No.4 Squadron R. F. C.
B. E. F. France.
May 1st 1917
This is another glorious day. We have had about four in a row now and all have been just like August. All my spare time I spend out in the sun and my face has already peeled once. You know how it does. I wish I could tan like you and then perhaps people would believe me if I said I had been to the war. As it is I am quite back to natural again in a few days.
Have not heard from any of you for well over three weeks. Now I know the letters are on the way but the mail service is so rotten just now that it is impossible to hope for anything in less than a month.
I am still very much in love with my work. Since last writing I have had a few of the usual thrills one always has when doing certain things for the first time. Later on they are more or less commonplace and are not worthy of note. For instance I went over the [Deleted] and got "Archied" (shelled by anti-aircraft guns), which everyone does and thinks nothing of it. Then too my engine conked out (went bad on me) and I had to have a forced landing, which I managed to make in our own lines. She conked when I was up about 3000 feet so that I had nothing to worry about as I was able to glide about 3 miles without any assistance from the engine. So I got that fixed up and then came home quite safely.
This morning I was on duty on the aerodrome at 4.15. That also would be quite a trial at home or in England but it is alright here as one considers it part of the game. I have to stand by all day or until a job of work turns up.
I hope you received the cable alright. Marjory said she sent it Sunday afternoon, in which case you should receive it Monday a.m. at latest. Mrs Jones also said she wrote Mother and enclosed some snaps. One or two are not bad but a couple were taken in too late afternoon and are rather dud.
It is fine out here meeting so many old friends. About four miles away there is another aerodrome, in fact there are two quite close together. I walked over the other night and one of my best friends, while at Beverley, was there. We had a good talk and then he took me over to the other one, and I knew four fellows there from Catterick. One of them used to be my room mate and is a very fine chap. Then the other day, as I was going along the road in a car I saw another old bird who was with me at Hythe Gunnery School, to wit me Lord Grosvenor. He was just as fat and jolly as ever. Almost every one runs across someone or else someone who knows a mutual friend. There are several of the boys over here, whose location I do not know, as yet, so I am looking forward to meeting them later. Also I know where Alf is, and if I only had the excuse to go up his way I could get to him in a little over half an hour. The thing is to find the excuse as it is away out of our area.
I am enclosing my pilot's stiff ticket and will you please keep it for me. It is quite a small bit of paper but it took quite a little time to get it.
I am expecting a call every minute now. It is 10 A.M. and such a beautiful day, that it will be funny if there isn't a job of some sort. As a rule our work is either an artillery shoot in which we make corrections for the battery by wireless, take photographs of the enemy trenches, fortifications and etc, or go over and drop bombs on their towns and transport. It is all very interesting and sometimes a little excitement mixed in with it.
I am very sorry I have nothing else but locals to write about, but not having heard from any of you for so long there is not much home news to discuss.
We are having some splendid successes now, are we not? Everyone is full of optimism, myself included. Things never looked brighter than they do now. We have our good machines out now so that there is less danger in the air than there was a month ago, and I really believe the war will be over by late fall or Xmas at latest. Then it will be three or four months after that before we get home so that I am looking forward to being home well within a year from now. You see it is almost two years since I left home now, so that the last year will go very quickly, I am sure.
As I wrote May 1, I am reminded that I will be a year older in a few days. I think it is 28 this time, although I feel more like 18. Isn't it terrible?
I hope you and Mother will be sure to go out to Winnipeg this summer. It would do all concerned good. They will be so disappointed if you do not go as they have been talking about it for months. Do not wait for me but go again "when I am there".
Hope business is good in Father's line. The United States going into the war ought to make things hum on that side of the water. I hope a good share of it will go Father's way.
Must close right up now. I shall have to hunt for a larger envelope as it is. Lots of love for each one and kindest regards for Miss Smith.