4 Squadron R. F. C.
B. E. F. France
My Dear Mother,
By this time you will be at home again and quite settled, and feeling I home much better for having had that lovely holiday.
It is four weeks tomorrow since I returned from leave and I am feeling most fit. I don't think I ever felt better than I do now. In fact I feel just as though I had returned from a summer at Minaki or some such place. My work keeps me out a good deal. I get plenty of fresh air and sleep like a top.
We had a hard week last week as you could see from the papers but I am glad to say that I came thru it O.K. One day was especially nerve-wracking but after the first half hour I got settled down and it didn't bother me at all. Seeing others get it is nearly as bad as the real thing. I remember one chap just a few yards from me getting a direct hit on his machine which immediately burst into flames and he went down 2000' like a torch. I followed him down part way but of course could do nothing as he was dead before he ever hit the ground. But altogether it was a very fine show and we were able to do our share. It was entirely a success too which is the main thing.
I have had no excitement lately. No fights for over two weeks; of course I am touching wood and nothing to write about.
One day I had rather an amazing experience on the aerodrome, that is, it was amusing afterwards. I was taxying out ready to take off when another fellow tried to take off across my path. He was just off the ground a few feet when our machines collided. I had my goggles up on my forehead and his lower plane knocked them off and just brushed my head a bit. His machine knocked the tail and rudder off mine, and he immediately crashed into the ground, ruining his machine but not hurting himself. I did not mind as I had the right of way and he said afterwards that it was his fault. My observer got a rap on the head also but we were both able to go up immediately on a different machine.
The other day I was over and had tea with my French family. It was quite awhile since I had seen them, in fact I had not been over since before going on leave. They were quite pleased to have me call. They said they had worried about me but that they knew I would be alright. I said ["]why did you know I was alright. The girls said Oh Mother and I always pray for you every night and morning. I thought that was very nice of them. They are real true friends and they always inquire about you all.
Yesterday I was up to visit the batteries. We are supposed to go up from time to time to call on them. It makes it more interesting when one knows the people on the ground. We visited 8 batteries that we do most of our shoots with . A 9.2 inch and an 8 inch and a 6 inch howitzer. They are all fine fellows and we had to have tea at each place. It was most interesting, the 9.2" were doing a shoot while we were there. The noise and the blast of firing is awful and I would much rather be a few thousand feet up, than on the ground when they fire. They said that the blast was so great that it would turn a machine upside down at 500 feet up. That is, of course, just from the air currents about the muzzle of the gun. Standing behind the gun we could see the shell traveling through the air for what seemed like miles until it was finally lost in the mist and clouds. I was glad I was not at the other end when it burst. I have often seen them passing by the machine while in the air and they look like a base ball. But of course they have more of a sting than any baseball I know of.
One of the battalion bands has been playing on the aerodrome all afternoon. It is just like home to have such nice music. The C. O. of the neighbouring squadron, on the same aerodrome, had them over for a little tea party and we got the benefit of the concert.
Had a letter from Harold Jones today. He is just near here I think. He said he would be dropping in to see me in a few days. He is still in the infantry but hopes to get into the Flying Corps soon.
Did I tell you that young Gordon expects to go to Canada as an air instructor? If he does I know you will make him as welcome as they did me. I hope he is posted somewhere near you, as he is a fine chap, but has never been away from home before.
Sorry you were all so upset about the cable about Alf. He is quite alright now and will be no worse for his experience at all. He gets a short time away from the battery and will feel all the better for it when he gets back. I am just sorry that he could not get to England. I did all I could but could not be there when the Major did his rounds. However it is fine down at the base and if he is [in] the same place as I was in 1916 he will be well looked after.
I hope Aunt Jean will get down with family. It is real nice at Mount Forest in the fall, and you can have some nice drives. I am so glad she is feeling so good. I am sure the summer at the lake has done her the world of good. I only hope she does not have to go South this winter. She does hate going down there alone.
I am more than delighted with the snaps at Minaki. You look just fine. You do not need to say you have had a good time because it is all in the snaps. You should have something like that every summer.
We are having marvelous weather just now. Just like our Indian Summer. It is gloriously hot in daytime and quite chilly at night. The only disadvantage is the mud of which this wretch[ed] country is never free. Joe (my servant was just saying today that it was time he was getting me a stove. He looks after me like a Dutch Uncle.
I must close this awful scrawl and get ready to eat again. I don't seem to do anything but eat and sleep, but I make a good job of them both.
Heaps of love for you all, Father, Emily and self and kind regards to Miss Smith.