[Postmark: FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 JU 13 44]
[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]
#27 June 11. 1944
Isn’t it great that the Invasion has started at last. I hope we have success after success but I wonder if it will move very fast. I should think the French transportation system is so shattered that there cannot be any spectacular gains in any one day. I wonder if Peter [Mallam] is over there yet—probably yes. I had ten days of my leave before being recalled and it was good although there wasn’t a great deal to do. There were two letters from you and one from Archie [Stubbs] when I returned. Archie talks about my aircraft and says ‘we think we are right in our guess’ but you have never said what that is. Now why is that. I am the only one that reads your letters—I don’t know about mine. No, Archie I don’t want any film. I must have at least five rolls all unused even after my last leave. There is no trouble about getting it developed but I am sure it would not be easy to send it over to you. I bought the bike from the second pilot alright. And that is what I am also.
My leave won’t sound very interesting in writing because an outline of one day would not be different than any other. There was a lot of us all staying at the same hotel and this saved the day. I’d usually breakfast in bed and get down to the bar about 1130 where I’d always meet somebody. Then it would be snooker or just drink until luncheon (usually roast chicken, at first from novelty and later necessity since that is about all there was) and a show in the afternoons. If the weather had been kinder I would have spent more time out of doors but in any case we didn’t like to go far afield in case of a recall. In the evenings most of us went to a night club—rather a nice spot except for a very noisy band. Liquor was £3 to £4 a bottle and in general it was more expensive and far more limited in quantity than in London.
Also I spent much time at a very smart officers club—a really spacious affair populated mostly by Army Air Corps. It had about five lounges, numerous bars, sandwich counter, dining hall and dance hall etc scattered over three floors. I’ve never seen a place with so much elbow room except on the screen. One night I went greyhound racing. Two of us bet a total of £8 on the seven races and were down 15/ each at the end. Not bad we thought.
One day I went out to a nearby resort town to see a girl I had met earlier in the week and so nearly missed the last train back. This would have been bad for the recall telegram arrived late that night. Back in camp the first thing that happens is my skipper cracks up on a motor bike, perhaps fractured a hip but we don’t know yet. He is almost through his time so there is another skipper ready anyway.
With love from Tony
[Postmark: FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 JU 25 44]
[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]
#28 423 Sqdn. RCAF.
June 23. 1944
Two more parcels have arrived recently—the one with the cake and the other with the jam. The jam survived the journey this time and I think I will take it over to the mess and keep it on the sideboard for my tea. We always get a diminutive ration of it. The cigarettes are coming regularly now and you don’t need to bother to send the numbers I think. Glad to hear the bond has arrived. Don’t look for anymore W.S. certificates after April or May as I have cancelled them.
It has been quite pleasant here lately and I have begun to get a bit of a sun tan. One day we had the station band playing in the garden after supper. It reminded me faintly of the Sunday band concerts in Stanley Park. There are a number of sailboats for the use of aircrew so I shall have to try this the next day off. Days off come after every sortie and I usually spend half the day sleeping and then cycle into town for these are the only occasions we are allowed off the station.
Since the nine [Kelowna] Couriers together none have arrived and Dick [Stubbs] has not sent on the missing one. Incidentally I was fairly close to where Dick used to be stationed one day.
One of my G. R. classmates has recently arrived here. He was posted from Summerside to Newfoundland and must find the comparison very grim after messing at a Canadian operational squadron for six months. I saw Beverly B’s. write up in MacLeans—so now you know how we eat anyway. [The June 1, 1944 edition of Macleans has an article by their London correspondent Beverley Baxter describing a visit to an RCAF base.] Just lately we have been able to buy cartons of milk at the bar. When I first came here we used to get a glass a day and about that time they put the messing fees up to cover this cost. A week later they stopped giving us milk but left the fees at the increased rate.
I am sure that anyone on this station would jump at the chance of returning to Canada—although I doubt if I would in Dick’s position either. We finish a tour on time in 18 months and then after six months instruction can return to Canada.
It sounds as if you are all frightfully busy. I suppose the labor situation gets worse every year.
With love from
[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]
#29 July 5. 1944
A while ago we had a mess meeting the immediate result of which has been the elimination of the tea meal—one of the best meals. Nearly everyone voted for this partly to raise the standard of the other meals proportionately and I suppose it is more like home to the average Canadian to have no tea and an earlier supper. I don’t think anyone dares to admit now that he voted for this most unwelcome change. Anyway your cake which I opened a few days ago has thus been doubly welcome. The other day I took the pot of jam with me on a trip and I have never seen anything disappear so quickly.
We are still pretty busy but nothing exciting seems to happen. Recently we were diverted to a different base which made a short but pleasant change. It was a permanent RAF station and so had a very nice mess etc. but the place was grossly overcrowded and we had to sleep in old army bell tents. Fortunately it was quite warm and didn’t rain that night.
Some more pilots have gone on Captains [sic] courses and I think that those that came here with me (including me) are now the second set on the list. It will still take a long time though and the last ones didn’t go to Canada for it.
I have been sitting here for ages trying to think of something of interest to write and have almost decided that even if I felt quite free to write on anything it might still be difficult. For instance today was fairly typical. Got up at 9:00 (should have been much earlier but I decided to miss breakfast and wasn’t in the mood for mail censoring.) Had some chocolate and strolled down to the technical site. There didn’t seem to be anything special to do so spent a couple of hours in intelligence library and came back to the mess at 12:00. Lunch at 12:30 and read newspapers and attempted crosswords until 2:00. Came back to billet and pottered around eventually getting started on this letter. At 3:30 my roommate came in and we had a game of chess, going down to the mess for a cup of tea (no food) at 4:30. Afterwards I had a game of snooker and a pint of beer until super at 6:30. After supper a game of push penny and then (here is a deviation from the ordinary) a game of knock rummy which lasted until 11:30 and cost me 30/. And so back to the billet to finish the letter. Pretty grim isn’t it. The days [sic] work (?) net me $7.00 too.
Tomorrow I will help get our kite ready for a trip and in the afternoon try and get in some link trainer time which I have been neglecting lately. The next day we fly we hope.
With love from
[Postmark: FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 JY 11 44]
[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]
#30 July 8. 1944
One day we were stooging around seeing nothing but the eternal ocean and even this was being frequently obscured from view by torrential showers which beat down on us with such ferocity that some water found its way through the perspex and dripped down in the proximity of the back of my neck when a voice over the intercom suddenly asks for the date. The navigator, who knows all about such things came back with the necessary inform. and I then remembered it was the day after your birthday. How quickly the last month has gone. I am sorry I forgot and hope you had a happy birthday.
It was quite a trip we had that day. For the first half of it we were nursing a sick engine and because of this and other reasons we had not enough petrol left to get home and so had to drop in at the bell tent station for more. This took time and made rather a lengthy trip out of the whole thing. But we didn’t go to bed on return. It was one of those nights when there was a party in the mess for no particular reason so after a bath and a change we joined in. Then on to a riding club dance in the station NAAFI. I didn’t stay long because I was really tired having been up for 24 hrs and only 2 hrs of sleep the night before.
I had a letter from you and from Dad yesterday. I cannot give you any news of Peter [Mallam] but will try and write him tonight. I imagine his people haven’t heard from him because I believe mail was being held up just prior to D-day from his area. Did you get letters from Dick [Stubbs] all along?
I am just finishing my last packet of cigs. I haven’t been without Canadian ones since yours started to come although would have had it not been for 300 from Mrs. Mallam and several packets from my ex-skipper. I will be able to borrow some this time and as the next lot should be 1000 perhaps I will be able to pay back the loan.
With love from
[Postmark: FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 JY 24 44]
[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]
#31 July 24. 1944
Parcel #13 arrived a few days ago and all it contained was very welcome. I like the chocolate you are sending now much more than the small bars. No cigarettes for ages now and I have borrowed some 300 and am on the last packet. Seven more [Kelowna] Couriers have arrived together all moderately recent so I guess Dick got the one.
Yes the others and not you were correct in guessing where I was when close to Dick’s old quarters. Dick should catch up with the times. You haven’t had to use sixpenny stamps for ages.
I hope you managed to find a good spot for your picnic in the twenty mile radius.
Archie should be ashamed for his boat coming away from its moorings. I dread to think what would happen to me if I boobed on mooring up. I haven’t actually done any sailing yet. I tried to get a boat one day but not belonging to the Club couldn’t get the Snipe. And even with our air crew boat you have to be checked out by some ‘qualified’ yachtsman so it didn’t seem worth while. It is not on the sea anyway.
There seems to be a lot of parties around the mess these days. There was quite a brawl the night before our CO left and we never quite got back to normal as the new one is a drinking type and much more ‘one of the boys’.
One night we flew through a thunderstorm which was quite something. I was at the controls and the visibility was zero. Occasionally there would be flashes of lightning which were completely blinding for a fraction of a second. Anxious queries were coming from the galley as to whether the sparks were dangerous. Apparently rivet heads etc. down there were being charged by induction. Somebody said it was harmless and I guess it was because we came through quite unharmed. One of those that arrived with me has gone on a captains course so my turn approaches.
Three of us went rabbit shooting one day with a shot gun and a .22. The bag was one. Thr procedure was somewhat irregular. The first shot was made by pushing back the sliding roof of the car and standing up but this was not successful. The rabbits in the fields we covered seemed very nervous. Had I stayed in camp and sat on a chair outside my hut I could get any number any evening for they are plentiful here & not wild.
With love from
[Postmark: FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 AU 2 44]
[R.A.F. CENSOR 224]
#32 July 30. 1944.
I had a letter from Dick [Stubbs] the other day. Says he is going on a weeks [sic] leave soon although he doesn’t mention quite when. Very likely I will be getting a weeks [sic] leave too starting the end of this week but unfortunately it will have to be spent in the same place as before. I don’t understand why there is this ban on travelling now—it doesn’t seem quite fair as someone in Dicks [sic] locality can go just about wherever he should choose.
Yes I did write Peter [Mallam] again but still get no reply so any news of him will be very welcome. I have had no P. T. for ages now other than that from my bicycle. However tennis helped to keep me in shape in June and the first half of July although I never played more than three times a week.
Two nights ago we had a squadron party for all ranks in the entertainment hall. It was quite a do for there was enough beer for everybody to have at least a gallon. You would think that as much beer went on the floor as down the hatch because it was quite sticky moving about toward the end. I didn’t go to the show last night because I figured the place would still smell. These parties are coming too fast. My flat hat is only now recovering from the penultimate one when it was filled with beer by some unknown rat. Usually someone brings out the old dice near the end of the party when the suckers are easy to catch. They don’t catch me anymore though. I once lost $19.40 in your money.
These flying bombs seem to do more damage than you would expect. Dick says he is going to give London a miss on his leave on their account.
With love from
[Postmark: FIELD POST OFFICE 644 8 AU ?? 44]
[R.A.F. CENSOR ???]
#33 131 O.T.U.
Aug 19th. 1944
Note the new address. I haven’t got there yet but will be just before the end of this month. Yes, its for a captains course which lasts about two months. The station is quite close to here and in fact we often use the same stretch of water for practice landings. I don’t know how this course will work out (apparently not many got through the last) but those that there were successful will be wintering in the tropics. Happy thought.
As soon as I heard about the posting I put in for some leave and will get a few days off next week. Although the travelling ban is slightly less severe now it does not help me much because even if the authorities were to give me all the leave I asked for (which they didn’t) it still wouldn’t have been enough to make it worthwhile going any distance. Rather a pity as Dick [Stubbs] is probably on leave now.
I am having quite a busy time what with doing my packing, getting cleared from this station before my leave and carrying on with operational flying.
A few days ago I wrote to B. C. House quoting various order numbers you had given me. They came back with 2000 cigs so I am well stocked for some time. The whole thing is largely my fault. For each carton they send out a card to verify your address and I didn’t answer one thinking they surely must know my address by now. So they just hung onto the cigs and didn’t even send out a card for the second 1000.
We have a new CO now and had quite a party before the old left. We can get coca colas now in the mess so rum and coke was the drink that night while either or both lasted. We couldn’t stay long as we were flying early the next morning but just got in on a bang up supper anway [sic].
Love from Tony.