Sunday, July 27, 2014

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

                                                                                           Norwich, Norfolk
                                                                                           July 27, 1939

Dear Mama:

Doug and I have been spending our few days leave travelling about visiting friends of his father.  We left the station on Friday the 19th and went to Hull.  Saturday we went to Huddersfield which is near Leeds and saw some people.  Then on Sunday we went north and east of Hull to Flamborough Head and Searborough and half way up to Whitby - along the coast.

At Flamborough we went into the caves in the cliffs and north of Searborough we saw some pretty moors covered with heather and bracken.  On Monday we went to Sheffield and saw an army pal of Dr. Morris' (Doug's dad).  We stayed over night there.  While we were there we drove around quite a bit through the hills south-west of Sheffield.  It is a very pretty country.  It reminded me of Montana.  Also we went to Sherwood Forest - the home of Robin Hood.  I have a picture the major oak where Robin Hood is said to have hidden in the hollow trunk.  It is a beautiful place.  As soon as I get some more prints made I will send you them.  I also have a few pictures taken in an old church.

Tuesday we left Sheffield, the manufacturing and smoky city, and went back to camp when I got your 2nd letter. Wednesday we came back up here on the broads in the lake lake and river country and we are spending a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Brooks.  Mrs. B was a nurse during the war and knew Doug's dad.  Their home is in London, but this is their summer residence.  I will also send photos of this place.  They have a beautiful thatched cottage and across the road from it is the river on which they have a swell cruiser. It is a motor cruiser and has sleeping room for 3 people, kitchen and all.  They live on it for several weeks at a time when they go cruising up and down the river.  As there isn't room in the house Doug and I are sleeping on the cruiser.  Boy!  Is this a great life!  We have traveled about 1,800 miles in the last two weeks but by mooching from house to house, we have spent very little money -  and I think it is a well spent holiday.  Besides the fortnight I spent Christmas in Wales this is the only other holiday I have had since being over here, a year and a month today since we landed at Liverpool.

Apparently I must have gotten over 70% on my navigation exams at Manston because I got a folder from some school wanting to sell me a book on the administrative part of 2nd class navigator's license.  they probably got the dope from Air Ministry.  I think I told you that from what I figured out on my marks I should pass.  I'm afraid a lot (about 90%) of the fellows didn't pass.  Besides the exams I had at Manston I have to write 2 more exams to get my license, one subject is on navigational legislation and the other is wireless.  so as soon as I hear definitely I'll write them off.

We won't be doing any pilot flying in August - mostly classes, but will start flying or learning to fly Wellingtons in September.  I have only done about 10 hours of piloting since the first of March.  If we don't get some soon I'll be out of practice.

During the last week my rheumatism has started to bother me in my leg.  This is the first time it has bothered me since I have been in England.  I hope it doesn't keep on.

Well, Mom, I don't know just what else to write this evening, but will write more in a few days.  Make the best of your stay in Nebraska and enjoy yourself.  Grandma will most likely hang on for a few more years yet.  I got a letter from Esther too.

Best wishes and lots of love.

                                                                               Your son,


Monday, July 14, 2014

World War Letters Home July, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                      Royal Air Force
                                                                                                      Officer's Mess
                                                                                                      Stradishall, Newmarket
                                                                                                      July, 1939
Dear Dad and Richard:

I got a letter from Mama at Crete.  It was a surprise to me.  I hope it isn't going to be too hard on her staying with Grandma.  If Grandma happens to go I think Mom should stay down for about a month so she can take things easy for once and be able to visit some of here old friends.  It would do here a lot of good.  It means you will have to get someone to do the house work but that wouldn't hurt you for a month or 2.

I am in 75 squadron and have just moved from Honington to Stradishall - the whole squadron moved - aeroplanes, men, equipment, everything.  I am Officer in charge of the photographic section and equipment and I also have 2 air men's barrack blocks on my charge, that includes all furniture, beds, etc., and I have been busy for the last 2 days checking inventories - what a job!

We have been kicked out on leave while the squadron officers etc. get settled down. I've only had a fortnight leave yet and we are supposed to get 2 months each year so I don't think a week and a half will hurt me.  Doug and I are going in the car to a place near Norwich where an elderly couple live.   They ha a nice cabin cruiser on the river and Doug and I are going to sleep in it.  The cruiser has a small (really small) kitchen, toilet and wash basin, storage room, a room with 2 single beds, table and radio.  It has a marine 4 cylinder motor and does about 10 m.p.h.  I'll send you a picture of it.

I have in quite a few hours as 2nd pilot in Harrows while we were taking them away and bringing back Wellingtons.  As soon as I get back from leave I will be taking dual on Wellingtons.  They are a very fine machine;  they cruise at 215 m.p.h  Cruising them at 180 m.p.h they have a range of 3,200 miles.

We will be doing long range exercises after a while, going over to Egypt, etc. and back.  Probably we may start flying to Canada and back sometime.  I'd do anything to be able to fly to Canada in a Wellington.

I'll be sending some more aeroplane magazines from time to time - We have a new brick mess here but about half a dozen of us are living in a new wooden hut.  We have new furniture and bedding in our rooms so they are quite alright.  The big drawback is this part of the country is drinking water.  The water here has to be bottled before we can drink it.  It is so hard and full of iron the glasses  and water jugs yellow.

This place is about 60 miles NE of London and about 25 miles E of Cambridge (the college town).  Otherwise the villages are about the size of Tadmore and Hassan, but they are plenty numerous if that means anything.  The crops that are, look quite good here.

What do things look like around Stenen?  Don't you have any friends?  You never say boo about anyone - how about getting down to it and writing be a decent letter for once?  I want you to write about everything and if you don't send me a 6 page letter when your answer this - well I'm going to quit writing too - that should be a good bargain.

The siren has just finished wailing - so that means it's diner time, so here goes.

Take care of yourselves.