Baker, James

Letter
Date:
September 4, 1943
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Sept. 4th, 1943
Chatham, NB.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have been rather been expecting a letter from you for several days now but as yet, none has come. There may be one in tonight though. I can't understand what has happened to Mary, she hasn't written for over a month. I wonder if she can have been hurt in one of the raids that London has been having lately but even then, her mother would have told me. I am going to send a telegram and see what happens. The trouble is that I know she has moved and I don't know her new address, so I have to keep sending them to the old address and hope that they will send them on. But she should have written before this to answer about the last dozen I have written.

Well, how is everything at home? I am going along quietly here. I was downtown in Chatham on Saturday for the first time since I came here. It is a typical country town with one theatre, one dancehall, one hotel and one restaurant - so you can see, it is not very big. The people are wonderfully friendly though, which makes all the difference in the world! I spent the afternoon with one of the chaps in my class who is married and has his wife down here. Had a quiet, peaceful day together and I enjoyed it very much.
I have not been flying since I last wrote, the weather has been very bad, low cloud or mist - bad visibility, so there is not much use in trying to fly in it. We have had several thunderstorms too, which have upset things considerably. (Work now, finish later)

It is the next day, I never found time to finish it yesterday. I work every night till nearly 11 o'clock and seeing that I do all my own washing here (as well as working at night), you can see I haven't much spare time. This is a tough course, really tough. And what makes me ‘shake in my shoes' is that it doesn't begin to get tough till we start flying! We do three to four hour flips during which we travel about 250 miles and the boys say that at the end of 2 hrs. - you are so bagged out, you don't care whether you get home or not. The trouble is that you have to arrive at a certain place at a certain time and if you don't, you are docked so many marks according to how far wrong you are. This is really the toughest course in the world as far as Air Crew is concerned because we are really three men in one. In an aircraft crew, we take the place of three men so of course, we do three times as much work as any other member of the crew. We are - primarily Navigators, but we also drop the bombs when we reach the target area and at the same time, we have to be able to fire the machine guns in the front turrets. So you can see that we do an awful lot of work. I have already qualified as an Air Bomber/Air Gunner as I think I have already told you, this is the final leg. I have to pass this course too because they have just introduced a new rule stating that if an aircrew candidate has failed 2 courses, he must do 6 months Ground Duties before he can remuster to another course. I have already failed as a Pilot, so this is my final chance.

This is the worst station I was ever on as far as having anything to write about was concerned. There are so many things that happen here that we cannot talk about - cannot even mention, that we have to keep a pretty close check upon our pen. The country over which we fly here is bush, bush, bush everywhere you look, with little towns scattered here and there over the face of the land. It is extremely hard to recognize places from the air and then to try and transfer them to a map, it seems almost an impossibility!

I must now close and go do some more homework. Write soon and tell me all news.

Love to all,

Jim




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