RCAF 11 – April – May 1944 – 423 Squadron, Part 2

[Postmark:  FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 AP ?? 44]

[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]

#20 April 2. 1944.

Dear Mother:

There was lots of mail and parcels when I got back here.  Parcels 3 & 4 have arrived and have been vigorously attacked.  The cake is wonderful.  I like those dried bananas but they remind me more of figs.  I don’t know whether I can use the soup for awhile.  We never have had any while in the air and sometimes don’t even have tea but my roommate and I are slowly getting our room equipped to handle such things as soup.  Also two lots of cigs have arrived—that is the ones that went astray and those for Dec. (for which the card was missing).  And then the Canadian Legion dished out 80 in the last few days to everybody so I am well stocked.

I have bought our former second pilots [sic] bicycle and now use it to go everywhere.  Should get into town more often now particularly as the weather is improving.  

Your last letter posted on Mar 21 reached me on the 30th.  I don’t know how it can get over so fast.  

I saw one good raid while on leave.  I watched it from my hotel room which was on the top floor and felt as if I was being an awful fool all the time.  I had an odd feeling of detachment and unreality and it really was quite a show—like a huge fireworks display.  Next day the papers said it was one of the heaviest barrages we had ever thrownup.

Those chaps who I said were going to Pat. Bay look like being the first and the last to follow this procedure.  Pity.

My F/O came through just before I went on leave but I am still wearing the old braid.  In London it would have taken several days to make the change due to labour shortage and since I have got back here I have been having the usual trouble with the batmen who are rather hopeless about getting things down [sic].  We are all getting the volunteer ribbon and this means having the wings on our uniforms raised about half an inch to accomodate [sic] the ribbon beneath.  Apparently is [sic] wasn’t expected that we might be given a ribbon even if not earned meritoriously.

Yesterday our CO read a speech to the squadron—a copy of that given by F/Lt Sinclair M.P. to the Canadian House of Commons.  It was mostly about rehabitulation [sic] and thus a morale booster by letting the boys know what is going on for their home coming.  I guess it is being read to all the services and no doubt it is something we should all be thinking about.

Glad to hear Miss Harrison called you.  I had a letter from her today.  She had been staying at her sister’s place on Dog Lake.  Also got a long mimeographed letter from the Capitol News all about Kelowna in general with a photo of the main street enclosed.

The date has now crept around to the 4th.  There is so little I can say it is difficult to whip out a letter.  I wish the second front would get cracking.

I remembered only yesterday how close was Mary’s birthday.  Mail service is becoming more rapid but it still can’t accomplish the impossible so my wishes will be late—but many happy returns anyway, Mary.

With love from



[Postmark:  FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 AP 13 44]

[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]

#21 423 Sqdn.


April 11. 1944.

Dear Mother:

Parcel No. 5 arrived last week.  That’s the one with the tomato juice, peaches etc.  Thank you very much.  I think I will save the peaches for some special occasion altho I cannot think when there would be such a thing around here—yesterday (Easter Monday) should have been the occasion I suppose.  No. 2 has not arrived.  We have done well in the hut lately with toasted cheese sandwiches, cake and coffee before going to bed.

Have done well in the mess also with eggs for breakfast three days in a row and an egg for supper tonight.  I cannot understand this sudden but welcome influx of eggs.

Some time in October I took out a $100 bond to be paid for by monthly deductions from my pay.  It should be fully paid at the end of this month but the thing is I cannot remember what instructions I gave for its delivery.  (Very unlike me to do that.)  It may be coming to you or the bank so will you keep an eye open for it.

I have quite a time looking after my bike.  I lent it to a chap one night and found it the next day at the mess rather than at my billet.  Another time a chap borrowed it, forgot what it looked like and returned with another having no idea where the change took place.  I found it the following afternoon outside the engineering office.  Today somebody took it without permission from the mess.  When I got back to the billet I found it waiting there with a flat tire.  Luckily I have a repair kit and had the machine serviceable in no time.  I would like to know who the culprit was though.  

My skipper got those photographs of the crew when he was on leave but not all of them unfortunately and the one with me in it is missing.  However they are interesting shots and I will get the numbers so that you can write perhaps to Ottawa for copies.

We are now on double daylight saving.  This was tough at first but I broke myself in gently by skipping breakfast and sleeping in half an hour longer than usual.  But the evenings are wonderfully long and it is a pity there is nothing worthwhile to do.  Perhaps I shall take up tennis again if I can find an opponent and if the balls will bounce at all.

It is going to be lovely around here soon.  This place was formerly a fairly large estate and is quite like a park—not yet spoilt by its present inhabitants.  Some flowers are blooming already.  I don’t know what kind but when I was coming p the path from the slip I noticed a most delightful scent.  The owner of the place used to be commodore of the yacht club so the obvious conclusion is there are sailing boats in the vicinity and perhaps I will get some sailing this summer.

At present the popular sport is softball and we have quite a league representing the various sections.  I don’t think I will join the team as it was never one of my favorite games.

Still do the odd spot of P.T. but the incentive to go (if you remember what that was) is not so strong due to recent impositions.

I hope you are now quite recovered from your cold and not missing any more Red X meetings.

With love from Tony.



[Postmark:  CRUMLIN CO. ANTRIM ? 20 AP 1944]

[R.A.F. CENSOR ??0]

[22 APR 1944  NO. 2  PASSED BY R.A.F. CENSOR]

[This letter is written on regular note paper and enclosed in an envelope, whereas most of the other letters from this period are written on flimsy air-mail forms.  The envelope has been opened and resealed with a piece of paper printed with the words “OPENED BY EXAMINER 9446”.]

#22 Thur April 17 (or thereabouts)

Dear Mother:

I seem to have run out of ink already—just enough left to address the envelope.  [The date and salutation are written in ink, the remainder of the letter in pencil.]

We have been having a bit of a drive on this last victory loan and I have taken out $500 this time as it looks as if I am going to start accumulating money over here.  This time I got a receipt which specifies mode of delivery (I think—not having it with me here) and it occurred to me that I sent a similar receipt for the other one on to you.  Anyway this latest one will be delivered to dad when paid up so please note in your diary to watch for it.

I thought I mentioned before what leave we get but you seem to be in doubt in your last letter.  Operational aircrew get double what Dick does ordinarily.  Just at present the system seems a little upset and I would not be able to go to any of the places I usually do.

I am taking a short course and at present am detached to a different station.  The mess is a moderately large and not particularly old house and so is much more comfortable than our Nissen affair.  Also the meals are infinitely better which does grieve me as this is only a training station.  We have had eggs for breakfast several times this week and always fresh hot toast for both this meal and tea.  The coffee is the best I have had over here also except for some stuff I make from a concentrate in my hut.  Batman service is good too—buttons polished every day without asking instead of very infrequently and after much prodding.  Rooms are not Nissen but wooden and I’ve got mine so hot right now I have had to take my shirt off.  Lovely.

One day we had to be away for lunch and so took rations with us.  Then we found we hadn’t got nearly enough plates etc aboard to handle all of us.  So we put off flying till after lunch (weather was duff anyway) and took all the food to a near by farm cottage and the farmers [sic] wife cooked us a splendid meal of steak and eggs.

The night before I had bought half a doz. from this place because I slept the night in the ward room with one of the crew and we had late supper and breakfast aboard.

I suddenly seem to have come to the end of my tether with this letter.  I should be in bed anyway as we have to get to work here by 0800 and that is a lot different than 0900 or later which is what I am used to.

With love from


P.S.  Oh yes.  About the F/O.  It is automatic after six months commissioning and usually comes thru in about eight or nine.


[Postmark:  FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 MY 04 44]

[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]

#23 423 Sqdn


May 2. 1943 [sic]

Dear Mother:

At last I have got a letter from Dick [Stubbs].  He does not say very much but that is not surprising considering where he is stationed.  He has been playing the odd spot of tennis and the balls they use have no cover at all so I guess he could do with some if you can really buy them.  I played tennis here one day and it was quite good.  The balls were pretty good and I had a tightly strung racket.  The court is cement—rather hard on the feet.

As yet I have not been in any exciting episodes—the other three who were posted here with me cannot say this.

Two more parcels have arrived–#7 I think and the one that had the jam in it.  I say ‘had’ because the lid had come off and about one quarter had escaped making a horrible mess.  However everything was in a salvagable [sic] condition and even the balance of the jam is O.K.  300 cigs arrived from Mrs. Mallam the other day which should keep me going until the next lot from Dad comes along.  I have written her.  I had your #27 today which was posted on Apr 25.  That must be a new record.  I saw “Thank Your Lucky Stars” on my way back from leave.  I thought part of it was very good.  It was the second time I had seen it but I didn’t know this until I got inside.  The Canadian Legion puts on shows in our mess every Sunday night which is additional to the station cinema-time.  Last Sunday I saw “Orchestra Wives” for the third time.  I must have started my air force career at the station where the shows are played first because I always find I have seen most of the shows before and all of the good ones.

Do you still get the Illustrated London News or the Sphere?  There are some good pictures in the April 29 copies.

I went for a bit of a jaunt on my bike one day to look at one of the old mansions around here.  Quite a castle it was with its inner and outer courtyards and spacious ground.  There was a huge vegetable garden on the place and [as] is customary around here it was enclosed by a solid ten foot rock wall.  They are not very trusting people I guess.  Another place I have seen, though only from above is an enormous castle, tower and chapel all bunched together—the whole completely covering a small island in the middle of a lake.

I have a feeling you were right when you said there might be a gap before you heard from me again because this is perhaps the first I have written since the one you have already received and answered.

With love from



[Postmark:  FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 MY 1? 44]

[Postmark:  ARMY POST OFFICE  18 MAY 44  ]

[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]

#24 423 Sqdn. 


May 11. 1944

Dear Mother:

I had word today from my friend who got my posting and I am a bit envious.  He is in Ceylon.  He recommends the place for sunshine, good food, Canadian whiskey, and the extra $75.00 per month for overseas pay.  The first day he hit India he had 4 chocolate milk shakes, two egg nogs, bananas and oranges despite the fact they had had a fairly luxurious boat trip all the way.

Did I tell you I got seven [Kelowna] Couriers one day?  I wonder where and how they all collected together.  I still have not got the copy describing the boat trip.  The ‘Digest” is coming over O.K. now as I have the April number already.  I have got all your letters up to no. 28 inc. except for no. 24  No parcels or cigs for some time now.

I thought Yellowknife had closed down long ago but I suppose the place is so firmly settled it takes a long time to move out the population if that is being done.  In the old days at least one of the cafes was enterprising enough to have fresh eggs flown in.

Yesterday a bus load of us went to look at a radio station and two incidents within half an hour decided for all of us that flying was by far the safer means of travel.  We started out by removing the castle gate, a metal affair in the archway leading to the courtyard.  Shortly after we sideswiped a truck. ripping a bit out of our fender.  The roads are so narrow there just isn’t room for two heavy vehicles but the M.T. driver hadn’t taken this into account.  Nothing further happened but this all took time so we did not get time to stop over for a meal at a strange town as we had planned.

“It never rains but what it hails”—or something.  That’s what my skipper thinks.  A week ago he was promoted to F/L.  Now he is back to F/O as someone decided there were too manys [sic] F/Ls on the the [sic] station.  This was yesterday and on the same day results came through about that course I was on and our crew was not very good and some keen type orderly officer turned in a good report that our NCOs hut was in rather a disorderly condition.  Some of the lesser responsibilities of a captain are the ground school education of his crew, the cleanliness of their huts and their physical training.

I believe MacLeans had an article on those pictures I told you to look for in the “London News” so no doubt you have read it by now.  [The March 15, 1944 edition of Macleans has an article entitled PLANE vs SUB describing a 423 Squadron mission piloted by Tony’s friend Art Bellis.]

Our huts have been fixed up quite nicely now with lino covering on the cement floor.  Fires are out now until next fall as we get no more coal and coke won’t start without it.  Luckily I still have my electric heater for tea coffee and soup.  I have finished my coffee now but its [sic] Bordens ‘Coffee, condensed with milk and sugar’, Reindeer brand, 8 oz tins just in case you can get some more.  You people may not think it is coffee but its [sic] the nearest approximation I have had anywhere this side of the ocean.

With love from Tony.


[Postmark:  FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 MY 25 44]

[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]

#25 May 23. 1944.

Dear Mother:

Two more parcels, #6 and #9 have arrived and 300 cigs.  It will be a miracle if the next lot of jam is in as good condition as the first because the parcels seem to take a terrific pounding.  Solder connections are often broken and the arrowroot biscuits were ground to dust, not a piece bit enough to eat.  The jam will last a long time anyway as we don’t often have bread in the hut and sometimes like last night it is an egg that goes on the bread and not jam.  I will need some more shaving cream and soap sometime, if you please.

I thought you would be the last to believe in water divining but there may be something in it.  Personally I would have to see the water before I would admit there is anything to it.  However you must have some faith to propose digging 50’ for it or else the water situation is now desperate.

Last week I got a cold and a sore throat when I spent a long cold night on the flare path.  I know now that it is the first time I can ever remember having a sore throat.  Whenever I’ve had tonsillitis I have been asked so many times if it was sore that in desperation I used to say it was a little sore when in fact it only felt quite normal.  But this time I didn’t even want to smoke.  I was grounded for a few days and during that time the crew were detached to a different base and are still away.  Consequently I have had nothing special to do for quite awhile and am rapidly going crazy with inactivity.  I could spend many useful hours in the intelligence library but it is always cold in the place and it is cold that started the whole thing.

I had quite a bit of exercise today.  After tea I played four sets of singles and then after supper some softball.  The softball game was between the regular league team of 423 officers and a pickup team from other 423 officers.  We were beaten of course since the regular team is at the top of the league but it was a good game and by no means a complete rout.

Your letter dated May 15 arrived today.  Once again—very fast travelling.

A navigator has recently been posted here who was in my class at elementary.  I got to know him fairly well there as he was the last one to wash out and so we were both waiting around after the rest of the class had left.

I have run out of material about which to write so this last space will have to be wasted.  I should be due for some leave soon.

With love from



[Postmark:  FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 JU 1 44]

[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]

#26 423 Sqdrn. RCAF.  

May 30. 1944.

Dear Dad:

I hope this letter makes another of those fast crossings so that it is in time for your birthday.  Many happy returns in any case.

I have to get up at the early hour of 0530 tomorrow.  You see I am going on leave again.  Perhaps it will turn out to be a rather good leave because I am not in the least excited about it.  This is because I won’t be able to go as far as any of the relations or indeed to any place I have any particular desire to see.  I have been trying to wangle an engine handling course to occupy part of the leave as this would have enabled me to get where I want but I started to [sic] late and necessary authority has not come through.

I really have been having a most extraordinarily slack time lately while the crew has been away.  I was acting adjutant one day and that is all the work I have done except for the usual mail censoring.  Haven’t even bothered with P. T.  Of course when you haven’t anything to do it really is deadly here.  One can usually put in many interesting hours in the intelligence library but just at this time it is closed for redecorating so I’d even had that [sic].  The last two afternoons I have spent on a blanket in the sun.  Such opportunities are rare.  Yesterday I bicycled into town for tea and then explored some of the surrounding country.  There is a castle I have been to several times before but this time we went past it along its drive from where you can look back at a magnificent view and then we went on through park like country to the main gate.  I had not realized before that my other visits had been by the back way.  I really must take some pictures some time but believe I am quite hopeless with a camera for my camera is still unused.

With love from