RCAF 6 – April – May 1943 – SFTS, Saskatoon





April 8, 1943

Dear Mother:

Spring has really arrived now and it has been grand weather for flying.  All the snow has gone now and this has uncovered the runways on the airdrome which opens up new difficulties.  There are runways in three directions so that very often you are landing slightly out of wind which isn’t easy to do well.  Another thing, the runways are tarmac and there is a great tendency for the ship to bounce.  Most of my flying lately has been cross country—solo flights of about 200 miles.  They are rather fun but you are busy all the time keeping up the log.  So far they have gone very well.  I don’t think there has yet been a moment when I haven’t known within a few miles of where I was.

Today I had a dual trip.  On the first leg I had to find a wind which I used on the second leg to figure the course.  On This second leg I had to fly under the hood.  On E. T. A. the hood is removed and you must find yourself and estimate a course home.

Miraculously I was in gliding distance of my objective.  This was pure luck and probably won’t ever happen again.  But I hope it will for this trip is almost exactly the same as our pilot navigator test which I get very soon.

My hours total 96 now.  Under our present syllabus we will have about 170 hrs. before we finish.  My cumulative link mark is 72.55% which is high enough to suit me as the average marks are not high.  I am getting on to more interesting work now.  Today I did a 22 approach which is an absolute type of blind flying landing.  From now on I will do nothing but the standard blind approach of which you shall hear more later.

I had a 48 last weekend.  Sunday was a perfect day and we went for a long walk—all of twelve miles I should think.  We were certainly ready for the T-Bone steaks we had afterward.  I may get another 48 this weekend as I have just had a change of instructors and you get 48’s when your instructor does.

The shoes you sent Dick might have been mine.  I had a pair with a sort of pebbled surface.  Also I don’t think Dick ever used to buy a brogue type of shoe.

Thank you very much for the cake.  It was as fresh as if it had just come out of the oven.  

We do seem to get more eggs now.  I don’t mind this as this station cooks them properly—all other stations I have been to absolutely ruin eggs.

I had a letter from Bunny a few days ago.  With only 15 days leave one would have to fly home.

With love from




April 15, 1943

Dear Mother:

In another two weeks we will be writing our final exams and by that time I think we will have finished most of our wings tests also.  We are going to start our wings instrument tests within the next few days.

If every week was like this week has been the end of the course can’t come quick enough for me.  I was up before the WO2 station discip. on three different counts in three days.  The first was for leaving shoes on top of my locker.  They caught 4 in our hut but I counted many more they should have got as soon as I got home after flying.  We were given 3 hrs. extra duty but only had to sweep the drill hall which only took an hour.  The next was more serious.  They caught 40 men on the station for having cups, empty coke bottles or cutlery in their lickers.  They had me down for a tableknife [sic] which was absurd for I had no knife and my locker is invariably locked so that they could not have found out what was in it.  However we were paraded before the squadron leader in charge of ground school who listened to our stories but automatically remanded us to the CO.  I said my locker was locked so I had to go and see this WO2 discip who had brought the charge.  The two of us went over to the hut and found that the knife had been found in a locker almost the full length of the hut from mine.  The only explanation was two months ago I had slept close to this locker for three days and had left a name card on the bed.  I still had to go before the CO but he dismissed the case.  Others were not so fortunate and got  days CB with extra duties, then 7 days restricted privileges.  A stiff penalty for having an empty soft drink bottle but they wanted to make an example.  My third count was for not having a meal ticket.  However there was not much to this for it was not a case of having lost it.  Like several others in my course I had never been issued with one.

Lately I have done several instrument crosscountry [sic] flights.  One of these was for three hours—a sort of endurance test.  On this trip the air was so rough we had to climb up to 10.000 feet before it became smooth.  On another, a shorter one, our artificial horizon was unserviceable and again the air was exceedingly rough.  It made flying very difficult and airspeed varied by 30 mph and height 300 feet each side of where it should be.

I had a successful precision flight today.  In this we assume zero wind and so set course on track for a town 51 miles away.  You fly under the hood at 140 m.p.h. and so when you have gone 51 miles, that is in 22 minutes, you take down the hood and find out where the wind has blown you from the town you would have got to had there actually been no wind.  From this you can figure out the wind and while the instructor flies the plane you use this wind to obtain the course to fly home and how long it will take.  Then under the hood again and when the time is up you are supposed to be within gliding distance of the airport.  I came out almost on top of the airport.  The only assistance I had was my instructor did the adjusting of the gyro compass most of the time.  This instrument precesses a few degrees (about 4 in 15 minutes) and ordinarily you keep resetting it to agree with the magnetic compass.  As usual the air was very rough and the compass needle hardly ever settled down long enough to know what it read.  My instructor could get an idea of what it should read by looking at the section lines which make prairie navigation so easy.

I will start formation flying tomorrow.  We get 12 hours of this, 4 with an instructor and 8 with another pupil as a lookout.  They say this is the best part of the course.

Tell Mary the Digest is coming along O.K.  I have had two copies so far.

With love from




April 21 /43

Dear Mother:

This week has been very successful, quite a contrast to last.  I have had a lot of flying lately and yesterday I had a total of 128:30—more than anyone else in the class.  Perhaps because of this I did not fly today and one person has got ahead of me.

I have had my wings instrument test and did O.K.  I don’t know the mark but believe it may be slightly above average.  Also had my wings pilot navigation test and my instructor said I got a good mark on this.  It was not the regular PN test because we went down to Yorkton and back instead of the regular triangle cause [sic].  I went with the same instructor as last time I went to Yorkton.  He was not thinking very well that day because he forgot to sign out for the crosscountry [sic] and we had to come back losing half an hour.  He also forgot to bring the hood s I couldn’t do the instrument flying as in the previous trip I told you about.  Also the directional gyro was unserviceable and the compass was badly out which didn’t help the navigation.

I have had about five hours formation and like it very much.  My own instructor is very conservative and stays a long way from the other plane but I had one flight with another instructor who is very good at this.  He got in very close—about ten feet away I guess and held the position perfectly.  It would have made a lovely photograph.  I have got a 72-hour pass this weekend and I suppose most of it should be devoted to studying for the exams coming up next week.  It will be a great day when they are over especially if I have had my clear hood wings test by then.

I got the cake you sent today and regret to say it was mouldy.  I can’t see why this should have happened.

Can you tell me how many war savings certificates have come for me to date.  There should be around seven.

Our instructors are given the job of canvassing for the victory loan which is an admirable situation for the station.  Thus many in our flight who perhaps had no intention of taking any find they have decided to take out $100.00 worth.  They missed me because I was in Yorkton but I will take 100.00 also.

I have not heard from Peter for a long time.  How is he getting on with his course.

Apr 22

There have been a lot of taxi accidents since I have been here and the punishment is getting more and more severe.  One chap in our course had one a few days ago and was set back two courses with a weeks pack drill and detention.  Somebody had a fairly bad one today and I believe is getting 27 days at a military penitentiary in Manitoba.

I got 3½ hors. today and so am in the lead again.  Part of this was spent in practising all sequences so I am now supposed to be ready for my wings test.  If this comes off O.K. I have a feeling I will get the G. R. course I want and a commission.

Well I must get on with my studies.

With love from




May 3rd, 1943

Dear Mother:

Well the exams are all over now and most of the results are out.  There is only one subject yet to be marked and so far my average stands at 90%.  There are several others around that mark but I tied for first place in navigation.  On nearly every exam except navigation everyone should get good marks because we got a frightful lot of assistance from the overseers.  It tends to even out the marks between those who work and those who don’t.  I fell down badly in aircraft recognition getting only 36 out of 50.  I had learnt every silhouette and as it was the last exam I went to a show the night before.  What a bad mistake for there were no silhouettes on the exam, only photographs that I was not at all familiar with.  I was not expecting them but could so easily have looked at them the night before as many did.  None of us were much good at Aldous so they sent it at four w.p.m. and did not mind any amount of whispering.  As to sending, after half the class had done it they said the rest to go [sic].  So I didn’t send on either aldous or key.

I had my wings test today.  I did not ask how I had made out but I guess it was good enough.  I had much the shortest and easiest test of anyone so far—more a formality than anything else.  I am glad it was like this for the air was about as rough as I have seen it and it was impossible to fly accurately.  But two tests remain—the link and a navigation trip to Wainwright, Alberta in an Anson.

The course ahead of us got their wings Friday evening at a down town parade, the wings being pinned on by the air officer commanding from Winnipeg, or by the mother or father of the pilot present.  It was the first decent wings parade I have seen at this station.  Our course wasn’t on parade but I watched from the side lines for all the boys I knew at elementary were getting their wings.  About 2/3 got their commissions which is higher than usual.  Almost half of them are going overseas.  Doug. McGrath got his commission and with two others is going to Charlottetown where Bunny was.  Postings fromhere to an R. A. F. school are rare so I don’t suppose I will see him again although I have been recommended for G. R.

The fire you had sounds as if it could have become quite serious.  I’ll bet you didn’t have a permit to start it—or is it not that necessary.

Bunny must have had quite a trip home.  I don’t quite see why he should go up to Edmonton.

I meant to warn you to expect the gale you got on Good Friday.  Our met. man saw it coming from away out in the Pacific and said it might spoil Easter Sunday.  It did.

I paid for my Victory bonds today so if Archie sees a sharp decline in his account he will know the reason.

My instructor had a close one when he was acting as test pilot.  The rudder controls had been crossed and as he was taking off the plane swerved slightly.  Applying rudder to correct it made it twice as bad and he ground looped, breaking off a wheel and smashing a wing tip.  Often you don’t need rudder on take off so the fault might not have been discovered until they (there were 3 others aboard) were well off the ground when the results would have been disastrous.  Now he sticks his head out of the window so that he can see the rudder to test it, on the first flight of each day.

With love from




May 12, 1943.

Dear Mother:

Well, we have almost finished the required flying in our flight although the other half of the class has quite a lot to do.  I have only ten hours to put in (some have much less) so I don’t know what we will be doing next week.  Our wings parade will be on the 28th and on that day we ought to start about 15 days leave.

The last marks in ground school brought my average to 88.9 and gave me 4th place.  Top man had 90.8.  He is from Chile, is the smallest person in the class, looks the youngest, and is probably the best flier.

I was pleased to find that I was 5th in our flight of 19 in the wings instrument test for I believe this to be a prerequisite (?) for the G. R. course.

I had a wings D. R. navigation test this week but it is impossible to judge on my own how I made out because due to bad weather and unserviceable gyro instruments we never even got half way to the destination of Wainwright.  So we gave up navigating and tooled around the sky while the testing officer showed us how to use a drift recorder.  Also it was the instructors first trip at D. R. navigation and a lot of the information he was giving me was obviously faulty and I had to return the chits for correction. 

I went on a similar trip yesterday this time as second pilot while another student did the navigating.  We got there this time and it wasn’t much fun.  We were up to 9500 for nearly 3½ hours and got rather cold.

I had a 48 over the weekend and stayed in town.  We managed to get in before beer quotas were sold and were able to lay in quite a stock of bottles.  Saw “Random Harvest” on Saturday which I thought a very good show.

The last cake you sent arrived in splendid shape.  Thankyou [sic].  How extraordinary that there should be a shortage of lettuce and cabbage in the Okanagan.  But I suppose they have to be imported this time of year.

It won’t be necessary for you to send a telegram re Dick for I got one from him and one from Peter yesterday.  Not much news.  Dick is apparently still billeting in southern England.  He had seen Will Stiell recently.

Peter [Mallam] seems to be getting on well.  Among other subjects he learns wireless which he can take already at 8 w.p.m. getting over 90% in the test.  He will have moved on to Sandhurst by now.

On Sunday there was a really good air force variety show here put on by a troupe touring Canada.

Recently our station was presented with an E (for efficiency) pennant for being the most E of any station in the command during the last three months.  Things should slacken off now.

With love from




May 20. 1943

Dear Dad:

I am having a rather slack time now because I finished up my day-flying last Sunday.  There are still a few left in our flight who have not quite finished so we keep four planes going.  For the rest of us the remaining 8 days will drag.  We are supposed to stay over at the flight room and with nothing to do that is very dull so this morning about four of us have come back here to the barracks.  I feel moderately secure as my instructor has gone on a 3-hour crosscountry [sic].

We did some night-flying on Tuesday.  This was an additional two hours to our training and all of us, especially we who had finished our general flying didn’t like the idea at all.  We had never done night flying off runways and taxying [sic] etc is usually more hazardous at night.  However it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable trips I can remember.  I had a solo check fairly early in the night and made a perfect landing and then took off at 0230 on a solo crosscountry.  It was a bright moonlight night and the air was absolutely smooth which made accurate flying easy.  (At this time of year it is nearly always moderately bumpy during the day).  We were radio equipped and reported our position at each turning point, ask for permission to take off and land, the height to fly, all in R/T code.

My instructor is well-liked by all the students and no wonder.  He is sergeant-major for our squadron and so walks down the ranks with the CO on an inspection.  Last Friday the CO tapped me for a haircut and that is as far as it went.  Others, similarly tapped had to do a little extra work that night.  On the other hand, my instructor in his capacity as sgt-major always calls me out to act as marker for our flight.

We will leave here on the 28th.  There is another chap from Kelowna in the class and he says there is no Sunday train to Kelowna.  If this is correct I will try and stay over in Kamloops with the Hawkshaws.  Much of the leave will have to be spent in travelling so I won’t be able to be home very long.  Also if I am lucky enough to be commissioned I suppose I may have to go as far as Vancouver to be out-fitted.  

One of the newest officers on this station is one who was in my class at high school.  I hadn’t seen him for ten years.  He finished up at Claresholm in February in the same class as Colin McLaren.

With love




May 26, 1943

Dear Mother:

Yesterday we were told our postings and I am getting the G.R. course O.K.  But here is the disappointing part—no leave.  Six of us have to be in Summerside on June 5.  There is one other chap from B. C. so he and I will probably leave here Saturday night and spend a day or so in Toronto en route.  Our class has been very widely split up but all postings are east of here.  An unusually large proportion are going as elementary instructors, a fair number overseas, two to a Canadian O. T. U. and some to a naval air gunnery school, etc.

The last two days have been very slack—an hour’s drill in the morning, that’s all.  This suits me well for I have a touch of tonsillitis again and I spent most of yesterday in bed.  I am much better today and am certainly not becoming a hospital case this time.

As a matter of fact I was flying this morning.  I hadn’t much choice in the matter for I was up with the chief flying instructor.  Three of us have had to go up with him to pick out the best student in the class.  You see the amazing thing is my flying marks are rumoured as being the highest.  I don’t know how they figure these things out—I am sure there are lots that can fly as well as I.  Last week all of us had interviews with the squadron commander & his aide to decide more or less where we would be posted and oddly enough in that interview they said my flying had slipped at this school.  This was an unexpected remark for although I didn’t think I was above average I certainly didn’t think I was below.  My elementary flying must have been very good.  Also in the interview they said my precautionary landing on my wings test was not good.  I did not know what to say to that because I was not given such a landing on my wings test (I told you before my wings test was very short) and although the flight lieu who tested me had cooked the records I did not want to get him into trouble.  (Nor did I want to do the test over again).  I mentioned my interview to another student and exactly the same thing had happened to him and he mentioned it to his instructor.  So I think both of us were marked on our general flying rather than on the ptler [?] wings test.

I am staying over for Sunday to go on an immense buying spree to the tune of about $150.00 I suppose at the expense of the government.

The G. R. course is nine weeks.  When it is over surely we will get some leave.  We will be due for annual leave by then besides embarkation leave.

I am enclosing my bond application so that you can get the bonds out of the bank and put them in a safety deposit box.  If this is not enough authority let me know and I will write the bank a letter.

I will write again on Saturday and let you know my new address.

With love from







May 29, 1943

Dear Mother:

Well yesterday was the great day and today a different life begins.  That of a pilot officer.  But I will go back a bit first.

My flight with the chief instructor didn’t quite bring me to the top.  I believe I was third counting ground school, flying and general assessment (whatever that is).  The boy from Chile was first.  However I have a nice slip of paper in my log book which says ‘above average’ in the three fields they classify ie. [sic] general flying, navigation and bombing.

Our wings banquet and dance was at the Bessborough on Thursday.  Bill White who is going to Summerside with me and myself have both been suffering from what must be a mild ‘flu so we only went to the banquet and not the dance.  I had a few drinks before it, thinking it might fix me up but I didn’t feel like starting again after supper so went home early.  The rest of the class drifted in at all hours but nearly all managed to make the CO’s parade at 7:30 despite terrific hangovers.

Our wings parade was about 3:30 and was not particularly impressive.  We should have been the happiest bunch in the world but after four months of struggle we all felt rather beat down.  We had a photograph taken right after which will come to you and I think it will be very glum.  It really should be taken before the wings party.

The commissions out of 45 men were handed out about this time and we got our clearances and headed for down [sic].  Bill W. and I have a lovely room at the Bessborough until the train pulls out tonight.  Last night we saw many of the boys off first at the CNR and then the C.P.R.  Several were RAF and we promised to look them up later.

This morning we spent some money.  I have spent all my allowance and have not got a greatcoat out of it which will be another 60.00 or so.  I got one uniform with 2 pants, shirts, cap, gloves, trench coat, pyjamas etc etc.  Boy, we look smart now.  We even got gladstone bags and these are not included in the $150.00 either.

We donned this new raiment about 2:00 p.m. and feeling very strange we sauntered out for lunch.  What a lot of saluting we did in in [sic] the next two hours.  A lot of the army pass us by but on a Saturday afternoon there were hordes of others.  When we came back to the hotel we felt much more at ease.

We get to Toronto Tuesday morning, so should spend two days there.  I have 2½ bottles of scotch to help pass the time.  I bought it last week thinking it would come in handy in such a place as B. C.

In the near future I will see about a photograph.

With love from


c/o R. A. Stubbs

#1 G. R. S.

Summerside, P. E. I.