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Date: September 8th 1940
From
John Balfour Gray
Letter

Sunday

Sept. 8, 1940

My Dear Mother and Dad

I am afraid this time I have been a little bit tardy in my letter but I know you will forgive me.

It is now almost definite that we will be going to Calgary soon. Yesterday they had us divide into two groups: those for Montreal and those for Calgary. There are a very few going to and as that group was the larger there is little doubt now but we still don’t know when and as military law goes we won’t know until twenty-four hours ahead.

The first three days of this week will be taken up with examinations on the different subjects. I am quite confident of the Armaments & Wireless but none of us knows the first thing about the Electricity &. All I know is what I learned in school. The trouble is that they go so fast and it is all absolutely theory ­— no practice.

You may find the enclosed pictures interesting as they are a couple of my good friends — the Granda boy especially who has been bunk mate since we left Manning Pool. He is from Montreal but came in with the Calgary group as he wants to see the west while he can.

I am very sorry about this Major Nedhurst —I have phoned four times now to the number given me by the phone company as the original has been changed but have got no results.

I don’t know what to do as I will be unable to see them now anyway. I will try again.

Tomorrow evening I am going out to the Ferguson’s for dinner as I finally contacted them by phone and had a fine chat with Betty. I must see the Huyak’s again.

Yesterday Mrs. Streit. Nelson’s sister, phoned me and we had a very pleasant talk — she was very nice and invited me over for Sunday was but was unable to go as we are on duty watch over this weekend.

Grandma and her two sisters were looking very well when I saw them a few days ago. I think the trip did them all good. They seemed pleased to see me ­— we gathered at Ruth Drew Brooks which is quite near here — about 10 minutes walk. I think they are down at Mayor Ellis’ just now and will phone there later today.

By the way I am going to ask if there is any chance of my getting away a day or so early if I am going to Calgary in order that I might be at the wedding. It is about one chance in a million but I will try it.

Enjoyed both your letters of the 3rd & 4th respectively, giving me all the news on different things. Sorry you had trouble finding me but I thought you would enjoy the picture of all the boys, officers, etc. Did Lois find any she knew - of course there are no more from Toronto than anywhere else except that it is a little bigger city. There is barely a city in Canada not represented in that group.

Glad you had a nice holiday over the week-end with Bob Sr. You would enjoy that very much I am sure, dad; glad to see you caught some fish, too, as that always helps. You both usually go out with all your million dollar equipment and come back with no fish. Never mind, dad, I’m glad you enjoyed it and am also very pleased to see that business is improving. It better not get too good though or I’m liable to start borrowing a few from you. Alright? Ha Ha.

 I will fix the card up, Mother and send it also in this letter. Hope you got some nice little gift and please wrap it nicely etc. I shouldn’t have told you that as I know you will anyway. I sure would love to be there but you no longer do as you wish when in the Army or Air Force or Navy.

Friday night I walk down to the exhibition with John Granda and had a fine time. Saw motorboats doing nearly 90 m/p/h. as well as stunt planes which were excellent. Also a parachute jump in which the fellow leaps from 15,000 and does not open it until he has dropped over 10,000 feet. It is really some sight as he hurtles earthward with a plume of smoke coming from him. We also saw an exhibition by the R.C.A. F. Drill Squadron—it is the closest thing I ever saw to perfect. In the slope, Present, and order arms they are just like one man. They go through forty different movements without our single order or command. We saw also a musical ride by the Toronto Police Dept. - very fine thing indeed. The main feature of the program was the depicting of different events in English & Britain history from the time of brake down ending with a showing of the Navy, Army, Air Force, House Guard, British Grenadiers, the Red Cross, etc. It was one of the finest things I ever saw as they played Rule, Britannia as the lights faded out. It makes you feel sort of funny at the time and a little bit proud of the British Empire.

The whole show ended with a magnificent fireworks display which closed with a fireworks sinking of the Graf. Some noise and sight as the ship sunk beneath the waves.

That is too bad about Bud Blackwood but I guess there things happen. It will be tough on Noohie losing husband & father.

Say, that is alright having a nice young girl living next door to us. Give her my regards. They are a nice family though I guess which is very nice. Do you ever see Vincent & Irene around? Will they be at the wedding?

Had a very nice visit from Bill K. and talked over many things. This talking is far better than letters but letters are better than nothing and are great to receive I find.

finding me but I thought you would enjoy the picture of all the boys, officers, etc. Did Lois find any she knew - of course there are no more from Toronto than anywhere else except that it is a little bigger city. There is barely a city in Canada not represented in that group.

Glad you had a nice holiday over the week-end with Bob Sr. You would enjoy that very much I am sure, dad; glad to see you caught some fish, too, as that always helps. You both usually go out with all your million dollar equipment and come back with no fish. Never mind, dad, I’m glad you enjoyed it and am also very pleased to see that business is improving. It better not get too good though or I’m liable to start borrowing a few from you. Alright? Ha Ha.

 I will fix the card up, Mother and send it also in this letter. Hope you got some nice little gift and please wrap it nicely etc. I shouldn’t have told you that as I know you will anyway. I sure would love to be there but you no longer do as you wish when in the Army or Air Force or Navy.

Friday night I walk down to the exhibition with John Granda and had a fine time. Saw motorboats doing nearly 90 m/p/h. as well as stunt planes which were excellent. Also a parachute jump in which the fellow leaps from 15,000 and does not open it until he has dropped over 10,000 feet. It is really some sight as he hurtles earthward with a plume of smoke coming from him. We also saw an exhibition by the R.C.A. F. Drill Squadron—it is the closest thing I ever saw to perfect. In the slope, Present, and order arms they are just like one man. They go through forty different movements without our single order or command. We saw also a musical ride by the Toronto Police Dept. - very fine thing indeed. The main feature of the program was the depicting of different events in English & Britain history from the time of brake down ending with a showing of the Navy, Army, Air Force, House Guard, British Grenadiers, the Red Cross, etc. It was one of the finest things I ever saw as they played Rule, Britannia as the lights faded out. It makes you feel sort of funny at the time and a little bit proud of the British Empire.

The whole show ended with a magnificent fireworks display which closed with a fireworks sinking of the Graf. Some noise and sight as the ship sunk beneath the waves.

That is too bad about Bud Blackwood but I guess there things happen. It will be tough on Noohie losing husband & father.

Say, that is alright having a nice young girl living next door to us. Give her my regards. They are a nice family though I guess which is very nice. Do you ever see Vincent & Irene around? Will they be at the wedding?

Had a very nice visit from Bill K. and talked over many things. This talking is far better than letters but letters are better than nothing and are great to receive I find.

I am going to write “Pop” today and have waited until now since I thought he would like it after school started again.

Good luck to Ernie and certainly hope he makes a success of it. Give my best to all see all the neighbors. How is Lois? Would be to see her and rest of the family as well as others—Talbergs? Mckinnons? etc. Has Stevenson left yet? Please tell me about different people and what they are doing. Glad to hear Anne likes me — tell her the feeling is mutual. Your loving son John.

Original Scans

Original Scans

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