INITIAL TRAINING SCHOOL
#7 I. T. S.
August 4. 1942
We arrived here 11:00 a.m. on Sunday after an uncomfortable trip sitting up on a train which rattled about as much as the muskeg express to McMurray.
I think I am going to like it here. Most pleasant surprise is the course is still only 8 weeks. Most of us want to be pilots—probably few of us will be—it seems to depend on what they want for a particular draft when you finish your exams. We should have all our medicals over in the first two weeks and this will wash out some of us. Some of the boys went in the decompression chamber today which takes you up to 18,000 feet where you stay for 10 minutes before donning oxygen mask. I may not like this particularly if the person beside me keels over as one did today. Also have a night vision test which doesn’t count against you if you are not so good. One of the chaps washed out today on color blindness and has to go to Toronto to remuster. I am beginning to have a premonition that I will be a navigator although I would much rather be a pilot. This is because I think navigation is going to come fairly easily to me and probably under the new system eyes are not so important for the navigator.
Discipline is particularly rigid here—ceremonial drill and inspections every morning—barrack inspections every day—and probably someone watching for you to do something wrong all the time. For the first two weeks you are on duty wach every other night and they say you hardly have time to think what with your studies etc. That is why the letter is so jumbled I guess.
Either in the morning or afternoon we take our lectures at a normal school which is 15 minutes walk away. If we want a decent place to study we have to walk over to this school after supper, so I am going to get tired of this after awhile.
We live in two story barracks with 18 to a room instead of the 4 we would have at Edmonton.
Already I have had two lessons on the link. Today I had to make circles with airolons [sic] locked. This was the first one with more than one control at a time and I think I did fairly well. The machine is extremely sensitive and it is quite hard to stop on a certain mark without dropping the nose or something.
Aircraft recognition will probably be my hardest subject as there is so little difference between some of the planes.
Bunny writes me that he was in Calgary and looking for me as busily as I for him. Unfortunately he did not stay at either of the hotels he told me he might.
It will be best if you use the full address as someone is sent over to collect the mail for the whole flight.
With love from
August 9. 1942.
I am going to find I. T. S. a very pleasant change from Claresholm so the time should pass very quickly. I don’t expect to have much difficulty with any of the courses—the only catch being the tremendous volume of work that must be covered. We have to memorize a lot of things which seems rather unnecessary such as parts of a pistol and rifle.
Before we left Claresholm we had one lesson with the Aldous lamp. WE have to be able to receive and send 4 words when we leave here on this lamp and receive 6 on W/T. I can do the receiving part now for we had a short test on W/T at 6 and I made only 1 error.
I’ve had 4 link lessons now and only 2 more to come. Next time I have all the controls together for the first time. The instructors won’t tell you how you are on the link but I think I’m about average.
I have passed my night vision test getting 14 out of 32 which is perhaps just over average. One person got 26 but several were around 5 or even below the pass mark of 3. In the test you sit with welders glasses for awhile and then in a pitch dark room for another ??ell [partially indecipherable]. Then you try to read very dimly lit letters 3’ feet in front of you and recognise silhouettes of planes or boats. What you see must be written down on a pad Braille-lined and neatness is taken into account in marking.
Another thing I have passed which is a great relief is my second medical. I’ve put on 6 pounds of weight and held the mercury up 12 seconds more than before. The doctor told me that the only place in air crew for me was pilot which was also very nice. During the medical the doctor who is also head of sports committee, asked me what sports I did. The result is I’ve talked myself into trying out for the polevault [sic] in an inter services Labour Day meet. Sports count a great deal, particularly when deciding whether or not to hand out a commission, and as the doctor will also be on the Selection board at the end of I. T. S. I will have to do the best I can. I wonder if you would send me my jumping spikes when you can and also some old socks something like those gray cotton ones I used to wear.
We have had only one session of P. T. so far but it was much tougher than anything so far. However being in the late afternoon it was preferable to the Claresholm just-after-breakfast system.
I went into town yesterday—a fifteen minute walk—and took in supper and a show. Saskatoon is just as nice as you could imagine a prairie town to be. The Hotel Bessborough is worth seeing and between it and the river is a very beautiful part which with its green lawns reminded us of parts of Stanley Park. Unlike Edmonton the city is not high above the river. I haven’t seen any stop signs or automatic signals either so you have to watch your step.
With love from
Aug. 16, 1942.
On Monday I went “up” in the pressure chamber test. First we went up to 18.000’ and stayed there 10 minutes without oxygen masks. None of us had any feeling of faintness or other sensations but actually our efficiency as down to 75% or so. Then we went on to 24.000’ and started down. Usually there is one or two each time whose ears won’t clear properly due to a cold or something and I was one of these. By the time we were down to 16.000 there was a terrific pressure in one ear so up we went to 20000 again and came down very slowly and it was O. K. Yawning is supposed to be the best way of clearing the ears and it was sometime before I found that swallowing worked much better for me.
We also had a test nicknamed “brain test” to see if you have epileptic tendencies. This is four electrical contacts glued to the head and another to an ear. During the test you lie down in a small room by yourself so I have no idea what the operator sees on his dials or what its all about.
I have had all my link sessions now. The last two were with all controls and surprisingly enough, holding the nose on a mark under rough air conditions was fairly easy compared to side slips.
On Wednesday afternoon we had a station track meet and some of the races were run in remarkably quick times considering the lack of training for them. I got 3rd in the pole vault again but this time cleared 10 feet. The winners tied at 10’9”.
We had a wireless test last week in which I got 95% at 6 per min. A few people got 100% in both sections. Tomorrow we have a mathematics test. This will be very easy but one will have to watch for arithmetical errors. Some of it is about Grade V or VI.
Navigation continues to grow more and more interesting and has not become difficult to date. We have an interesting little circular slide rule which converts knots to mph, corrects an air speed indicator reading for temperature and height and many other navigational problems, in a few seconds.
Duty watch will be over Monday night. I was lucky last night for I was detailed to the sergt’s. mess and when we got there we were told there was nothing to be done. One day I was drying dishes at the officers mess. This isn’t a bad job because when it is finished you are given peaches and cake and all the milk you can drink.
We have no flying here—it is all ground studies.
Unless the bottleneck is cleaned up by the time we finish ITS at least the future pilots should get leave. Some chaps left this morning who had been waiting since the middle of June for an opening in E. F. T. S.
With love from
Aug 29, 1942
At present I am on a 48 and staying in the YMCA in Saskatoon. I am surrounded by all my books and notes and intend to wade into them shortly.
We have been having a few mid-term exams last week which has kept me busy. The marks I know so far are Math 137/150 (about 5 in the class), Anti-gas 45/50 and Signals 97.5/100. I am hoping to see the average over 90%. The exams were all very easy so that carelessness is the only mark lowering element. In less than two weeks we will be starting in the final exams. The time certainly does go quickly here.
Many thanks for the apricots. Most of them were in good shape and much appreciated by all of us but about 4 had to be thrown away.
Also thanks to Archie for the pictures which arrived safely. I have presumed my set was sent along also as I think I only asked for 5 of each.
Last Sunday our squadron went on a long parade. There were about 300 airmen plus officers and NCO’s and we marched from I. T. S. into town, all around town then out to the cemetary fror a tree-dedicating ceremony. It was a long march especially as we marched at attention all the way.
Thursday afternoon was supposed to be another field day but after a few events and just when we were getting started with the pole vault it started to rain. The meteorologist at #4SFTS in Sask. had said the weather would clear for the afternoon so so much for at least one subject we are studying.
On Thursday I went on my first CO inspection. Other Thursday mornings I had always been on my weekly barrack fatigue. On this day our flight competed in drill against the other half of Course 59. The CO and his aides decided it was a tie but two other observers think we were robbed.
We were given a talk one day by a pilot who had flown over Greece. He was very interesting but the CO must have primed him first for he emphasized navigators and airgunners, trying to swing everybody away from the idea of being pilots.
I guess I will have to give Archie a little instruction in navigation when I get home so that he won’t end up at Mission Creek again.
With love from
Sept. 8 /42
We had our first exam this morning—meteorology—which didn’t go too badly. There are three more this week and the rest next week. In the mid term exams my average was over 90 so I hope the finals go as well as these. In the midterm navigation I was second out of both flights with 96.
Last Wednesday I had the afternoon off to take part in the track meet at #4 S. F. T. S. Unfortunately I pulled a muscle on the first jump and it was hopeless after that. However we got first and third in it—it was won at 10’3”. #7 I. T. S. won all but 3 events in which entered and thus easily getting the aggregate. Most of the winners were Vancouver chaps.
I met several friends at #4. Two chaps who left our office in July, another who was first in the C. A. exams I wrote last year, and somebody else I used to see around the Vancouver Badminton Club.
On Sunday the whole station marched into town on a church parade. After the service we lined up in flights then those who did not want to march back to barracks were told to fall out. Everyone fell out so that was that.
Yesterday afternoon was the interservices meet. As we had got 1st and 3rd at #4 I was ineligible as only two were allowed from each station. We were first and second this time and again it was won at 10’3”. Also #7 got the most points again and our representative in the high jump broke the Saskatchewan record by clearing six feet even. An R. A. F. chap won the mile. He was a member of the Achilles Club and has done as good as 4:17. Although it was an excellent meet and rather a denouement to have to come back and study meteorology.
The whole station just spent the last hour listening to the crew of a Hampden who have made 30 operational flights over Germany. I guess they are a much better air crew than public speaker for they spoke so quietly it was impossible what they were saying most of the time [sic].
Well I guess I better get to work and see how the Browning gun works.
With love from
Sept 19th 1942
This morning we had our last exams and what a grand feeling it is to be all through. Tonight we celebrate—after the longest period of total abstemiousness I have had in years.
We don’t get our marks until after we go thru the Selection Board next Wednesday but I am sure most of mine are excellent. This morning we had wire less and already we know that 26 of our flight of 43 got full marks. I think I was one of these. The last exam was a drill test and I was a bit nervous about the idea of drilling the whole flight but when I got out there it was fine and the officer said I was very good.
Next week we get some revolver practice, commando tactics, gas chamber test (gas masks and tear gas) and a prop. parade (when we get our LAC badges).
We should leave here Friday or Saturday night. I may go to Vancouver first. I have not decided yet.
With love from
Sept 23. 1942
Well all the strain of I. T. S. is behind me now and I have accomplished what I set out in my mind to do. I hope you are very proud for I got first place in course 59 and perhaps the highest average to come from the school. This average was 94.7%. WE are getting about sixteen days leave and tomorrow I am leaving for Vancouver where I expect to spend two or three days.
Most of the week was spent waiting round for one thing or another. On Monday morning X flight went out to #4 SFTS where we each had 24 practice shots with .38 revolver. After lunch we marched over to Bedford School and turned in our books—later we marched down town for a swim at the YMCA.
On Tuesday morning we had our gas chamber test. The worst part of this was the preliminary drill—marching and running around the parade square wearing masks. The running would be bad enough without masks. After the gas test we had to spend about 2 minutes in the chamber without masks to prove to our own satisfaction that the things really worked. It was only weak tear gas so it wasn’t bad.
It was this morning (Tues) that I was notified I had top position and immediately I had to assume the position of flight marker. I also had an interview with the flight commander and the COs address so far as I was concerned was based mainly on this. However he never mentioned that you flew in the last war—the imaginative press thought this up. In the afternoon we marched to town for another swim.
Wednesday was the day of the Selection board—a very tiring day. It was worse for everybody else as they had no idea what their marks were when they were called in. However as a whole the class did well with an average of 83.3 and most of them got what was their first choice. It was late in the afternoon when I got in. You have to march up to the CO who sits at the head of a U of officers, then salute and sit down. I was asked quite a bit about whether I found the course at all difficult etc and if I had to study much. Also some questions by the head of the link instruction. To my surprise I didn’t do very well in this. However it doesn’t matter much and I am going to be a pilot.
I think they will be recommending me for pilot navigator which is about the best you can get. It means probably that you will fly something big like a Sunderland. However to be this you must be very close to the top in flying and ground work all through the course.
Last night we had our flight party. Usually this consists of a banquet here and dance afterwards. If we had done this I would have had to make a speech but fortunately we combined the two so that only the CO said anything.
We were a little the worse for wear on COs inspection this morning and if you are no thinking very quickly it certainly shows up when you are right marker in a right dress. After the inspection we had our ‘prop’ parade and spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon trying to keep warm doing nothing.
In the afternoon we did some commando training which is not much fun when it is cold. Believe it or not it is snowing hard just now.
I got an awfully nice engraved Ronson righter along with my props this morning.
I think that just about covers this hectic week.
With love from
Math 150 150
Administration 95 100
Navigation 143 150
Meteorology 45 50
Theory of flight 99 100
Anti gas 40 50
Armament 45 50
Aircraft Recognition 97 100
Drill 83 100
Signals 150 150
CANADIAN NATIONAL TELEGRAM
35V G 10
SASKATOON SASK 910PM SEP 25 1942
R H STUBBS
HOME ABOUT WEDNESDAY YOU SHOULD GET LETTER MONDAY TOP MAN
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
#7 I. T. S.
Oct 14, 1942
Well it looks as if we are here for two weeks anyway. The system for Q flight has been changed and I don’t think it is the easy life it used to be. Some of us have been attached to #1 Sqdn and those ones go to classes this week and the rest of us do the dirty work. Next week we turn about. I was lucky enough not to get any of the mess jobs such as waiter but I have got a rotten job which will last all week. It is helping to clean the storm windows for all the buildings and there are hundreds of these windows. It is very monotonous and as we don’t work very hard it is also rather cold. Three of the flights have really good jobs driving cars or trucks and about six are S. P.s which is comparatively [sic]. Some more went off to town to guard a Hurricane which is to be on display for some time.
Advantages that we have are no roll call or parades, no inspections (I have not touched my buttons since I have arrived) and a twelve o’clock pass every night.
I just traded an apple for a cigarette and as it was a very good apple I asked where it came [from]. Result. I find that Hughes-Games stays in the same room as I. There are two others from Kelowna in his flight altho I don’t think I know them. I met ex-Kelowna Max Oakes yesterday. Also the four people at #4 S. F. T. S. that I know are here now.
We have a new cook at the station and it seems to have made quite a difference. For instance we have bread and jam and cocoa late at night, ketchup occasionally, and they say they had chicken one night.
When in Vancouver I went out to the airport but a ride seemed out of the question. The weather was poor and there was no flying that day but they say it is rather hard to get flips anyway nowadays.
The day before I left Bill Hudson enlisted as a private in the artillery. Just about that time Charlie Craster was commissioned at Gordon Head. He is also in the artillery and Bill fervently hopes fate doesn’t put them in the same platoon.
The last night was spent at the Cave—six of us, mostly from the boarding house. The place was as packed as if it was Saturday night so we didn’t dance very much.
On Saturday afternoon it simply poured which was very ungrateful of Vancouver.
The mail system has been changed here so you can forget about Squadrons and flights—but Not the LAC part.
With love from
Oct 23 /42
On Sunday morning we are going to #6 E. F. T. S. in Prince Albert. We had our choice of that or Verdun and all of us from B. C. took P. A. One reason is that the chances are we will have Service Flying in Saskatoon.
We didn’t have any classes this week and some of us were on the jobs we had last week. However I haven’t done a drop of work all week and spent most of the time at the K. C. hut reading and writing. Yesterday we had a wireless test. It might have been bad since we had had no wireless since the exam but fortunately the test was the exam over again. I made one error.
Our Victory Loan parade was very successful. It was on a Sunday and we were all in it. It was a huge parade and there were crowds to see us all the way.
On Monday Q flight and the last graduating class took part in a sham battle. Teamed with the navy we dressed in black coveralls chalked with nazi insignias and armed with rifles and blanks we acted as paratroops to capture key points of the city. At the zero hour planes from #4 flew over in formation and a lot of thunder flashes were thrown around (not from the planes). One landed quite close to us and I assure you the noise was very realistic. After ten minutes we captured the bank (15 of us). Then the army came with their transports, Bren gun carriers etc and after a while, according to plan, we were all captured. In the heat of the battle Maddin met Bob Willis. He is a lieutenant at Dundurn. The army had quite a time holding us and several made breaks for freedom down nearby alleys and no doubt some were successful in getting away.
I had a letter from Peter this week. He has recently written some exams to qualify for an officer. He has also been having a marvellous time in London which made me kind of envious.
By the way ‘Miss Alberta’ would probably object to such a name. She’s from Canada—lives next door to the Hill’s.
We are all very broke, not having been paid yet since returning. As we go out every night we feel it particularly. I luckily got a R. C. tax refund which helped considerably.
Yesterday we got our flying kit. Some of the suits lined with kapok are awfully nice. Mine has an inner suit of teddy bear stuff—the one kind I did not want. Perhaps I can exchange it later with a washout—if I’m not one. 20 out of 60 were washed out of a recent flight. The flying boots are the warmest things I have ever seen lined with a thick coat of sheepskin.
Winter is really upon us now. It has been very cold the last few days and today it s snowing hard. And yet we are not supposed to wear our great coats off the station yet.
I saw a good show last night—Ginger Rogers in Major and Minor.
With love from