May 4, 1941
Well, here I am again after a week’s leave (8 days). I had a very good time and covered considerable territory. I spent the first night in London at the “Y” at Paddington station. As usual, it was very quiet. I say “as usual,” because this is the third time I have stayed in London overnight, just to see what goes on during a blitz, and each time it has been very quiet. I left early next morning for Brixham, South Devon. The trip was uneventful and I reached Brixham by two-thirty in the afternoon. I gave Mrs. Brazier my ration card and stayed with her for three days. I bid them farewell and went to see Aunt Margaret at Exmouth. She was very pleased to see me and, after having lunch with her, I went on to Budleigh to Aunt May’s. I got there in time for an afternoon tea party in little Andrew’s honour, who is just learning to walk. I left May’s at six o’clock for Exmouth, where I caught the train to Exeter, the first lap of my return journey. I arrived at Exeter at seven and decided to stay overnight. After supper, I made enquiry about a place to sleep and was directed to a place operated by an old maid by the name of Dwyer. She seemed a very nice sort of person and we had quite a long talk. She asked me where Dad was born and was very pleased when I told her in Exeter. She then told me that a relation of hers through marriage was out in Alberta somewhere, which didn’t interest me particularly, until she mentioned the name of Westlake. Closer investigation proved him to be no other than George Westlake of Hastings Lake; strange, isn’t it?
I caught the train out of St. David’s and reached Paddington early I the afternoon. I had dinner at the Y.M.C.A. and decided to have a “look-see” before reporting back. I made quite an extensive tour of the area in the vicinity of the station and saw much damage and near misses. Later, I went to a show and, still being curious, decided to stay overnight in London and go back to camp the first thing in the morning. Once again, my guardian angel took charge and no air-raid resulted. I slept that night in an easy chair before a fire in the restroom of the “Y” and woke about seven in the morning to the gentle shaking of a “Red Cap” (military policeman), who asked to see my pass, as troops are forbidden to stay in London, due to the blitzes. He noticed or course, that I was twelve hours overdue, so promptly marched me up to the M.P.’s office, where he took down all the details before letting me go.
By this time, I decided it was high time I was thinking of getting back so, with this idea in my mind, set out and took the underground or “tube” to Waterloo and from there got a train direct to camp. I turning in my pass and told a pathetic story of missed trains and slow trains which seemed to turn the trick, as no charge has been laid as yet. The underground railway is quite a system. You go down about thirty feet below street level and can travel to any corner of the city. The trains, of course, are electric and travel at a breakneck pace. You stand at the edge of the track and a train comes tearing in with much clatter and bustle, and double sliding door fly back. After a space of time, which in my opinion can’t exceed a minute, the doors automatically close and you are off again.
Well, so much for leave and to more serious topics. The news these days is anything but right and seems like a repeat of last June with our people two jumps behind as usual. I can’t imagine what our secret service does with its time, as it seems to get most of the information from history texts and newspapers. At any rate, we still have our island, which I think will prove a tough nut to crack, so why worry.
I received letters from Dad and Alan yesterday, for which I am very grateful. Dad mentioned having seen “Great Dictator” which he didn’t care for particularly. I agree, as I saw it some time ago and must admit I was disappointed. The trouble seems to be that the idea of the film was to make the dictators ridiculous which seemed to have misfired, in view of Hitler’s success. Apart from this, it was just another Chaplin slapstick comedy. I laughed at Jack Oakie’s portrayal of “Mussie,” as I have seen the real ape in several newsreel speeches. I saw a very good “March of Time” yesterday, where all the events from 1933 onward were reviewed.
One finds it very difficult to understand how our leaders could have been so blind. It seems incredible that after the Axis show in Spain in ’36, there was any doubt in government circles as to which way the wind blew. Oh well, it’s no use looking back and our last battle is yet before us, but I have given up all hopes of a short War.
P.S. Notice on “Orders” says mail from March 12th to about 24th lost through enemy action.