PER ARDUA AD ASTRA ROYAL FLYING CORPS,
February 18th 1917
My Dear Mother,
Yesterday I started a letter to you but did not get it finished, so will make another attempt today.
Yours and Emily's letter arrived two or three days ago. So glad to hear all are getting along so well. And so you have had a letter from Mrs Jones. Well you have just about sized up the situation. She certainly is a very fine woman. I went out there first last May, while I was at the hospital, and ever since then they have all been most kind to me. Mrs Jones is a real Mother and she has so many of her own that one or two extra do not seem to make any difference. I have a regular home there, and my bed is always ready for me. I do not need to take anything with me as she supplies me even to pyjamas.
I thought I had told you about them all. Mr Jones is an evangelist (Baptist). He used to travel all over the world, but now he has charge of some scheme to raise money for foreign missions. He is a very good sport and enters into all the doings with quite a deal of enthusiasm. The eldest boy Victor, married, is quite nice too, in fact, very nice, so also is his wife, no children. The rest, I guess, you all know. If I can get hold of a family snap I will send it on. I have a number but they are not groups. Had a letter from Mrs Jones and Rene yesterday, and she (Mrs J) said she had written 90 letters last month, to soldiers and various others. I think I told you some time ago that I had received the two pound draft and had bought myself a nice pair of gauntlets. However the parcel with the chamois vest has not arrived to date. I hope it does come as it would be quite nice to have. If it doesn't I shall invest in one before I go over.
Do you note the change of address? I came here last Monday. I had hoped to get transferred and it came rather suddenly when it did come. I only had half and hour to pack, pay up and get out. I am now on tractor machines which I like much better than pushers, and I hope to go out to France from here. I have lost a little time by transferring to these machines, but they are much better and I am more contented to go out on them. The others were no end of trouble and I was fortunate to get out of it without breaking my neck. I hope I have no more delays now and am quite anxious to get out again in time for the big push.
This place is quite comfortable, at least there are no complaints. It is a bit expensive but most R. F. C. messes were inclined that way. The meals are pretty fair and they charge $1.75 a day for them. Then we have our rooms to pay for and any extras so that it is just about like living at a fairly good hotel, only we haven't the luxuries connected with it. However I am quite well satisfied with it and no complaints.
We have often spoken about the English people, haven't we? Well there are, of course, the good and the bad, but I have been very fortunate in meeting the good ones. Before leaving Catterick I met some very nice people, typical Yorkshire talk and ever so warm hearted. I was so much at home in their little house that I really hated to leave. They had a little car and took me out wherever I wanted to go and let me have the use of it whenever I wished I did get over to Harrogate once and several of the little towns about on various occasions.
Last evening I went over to Hull, about 8 miles distant, for the evening. One of the boys had to go over to meet his wife and two little girls who came up to live in Beverley. We had tea then went to an early show, which was rather a poor turn, then had a meal at a restaurant. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon but rather disappointing.
I am glad you are all investing in War Loan. I think it is a real good thing. I did too only to a very small extent. I was afraid that if the war lasted another three years, I might need my few odd sheckels. But I do believe now that we are on the last lap. In fact I shall be rather disappointed if I am not home for Xmas next. I think we have every reason to be optimistic now.
What is Father doing about insurance? I hope he will have another good year for 1917. As good as last year and we would all be satisfied. If I get through this alright I might [get] a little myself.
And did I ever thank Father for his kind offer, to look after my policies for me. I left instructions with Trick to do all those little things while I was away. I hope he doesn't overlook anything or cause anyone any unnecessary trouble.
Weather here is very dull and wet. The ground is quite muddy and the atmosphere is anything but clear. It all holds us up in our flying but I think it will clear soon. I still have a lot of work to do, such as bombing, aerial photography, wireless and artillery observation. All this has to be gone through again on account of my change. However I won't know any too much when I go over at that. It is all very interesting, and at times quite exciting, and I do enjoy every bit of it. And I feel quite safe, because my last two squadron commanders have assured me that I shall never be killed in the air. My luck is really very wonderful.
Must close now with lots of love for Father, Emily and self. I am feeling very excellent in both health and spirits. Kind regards for Miss Smith and the Giles.
P. S. Haven't heard from Alf for some time but I believe he is still in England! Don't worry, he will be O.K.