[Postmark: ALNESS ROSS-SHIRE ? – ?? 29 DE 44]
#46 RCAF Overseas
Dec 28. 1944
Well Christmas has gone and we had quite a successful two days holidays. Celebrations started on Christmas Eve with a show in the Mess by local officer talent. Perhaps the talent wasn’t of the best but it was a good party anyway. I have met a great many people here I knew before, not only tour-expired chaps from the squadron but some dating back to ITS and EFTS days and before which all helps. Also the mess is a very comfortable building, quite modern (built in 1938[)] I think and with several lounges, one particularly spacious. I didn’t get up till about one on the big day, having a bit of a head, so only got a piece of bread and a cup of coffee out of what had been a very good buffet lunch. Afterwards two of us went on a long walk, so far in fact we reached the next town where we called on my second pilot and his wife who are living there. We had to leave almost as soon as we arrived in order to catch the train back but we got back just about at the right time to get ready for the turkey and of course I was ravenous by this time. The meal itself was good but it was rather a dead affair. Far to [sic] many people in one room and most of them feeling rather subdued after the previous night and the afternoon. After supper the bar was closed for about two hours while some of the officers served up supper to the whole mess staff but after this things got going and we had a wizard party. Later a lot of us went over to the sergeants [sic] mess and I met the rest of my crew except two who were out of town for Christmas. Boxing Day was another slack day. I believe I played snooker all afternoon but after a buffet supper there was a big cocktail party and from this I went on to an all ranks dance. I had to be home moderately early due to the thought of lectures at 0815 the next am.
It is amazing how little the civilians regard Christmas day here. While I was lying in bed a laborer came in to install a new stove and people seemed to be working just as if it was any other day. Apparently Homanay [sic] is the big day with them.
With love from
[Postmark: ALNESS ROSS-SHIRE 1 – PM 29 DE 44]
#47 Dec 28. 1944.
I hope you had a good Christmas. Did you have a white one? We nearly did and I think I will see some snow before the winter is out if it stays as cold as today. The only thing really spoiling Christmas was—no mail. I got quite a few letters when I arrived here forwarded from the last station but since then (the 15th) I have not had one. Art Bellis is in the same state so a note to Base P.O. seems indicated.
One person I met here is Dave Bone ex H. M. & Co. [Helliwell, MacLachlan, and Company, Tony’s employer in civilian life.] I last saw him at G. R. school and from there he had gone to the West Coast. Another is one who wrote the C.A. exams with me and still another Gorse from Salmon Arm, both of them not seen since I.T.S.
Also staying in my hut is an ex-Yellowknife man. We were there in the same years he working on the adjoining Negus property so we have quite a bit to yarn about.
Some time ago I got 900 cigs from H.M. & Co. Fortunately I had remembered to send a card this year. I had to give a way [sic] quite a quantity before leaving my last station, otherwise I would have had a whole suitcase full and I gave some to Aunt D. [Dorothy Freer] and still have about 1500 on hand.
This course seems to give us a lot of time off and I believe on previous courses some second pilots have disappeared for days at a time. No doubt my own pilot will be strongly tempted with his wife here. I managed to spend a night in Inverness myself.
Most of my spare time is spent playing snooker though. I should think of something more constructive I suppose but this suits me.
When I came back from leave I found a letter from Doug McGrath, my closest airforce friend, and found that he was on leave for awhile, at the same time as I. Worst of all, he was at Stroud which is fairly close to Moreton.
Tomorrow is one of those days I do have to get up so Goodnight.
With love from
[Postmark: ALNESS ROSS-SHIRE ??? ?? ?? 45]
#48 Jan 25. 1945
Yesterday I got a Christmas parcel from the Womens [sic] Auxiliary Air Services in Vanc. Pair of socks, laces, tie, handkerchiefs, writing kit, pencil, razor blades and choc. bars. Not bad is it. I have given up hope of the cake but other parcels arrive. The tongue has arrived, also the jam and fruit. Don’t send any more bananas as I’ve grown quite tired of them. Canned milk would be useful though if I continue to stay around stations like these but this seems rather unlikely at present. I’ve got another 900 cigs from H.M. & Co. I wonder if they will continue to come every month. [See RAS441228b.] Had quite a time making a cup of hot drink this afternoon. Started with cocoa but the drink was so awful it nearly knocked me over. Heated up some more water and tried postum. Same result. Made some more postum leaving out the powdered milk. Worst of all. Decided sugar must be washing soda or something and finally got a mediocre drink on the fourth try.
There are only two of us left in the hut now so there is much less cooking and coke. The 5 Canadians who were here used to scrounge about five extra sacks every week so as to keep the fire going all day. The ration is only two per week and this week it didn’t arrive due to somebodys [sic] boob. I moved into another hut for 2 nights until ours came today so it is really cold. Seventeen degrees of frost this afternoon and plenty of snow recently. I have been for a couple of good walks around here. The first was on a perfect day. Bright sun and cold. I walked up a mountain road behind the town and found a place for tea. There is a castle up there which I should like to see close at hand sometime. I was alone this time, most of my crew aren’t too keen on walking I surmise, but the next day I got my engineer out. We had to break trail accross [sic] one open field and the snow was up to our knees. Another day I bicycled to a town ten miles away with my other pilot. It was very cold and slippery but quite a good outing nevertheless. I must have strained a ham string on this as I can hardly walk now so I’m forced to stay rather close to home.
With love from
[Postmark: ALNESS ROSS-SHIRE ??? 26 JA 45]
#49 Jan 25. 1945
Everyone here seems to be complaining about not getting mail from home. I think I have lost 55 and 56 tho they may turn up some time. Of course that is no excuse for me being so behind but I am doing almost nothing. I have forgotten what breakfast is like and never get over to the mess before noon. Lately we have been playing a lot of bridge in the evening so I don’t get to bed much before one,
I have only a little night flying left to do here but we are not having much luck with it. One day it took an hour to sweep off the snow. Rather a precarious business over the water. I now think there is a good chance for leave in February. You must rather wonder what I am doing all the time—I do too.
The Russian advance is marvellous, isn’t it. If they travel as far in the next five days as in the last they will be in Berlin. I don’t see how Germany can last much longer.
Had two letters recently from old friends of mine who came over last fall. The annoying thing is one is in London and the other in B’mouth and I would have seen them on leave. Also heard from Dick [Stubbs] telling how his faithful jeep kept them one jump ahead of jerry.
My old skipper is here now doing instructional duties. He goes home soon and looks forward to his discharge but wonders what to do then. I should think the thought of an 8 hour day was rather appalling to most aircrew. A liaison officer said RCAF would have to volunteer for far eastern duties. He said that would apply to all but there is no mention of it here when chaps are posted. I would want to go in any case. It ought to be very interesting.
With love from
[Postmark: CANADIAN OVERSEAS P.D. 14 FEB S.C.2. 1945]
#50 February 8. 1945
The cigarette supply system has changed again. Now one can buy 1200 a month from London so I suppose there are no more individual orders coming over.
We are beginning to get rather fed up with our stay here. We should have been away ages ago and the date is forever being put forward. Yesterday Art Bellis and I went to Inverness. It was early closing and shops, pubs and restaurants were closed. We managed a show and two meals at the hotel. Hope to go in again tomorrow to see Gary Cooper’s latest technicolor.
I am a bit too far north to see your Scotch ogopogo. The parcel with the tongue has arrived but I haven’t opened the tin yet. Don’t worry about looking round for socks for we can get better ones here. They may be short but they are wool.
We have got one night trip in at last. It was a very black night and there were too many others around to make it much fun. Also we missed a recall signal and when we did get back were told that if we didn’t land immediately (and within certain limits) we would land on ice. We got down successfully on the second run and then saw the cause of the panic which was much more serious than I had imagined it to be. 2/3 of the way down the flare path was a block of ice about eighteen feet square.
Had three October [Kelowna] Couriers yesterday. I am afraid they have a very low priority. I had a bad time with the stove one day eventually bringing the cast iron stove pipe down on my head and nearly knocking me out. I meant never to start it (try to, that is) again but found myself carrying on as usual. Three drawers are missing from the chest of drawers—used up by former inmates and I used the remains of a chair when I got mad. Now I haul wood over from the mess and try to keep a dry stock on hand. The batmen should do this but they’re hopeless and we now get 2/ extra per day in lieu of their services. They still make the beds and sweep the room so we are really better off under this new system. Others like Art Bellis used to get tea in the mornings sometimes so they are not so happy.
With love from
[Postmark: OBAN ARGYLL 530AM 23 FEB 1945]
#51 Feb. 21. 1945.
I have recently moved again though am still in the country. It is sort of the final jumping off spot. The train ride here was most scenic through very rugged country most of the way. One station we passed was Gleneagles which is golf renowned isn’t it. On the way I stayed two nights in Inverness. It was a rather quiet time since one of the days was Sunday and nothing opens in this country on the Sabbath day. Only my navigator and I stayed in Inverness since the rest of the crew thought a detour into Glasgow would be more acceptable despite a late arrival on a Sat. nite. As we were all travelling on a single warrant it made it a bit awkward. The boys took the warrant and we passed as members of F/L Bellis’ crew some of whom like mine, had gone on.
You ask why the B.B.C. never mentions our exploits yet often tells of Lancasters and Hollies. Well the reason is they fall into Germany quite a lot so they are no secret to anyone.
The snaps of the new barn have arrived. It has made a great difference to the place—much more than I’d expected.
Many thanks for your birthday wishes. There were several parcels waiting at the P.O. when I left the station but as I was packed I left them to be forwarded as they are most likely cigs. I am still getting these from you though the new system is supposed to be in force.
I had some very bad news from the squadron. Jack McLennon (ex-Kelowna) who was my closest friend there, and all his crew, were killed in a crash.
I had a Christmas card yesterday. It was from S/L Bert Swann (Calgary) who recently went back to Canada. He is in Vancouver now working on post war aviation.
Glad to hear L. Collett has been promoted. All auditors seem to dislike travelling.
We are all binding [sic] hard for leave but chances seem very slim despite the fact that it is almost three months since we last had any and God knows when the boys will see their families again if we don’t get any.
Are you getting more snow now. Ours has gone and it has warmed up quite a bit for which I am very thankful as we are back to the old routine of unheated classrooms.
With love from
#52 March 12. 1945
I know I haven’t written for a very long time so I will dash off a note now and then tell you the whole story later. I have been on ten days leave and just got back today. The plans I hoped would materialize and which I will tell you about later seem to have changed very considerably. Result is I may be off again on a few days leave tomorrow. Looks like my crew and I won’t be doing any flying for quite a long time.
I don’t know whether I ever told you much about this present station. It is very small and not a flying station. In fact you can’t even see salt water from here although we are not far from the main station. This place is just for ground school and as it only handles a few crews at a time we soon get to know all the officers in the mess. Most of us all came together from the last station anyway. Result is we had a lot of fun and in the last few days had several parties which in a mess usually means drinking lots of beer (which is good training for the leave to come) and talking and singing. As the evening goes on events become more boisterous reaching some sort of climax such as when one would-be acrobat courageously attempted a neck roll over two chairs unmindful of the cement fall [sic] only carpeted by thin linoleum and landed, or so it looked, on the top of his head. Any person who tries such a feat must be thick in the head which, perhaps, is why he was unhurt.
In the two days after ground school finished we all haunted the CGI’s office for leave until he must have been sick of us. We were lucky in already having had our yellow fever innocs. because those crews that hadn’t were held over and although the CGI expected he could get leave for them they went to the main station the very afternoon after we left.
With love from