Baker, James

Letter
Date:
November 18, 1940
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Somewhere in England,
Nov. 18th, 1940

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well Dad, I'll bet you'll be surprised to hear where I'm writing this letter from. I am sitting in the girl's common room of Rhodean Public School for girls - about three miles east of Brighton. Do you know the place at all? We have taken over the guard down here for 3 wks. and what a job it is! Outside my window I can hear the cold SW wind blowing and howling around the eves and underlying it all is the dull angry roar of the breakers crashing against the sea wall at the foot of the cliff. Sitting here before my cheerful blazing fire in the fireplace I certainly feel sorry for the boys who are out tonight. But I had my turn last night. I was guarding a petrol pump over at Lewes and it was colder than -------- last night. It was a full moon and not a cloud in the sky. Just like a clear cold frosty night on the prairie. And we were sleeping in a cement-floored outhouse with no heat of any kind. We nearly froze to death. The only time I was warm was when Gerry dropped a couple of HE.s, about half a mile away. I heard them coming down - whistling and screaming as they fell. You have no idea how fearful they can make you. Even when they are as far as 3 or 4 miles away you can swear they are going to hit you for certain. You just stand rooted to the ground with your shoulders hunched up around your ears - waiting, waiting, for the next second when it hits the ground with a dull thud. When it does and the echoes of the explosion have died away, you heave a huge sigh of relief, shrug your shoulders, shake you head and say "Missed me that time Gerry," and go on with whatever you were doing before. It is wonderful what the human being can become accustomed to - isn't it?

I have been to town several times. Been to the show at the Regent and at the Academy. Have also danced twice at the Dome of the Pavilion. I was supposed to go there tonight too but the weather turned out so bad that I decided to stay home instead and write some letters.

All my mail that was held up while I was in hospital and down at Borden has not caught up with me yet. I have not had one single Canadian letter for 43 days now. So I am expecting to get an awful load of it sometime soon. Lucky I don't have to pay for the stamps or I'm afraid I couldn't answer all the letters I receive.

I am sending off my Xmas parcels sometime this week so please be on the lookout for them. They will be insured so please notify me if you don't get them. As I told you in my last letter you can get presents for Stan, Burt and Grandpa. I hope you and Dad like what I have bought for you both. I know Dad is always wanting one so I got it for him. By the way he is wearing my suit in one of those pictures - isn't he? And you are wearing my sweater. What have you done with my school letters? I want to keep them so please don't throw them away. Speaking of school: how are Stan and Burt getting on in school? What is Stan doing? I hope he is getting interested in some of the school works outside the classroom. The paper for instance...I really enjoyed my work on it and I'm sure he would too.

I have not been up to see Minnie yet. I suppose I really should but I don't like to do it. Guess I'll try to get up on Sunday afternoon for an hour or two.

I was over to Rottindean day before yesterday and visited the Tudor Close again. It is still as beautiful as ever. By the way, Mrs. Lees got your letter and wished me to express her regrets that she has not answered it as yet. She said she'd write in time for Xmas. They are both as well and as jolly as ever and welcomed me with open arms. I had quite a time the first night.

I have bought myself a new wrist watch. Gold case, 15 jewel lever movement. Was originally 2 lbs. 10 but I bought it for 1 lb. 1. The fellow was going on leave and needed some money. So do I for I have only 12 to last me 2 weeks and I didn't draw any pay today. Maybe I'll have go pawn it till next pay day for I simply have to go out sometime during the next fortnight! We do 24 hours ‘duty' and then 24 hours ‘off' but during the ‘off' we do fatigues and stand-to and can't get out in the evenings till 6.15 - and then we have to be back in again by 10 o'clock: so it is not as nice as it might be. However we have to make the best of it. Well Goodbye for now.....Merry Christmas

Love to all,

Jim


PS
I didn't draw any pay because I figured I wouldn't need any. I have 2 lbs. loaned to the SM but he's on leave so I have to wait for next pay day for it.


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