[Received March 8, 1918]


London Colney

February 18, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I have received all your letters to and including #35. Also a pictorial page of the Sun. Well I guess we do recognize the N.Y. Ship. Those pictures were taken very soon after I left there.

I will go through your letters and answer questions etc., as they turn up. Sorry you did not see Mary Hoffman. News of Reid and Russ Welsh very interesting, and Carlotta, and Nathan. I received another of your Christmas boxes today. One suit of underwear, one big bath towel, prunes and 1 jar jelly and two jars of jam. The underwear is great. I have not sampled the food yet, because I am a little off my feed. The prunes will be fine and you know my failing for your preserves. Wouldn’t they make a good shipyard lunch? Here’s looking for the 3rd box. The reason I usually cut out tea is because I eat too much at three meals a day and a fourth of bread and tea and jam is not the best for digestion. No I am not getting fat, although my nose and one side of my face is a little fat. I made a rough landing in my Pup the last trip and bumped my face against the padding put on the stern end of the machine gun for that purpose. It hardly seems possible for a boy 25 years old to be experiencing his first black eye, but I believe it is my first. I took some dope for my internals to oblige the doctor and as a result I feel pretty bum, so if this letter seems grouchy you know the reason.

Fred Stillman is getting along pretty well. His brother and two sisters have come here from France to be with him. He will have a right tough time for some weeks.

The best news is that I expect to get 4 days leave, beginning Sunday night. They call it graduation leave but I fail to see what I have graduated from. I suppose it is graduation from elementary training. I have yet to train on Pups, Spads, and then go through two separate advanced schools one in aerial gunnery, and one in aerobatics and fighting.

I expect to go to town to-morrow and see Admiral Whiting to get some letters of introduction and some dope on how to visit the ship yards at Glasgow as I am planning to spend my 4 days doing that. About a week ago I flew down to West Ealing, found his house and dived ferociously at it a couple of times to get somebody to come out and wave to me but I could not attract anybody. Perhaps they were all out, or perhaps they did not like my way of ringing their door bell. The weather has been pretty thick and clouds low so I have not had any fun rolling about aloft for some weeks. When I did my cross country the mist was so low that I practically had to go “hedge hopping.” I visited my old instructor and flight commander at Northolt. When I left Northolt my engine ran up all right on the chocks but she missed in the air. I circled around and tried to let her get right but had to land again. I buzzed her up again on the chocks, she seemed alright, all cylinders warm so went off. She would not pull properly until ½ way to Hounslow and gave no further trouble after that. Although I had been to Hounslow before I had a little trouble finding the aerodrome. It is just on the outskirts of London, near a very snaky part of the Thames, some flooded fields and glass topped munition plants, so in the haze I could hardly figure which was which. Then when I spotted it its form was so chaotic that I could not tell at an instant just which way the wind was crossing it. No other machines were landing at the time. My first attempt to get into the aerodrome brought me too close to the hedge on the other side so I had to try it again and after my usual bounces landed. Landings are my weak point. I don’t seem to be able to hold her off until I lose flying speed. The following day the clouds were still low, 1500 to 2000 feet. Captain Cairnes took me up for 15 minutes and showed me how to dive on other machines, and then I went up and practiced it for 1½ hours. It was great sport. I picked on all the machines about our airdrome then went over Elstree Reservoir and tried to frighten the fish, and then went down to Admiral Whiting’s. To go down on something below your side you pull your nose up and roll 1/4 way over, then your nose flops down and you steer for all you are worth at it until you think you are close enough for safety, then you zoom up and away.

I thought an Avro was a real flying machine until I took a ride on a Pup. I have not had a chance yet to enjoy a good Pup fest either. All I have done with it so far is vertical banks and bum landings.

Well I must tell you about my evening with Frank at the American Officers’ Club. We went to dinner and had a wonderful feast with the greatest collection of admirals and generals you ever saw. Frank and I sat at a table with a 1st lieut. of engineers (U.S.), a medical corps captain (U.S.) who had been at the front, and a very interesting newspaper man. After dinner we gathered in the reception room and Sir Rosslyn Wemyss gave us a very fine talk. Then Admiral Sims was called upon and he was very thrilling and amusing. I surely did enjoy it. At the end of the evening our newspaper friend took us to the Sports Club on St. James Square. It was a very comfortable bachelor sort of a place all decorated with trophies of the hunt. Stuffed lions, hippos and rhinos heads, horns, tusks, and heads of every sort of beasts.

I came out on the midnight train and walked to camp from St. Albans.

Well I guess I’ll turn in.



Mary Hoffman, a couple of years younger than Parr, had graduated from Goucher in 1915; Parr knew her as a member of the Goucher fraternity [sic], Kappa Alpha Theta.273 Additionally, her mother, Ida M. Hoffman (Mrs. Don Hoffman) and Parr’s family were members of the Friday Club, which Parr mentions in his letters of December 15, 1917, and March 17 and April 3, 1918.274

Reid was probably Charles Reid Johnson, a civil engineering student who was in Parr’s class at Cornell and a fellow member of the Cornell Maryland Club. Commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps in December of 1917, he was initially stationed in Annapolis, but by mid-February was at the Naval Operating Base at Hampton Roads, Virginia.275 Parr was an usher at Reid’s wedding to Mildred Ijams in 1915. Reid’s sister Carlotta Savage Johnson was the bride’s attendant.276

Russell Dutton Welsh (born in Baltimore November 16, 1889) received his degree in civil engineering from Cornell the same year (1913) that Parr graduated in mechanical engineering.277

Nathan may be Nathan Rogers Butler, Jr., Parr’s fellow Baltimorean, member of Phi Theta, and student of mechanical engineering at Cornell; Butler was two years ahead of Parr.278

Parr’s Pilot’s Flying Log Book entry for February 15, 1918, indicates that he again flew Sopwith Pup A6239 solo and “crashed on landing.” His log book entry for February 21, 1918, notes that he went up in Avro B4377 as a passenger: “Capt. Carns [sic] flew me to see if I had recovered from the crash.”

Entries for February 13, 1918, in Parr’s Pilot’s Flying Log Book indicate that he initially went up as a passenger in Avro D67 with Captain Cairnes piloting and “instructing me in diving on others’ tails.” Parr then took the same plane solo for “diving and stunts.”

Fred Stillman’s brother Alfred had received his medical degree from Columbia in 1907 and had been, since July of 1917, at Base Hospital 15 at Chaumont, Haute Marne, in France, where, in February of 1918, he was appointed chief of surgical services.279 His sister Ruth had been in France since early 1916, working at Red Cross Military Hospital No. 1 in Paris; his sister Lisa went to France in the autumn of 1917 to work at the Paris office of Duryea War Relief.280

Elstree Reservoir lies a little over five miles south of London Colney. Created at the end of the eighteenth century, it today appears to be called Aldenham Reservoir.281

The second speaker was probably Admiral William Sowden Sims (1858–1936), who was in command of U.S. naval forces operating from Britain.282

The Sports Club joined with the East India Club, also situated on St. James Square, in 1938.283