Baker, James

Letter
Date:
March 27, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
March 27th, 1942

Dear Mom,

I have just received two letters from you dated Jan. 21st and 27th. They have been to nearly every unit in the British Isles so far as I can make out from the addresses on the envelopes. I can't imagine why they should go to the RCA. can you? But that is where at least nine of my letters have been going lately. They are addressed PPCLI plainly enough too. It is very inexplicable.

I was very proud to hear that my work is gaining such universal recognition. Did you ever get my parcel of letters and souvenirs which included a clipping from the "Daily Mirror" of a letter of mine, the one which you quote? In it I said that about the ‘women in England'. When I wrote to the Daily Mirror about it they simply replied that it had been supplied to them by an agency and they had no idea where the agency had received it. But if it had been published in so many provincial papers over here, I guess that is where the Agency spotted it. But we must always remember Mother, when judging my work and talking of possibilities of employment after the war in newspaper work, that present success does not count for very much. Such work and letters as I have had published are extremely topical and of course, the added ‘reader interest' of me being in the Canadian Army and actually over here in England at the time of writing has a lot to do with the acceptance of my work. I think when estimating the potential value of such an introduction it would be better to disregard all the immediate success rather than bank too heavily upon it and be left open to disappointment. I am not closing my eyes to the fact that the work is not judged so much upon its merit as upon its ‘reader approval'. You can see I hope that I am not losing my head, in fact, I guess you will think I am proceeding in the other direction and being too cautious. But we will see what we will see.

So Stanley is in the Engineers! I really cannot for the life of me begin to imagine it. Whatever did he go and do such a silly thing as that for, especially when he is so young? Have I made my life sound too glamourous or something? Because it certainly is no picnic, even though I do not complain about it. There is one comfort at least. As long as he is medical category 2B he can't come Overseas and you won't lose 2 sons for a little while at least.

Now Mother, I want to have a little heart to heart talk with you. You mention for one thing that certain boys from 1st Can. Div. were being sent home to Canada as guards to prisoners-of-war and that eventually, the whole Canadian Div. would be sent home that way. Do you realize that there are 20,000 or more men in a division, that there are 1000 or so men in the battalion and that at each trip 5 to 10 men go from the battalion? Each trip takes four months also? At that rate how long do you think it would take to send home a whole division on leave? And do you wonder that Des Simmonds wants to transfer into the RCAF rather than take his chance at being sent home in this fashion? Particularly if he feels - as I do, that he would be of more use in the RCAF than he is at present in the Army? And there is another thing too. I have talked to the boys from the regiment who were over in Canada on leave in fact, they only arrived back here a few days ago. And they told me that they did not particularly enjoy the trip. At least the enjoyable memories they had of it were marred by the sadness of parting again. Do you honestly think you would enjoy having me home for a month if at the end of that time you knew you were going to lose me again, for I would have to come over here again? No, I don't think you would and I know I wouldn't. So let's not think of that again.

At present I am on Anti-Aircraft duty with a Bren gun. I just have to sit here in the beautiful sunshine from 6.00 AM. (sunrise) to 8.05 PM. (black-out time) watching for planes, reporting and logging them and keeping my gun ready for instant action should a Gerry appear. But London had its first Alert in nine months the other day so you can imagine how exciting this is. Yet the weather is beautiful, we have a nice warm dry dugout with a fireplace and a fire and a bed and nothing to do except write letters, sleep and read. I have been on duty two days now and get a rest tomorrow. I am sitting in the gunpit writing this. There is a sound of distant explosions and the ground trembles occasionally. I expect it is Southampton having another ‘sneak' raid or two. There have been several lately. But the weather has been so clear and fine these past few day, that I expect the raiders had a hard time getting away: if they did at all.

I have been thinking very seriously of getting my poems published and yesterday I even went so far as to see the padre here about it. But the only thing he could think of was to send a manuscript to a publisher in Canada. You see the trouble is that they are not topical poems and now that paper is so heavily rationed, I doubt that a publisher would publish them because they are severely restricted in what books they can and cannot publish. But I am still thinking about it. I am going to take my time and do nothing rash. Oh yes, I also had a Psychological Test yesterday with the result that I was told my life was very much above average in most respects and in nearly 1/4 of it was in the ‘Very Excellent" class.

There are a list of 26 attributes upon which the Candidate is questioned and points are awarded according to the answers given. 5 is Very Excellent, 4 is Good, 3 is Average, 2 is Low, and 1 or 0 is Very Low. Here is the list together with my mark in each case (if you make a graph, it is much easier to see).

1. Health 3
2. Energy 5
3. Enthusiasm 3
4. Resistance 5
5. Promptness 5
6. System 4
7. Reliability 5
8. Foresight 4
9. Knowledge of Human Nature 3
10. Sympathy 4
11. Caution 2
12. Initiative 4
13. Patience 1
14. Honesty 3
15. Self-Control 4
16. Tact 4
17. Human 3
18. Pleasant touch 4
19. Quickness of movement 4
20. Skill of hands 5
21. Interest in Reading 5
22. Sports 4
23. Serious Study 5
24. Art 2
25. Music 4
26. Religion 3

( Average = 3.8 ) 26 into 98

Well Mom, there doesn't seem much more to say. I am glad you bought the typewriter without waiting for permission from me - even though I told you to do so long before I knew you had already done it. I will need it very much when I get back there and I only wish I had one now and knew how to use it. Do you know how many unanswered letters I have right now? 26. Of course, that is because my mail has followed me around so much, but it is still an awful pile.

I was so sorry to hear that Dad had lost that splendid opportunity. It is very funny - or rather peculiar too because of the dates when he was losing his opportunity over there, I was losing the grand job I told you about over here by having to go again to hospital. Rather peculiar that, don't you think? I am also very glad to hear you made so much money from you commissions. In a later letter written in Feb., you mentioned several improvements that I know must have cost a lot of money and I couldn't for the life of me figure where it had all come from. But $140.00 explains a lot!

Well, I guess that's all. Write soon.

Love to all and always,

Jim





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