downy couch. Its the one nearest the camera & has a striped mattress folded up on it.
We’re having a big banquet next Tuesday for all the mechanics. Turkey and 4% beer. It sounds quite an orgy.
The Cadets are going off about 50 a day. By the end of the week they will be all gone. We don’t know whether they will start on the mechanics right away or not. They (the mechanics) are going through a medical board this week so we’ll all be ready to go as soon as the orders come through but at present not a word has been said about it.
You had better not send any more food after you get this letter untill [sic] I can give you some definite information as it is quite possible that another 2 weeks will see me out of here. I know married men are supposed to go first & we are getting on well with the work here so it will be rotten luck if they keep me after the rest of the M. Men go. At present they are giving the men in the squadrons 5 days leave about 40 at a time as there is nothing for them to do. 5 days leave would bore me horribly so I hope my turn doesn’t come.
I picked up quite a nice little present for you today. Something that I hope to be able to put under your pillow on Christmas Eve. A sort of stocking toy for grown ups. I do wonder if I’ll get away in time.
It will be too sad if they leave it so late that I have to dash thro’ Toronto without stopping to do some shopping. You’ll forgive me tho’, wont you?
I stayed in the store all yesterday helping to pack vast boxes of clothes & stationary. Its really beginning to look quite empty inhere. The laundry has lost the last bag of clothes I sent which annoys me very much. If they had done it before, it wouldn’t have mattered as the Q. M. would have had to issue me with some more but now we’ve sent all the clothing away & I’m out of luck. I don’t know what they’ll do about it. Thats all the new [sic]. A real good letter from you yesterday. You seem bubbling over with cheeriness which pleases me immensely. I dont know which were the peanut bickies. The large ones were much the nicest. Anyway I hope you won’t have to send any more.
Love & love & love
R. A. F.
DEC 6 1918
School of Aerial Fighting
Darling, Delighted to hear about the scrumptious Christmas cake but shall be furious if it isn’t iced. So there ! I’ve just resisted the temptation to buy a most lovely leather flying coat ofr $20. We’ve got 50 or 60 coats here that are being sold off & I can get the pick of them. They are very nice but I doubt if I should wear it much if I had it. If you hadn’t got such a lot of coats I would probably have got one for you. The girls here are each buying one & they look quit enice in them but if you want to be warm you’ve got a fur coat which is much nicer. We’ve got quite a lot of snow now & sleighs are running about. I hope to goodness it doesn’t get so deep that motors can’t run. I’m scared of being put on to drive a team & then they might not be so anxious to let me go.
I’ve taught Neal & Duff to play nap & we play for all sorts of silly things like who goes to the canteen & gets the pop & cake & who gets to fill up the coal box & things like that. I loose every time. We don’t go out much in the evenings now as its rotten walking so we have about 4 hours to fill in before bedtime & anything does to pass the time. We usually manage to pass the time fairly pleasantly.
I am looking forward to having Dicky amuse me in the evenings before he goes to bed. He sounds quite fascinating. Everything sounds fascinating these days.
I wonder if Cecil will get his discharge earlier if Cissy writes for it to Ottawa. I imagine thousands of wives are doing the same, but I shouldn’t tell her that.
No more now.
I like the idea of Mrs. Hewetson’s new trousseau. What are you doing about it!!!?
Lots of love
R. A. F.
DEC 7 1918
School of Aerial Fighting
Darling, I’ve just got your letter rejoicing at my probable return before Christmas. It still seems quite probable but no definite news has come yet. They are getting out a list of those who can be spared and married men are to get the preference, that much I can tell you but I can’t tell you what the Quartermaster may decide about his own staff. I can be dispensed with quite easily if they choose to take the trouble to put somebody in my place, but as that might take about 5 minutes it may not occur to them.
Sorry to get such a bad report about my clothes. I note your instructions about buying a new great coat & some shirts etc but unfortunately it didn’t occur to you to send me another $50 so there won’t be anything doing. I’ve had a faint hope that you might have a brain wave & send me some more money on the chance that I might be getting short. That 50 that came a month ago has got down to 30 & thats not going to go far. I should have written before for some more but its hard to remember to write for more money when one’s already got plenty.
Of course I get my ticket home given me & also a tourist sleeper & my meals. But the tourist sleeper calls for 2 men to a berth which I don’t fancy atall [sic] & the meals provided for soldiers in the dining car are poor things & one gets them at 6 A.M. 11 AM & 5 PM & I don’t approve of those hours for feeding on a train. It makes the day seem too dam long. Consequently I’m reckoning on buying my own berth & my own meals even if it does sound extravagant. Its too late to send any now but doubtless I can get along without another great coat. I don’t often wear the thing anyway.
I enclose a letter for Jock that came yesterday.
No more news
Heaps of love
R. A. F.
DEC 9 1918
School of Aerial Fighting
Darling, I think you must have read my thoughts, for the last few days I’ve been trying to let you know that I wanted some more money & lo & behold today I get 25$. Truly wonderful!!
I don’t think I shall ever bring myself to buy a new great coat if mine is wearable atall [sic]. In the first place I have one or two coats at hoe that will do for warmth and as far as smartness is concerned its only 2 or 3 times a year that I want a thick coat to look nice in. Also you must bear in mind that the Toronto Men’s Furnishers [?] are expecting a bigger demand for great coats than they have ever had before so that I should have to pay twice as much as if I was to wait another year. It would cost me something like 30 or 40 dollars & make this 25 I’ve just received look silly & also knock quite a hole in my savings that I’ve promised myself a pleasant days shopping with. I’ll try to buy myself some headgear & maybe a shirt or two & you’ll have to let me off the rest.
The first bunch of Mechanics 25 in number leave tomorrow & I suppose that shortly we shall find out what they are going to do with us. At present we are as vague as ever.
I wrote to Mr. Arthur Smith yesterday as he owes me some 16$ & I wanted to collect it before I came away & this afternoon I saw him in Beamsville with Mrs. Frampton. He is staying here for a few days & I’m going down to see him on Wednesday night. I hope I get it then.
No! Stella has nothing whatever to do with the particular moment I’m looking forward to most.
I went to Hamilton on Saturday afternoon & stayed over night. I went to the Connaught Hotel & spent Sunday morning in bed. Had 2 good baths & had my breakfast brought up to my room. Very comfortable.
Thats about all my news.
Heaps of love
Excuse red ink. The other inkpot has vanished! [The letters of December 7, 9, and 14 are written in red ink.]
Dec 11th 1918.
Darling, They have started to discharge the Mechanics now so I suppose my turn will come on of these days. Serjeant Hyde told us yesterday that we shall all be out in 10 days but it looks as if I shall have to get quite a move on to get back for Christmas—as I suppose the QM Stores will be among the last. I hinted to him last night that as it took me 5 days to get home he might let me go a bit earlier, but he’s an awful ass & probably won’t remember a detail like that.
We had a great Farewell Supper last night. Turkey & such like stuff, cigars cigarettes & beer. The Serjeants waited on us & did the guard duties & the officers took over guarding the hangars it being so arranged that every mechanic in camp could attend. It was really done very well. The Mess Hall was decorated & there was plenty of everything. Afterwards there was a concert in the canteen which was really extraordinary [sic] bad. Duff, Neal & I managed to have quite a good time. The beer had been stored in the QM all day & we loaded it on to the tender to take up to the hall so naturally there were bottles of beer hidden everywhere in the bins in the store. Its only 2% stuff so I got to bed quite safely.
I’m going on a medical board this afternoon. Its part of the demobilisation routine.
Sorry you got stuck with the car. Don’t go & tip yourself into a ditch before I come back. I think I shall try keeping the car in the garden & see how I get on. Its quite a way to carry lots of boiling water to the Buck’s garage. There may be a little snow to dig out of it every now & then but otherwise is should be alright.
You can please yourself about coming up to Vernon to meet me. Its a rotten time of year to take a trip like that even in the Sicamous & makes a very long day of it so if you like to “carry on” as usual & just meet me on the wharf, I don’t mind. I do wish I knew definitely when I was coming home.
Heaps & heaps of it
Please thank Dickie for his pictures.
Dec 12th 1918. Thursday.
Darling, Things are surely moving now. Everybody is supposed to be out of the camp by Monday so I’m hoping to get away then myself. Leave Toronto Tuesday & get home Saturday. What Ho!!!!! Quite a bunch of men left today. We’re all upside down in the store & it doesn’t look as if we shall ever get the work done but I suppose we shall. We’ve got to work in the evenings now & all passes are cancelled.
I went down to the Frampton’s yesterday. They make me rather mad. Like the rest of Beamsville I think they would have liked the war to go on forever. All the stores are whining now because they are overstocked & don’t know what to do about it. They soaked the soldiers all they can & don’t get much sympathy.
There’s nothing much to write about & perhaps you may get a telegram soon & then you won’t want any letters.
All my love, ducky,
Saturday. Dec 14th 1918.
Darling, I’m rapidly going bald & my temper’s wearing out with this business of finishing up.
Everything is in such a muddle. As fast as we get anything packed up & shipped away, a lot more junk is piled in. Most of its no good. If some department signed for a whisk broom from here in the spring they have to turn it in again now. So we get the most hopeless looking things back again. It appears now that it will be Wednesday or Thursday before we get straightened out so I suppose I shall spend Christmas in the train. Damn it! Never again do I put myself in such a position that I can’t call my soul my own. In civil life you can tell the boss to go to ____ & quit, here we have got to stay untill [sic] it pleases the to let us go. Practically everybody who has to go as far as B. C. has already gone or goes today.
I haven’t heard from you for 3 days & today makes the fourth & there’s no letter yet. To cheer us up it has rained steadily for the last 2 days & the whole place is like a ploughed field.
There really isn’t much news. We bustle around with the truck all day & do a certain amount of straightening up in the evenings & a most almighty lot of swearing & so the days pass.
Expect me when you see me & pray that it may be soon.
Heaps of love
SCHOOL OF AERIAL FIGHTING
Sunday. Dec 15th 1918.
I asked Serj Hyde last night if there was any chance of my being home for Christmas & he said I should get hoe to day before. Thats running it pretty close but I hope to make it alright. It won’t be long now anyway.
Of course the kids will want a little Christmas Tree. You seem to talk as if there was some doubt about it.
You had better notify Benson that we shan’t want the house after the end of March, also don’t let Fordham bluff us out of our telephone. It seems an absurd idea. We had it first anyway & paid a vast sum to have it installed so I don’t see how they can cut us off. If the worst comes to the worst, have the phone put back upupome right away & have another one put in the shepheards [sic] house. It will only cost us $5 for the 2 months. Isn’t it funny that theres always trouble with anything that Fordham has to do with.
It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Cecil was posted back to France. Its the sort of thing they do with married men & then let the draftees come straight home. I hope he gets out of it.
Things are getting a little straighter here. We thought we were going to get out on Monday, but now it is Wednesday. Apparently I’ve got to travel by the Grand Trunk as far as Winnipeg & then connect with the C. P. R. so I expect it will take a little longer to get home.
Must stop. All my love
SCHOOL OF AERIAL FIGHTING
ROYAL AIR FORCE
Dec 17th 1918.
Three cheers!! I have got my discharge in my money belt likewise a ticket to Kelowna & 15 meal tickets in case I starve on the train. I leave for Toronto tomorrow & leave Toronto Thursday night & kiss you on Christmas Eve. They send us by the Grand Trunk as far as Winnipeg which is unfortunate as by the C. P. R. I could leave Toronto on Wednesday but the G. T. R. only goes every other day. They let us have our discharges today on the understanding that we stayed on till tomorrow to finish cleaning up the store. We have done lots of good work the last few days as we were told that the sooner we got through the sooner we should get away but as a matter of fact we are the last to leave & we should have to go tomorrow anyway.
Just think, this is the last letter I write to you for quite a while. You will have already had a wire from me so that this letter isn’t really necessary but I’ll just send you all my love & very soon after you et this I’ll be helping you fill stockings & everything will be jake again.
Get a big kiss from Dickie to go on with.
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