Thursday, June 27, 2013

World War II Letters Home June 27, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

Cunard White Star
June 27, 1938
Dear Folks:
I just ran out of ink so I will have to write this letter in pencil. Now to go on from where I left off in my last letter: We got into Liverpool at 8:00 p.m. Saturday night at about 10:00 p.m. Doug Morris and I got off the ship and took a bus (pronounced boos) and went into downtown section. it was a double-decker so we got up in the top and the front seat - well, we thought we were going to hit every post and sign along the street. It sure seemed funny, everything is so odd - we just sat there and laughed all the time. The streets are so narrow and they are made of bricks - not paved - so they are sort of rough. Anyhow, we wandered around for a while and laughed at the funny little cars and the ancient old crates they use for taxis. The streets are terrible dirty - newspapers blowing all over. At different places along the sidewalks - (nearly every sidewalk has a stone wall along it unless it passes in front of buildings) there are little spaces penned off that are used for public toilets - we nearly died laughing at them. After a while we took another bus and got back to our ship.
We slept aboard that night and left the ship Sunday morning at 9:00 and after a lot of fooling around at the customs office we wee taken by "charabank" or something meaning bus to the station. They don't check your suitcases here; they just load them into an express care and  have to claim them when you get to your destination and all you do is "tip" everybody. It cost me $10.00 for tips -- you just have to do it - of course that was on the ship too.
Well, we got into one of these funny little trains and went as far as London. Wherever a road of sidewalk crosses the railroad it either goes over or under the R.R. There are quite a few little rivers and canals all through the country. When we got into London, we transferred into  another train -- it was divided into compartments and you get into these compartments from either side. Gosh, it was funny. I'll take some pictures later on and you an see for yourselves. Anyhow, we got here to our school at 3:00 p.m. Sunday. After we got cleaned up w went over to the airfield and looked around, then went to bed.
This morning we went over there at 9:00 a.m. We signed a few papers, then we were fitted out in flying suits (inner ones are some kind of brown imitation sheepskin with woolly outside - outer one is a sort of light khaki cloth with a lining in it and fur collar and our helmets with goggles and earphones) and a nice pair of soft leather gauntlets.
This afternoon after we took another medical exam; we got into a plane and went for a ride (Lesson No. 1). There is 1 instructor for every group of pupil pilots. We fly again tomorrow afternoon. That is, one half of the pupils do - the other half fly in the afternoon. When we don't fly we have lectures.
There are 28 pupils altogether and 20 of them are here in Longfield House. Four of us Canucks have one big room together. It is a lot better than having a bloomin' bloke in your room with you.
The flying field is about a mile square; it also incorporates the London Aeo Club, pretty swanky place.
I don't know ow many planes there are here, probably a hundred more. In our hangar along there are about 30 trainers and pursuit planes so i don't really know what all is here yet as this is the first day here. They have a club here with courts for different games and a swell swimming pool. That costs us about $2.50 a month, whether we use it or not. Our board costs 2, 10s a week. That doesn't really leave us an awful lot out of  about $120.00 a month. The board amounts to $50.00 a month. Also we have to buy a dinner suit or mess jacket of Tuxedo or whatever you want to call them. Of course men's clothes are very cheap here - that will cost me about $12 or $15.00. Also a stiff front shirt, patent leather pumps, buttons, studs and cuff links, etc.
There's about as many motorcycles here as cars. There are quite a few 3-wheeled cars.
In fact, there are so many queer and odd thins that I can't tell you about all of them in 1 nor 6 letters so I won't try. I'll have to write about some of them every week.
I will close now hoping to hear from you within 3 weeks.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

World War II Letters Home June 25, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

Cunard White Star
June 25, 1938
Dear Folks,
We will soon be in Liverpool, that is in a couple more hours. We stopped at Belfast, Ireland last night and at Greenoch, Scotland this morning - that is not far from Glasgow. Two of the R.A.F. boys got off at Greenoch (pronounced Grenok); the remaining 4 of us will get off the ship tomorrow morning. The we will go to London and out to Hatfield - it is about 15 miles north of London, that is, if we go by train. We are not sure yet but we may go by car. One of the girls aboard said she would take us down by car. He dad owns several cars. I believe he must be a Chrysler salesman as she said she would most likely take the De Soto. if we haven't too much baggage probably that is how we will travel. It sure will be a lot nicer than by train.
We all got across without being seasick, although for a day after we left Belle Isle we felt rather dizzy, be we never missed any of our meals, and boy, did we eat! We sure have swell meals. I am going to send you some of our menus and programmes so you can see for yourself. We have an orchestra, 3 piece, that plays in the afternoons and evenings for us. From 11:00 to 12:00 we usually have a dance but at first it is hard to dance with the ship rolling and pitching - the rolling is worse though. Now I don't mind it at all. You don't seem to notice it after the 4th or 5th day out.
As we came down from Greenoch we met the navy fleet; 2 battleships, 1 aircraft carrier, and light destroyers. We also passed a new battleship and a submarine but we were having a nap so didn't see them. The coasts of Ireland and Scotland are very beautiful - very hill or mountainous, and marked off by hedges into irregular little farms, all as green as could be.
I didn't get any of my films developed on the ship as it is too expensive here so will wait until I get to Hatfield. Monday, the 27th we start our training school so there won't be any time to waste. but I am quite glad as it seems as if I have had a real big holiday already.
I had supper about an hour ago and as were coming into Liverpool I have been on deck ever since. It seems very peculiar seeing the cities over here. You see rows and rows of brick buildings all the same height and size. It seems sort of odd. As we came into here we passed the big ship yards where they dry dock and build ships. About all it amounts to is a lot of long buildings and numerous derricks sticking into the air. We are not going to get off the ship until 8:00 in the morning. There is exactly 7 hours difference in the time here from home. I haven't changed my watch yet. In my next letter I will try to describe the ship a little more fully to you.
We had a fairly smooth trip over here. We saw quite a few iceberg as we passed Belle Isle; the were coming down the coast of Labrador. On our 6th day out we ran into quite a bit of fog and of course every 2 minutes the fog horn went whoo-oo-oo ( mama knows how!) I went up into the crow's nest a couple of times - just sort of sneaked up when none of the crew were around; one of the men up there didn't care; after we were up he couldn't kick us down. You get up there on the inside of the mast, about 50 feet up on an iron ladder; of course the crow's nest is only about half way up the mast.
If we go to London by train we leave here at 10:20 a.m. and get into London at 2:10 p.m. I really don't know what else to write about now so I will write again in a couple of days.
Hope you are all well.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Obituary Sunday-Don Francis Smith

Don Francis Smith
Don Francis Smith, died June 23,2010 at the Rogue Valley Manor in Medford, OR. He was 80. Don was born in Spokane, WA on December 29, 1929 to Frank and Viola (Dahl) Smith. He served in Korea for two years before returning to eastern Washington. he married Jerry Lynn Wickenkamp in 1955. Don and Jerry moved to Novato, CA in 1967. He worked for Otis Elevator Company for 36 years where he developed an earthquake detection device for elevators, for which he was awarded a patent. He is survived by his wife Jerry, daughters, Patti Roberts (Casey) of Louisville, CO, Sandra of Novato, CA and grandson, Jackson, of Louisville, CO.   (Inadvertently left out of obituary, were survived by a brother J Douglas Smith (Pauline) of Spokane, and nephews, David, of Spokane, Brent, of Spokane and Dean, of Prosser, WA.)
the obituary appeard in the Marin Independent Journal, June 25, 2010)



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wedding Wednesday-Don Smith and Jerry Lynn Wickenkamp

In memory of my parents, Don Smith and Jerry Lynn Wickenkamp were married  June 19, 1955 at the Valley Methodist Church, in Valley, Stevens County, Washington.

Pink and white spring flowers with candelabra decorated the Valley Methodist church for the Sunday afternoon wedding of Miss Jerry Lynn Wickenkamp and Don F. Smith. The Rev. Ronald K. Johnson officiated at the double ring ceremony. The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.G.Wickenkamp, of Valley. The bridegroom's parents are Mr. and Mrs. Frank D. Smith, of Jump Off. Given in marriage by her father, the bride was lovely in her chapel length, white taffeta gown covered with nylon net and a chantilly lace fitted bodice which had a stand-up collar. A cap of lace and Lillies of the Valley held the finger-tip illusion veil. She carried a white orchid on a white Bible which was gift from the bridegroom. The gown was designed by Mrs. John Seubert.....

......When the newlyweds left for a honeymoon at Lake Louise and Banff, the bridge wore a pink and blue check orlon suite with pink accessories. ....

.....The bride is a graduate of Eastern Washington College of Education in Cheney. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, Key, Golden Circle, Tawanka and Who's Who in American Colleges. She will teach in Spokane this fall. Mr. Smith is employed at the Otis Elevator Company in Spokane. He served 15 months with the Armed Services in Korea.

Monday, June 17, 2013

World War II Letters Home June 17, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

Cunard White Star
June 17, 1938
Dear Folks,
At last I am on a ship and we will be in Quebec in a few hours where I will mail this.
The scenery is very nice on both banks of the St. Lawrence. There are cabins and houses all along the shore lines. All down the river there are buoys. It is hard to describe just what the ship looks like inside, but I can tell you that you can sure get mixed up.
There are 6 of us boys from Canada going into R.A.F on this ship. We have second class tourist accommodations and it is quite nice. I had the porthole open and was sitting there for a long time watching the shores passing by. I was up in the bow for quite a while but it is quite breezy there.
We sure have swell meals here - anything you want and as much as you an hold. The 6 of us boys are at one table and each table has a separate steward.
We didn't have much of a stay in Montreal, got in at 8:30 a.m. today. It was raining while we were there and it is still cloudy, so I can't take any pictures. I took a few but I don't know how they will turn out. I have about 6 or 7 rolls but I will wait until I get settled before I get them developed.
I am sitting in the lounge writing this. There are oodles of easy chairs and books and magazines. We have tea at 4:00, supper at 7:00. Tomorrow night they will have a dance, every night, I guess, except tonight.
For the last week everything has surely been a wonderful experience. It is hard to explain what i have seen, but probably after we get across I will be able to tell you more. it takes about 8 days to get across so I suppose you won't get another letter from me for about 3 weeks. I hope you are all well.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Obituary Sunday-Estelles Wickenkamp

Grandson of Casperites Killed In Patrol Duty Over North Sea

Capt. Estelles Wickenkamp, 27, Dies When Bomber is Shot Down
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wickenkamp received word yesteday of the death in action on April 7th of their grandson, Captain Estelles Wickenkamp, aged 27, while on patrol duty with the British Royal air force over the North sea. The British government reported to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wickenkamp of Steenan, Sask., that Captain Wickenkamp was leading an eight-plane patrol in a scouting flight near the Orkney Islands. Two of the planes were shot down by enemy pursuit ships, one of them the Wellington bomber in which Wickenkamp was directing operations. All of the seven men in the Wellington plane were believed instantly killen. No trace has been found or the plane or its occupants. Captain Wickenkamp was born in Nebraska, but his parents moved to Saskatchewan about 15 years ago. Besides his grandparents, other relatives living in Casper include two uncles, H.F. and W.G. Wickenkamp, and aunt, Mrs. Alma Sehnert West, and six cousins.
Estelles was born 3 November 1912 in Dorchester, Nebraska to Frank and Emma (Hettler) Wickenkamp. He had a twin sister, Esther, and a brother, Richard. In 1920, the family moved to Canada and settled in Steenan, Saskatchewan. Estelles wrote letters home to his family  while he was in the Royal Air Force, which I will be sharing in upcoming blog posts as a tribute to this very brave man.