Friday, December 19, 2014

World War II Letters Home December 19, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                               Royal Air Force
                                                                                              King's Lynn, Norfolk
                                                                                              December 19, 1939

Dear Esther:

I am afraid I haven't been keeping up my writing very regularly - It is the same old story - so much "flap" and duties that it is a bit hard to take time off.   I am living in one of the rooms in a married officers block and it is a way from the mess so it isn't very convenient to run back and forth.

It doesn't look as if this Christmas is going to be much like the last one, but I guess it is no use complaining.  Last week-end I spent a few days at Oxford with Renee and then we went to Bedford to Roddy Ross'  wedding, where I was best man.  After the wedding, Doug, Renee and I went to London, as that was the only way we could make train connections and we stayed there over night in the Strand Palace Hotel, which is a very nice place.   Renee went home alone to Oxford and Doug and I caught the train back here.

I think I will be getting a 3 day leave at Christmas so I am going to spend it at Oxford,  Oh yes, I meant to mention that Roddy and his crew went down somewhere Helogoland yesterday.  Some of the crews of the different aircraft that wee lost have been rescued - that is - the ones that were still alive but Ii don't know whether he was one of them or not.  Pretty tough on his wife.  I have lost so many acquaintances and friends during the last week that I can hardly keep track of them.  Most of them are scattered around at so many different stations that it is almost impossible to find out who doesn't return - that is, when all of them don't do so. Until lately we have been quite fortunate as all of the formations nearly always returned, but the last few days this Heligoland and Whilhelmshaven business has wiped out a big percentage of our aircraft and crews.  Maybe it should be left alone for awhile until the "big bugs" think up a better scheme of attacking it.

I guess I had better lay off these war stories.  I don't suppose you want to hear them or do you?  As usual the papers are a lot of lies and propaganda - you can't believe half you read.  They give vivid descriptions of all sorts of heroism's, cut our casualties in half and double our victories of the enemy.  News is published about a week late if it manages to get past the censor.  Three weeks after the first Canadian army contingent came over here it was made known publicly.  I suppose all this is typical of the English press.

I am on duty in the operations room tonight - that is why I have time to write.  I suppose you wonder what the operations room is,  well, it is the headquarters for all our orders and information during the war.  Each station has an operations room and each command (bomber, fighter, reconnaissance, etc.) has a controlled operational center, and of course the whole thing being controlled by the Air Ministry.

We often get called at 5:00 or 6:00 o'clock in the morning to standby for a raid or patrol upon an hours notice.  Half of nearly all the time we just keep standing by all day and don't get out though.  When we leave the station, which we may do every night, we have to leave an address, eg. Royal Cinema, pub or where ever we might be, so that we can be recalled within 2 hours.  Generally when the crews are wanted back the local police give us their full co-operation and go around to all the cinema and pubs and chase everyone home.  It is not very often anyone gets recalled at night though because our group is all day bombers,  so we don't go on night raids.

We haven't had any air raids since I have been at this station but they are bound to come sooner or later - anyhow, let 'em come!

I have managed to get all my Christmas cards sent away the other day but I haven't been able to get any parcels mailed yet.  I am afraid there won't be much in the line of presents for anyone this year - I find it so hard to think of anything that is worth sending - seeing how shipping and mail is so uncertain.  I am going to write my bank and try to send you a monthly payment until I get straightened out.  It seems to be a next to impossible to pay each months mess bill.  I never spend much money but it sure seems to go.

This has the markings of a very morbid letter but I can't really think of anything funny to write about tonight - probably next time.  My bed is right next to this desk here and the telephone switchboard is at my elbow so while everything is quiet I'll try to catch up on my sleep.

Try to drop me  a letter, even if it is only one line,  each week because it seems that I never get any mail any more.

By the time you get this you most likely will have finished celebrating the New Year - anyhow I hope you have a swell time.

Best Wishes and Love
Your Brother

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