Thursday, January 22, 2015

World War II Letters Home January 22, 1940 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                 Royal Air Force
                                                                                                 King's Lynn, Norfolk
                                                                                                 January 22, 1940

Dear Esther:

I am enjoying 6 days leave at Oxford.   As Renee has gone to work this morning  I have time to try to do a little writing.  I am afraid I haven't done much lately.  I wrote home the day before yesterday and told them about my work so I won't repeat it all to you as you will be reading it anyway.

I have been out on  2 "searches" and a "Nickel raid" - which means a leaflet raid.  The searches and patrols are flights over the North Sea and Heligoland Bight.  We usually go in large formations of about 15 or 18 aircraft - they last 5 or 6 hours.  On the leaflet raid we only sent 1 aircraft from each squadron.  On our station I had the honour of being the first officer to go on our 1st raid of the nature.  We didn't meet any opposition - only got caught by searchlights a couple of times over Hamburg.  We left our base just after midnight last Saturday and got back at 7:00 o'clock Sunday just after daybreak.  I was 1st navigator and 2nd pilot and believe it or not we didn't even get lost.  Our trip was about 1,00 miles. The trip was quite comfortable as the temperature was only - 10 (degrees Celsius) usually it is about -30 (degrees Celsius); that's when you suffer a bit.  Actually the front and rear gunners have the worst part of it as they have to stay in those draughty turrets the whole time.  About half way round or at some convenient time we have hot coffee and sandwiches and that always hits a warming note.

Holland doesn't have any blackout so we would see the Dutch towns about 30 or 40 miles away.  Of course we don't fly over them at any height as they get annoyed and fire A.A. at us,  but it does make a good land mark when visibility is good.

We had a bit of snowstorm in Norfolk last week - about 4 inches of snow on the level and in places it drifted over the roads about 2 feet deep - of course I realize that it is a mere nothing  in your country, but in my country it is really frightfully, old deah!  but here around Oxford there is only a trace of snow but has been freezing quite hard.  Water pipes in the houses have frozen and burst.  I can sure appreciate a warm house after living in these English houses - they have no idea of insulation.  The walls are from a foot to 2 feet thick,  solid stone or brick and the cold goes right through them.  I thought this idea of a fireplace in each room was quite a cozy idea but it is a real necessity.

I didn't get your letter finished while I was as  Oxford - now that I am back at camp I'll do so.  Gosh, it is awful to got back to work after having 6 days leave - I hat the site of this place now.

When I got back this evening I had 2 letters from home waiting for me;  One was written on November 21 and the other on December 31 and both got here practically the same time - I think it was because the 1st one was sent to Harwell.  it has been all over the country and even to Air Ministry.  The envelope was so worn that it was half apart - a wonder the letter was still in it.  it may have been opened for censorship, if so, they might have sealed it up again.  Mom told me about the nice kitchen set you sent her for Christmas - she is very pleased with it.

I still haven't received any of the parcels Mom said were coming.  She sent them to Harwell - i don't know why, as she knew I was here at Marham.  Sending anything to a station that far back on the list just means that it will go to at least 5 or 6 different places before I eventually get it, if at all,  but they may turn up yet.  Everyone seems quite busy at home - Dad is building a big sleigh - Richard is converting the old Buick into a farm truck, when he is not making ice or cutting wood - Mom is making the chickens lay more eggs.

Doug Morris is going to get hooked up some time next month.  I don't think he has decided the exact date yet.  That will me alone so I suppose my turn is next.  Not for a while though - probably in June; anyhow, there's plenty of time to worry about that.  Renee's mother wants her to wait another year, as she will only be 19 on the last of April, but Renee says "phooey to that" so what! I'll send you a miniature photo of her next time.

I am going to try to get in some skating this winter as all the ponds and canals are frozen over and there isn't such an awful lot of snow so that people have cleared off a lot of patches.  I have done next to nothing for exercise, except a bit of walking for so long that I believe I am getting lazy.

Is there going to be a training center for the R.C.A.F near Battleford or are they mostly in the eastern part?

this is a rather disconnected letter but it is the best I can do today.  Kindly excuse the scribbling and any mistakes or omissions.

Cheerio and don't work too hard.



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