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Date: April 29th 1941

# 4 Bombing and Gunnery,
Fingal, Ont.
April 29/41.

Dear Mom,

This makes station number seven that I've been posted to in as many months. We arrived here yesterday afternoon following a rather riotous train trip from Winnipeg. Fingal itself if right on the shore of Lake Erie, about 10 miles from St Thomas, which is now guaranteed for diptheria. The town of Fingal can barely be classified as a Hamlet—as a matter of fact I didn't even notice passing thru it on the truck ride from the railway station in St. Thomas. Both yesterday & today the sun has been blazing away in all its glory and on occasional breath of air from the lake creates clouds of dust which make the station most unpleasant. Our comfort isn't increased any by the water being condemned either—the whole place smells like sulfur or rotten eggs. All in all however it's not such a bad place. We have an excellent mess—clean roomy barracks & a well equipped library & recreation hall.

The exams at # 5 turned out very well after all. I stood 5th in the entire school of nearly 50 students & 3rd in my own class of 24 with an average of 80.1 or 801 marks out of a possible 1000. That was a great deal better than I expected I'll have to admit but I'm really not looking forward to anything better than a senior non-comissioned officer—seargent or such. So I don't want you looking forward too much to bigger things—not yet any ways.

While in Toronto I rang up Mary & Blanche who were naturally very surprised to hear from me & as usual very excited. Blanche says they haven't heard from the kids since last October so couldn't you get the kids to drop them a line. They also seem rather worried over this new international waterways project on the St. Lawrence which will flood all their property & even all of Morrisburg itself.

No—I'm afraid I can't give you any news from Edmonton—I haven't written to a solitary soul there since I left. The day before leaving Winnipeg I managed to drop in & see Mr. Gilchrist. One of his sons is married & living in Edmonton now while the other apparently is having a wild time overseas with a Scottish Winnipeg unit called the Camerons. I couldn't find the address of Mrs Caldwell's cousins before I left—I guess I should have made a note of it at the time.

Our course here will take about six weeks with one day off every two weeks. On that day off I intend to run up to London & Windsor & at the end of the course we are expecting a 48 hr. pass during which I hope to run down to Toronto & look up a lot of people. There are about 800 men on this station & 75 serviceable aircraft (supposedly a military secret but I found out all about the place from the conductor on our train). A large number of New Zealand & Norwegian gunners & observers make up about 1/3 of the personnel.

We just finished dinner—a marvelous meal of rich, creamy soup, roast lamb, dressing, carrots, gravy & mashed potatoes with pie a la mode for dessert. We were really surprised at the quality of the food compared to the last station where it was handled by a Jewish outfit who must have made a pretty nice little profit at 30 cents per meal for 200 men. Milk costs a nickel a pint but its worth 15 cents a day to have something good & cool to drink at mealtimes.

Our C.O. is one of the few really tough old timers in this outfit—Wing Commander Van Vliet—a stickler for discipline. Commonly know as the "Warden" he certainly lives up to his name. At first glance he presents a rather frightening appearance—his face tanned & leathery & scarred behind a twisted broken nose—the results of innumerable flying accidents. Although nearly blind he is a flying fool & flies a drogue place himself—that's an aircraft fixed up for target towing. I'm told he isn't even forty yet but to look at him you would put him down as about sixty. All in all he is quite a character.

Reveille here is at 6:30—classes start at 7:45 till 12: & from 1:15 till 5:15—quite a full day. The targets we bomb are big red floating triangles that look like pinpoints from 4000 ft. & up. It's a wonder we ever hit them.

I'm sending along a photo of our graduating class at Winnipeg & also the results of one of our feature line overlap exercises. This netted me an average of 90% in photography—while the class average was 65—so maybe all that fooling around in my darkroom wasn't so useless after all.

That was awfully food of Zella to buy Traer a bike & I can just imagine the grand times those boys are having to-gether now. Especially with the swell weather you've been getting out there. Yes—I got the dandy egg from Welches O.K. but it certainly didn't last very long. I'll drop a special note to Louise to thank her for it. I forgot all about that picture for Lem—as a matter of fact it is still at the bottom of my bag. When I get feeling ambitious I'll wrap it up & send it out to Zelle.

By the way—have you any friends or relatives in this neck of the woods? If so I could look them up for you for something to do. So let me know.

Did I tell you that I had bought a small folding leather pocket case for the pictures & am I ever proud of them. Any more you get just send them right along for you know how I'm looking forward to seeing them.

This has developed into quite a scrawl but I'm rushing to finish it to catch the last bus into St. Thomas to get a much needed haircut. Our station is on fast time & that means we have to leave town at 9:00 o'clock to get back in time for lights out.

Lots of love to you all,

& of course—special delivery to the duchess