Thursday, May 29, 2014

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

                                                                                           School of Air Navigation
                                                                                           Royal Air Force
                                                                                           Manston, Kent
                                                                                           May 29, 1939

Dear Folks:

I got Esther's and your letters the other day - it took 17 days to get here. It went to Catfoss, Brize Norton,, the here.  Service seems to be slowing up.  I am glad to hear that Esther is putting on weight - she'd better watch her calories!

It's nice to know you have a good crop coming on this year.  I don't know when they do their seeding here, but I see that a lot of the grain is about a foot and half tall.  The potatoes are up about a foot and the peas are in blossom.  Of course the flowers are nearly all blooming, although the rose blooms aren't all out yet.  The trouble is with this country that I haven't realized when we had winter.  There are green leaves and flowers all winter.

The "Winter Garden" in Margate is a Theatre, Restaurant and everything in one and they have some of the most beautiful rock gardens - the flowers are planted in colour schemes and looking down on them from above it is 'simply gorgeous'.  I am going to try to get some pictures of it to give you an idea what it is like.

Whitsun was yesterday, and is the official opening of all summer resorts.  Although it wasn't such a nice day there were thousands of people around the beach - it was too cold for much swimming; Roddy Ross and I went in for a while but we nearly froze.

This is along week-end, we have leave from Friday noon until Wednesday morning.  Nearly everyone has cleared out of camp;  there are only a couple dozen officers left.  From now on until the end of the course we will be doing some real studying and work.  In our last math exam, which includes trig., algebra, geometry, i got 93% - 2nd best in the class.  I'd like to be able to get that in the rest of my subjects - but that isn't very likely.  Meteorology (weather) pulls everything down.  It is a rotten subject.

I have just been scanning my  D/F - W.T. notes (direction finding - wireless telephony).  It's all about loop aerials and variation of signal strength during rotation of the loop.  You know - simple stuff like: "the signal strength  and directional characteristics is represented by a cosine curve, etc. etc."  Anyhow, with this D.F. system an aircraft can "tune in" on a station and find out what direction the station is from the a/c, by getting the D.F. bearings from 2 or more stations, it is possible to 'pinpoint' your positions on a sea-chart or map.

Also we have D.F. stations which pick up your call and tell you what direction you are from them - so from these 2 methods an a/c equipped with W.t. or D.F., W.T. can when lost get a D.F. position or bearing and there  you are.

I saw in the paper "Daily Mirror" today that Thomas Smith has started a hop over to England in an Aeronoc 65 h.p. plane.  Looks like it is getting to be habit.

I have just figured up my time in pilot's log -  I have 84 hours 1st pilot, 50 hours dual and 2nd pilot, and 50 hours as passenger and navigator. I've been over here just over 11 months.  Taking off leave we have been on flying duties for about 9 months so that is an average of about 20 hours a month.. Some months I only got in around 5 or 6 hours,  that's what cut my hours quite a bit.

I couldn't put enough time in on track running so i dropped it, but I wish I hadn't as I could have won  silver cup in one of the relay races. But I am not as fast as I used to be, at least not unless I do more training.

Empire Air Day wasn't much of an event at Manston, but at some of the stations they had good displays of flying and aerobatics.  At 1 station there was an attendance of 56,000 people, some mob!  The only thing we had here that was quite good was 30 Anson's flying in flight formation.

Off in the distance it looked like a long dragon crawling through the sky - you can imagine what the droning and roaring of 60 - 350 h.p. engines sounded like.  A squadron like that could sure lay a lot of "eggs" on a city.  If they only carried 8-200 lb. bombs a piece it would at least make a dent in the ground.

I don't see anything in the papers about war anymore - so I guess another crisis is over with.

We still don't know where we are going to be posted aster we leave here.  I wouldn't mind going abroad as I could go to Heliopolis or near Khartoum.  I heard some rumours about going abroad but rumours in the R.A.F are usually the farthest thing from the truth.  I think we are through here on the 10th of July.

I suppose July reminds you of Sports Days - they don't have them in England.  The 2 main summer holidays are Whitsun and August Bank Holiday.

I will be a P/O about the 20th of June so you won't need to write A./P.O. any more.  I can't understand why Vernon can't get in the R.A.F. because the age limit is still 28 over here.  I am sending a couple of magazines with some dope about the R.A.F.

Esther will most likely be back at work again when you get this.  That sister of mine sure likes good things to eat - she is always telling me about cookies, pickles and roast chicken.

I can hear the cuckoo over in the trees.  They say next month he doesn't cuk-oo, he changes his mind.  I don't know what he says but after I hear him I'll tell you.  There are a bunch of rooks (small crows) in the trees near my window and they make a terrible racket all day and half the night.  The boys shot a few of them but that doesn't scare them away at all.

Well, this will be all for now. It is so nice and sunny this afternoon.  I am going for a walk before supper.



Saturday, May 17, 2014

World War II Letters Home May 17, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                            School of Air Navigation
                                                                                            Royal Air Force
                                                                                            Manston, Kent
                                                                                            May 17, 1939

Dear Folks:

It seems like I always manage to be a little late in writing letters.  The trouble is that I usually forget what I wrote in my last letter, but I guess that doesn't matter.

this is quite a nice place to be here;  it is only 3 miles from Margate and Ramsgate - both are really summer resorts.  People come from all over to spend the week-end at the seaside.  Last week-end Doug and i went to Uxbridge by car to rest the Canadians that are going abroad - that is - to Egypt or somewhere in the Middle East.

On our way home we stopped at Windsor where where Windsor Castle and Eton College are.  Eton is where all the little boys wear top hats and large white collars.  It is very funny to see them walking about all dressed up.  We went through the St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and saw the tomb inside the church where King George V is buried.  We also went all around the grounds.  Being Sunday they wouldn't let us go through the chambers, throne room, state bedrooms, etc.  Some week day I may do that though.  Windsor Castle is the largest or one of the largest castles in the world.  It is situated on top of a hill.

Did I tell you I went in swimming in the sea a couple weeks ago - that was the first time in my life.  It was quite cold and tasted awfully salty, ph-oo-ee!  After my hair dried it was white with salt.

That's funny about the age limit for joining up being put back to 26 because as far as I know it is still 28 over here.

The navigation is going pretty good. Yesterday we went for a 2 1/2 hour navigation trip.  I suppose we covered about 350 miles and only saw the sea or land about half the time;  we were in the clouds when we turned on 2 of our courses.  I was 1st navigator and Doug was 2nd navigator.  We took back bearings on objects we passed over to find out what track we were making good and to see how much we were drifting.  After we got over the North Sea we dropped smoke floats and took back bearings on them.  We found out a good wind speed and direction.  We steered 4 courses and I only ave 1 alteration of 4' in our course.  When we came back we were right dead over the aerodrome and only a few minutes under our E.T.A - which means (estimated time of arrival).

Empire Air Day, is on the 20th of this month.  That is the Air Force "At Home" day everyone is invited to inspect Air Force Stations.  There will be all sorts of flying, etc. going on.  I wish you were all here to see what it is like.  I have found out that I haven't had enough training so am just a little too slow to take part in the sports day, at least I don't think I will.

So jack Hootz has Dunc working for him, well, I wouldn't be afraid to bet they won't last long together; either Jack's temper of his business will give out, but I hope he makes good.

So you can't figure out how the wheel works on the steering column Richard, well, here's how it goes;  the rudder bar which every a/c has just controls the rudder which is hinged  to the fin;  the forward and backward movement of the stick controls the elevators which moves up and down, the sideways motion of the stick moves ailerons which are mounted on the trailing edge of the wings. In a place with a wheel the stick does not move sideways, the reason being that there isn't enough room so they put a wheel or part of a wheel on the stick so when you turn the wheel it works the ailerons - savvy? Try it the next time you go up.  Here's how to go into a spin - pull the stick slowly back (without engine) until the a/c stalls - just as it sort of prepared to not to go any more, put on full right or left rudder and pull the stick hard back - it will immediately go into a spin - don't get woozy OOOO.  To come out just centralize the rudder and east the sick ahead - not hard, is it.

One of our Junior Term at B. Norton 'wrote off' an Oxford awhile back while night flying.  All he got out of it was a broken wrist and a few cuts.  From the gun turret forward the a/c was just small pieces - they couldn't find the one wing - it was in such small pieces.  They just take so much and no more.  After they found him, he asked if the plane was broken (he's another crazy Canuck) and when they told him, he says "well, just put it on my mess bill, boys!" Such a clown he is, always some foolishness.

I suppose you have read the papers, I sent the King and Queen over to Canada for a holiday, so treat them nice.  Anyhow, they saw a few icebergs on the way.

I suppose you have the new horses sweating in the harness seeding.  Have you much plowing to do this spring?

I think one of these days I am going to get measured up for a suit.  I am still wearing the one i got in Regina.  I can get a pretty good one for 50 or 60 shillings.  I also have to get some shirts the only shirts I bought are 3 still fronts and 3 service shirts.

Well, I guess i am getting unwound for today.  They have raised the tax (licenses) on cars here to 25 shillings per h.p. How would you like to pay for the license that 40 h.p. Buick at that rate besides about 9 or 10 pounds for insurance which is compulsory? Probably, maybe, you wouldn't run it.

Take care of yourselves and tell me all about the farm.



Friday, May 2, 2014

World War II Letters Home May 2, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                School of Navigation
                                                                                                Royal Air Force
                                                                                                Manston, Kent
                                                                                                May 2, 1939

Dear Folks:

Well, I'll see what I write about today.  I have got settled down fairly well now and back to school again.  Geometry, trigonometry, a bit of algebra, meteorology (weather and all about instruments such as air speed indicator, altimeter, etc. - that is what we are trying to digest now.  I thought I was through school about 9 years ago but by the looks of it I am just starting.  Some day when I get the notion I'll try to describe some navigational work and how it is done.

I thought we would be through with fog and rain when we left Catfoss but it is the same here now, although it was real nice when we first came.  Rambling around (in Doug's car) this country I have found out that there are a lot of old fashioned Dutch windmills through here.  I'll take some pictures as soon as we get sunshine again.  It is only 44 degrees above today - so with this drizzle you can imagine how raw and unpleasant it is.

There is to be a station field day here on the 25th of this month so I have decided to go back on track and see if I can still pace off a mile.  I am going in training starting today, so I should be able to get back into form in a sort of way.  I'll let you know how I am getting along a couple of weeks from now.

I still haven't got a letter from you, I suppose my mail is being held up at Brize Norton waiting to be sent here. I got a letter from Frank Jordan, he is in the bank at Schrieber, Ontario.  He said that Peggy Brass has been hired as a stewardess on the Trans-Canada Airlines,

I think I told you in my last letter about meeting Sir Frank Madge when I stayed with Fraser -- well, he is saving beer bottle caps and i was wondering if you could get all the different kinds possible (in good condition) and stuff them into a box and send them to me.  He would really appreciate having them as that is one of his hobbies, besides making model aeroplanes, goldfish, carrier pigeons, yachting, etc. - anyhow, see what you can do.

Now to answer Esther's questions - I am presuming that she is at home.  At the dances here they do a lot of crazy things, I don't mean crazy - ha! ha!;  I mean crazy  - peculiar!  They try to truck and jitterbug but it ain't in 'em.  They try to do the rumba and tango but not with much success - they have a crazy dance step that they do to everything almost.  when they waltz, it's old-fashioned and besides that all they do is Lambeth Walk, Under the Chestnut Tree, Paul Jones (circle one-step), Blackpool Waltz -- all they are is just a bunch of kids "ring around a rosie game" stuff.  At a dance when everyone is in evening dress - Tux and Tails, the girls always wear long frocks (not dresses, I'll have you understand!)

But at an ordinary shilling dance you see everything from sports jackets to Tux and evening frocks to short skirts.  One noticeable thing over here is that very few girls wear slacks.  English girls do have fairly good complexions in some ways but they have no color;  most of hem look pretty pasty under the paint.  Most of them dress quite well.  You see, the Englishmen is a great person for changing his attire about 3 or 4 times daily - you seldom see them in one outfit from morning 'til night.  I suppose you wonder what a sports jacket is, well, that means a tweed coat and grey flannel trousers,  and a dinner jacket means a Tuxedo suit.  Sweater coats and pullovers are as rare as hen's teeth, and about the only time a leather jacket is worn is for playing golf.  When they have hunt meets (fox hunting to you) they twin with red and blue or black hunting coats and wear derby's or top hats. Just like you see in the pictures of English hunting. I have seen a couple of hounds, although to me they are the height of stupidity.  Probably it is like eating raw oysters, you have to get used to it and like it.

Last Friday Doug and I went up as passengers in an Avro Anson. They are a little larger than an Oxford, especially inside.  Anyhow, our pilot went out over the sea and we 'shot up' a couple of his majesty's battle ships, besides numerous small boats and fishing schooner.  Then we went over to Hatfield, Hanworth, Brooklands, Croydon and Eastchurch; then we scooted along the water below the cliffs and shot up the battle ships again before coming in to land.  We were supposed to be doing a bit of navigation by map reading.

We won't get much time in the air this first month.  I think we will be going up this Friday again to take back bearings and find drift on different courses.  I'll explain that another time.

We are having a mess dance here on April 5.  I don't know what it will be like yet - most likely all the local bar maids and bathing beauties will be along - that is - if they are invited.  You know these are very formal affairs, and now that we are out of F.T.S we can't act like boys anymore - we are supposed to be gentlemen.

Well I guess I've shot enough line for now, so it's you turn next.  By the end of next month I will be a P.O. which is nice because it means an increase of 2/10 or 3s in pay per day.  I hope all of you are feeling A1, like myself.

                                                                                      As Ever, Love,