[Received January 19, 1918]


London Colney

December 24, 1917

Dear Father:

I have just mailed a letter to you all, but I did it before I was through with my yarn because it had been hanging over for several days and I thought I had better mail it.

The first thing I want to say is for you all not to think that I am coming back as an instructor. Don’t think I would not mention it unless it was a strong possibility, because I did mention it when it was only a very vague rumor. I have just seen Fred Stillman from whom I got the rumor after passing through several mouths from his. He says that we will not be trained on S.E.5s at this airdrome, but that it does not indicate that we will be instructors. Fred is training at the Squadron on the other side of the aerodrome here.

I don’t believe I mentioned that I took a trip last Monday from Northolt to Kingston on Thames to see the Sopwith Factory. It was only about 15 miles away but took me 1½ hours each way, and after I got there they would not let me go thru. If I can get any leave from here I am going to try to get a letter from this C. O. (commanding officer) that will let me go thru some of the nearby works.

I suppose I have a terrible crust but if anybody should ask you what I would want tell them I lost one of my gold cuff buttons.

Last week we had our first touch of real winter. There was a little snow and mist and several days of pretty cold weather. It was freezing even at noon. The mist settled and froze and made the country pretty white. When I traveled from Northolt to here it looked very pretty and wintry, and there was a beautiful sunset that I saw from the train. With that moisture on the ground every time it got a little warm there would be a terrible fog. The other evening I took a walk and it was so thick you could not see a light or a road or a person or anything even though you were right up to it. It was the most complete blindness I ever experienced.

I am having quite a few falls taken out of my enlarged idea of my ability to keep my bearings. The other night Ted Brown and I walked to Radlett, a town 3 miles away. We came home via fields and private lanes. We got turned off of our course and were practically lost until we inquired our whereabouts. We were so far out of our way that we had to stop for supper at a country inn. It was pretty dark and very misty and the route we took over strange roads to get there was a bit intricate, but we should have been able to cut back without doing six miles.

I am anxiously looking for those Xmas boxes. That was a fine idea to put some chilblain dope in it. I was hit pretty hard by them at Grantham and the army doctor did not know anything about them although quite a bunch of us had them. Since then I have been wearing my big shoes and Turkish toweling moccasins and have not had any more trouble. My moccasins are in bad shape and I have bought some heavy toweling to make some more but I never seem to get to it and make them.

This Christmas is going to be a pretty punk one. Now it is Christmas Eve and I have had a grouch on all day. The best cheering news is that we will not get all our training here.



P. S. Do the American magazines have much funny stuff in them about pilots? If you can find a copy of the English Flight Christmas number, look in the colored section and read the limericks and songs. They are pretty good. For Example—

Whilst chasing Huns upon his camel,

The Sopwith kind, and not the mammal,

Reggie over did a bank,

His head quite spoilt the petrol tank.

(Note the Sopwith Camel is one type of scout plane).

Fritz upon his Gotha raider

London for a Bee line made-a

Empty now is Fritz’s garage

Have you seen our A. A. barrage.

A. A. means Anti Aircraft.

This applies a bit to me.

It took young Clarence just a week

His air craft park in France to seek

For fitting out his Martinsyde,

They did not put a chart in side.

If you do not understand the wireless joke in this one say so and I will explain it.

Large and marvelous is the Caproni

Even young ones appear over-growny.

If they get any bigger,

Lord help the poor rigger!

Unless they are braced by Marconi.

The above examples are good nursery rimes for Jimmy. The below are good songs for Mary B.

Tune - “My Old Kentucky Home”

I got a sneaking feeling round my heart that I want to bomb a town.

I guess I’ll pack my grip and take a trip where I might drop something down.

Now I’m helping in this war

I’ll give Master Boche “what for.”

There’s a lesson due to Essen,

I’ll be tickled to death to know

That I can fly right there over Fritz’s happy home.

I guess I’ll make a fuss on my Detroit Buss

With my new Kentucky Gnome.

(I must apologize. They all have American names and tunes so probably you all have seen them before they came to England.)

Tune - “Every Little While”

Every little while I hear an Archie,

Every little while a bit goes through.

My fabric’s tearing—I can’t help swearing.

The sky is bright blue, and I’m blue too.

Every little while I think they’ve got me,

Every little while I hate their style.

And while I keep on flying thru it

I wish they wouldn’t do it,

But they may keep missing all the while.

The the C.O. of No. 56 Training Squadron at London Colney at this time was Major Gordon Roy Elliott.200

crust: nerve, gall, audacity.

The poems Parr passed on to his family were, as he remarks, taken from the Christmas color supplement of Flight, the “Official Organ of the Royal Aero Club.”201 (The Royal Aero Club trained many early British—and some American—pilots, including military ones, as, up until 1915, there were no British military flight training facilities.)