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.


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