Baker, James

Letter
Date:
November 28, 1944
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
November 28th, 1944

Dear Mom and Dad,

I received you Xmas parcel today enclosing the one for Stan and also a card from Stan that came the other day. He doesn't say very much as you can see for yourself (I will enclose it). I gather he is out in Holland now and enjoying himself immensely. He always wanted to go and now is his chance. I know you will start worrying about him as you have worried for so many years about me. All I can say is "Don't!" It doesn't do any good you know and at the same time, it doesn't make us feel any happier to know you are worrying. If only you could know how absurdly simple our work really is and the tiny bit of danger we are exposed to, you would see how silly it all is. My work is so absurdly common place and it seems to never enter my head that when I am looking for a target, I am also providing one for someone else. Do you know I have talked to eight fellows on this station who have completed a ‘Tour of Operations' and have only seen 3 enemy a/c between them and been hit by flak twice? Both pieces of shrapnel were about half the size of the piece I have. So you see, it is extremely overrated. Danger is not a thing you can escape, it surrounds everything you do and far from being a detriment, I find it actually helps me work. I never think so clearly as when I am in danger and far from escaping it, I would not exchange it for safety at any price. Stanley is exactly the same way I am in this respect, which may or may not surprise you. I have learned a bit about Stanley in the few months I have been here, simply through his letters. (I never did get to see him which I regret exceedingly, seeing that Sadie and I are now no-more) Somehow, I have grown completely ‘out of touch' with my brothers during the time I have been away. I guess it is not surprising at that, seeing they were so young when I left and are now men. I still imagine they are as I left them or rather, I think they should be. I feel so little changed (essentially) myself that I sometimes wonder that others can have changed so much. Even my parents - you Dad and you Mom are changed and somehow, I can't seem to get used to that change. I suppose these six years will slip into place someday, but I have a terrific amount to catch up on. I feel like a stranger in my own country in fact, I am a total stranger in my own country because I didn't know what living was when I went away the first time and I have learned to fend for myself in a different country than my home land. Consequently, my standards of conduct and social intercourse are not Canadian but British, my friends are British, my very life is British and I feel far more at home here in England than I am in my own home! I am going to have to completely reshape that part of my life over again, and I know it is going to cost me many a heartache to do so because I love my friends over here as I love no other people I have ever met: except my parents and the Walshes in Boston and they were only a ‘little' bit of Europe transplanted. But I have decided that for my own good, I am going to have to do it, no matter what the cost.

I have definitely decided now what I am going to do. Sadie - if she did nothing else, at least taught me now much I cherish the idea of going back to University because when I found I was going to have to give that up to marry her, I had to fight the rebellion within myself with all my might. So, now I am going to come back to Canada and take my degree in Literature at UBC. - specializing in ‘Journalism' if possible. I am also gong to try to obtain Post-Graduate work at London University and if they won't let me come back to England to do it, I am certainly going to try to get a degree of Journalism from some college in the States. Columbia has a very good one I believe. I was talking to the Rehabilitation Officer only today about it and I find that if the war stopped tomorrow and I was discharged the day after, I would be entitled to $1067.20 in gratuities alone as well as 64 months University - which is 8 years, providing I can prove myself worthy of receiving that amount of help. So as far as I can see, I am pretty well finalized. All my fees (lab fees, athletic fees, college fees, library fees, etc.) are paid for me, my board is paid out of $60.00 a month and all I have to find is the $80.00 for my books. The subsistence allowance is only paid during the eight months I am at University however, and during the other 4 months, I have to feed myself. All I can say is it is a pretty poor man who can't help himself for four months when the government helps him for eight! So now that I have decided that, I feel much better. Another thing that pleases me is that Dick (my skipper) is also going to go back to UBC. with me, in spite of the fact his wife will be with him. She will probably continue working in the bank as she is now. She has eight years seniority so she should be able to retain her job after this is all over. Well, I guess that is about all there is to say about it.

About my War Bonds which I have been buying out of my pay: I am not quite sure that I bought a Fifth Victory Bond in fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't, seeing that I was only an LAC. I bought a Sixth Victory Bond though and that is now paid for. It won't be through for at least 4 months though. The 2 Bonds are for $100 and $50. I have also bought and paid cash for an additional $200 worth. You should be getting the ones I paid cash for in about 4 months. I have bought all my bonds in England, first lot in Bournsmouth, second lot in London. From your statement, I have been able to gather that I'll have about $1050 ‘in hand' in bonds and real estate made up as follows, I have my insurance also on top of this:
6th Bond paid for myself $ 150.00
7th Bonds paid by $ & self $ 350.00
Bonds on hand/are buying $ 375.00
Diamond Ring, $ on hand, lot $ 175.00
$1050.00

That is not bad seeing that $20.00 a month times 60 (which is the number of months I have been in the Service) amounts to only $1200.00. At present, I have 21/s on hand myself so I am pretty well fixed. That - combined with my gratuity of $1607.20, makes over $2700.00, which is a pretty good nest egg!

The parcel I received contained the cake and Stan's parcel. I am not quite sure whether to expect 3 more or not. Stan's address: HQ. Coy 1st Cdn. Scottish Regiment CAOBWEF.

Love to all as always,

Jim





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