[Received May 3 1918]


Carleton House,


April 7, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Now that I am (to a slight degree) my own censor I will write on both sides of the paper and therefore use this sporty stuff.

I am feeling pretty good this evening. Have had a wonderful ride on a Spad, have learned of the possibility of getting a week’s leave before going over seas, and got my pay check this afternoon. Pretty good cause for delight, eh!

While it is on my mind I will tell you about my Spad ride. This morning being Sunday morning it was a holiday. Flying started at 2.30. It has been very windy all day, but fairly clear, chunky white clouds coming and going at about 3000. It was too windy for Avros, so I got permission to take up the Spad. Frank tried to get the use of our other Spad, which belongs to the graduate pool, so as we could joy ride together, but something was reported to be wrong with it, so I went up alone. The bus I was taking did not have an air speed meter, altimeter, or engine temperature indicator. At London Colney we thought that the temperature indicator was very important. Everybody said the engine was O.K. and that if any change at all occurred with the circulating water it would heat up. I knew I could detect heating better than I could chilling so felt satisfied. I ran her up well on the ground, and gave her some good tests over the airdrome. Everything seemed O.K. so I started to take on the fun.

The rigging of the bus was fine, and I practiced some stunts. She half rolled beautifully. I never used to be able to tell just where I was or how I was doing the half roll, and did not come out of it correctly very often. But with this bus today everything seemed natural and easy. From all the flying I read about that is going on in the States I presume you know just what the ordinary stunts are.

After playing about a little while I started down the coast keeping over the land. There were just enough clouds to make things interesting. As they flew by they would hide portions of the land that you wanted to see, then you would be completely enveloped in them, then they would be above you. For the first time I really played with them. I climbed up over certain banks and kept in the sun, then I would go down through a certain opening to see the ground. The landscape was the most interesting I have ever flown over. The hills around Loch Doon rise to 2600 feet. The three streams, River Ayr, River Doon, and Water of Girvan, have well defined valleys with naturally situated towns. Then there is the coast with its coves, beaches, cliffs, and coastal hills. Then there was the Firth of Clyde well decorated today by waves and white caps, and punctured by the good old land mark Ailsa Craig. Across the Firth, at times, I could see Arran Island and its mountains. I was very much interested in the hills and moors that Frank and I became acquainted with on our bike trip.

I went south some miles below Girvan, came back and then struck west for Ailsa Craig at about 5000 feet. I had been looking through hazy distance and admiring Ailsa for some weeks and I always wanted to go out and see it. I went close and low, circled around it, and gave it a real good look over. It surely is an interesting old sentinel. It is about 1/4 mile dia. and 1080 feet high. It is 12 miles from shore standing in deep water with a narrow white fringe of beach all around its granite cliffs. The cliffs mostly rise straight up, with sharp vertical flutes, making the surface rough, to about 200 feet. Then the rest is like a rugged mountain that has been smoothed and rounded up by the wind. It has creases, and ravines and ledges. Some of the surface is bare rock and some is covered with a straggly green stuff. I suppose mossy bushes. One ledge has the ruin of an old stone tower and house on it. It was great sport frisking about the ancient old dome. Watching the wind drift you into it when to windward, and then riding the terrific bumps in its shadow to leeward where the wind was joining together after passing around it. Then I thought I had been down low long enough so climbed towards the main land.

I was quite thrilled at the thought that this was my first flight over the sea. It was very nice to hear and feel that the engine was doing its job O.K. I saw a couple of steamers. They looked like motor boats, so small I could hardly keep my eye on them. I slipped down to two that were pretty close and played around one. It seemed to be standing still. I could dive by it as fast forward or aft and fly across its bow as easily as its stern. I rolled, half rolled, and fooled around in hope that I was amusing some old salts.

Then I went ashore and came low to inspect Culyean Castle and Estate. It looked fine from a close aerial view. I hedge hopped all the way home. It is a very amusing way to travel. Everybody comes out to look and the horses and sheep gallop out of your path. I dived on some of the people to let them know I saw them and then exchanged hand waves as I departed.

One of the prettiest places was the River Doon by the old Brig and Burns Monument, there being two very pretty estates and castles close by. Then I returned home and found everybody, mechanics, instructor, ambulance, etc., very glad to see me as I was the last bus out, and they all wanted to go home. I don’t care if it blows hard for a week if I can get that Spad. Frank and I are hoping to get two of them up together. I want to go over to Arran and to Glasgow.

This morning I walked out to Alloway and saw Burn’s birthplace, monument, and the Old Brig O’Doon.

Fathers letter #49, March 18, with clippings, received. That clipping about “Aviators Cut Disapproved” caused great delight in these parts. We realize that Pershing is right, that in war times all the fight troops take equal risk, but believe me we can use the money with clear consciences. It is great to know that Congress and the people mean to give us all they can, and not take away anything we used to get. I think our flying pay is 25% of the base pay. Have you been getting my allotment of 20 dollars a month that I made over to you as a dependent Father (laugh). It was taken out of my Jan., Feb. and March pay. I do not believe it is taken out of my pay as an officer. There is some rumor here that the government adds $10 a month to all allotments to dependents so you may have $90 coming. If you have not been getting it write to Washington about it and also let me know.

I was

First Class Private

Parr Hooper #33898

A.S.S.E.R.C.; A.E.F.

In command of 1st Lieut. Geoffrey J. Dwyer.

Sig. R.C., A.S.

Office of Aviation Officer

35 Eaton Place

London, England.

Have just received Mother’s letter #50 with clippings and flowers. Sorry such a gap occurred in my letters. Would like to see our garden, sit on the dining room steps and talk it over. So Jack beat me to a commission and a bride. I am very anxious to get at the throttle of a Liberty Motor.

I received another fine letter from Knud. He has some pictures I sent to him when a cadet that I cannot send to you all now. However, they are not very important. I am sending you in separate envelope 55 prints and three pieces of prints. The most recent ones are out of focus. I will get it corrected soon. Hope you received the cable message I sent last Saturday April 5th.



Also got a nice letter from Mrs. Whiting.

James Stillman was Fred’s Uncle. I believe Fred’s father died about two months ago.

I read Wilson’s Baltimore speech of April 6, in a Glasgow paper this a.m.

Parr did not number this letter (April 7, 1918) or the next one (April 9, 1918), and when he resumes numbering with the letter of April 13, 1918, he assigns it the number 44.

The sporty stuff Parr is using is R.F.C. stationery similar to that he used at Ruislip, but with “Carleton House, Ayr” as the printed return address. Carleton House, along with nearby Craigweil House where George Vaughn and perhaps others of the second Oxford detachment were housed, now belongs to Wellington School in Ayr. Both residences were built in the Scottish “baronial style” around 1879 by John Murdoch.338

The ill-equipped bus Parr was taking on this and several subsequent occasions was a Spad VII, serial no. A9142, a picture of which can be seen at the web site of the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.339

More often spelled Culzean (the “z” or “y” both being stand ins for Middle English yogh), this eighteenth-century castle is on the coast between Turnberry and Ayr.340

In Parr’s letter of February 10, 1918, he was concerned about a rumored reduction in pay, probably related to General Pershing’s recommendation that aviators’ pay be cut back so that it would be the same as pay for infantry. The Senate turned down the recommendation on March 14, 1918.341

A.S.S.E.R.C. = Aviation Signal Section, Enlisted Reserve Corps (see end of letter of March 31, 1918).

A.E.F. = American Expeditionary Force

Sig. R.C., A.S. = Signal Reserve Corps, Aviation Section.

The man who beat Parr to a commission and a bride may have been Jack Slingluff, who was commissioned as a first lieutenant on August 15, 1917.342 His marriage to Maude Harlow Long appears not to have taken place until 1920, but perhaps Parr—if it was indeed Jack Slingluff to whom he was referring—was receiving news of his engagement rather than his marriage.343

Parr seems once again to have misread his calendar; Saturday was April 6.

I think Parr is misinformed. Fred’s father and namesake, Joseph Frederick Stillman, lived until 1952. James Stillman was the president of National City Bank of New York (later Citibank). His death on March 15, 1918, was widely publicized; as far as I can tell, he was not related to Fred.344

Wilson delivered this speech, labeled variously “our utmost sacrifice” and “force to the utmost,” at the Fifth Regimental Armory (at the intersection of Hoffman and Bolton Streets) in Baltimore on the occasion of the third liberty loan or bond campaign in support of the allies and the war effort and on the anniversary of the United States’ declaration of war on Germany. Wilson’s focus was less on the war bonds than on the justice of fighting the war in light of the German military’s imperial aims.345 With the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk just over a month previously (March 3, 1918), Russia was no longer an ally against Germany, and Germany was now free to concentrate on the Western Front. Parr has already noted in his letter of March 25, 1918, the commencement of Germany’s spring offensive. It is notable that Parr was able to read Wilson’s speech within a day or two of its delivery on the other side of the Atlantic (his letter is dated April 7, but possibly was continued on the 8th).