[Received December 5, 1917]

Camp Harrowby, Eng.

November [14], 1917

Dear Father:

Now I have some good news. This morning when we fell in to go on the range, Capt. Hibbard, our C.O. (Commanding Officer, British) read out the 50 names of the men who go to flying schools next Monday. I had the best of luck. I am going, and with what I think are the very best fellows. Those who are with me and were in my squad at Columbus are Stillman (who is the cadet C.O. of this whole detachment now), Wheeler and Ritter. There are ten of us going to the flying school at Doncaster (60 mi. north of here). Among the others is Dud Mudge who I particularly admire and Herbert, my roommate at Christ Church and Exeter. Rocks Fleet, I am sorry to say is not in my bunch, but he is going to another flying school at the same time. The two fellows who I dislike I will leave—one goes to another school and one stays here.

Private for you and Mother only. I also have some more good news. That is, I suppose it will be good news to you. It is very bad news for me to give because it is entirely boasting and it is much too early in the game to mention any prowess. However, you may feel that I am a bit safer if I tell you that I did (so far as I could judge) the best shooting on the range out of the entire half of the detachment. I am always the first one in rotation in our squad to do any of the shoots and have no chance to have a warm gun or judge my actions from the experiences of the other fellows. We did traversing today and my line of shots was the best. It was supposed to be a skirmish line of Boche and we were to slowly swing the gun horizontally so as to mow them down. There was no pot put up this morning. This above spiel is to let you know that even though I have no reflex I may be able to take care of myself. No matter what kind of flying work I do I will have to protect myself with a machine gun so in the embreo [sic] I have a good chance.

The English papers have a good deal of news about the States in them. It was quite a stunt to have two real tanks in that N.Y. parade.

The Boche are surely making a wonderful last and mighty effort. They are a long way from being beaten yet, but their internal conditions must be terrible. It is very wonderful how they can apply their strength in such a ferocious effort as they are doing in Italy. The ordinary people here in England are “jolly well fed up” on the war now. Most, everybody is in mourning and the few men left are old men or those who have been disabled. As you probably saw from my pictures of the cadets the men training for officers in the R.F.C. now are kids 18 to 20 years old. [censored] I hope that when America gets well in and begins to feel the sacrifice of the war she will increase her energy and ferocity instead of going into that enduring rut. What I mean is I think England (the ordinary people) should show that wild thrusting spirit that a wild animal shows when hard pressed in a fight. I believe Germany is doing it now.

Perhaps because Parr has marked the envelope of this letter “#2,” someone apparently other than Parr has written “19” as the date, thus placing it after his letter of November 16, 1917 (see letter of November 22, 1917, below, regarding numbering of letters). However, Parr’s reference to going to flying schools “next Monday” and the evidence of Foss’s diary (see below) suggest a date of November 14, 1917.

The entry for Nov. 6, 1917, in War Birds notes that when Springs left for flying school in Stamford, he selected Stillman to take his place as sergeant: “Stillman is a fine fellow and certainly looks the part. He’s six feet seven and a half and weighs over 200. He used to play end on Yale.”

Red-headed Guy Samuel King “Red” Wheeler graduated from Haverford in 1910, Roland Hammond “Rit” Ritter from the Drexel Institute in 1916; both Pennsylvanians were with Parr at the Ohio State University ground school.123 Soon after completing the machine gun school course at Grantham, Wheeler wrote up a favorable report on it, commending especially the small class size (instruction was in units of nine, rather than twenty-five, as had been the case in ground school in Ohio), the instructional equipment, and the pedagogical skill of the instructors.124

As evident from Parr’s letter of November 21, 1917, he and those selected with him did not, in fact, go to Doncaster, but to Northolt.

Dudley Hersey “Dud” Mudge attended Yale (a year behind Stillman) and then joined the Aviation Signal Corps, graduating along with Robert T. Palmer from ground school at Ohio State University a week after Parr, on September 1, 1917.125 In his letter of November 21, 1917, Parr refers to Mudge as “Dug,” but I believe that is a slip of the pen and have normalized the nickname to “Dud” throughout.

Thomas John Herbert interrupted legal studies at Western Reserve University to enlist and graduated from ground school at Ohio State University on September 1, 1917, in the same class as Palmer and Mudge.126

Charles Carvel “Rox” Fleet, born in New Jersey, graduated from the Ohio State University ground school on August 25, 1917, with Wheeler, Ritter, Stillman, and Parr.127

 In the entry for November 17, 1918, in War Birds is the following remark about this diaspora: “Cal, Curtis, Brown, Fry and I are ordered to Thetford to learn to fly at last. This is the final bust-up of the Italian Detachment.”

Parr’s remark about the Germans in Italy presumably refers to the advance of Austrian troops almost to Venice in early November 1917.128

censored: At this point approximately a vertical inch and a half of text (about 6 lines) has been erased or scraped away, and I presume this has been done by the censor. When writing this letter and the preceding one, Parr has folded a sheet of writing paper in such a way as to use it as the envelope; in both case, the portion serving as the envelope has a seal on it with the words “opened by censor.”

7:30 P M.

I am very anxious to see what sort of a place the flying school is. Lieut. Dwyer came up from London to O.K. the list of the 50 men to be posted Monday. He was very much surprised that it has all been announced and supposedly settled. Some of the men (very naturally) are criticizing the selection rather violently. Here’s hoping no changes are made that I don’t like.

Keep on writing to me c/o American Embassy, and tell everybody to write. The letters mean a lot more now than they did when I was in the States and that is saying something.



Geoffrey James Dwyer, two years older than Parr, was born in New York of English parents and received some of his schooling in England before returning to the U.S. He graduated from Columbia in the class of 1911. By 1916 he was a member of the Aviation Detachment of the New York National Guard. In June 1917 he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps before being commissioned as a lieutenant, joining, along with Quentin Roosevelt, the 1st Reserve Aero Squadron. In early August, he took command of and accompanied one of the first detachments of aviation cadets destined for France to train. When their ship, the Aurania, docked in Liverpool on September 2, 1917, their orders were changed; they were to remain in England attached to the R.F.C. These 53 cadets were the “first Oxford detachment.” Dwyer was then sent to London where he was “in charge of the [AEF’s] Flying Training Department in England” and eventually rose to Captain.129 (In his letter of October 7, 1917, Parr mentioned a “Leftenant” in charge of the Oxford cadets, presumably Dwyer.)

In his diary entries for November 13 and 14, 1917, Foss gives his account of the list of 50 men posted to flying squadrons: “Stillman got a letter from Dwyer saying 50 men would be posted on Monday next. Stillman picked out his friends to the last man. Everyone is sore. . . . The sore feeling continues. Dwyer arrived tonight and reorganized Stillman’s list, retaining all but Fleet & Wheeler. . . .” (Fleet and Wheeler had gotten in trouble with the Oxford commandant, Beor.) Foss lists the stations and the men assigned to each:

Northolt: Stillman, Mudge, Hooper, Rorison, Ritter, Hollander, Matthiessen, Kindley, Paskill, Knox.

Tadcaster: Frost, Milnor, Hamilton, Sandford, Stier.

Wyton: Baldwin, Adams, Anderson, Herbert, Kerk.

Waddington: Pudrith, Shoemaker, Middleditch, Drey, Stratton, Stahl, Sharpe, Oatis, Mathews, Shaw.

Thetford: Grider, Callahan, Brown, Curtis, Fry, Morrison, Roberts, Barksdale, Wicks, J. F. Campbell.

Doncaster: Goodnow, Douglass, Armstrong, Berry, Zellers, Oberst, M. L. Campbell, Desson, Lawton, Sweeney.