Thursday, August 22, 2013

World War II Letters Home August 22, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                          Officers Mess
                                                                                                          Royal Air Force
                                                                                                          August 22, 1938

Dear Folks:

Things have been happening so fast lately that I haven't even been able to get a letter off to you.

We have all left Hatfield now and are in Uxbridge.  We don't do any flying here.  We just put in 2 weeks drilling and learning what an officer should know about the Air Force.  There are several hundred A.P.O.'s here - that's what I am (Acting Pilot Officer) and I don't know how many airmen - they are the ground crew - don't forget that!  They are not officers in the same sense that we are.

All of us Pilots eat in one big Mess - we have about 20 waiters.  Our food is better here than at our Elementary School.  We came here Saturday evening.  Today is Monday. This afternoon we all had to go into London - it's only about 45 minutes by underground railway - to have our last fitting for our uniforms.  Wednesday we go in again for our last fitting.  The we will get our uniforms about the first of next week.  We get 2 uniforms and an overcoat, a pair of oxfords, a pair of ankle shoes and a pair of wellingtons.  I'll explain about them next time.  One uniform is a Mess uniform, the other is a service uniform.  I'll tell you more abut them later too.

Tonight at dinner (and every night after this) we wore our dinner suite.  Boy! I never dreamed I would ever wear one of those.  It feels like you are stuffed into a sort of metal jacket.  They sure look neat though.  I'll try to have some pictures of this place by the end of the week.  I can't go into much detail tonight as it is bedtime.  We get up at 6:300 here - breakfast is at 7:00 and then to work.  There is a cinema right here in this R.A.f depot so we can go to the "flicks" any evening we wish.

I really have to quit now but I'll try to go into detail sometime during the next week and give you a real concrete idea of what things are like.

In your letter you asked me what a bull's eye on the landing field was - well, I don't know what you are referring to - I don't remember saying that, so explain.  I just read that part again - you saw it on the picture well, that is a sign to show where the "Duty Flight" for all R.A.f planes is at an aerodrome.  When a stranger belonging to the R.A.F lands at an aerodrome  and sees that sign he taxies his plane up to the hangars where that sign is, and they take care of his plane for him - give him oil, petrol - if he needs  it.

Also you asked me how far away I was when I got lost - well, I was about 14 miles away.  But you must remember- 14 miles of town after town, rivers, roads and railways over here is like a thousand miles over there, because there is nothing really distinctive that you can use for a landmark.  Of course I have learned to read maps better now and I find it a lot easier to know where I am.  We never go solo without one.

I am sending you a few snaps I took from the air when I was alone. I trimmed the plane and was flying "hands off" when I took them.  It was quite cold when I was up at 8,000 feet.  My feet and face were chilly.  I had my heavy suit on though.  I was also doing aerobatics when I was up there.

I must go to bed now! Good night (it's only 4 p.m. over there)



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