Baker, James

Letter
Date:
August 21, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Aug. 21st, 1942

Dear Mother,

Well I seem to have a spare moment or two so I think I had better sit down and write you a letter. I have been swimming all afternoon for today is our sports afternoon, so I don't feel very much like doing anything but sleeping. It is the first time I have been swimming in salt water since I left home and I can tell you it certainly felt strange to taste the salt again. There is a huge open-air swimming pool here which contains heated salt water so that you can go swimming all year around if you want to. This certainly is a lovely spot, it's too bad I get so little opportunity to see and describe it to you. But I suspect that you can guess just how hard I am working so I never have much time to see anything.

We have our progress test this weekend to decide whether we know sufficient about what we have already taken to go on or whether we will have to be reflighted for another trial, or sent back to the Army as hopeless. The only one we really have to worry about is Navigation. Rest of the courses all help in you final analysis but Navigation is the only one that is imperative to pass. However I am not worrying very much about it because I feel pretty confident that I have assimilated the lectures that we have had so far. But there is no doubt about it that it is hard work. We have been told that this is the OCTV. of the Air Force and I can well-believe it now that I have actually experienced it. I know that I personally have never worked so hard in all my life as I am right now. It is really not strenuous work, but it is the sustained concentration that is so tiring. We are also on the go continuously and never seem to have any time for relaxing. I go dancing Saturday night, sports once a week and may go down to the beach on Sunday. I guess it is a good foretaste of what working on civvy street is like and if it is, it is probably good for me.

I have been talking it over with several of the fellows and I honestly have not been able to decide whether to apply for fighters or bombers when I am asked to state my preference. My personal inclination is toward fighters for many reasons, most of them adventurous and romantic. But I know that as far as knowledge and experience goes the bombers are by far the best because a bomber pilot will have a far easier time getting a job after the war in commercial flying than a fighter pilot. However, I don't intend to take it up commercially...I don't think so, therefore I think the choice will be fighters. However the Air Force may decide all that for me by demanding a flow of bomber pilots or observers and then I will be an observer or bomber pilot whether I want to or not. But if I am sent to bombers, I am going to ask for Lancasters or Sterlings. I'll probably have to get experience on Wellingtons or Hampdens or some other two-engined job before I can take a four-engined machine, but I might as well aim as high as possible. If I can get fighters I want a Spitfire or a Beaufighter. Of course I may compromise by getting a Boston 111 which is a fighter bomber. I have been talking to several lads from Australia lately and accordng to them, Bostons are the goods. I also saw a picture show which was an account of a low-level attack by Boston's on a French oil refinery. It certainly was thrilling and I shivered all over with delight. However I suppose I'll have to wait and see.

Well there doesn't seem much that I can say more. But be assured I am happy at last, I am in ĎA1' physical shape. Now love to everyone -

Your son,

Jim



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