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Date: January 11th 1916
Dear Ones All

Norwich, Jan’y.11,1916.

Dear Ones All,

Since I last wrote you I have received the following letters from across the water: Father’s of Dec.l3; Mother’s of Dec.18; Ruth’s of Dec. 6,12,17,20 and 26; Molly’s of Dec.7,12 and 16; Belle’s of Dec.12; Floy’s of Dec.10; and Xmas cards from Norman, Jennie Talcott and Dr. Hopkins. I also received a couple of letters addressed to me at Walkerton which Father forwarded.

I am away behind with my correspondence but it is harder to find time to write letters than you may imagine, for although we have several hours each day to ourselves most of that time must of necessity be spent at the Officer’s mess and it is practically impossible to get one’s thoughts together in that noisy place. However I think I have sort of hit my stride and shall be able to write you regularly after this.

It was such a treat to get all the news from home and I am hoping that within a few days there will be another batch of mail for me. It always seems to come in bunches.

Since writing the above a whole 24 hours has passed in which it was impossible to write another word. It certainly is exasperating.

First I must tell you about my wonderful experience to-day. I am going to tell you now because some day it will no longer be a novelty to me. Captain Cox one of our instructors here is an aviator who has been through most of the fighting in France and was sent home on the wounded list. He is the man whom I told Ruth about in one of my letters, who took the chaplain up and frightened the wits out of the poor man. To-day he wanted to try out a new machine, a Maurice Farman short-horn, and asked if any of us wanted to go up with him. I just jumped at the chance and soon got into one of the leather helmets they use here and scrambled head over heels into the passenger’s seat. We went up and up until all the fields looked like little squares on a checkerboard, and then for the first time in my life I had a flight above the clouds. It seemed almost as though we were back on that old ocean liner when the ground disappeared from view. But the most wonderful part of it all was our descent. Cox specializes on spirals and invariably uses them instead of a straight volplane when he has an altitude of 2000 feet or more, and believe me I got all the sensations I could possible desire this afternoon. He turned the nose of the machine slightly down and then shut off the engine. Then he turned it almost vertically down and at the same time banked it almost up on edge, Wow. It gave me the strangest feeling, as though we were standing perfectly still and the fields and trees thousands of feet below us were all going around like a top, and surging upwards towards us first on one side and then on the other. Of course it was only because we were going around like a corkscrew ourselves and making something like 150 miles per hour or so as we went. Another strange thing about that spiral was a feeling as though someone was sitting on my head and shoulders. Cox explained afterwards that it was always like that in a steep spiral owing to the centifugal force. At 500 feet he altered his angle into a wide sweeping curve and we finally landed as lightly as a feather right on the centre of the aerodrome. A joy-ride with Cox is considered quite a privielege and they all envied me my good luck. Don’t you too, Mother?

A great many of the officers here have seen service at the front. Many of them have been observers (You can tell them by the one wing and the “O” on their uniforms,—so: [drawing]

I have been picking up some fine English slang. A “Hun” at an R.F.C. Training camp is a pupil struggling painfully and slowly to earn his wings. We look up to the winged men as marvellous creatures, demi-gods rather than men, and they just look down on us poor Huns correspondingly. An aeroplane is always or nearly always known as a “bus”. A vol plane is always abbreviated, to "v.p." Rising sharply in the air to avoid a tree or a building is called zooming. Finally the handiest expression of the lot is “Carry on”. That is always an order and means "Go ahead". Young subalterns on orderly officer duty find it most convenient, particularly when they don’t know what in the world to do next — they just say "Carry on, Sergeant!" I found it a great help when I was orderly officer the day before yesterday.

We are very comfortable in our billet now. We rented a piano the other day and Dashwood plays a violin so we have some music once in a while.

Neil van Nostrand got his wings about a month ago and is now acting as an instructor in Netheravon. I had a letter from him the other day and expect to see him some time soon. I wrote to Bun Robinson a day or so ago but have not heard from him yet.

I had quite a good time in London over New Year’s with four of our Canadian boys from here. On New Year’s Eve we had dinner at the Cheshire Cheese, Samuel Johnson’s old hang-out. It is the oldest chop house in London and nothing seems to have been changed about it for the past couple of centuries. I found the names of Had and George and Jim Fraser in the visitor’s book. You remember Had’s letter saying they had visited the place in November. We also saw “Puss in Boots” a pantomime at Drury Lane Theatre, and a very clever comedy “A Piece of Fluff” at the Critron. We also did quite a lot of necessary shopping. (Really there seems to be no end to the expense of this business.) On Sunday we went to a special service of intercession for our soldiers and sailors at St.Paul’s. The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury preached but I am sorry to say that I didn’t hear a word he said, as owing to the immense size of the place I was fully 100 yards from him. The music and all the rest of the service was however magnificent and very impressive. The Lord Mayor was there too with all his attendants in their wigs and velvet robes.

On Monday I left London and went down to Bramshott Camp. I is an immense camp about two miles square and all Canadians I understand. They all are suffering more or less from colds but George and Had are both looking fine nevertheless. They gave me a fine welcome, and oh but it was good to get back among Canadians again. Next day Had came back to London with me and we had lunch together, after which we separated as he was going to Land’s End or somewhere and I had to leave for Norwich.

I forgot to mention that I also received May’s letter about the recent bad habits of my nephew John Ross Shaw Jr. I’m afraid I’ll have to come back and train him, May. Such goin’s-on! Thank Norman for his Xmas card. It certainly did touch me to think that he would bother about his old uncle who is so far away from him. I am glad to hear that everything is going well with the family in general, and especially to hear that Eva and the baby are doing well. That was very sad about Kinnie Sinclair. Don’t you think that the poor girl must have been mentally unhinged or something?
Thank you all, Dear People, for your letters. I wish I could write to you all individually, and I would too if I could possibly find time but perhaps this long letter will do instead.

With heaps of love and wishing with all my heart that I could see you all again to-night,

Yours always lovingly,

P.S.  I forgot to tell you that we have been gazetted to what is known as the R.F.C. Special Reserve as Second Lieutenants. We can, if we wish, wear the regular R.F.C. uniform & cap, without the wings of course, but in the meantime we are wearing our Canadian uniforms with the R.F.C. monogram on the collar and cap.   E.

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