Baker, James

Letter
Date:
October 11, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Oct. 11, 1942

Dearest Mom,

Here it is, another Sunday and time for the "Newsletter from Europe". Well I have at last completed the first lap. We wrote - and I hope passed, our final exam last Friday and I may say it was a scorcher to most of the boys, but I loved it. It was Meteorology and as you know, that is something I have always been interested in but not only that, but Mary's work- and being what it is, we were continually talking about it, so I picked up a lot of information that way. The Navigation Exam - which is the most important one so far as we are concerned, was fairly easy though very long. There were only five questions but one had 13 parts and took 65 minutes to do and we only had two hours altogether. But I was through with plenty of time to spare and from checking up with the other boys, I find I had only four answers of the longs question wrong and altogether, I think I made about 80%. My other exams are no worry to me at all. I passed signals and Aldis Lamp with 90%, so once I saw that mark I said to myself "If you can pass that, you can pass anything" and I am pretty sure I have. But we won't know definitely until next week sometime. In the meantime we just hang around here waiting with high hopes
(or uneasy qualms) as the case might be. It seems rather unnatural that after 10 wks. of such concentrated effort, not to have any classes to attend. All we do is drill and PT. and an occasional Navigation or signals lecture to keep our hands in. After we know the results it will be worse because we will be awaiting posting to an aerodrome where we actually learn to fly. I was talking to the Wing Commander the other night and he says we should be posted in a few days time - so probably by the time you receive this, I shall have soloed. If and when I do, I will send you a wire right away because that is a very important occasion!

We had a splendid "do" the other night, the night we wrote our last exam. We had a banquet to celebrate, a flight banquet to which we invited all our teachers, Squadron Leader and Wing Commander. And what is more, they all accepted and came and really enjoyed themselves! We were very very honored because it is the first time that the Wing Commander has ever attended a flight dinner. But he told us why at the dinner - or rather during his speech afterward. He was attached to a Canadian Squadron during the last war and got to know and like us then. His CO. was Collishaw - our ace, and Billy Bishop and he were great pals. His name by the way is Horton, CRR. Horton. Squadron Leader Murphy made a very fine speech in fact, all our teachers and officers made fine speeches. But the one who stole the evening was by one of our fellows who was leaving for London that night to get married on the following morning. We all stood up to toast him and his bride and when the poor boy had got over his embarrassment somewhat, he stood up and said very simply "Thanks very much boys. I know you mean it. I hope I am in a position someday to return the compliment to you!" He's the sixth boy from the left in the third row from the front of the picture I am enclosing of our flight. The left hand officer is PO. Nichols our Flight Commander. To his right is Cpl. Breen, our 2nd in command among the NCO.s and to his right, PO. Hird our new Flight Commander. Next to him is Sgt. Midgly, our sergeant whom we all love like a father. (?)

I went to church this morning and was glad I did because the sermon was delivered by The Archbishop of York and he is a magnificent speaker. He has come down to hold a confirmation class this afternoon; quite a few of our lads are being confirmed. The subject of his text was "Sacrifice: What is it?" and the whole thing boiled down to ‘The price which every Christian must willingly pay to put right that which has gone wrong'. It was a very beautiful and moving sermon, but more beautiful still was the man who delivered it, he really believed what he was saying and his voice rang through the church carrying that conviction.

I have not heard from Mary for over 2 wks. so I cannot tell whether she is in the WAAF. yet or not, she has had her medical and was waiting for her call up. I expect she is gone by now and only hope she likes it as much as I do. Mrs. Sayers has not written this week either so I have no news from that quarter either. But Lance has written and I am enclosing his letter for I think it is worth keeping. It will give you an idea what he's like better than can any description of mine. I will also be sending you the book he mentions because it too is an interesting souvenir. Well, not much more....

Love to all,

Jim

PS.
Many thanks for the photos... just what I wanted. And I don't think you are one bit fatter than you have been ever since I can remember you. But Dad is looking a lot better: especially in the action photo of him at the bowling green. It really is a magnificent one.

I am afraid I cannot help you very much in regard to Mrs. Murphy. People like her you have to deal with all over the world and each of us has to make up his own mind how he is going to treat them. That is something in which no advice - no matter how good, will help. I know what I think about it, but maybe I'm prejudiced...hope it's settled by now.

Jim



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