Tuesday, December 30, 2014

World War II Letters Home December 30, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                               Royal Air Force
                                                                                               King's Lynn, Norfolk
                                                                                               December 30, 1939

Dear Folks:

Here it is almost another year, and I have been in England a year and a half.  It has been quite an experience -  more than I have had during any other 18 months in my life.

We have been having a few snow flurries but most of it melts so there is only a trace of snow on the ground,  although the ground has been frozen for over a week,  Some of the fellows here from Australia and New Zealand saw their first snow-fall the other day - it seems hard to believe.  One of them was shuffling around in it and kicking it in the air, he thought it was great novelty.  The fresh crisp air now is much more comfortable than the raw, damp weather we have  been having.

I was supposed to go on another 'sweep' over the North Sea this morning in search of the German fleet but for some reason it was cancelled.  We don't do any raids (this group) over German ports anymore;  we are just doing coastal patrols and 'sweeps' or searches.

You ought to see us when we get all bundled up for a flight just like the fat teddy bears.  We put our leather fur lined trousers and jackets.  Over our jackets go our life saving jackets, which have inflatable linings (we call them 'Mae West' in the R.A.F.).  Then on top of all this goes our parachutes harness.  Oh yes, we also wear our fur-lined flying boots.  It makes us so fat we can hardly squeeze into the aircraft, but the worst part is trying to move around inside;  the snaps of our harness get caught on every pipe and bit of wiring that is possible.  Never-the-less, all this gear keeps us comfortably warm, so no one tries to dispense with any part of it.  I'll send you some photos one of these days.  I haven't sent you any lately, have I?  Our trips usually last about 5 hours, so we take sandwiches, chocolate bars, raisins and thermos flasks of hot tea along.  There never seems to be much left when we get back.

Doug and I are still a reserve crew so we haven't taken our aircraft on any raids yet.  So far we have been changing about flying with other crews when one is sick or away on leave.  Actually Doug is the Captain of our crew and I am 2nd pilot navigator - but it doesn't make any difference as we will change over in the air as 5 hours is a long time to sit at the wheel.  All of our flying times go in our log books as first pilot was we are both 1st pilot night and day.  We had our crew increased now so besides us, we have a sergeant observer who is a navigator and also operates the centre gun turret when it is lowered, 2 air gunners (front and rear) and a wireless. We have a new type of wireless installed in our planes now and it is very good.  It can be over on a number of positions, so that all the crew can hear orders coming over the air, or so that the crew are in intercommunication and just the  W/T operator can hear the wireless, and also so that the pilot can speak over the wireless, etc.   Anyhow, it is much better then the old sets.

Since petrol rationing doesn't allow enough coupons to make it worth while keeping a car going, nearly everyone on the station secretly wangles their due share of aviation spirit.  It sure is peppy dope - so they install a pair of check reins on the car just in case it tries to take off.  If you know the ropes you can wangle nearly anything - petrol, oil, antifreeze, grease jobs, repair work and lots of other things - only you don't want to be caught openly - as King's Regulations say what you shouldn't or can't do legally.

I sent a whole bunch of Christmas cards again this year - I don't know why though - as none of the ones I sent last Christmas ever thought that I would at least like to get a card from them, except Mr. Laing and Dorothy.  They are sending me some candy, cake and cigarettes - I guess the others haven't time to even say hello.  They like to know what I am doing, etc. but they don't think I might like to hear from them.  what has happened to Vernon, I haven't heard from him for some time.

In 2 of your letters, Mom, you have mentioned about me getting some stripes on my arm - 'at least one'- surely you must know that I have had a stripe for 16 months.  I have only 8 months before I become a flying officer, then I have a wider stripe - about 3/4 of an inch.  By that time I may even be Acting Flight-Lieutenant, which is 2 wide stripes - of course, that is being optimistic.

I played bridge last night with a squadron leader and a couple of flying officers and I just got drawn into another game tonight with the squadron leader, a civilian and a Lieutenant from the Army and did quite alright as we won the game also I am 1/16 (one shilling and sixpence) the richer.

It is a nearly 12 o'clock and I must go to bed as tomorrow night we are having a dinner dance here and also I am Squadron Duty Officer so I won't get much sleep.

I haven't received any parcels yet but they will quite likely be here in a couple of days.  I haven't sent your parcels yet so I suppose they will be about a month late.  I hope you don't mind too much as I don't get a chance to do much shopping.  The shops are usually all closed by the time we get out of camp.

I didn't have any cranberries with my Christmas turkey but I'll bet you did,  I wish I could have enjoyed Christmas dinner with you this year - I am getting hungry for a  real meal.

Best Wishes for 1940.

As Ever, Love

Friday, December 19, 2014

World War II Letters Home December 19, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                               Royal Air Force
                                                                                              King's Lynn, Norfolk
                                                                                              December 19, 1939

Dear Esther:

I am afraid I haven't been keeping up my writing very regularly - It is the same old story - so much "flap" and duties that it is a bit hard to take time off.   I am living in one of the rooms in a married officers block and it is a way from the mess so it isn't very convenient to run back and forth.

It doesn't look as if this Christmas is going to be much like the last one, but I guess it is no use complaining.  Last week-end I spent a few days at Oxford with Renee and then we went to Bedford to Roddy Ross'  wedding, where I was best man.  After the wedding, Doug, Renee and I went to London, as that was the only way we could make train connections and we stayed there over night in the Strand Palace Hotel, which is a very nice place.   Renee went home alone to Oxford and Doug and I caught the train back here.

I think I will be getting a 3 day leave at Christmas so I am going to spend it at Oxford,  Oh yes, I meant to mention that Roddy and his crew went down somewhere Helogoland yesterday.  Some of the crews of the different aircraft that wee lost have been rescued - that is - the ones that were still alive but Ii don't know whether he was one of them or not.  Pretty tough on his wife.  I have lost so many acquaintances and friends during the last week that I can hardly keep track of them.  Most of them are scattered around at so many different stations that it is almost impossible to find out who doesn't return - that is, when all of them don't do so. Until lately we have been quite fortunate as all of the formations nearly always returned, but the last few days this Heligoland and Whilhelmshaven business has wiped out a big percentage of our aircraft and crews.  Maybe it should be left alone for awhile until the "big bugs" think up a better scheme of attacking it.

I guess I had better lay off these war stories.  I don't suppose you want to hear them or do you?  As usual the papers are a lot of lies and propaganda - you can't believe half you read.  They give vivid descriptions of all sorts of heroism's, cut our casualties in half and double our victories of the enemy.  News is published about a week late if it manages to get past the censor.  Three weeks after the first Canadian army contingent came over here it was made known publicly.  I suppose all this is typical of the English press.

I am on duty in the operations room tonight - that is why I have time to write.  I suppose you wonder what the operations room is,  well, it is the headquarters for all our orders and information during the war.  Each station has an operations room and each command (bomber, fighter, reconnaissance, etc.) has a controlled operational center, and of course the whole thing being controlled by the Air Ministry.

We often get called at 5:00 or 6:00 o'clock in the morning to standby for a raid or patrol upon an hours notice.  Half of nearly all the time we just keep standing by all day and don't get out though.  When we leave the station, which we may do every night, we have to leave an address, eg. Royal Cinema, pub or where ever we might be, so that we can be recalled within 2 hours.  Generally when the crews are wanted back the local police give us their full co-operation and go around to all the cinema and pubs and chase everyone home.  It is not very often anyone gets recalled at night though because our group is all day bombers,  so we don't go on night raids.

We haven't had any air raids since I have been at this station but they are bound to come sooner or later - anyhow, let 'em come!

I have managed to get all my Christmas cards sent away the other day but I haven't been able to get any parcels mailed yet.  I am afraid there won't be much in the line of presents for anyone this year - I find it so hard to think of anything that is worth sending - seeing how shipping and mail is so uncertain.  I am going to write my bank and try to send you a monthly payment until I get straightened out.  It seems to be a next to impossible to pay each months mess bill.  I never spend much money but it sure seems to go.

This has the markings of a very morbid letter but I can't really think of anything funny to write about tonight - probably next time.  My bed is right next to this desk here and the telephone switchboard is at my elbow so while everything is quiet I'll try to catch up on my sleep.

Try to drop me  a letter, even if it is only one line,  each week because it seems that I never get any mail any more.

By the time you get this you most likely will have finished celebrating the New Year - anyhow I hope you have a swell time.

Best Wishes and Love
Your Brother

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Travel Tuesday - American Legion Nonstop Goodwill Trip


After Running to Canada Last Night, Nonstop Car Heads for Mexico.
Left Spokane, 6:30 p.m.  Friday, in Colville, 10:05 p.m. Crossed Canadian border shortly after midnight. Arrived Spokane, 6:30 a.m. Arrived Colfax, 10:00 a.m.  Arrived Dayton, 12:30 p.m.
   The Spokane American Legion international good will tour began promptly at 6:30 last evening.
    By midnight the car reached Canada and arrived in Spokane, southbound, at 6:30 this morning.
     On to Mexico
    Now Mexico and return is objective.  Grant Ware, former Adjutant of the Spokane Post, and Frank Smith are drivers of the Dodge car being used.
     Enroute Mr. Ware is writing special articles for the Chronicle.
    Well, here we go rolling along as pretty as you please.  Never heard a motor sound sweeter and the old Teico time and motion recorder is doing its stuff.
     Pulling out of Spokane behind four speed cops was a thrill.  Usually the wail of the siren is one of those things the motorist doesn't like to hear, but this time it was music to our ears.  Traffic melted like magic and we cruised along at 20 to 25 miles an hour out Monroe and Wall to the city limits.  Here our good convoy quit us.
    Looking back in the mirror it was another thrill to see our good friends McGoldrick and Lambert in
 the endurance car, until we hit the foot  of the Monroe hill. This was too much for their veteran contraption and we parted company.
Start With Rations
    Before starting, L. R. Knipe, commander of Spokane post, put his signature on our Teico sheet and as we started it was sealed and locked.
    Vic Dessert, of the Dessert hotel, gave us two boxes of rations. This is appreciated and the jar of coffee is great.
     Jumping back a day, we had an experience that gave us some good knowledge.  We decided yesterday to fill our tank under actual conditions.  We pulled into a service station and circled the lot. Everything was fine and clear. Frank went out on the rear deck and we took on three loads of gas.
   About five miles south of Colville, Dr and Mrs Goetter picked us up and with them was none other than Past State Commander Rafils, who acted as master of ceremonies, leaning far out and waving us on.  In the car also were Mr and Mrs J B Rogers. Colville was cleared at 10:05 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  Then through Myers Falls.
   A few miles south of the line we saw the car of one of the border patrol and were careful they got a good look at our car so they would not stop us as we came back.  At the line we were met by  W M Kartzmark and Arthur Clark, both legionnaires, of the customs.  They cleared us in a circle over the line handed in a certificate to that effect.
   We are driving three-hour shifts.  When I am off, the bearings on the typewriter smoke, or sleep is in order.  When Frank is off he gets the gas up to level in the main tank and fusses with the mechanical details or sleeps.
   Daylight hit at 5 a.m. and at 6:30 we were in Spokane again where a convoy of speed cops again took us through.  Frank says we are now on our way from pines to palms.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop American Legion Goodwill Trip

Spokane Daily Chronicle March 28, 1930


Nonstop Canada to Mexico Drive Ready for Start at 6:30 Tonight.

"Everything is ready." This was the report from Grant Ware Frank P. Smith, who will leave Spokane at 6:30 p.m. today on a proposed nonstop good-will  American Legion auto tour from Spokane to Mexico and return to Spokane.

Final checking of the car today proved to be in satisfactory condition.  Special refueling and oil changing apparatus were given a final examination and mechanics pronounced the machine ready.
  Plan Week's Drive
The car will be home for the two overseas veterans from the start this evening until 2 p.m. next Friday, if the schedule averaging 20 to 21 miles an hour is maintained.

American Legion members will be out in force this evening to give Ware  and Smith a rousing sendoff.  When the car starts, the legion membership drive to get a member for each 10 miles the car makes will be launched.
    Drivers Are Confident
 Both Ware and Smith were confident today they successfully make the 3700 mile trip without letting the wheels of the machine come to a momentary stop.

"Suppose," Ware was asked, "you had to stop for an instant because of a traffic jam, a train or something from which you could not turn and avoid?"

"We just don't figure on stopping," said Ware. "We haven't given it enough consideration to know what we might do if we had to stop; whether we would continue or come back and start over.  We just aren't going to stop."
"We are going to tell obstacles we meet, how they are overcome and conditions  which hamper or help us in exclusive telegrams to the Chronicle."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Census Sunday - 1900 US Federal Census, Chicago, Cook, Illinois - Joseph C Smith househould

Twelfth Census of the United States
State: Illinois
County: Cook
Township or other division of county: West Town
Name of incorporated city, town or village within the above names division: City of Chicago Ward of city 28.

Supervisors District: 1  
Enumeration District; 854
Sheet: 14

Enumerated on 12th Day of June by John T. Robertson

line 74 Smith, Joseph C Head W M Oct 1873 27 M 7 IL, IN, IL
line 75 Smith, Josephine Wife W F Mar 1873 27 M 7 2 2 IL OH IN
line 76 Smith, Mary Dau W F May 1894 6 S IL IL IL
line 77 Smith, Francis P Son W M Dec 1898 1 S IL IL IL  

Francis P Smith is my grandfather, Frank P Smith.

Unfortunately I could not read the occupation on for Joseph C Smith on the Census. I would really love to know what he was working at and what brought from the Chicago.

The family lived at 2626  W Polk St.

According to the Census, this is 2626 W Polk St, Chicago Illinois. I went to Google Earth and put in the address and this is what I got.  If this is true, I assume that in 1900 there were houses here. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop American Legion Goodwill trip

March 27, 1930 Spokane Daily Chronicle


Work Out Novel Device on American Legion Good Will Car

    Oil-changing apparatus on the Spokane-Canada-Mexico-Spokane nonstop American Legion good-will automobile was tested today and found to be in readiness for the start from legion headquarters tomorrow at 6 p.m.  It is estimated three or four changes will be necessary before the car completes its trip of more than 3700 miles.
        Fill From Running Board
      A valve has been placed in the lowest point in the crankcase, and is controlled from the driver's seat.  When an oil change is necessary,  the plan is to utilize a long grade, stop the motor, close its valve and refill from a gallon can which one of the two drivers will handle on the running board.
      "We are all set," said Grant Ware who with Frank P. Smith will pilot the  car. "Tonight we shall get all possible sleep to be ready for the long grind."
       Drivers to avoid stopping have been worked out.  Railroad crossings will be approached slowly, to insure against a train blocking the pathway and forcing the wheels to stop turning.  Should a traffic jam appear invisible,  the car must be turned on the road to avoid it.
Must Anticipate Trouble
    "It means looking far ahead to try to anticipate trouble which might force a stop," said Ware.  "An instrument in the car is sealed and makes a complete record, showing beyond any doubt if the car is kept going or whether is has stopped." An improvised bed in the tonneau will permit one driver to sleep while the other proceeds.
    Daily wired reports will be sent to the Chronicle for exclusive use in Spokane.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop American Legion Goodwill Trip


 Success marked the refueling at Main and Monroe today of the American Legion's nonstop border-to-border automobile drive.

 Frank P. Smith and Grant Ware clad in white work suits, rode while an employee of the Richfield service station poured gasoline into the tanks as the car moved around the station.

A valve is being placed  in the bottom of the crankcase, worked by a lever near the driver's seat, which will permit emptying and refilling while in motion.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop American Legion Goodwill Trip

Smith and Ware Both War  Vets - Both Got Shrapnel  in Legs

    Guns were booming ________ German armies were driving forward.  Americans were arriving to stem the tide Tenton advance.
     In the Argonne Grant Ware was doing his bit while in the equally famous encounter on the Meuse-Champagne Frank P. Smith was using his Springfield on Germans whose helmets showed above the trenches. Strange Coincidence
    October 9, 1918, saw heavy encounters in both sectors and on that day both Ware and Smith were shot down by shrapnel, each hit in a leg.
     Both had enlisted in Spokane, Ware with the 361st infantry of the 91st division and Smith in the 161st infantry of the old second Washington.
     Now the two buddies, whose careers have been marked by events so coincidental, are working together on a  Spokane-Canada-Mexico nonstop automobile tour under the auspices of the Spokane post of the American legion.
      One will drive while the other utilizes specially arranged sleeping facilities, and they will take turns in refuelingand oiling.  The six-cylinder car body will be their home for a week while the trip progresses, it they are successful in their efforts.
    Leaving Friday night, they will go to the Canadian line at Laurier and then back through Spokane, to California by way of Portland on the Columbia River highway and to old Mexico.
     Legion posts of the Pacific slope are cooperating with them to insure they will not be forced at any time to make a momentary stop which would be marked on the sealed recording ______ "failue" for the journey.  The two men know they have a hard battle ahead, but say after what they have been through it isn't going to seem so tough.
    Daily reports of the trip are to be published exclusively  in the Chronicle.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

World War II Letters Home October 29, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                Officers' Mess
                                                                                                Royal Air Force Station
                                                                                                Harwell Didcot, Berks
                                                                                                October 29, 1939

Dear Esther:

I hope you can excuse and forgive me for not writing sooner and more often.  Actually the last fortnight has been a busy one.

We spent a week at Blackpool - the famous summer resort - doing air firing and drogues towed behind other aircraft, low flying and night flying, cross country trips, all of them.  In fact our time is so filled up that I haven't even been able to manage any supper, fly, fly, fly.  Of course I suppose you think that surely I must have had a few minutes off each day to at least write a short letter - well, that is true but when you have an hour or 2 to spare you're just too tired to bother writing.

I know you can't appreciate the fact but from 6 to 11 hours flying a day is more tiring and more of a mental  strain than even we realize. A couple hours instrument or night flying alone is equal to a days' work.  The night before last I was flying for over 4 hours on a long cross-country and during the flight we got into a cloud and iced up at 6,00 feet - I couldn't come down below the clouds as the base was too low and we were over hilly country and I couldn't climb as I didn't  know how high the clouds were (I found out afterwards the were only 9,000 feet) so after flying blind for some time I decided to turn back and eventually got in the clear; even than it took some minutes before the ice melted of the cabin windows so that I could see the moon again.  Anyhow, by dodging about I managed to get above the clouds and get over the sea north of Cornwall - where we dropped flame floats and found the wind speed and direction.  When we got back in the vicinity of our base speed and directions.  When we got back in the vicinity of our base here the sky was completely overcast and clouds down to about 300 feet.  The W/T operator got a D/F bearing (direction-finding) and we got over the aerodrome and just managed to spot the landing beacon, so I came down through the fog and greased a 3-pointer on the deck.  I was plenty cold and tired, I can tell you.

In our altitude  flying we go up to 20,000 feet and of course use oxygen; as a matter of interest, the last trip I was on, we found the wind to be nearly 1000 m.p.h. from north, also the thermometer registered -33 C, which I think is somewhere around 30 or 40 below Fahrenheit - anyhow, it was a bit chilly sitting still all of 4 hours, in spite of our feather flying kit which is fur lined.

The squadron leader who is O.C. of our flight says that this coming week we are going to do still more flying per day than before - so I can see where I am going to pile up a few hours.  I am now 1st pilot day and night on Wellingtons.

Well, I guess I've shot enough line about myself for now and since today, is Sunday and we're not flying, I shall spend the afternoon in the company of a beautiful young maiden, who happens to be "It" - if you don't mind.

I have realized for the last week or so that in a few days (from now) it will be Richard's, yours, Mama's and my birthday (pretty good of me even to remember - I think!)  I had planned in the pas to get a good R.A.F. pin for you and Mom, but as I have been unable to get into a store, while it is open, for so long I have been unable to do so - but I do hereby solemnly declare that I shall not disappoint you much longer.

I have been trying to save up enough money to pay my overdue debt to you but now that the pound has decreased in value it means I have to add another 20% to get the original value, also sign numerous declarations, etc., why the money is being sent out of England.  I am afraid I have turned out to be a bad liability and I feel rotten about it all, as I have not lived up to even my expectations, but I am doing my best to build up the reserve.

I have rather missed the point - what I started to say was that although I am late, I hope you had a very happy birthday and my best wishes that you may enjoy many more of them.

Renee (that's the big moment I told you about) has made me a huge fruit cake for my birthday, but if I remember correctly, she still doesn't know how many candles to put on it - that will probably shock here when she finds out.  I am enclosing a snap, it blurred a bit,  I don't know whether she moved her head of what, but the picture does her injustice, as I can assure you, my dear.

I suppose you think I must be screwball by some of my letters but It must be just the mood I am in or something.

Also, I am enclosing my 2nd navigator's ticket.  You can send it home to Mom after you get it.  it looks like a very ordinary piece of paper but I've worked hard for it.

Well, Sis, this will positively have to be all for now, but I'll try to be a little more prompt after this, as I really look forward to your letters.

Lots of Love From Your Brother


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop American Legion Goodwill Trip

Local Legion Men Take Steps To Avoid Necessity Of Halt

 "Nonstop" means just that, says Grant Ware, adjutant of the Spokane American legion post  So he and Frank P. Smith are taking every precaution to see that there will be no danger of an enorced stop on their nonstop international tour to Mexico and return to Spokane. "Everything is progressing smoothly," said Mr. Ware. "Legion posts all along the route are giving us cooperation and affording escorts to insure we shall not be forced to stop because of traffic. "One momentary stop would spoil the entire trip, so we must avoid traffic jams, being caught at railroad crossing, or in any one of any of a thousand circumstances.  It must be realized that if we had to stop just an instant to reverse, we should loose out.
 "Roseburg, Bakersfield and Stockton posts promised us cooperation  today, adding  their names to the extensive list.
"Our schedule calls for an average speed of 20 to 21 miles an hour. "We have equipped our car with air containers  to avoid possibility, as far as possible, of tire trouble.  These heavy tubes are virtually puncture proof  and nothing but a larege spike or something like that will cost  us air.  A flat tire would end our journey."

(Spokane Daily Chronicle, March 24, 1930)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop Amerian Legion Goodwill Trip


Legion boys will leave Dessert Hotel Next Friday  Evening.
    The itinerary and schedule of the American Legion goodwill border-to-border non-stop automobile trip was announced today by Grant Ware, post adjutant and one of the men who will pilot the six cylinder car on its 3800 mile journey.
    They will start from legion headquarters  in the Dessert Hotel at 6:30 p.m. next Friday.
    Colville is to be reached 10:40 p.m. and the border at Laurier will be touched Saturday at 12:30 a.m. when the car will double back toward Mexico.
     Towns to be touched Saturday and the times scheduled are: Colville, 2:30 a.m; Spokane, 6:30 a.m.; Colfax, 10:00 a.m.; Dayton, 12:30 p.m.; Walla Walla, 2 p.m.; Pendleton, 3:15 p.m.;  Umatilla, 5:15 p.m.; Arlington, 7:30 p.m.; The Dalles, 9:30 p.m.  Sunday at Portland
    Large towns to be touched Sunday are Portland, 3 a.m.; Oregon City, 3:30 a.m.; Salem, 5 a.m.; Albany, 6 a.m.; Junction City, 7:30 a.m.; Eugene, 8:30 a.m.; Roseburg, 11:30 a.m.; Grants Pass, 3 p.m.; Medford, 4:30 p.m.; Ashland, 5 p.m.; Dunsmuir, 9 p.m.; and Redding, 11 p.m.
    Those scheduled for Monday are: Red Bluff, 12:01 a.m.; Sacramento, 6:15 a.m.; Lodi, 7:30 a.m.; Stockton,  8:30 a.m.; Turlock, 10 a.m.; Merced, 11 a a.m.; Madera, noon; Fresno, 2 p.m.; Bakersfield, 7 pm.
In Mexico Tuesday
    Thursday, April 1, town and time schedules are:  Burbank, 12:30 a.m.; Los Angeles, 2 a.m.; Santa Ana, 4:30 a.m.; San Diego, 10:30 a.m.; Mexico, 12-05 p.,m; San Diego, 1:30 p.m.; Santa Ana, 1:30 p.m.; and Los Angeles, 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 2 - Bakersfield, 4 am.; Fresno, 9 a.m.;  Madera, 11 a.m.; Merced, noon; Turlock, 1 p.m.; Stockton, 2:30 p.m.; Lodi, 3:30 p.m.; Sacramento, 4:45 p.m.; and Red Bluff, 11 p.m. Back To Portland
    Thursday, April 3 - Redding, 12:01 a.m.; Dunsmuir, 2 a.m.;  Ashland,  6 a.m.; Medford, 6:30 a.m.; Grants Pass, 8 a.m.; Roseburg, 11:30 a.m.; Eugene, 2:30 p.m.; Junction  City, 3 p.m.; Albany, 4:30 p.m.; Oregon City, 8 p.m.; Portland, 8:30 p.m.   "Home is the goal of Friday,  April 4 - The Dalles,
2 a.m.;  Walla Walla, 9:30 a.m.; Dayton, 11 a.m.;  Colfax, 12:30 p.m. and arrival at the Dessert Hotel is scheduled for 2 p.m. "
       Frank P. Smith will accompany Mr. Ware.  Arrangements have been made for refueling on the go and escorts through towns will try to prevent traffic congestion or an enforced stop, which would terminate the nonstop attempt.
      Daily reports, written by the drivers will be wired to the Chronicle for exclusive use here.

(Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane Washington, March 22, 1930)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Nonstop American Legion Goodwill Trip

On March 28, 1930, Frank P. Smith, my grandfather, and Grant Ware set off on a Spokane-Canada-Mexico-Spokane nonstop automobile trip. This trip was sponsored by Spokane Post No 9 American Legion. The car was provided by Riegel Bros. Dodge. They arrived back home April 4, 1930. In the following posts I will feature the articles from the Spokane Daily Chronicle telling of the trip.  The drivers were both veterans of  World War I.


  The longest non-stop international automobile tour will be started from Spokane next Wednesday     is sponsored by the Spokane post of the American legion and will touch Canada and Mexico.
   Drivers will be Grant Ware, adjutant of the local post, and Frank P. Smith.
   The tour will cover 3758 miles.  Special arrangements for refueling and oil replacements have been made.  Tires which are virtually puncture-proof have been obtained.  Sleeping facilities have been       arranged.  
   The Chronicle has acquired exclusive rights for this city for daily reports of progress, the drivers to write personal accounts of the journey.

Start Next Wednesday
  The start will be made here next Wednesday, according to the plans the Mexican border will be touched at noon April 1 and the car will be back in Spokane the afternoon of April 4 if the schedule is adhered to.
     Legion posts in Oregon and Washington also will provide escorts the insure the drivers against being forced to stop their car because of traffic signs.
    "The machine will be equipped with a tachimeter, a device which will make an instant recording and designate the car makes a momentary stop," said Mr. Ware. "This is sealed when put on the car.  We have to keep moving forward to make a record, as even the time taken to slip into reverse at any time on the whole trip would be recorded as a stop and show on the instrument that the journey had not been a success.
     "Legion posts in Washington, Oregon and California have arranged to cooperate with us.  Further plans will be announced here in the Chronicle,  as they are worked out.  The car is practically ready for  the start now."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

World War II Letters Home October 5, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                         Royal Air Force Station
                                                                                         Didcot, Berks
                                                                                         October 5, 1939
Dear Folks:

By the time this gets across all of you will be at home again.  I got Mom's letter the other day and 1 from Esther and Richard today.  Some of my letters are addressed to Honington and other to Stradishall;  I am sure glad I told all of you nearly 2 months ago that I wouldn't be at Stradishall anymore.  I don't know whether you are getting my letters of not but if you do it doesn't seem like it.  I have been sending pictures, magazines, papers and letters from all over the country, even when I was at Thornaby, and no one has ever said a word about getting them.  I sent my commission home a long time ago but I don't know whether you even got that.  I don't think there is much use sending many airmail letters across Canada as I have two letters sent by airmail on September 11 and just got them today - so you can see it took nearly 3 1/2 weeks for me to get them anyway.  The only airmail service that is any god is the Transatlantic route and that is so expensive.

I will be here at Harwell for another month but until the end of that time I won't know where I will be moved.

I will be flying tonight unless a fog or rain comes up like it did last night.  Next week we will be  doing practice bombing with our Wellingtons - which will be quite interesting.

So the local yokels are trying to get government jobs - I suppose that is so they can stay in Canada or are there some more of these people who are "enjoying the war" because they think they'll get rich.  What has happened to Vernon and Max - have they given up the idea of joining up or what?

The R.A.F. have had a few skirmishes and so on but nothing very extensive.  There have been 8 or 9 "pamphlet raids" on Germany and Berlin and not a machine was harmed, which goes to show the Germans how easily we could drop bombs.  The Navy is doing its share of fighting and our Army troops in France are doing their share, so are the medium bombers of R.A.F. that are stationed across the Channel for a while. Now that Poland is gone there is an inevitable "chewing-the-rag" session coming up.

I hope you had a good stay in the states Mom.  I'll bet things were so changed that it didn't even seem like the same place anymore.  You needn't send those beer bottle caps yet - wait until Christmas, ha! ha! - maybe you might send some turkey with them.

Now that threshing is over I suppose you keep the ploughs going full force.  We are having real fall weather - it has been a bit cooler, night rains, and some of the trees that do shed their leaves have started already.

I have a touch of the Hives again - they are not so terribly bad, but seems to be quite persistent.  I am on a diet now so may be able to shoo them away soon.

I am afraid I haven't much news to talk about and I haven't any snaps to send this week but I'll send some more newspapers.  I'll finish this when I come down from flying;  I'll be able to tell you how effective the blackout is around here.

Back again.  This country doesn't look the same as it used to, instead of bright lights of towns all that is visible is an odd dim glow here and there.  It is just possible to see cars on the road but their lights are quite faint.  The only bright lights I saw flying again tomorrow night for about 4 hours, then that will be all for a little while.

I'm afraid I don't know what else to write about now so I'll just have to quit.  Maybe I'll be able to think of something more interesting next time.

Don't forget to write ofter, All of you.

Love, Estelles

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

World War II Letters Home September, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                          Royal Air Force Station
                                                                                          Didcot, Berks
                                                                                          September 1939

Dear Folks:

I have made another unexpected move so I suppose my mail will be trying to catch up with me from Thornaby or Stradishall.  When I was at Thornaby I got word to go back to Stradishall so bundled up all my trunks and clothes and took the train back.  This was after war was declared so i was 1st class coach.  Going up there I went in civies so had to go 3rd class and the train was so packed with people evacuating  London that I had to stand most of the way which was over 200 miles.  I got back at midnight on Friday night and found that both squadrons on our station and all the  men and planes had moved down here at Harwell, so Saturday Doug and I came down here in the care.  We left our luggage there as it was to come by transport lorry the same day.  Well, I have been  here about a week and 1 suitcase and one trunk arrived yesterday, and there is still 1 of my trunks missing.  So now I have my hands full trying to locate it.  I have just phoned up the stores officer at Stradishall and told him to see whether it was left there or whether it had been sent, as he is in charge of the rear party he should know something about it - but I doubt it.  If he can't find it then the transport drivers will have to do some explaining.  I hate to lose it as the trunk cost me 3, my great coat 8 and there is my raincoat, dressing grown, flying log book, my picture albums, King's Regulations, Air Force Law, etc. and I don't know what else.  I have been going to insure my kit but I kept putting it off, now it is probably too late but I think I can trace it up some way or other.

I did my first actual flying in a Wellington a few days ago.  The instructor took off and landed, and then we changed seats and I took off and landed 5 times and did a few steep turns, etc. to get the feel of it.  So actually I went solo without any dual which makes me feel real proud of myself as it is nearly 6 months since I have even taken an aircraft off the ground.  I mad good take-offs and literally greased them on the deck in landing.  I was afraid that my conception of height when coming into land would be all haywire as that's what happened to some of the other boys; they were either holding off too high or else hitting the deck, but I seemed to manage o.k. It seems funny flying a Wellington as hey are so heavy and large and with a lot of different gadgets in the office; it takes a bit of concentration to see that all the levers and buttons are set.  In another fortnight I will be 1st day and 1st night pilot on them.  I will have about 20 hours day and 10 night.  These Wellingtons carry 16-500 pound bombs or a corresponding weight of larger or smaller bombs.  I didn't think that they would carry that big a load.  We will eventually be getting a Wellington that is 12 feet longer than the present one and it will have twice as powerful motors in it, 2,000 h.p. each.

I suppose you have read about the Kiel Canal episode - there has been more news released about it today.  I don't know whether it was in the paper or not about the plane that flew all round the German harbours, the Elbe and other estuaries, but that aeroplane was Lockheed 14 and I plotted their courses for them when I was at Thornaby.  They had 3 German twin engine fighters after them but got away without much trouble as the Lockheed was up to 20,000 feet and the fighters had to climb up t get it.  the pilot in this reconnaissance plane just put the nose down a bit and opened 'er up - knocking off 300 m.p.h..  I saw the original photographs and they were good - you wouldn't think there would be so much picture from such a height but all the details showed up clearly.  A lot of our army troops and medium single, twin-engine bombers are stationed over in France now and with the aid of the French Army and Air force they are giving Hitler a merry chase - he had to break up his forces to protect the western defences, so now the Poles are starting to get their own back.  If Hitler lives long enough he will see his hard work of Nazism completely wiped out of history, as it is a definite bye word that Britain and France will not stop until his sort of diplomatic program is banished forever.

The British Fleet have stopped a lot of imports from going into Germany and in a short time Germany will be starving even more than they are now, which is bad enough.

Apparently the pamphlet dropping over Berlin and Germany didn't do much good to turn the people against Hitler enough to cause a rebellion of any sort, unless that is to come yet- who knows?  Five of these campaigns were made and not a plane failed to come back.  It has been found out that the wonderful air force Hitler thought he had, isn't up to much.  That is one reason why he hasn't sent any over England - with our anti-aircraft defense and our home defense fighting squadrons there would be a high rate of loss to any fighters coming over.  It was rumored - I don't know but it may be true, that one German raid was carried out over England - if it was, there weren't any bombs dropped, so it wasn't a very successful one.

Al the picture shows were closed down but now they are opening up again.  Radio programs are going on somewhat the same as usual, although a lot of records are being played.

I have been in Oxford several evenings and about all you see is uniforms; the do; everything from working on the farm, nurses, bus and lorry drivers, Territorial Army and there is even a Women's Reserve Air Force and Naval Reserve.

I made a couple of trios to a small country estate near Uxbridge which is Bomber Commmands' new war headquarters, to get some secret.  I had to go armed with a 45 automatic.  There are a lot of spies about so no one, even in uniform is trusted.  A couple of spies were thrown in the coop at Bury St. Edmunds just before we moved down here - they are scattered all over the country especially around aerodromes, so now we have so many armed guards around camp it is almost unsafe to walk around at night for fear of getting a bayonet poked into one's ribs.

We have a little bell-boy in the mess who answers telephone calls and chases up anyone wanted - he wears a smart green uniform.  I think he was an usher in one of the cinemas before they closed down.  Anyhow, he is kept quite busy around here.

I am Orderly Officer today so I have to be continually dashing about the camp inspecting this and that - also have to tote around my war harness and cannon.

Did I tell you about this blackout business over here?  Boy, it's so dark in the towns and cities that you think you are in some one's cellar,  even traffic lights are screened so that only a faint pin point of light shows up.  Doors and windows are blacked and most of the large or important buildings are banked up with sandbags.  Unless you know where a place is, you are quit unlikely to find it at night.

Well, is is just after 4 o'clock so I have to go and inspect the air men's teas.  I tore a strip of some of the air men's cooks and waiters this noon for serving food out wearing dirty jackets - they are supposed to be white but they might have been anything but, the way they looked when I saw them.  I'll bet they won't be dirty when I go in there now - they probably think I am a slave driver but you have to chase them around, otherwise they get too self-important or should I say very slack.  the main thing is to feed them well and make them step lively - it keeps them out of mischief.

I will mail this now and will write again on Sunday or Monday.  Don't worry about me - I'm o.k.

All My Love,


Monday, September 29, 2014

Military Monday - World War I - Frank P. Smith - Honorable Discharge

Honorable Discharge From the United States Army

This is to Certify, that*  Frank P. Smith #76330 Private 1/cl 262nd Co 131st  MP Bn
THE UNITED STATES ARMY, as a TESTIMONIAL OF HONEST AND FAITHFUL SERVICE is hereby HONORABLY DISCHARGED from the military service of the UNITED STATES by reason of  S.C.D.L.D 3rd Ind Hdqrs. West Depot S.F. Calif. dated July 9, 1919. SAID  Frank P Smith was born in DeKalb, in the State of Illinois. When enlisted he was 19 years of age and by occupation a Truck Driver. He had Blue eyes, Brown hair, Ruddy complexion , and was 5 feet 6 3/4 inches in height.
Given under my hand at Fort Douglas Utah this 16th day of July, one thousand, nine hundred and nineteen.
A.D. Darcy, Lt. Col. Med. Corps USA

U.S.A. General Hospital #27

Monday, September 22, 2014

Military Monday - World War I - Frank P. Smith - Enlistment Record


Name: Frank P. Smith Grade: Private 1/cl Enlisted, or Inducted: April 9, 1917 , at Spokane, Washington. Serving in  First   enlistment  period at date of discharge. Prior service:  None. Noncommission officer: No. Marksmanship, gunner qualification or rating:  None. Horsemanship:  Not mounted! 
Battles, engagements, skirmishes, expeditions: Marne Defensive - June 28 to July 7, 1918; 2nd Battle of Marne - July 14-20, 1918; St Michel - Sept 12-16, 1918; Meuse-Argonne - Oct 7-Oct 9 1918.  Decorations, medals, badges, citations:  None.
Knowledge of any vocation:  Typist. Wounds received in service: High explosive shell wound causing fracture of 8th and 9th rib, left side and right collar bone. Physical condition when discharged: Poor.  Typhoid Prophylaxis completed: May 1, 1917. Paratyphoid prophylaxis comleted: November 11, 1917.  Married or Single:  Single.  Character: Excellent.
Remarks:  Co H 2nd Wash Inf April 9 1917-Aug 5 1917; Co H 161st Inf Aug 5, 1917-June 20, 1918; Co F 2nd Am. Train (sp?) Kume 20, 1918- Dec 28, 1918;  262nd Co 131st M.P. Bn Dec 28, 1918-June 12,1919; Detch patients June 12,1919. date of discharge.  Served in France. Left U.S Dec 14,1917 . Arrived U.S. May 29, 1919.  No A.W.O.L or other absence under G.O 45, W D 1914.

(Soldier entitled to 2/3 regular rate of travel to place of enlistment under circular # 85 W.D. 1918)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Those Places Thursday - Montana State Hospital - Margaret (Bauer) Koch

My 2x great grandmother, Margaret (Bauer) Koch was a patient her.  She was admitted December 12, 1897 at the age of 62. She was a patient here until her death in September 23, 1900.  Margaret had a daughter, Catherine Gardiner in Billings; a daughter, Ella Koch Butte; and a son Charles Koch (my great grandfather) of Billings. She is not buried on the premises. I need to find out where she is buried either in Butte or Billings since she had children in both places.

The Montana State Hospital is located in Warm Springs, Deer Lodge county, Montana right along Interstate 90.  

This summer I was on my way to Yellowstone National Park with family and I was able to stop here and see the hospital. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Military Monday - World War I - Frank P. Smith

On April 7, 1917 a young man of 19 years of age enlisted into the service. This young man was Frank P. Smith (my grandfather). He departed from his hometown of Spokane, Washington on April 6, 1917 via the Spokane and Inland Railroad arriving at Camp Murray April 11, 1917.

 While at Camp Murray, he was assigned to "H" Company 2nd Washington 161 Regiment Division 41. He remained in this Camp until April 15, 1917.

He was later transferred to Camp Tacoma Sector, Electron, Washington for guard duty. This appears to be Fort (Camp) Lewis. (click on the link below for further history on Fort Lewis).


He was back in Camp Murray on August 15, 1917 and then sent across the country to Camp Mills on August 39, 1917. (click on the link below for further history of Camp Mills.


Frank arrived at the Port of Embarkation on December 12, 1917.  On December 14, he boarded the steamship, President Lincoln for an 18 day voyage to France.


The ship arrived in Brest, in northwestern France in Brittany, on December 29 and landed December 31, 1917.  He remained here for two hours. He was soon transferred to Chaumont, Dijon, France.

Frank moved up to the battle line on June 15, 1918 where he participated in the following battles: Marne Offensive, June 28; Second battle of Marne, July 14; St. Mihiel Offensive, September 16; and Meuse Argonne, October 7.

He was wounded at Meuse Argonne, the Champagne sector, Oct 9, 1918.  He was in hospital:Field #16 - Evacuation 5; Base #202 - Camp 52; Base 85; Base 69 - Evacuation Newport News, VA and Gen #27 Fort Douglas.  He was in the Base Hospital #202 in Orleans, France when the Armistice was signed.  The only promotion he received was to First Class Private in March of 1917.

                                         On The Way Home

On May 18, 1919, Frank arrived in St. Nzaire, France where he would board the steamship Antigone.

 He arrived at Newport News, Virginia May 29, 1919. He was transferred to Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, Utah. It was here that he was honorably discharged.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

World War II Letters Home September 3, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                      Royal Air Force
                                                                                      Stockton - on - Tees
                                                                                       September 3 ,1939

Dear Folks:

I have just finished dinner do thought I would write a little news before I went to bed as I got off night duty at 6 o'clock this morning and am going on again at 6 this afternoon.

I suppose the big news is rebroadcast there almost immediately after we hear it so I don't need to write about it.  At 11:00 a.m. the Prime Minister issued a proclamation in view of the ultimatum which was given Germany,  that  "a state of war exists."

I don't suppose I shall be doing any flying for a while at least not as long as i am working in operations room. Every morning about 5 or 6 o'clock we send out a dawn patrol of 9 Ansons on Reconnaissance.  They are on the look-out for all activities in the North Sea.  They leave the coast here and fly on parallel tracks about 6 miles apart for 160 miles out and then return.  The whole coast is patrolled in this way.  The crews are trained so that they can recognize at a glance what type of class any ship is that they see and how many and what size guns it carries.  They are able to do this depending on the visibility of course, up to a distance of 10 miles and from height up to 12,000 feet.  These fellows know all the fleets of every country.

We are all packing up our civilian clothes as we will only be wearing uniforms from now on.  We also have to have with us at all times our gas masks and anti-gas clothing which is a rubber cap, coat, eye shields and a can of anti-gas ointment.  The reason for the waterproof equipment is that some of the gases, including mustard gas, comes in liquid form and has great penetrating powers; it even soaks through leather and wood.  Gas attacks aren't very likely but at least it is a protection.

Every night is a black out.  All street lights and other visible lights in buildings are put out or else the windows, etc. have to be covered sot that not a ray of light escapes.  Cars crawl around using their park lights that are half covered over;  some of the cares use their head lamps but these are covered with cardboard of black paint so that only small slits light the road.    Trains, buses, and trolleys all have their windows painted over so you can hardly see them, except for a faint orange or blue light.

There is a  balloon barrage (or was, I mean) of 8 balloons about 4 miles from here over Middlesboro and yesterday when we were having tea we also had a thunderstorm.  Of course everyone was watching the balloons when it started to lightning and we weren't disappointed.  Inside of 15 minutes 6 balloons were struck;  I saw 2 strikes and they went down in flames.  The operators couldn't get in the lorries to wind the cables in because the lightning naturally coming down the cables would at least have given them a bad jolt, so nothing could be done about it.  I didn't read anything about it in the papers this morning - probably they aren't publishing that sort of news now.  The balloons were nearly a mile high and were filled with hydrogen so they made a large blaze as they sank.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

World War II Letters Home August 27, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                              Thornaby, Yorkshire
                                                                                              August 27, 1939

Dear Folks:

I am writing this to all of you as I don't know whether Mamma is home again or not.  I wrote in my last letter that I might be coming up here and sure enough I did.  A young Scotsman came up with me.  We traveled by train and what a jam!  The train was about a quarter of a mile long and filled with people so that we and many others had no seat.  I think most of them were people evacuating London.  Every time  ride in a train over in this country I hate them a little worse.  It is just like riding behind the harrow in dry weather;  every thing you see and touch is grime and soot.  To make matters worse this whole north country is a manufacturing area.  All the buildings are black and the sky is so full of smoke and fog that there is no such thing as a clear day,  just a sort of semi-darkness all the time.  Another remarkable thing about England in general is that a place the size of Canora instead of about 1,6000 people has around 16,000.  It seems unbelievable.

I guess I am rambling off the track a bit.  So to continue.  This station is actually in the middle of a number of towns.  There is a main street running just past my window.  It seems funny to be able to step out of the camp gates and be right in town, especially after being in Honington and Stradishall where were about 10 miles from any sort of villate.  Everything on this camp is a jumble.  I don't know where north of south is (not having seen the sun) and finding your way through the maze of buildings here is more than a feat.  The organization here is also in turmoil.  The 2 squadrons of Hampdens that were here have moved out and a G.R.  (General Reconnaisance) squadron of Ansons have moved in.  They are expecting to get some American Lockheed Electras or 14's for G.R  work but it is hard to say when.  Probably I should explain just what a G.R. squadron is for. Well, most of their work is coastal patrols/  They spot submarines and ships etc.  and are also an aid to our battle.  by locating enemy ships' direction, speed, and number, etc. and send by wireless (in code) this information to G.R. aircraft dropping bombs on them,  also we have torpedo dive bombers that carry a 1,000 lb. torpedo which will practically go through a battle ship and sort of eradicate it.

I am gradually getting around to where I come in.  As you should realize there is a very carefully planned organization of G.R. movements and tactics.  This is all planned in the operations room, where they are constantly in touch with the aircraft and their movements.  In the operations room all messages are received from and sent to aircraft.  In the first place aircraft aren't sent out in aimless directions.  Patrols and searches of a definite character are plotted for a formation or a single aircraft to carry out.  The time to turn back or alter course and time of arrival back at base are all calculated for them.  Since I have had a navigation course that is part of my job.  We work 6 hours and are off 12 hours then on duty again for 6 hours etc., at least that is what we are supposed to do,  as yet we are just sitting around waiting for instructions to go to work.  In the R.A.F. things are always in a state of indefinite decisions.  The Air Ministry will tell you to do something and when you go to do it - no one else know anything about it.  Typical of schemes controlled by the Government.

According to the paper,  train service and merchant ships are under government control now.  Ration cards are being issued;  A.R.P. trenches being dug, evacuation taking place, troops are moving all over, "black outs" every night, etc., etc.  People all seem quite busy doing one thing or another - but still very few expect there will be a war.  I don't think so myself.  I believe something is going to fall to pieces in Germany.  The  Russians and the Japs are having it out and things in general don't seem to be hitching very well.

What is doing on the farm now, and how the crops look?  Are you going to stack the grain this year or thresh it out of the field?  I suppose since you haven't had an awful lot of rain that the lake if fairly low again, or has it gone dry?  Have the ducks started to come back yet or is it too early?  How is Paul  M. getting along - is he back to normal yet? What are Pat and Paul Gogol doing?  Do they still live down in the same old shacks or have they moved out?  I guess that is enough questions for a while.

Oh yes,  Richard,  will you scrounge around and find all the old stamps you can, preferably some that are on letters and parcels from about 1920 is possible.  There are several very enthusiastic stamp collectors in camp (at Stradishall).  Also get those other large denomination stamps of the issue that those were that you have already sent.

I'll send some more magazines as soon as I get back to Stradishall.  You might send me a Chicago Herald some time if you get one, don't forget to include the comics as they don't have them here.

I'll let you know my next letter how my work up here is getting on.

Don't put 75 Squadron on my address as squadron numbers are not to be published any more, just address it to me at R.A.F Station, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk.  If you put P.O. on they will know that it goes to officers' mess.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

World War II Letters Home August 20, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                 Officer's Mess
                                                                                                 Royal Air Force Station
                                                                                                 Stradishall, Newmarket
                                                                                                 August 20, 1939

Dear: Dad and Richard:

I guess it is about time that I wrote again.  I am glad to hear that the crops are still o.k. and didn't get hailed out or burned up.  You must be getting to be quite a cook - canning fruit and peas, etc. How does the garden look - has it been alright or was it too dry?  I suppose during this hot weather the lake is quite a favorite sport. especially on Sundays.  We have been having terribly hot and close weather here for the last couple weeks.  There is a bit of a breeze today, so it isn't too bad.

I am Orderly Officer this week-end so I have to stay in camp, otherwise I would be at the bathing pool at Newmarket or the river at Burlwell.


Sorry I didn't get this finished the other day but as I have been so busy lately, I couldn't.

I was Aerodrome Control Pilot for night-flying on Monday night until 3 o'clock Tuesday.  Then I had to get up at 8 o'clock and go to Honington to attend a court martial.  A sergeant who was N.C.O. 1/c messing was charged with fraudulent misapplication of air men's rations.  As there was insufficient evidence and lack of proof, he was let off "not guilty".

I have been kept busy all this morning in the Navigation Office issuing equipment (sextants, calculators, maps, etc., to some Observer Sergeants who have just arrived here on a Navigational course.  So I was filling out loan cards for all of them.  After that I gave a couple officers some instructions on using and sighting with the bubble sextant, then after lunch some more sighting and I relieved the Squadron Adjutant in his office until 4:30.  In case of mobilization I will be posted to Thornaby - somewhere in Yorkshire as a Navigational Instructor and probably get in some time as Instructional Pilot.  There is another "flap" on just now.  This is the 3rd crisis I have been through since I have been over here.  All our leave has been cancelled and we are not (for the present) allowed to leave the station.  Also we have to be ready upon and hours notice to move out of here to where ever we are posted.  Upon notice of mobilization the whole squadron must be ready to completely evacuate in 6 hours - that means, ground staff, aircraft, repairs, equipment, stores and munitions.  My 1st war posting was to Harwell, near Oxford, but now that is changed.  Otherwise life in the R.A.F. is proceeding quite normally.

We had a couple of days of heavy rain here.  Some of it was a regular cloud-burst.  Some parts of the country are suffering from floods.  When the sun has been out it was terribly hot.  It has been hot today again so I supposed it will rain tomorrow.

The crops that I have seen over here look quite good.  Some wheat crops will be good for about 50 bushel to the acre.  They call wheat 'corn' here; I haven't actually seen any real corn.

There should be a lot more news to write about but I can't think of it right now.  I am sending some magazines with photos in them for you to keep for me.  I am going to have supper now, so I'll try to write more after I finish.  I will try to send some England newspapers to you so you can read the local news about Europe today.  I will write again this week-end and see if I can do.

Best Wishes and Love,


P.S. The enclosed is just a sample of some sort of seaweed that grows on the rocks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

World War II Letters Home August 6, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                           R.A.F. Finningley
                                                                                           August 6, 1939

Dear Mama:

It is hard for me to do much letter writing lately with all the moving, etc., going on.  Also there is a lot of air maneuvers going on day and night.

At present I am on Ground Observer's duties here.  Certain factories and large electricity transformers have been selected as targets for mock air-raids and I have to leave this station - sometimes at 5:00 a.m. with a transport lorry  which has a camera gun mounted in the roof, and go into Rotherham (just out of Sheffield) to protect these targets.  I have to comment on the tactical ways that the approaches and get-aways of the aircraft is carried on - while the air gunner shoots them down with his camera gun.

We get our orders from Mildenhall so I have to phone long-distance to the operations Officer there to get my orders and tell him the results of all the attacks.  When he considers that a target is blown up then I move to another target, as I will be doing this afternoon.  I left he station yesterday at 5:00 a..m. and didn't get back until 9:00 p.m.  We take our lunch with us and besides for being over 5 hours I get 4 shillings extra allowances and over 10 hours I get 8 shillings so I don't mind staying away.

We are to be up here for about 8 days so I should do alright.  Besides, it is around 200 miles from Stradishall so I collect travelling allowances too. But moving from station to station makes the mess bill larger as we invariably pay mess subscriptions to each mess, even if we are only there 1 week.

Everything seems to be rush and confusion - we only had 12 hours notice that we were to pack our kit and come here.  We didn't know what we were to do nor how we were to get here until about an hour before we left.

Besides being in charge of Barrack block and the photography section I am Assistant Navigation Officer of our squadron which keeps me quite busy - you know how it is - the Navigation Officer keeps out of sight and leaves me to do the business.  it is all good experience and I never turn a job down because it is good training and the more important you ca make people believe you are, well, it means that the Air Ministry at least knows you exist and probably the first to get the benefit of anything that comes along, (that is if it is possible to say that there is such a thing).

I took some negatives into Cambridge the day before we came up here, to get some pictures made to send to you but now I guess they will have to wait until I get back.  My mail is getting all mixed up and so is everything else so it will most likely take the rest of the month for me to get back to a normal, easy life again.

Oh yes, you asked me about those bottle caps, yes, I still want them if you care to collect a few.

I hope everything is going fine and that Grandma feels better.  Tell here 'hello' for me and that I wanted to enclose a note to her but I haven't much time as I am so busy.

I suppose you get all the European news so there is not much need for me to write about it.  I must close now and will write again in a few days.

Love, Your Son,


Sunday, July 27, 2014

World War II Letters Home July 27, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                           Norwich, Norfolk
                                                                                           July 27, 1939

Dear Mama:

Doug and I have been spending our few days leave travelling about visiting friends of his father.  We left the station on Friday the 19th and went to Hull.  Saturday we went to Huddersfield which is near Leeds and saw some people.  Then on Sunday we went north and east of Hull to Flamborough Head and Searborough and half way up to Whitby - along the coast.

At Flamborough we went into the caves in the cliffs and north of Searborough we saw some pretty moors covered with heather and bracken.  On Monday we went to Sheffield and saw an army pal of Dr. Morris' (Doug's dad).  We stayed over night there.  While we were there we drove around quite a bit through the hills south-west of Sheffield.  It is a very pretty country.  It reminded me of Montana.  Also we went to Sherwood Forest - the home of Robin Hood.  I have a picture the major oak where Robin Hood is said to have hidden in the hollow trunk.  It is a beautiful place.  As soon as I get some more prints made I will send you them.  I also have a few pictures taken in an old church.

Tuesday we left Sheffield, the manufacturing and smoky city, and went back to camp when I got your 2nd letter. Wednesday we came back up here on the broads in the lake lake and river country and we are spending a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Brooks.  Mrs. B was a nurse during the war and knew Doug's dad.  Their home is in London, but this is their summer residence.  I will also send photos of this place.  They have a beautiful thatched cottage and across the road from it is the river on which they have a swell cruiser. It is a motor cruiser and has sleeping room for 3 people, kitchen and all.  They live on it for several weeks at a time when they go cruising up and down the river.  As there isn't room in the house Doug and I are sleeping on the cruiser.  Boy!  Is this a great life!  We have traveled about 1,800 miles in the last two weeks but by mooching from house to house, we have spent very little money -  and I think it is a well spent holiday.  Besides the fortnight I spent Christmas in Wales this is the only other holiday I have had since being over here, a year and a month today since we landed at Liverpool.

Apparently I must have gotten over 70% on my navigation exams at Manston because I got a folder from some school wanting to sell me a book on the administrative part of 2nd class navigator's license.  they probably got the dope from Air Ministry.  I think I told you that from what I figured out on my marks I should pass.  I'm afraid a lot (about 90%) of the fellows didn't pass.  Besides the exams I had at Manston I have to write 2 more exams to get my license, one subject is on navigational legislation and the other is wireless.  so as soon as I hear definitely I'll write them off.

We won't be doing any pilot flying in August - mostly classes, but will start flying or learning to fly Wellingtons in September.  I have only done about 10 hours of piloting since the first of March.  If we don't get some soon I'll be out of practice.

During the last week my rheumatism has started to bother me in my leg.  This is the first time it has bothered me since I have been in England.  I hope it doesn't keep on.

Well, Mom, I don't know just what else to write this evening, but will write more in a few days.  Make the best of your stay in Nebraska and enjoy yourself.  Grandma will most likely hang on for a few more years yet.  I got a letter from Esther too.

Best wishes and lots of love.

                                                                               Your son,