[Received December 20, 1917]

Nov. 26, 1917

Northolt Aerodrome

Dear Mother:

After dinner tonight I loafed about in the mess lounge with the bunch in training here, and looked over some English pictorial magazines. There were some very good pictures of American troops in training. They surely did look like real good stuff. I wished for the results of next Spring to learn how they are going to “carry on” in Germany. If their leaders are masterful they surely are going to produce the results. You all have no idea what a drain on our allies this war has been and what an ordinary class of man is left them to carry on with. The first bunch to go out must have been of fine caliber, judging from the samples that are left and I have known. But I think the men going out now are greatly inferior. I see the contrast every day. The same thing must be true in France and a great deal more so in Germany. We surely have a wonderful handicap on them all and ought to make things hum and settle them up. And considering our advantage, we can do it all and adhere to the old codes of chivalry. I mean take prisoners and patch up their wounded and generally treat them decent after we have once broken their military value and gotten them in our power. Of course, to the old knights battle was a pastime, an end in itself and therefore was carried on with rules of sportsmanship that should not be applied where the battle is the last means to the all important ends. What I mean is that we should use every thing and every advantage we can contrive to destroy the Huns’ ability to resist us, but after we get any of them to that state we ought to give them a chance.

I do not know why I wrote the above thoughts. I have not been hearing any particular story just lately about no quarter. The desire seems to be running in my mind to see what history will put down for the conduct and results of those Americans.

Well, I was going to tell about my day in London. I was going in with my roommate, but he did not want to start as early as I did so we arranged to meet at Westminster Abbey at 11 A.M. Saturday; when I asked my Flight Commander Lt. Holland for permission to go he said to see him at 7:30 A.M. I tried to locate him then but he was not in camp, so I went on in as it was very windy and there probably would be no flying all day. I walked about 2 miles to a town, Ruislip, where I got an electric train direct to London. It was very cold and bright. From the London Sta. (Baker St.), I took a bus to Hyde Park, walked into and across it and on through Buckingham Park to the Palace. This was a very handsome section of town. Monuments and fine buildings. That part of Hyde Park (eastern end) was not very much. A crowd was gathering before the palace and I learned that they were waiting to see the guards changed. I walked around looking at Victoria Memorial and various things of interest until I was attracted by a band playing. They were part of the ceremony of changing guard and I saw the performance. Then I walked to Westminister Abbey. Waited outside until 11.08 for Rit and Rorrie, who did not appear. I was surprised that the Abbey was so large. The Oxford buildings are not large or so beautiful in architectural details as towers and peaks and flying buttresses. It surely is a marvelous building. The service had started at 10, but I went in. It was crowded full and the sermon was in progress. I sat down and did all the looking I could without appearing to be one of the rubber-neck family. I got a most wonderful impression of beautiful and sacred monuments, statues, gigantic columns along the nave, vaulted roof away up in the twilight and a lovely, circular stained glass window. I felt that I surely was in a church. The music of the organ and voices came from way off somewhere and was lovely. It was a communion service. I stuck around while the crowd passed out and the communicants had half completed their preliminaries.

When I got out it was snowing and blowing and raining and doing it all quite lustily. No mates were to be seen and I was quite pleased. I walked around the houses of Parliament, then around them to the bridge. I then walked along the Thames on the Victoria embankment past Cleopatra’s Needle, two bridges and handsome buildings to Blackfriars Bridge. There I struck into town and turned to St. Paul’s Cathedral. People were going and coming on tip toe all the time, a communion service was being held for an immense number. Some people were praying, the organ was playing and the choir chanting very sweetly. The music was really wonderful. St. Paul’s also is immense, the interior is very impressive and beautifully decorated. When the service was over I walked all around and gave a good deal of it the once over. When I came out it had stopped raining. I walked thru some business streets to London Bridge where I got a distant view of the Tower further down the Thames. Then I hopped a bus that took me into the Jewish and poorer section. I saw Petticoat Lane market in full blast and the little shoe stores and shops doing business like it was a week day. I walked up some little by-streets to another main street and got a bus that took me thru London back to Hyde Park again. I walked—. (An Englishman came in and talked about the war until 11:30 so I must call this off.) Early flying in the morning. I wish you could have heard this fellow, 21 years old, 3 years in the war at all the worst places. He was 10 months in hospital from shrapnel wounds and I believe his experiences have affected his nerves and brain permanently. It seemed too monstrous to be real. Perhaps he stretched a few points in his oratorical enthusiasm, but he surely could spiel about gas, liquid fire, bayoneting a German in cold blood in a dug out, men trying to get their feet blown off in order to get back to England, etc.