Wednesday, June 11, 2014

World War II Letters Home June 11, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                        School of Air Navigation
                                                                                         Royal Air Force
                                                                                        Manston, Kent
                                                                                       June 11, 1939

Dear Esther:

It's been a dog's age since  I heard from your or the folks, at least so it seems,  so I'll scribble off a few lines in hopes of getting some news during the week.

The time is sure flying at this place - another 3 or 4 weeks and we'll be finished unless I can wangle my way into an Astrological Navigation course - which looks rather doubtful at the present.  I still don't know where I am going to be posted.  I have a half a notion to apply for a posting abroad, somewhere in Egypt or India, but I don't know just yet what to do.  Toward the end of this month I will be a Pilot Officer and get a raise in pay which should help a little in spite of the fact that the value of money is practically nil in this country.  On the average I find that a pound doesn't go any further than one good Canadian dollar, but I guess it is no use grumbling.

I suppose you have read all about I.R.A bomb outrages that are continually taking place and about the terrible disaster of the Thetis.  The headlines this morning's paper read "King receives craziest welcome ever".  These damn Englishmen give me a heck of a pain sometimes where I sit down.  As a whole, I think the English are rather narrow-minded and their  outlook is very local.  Seeing that I have to live with them I have to make the best of it.  One consolation is that they all aren't quite as bad as the big shots, government etc.

We had a fairly good shower last night - it is quite remarkable seeing that it hasn't rained for a whole month.  We (meaning our class) have been up on 2 night flying navigation trips of about 2 1/2 hours each.  These coastal towns and others look quite beautiful at night from above, with all their colored lights.  Some rows of street lights are yellow (fog lights) and others white, and blue (arc lights) and some just dim (gas lights), believe it or not and they make beautiful patterns weaving in and out.  The big red or blue neon signs show up for a long way.  Over the sea there are dozens of flashing beacons,  from light vessels and market buoys.  We distinguish them by color, the number of flashes and the time intervals of flashing etc., so they're not just light.

Do you still write to Uncle Richard?  How is he getting along.  Is he working and has he moved to the farm? all along the sea-coast in the towns there are all sorts of side-shows,  gambling devices, and rides (roller coasters, etc.); it is just like going to a fair.  I haven't been on any of them yet but I suppose I'll have to treat myself some week-end.

People don't live in cottages at the sea shore here - they drive down for the day and rent a chalet (bathing hut), that is, unless they stay at a hotel.  They don't know how to really enjoy themselves like we do.  On Sunday's the beaches are covered so thick with people lying about, you can hardly walk around without stepping on some one's neck or fat lady's bottom.  It is most peculiar but nearly every other bazaar or kiosk along the beach sells comic bathing postcards.  I thought they were done with bustles,  but apparently not.  They also sell pails and wooden spades to dig the sandy shore.  To my notion I think this race is born 40 years too soon!

There are a lot of dance pavilions that are quite nice,  but the English are rotten dancers - they try to imitate the Americans in the "Big Apple", etc. and to say the least they make a horrible mess of it.  For some reason or other they lack a certain rhythm in their dancing.  Look what the Americans did to the Lambeth Walk - it isn't even the same dance over there;  here it is just a "ring around a rosie".  Well, i guess I've done enough knocking so I'll forget it.

I had supper and I have just returned from a 6 mile walk with a chap from New Zealand.  My camera has taken a back seat lately;  I have been doing very little picture taking so I am sorry I haven't any snaps to send along this time.  I've promised myself a new camera for a long time but haven't made the grade yet.

How is everything going at home?  Has Richard finally decided to stay at home and settle down or what?  I see that the R.C.A.F. are starting up a short service commission.  I don't know what the requirements are, but if his health is alright, he could find out about trying to join up there if he wants to.  I didn't encourage him about getting in here or the Navy - because I know better what the services are now  and it isn't worth it unless you can get in when your are younger.

Well Sis, I think I'll sign off and read a bit before going to bed.  Please write regularly like you did before you went home,  because I don't get much mail and its nice to hear from you.

With Love,


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