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,

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