Baker, James

Letter
Date:
October 16, 1943
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Oct. 16, 1943

Dearest Mom and Dad,

Mother, you're a darling! That is just the thing I wanted to get Mary for Christmas but I didn't feel much like asking you for it because I have asked for so much money from you lately, that I was ashamed to ask you for any more. So I was going to save up my money and buy it when I could. But now you have done it for me, and I can't say how much I appreciate it. What a godsend it is to have such an understanding mother and father! By the way, I am sending you something that I am sure you will enjoy seeing very much. I had it done by one of the boys on the station, he did a wonderful job. It is a truly magnificent piece of work and I almost hate to part with it I like it so much. But, I know you both will like it too. So look out for a small parcel soon after you get this letter. No, I've purposely not told you what it is, I want it to be a surprise for you!

Well, Norm Keene got home again did he? Gosh! I can imagine the welcome he got, and he certainly deserves it. Imagine! 111 operational trips...he must be an iron horse! I have told you how tired I am when I come down from a three hour flip, so I can imagine what he feels like after 111 trips which must be at least 3 tours! He should be entitled to wear a golden wing and two bars as well as his DFC. By the way, Harry Larondi - whom I mentioned in one of my other letters, graduated from here today. He looked fine in his uniform with a beautiful shining wing over his heart. He was very happy naturally (who wouldn't be after 20 wks. here, it's an awful strain!) If you see Jessie Weston (his sister-in-law) tell her she can be proud of him. I hear Frank Larondi is soloing at a CFTS. My pal Brown - whom I shared a room with at Scarborough, has just graduated as a pilot from Uplands near Ottawa. Gordie King is coming along fine at an SFTS. near Calgary. He was certainly lucky to get another chance at Pilot. I would have liked to try again. However, I am satisfied to go through with Navigator now that I know how important any position in Air Crew is. I used to think that the Pilot was the most important member of a crew and that was why he was made Captain. But now I know that any member of the crew has no more importance than any other, they are essentially a team who must work as one man if they are to achieve success. The only reason the Pilot is usually made Captain, is that he is really the only logical man for the job. The poor navigator has enough to worry about doing his own job without worrying about the other members of the crew, as the Captain must do. So that now I appreciate that fact, I feel a lot better about it all. This job really teaches you what co-operation can do to bring about a real success, and just what a mess you can get in when you do not co-operate. For instance, we had our first night flip the other night. It was a terrific night to start out with, for a heavy smoke-haze cut down visibility to about 3 miles, and night navigation depends almost exclusively upon one's ability to see the ground and tell exactly where one is at any given moment. Well naturally, Gerry ( my partner) and I were just a little scared because this was our first night navigation and we were going out over the water (to Prince Edward Island), but the moment we stepped in the plane, the pilot said "Well boys, you needn't worry about a thing, I know you'll be OK." Well, we knew it too then and as it turned out, it was out best trip so far. We were the first ones back and the only ones who did everything correctly. We hit every turning point right on the nose and at the correct time too. Gerry was in charge of Navigation, I just helped him as much as I could by giving him position pin points, Ground Speed and checking the pilot's compass by using the moon. It was a lovely night above the haze, there was a full moon shining and it was as light as day. But we could hardly see the ground from 3000 feet. It was hard pin pointing and I will say, we were very lucky in getting places that we could not possibly miss! But I am glad it was such a good trip to start off with because it gives us both more confidence in our abilities, and as most of our navigation will have to be done at night, that is a very important thing.
I went "moose hunting" yesterday too. We did a low level 300 mile jaunt away over into the hinterland. We never went above 300 feet all the way around. It was very exciting and I enjoyed it very much, in spite of the terrific bumps which made me sick. It is very hard to navigate so close to the ground because the ground is going by you at about 120 miles per hour, you can't find your drift so you can't discover your wind. And as I told you, that is the main essential of Navigation. But we have another way of doing these low level trips. We draw a strip map - that is a strip of the country for ten miles either side of our desired route or ‘track' and then we navigate by map reading alone. We stay on our track at all times and if we find ourselves off at any time, we immediately alter course to get back on. It is immense fun and I really enjoyed it too...but it was very hard pinpointing as the country where we went is almost solid bush and there is hardly a thing marked on the map. We had a very good pilot again, a great ‘moose hunter'. We actually saw three moose on the way around. They were browsing in muskeg and must have got a terrific fright when we went roaring over their heads! We went by so fast that I didn't get any more than a glimpse of them, so I can't tell if they ran or not - but Gosh, you get a terrific sensation of speed when you are traveling so close to the ground! It comes up and hits you smack in the face like a great roll of green, red and yellow ribbons winding endlessly before your eyes. It gives a magnificent feeling of superiority, you scorn the earth beneath you and are really lord of the universe. At least, that is how I feel (or at least I do until something goes wrong then discover just how small and puny I really am.)

No, Phil hasn't written yet. Nellie Stamper does regularly. She's at Kingston and really ‘browned off' with the town. But she loves her job.

Well Dad, I didn't get to go fishin' again. I had hoped to go this weekend on my 48 hrs. but the fishing is closed. My hunting trip fell through too. How are you doing? Hope you got some last time. Say ‘Hello' to Burt when you see him again. Must close now.

Love as always,

Jim



Original Scans