IMPERIAL ROYAL FLYING CORPS.
Nov 12th 1918.
Darling, At last! No false alarms this time. This armistice seems to be about the same as Peace for it certainly won’t be possible for the Germans to start again. How they must have gnashed their teeth at having to sign a document like that. We got the news just before early parade but there wasn’t half the excitement that there was over last weeks false alarm. We carried on as usual during the morning but were given a wash out in the afternoon. Hamer & I went to Hamilton as did most of the men. I managed to get a seat in the street car for about 20 minutes but then gave it up to a girl & had to stand for the remaining hour and a quarter. The car was so packed that there was scarcely standing room even. When we got to Hamilton we found them celebrating in great style. The streets were packed & it was one long procession of motors mostly decorated & with various noise making appliances attached. The most popular form was to get a lot of old boilers, stovepipes & saucepans & tow them behind the car. The sidewalks were almost impossible & nearly everybody seemed to carry a tin of talcum powder with which they plentifully besprinkled the opposite sex. The dust was something cruel. The smell alone of so much powder was bad enough. Certainly Hamilton celebrated all right but I believe it was nothing to Toronto which really did go crazy as far as I can hear.
We went to quite a good show, the first I’ve been to for quite a long while & then had quite a job to find room in a street car going home. They put on 3 cars for us but we wanted 6 at least. I got a seat all right but it was on the floor of the smoking compartment & we were so packed down there that you couldn’t move without consulting the fellows with whom you were tangled up. I got to bed just after 2 & was mighty glad to get there. Reveille went at 5.30 this morning as usual which I thought rather mean of them.
Well, they have washed out flying now & are busy greasing all the wires & jacking the planes off the ground so it looks as if there won’t be any more flying & that makes the prospects all the better for us.
We eagerly look out for any clues that might give us a hint about whats going to happen to us. The other day we had a clothing board at which men whose clothing is beyond repair show their disreputable garments to 3 officers, & if they are lucky they get their clothes condemned & then new ones are issued to them. These new clothes come from the QM Stores of course and Mr. Watts the QM came in this afternoon & said no new clothes were to be issued in place of condemned ones.
That we think is a clue, as if we were going to be here 3 months or more thely wouldn’t expect the men to make this condemned stuff last all that time for clothing has to be pretty hopeless before its condemned. I went on that clothing board myself & got the socks I was originally issued with condemned. They had been mended so often that I preferred to buy my own instead of wearing them. They couldn’t do anything except condemn them as I’d prepared them specially for that purpose.
I’ve been writing this letter under a disadvantage. Its getting on for bedtime & I’m sitting in the store on a kitchen chair cocked back against a row of shelves. Duff is here and a fellow called Neal whom I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned. He’s quite a kid with more “joie de vivre” than anybody I’ve ever struck, quite irresistable & a godsend to have around. Duff & he have been baiting me ever since I started to write, making the most unholy din. Matters went from bad to worse untill [sic] one of them trying to dodge past me knocked against the corner of my chair & in my efforts to save myself I put my arm in the shelf behind me where they keep the cups & plates for afternoon tea & there was a most glorious crash. By the time we’d all done laughing I was too weak to take an adequate revenge. I wish you could see some of these fellows that I like round here. They really are excellent people. Duff’s father sent him [to] sea as a cabin boy on a tramp steamer when he was 14 & he’s made his own living ever since. Neal’s people live in Hamilton & he says that in the slump that came over Canada just before war broke out, he & his brother & his old man were all walking round Hamilton trying to find a job of any kind & were so broke that Neal thought he’d get a harvester’s ticket out west but between them they couldn’t scratch up the 10$ required. Then the war started & they all made lots of money making munitions.
I shall look forward to your letter about Peace day (or should I say Armistice day). I was wondering all the time what you were doing. I’m afraid it came a little to [sic] late to get me home for Christmas but I expect to get back so soon after that I don’t mind much. I would like to watch Dickie unpack his stocking tho’.
Its it [sic] great to think I’ll be back soon tho’!!
Heaps of love
IMPERIAL ROYAL FLYING CORPS.
Nov 30th 1918. [November 30, 1918 was a Sunday, whereas this letter seems to have been written on a Wednesday, so I conclude that Robin wrote “30” instead of “13” and I have dated this letter accordingly.]
Darling, You seem to be taking great precautions against the flue & I sincerely hope you don’t get it. Over here the doctors especially published notices telling people on no account to spray their throats as it only irritated the membranes & made one more liable to pick up germs. You tell me you’re spraying 3 or 4 times a day so your membranes should be well irritated. The whole secret is fresh air & lots of it. We here think we’ve had our attack & that its now over. Certainly a little while ago about 100 men here were in hospital but the cases were mostly very mild. Lots of fresh air & “sal pecos” or something like that & you’ll be alright. All the towns round here are out of bounds to us but they are all reporting better conditions now so I hope it will soon be a thing of the past. They’ve got it in England now pretty badly.
The most exciting paper today that I’ve seen since the war started. Apparently the Allies have agreed what the armistice terms are to be & by the end of the week they expect to get Germany’s answer. If she agrees, the war is over, & if she doesn’t I suppose it will mean a few more months, but we ought to know definitely & there’s a very good chance that Germany will agree.
Barty and his building operations amuse me vastly. I can imagine him so well asking everybody’s advice & weighing all the evidence. I don’t suppose he’ll allow a nail to be driven without marking the place first.
Its much better to leave the border as it is, all straggly & overgrown. However pessimistic you may be, I myself have every intention of digging it up myself in the spring with you to superintend the job. Also I expect its a good plan to leave the dead growth to keep the frost out a bit in the winter. You might take a walk along the back of it & see if any great masses of golden Glows are weighing down the hedge & if so bend them back out of the way.
I’m rather glad to hear the eye doctor turns out to be a foot & mouth specialist. I’m afraid the first eye doctor Mary sees will say she had better wear spectacles. They all say that because 99 people out of a hundred havent got normal sight & with a child who can’t really say if its eyes are bothering it or not of course to be on the safe side one makes it wear spectacles. And in my humble opinion to start specs when you’re young means you can never give them up. Sailors are supposed to have good sight because they’re always on the look out & using the eye muscles. If you put Mary into tight stays now her back would become so dependant on their support that she could never give them up again and the same applies to specs in my humble opinion, altho’ I am aware that I know nothing about eyes & their failings. So I suppose that one of these days we shall have her eyes seen to & she will wear specs “just to be on the safe side”. Really tho’ specs are an awful handicap to a girl even at Mary’s age & still worse as she gets older. Enough of that, I’ll discuss the matter with you personally.
Todays a ½ holiday and its compulsory to go down & watch the football games etc. This is done to ensure the troops getting plenty of fresh air & we do it every Wednesday. We have the band down there to play to us but it isn’t very exciting. Duff & I have to work this afternoon as there’s lot [sic] of stuff to come up from the station.
No more now, ducky. Let’s hope that Germany agrees to this armistice. What a vast sigh of relief there [will] be from several million wives & mothers to say nothing of the men themselves.
All my love, sweetheart
IMPERIAL ROYAL FLYING CORPS.
Nov 14th 1918.
Darling, I’m so sorry to hear about Simon. He’s pretty tough so perhaps he’ll get over it. I can’t think why he hasn’t got caught before, for he never looked when [sic] he went & was about the clumsiest thing on four feet I ever saw.
That 1300$ tickles me somewhat. If we can only scratch up another 700$ & pay off 2000 of the mortgage we save 160$ a year & also if there’s only 3000 left it will encourage us to save another 1000 and reduce it again. When we’ve got it all paid off, a couple of years interest would give us an electric light system and that’s worth trying for.
I’m afraid we shall have a few expenses next spring at the ranch. There’ll probably be a cow to buy & I expect the fences have gone pretty nearly plumb to ____ & that will mean buying fence posts & probably hiring some chinks or labour of some kind.
Thanks for the $50. I wonder when I shall get a chance to spend it. They won’t give us any weekends at present but as soon as I can get one I’m going to get your Christmas presents as I don’t want to hang around Toronto on my way home for an extra 24 hours why [sic] I go shopping. I don’t know what I’ll get for you. I wish I could think of something better than a blouse but it is so hard to know what to get. I’ll get Mary a muff & fur necklet or whatever you can [sic] it. Have you any suggestions for Arkie. Tony and Dickie are still at the age when anything will do. Please answer about Arkie he might have got some craze that I know nothing about.
As soon as we find out more definitely what our plans are I shall probably be writing to you to send me a civy suit, & my overcoat in a grip probably to the Queen’s Hotel, Toronto, to await arrival. It will be my grey suit & Aunties green knitted waistcoat, 2 shorts, 6 collars & a tie or two & a cap. “Undies”, boots, etc I shall have.
They give us a $10 suit but you can imagine what that would be like. I think I’d rather have the cash.
Nobody knows anything yet but I can’t believe we shall be here so very long. Its only 3 days since the war stopped & already fellows are told off for sports in the morning & drill & such like rubbish. Foolish fatigues etc Everybody’s slinging the lead especially Duff & I & our cadets. This morning we went off with the truck to get the laundry from the station. The cadets bought cakes & cigars & I bought candies & we had quite a picnic at the station. We spent about an hour and a half there & then the laundry never came. The IMB have a 5 ton truck & we’ve managed to persuade them to haul some coal for us. I know the foreman, & as long as he can find work for his men, he doesn’t mind what it is. They’ve hauled nearly 20 tons for us & that helps a lot.
You can’t think how dead the aerodrome is now there’s no flying. A solitary ‘bus flew over from Buffalo yesterday & nearly everybody was out looking at it.
Bestest love. Ever your Robin.
IMPERIAL ROYAL FLYING CORPS.
Nov 16th 1918.
Darling I’m feeling very sore today & this is the reason. Ever since the armistice was signed there has been no flying & the mechanics have been busy greasing the engines all over & all the wires with a view to storing them away. As soon as they had finished that we were all supposed to get 30 days leave or more, married men to get the preference, this looked fine for me & I was expecting to be home very soon there to stay untill [sic] I was called up to get my discharge & then last night the bombshell fell. We were all at a canteen singsong when a captain got up & announced that a message had just come thro’ from Headquarters at Toronto that flying was to be resumed immediately& so today all the bus’s [sic] have been cleaned off & are buzzing around as busily as ever. According to the paper the armistice terms are being carried out very nicely so we haven’t any idea why they are doing this. If they are going to finish off training a lot of these Cadets, goodness only knows how long we’ll be here. I was going to Hamilton today to stay over Sunday night & my pass was signed & all ready & now we’ve got to work all Sunday & my pass is cancelled. Furthermore I didn’t get a letter yesterday nor today & now I’ve got to wait till Monday. So altogether life is one big Damn today.
I was expecting to hear some more about Simon today. I expect you’ve written & the letter has been held up somewhere.
I really haven’t any news.
IMPERIAL ROYAL FLYING CORPS,
“AERONAUTICS, CANADA”. “ADELAIDE 2380”.
Nov 19. 1918
Darling, Three most delightful letters from you yesterday. You dear, I did love hearing about your peace celebrations. I wish I could have been there too & yet I’m glad I wasn’t. You ought to have taken a photograph or two but I don’t suppose you could collect yourself enough to think of such things. I ought to have written to you yesterday but somehow I didn’t manage to get it in. The last time I wrote it was a very grouchy letter I believe. We are getting quite fed up with all these beastly rumours. If no one talked about when we were to get our tickets we shouldn’t think about it so much. No one knows anything but somebody has always just heard something on very good authority. I don’t suppose I shall get away before the snows & muds have put the Vernon road out of action& I don’t think I’ll let you come to Sicamous as I don’t get there till the morning & then come straight on down to Vernon. So you can get on the boat in the morning and spend a peaceful morning knitting on you way to the Landing. You can even bring a kid or two with you if you like but I’ll leave that to your own discretion.
I’m going to try & get a weekend next week & go to Toronto. I haven’t been there for years & I might find something there for the kids.
This QM Store is getting a very popular spot. Its about 1.30 now & people are sitting around waiting for work to begin. About 6 men & 3 girls all gabbling like anything. It distracts my thoughts! Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday all wet & most depressing. I spent Sunday afternoon reading “The Broad Highway” & was supposed to go to the Framptons in the evening but couldn’t raise enough enthusiasm. I got half way there & then stopped at a restaurant for a feed. Last night Duff, Neal, & I went to the pictures. During the day there’s not much to write about. Just filling in time. We hope to get busy soon shipping stuff away that won’t be wanted anymore. Duff went before a medical board this morning. We’ve all got to do that before they discharge us to see whether we’re any the worse for being in the army. But it wouldn’t be much good putting us through a board now if we were going to be here all winter so perhaps we’ll be away in amonth or two.
Miss Truss is away today & we’ve had a fresh driver. A girl who has been VAD’ing in France for 2 years. She was telling me that she’d got an electric starter on her Ford & that it was a great success in the summer. She hasn’t had it long enough to know what its like in the winter. We don’t really want one though if I’m there to do the starting, do we?
I can’t write, there’s too much gabbling going on.
Lots of love
SCHOOL OF AERIAL FIGHTING
Nov 20TH 1918.
I am so sorry about Simon. I’m afraid you must have had a rotten time with him although you didn’t say much about it. Surely the vet must have given him a very powerful medecine [sic] for it to act as quickly as all that. Poor old Simon, he came in for a lot of abuse for clumsiness & he was certainly ugly but he was so nice to the kids that that made up for it. We’ll have to get another pup from somewhere in the spring when we are back at the ranch. We’ll get a real spaniel this time. I believe they are the nicest kind of dog. Collies are too big & fox terriers are too much of a handful.
We are in the midst of a kit inspection or rather waiting for it to start. We’ve got all our stuff out on our bunks & have been waiting nearly an hour for somebody to come & inspect it. I think I’ve got all mine still. There seems quite a lot of it whenits all put out.
Its a very excellent thing that you’ve got Stella with you. It makes such a difference when things don’t go smoothly if you’ve got somebody nice in the house & I should think she’d be most sympathetic & very useful. You’ve never said very much about the housework since Stella came. Are you having a fairly restful time. I rather doubt whether you do much sitting around till about 7 PM. Am I right?
Heaps & heaps of love, dear