Baker, James

Letter
Date:
January 10, 1944
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
January 10th, 1944

Dear Mom and Dad,


There is not much use putting an address on this because I don't know what my next address is likely to be yet. So I will just leave it as it is and hope for the best. I have an idea it will be "Y" Depot, Lachine Quebec and if you don't hear differently from me before you write again, that is where you had better send it.

I am so glad you all liked my Christmas presents. It was so hard trying to find anything in this little town that would do. I knew you wanted a house coat and I knew Dad wanted a pipe, so I got those. As for the color, I picked out what I thought would be nice on you and a color that I liked. I'm sorry it didn't fit, I guess I'm a very poor judge of women's sizes. The woman said it would fit a moderate-stout lady, so I thought it should do. Maybe you can get it made to fit by putting a piece of elastic in the sides or a piece of cloth. I'm glad you liked the pipe Dad, I remembered what you said about lightness and also examined about a dozen before I found one without a blemish in the bottom. Luckily, I knew the counter girl very well and so she didn't get very angry with me.

Well, we are through at last and are now finishing up all the odds and ends. I know all my marks, some of them weren't very good but signals - which I was very much afraid of, was quite easy and I got 85% in it. I was deathly afraid I was going to fail but somehow, I got through it OK. Usually I get ‘testisitis' when I start taking a signals exam and I tighten up inside so that I can't think clearly, with the result that I fail miserably even though I can get one hundred per cent at ordinary times. But this time, I didn't do that so I got only one mistake in my buzzer receiving. We don't know what our averages or standings are yet, we won't know until just before graduation on Friday and there is no word of commissions. But I think you had better make up your minds that I am going to be a sergeant because I don't think I did very well on my exams and my officer and I hate each other like poison which doesn't help me any. I don't think I have ever met a man whom I loathe so much as I loathe him. He as good as told us that good marks would go to those who ‘toadied' to him for them, and that is something that riled me right away because it is something I can not and will not do. Call it pride or stubbornness or what you will, I don't toady to anyone just because he can do me a favor. So that was the beginning of our antagonism because I think he knew I despised him and he did everything in his power to make life miserable for me, got me extra duty watches, CB's. for trivial offences that were winked at in other cases, tearing my logs to pieces when he was marking them and never giving me the benefit of the doubt in any of the many circumstances that arise when it is your word against the pilot's as to where you were at a certain time. He as much as told me on two occasions that he didn't believe me with the result that I began to disbelieve myself and I nearly quit. In fact, it was just sheer stubbornness that kept me here at all in my 14th and 15th weeks. I was all ready to chuck the whole thing overboard, tell him to stick the whole thing where it would hurt most and quit. And then he came up in the air with me and from being a thing to fear and loathe and fear on the ground, he became a thing to laugh at and pity in the air. He was so scared the whole time we were up, that I spent nearly half my time watching him and laughing in his face. All the marvelous things he had told us to be so quick in doing, he took three times as long as I did and I found out I was a much better Navigator than he was, even though he didn't give me credit for it. So after that I never gave a damn any more, just did my work to the best of my ability and to the devil with him. So now I feel really confident in my navigation, I know I can do it and so I have no worries on that score. But he is still my instructor with the power of allotting marks and recommendations, so I shall be very surprised if I get anything but a sergeant's stripes when I am through here. I am not making excuses for myself because I honestly do no believe that my marks show my capabilities and so I am just telling you what has been happening. I don't really care because if I don't get one now - I will when I get Overseas, so it doesn't really matter very much.

I have a letter from Betty. She is now a WAAF. stationed near Brighton so she can get home nearly whenever she wants to. She is in the plotting room - same work as Mary is doing, only Mary hates it and Betty like it which makes all the difference I guess. She has had no word from her fiancé yet, so I guess he's lost. Too bad, she was so happy with him. It seems that the happier people are together, the more they need to fear the future. She mentions they received a letter from you and Dad recently and they all send their love.

Well, I mustn't forget to thank you for my Xmas presents which arrived two days before I left for Ottawa on leave. I had a marvelous time down there, although the trip down and back was nothing to crow about. I have never seen such crowded trains! A French woman with 13 kids ranging from 16 to 1 took over my seat at Quebec (City) with the result I spent the night perched on the back of the seat with my back against the wall...it was really horrible. Must close now.

Love to all as always,

Jim



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