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.



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