Baker, James

Letter
Date:
August 10, 1942
To:
Stan
From:
Jim
August 10, 1942

Dear Stan,

Many thanks for your letter which after a long journey around the country has at last reached me here. Now for the explanation of my address which as you can see has changed very considerably. Incidentally when you write use the following address: R225139 AC2 Baker JRD
RCAF. att. RAF
c/o The Beaver Club
London, England

As you can see I have transferred at last to the Canadian Air Force and am at present at my Initial Training Wing. The course here lasts 10 wks. and when I have past that, I am sent to an Elementary Flying Training School for instruction with planes. Here where we are now we learn all the theory of flying and the essential ground work, Morse, gunnery etc. We don't even see a plane at this stage. We are so busy that honestly, I don't find time to turn around. You may think you have a busy time in the Army but I can tell you honestly that you don't know what work is until you have undergone Air Crew training! We are on the go continuously from 6 AM. to 10 PM. The standard smartness on parade is killingly high and on top of that, we have English sergeants in charge of us and they are b----- to say the very least of it. We march at 140 paces to the minute and thank gosh we only have 1 hour's drill a day! The rest of the time it is just like going to school again except that we pay a lot more attention than we ever did in school because we know that someday our very lives - and the lives of others, may depend upon us remembering some little thing that we are being taught now. We have dinghy drill for instance. A Dinghy is a rubber boat carried in an aeroplane in order that the pilot may have something he can get into in case he comes down into the water. It is a very complicated thing and there is only one right way and innumerable wrong ways of blowing it up and getting into it. In a fighter, if man makes a mistake it is not so bad because he is the only one to suffer for it but in a bomber, the whole crew suffers because he forgot some small part of his training. It is the same with the Morse signalling. One never knows when one is going to be called upon to save a craft and crew by signalling. Therefore we pay far-stricter attention than we usually do to lectures and other things. But on top of all this, we have another reason for not missing anything and that is that unless we pass these first few weeks of the course, we have to go back to the Army: and you can guess how much we appreciate that. I am very tired as you can perhaps guess from the description of our days but I am very happy too because at last I feel I am doing something worth while. The pay is somewhat of a sad blow to us though. Of course you know that when you come over seas, half your pay is automatically stopped unless you are making an allowance of $20.00 a month. If you are not doing this the pay is stopped and entered in your pay book as Deferred Pay. So that means that an ordinary private with no trades pay draws 4 pounds 10 shillings a month. Well, when we come here we are attached to the RAF. for training and so are not allowed to draw any more than the English fellows and therefore, we only get 2.6 (60 cents) a day and the rest is put into deferred pay no matter whether you have got an allowance or not. So now we get only 1 lb. 15 shs. every fortnight instead of 2 lbs. or 2 /10 as we used to. But after we have finished this course our pay automatically becomes 5/6 ($1.25) a day because we are all made LAC.'s. And when we go to Flying School we also get 75 cents a day flying pay so altogether we draw about $2.00 a day together with the money going home in our allotment. So that's not too bad is it? I'm giving you all this ‘Gem' because I thought you might like to know.

Too bad you were taken off those drafts for Overseas because I know how much you are longing to get over here. However I suppose one of these days you will be making it and then we can meet so I can see how much you have changed, which I can see by your letter is a good deal. As for me I don't think I have changed very much, not so that you couldn't recognize me anyway.

So you have a girl have you? Well that's fine! There is nothing better for a fellow than to have a girl-friend and there is nothing that makes him grow up faster. Have a girl-friend by all means, have half a dozen. It's a lot safer because you can't marry all of them. I've got girl-friends: at least eight over here and one especial one. When I was in Canada I was nearly hooked but thank gosh I managed (or rather she managed it for me) to get unhooked again. I suppose Mom told you all about that. I feel very sorry for Sadie because it must be awful, Ken having gone like that. But that's war for you. That is one reason why I don't think I'll get married in war time. Although when I do get my wings and come back here to England to fly again, I might at that. I intend to take a commission if it is at all possible because I am sick and tired of this continual bullying around that we get everywhere we go. I am fully qualified to be an officer now and certainly I have the right kind of connections. So maybe next time you see me I may be a PO. and then you'll have to salute me... that's going to be very funny!

I'm glad you are going to write more often Stanley because not only does it make other people happy but also it helps you very much personally by keeping your brain alert and mobile and by making you able to think of things to say quickly and fluently and you will find when you get over here that that will help you tremendously in making friends because over here, the way you speak and things you say have a far-bigger influence upon how you are received than they do at home. English people like a quiet well-mannered person who has an opinion and who will argue reasonably and sensibly but they hate a loud mouthed braggart who has nothing to say but who says it in a loud brazen voice. That - I think, applies to decent people all over the world for that matter. I know I myself don't like a braggart and that is why I don't like Army chaps because they are continually bragging about how much liquor they can drink or how many women they can woo and ruin and all the rest of it.

I've been AWL. a few times myself so I know what it's like. But I can't imagine only seven day CB.! My gosh, a fellow would get 28 days Glasshouse (Army Detention Barnacles) over here for that and probably 60 days pay. AWL. is not worth the price in this country. At least not to me anyway.

My mail is a bit mixed up and I have just got two letters from Mom dated June 26th. Yours is also very late. But if you write next time to the address I have given you, it should be all right. As for the parcels Stan, many thanks, but please take some yourself. Its really not too bad over here and I know how much good it does you to get a parcel from home, quite apart from the stuff that is in it.

Well I guess that's all the news for now. Write again sometime. Cheerio

Love,

Jim

PS.
You forgot the photo!!!


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