Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: October 1st 1916

Royal Flying Corps,
Brasenose College,


Dear Em,

This is some fine October day. Crisp and bright, just like one expects in Winnipeg at this time of year, and so uncommon to these parts. I can scarcely realize that it will be a week tomorrow since I arrived here. Never did a week go so quickly to me. we are so busy during the day and so tired at night, that there is nothing of note to mark the days as they come and go. My work here is quite a change to my former work. Having parades at 6:30 a.m. is quite common here. Of course I am not saying that I attend them all at that hour, but I did on two occasions, and it is quite early enough.

At 8:45 a.m. we have our first lecture, which lasts 'till 10:30 with 10 minutes interval to follow. Then we go right over to the workshops, which are really the various labs and lecture rooms turned into machine shops, and there we study machines, engines, bombs, machine guns and many other interesting things. It is soon 12:30 when we break off for lunch. Then we form up like privates and march back to Brasenose for lunch which is at 12:45. Then our next parade is at 1:45 and we again repair to the workshops and with the exception of 10 minutes for a smoke we stick it until 5:30 p.m. We then march back to B[rase] N[ose] and have tea.
My chum and myself generally go downtown and have tea at a quaint old landmark called the Mitre Hotel. It has been there since time immemorial and is one of those rambling old places so much prized by the English and by sight-seers from abroad. Anyone who has ever been to Oxford could or would remember the Mitre.

After tea we generally walk about a while and do any shopping we might have to do. Now here is a piece of news for Lochart. The other day while strolling along I met Frank Noonan. He is here taking an officers course, previous to taking a commission in the Imperial Army. He looks quite smart as usual and very well indeed. He asked to be remembered to all when I wrote.

There are a few Canadians in the Flying Corps but not so many as one might think. If I get through my exams O.K. and get my flying off, I shall have to transfer out of the Canadian Army into the Imperial. However the R. F. C. is the crack service altogether and in the 'Gazette' it comes first, that is it takes precedence over all others, such as cavalry, artillery and guards. Since the war the British government has been spending $100,000,000 a year on this branch of the service so that it ought to be some class. If I get my wings I shall be quite a happy boy, but I don't mind saying they are not easy to get. So far as I can make out the flying is the easiest part of the whole show. Before leaving the C. A. D. C. I had quite made up my mind to hand Col. Armstrong a few, and tell him what I thought of him. He certainly did all in his power to block my transfer. But he was so nice at the last and said such a lot of nice things that I hadn't the heart. He gave me a kind invitation to come back with him if I couldn't make the grade here. I certainly worked very hard to land this job. I made several and various flying trips to London to interview [at] the R. F. C. headquarters. And then I flooded him with letters, wires and etc until he finally ordered me to report here. But I must say I did not have to use any outside influence. The Brigadier doesn't even know I am here, and neither he shall.

It is very amusing around here how some of the senior officers try to throw the scare into us. They tell us that the machines are put together in a hurry, that they will go to pieces in the air and that the average life of a pilot at the front is 3 days. Some of the more innocent of us take it in, and there are lots around here right now who wish the earth would open up and take them in. It is painful at times.

The sun is warming up my back so that I must get out for a walk in the grounds or a paddle on the river. Also I am going to try to get to a church service today as there are scads of churches about here & no excuses for not going.

Lots of love for all the family and kind regards for Miss Smith.

Loving bro.