Baker, James

Letter
Date:
November 17, 1943
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
November 17th, 1943

Dearest Mom and Dad,

Another flight has been washed out tonight so I have a little time in which to catch up on my letter writing. If the stars were shining, I would have to be out shooting them with my sextant but they sky is overcast, I have the evening free. I should be studying I guess, but somehow I just can't put my mind to it at present. I guess by the time you have got my letter telling about my exams, I'm afraid I wasn't very explicit about them simply because I wasn't sure about them myself. However, I know I passed in all subjects (by the skin of my teeth I fear) and some I did pretty good in. I don't like the system of examinations they have here. You have to rush everything so much you can't take your time and think, you have to cram two hours work in one hour. Who ever said that a Navigator had to be slow and steady, they evidently never tried to be one, for a navigator has to work like ‘greased lightning' all the time. It is one continual rush from daylight to dark and from the time you get in the air till the time you get down again. I hate rushing because I want to be able to be sure of what I do, but you can't be that at this game. You do it once and only once, right or wrong you have to carry on with that work.

That clipping you sent me of Carter's death was another blow to me because he was another fellow from my section. He and Jack Stevens - the other boy who was killed, were special pals and they always went around together. I guess I would have been with them now if I had stayed in. It's funny, Jack said when he left that he wasn't coming back. I think Carter got married in England too. I wonder what has happened to ‘Tubby' Waller, another friend of mine. I have never heard anyone mention of him in years.

Yes, this is 41/2 years of service for me now, and I can certainly see that it has not been at all good for me. My brain is not nearly so active or as clear-functioning as it used to be somehow. I have lost that knife-edge keenness that I used to have. For one thing, it is so long since I have been out amongst people (making new and interesting contacts) that I have been stale and have lost all powers of stimulation I once had. I suppose they will come back once I start using them but right now, I feel as dead as a mackerel. And I will confess that it takes a tremendous effort on my part to force myself to do anything. I just want to lie down and do absolutely nothing for a whole month! My idea of heaven right now would be to go to bed tonight without a single thought in my mind other than sleep and the knowledge that tomorrow, I can get up as late as I like, without a single care in the world, no star shots to plot, no DR. problems to do - nothing but sleep. That is why I always sleep-in on my 48ers instead of going anywhere, though several of my friends in Moncton are wondering when I am coming down to see them. I just can't get up the ambition to bestir myself and go down. I dread the end of this course and that long journey home if I get leave. I shall arrive a complete frazzle, spend 48 hrs. at home sleeping, then leave to come back again. You'll be lucky if you see any of me at all. I don't think that you can blame any of this on my years in Britain though. The months at Manchester and Moncton are more likely to have caused it than the Blitz. I was really on the bit then and if I could have got what I wanted then, I would have sailed right through it. Now it takes hard slugging. But I just have to get through here, because I could never look myself in the face again if I didn't. And something much more important than my personal prestige hinges upon how well I do here.

I think you are absolutely right in not wanting Stan to have all his money right now as I know he would only spend it on useless things, and there will come a time when he will need that money and be darn glad he has it. I know it is darn hard-slugging at times, especially when you see other friends around you spending all the money they can lay their hands on. I have often been tempted to write and ask you to give me back my assigned pay. But I have at last come to realize how valuable that little nest egg is going to be to me and I am very, very glad I have it. I am proud of all the little privations it caused me and after all - looking back on them now, I don't think I have missed so much. Certainly I could not wish for greater friends than those I have made in the past years. In fact - I can't regard them as merely friends, they seem so much closer than that really. Mrs. Sayers is the real god-mother to me, just as she always signs herself "God Mammy" and Mrs. Beverly is like a sister to me, a very much older sister of course. Mary is all those and something more, much more besides. I think Stanley is much younger in many respects than Burt and I doubt if he will ever attain Burt's self reliance. But I am sure he will come to understand things as he grows older. I suppose he doesn't yet realize that what he asks for now may cause privations to you and Dad, and I think I would tell him just what it means to you. But I would also like to mention to you just how much those parcels would mean to him, especially as he has in the Army. The food in the Army always seems to be so much worse and coarser than the food I have been getting here lately. So anything you can send him would be doubly appreciated I am sure. By the way, I get all the candy I want here so if you like, I'll save you up a parcel and send it to you. Then you can send it to him if you want. But it would be a shame to have you send me anything to eat here because everything we get here is so super. We get all the sugar, milk, butter, jam, pie, cake etc. we can eat. It is honestly the best food I have eaten consistently in my life, beautifully cooked, attractively served and very appetizing. It is all done by civilians and we have waitresses to wait on us. So please, don't worry about sending me any food, have gained fifteen pounds already! I'll write to him but I wonder if it will do any good. I don't see how you can consider yourself selfish because after all, you are not spending the $15.00 on yourself, but are saving it for him.

So glad to hear you have a new job Dad, and a good one too. I have often thought how much better it would be if you could get a job inside because I don't think you should be working so hard. You will probably be standing up a good deal but after a while, you will get used to that. Well, I must close now.

Love to you all as always.

Yours lovingly,

Jim



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