Baker, James

Letter
Date:
November 19, 1940
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Somewhere in England
November 19th, 1940

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well the mail has at last caught up with me. I got seven letters yesterday and 16 today. I also got 3 parcels. One from Toronto, one from one of my fans in Manitoba, one from the WA. I got two letters of yours - dated Sept. 10th and Oct. 2nd. And let me state right here and now, I have written you on the average of one letter a week ever since I came to England. So if you haven't been getting them it is because they have not arrived. It is not my fault anyway.

My gosh Bob was lucky wasn't he? All the girls in "The Gang" have written me a letter in the past week - even Betty Scongal, and everyone of them said what a grand time they had when Bob was home on leave. How I envy him! I would give almost anything to be able to get back for a little while, to forget there ever was such a thing as a khaki uniform and a rifle. O! what a joy it is to be able to wear a suit of civvy clothes, to be able to walk down the street - carefree and happy without on eye cocked for a brasshat or a Military Picket! Just to be able to go home on leave if only for a month would be such a help...but No, definitely NO!! Take the case of the fellow in the next bed to me in the hospital. He was married, had two children and owned his own house and plot of land in Toronto when he joined up to come over here. Then in May his children were killed in an accident, in June his wife ran off with another fellow and she sold the house and land as he had signed it over to her thinking it would be safer in her name. Well of course the fellow almost went crazy and he immediately applied for a month's compassionate leave to enable him to go home and try to straighten the mess out. He even went as high as General McNaughton. But do you think he got it? Not a chance. And yet it is wonderful how many officers are going back. There have been five from our regiment alone in the last two months.

And now about my singing. I have been doing quite a lot of singing lately - appearing in public whenever I get the opportunity. While I was down at Borden my friend the organist (Ralph Stenton) and I used to get together every night. I almost met Captain Plunkett. I only missed him by half and hour. I am rather hoping to hear from him yet for Ralph is certain that he shall hear of me. When I came back to the regiment I got rather a bad disappointment. I came back as you know on a Sunday. Well - it seems that while I was away in hospital, we got a new padre and he immediately organized a choir and put on a concert which was broadcast to Canada. One of the boys sang a solo. Perhaps you heard it. But the part that got me was that the concert was broadcast the very day that I got back to the regiment! Then when we moved down here I was approached by the padre and asked to join the choir which I immediately did. We went to church in the chapel here at the school (which by the way is a truly magnificent chapel, all white marble - it has a wonderful organ too). I met the organist whose name is of all things - Sebastian Baker. We had a wonderful chat and he invited me up to his house someday this week. Then to top it all off, I went down town to a place called the "American Buffet". They have an organ and piano which play to the diners. While I was eating, an Air Force chap got up and sang several songs, and they were truly awful. That gave me enough courage to try my luck. So I got up and asked if I might sing a couple of Songs. I sang "Love to All" from Deanna Durbin's picture ‘It's a Date', "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", "Deep River" and "Trees". The people seemed to enjoy it for they wouldn't let me stop. But I had to get back to barracks. But before I went the manager came rushing up and asked me to come back to sing again on Wednesday night. So I am going back. It will give me the much needed experience anyway and perhaps (who knows?) this might bring forth something worthwhile. I'm not counting too much on it though. I hope that I can sing over the radio on the programmes to Canada, I wish for it just as fervently as you do. Perhaps, now that the officers know I can sing, I will get somewhere.

No, I have not heard from Sadie lately and I am beginning to wonder. However, only time will tell...

I can't understand how my poem got in the ‘Scotsman' for I certainly never sent it to them and neither did Paton: he never had a copy of it. By the way, who is Mrs. Fraser? I'll have to look in to this. Please give me more details.

No chance of L./Cpl. now I am afraid for I am with reg. again. Just another soldier. Mrs. Lees got your letter and will be writing in time for Xmas. Well Goodbye for now.

Love to all,

Jim


PS
Look at this for a souvenir...do you wonder that I ever got the letter at all? Had a lovely letter from Beth Henderson today. She certainly writes wonderful letters to me. I have only had four but everyone of them is a gem! Got a lovely Xmas parcel from Aunt Minnie in Toronto.



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