SCHOOL OF AERIAL GUNNERY
ROYAL AIR FORCE
May 21st 1918.
Darling, And was it a little grouch? I hope the beastly woman who didn’t come when you expected her had a good excuse. It would be pleasant to think that she had a raging toothache but I suppose really she couldn’t be bothered. Yesterday I came to the conclusion that I had enjoyed my leave in anticipation long enough so I wrote out a pass for next Saturday May 25th & handed it in. It is hardly likely that I get it then but I chiefly did it to let the authorities know that I wanted my leave & they will probably tell me when I am likely to get it. If by any chance it should go through I shall be a very surprised person & you will be getting a telegram about the time you get this letter to say I have left Toronto. You will at once on receipt of such a wire (which may come any time in the next few weeks) decide what you are going to do about coming to Vernon, & write a letter to await me at Sicamous & probably send a telegram there too later on, otherwise I might go on by train from Vernon while you having been delayed by a puncture are bustling round the curves on the road.
Perhaps we’d better arrange as follows.
Unless I hear definitely from you at Sicamous that you cannot come to Vernon to meet me, I will wait there untill [sic] you do come, so that there will be no desperate hurry for you to catch the train if you come by car & if you come by boat you may as well come up to Vernon. I think thats all pretty lucid & I feel quite excited by just writing about it.
When I put my pass in I made up my mind that it was merely a feeler to see how the land lay but now its in I can’t help wondering whats happening to it, which is foolish.
It seems to me quite an undertaking for you to motor to Vernon without any adult assistance. I don’t doubt but what you could do it but if you had a puncture you’d have a very strenuous time & get the nice frock you’ll be wearing for me all messed up. I wonder if the Lysons [?] would hit on that day by any chance to take a trip to Vernon & would have room for you & me.
Oh dear, writing about it seems to bring it too much into the foreground & I’m trying to Keep it tucked away where I can’t think about it so much.
I took my camera out with me this afternoon in the waggon [sic] & having some time to wait down by the hangars I got a lot of photographs of planes just before they landed. I was in the road & they’d come swooping down just over my head. I expect they were going too fast to be much good.
To go back to the one important subject. I think probably I’ll get my leave in a fortnight or 3 weeks which is a pretty good time to have it.
S. of A. G.
R. A. F.
May 22 1918.
Darling, It doesn’t look as if I was going to get my leave this week, but with any luck it oughtn’t to be long delayed. I was asking my serjeant this afternoon how my pass was getting along & he said he was very doubtful about its going through this week, and now I hear tonight that the blighter who had the team before & was going to take my place, has gone off to hospital. Blastation!!!
Two nice long lettes from you today. I am glad the woman has turned up & does the work all right. Two mornings a week doesn’t seem much. I wrote to Mary and Arkie last night telling them that between us we are going to do all your work while I’m at home. I shall love doing it too. There doesn’t seem very much to write about. I have found a field close by where I turn my team out at night. They are beginning to get quite fat. When I parted from them at Deseronto they were as thin as rails & no life left in them atall [sic]. This morning one of them wouldn’t let me catch him atall [sic] so I suppose their spirits are improving.
I am sending you some more rotten photographs. The tents from above were/was taken at Deseronto. We put them up in the garden at Rathbun House just before I left. My stable and team at Beamsville.
A view over the Aerodrome. You can make out a plane or two on the ground & the ambulance in waiting. It always stands there as long as any flying is going on a sort of horrible warning.
A group outside my tent. And a crash.
I suppose you will be able to decide which is which but they are all pretty rotten. I think there must be something the matter with the lense [sic] of this camera. Of course it is only a cheap one which may account for it.
Sorry this is such a rotten letter.
May 25th 1918.
Darling, A most unpleasing day, heavy thundershowers at intervals & when it rains here it comes down in buckets. I missed most of them this morning but got caught just as I was coming home for dinner & got pretty wet. Luckily its a half holiday today so I could change & stay in this afternoon. We had a half holiday yesterday too for the 24th but they are going to make us work on Sunday to make up for it so I suppose the army comes out ahead as usual.
Yesterday was very boring. They had some sports on the race track just like they do at Kelowna. Every half hour or so some foot race would be run & the rest of the time we wandered about wondering what to do next. Some of the pilots were up doing stunts & that was worth watching but the rest was very feeble. I heard there was a letter waiting for me up in camp so I took a long hot & dusty walk to get it & when I got there found it was for another Stubbs so there was nothing to do but come all the way back again. It was nearly impossible to get anything to eat in town the only 2 restaurants being jammed full but having at last got some supper I ran across Morley & we started out for a walk in the country & it began to rain so although I had a midnight pass I gave it up as a bad job & went to bed which I believe is the best place in the army especially as last night was my first night in pyjamas. They are quite an improvement. Thanks very much for the cake. I am eating a bit now. It is very good but I shall be glad when we can have iced cakes again. Perhaps we shall soon for the papers seem to be getting very optimistic. We seem to be beating them in the air & under the water & the Yanks have decided on putting 5 million men into the army so I should imagine the Germans will see its not much good going on for another year if they don’t beat us in the next push & that isn’t very likely.
I send some more photographs.
Tons of love
Sunday. May 26th 1918.
Darling, I am in somewhat of a quandary about my service leave. To put itin a nutshell it is like this.
As things are at present I can get my discharge in a month or two if I want to but they are not going to grant service leave to those who are going to claim their discharge, and as my application for leave goes in tomorrow I only have a day or two do [sic] decide this momentous question and I had hoped to discuss it fully with you at home.
I will try & make it clear about this discharge business.
It appears that when one volunteers to join anything, one cannot be transferred against one’s will.
In “Orders” which are put up on the notice boards in Camp & on this occasion were read by the O. C. to a special parade of all men something like the following was given out.
Any man transferring from the R. F. C. to R. A. F. will not be called upon to serve for any longer period than he originally enlisted for i. e.[?]the duration & 6 months if necessary.
Any man not wishing to be transferred can within 3 months from April 1st 1918 notify his O. C. that that [sic] he does not wish to serve in the RAF in which case he will be discharged & will be handed over to the Military Authorities.
Now then if I get my discharge the Mil Authorities cannot touch me because I’m both married & over age & I come home again but the question is
What ought I to do? I’m darned if I know!! You see I’m driving this team & it looks now as if I shall drive it till the end of the war unless I do something silly & when all’s said & done any old cripple could do the job just as well. Theres not very much for the team to do that the Ford trucks can’t do much quicker & untill [sic]next winter & the snow stops the motors I shan’t be doing anything very important. On the other hand if I come home I don’t see that I can do anything for the country atall [sic]& incidentally it will take a deal of explaining to our various friends & relations as to how I got out of the army in wartime without being medically unfit. It would look a little odd, wouldn’t it?
Lots of the married men are putting in for their discharge & quite a number that aren’t married for (strictly entre nous) there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the way the outfit is run, but thats neither here nor there as regards my own particular position.
It makes it a little harder to come to an unbiased decision as I do so long to be home again but then I wouldn’t like to look back in years to come & think that I’d taken advantage of a technical point in Army law to get out of it.
This letter is full of contradictions as you can see but jotting them down sort of clears the air in my own mind but I’m afraid it will thoroughly confuse you.
It boils down to this—Here am I kicking my heels most of the time & there you are working like a slave & I don’t like it. If it was the other way about I wouldn’t think of getting out.
The trouble is in the army each man is such a very small cog in such a very big machine that of course he thinks he might as well be out of it but if all the little cogs thought the same it wouldn’t be much of a machine, would it?
I don’t know what I’ll do. I did want to come & talk it over with you.
Enough of this topic if the O. C. has me before him when he considers my service leave & won’t let me come home first after I’ve explained my reasons for wanting to I’ll probably tell him I want my discharge for I’m not going to have anybody getting funny with me. One or two NCO’s have tried (they mostly come from the East End of London, hence a lot of the dissatisfaction I mentioned earlier) but I explained to them very clearly that I wasn’t a bit impressed by their rank & really the only three I’ve had any trouble with, I get on very well with now.
You must have got the kids trained awfully well if you can leave them & go to church. I should have thought Tony and Dicky would have been sure to go roaming over the house & done something desperate.
I got a good drenching this morning when I went to work. When I got there I found it was off so came back having got wet through for nothing. I got back at 10 & having got my wet clothes off I slipped on my pyjamas & went back to bed till 12.30. What a life!
Very best love from
May 27th 1918.
Darling, No leave this week after all which is very sickening. I saw my pass all properly signed by the officer & lept [sic] for joy & then saw they had put June 14th on it. Well, its something to know definitely that it is coming & now if nothing goes wrong I should be with you on the 18th of June which isn’t very long to wait.
You had better send me some more money just to be on the safe side altho’ I have plenty left yet but I don’t want to run any chances of being held up if there’s any hitch with the army pay as sometimes happens.
You will have time now to give me your opinion on this discharge business. As a matter of fact I don’t think that really I could bring myself to apply for it. I may as well see this job through now and probably you’d rather I did too.
It looks as if I shall be nearly the only man left in the R. A. F. Nearly everybody seems to be trying to get out. Most of them of course will get caught for the Infantry & they are quite justified in quitting but quite a lot will get back to Civil life which isn’t as it ought to be now men are so short. I think myself its men like me who aren’t wanted very much for fighting who ought to carry on in the R. A. F.
We went round to the Exhibition grounds last night & I took Smiths bicycle round the track. My first effort was such a success that I’m longing to try it again.
I am very pleased with the photographs. You don’t give one the impression of being very thin in the pictures but of course its hard to judge. (I’ll know more about it by the morning of the 19th.) I’m very glad you’re feeling so fit. You blossomed out very nicely last summer after a very bad start so this summer you ought to be fine & dandy.
I think the 3 boys together is the nicest I’ve seen of them. Tony is the most fascinating thing I’ve seen in boys, isn’t he? He’s nicest in all the pictures. There’s a “je ne sais quoi” about Tony that the others haven’t got.
I see the Germans have just started their 2nd big push. They are sure to gain some ground, I suppose, but unless they make a great success I rather think it will be the last one. You see if I’m not right.
There’s a lot of love for you tonight ducky,
May 30th 1918.
Darling, Here are the photographs of our Niagara trip. One of them has turned out about the prettiest picture of the Falls I have seen. I hope you like the one of me taken on the “Maid of the Mist” before we went on our voyage. I put on my best smile for your benefit as I usually look as savage as a bear in all the photos I’ve sent you. Smith is the fellow just in front of me.
We are having a great clean up here as the Duke of Devonshire is coming over on Saturday. I wonder if these big pots know what the soldiers say about them & their inspections. Their ears must burn if they do for it makes a lot of extra & unnecessary work & there is any amount of cussing about it. I have no intention of cleaning up my old waggon [sic] unless some fussy officer has a brain storm & tells me too [sic]. It is just like my old waggon at home with no paint on it & a rough lumber gravel bed just like I use so it wouldn’t really look smart if I did wash it.
I am much interested in the 2 books for my birthday present. Its too damn bad I shan’t be able to feel under my pillow at home for it. I so nearly got home for my birthday that I might just as well have done so (quite) instead of having to wait till the 18th which is the date when I expect to be home now. Anyway keep the books till I come, they will do for me to read in the evenings when I’m bored with you!!
I wonder why my mail gets to you so irregularly. I always write every other day & sometimes every day & always post the letter myself in the P. O. in town so there oughtn’t to be any gaps at your end.
Did I tell you that I had written to Mappins in Montreal for a new luminous minute hand for my watch. All the luminous part has fallen out so when I wake up at night I can only tell roughly what the time may be. They wrote back that they can’t get any more luminous parts from Europe & consequently can’t supply me. Whats the matter with Canada & the States that they can’t make their own luminous things.
I hope the Ford isn’t going to start causing trouble this year. They have always said each year that the new Fords weren’t as good as the old ones but they’re all much of a muchness I think. Anyway ours doesn’t get any very rough treatment so ought to be alright.
I shouldn’t bother much about Mary & her tantrums. I think a lot of little girls go through the same stage & I rather think that Pop can do some good when he comes home permanently. Pops can sometimes manage little girls in the same way that Mothers are better with little boys. I don’t know why but it is generally so. Anyway Mussy will get a nasty shock if she “back answers” you when I’m within hearing.
Dicky sounds delightful & he is your particular apple, isn’t he? Of course nobody came along to put his nose out of joint. I believe he’s more of a companion for you than any of the others. I’ve been chortling quite a lot over your little story of Dicky & his equestrian performance in your bed & on your expostulating saying “Wait till Daddy comes”. What exactly am I to understand from that? (oh tut)
Oh, you ducky pom[?], we can’t think how beastly the coming back here again will be, for thinking how delightful my 6 days at home is going to be.