Thursday, October 3, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 3, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                            No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                            Brize Norton, Oxford
                                                                                             October 3,1938

Dear Folks:

When  I woke up this morning it was pouring rain so I stayed in bed until 10 o'clock.  It has slacked off a little now but is a dreary day.  We are allowed to have fires in our rooms now so I got my batman to light mine this morning.  It is nice and warm now. I have been going to to tell you about the batman we have.  They are are our servants. Each batman has 3 officers and their rooms to take care of.  The first thing in the morning he brings in some hot water, lays out our uniforms and shoes and wakes us up.  When we are out me makes up our beds, puts all of our clothes away and straightens our our rooms.  In the evening he lays out our mess kit or whatever we have to wear for supper.  He keeps our boots cleaned and polished, polishes our buttons, presses our clothes, lights our fires, takes care of our laundry, etc.  He even unpacks your trunks when you come here - anything you want done - the batman does it - even brings you tea in bed on Sunday mornings if you don't get up for breakfast.  So you see we get well cared for - all you have to do is ring the button and he's there with a "Yes Sir?"

Tomorrow I am Orderly Officer under instruction. The O.O. is responsible for the following duties:  supervision of the guard, inspection of ration store on their arrival at the ration store, tour airmen's dining rooms during breakfast an dinner meals to receive any complaints, the maintenance of order and discipline in the institute, attendance at payment of airmen, ensuring of "lights out", attendance at the fires and inspection of fire guard., etc., inspection of detention rooms and visiting of occupants, etc., etc.  So I won't get any flying or studying done tomorrow.

I got the Free Press.  I got a letter from Vernon; it only took 10 days.

The situation with the Czechs looked pretty serious for a while but it seems to be all peacefully settled now.  We were all confined to camp and no one was allowed to leave the camp on week-ends and we couldn't go any farther than 20 miles. Everyone on leave was recalled.  In London they started to dig trenches in all the parks and are still doing it.  Gas masks were issued to everyone in England - all sots of Air Raid Precautions were taken.

On the picture I sent you of our Civil School class you will find a boy names James.  Friday afternoon he was up with his instructor and they got caught in the rain.  Instead of climbing up high, they flew low and crashed into a telephone post or pillar of some kind and both of them were killed.  They say that the instructor was a little reckless.  If he had gained altitude he could have got out of the rain because they were just local showers, but no one really knows what he was doing so there isn't much that can be said about it.  They have been very few accidents in the last 3 or 4 months.  No one figures on accidents here any more than you worry about a car accident.when you go to town.  Considering all the men that are flying there is a small percentage of accidents or deaths.  There are about 70 pilots here and about 20 instructors, and we all fly nearly every day., doing on an average of 3 or 4 take-offs and landings.  I figured it up roughly one day and there are about 1,500 or more gallons of petrol used here in one day.

I imagine there are about 50 or 75 training schools in England and about 120 squadrons, so you could probably figure what it must cost the British Government for Air defense alone, and then figure on top of that about 6 times as many airmen as pilots.  It runs into millions of pounds a year.

About the ranks now - well, in another couple of months we get our wings, then after our 6 months here we become Pilot Officers.  After we are in a squadron for 18 months we get promoted to Flying Officer.  If we are fortunate enough before we get out we might get to be a Flight Lieutenant.  That is as far as we can expect to get, unless you get a P.C. (Permanent Commission), then you advance through the various ranks, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain, etc.

That is too bad about Wesley Belous but it can't be helped now.  The J.P.'s job seems to be a nice helpful side line on the farm.  Apparently the garden turned out pretty good this year - well I guess you won't starve anyway.  As far as I can remember we never did.  I have 2 more cards to get for my set of aeroplanes, then I will send them to you.



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