Thursday, February 27, 2014

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


I am sorry I didn't get this letter finished before as I went to Wales for the week-end with Corporal Linthune (to the castle) I didn't get it away.  this was the first week-end leave I have taken this year.  I met nearly all the gang again and they surely were pleased to see me back there.  We left here at 4:30 on Friday and got back at 11:30 Sunday night.

I am glad to hear that Stella and Oscar are together again.  I thought that Oscar was going to work at The Pas this year since Spencer sold out his garage at Swan River.  That's too bad about your chickens being below par - probably now that they have been "de" - everything they will get to work again.  What did you mean in your letter of February 11 (on the back of Esther's letter) - you said I should get 3 more letters before I got that one?

Yes, I heard about and read about the Cavalier the day it happened.  There are always some accidents in the paper.  Every time a R.A.F. plane crashes - it goes in the headlines.  But considering the thousands of fellows flying every day and night there are really very few accidents.  We had an accident here about a week ago; a very good pal of mine from Halifax, New Brunswick, crashed during night flying.  Nothing definite is really known as to what actually happened - they think that instead of switching the fuel cock onto the main tank that he turned it off.  The engine cut out and he dove in the ground - why? nobody knows.  He didn't even set off his landing flares so that he could see to land.  he was only 7 or 8 hundred feet up and crashed into a fairly good sized field.  If he had put his flares off he could have landed quite safely.  The undercarriage was torn off and the engine was knocked out of the plane, which was a complete write-off.  he was rather a high-strung young fellow and evidently that goes on in this world so I guess it just can't be helped.

I am sorry to hear you had the flu, Dad.  It seems to go around every year, even over here.  I had a touch of it a couple times this year but am alright now, except I still have bit of cold in my head.  It bothered me for a day or or 2 in flying but not now.  You see, when you have a cold the passage to the inner ear gets blocked up and the air pressure doesn't get equalized when we go up in the thin air or come down - that's why we have to be careful about colds.

That's too bad about Paul Marn.  I think he would still be in a hospital where he could be looked after properly.  So Harold D. wants to get married and he is going to work on a farm - well he sure is a sap.  What does he expect to do - go on relief like Bonnie McK. or does he expect to live in the bush in poverty like all the rest of the hunks up north.  If he only knew a little more about life he would tumble out of his rainbow palace.  he hasn't mad his fortune yet - how does he expect to try to keep someone else when he can't even keep himself!  I suppose some people can't see that far though.  I suppose if he was in my shoes he would think he was a millionaire -yet i find it hard enough to keep my expenses down so that I have something left.

I have been spending very little money - I go to a show once in a while and probably to a dance about once a month.  I used to ride about on my motorbike on Sundays but that seldom took a gallon of petrol so that was quite inexpensive. I sold it about a week ago for 5 which was what I paid for it so I think I did pretty good. I am going to take over the bike that belonged to the lad that had the crash but will probably wait for a while yet.  It isn't very nice riding at this time of the year;  it is generally wet and gets quite cold at night, but at least it is a way to get around and i find it a lot cheaper than going to Oxford or any place on the bus or train because I can come and go when I like and don't have to buy supper besides.  I found that after I  had my motorbike that I spent from 2 to 5 pounds less a month. It sounds quite alarming, I know but it is a funny thing how far a pound doesn't go.  As far as I can make out a pound isn't much bigger than a dollar bill when it comes to spending it.  The other Canadians find it the same way.  Last month and this month I haven't spent more than 3 or 4 pounds altogether, which is something over here.  Most of the fellows spend 10 to 12 pounds a month and quite often overdraw their bank accounts.  The boys who went to Switzerland for the 2 weeks at Christmas time spent between 20 to 25 pounds a piece, and they weren't throwing their money away either.

Tonight, being Monday we wear our dinner jackets or Tuxedos to dinner.  Tuesdays and Thursdays we wear Mess Kit; the rest of the nights we wear lounge suits.

You asked me about the color of the Tiger Moths we flew. They were just like that painting.  It is true that most training planes are yellow.  Our planes here are yellow, although now they have camouflaged the top half of them so they can't be seen when they are on the ground.  The planes we will fly at a squadron will be completely camouflaged. Richard, you asked what size rifles we have - well, practically all the R.A.F. rifles and machine guns  of all types are .303. Did I tell you about the new machine gun that just came out - it is called the K-gun and fires 1200 rounds per minute.  It is very simple gun - hardly any mechanism to it and as a result it is almost fool-proof.

the cartridges are fed from a circular pan which fits on top of the gun.  the other type we have been using had a belt feed and had quite a few stoppages - jammed up and quit firing.  The R.A.F. had an anti-aircraft gun for aerial  defense which shoots 3 in. bullet and is effective up to 30,000 feet which is practically past the service ceiling for most airplanes.  In conjunction with the guns they use powerful searchlights and aeroplane detectors.  So you see it wouldn't be very easy for Hitler of anyone else with their obsolete planes to enter England.  Also, around London they have balloon barrages which they can send up.  These balloons go miles up into the sky from them is hung a net of steel cables which are fatal aeroplanes.  At night it would be impossible to see the balloons so they are quite deadly traps.  Hitler booed the idea a few months ago, but now he is getting barrages for his own country. Things are quite unsettled in Europe, but as far as I can see the prospects of war are not very immediate.

Britain has an Air Force that no other nation ca afford to sneer at.  As long as Hitler was able to bluff his way hew was alright but when Nev. called this hand he became very modest.  I heard that England is going to have a war manoeuvres some time soon.  There will be something like a few thousand aeroplanes in the air.  A formation of 600 aircraft is to tour around England.  I am not sure yet whether this will be carried out but it is quite likely.

The age limit for short service comm. has been extended to 28 years.  I don't know what to suggest for you to do, Richard.  Unless you are in good health and feel sure that you will stay that way, I don't think it would really be a wise thing to join up in any service.  Of course it is up to you.  I know it would be awful nice to have you over here with me but I am afraid you would have an awful time getting through the medical over there.

If you intend enlisting in the Naval Service you would want to get into the British or American Navy - not the Canadian - you'd never get anywhere in that.  The trouble is unless you are qualified in some way you have to start at the bottom and work up, and it is generally a fairly long enlistment with little promotion.  It is not so bad if a person could get in at the age of 17 or 18 you have a better chance of working up.  But I don't know- it isn't for me to decide what you should do.  You could most likely get into the R.A.f. as an observer and after about 5 years you can re muster as Airman pilot.  Of course that is in the ranks - not as an officer, although the pay is good enough.  Your other alternatives are learn to be a good mechanic, etc. or else take a good go at the farm and make it interesting.  Do as I had planned to do if I hadn't come over here; build a nice workshop and fit it up with band saw, turning lathe, etc and you can have one of the most profitable and interesting hobbies that you can find.  You could do nearly anything you wanted during the winter from making furniture, models of all kinds.  After you learned more about it, it might mean a set up in business or at least a real good side-line if you wished.

I think my whole letter is more like a sermon of some sort so I had better change over.  I am sending a few random shots I got with my camera - nothing special - only a little different.  I am Orderly Officer tomorrow so that means I won't get any flying.  I am going to write to Esther tomorrow if i get time, because i will be on duty until nearly 12 o'clock.  I don't know how "Oxon" stands for Oxfordsire.

When you address my letters you needn't write Carterton - that's just a little village - i mean a few houses near the aerodrome.

                                                                                  Best Wishes and Love To All


Saturday, February 22, 2014

World War II Letters Home February 22, 1939-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                      No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                                      Royal Air Force
                                                                                                      Brize Norton
                                                                                                      February 22, 1939
Dear Folks:

As there is nothing doing this evening and besides it is raining, so will try to scribble off a few lines.  We have had real decent weather for the last few weeks but I suppose we will have a nice wet spell again.

Flying is going real well.  Most of work is bombing practice and Camera - gun from the gun turret.  For Camera gun the pilot flies about 100 ft. off the ground and a hundred yards away from 2 targets, while the gunner "shoots" them.  Bombing - we go up to 6,000 ft. and after finding wind speed and direction (W/S & D) we set it on the bomb sight and the bomb aimer directs the pilot over the target.  Instead of dropping a bomb, the bomb aimer presses a button which sets off a sort of photo flash bulb.  This is recorded in the plotting office (which is the target) and then they calculate where it would have fallen if it were a real bomb.  It is not very easy but Doug and I have been getting fairly good results.

(Stay tuned, this letter will be finished on February 27th, because that is when Estelles finished his letter)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

World War II Letters Home February, 12, 1939-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                    Brize Norton, Oxon
                                                                                                    February 12, 1939
Dear Esther:

I got your air mail letter the other day so while I feel in the mood I'll try to scribble off a few lines.  Gosh, I'm terribly sorry to hear that you are laid up with lung trouble; I hope it isn't going to keep you in bed very long.  Most likely by the time you get this letter you will be back at work again.
I haven't been writing very regularly lately, because instead of staying in on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday I have been scooting around on my motorcycle.  It seems like I don't get letters from home as clock like as before.  I suppose Mamma is working and choring as hard as ever; she can never take it easy, always on the go.

Another Canadian fellow here went with me to Swindon yesterday on my cycle and he bought one there.  So today we each took another fellow on the pillion seat and the 4 of us had a swell time.  Half the time we didn't know where we were going but that didn't matter, we just kept on, down and up hills and crooked winding roads.  I went around some of the corners that my leg shields rubbed on the road; I was leaning over so far.  nearly all the roads are covered with tar or asphalt so there isn't any danger of skidding.  We visited one very pretty place called the Swan Inn (another club) in Bibury - and old, village.  We are going back there again and I'll take some pictures of the place to send to you.  That reminds me that I would like to see a picture of yourself once in a blue moon - you haven't sent me a one yet - you might also include one of the boy friend for good measures.

On the 13th of March we will be going to Armament Camp near Grimsby on the east coast.  We do real bombing and aerial gunnery there.


I didn't finish your letter yesterday so will tonight.  I have just come down from night flying.  It is a perfect night - clear sky and very little wind.  I went up dual for about 30 minutes, then I went up solo for half an hour.  I could see all the lights of every house, village, town etc. for about 30 miles, then I landed and went up again for another 15 minutes.  This is the first night flying I have done since last term.  This term we use a powerful floodlight, which is on one end of the aerodrome, to land and it is almost like day.  I really enjoyed it tonight.  I guess that's because I made real good landings.

I got a letter from Mom and Richard today, also from Dot.  I got a letter from Uncle Richard the other day.

I am sending a couple of "pitchers" along.  They aren't very good - there are some that we developed and printed ourselves.  I guess I didn't tell you that I could do that kind of work - well, anything for a change.  It is quite interesting as a hobby.

I was expecting some Sweet Caporal cigarettes for Christmas but no one thought of smuggling in a few packets, so - well - I haven't got any. (Don't say I never give you a hint).

Today is February 14th - Valentine Day - I only remembered it this morning.  Anyhow have just finished dinner and have a few minutes to spare.  I have been flying for 1 hr. 5 min. this morning at 6,000 feet doing straight runs of a bombing exercise over a target.  I have to get back to lectures in a couple of minutes so I'll mail this now or I'll never get it away.

Get well soon and take good care of yourself.

                                                                                         As Ever, Your Brother,


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Church Record Sunday - Florence Sybil Koch

My grandmother, Florence Sybil Koch's baptism 

Florence Sybilla Koch
a child of Charles Koch and his wife Sybilla J. nee Steingruber was born in Billings, Montana on April 4, 1907 and baptized in Billings, Montana on July 5, 1907 
 in the Name of the
Triune God
the Father, the Sun and the holy Ghost

WITNESSES:                                                                      which is herewith certified by
(Can't read name)                                                             H. T. Rauh
Barbara Steingruber                                                                         Pastor

I have never seen grandma's middle name as Sybilla. She always went by Florence Sybil. Barbara Steingruber was my greatgrandmother's sister.