K85260 Pte. James Baker
Medical Section, RAP
PPCLI c/o Canadian Base PO
Somewhere in England,
Dec 13, 1940
Dearest Mom and Dad,
I have just come back from a seven day leave and I am having a wonderful time - and have had a wonderful time. I went up to Scotland for four days and three days up in London. While I was up in Scotland I stayed at the Victoria League Club and went out every night. I met Mr. Nairn again - you remember the fellow I met on my last leave up there. He is the manager of a large paper mill, is quite well of, has his own car and all the petrol he wants. He and his wife took me to the theatre one night. We had a wonderful time. He also took me all through his paper factory and showed me everything. We also went down through Newhaven which is a tiny fishing village east of Edinburgh. It is devoted almost entirely to patrol vessels and mine sweepers. I was talking to one old man who had just lost three sons on one vessel and whose other son was right now out on patrol. They are simply wonderful in their stoicism!
Then on Sunday I came back to London. The train was only 3 hours late and there was a terrible air raid in progress, one of the worst this war has produced. The planes were coming in from 5 directions at once and there was an average of three explosions every minute all night long. It is rather terrifying when you think that every explosion means that some house or group of buildings has gone up - or rather down. I was through Totenham Court Road, Oxford Circus again and it is rather a mess. Still for the number of bombers he is employing and the number of bombs he drops, there is a remarkably small amount of loss of life or property damage.
But the hygiene situation in the tubes is still very very bad. I went through them at 10 o'clock and the atmosphere then was so thick that it made me sick to my stomach. The smell of sweating humanity combined with the stench of the urinals was terrible! I don't know what it was like by morning. Personally, I went out and walked the streets. I would far rather take my chances with the bombs than stay for a night in one of those pest holes. I slept that night in a Salvation Army Hostel.
Then on the second day I met up with a rather wonderful old man who took me home and treated me just like his own son. He is a very prominent West End cabaret star and stage actor. He has promised me a home any time I'm up in London, has bought me a complete suit of clothes and has promised to take me all through the studio next time I come up on leave. So I'm set for life!
And now I must describe my good luck in my work. I am enjoying my work immensely and am finding it very very interesting. I am now billeted in a private home with a wonderful old lady - Mrs. Barnett, her married daughter and seven month old baby and the mother's youngest son and two little London evacuee girls. So we are rather a large family. They treat me just as one of the family, give me tea every night. I also sleep in a spring bed between white sheets! Just imagine, after all these months we have clean sheets again. The only trouble is there is no bathtub here. We have to go up to the RAF for our baths.
I am trying to go on a weekend to Brighton. I have had no mail for quite some time but am expecting your parcel soon. I got a box of apples from Aunt Minnie in Toronto. I'll have to write and thank her for them. Well I guess that's all for now
Love as always,