[Received March 1, 1918]


London Colney

February 10, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I know I have not written you all for some time, but I don’t believe it has been as long as my record shows, viz., Feb. 1st, #28.

It has been very windy and we have not gotten much flying, but I have been pretty busy since last Wednesday.

I got off early Wednesday afternoon and went to town. I was in in time to do a little boxing around and got a line on Jimmie’s cap. I went to the most expert maker of R.F.C. caps and he said that children’s heads were of all sizes and I ought to have Jimmie’s head measurement, circumference in inches. However, he said he would measure some big headed and little headed children from 2 to 4 yrs. and let me know if there was much difference. So I got a letter from him saying that he thinks it possible to make one about the right size. So I am getting one made for a 2 ½ year large headed kid and Jimmy will probably fit it at some near future date. And I am sure he will look very cute.

Ted had 24 hours leave and came to town the night before. We had engaged a room together at the Regent Palace and I went there to dress up for the dance at Mrs. Smith’s that evening. Ted was beauing my girl Jean. While I was dressing Ted came in and said “Come on and go to dinner at the Savoy with Jean and I, she is waiting down stairs.” Of course that made me mad, but as he insisted I went. Some fine party for me to get in on unexpectedly. We met two of our friends, Taber and Vassar, American cadets like us, and the four of us all entertained Jean at a fine supper.

Then we parted and I went to Mrs. Smith’s dance. It was a fine party. A wonderful house, fine music and very interesting and genteel people. English girls can’t dance like Catonsville girls, but I did meet some pretty good ones. There was a very amusing and lively admiral of the Royal Navy who had a very charming daughter, and, there was another girl who I liked so well I arranged to see her on my next leave, a Miss Sturges who lives on Grosvenor Gardens. But since then this private’s pay rumor seems to have developed into a reality so I will have to call it off.

Friday I flew my instructor cross country to Hounslow. There was a ground mist, clouds at 2 to 3000, and a 30 to 40 mile wind; so it was a lot of fun choosing and keeping the course. We flew over my old friend Northolt aerodrome. Coming back he flew a new machine and I the old one in a close formation. It is great sport jockeying your bus so as to keep her in the right place relative to your leader.

Fred Stillman met with a little bad luck and got burned a bit. He is being treated at the hospital near here. They did not apply that new spraying treatment so I got in touch with Frank Williams and he to my great delight came out armed with official orders from our aviation headquarters and applied the best and most modern treatment. Fred will be O.K. in a little while.

All the news clippings you send are very interesting. I am getting the Outlook consistently. I am fully insured. I am mighty glad Russ can use my coat, and hope he likes it. I am just the same size so don’t be expecting a big good looking soldier when I come home because I will be just about like I was when I left.

How is your coal bin. I know now where my good spelling comes from. You have addressed all of my letters via Brown, Shipley & Co. with different spelling. I get them much quicker via B. S. & Co.

I have decided to go back to shipbuilding after the war, and have aeroplane development as my sporting hobby. Something to spend all the money on that I am going to make in the Yard.



The friends joining Parr and Ted Brown in taking Jean to dinner at the Savoy were Arthur Richmond Taber and Harold Worth Vassar.

Taber was a year younger than Parr; he had interrupted his studies to join the American Field Service and was in France for a time in 1915–1916. He returned to the U.S. and was in the Princeton class of 1917 along with Brown and Springs, and was their classmate at the Princeton Aviation School and ground school. He was among those Springs chose to go with him to Stamford for further flying instruction while Parr and other cadets went to Grantham.262

Vassar, born in 1889, had studied fine arts at Columbia University and graduated in 1913; he was a practicing architect in New York when he registered for the draft in June 1917.263 Accepted for the Officers Reserve Corp, Aviation Section, he graduated from ground school at Cornell on July 28, 1917, and was a member of the first Oxford detachment, led by his Cornell ground school class mate, Bennet “Bim” Oliver.264

Taber and Vassar had probably both gone from Stamford to Waddington; they were apparently now in London on their way to France. William Ludwig Deeten, at No. 51 Training Squadron at Waddington, wrote in his diary on February 9, 1918 that “Taber & Vasser [sic] have been sent to France for writing letters home criticizing English officers and our conditions.”265

Miss Sturges is unidentified.

Parr was not alone in being worried by the private’s pay rumor. Deetjen wrote in his diary on February 8, 1918: “Our January pay won’t come till after Feb. 24th, and they don’t want us to ask about it anymore. And after Feb 1st we may only receive $33, or 1st Cl. Pvts. pay.” The rumor probably related to General Pershing’s recommendation that an extra pay allowance for aviators be rescinded so that the pay of infantry and aviators would be equal, on the grounds that the hazards would be equal for both. See Parr’s letter of April 7, 1918, regarding the Senate’s rejection of Pershing’s recommendation.

Eugene Hoy Barksdale, another cadet in Parr’s detachment, was at No. 74 Training Squadron; an entry in his diary for February 8, 1918, reads in part: “At 12:30 P.M. Fred Stillman of N.Y. collided with Lt. D.Q. Ellis of Toronto, Canada at about 1500 feet high. They came to the ground locked together and in flames. On striking the ground Stillman was thrown clear of the burning machines tho very badly burned on face & legs. However, Ellis was more unfortunate & burned to death in the mass of burning petrol and aeroplanes.”266 The entry for February 9, 1918, in War Birds includes a similar account. Parr, in referring to modern treatment, perhaps wished to see that Stillman was treated with ambrine, a paraffin preparation (painted or sprayed on burns), developed by Dr. Edmond Barthe de Sandfort, that received considerable attention during World War I, including in articles in The Outlook.267

Parr’s fellow Marylander Francis Thomas Williams received his A.B. (1908) and M.D. (1912) degrees from Johns Hopkins before becoming an instructor in surgery at Stanford in 1915.268 He joined the Officer Reserve Corps as a lieutenant in the Medical Corps in July of 1917 and became a member of the British Expeditionary Forces in August of that year, spending some of his time in London, some on the Western Front.269

Parr’s question about the coal bin may have been prompted by news of the very harsh winter the Baltimore area experienced in 1917–18 and of the nationwide coal shortage.270