Baker, James

Letter
Date:
March 2, 1943
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
March 2nd, 1943

Dear Mom and Dad,

Remember when I left home I said that you were not to expect to see me before March 15, 1943? Well, I am afraid we are going to have to revise that a little because today is March 2nd and that only gives me 13 days. There is no indication of any move yet, so I guess I'll just have to sit tight. It is so hard to do it though. It is well over 10 wks. now that I have been here doing nothing all the time or at least ‘nothing of any importance'. It is so frustrating to be so close to it all and yet, so very far away. And all the time you are being ordered around by a bunch of men whom you cannot possibly feel any respect for. I have never in all my Service experience struck a place in which everyone was out to do everyone else! In most places, there is at least a certain feeling of ‘esprit du corps' between the NCO. and men, but here we - the men, are just like animals from a different world, and are treated as such. And each corporal is out for himself entirely. Consequently, life here is absolute hell, its mental agony all day long from 8.30 in the morning until 5 at night. Thank God I'm billeted out and can get away from the nightmare for a few hours....I think I'd go crazy if I was in camp all the time! It's the uncertainty that gets one down, waiting, waiting, waiting to hear your name called out, straining your ears as each name is called and saying "Surely mine will be next!" And when the end comes and no more names are called, you sit there and wearily try to imagine why yours wasn't. And you say "Well, I guess I'll be on the next!" And when the next comes - and the next and still yours isn't called, such a feeling of anger wells up inside you that you feel like striking anyone and everyone around you! I've gone through that experience five times now and its the most unnerving thing I have experienced...I hope to God I'm on the next one.

There is not much to write about I am afraid. I have had a very nice letter from Mrs. Sayers in which she expresses the hope that all her boys of whom I am the dearest, will remember that they have a "godmammy" in England after the war is over. I must write at once to assure her that I at least won't forget. I have so much to thank her for because she has been one of my staunchest supports for over 2 yrs. now.

Your latest letter is dated Jan. 19th. I cannot imagine what is happening to my mail because it doesn't seem to be coming very regularly. But I suppose that is to be expected as long as I am in Air Crew. I see by your letter that people at home are at least beginning to feel the pinch of war, they are beginning to feel the war if they cannot experience it. Over here 6 oz. of butter would seem like an awful lot to the housewife because here they only get 4 oz. per wk. But Mrs. Burgess seems to make it do somehow. Do you get margarine and if so is it rationed? Personally, I can no longer tell the difference between margarine and butter. It certainly must be a very different product from that handed out in the last war, if all the stories one hears are true. While I was down in the canteen, I picked up a service magazine and began to read it. The first thing I read described "a thrilling air fight over Burges in which a single British plane destroyed two Gerries by diving beneath them at the colossal speed of 150 miles per hour!" I was amazed until I looked at the date, April 15th, 1915. It was just like turning back the pages of history and stepping back into the last war to read that magazine, and I was very tempted to carry it away as a souvenir. It was very amusing to compare the way they fought then, with the way they fight now.

By the way, I don't know very much about this Ruth Cotter whom Stan has met, except what she has written in her letters and what I can read between the lines. But she seems a very nice girl - quite pretty, and I should imagine good fun. She seems intelligent too. I know she is very religious - at least, she goes to church every Sunday, plays the organ for the choir and is secretary of the local church youth organization. I have never met her you know, but she has been very good to me, sending me parcels and letters all the time.
I sent the pictures to Mary but I haven't had an answer from her yet.
This week is Army week over here you know. The BBC. is putting on a series to show how Britain's Army has grown since May, 1940 until today it is the best fighting machine in the world. Well, I guess that's all for now, Mom. I hope to see you soon.

Your loving son,

Jim




Original Scans