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Date: October 22nd 1941
From
John Balfour Grey
Letter

RACF
[censored, & added:
                c/o Base P.O.
                RCAF Overseas.]
22/10/41

Dearest Mother & Dad

Well it’s time for another letter now – I hope you are receiving the mail better than I as it has been very poor this past month for some reason or maybe I’m homesick. Most of my mail lately has been going ordinary as I am very broke due to two lots of four days leave (one French and one authorized). We will be getting another bit of leave in about a month so I must save all I can – I may even call upon you to help me but I’ll try not to as that is sort of foolish.

The leave was very pleasant although most of it was spent in sleeping and eating. We stayed at one of London’s smartest hotels (very expensive but it is worth it). To get nice food such as chicken and all that a fellow needs quite a bit of the old folding stuff especially in some of these famous West End cafés. I was with Harry and we also took in a few show and such as that. We went to Madame Tussaud’s famous wax works – that is really some place. A person could spend hours looking around there. The famous and the infamous are there. We saw a very good picture “49th Parallel” and enjoyed it although there was quite a touch of propaganda. It showed scenes of Banff, prairies, Niagara, etc so we sure enjoyed a bit of old Canada.

I must tell you now about the crew I am flying with and will do so for a long time now. This is the bunch who will fly over Berlin with me. The pilot is Rege Bland – an Englishman but one of the real good guys of this world. The observer is Harold Holtom from New Zealand and a fine steady going chap. Harry and I complete the crew. I sure was pleased as Harry and I have been going around together ever since we hit this island. The other two are both Sgts also so that is good. An English Pilot officer and an Australian observer also an officer asked us to go with them but we liked the other two much better so that is the way it is now. A fellow can afford to be a little fussy about who he flies with when you figure you will be flying together and living together for many months. This is enough shop talk. As usual though we are flying many hours every day but it is O.K. I guess.

I nearly got on the radio from the Beaver Club last Friday but I was a bit too late – one of these times though maybe you will hear my golden voice from many miles away.

I had a fast letter from Audrey today and she was telling me that Hampton’s picture was in the paper and you were expecting him home in a few days. I hope he has about a month’s leave. I wish I knew what he was going to do. I thought he might be over here for his birthday but now I hope he will be home for it. I would just as soon he didn’t come back here at all in one way but in another it sure will be good to see him. I well remember the first time I saw him over here – it is funny seeing somebody like Hampton 60000 miles from home. Give him all my best and everything. I guess he is home right now.

I have received three parcels from Phyllis all within the past few days. One was a can of tea, another with two lbs of real cheese, and the other contained a lovely knitted scarf and was it exactly what I need. She enclosed an R.C.A.F. cap-badge too which looks better to me than the R.A.F. I hope Phyllis and Ed are comfortable in their new flat or apartment as you colonials call it. I am going to write them tonight too. Tell you a funny thing Dad. One night in London I happened to be listening to a fellow talking to someone and then after I spoke to him a minute I just said to him “How long have you been away from Brechin?” Well you could have bought him for a nickel. When he regained his speech he said he wasn’t from Brechin but close from there and had stayed there many times. I asked him if he happened to know of any Grays but he didn’t as he too had been abroad many years in Africa. It really was a strange thing.

There is a little bad news I must pass to you now and also a request for some help. Yesterday when I was flying I set my pen down in the heavy gun hatch groove and a little while later I had to open the cupola or hatch suddenly and to my dismay the pen was reduced to ruins. I am awfully sorry about this as I liked that pen which Nelson gave me very much. If it would be possible for you to get me another like it I would be only to pleased as I need a pen – I have borrowed this one. If you sent it with Hampton maybe it would be O.K.

I wonder if you are hearing this same news I am just hearing now at 9 P.M. which is 1 P.M. at home. The news is doubly entertaining due to the interruptions of the “ghost voice” which comes in very clearly between each item of the news. The Russians started this and now the Germans are muscling in on the B.B.C. The Russians are fighting fiercely as are the Germans. What are the saber-rattling Japs going to do. The actions of the U.S. are putting people in mind of the way this country acted before they really got in the war.

I must end now. Please give my best to everybody around town. More mail in a few days.

Your loving son
John

Original Scans

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