Baker, James

Letter
Date:
July 19, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
125R225139 AC2 Baker, RCAF

July 19th, 1942

Dear Mom,

Well this had been a very eventful week as probably you can guess. We have all more or less settled into out new routine but it certainly takes some getting used to. We rise promptly at six o'clock to the very familiar cries of the NCO's "Wakey, Wakey!" They come around to every flat, poke in their heads and bellow. It keeps us moving to do all the things we have to do between 6 and 6.30 when we parade for breakfast. We have to walk about 1/3 of a mile to our mess hall which is the pavilion of Regent's Park Zoo. Every morning when we get down there the animals are just beginning to wake up and consequently we wake to the accompaniment of the most ghastly roars and howls and whistles you ever heard or could imagine. The monkeys were acting up. It was bedlam and there we were, sweating like mad trying to concentrate and having a terrible time. The Maths was very straight forward but very tricky in that the numbers were sometimes quite large. However I am pretty confident that I got a good mark. I knew that the day before I failed my Morse Code tests but I hear we don't have to worry about them very much as they were only grading tests anyway. They couldn't have expected very much from us as they only gave us 2 hrs. instruction and it is terribly difficult. However I suppose in time we will be able to read it OK. and send it too. I find the sending a lot easier than the receiving. You have to listen far too closely and I can't seem to detach my mind from the sense of the word and concentrate on the sound of the letters as I should. But we'll see!

We have not got our uniforms back from the tailors yet, evidently he has been busier than usual but I have managed to borrow a pair of pants to go out in. My tunic was a good fit and the pants borrowed were good too. Everyone remarks how much nicer I look in blue. But you never saw me in khaki did you so you can't make a comparison. This uniform makes one appear much taller and I am a veritable giant in it. It also makes my grey eyes look quite blue. I'll try to have another big photo taken to send home but I can't promise as I haven't much money at present.

Do you remember I told you about Sheila - a friend of mine who was getting married? Well I met her husband yesterday (he's very nice) and do you know who he turned out to be? Do you remember Ken Gibson and old man Gibson who used to live down below Bloom's store? (They may do so yet for all I know - anyway Ken used to run around with Evelyn Best.) Well this David Gibson who Sheila married is a cousin of Ken Gibson. Isn't that remarkable? I always seem to be running across people like that. Everywhere I go someone knows a mutual friend or someone has been where I have lived and thus we form a bond of attraction. It's very peculiar.

I have been down to the club several nights lately. Mary and Mrs. Beverly are fine, though working very hard. Mary and I had supper together last night before she went to the Admirality to work. Have I told you what she does? She plots all the weather reports upon a map as they come in from stations all over England and from ships and planes at sea. She works one night, has a day and night off and then works a day, has a night and a day off and then works another night. In other words, she works 12 hrs. out of 36. Well anyway, we had supper together in a lovely little American restaurant called the PamPam in Leicester Square. I have a very good knowledge of London's eating houses now, where to go for good food and what to order when you get there. But I find my non-knowledge of dinner wines somewhat of a handicap. But I suppose that is just a matter of custom more than anything else. Mrs. Sayers is fine, as busy as ever at the Outpost and really, I don't know how either she or Mrs. Beverly manage to get everything done that they do and still manage to find enough time to talk to me occasionally.

We had two very good lectures today, one on Security and the other on Air Sea Rescue Service. I am afraid I cannot tell you very much about it, in fact I don't think I will be able to say very much about anything I do because most of it is either just-off the secret list or still-on. It won't be like it was in the Army, a series of maneuvers and drills which were of no importance to either us or the enemy. Here everything we see, do or touch is of value to the enemy. For instance, we had a math exam the other day and we were not allowed to take the question papers away with us and we were warned against talking about the questions outside. So I can't say much about them except that they were rather long but not too difficult. The lecture on security this morning was very good because the lecturer himself was a wonderful speaker. He held our attention right from the very first, and it must have been no easy task.

The one on Air Sea Rescue was an interesting topic but not a good speaker. However he held our attention by displays of the apparatus used and by showing us a film depicting the rescue of one of our Bomber Crews from the middle of the North Sea. It is a very complicated business but fortunately very efficient.

We had a marvelous dinner today, tasting and smelling delicious and very satisfying. It consisted of a simple portion of meat pie, potatoes, green peas, cauliflower, brown gravy, gooseberry tart with whipped cream, bread and water. It is impossible to buy a meal like that any more outside unless you want to pay some outlandish price for it!

I have not yet decided in my mind what type of aircraft I want to fly, should I ever become a pilot. Of course, they may make me an Observer and I won't have a choice in the matter. But I am hoping to be a pilot. Personally, I rather lean towards Spitfires because I am as you know, passionately adventurous and in that way I think I could satisfy that craving. But then on the other hand, there are other considerations. After this war, men are going to take to the air in America just as after the last war they took to the road. There are going to be a host of new Airlines starting and they will want men who have had experience handling heavy bomber-type machines. I realize of course that there is going to be a far greater number of pilots available than jobs but I figure on ending this little show with something ‘bigger of sleeve' than a training in flying. The officer told us on the first day that we would all end our courses as either NCO.'s or officers and I hope to be one of the latter. But then he also told us that 1 in 25 of us would win medals for gallantry though to us at the time, it might seem that we were only doing our duty. However, I figure that one of those little maroon and white ribbons is going to be worth quite a good deal after this is over so I am not going to miss any opportunities of winning one. It does not entail the necessity of taking any unnecessary risks and anyway, you know my philosophy. I believe that if you are going to die, you die no matter how you try to avoid it, so why try? And anyway, thousands more die every year from simply falling downstairs than have ever lost their lives flying over the Pole or any such seemingly hazardous expedition. After all, the margin of safety in flying today is very great and if there are no physical defects in his body, a man stands an excellent chance. Just the other day I heard of a case that admirably illustrates my point but unfortunately, I can't tell it to you. However, it just goes to show that a man is no safer in one place than another if his time is up. I have a feeling - a very strong feeling, that my time has a long time to run yet. There seems to be a very definite job for me to do, what I do not know but I feel somehow, that this is all training for it. It is an uncanny feeling at times but it is certainly very definite.

Well I guess that is all for now. Love to everyone. I still do not know what my address is but will let you know as soon as I can. I'll send a cable probably. Meanwhile if you keep writing to the old address and mark it "transferred to the RCAF", it will reach me eventually. David Gibson would like you to tell Mr. Gibson that he's married and that Sheila is his "ideal partner". She is, I can vouch for that. Meanwhile,

Love to you all as always,

Jim



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