[Received May 11, 1918]


Carleton House,


Friday April 19, 1918.

Dear Mother and Father:

This is the next letter after the short breakfast note with the pictures. My brains are in my book left up at the airdrome so I cannot number this; you supply it.

Frank and I had been wishing to get a bus off together and have a joy ride. Wednesday afternoon we wangled it. I sat in front (of Avro) for the first time and flew the bus. It feels a bit strange in the front seat as there were no instruments and the position of the “stick” is close into you. Also the view and the lack of any length of fuselage ahead of you is quite strange.

We started out in great glee. I took my camera. We were going to try to take each other’s pictures, I was going to try to put the wind up Frank stunting and hedge hopping, and we were going to see some mutually interesting country. But we were very muchly bemoaning the fact that although we had everything it seemed possible for our hearts to desire we did not have a girl to go see. Just think of it—an aeroplane, a mate along making it possible to land and get started again, wonderful romantic country full of beautiful castles and estates, the time to make the trip, but no girl. It was very tough luck.

Well we went up and I found it (naturally) impossible to worry Frank with any of my contortions and ravine scuttling so we went up and took our pictures (not developed yet). While doing this we got lost, it being quite misty as usually. So we explored some unknown hills and moors and made west for the coast. (I could see where the sun was without climbing up above the clouds.)

Just before we got to the coast our engine started missing on one cylinder. When a rotary misses it goes pretty dud. I tried to nurse it by gliding, and starving and diving and trying various combinations to clean her out but miss she would. I could not see the revs, speed, or petrol pressure, but as Frank was not trying to communicate any alarming news to me, and as we seemed to be limping along fairly well we continued. We got the coast below Girvan and flew back to Turnberry where we landed on the aerodrome. I gave the engine a looking over. It seemed to be intact mechanically, so we started her up and came home, keeping an eye out for field to land in in case she let us down. We got home all right. One spark plug porcelain had cracked and prevented that cylinder from firing.

I took a ride on a Hun Albatros the other day. It was a lot of fun. It flew so differently from our busses and was so roomy in the office. The 6 cyl. Mercedes engine sounds very nice and chug-chuggy. She is rather old so we do not strain her by tossing her about, I had just a nice ladylike ride, gentle curves and climbs and dives. It was very interesting to see where the Hun couldn’t see you.

My idea of fun now is to fly strange machines. I wish I could get a chance to fly a Camel, a Bristol Fighter and a Bristol Monoplane. As you know now I have flown six different kinds of busses, rumpties (Maurice Farmans), Avros, Pups, Spads, S.E.5s and Albatroses.

Now I will begin the main burden of this note. I went to a wonderful party Wednesday night. It seemed they needed some more dancers and as Americans are considered, over here, to be dancers I was invited along with three other Americans, and the main personnel of British flight commanders and captains. We were the only rank so low as 1st lefts., and everybody else had up a couple of decorations. Captain McCudden was in the party.

We got in automobiles and rolled about five miles out into the country to a castle. It was a wonderful house. The kind of architecture that has fine big halls and staircases and yet extensive and ambling sort of inviting you to get lost, and when you do you find yourself in some very cozy room. The place was beautifully furnished. I don’t believe there is anything in the States that can touch these British castles. Our multimillionaires may build grand homes, but they cannot reproduce the attractive and hospitable atmosphere that results from the care and taste of many generations. You would love these places.

We were relieved of our duds and went upstairs to the music room and met the host and the guests. O my! How it tickled me to cast an eye on those girls. I realized in an instant that there was none of that disappointing London beauty in the place. This was real Scotland and with a vengeance. Well to make a long story longer, Catonsville had nothing on that gathering.

We danced downstairs in the main hall on a floor that looked like they had been polishing it since Cromwell. It was so dark and polished. At the start the music was a gramophone, but pretty soon we brought down one of the numerous pianos, somebody produced a drum and cymbals and we had very clever music by several of the present talents.

One of the first things I did after picking out my favorites, I told them of the tough luck Frank and I had experienced, and made arrangements never to let it happen again. Not the engine trouble mind you, the girl trouble. It seems that I have been beating around the bush quite long enough so I might as well ‘fess up I discovered a very interesting friend. Some party, and it all lasted until 3.15 a.m.

You should have seen the supper. The swellest wedding imaginable in peace time could not touch it. There was a most marvelous planked fish about 3 feet long with exquisite trimmings that did not get touched. Then there were all kinds of things like oyster patties, jellied meat, whipped cream and cake and fruit. I was not “blotto” from the “pre-war liquor” but I only have a very hazy impression of the great display of fancy eats.

There was champagne punch made up fresh every ten minutes that foamed up in your glass like you were taking it right out of the bottle. And the goblets. They would have made good wash bowls. They were cut glass, but reminded me more of things I have seen made of stone and bronze, namely, their bases looked like the pedestal of a monument and the cup like an inverted church bell. And all of this was spread in the most entrancing room. Beautiful dark woodwork and paneling, private little niches and circular coves where the towers were formed, raised floor to them, and marvelous old furniture. It’s lucky for me that she had me a bit blotto, or these other things would have.

Without going into the multitude of lovely details— The next morning I grabbed an S.E.5, and went on a hunt up the river Ayr for Sorn Castle. It was my second ride on an S.E. and this particular bus was much better than the first one I took up. Doing 110 mi/hr. it did not take me but an instant to get there (13 miles). Everything about it checked up with my study of the maps. I knew she would not be at home because Sunday afternoon is the first time I could see her but I thought I might as well get a look at the place. So I staged a bit of a show for her maid and the countryside. I am not much of a circus artist but with that bus anybody could put on a right good show. The most fun was to dive steeply at the house, pull her up, push on engine and zoom up about 1000 feet practically vertically then instead of putting her nose down forward pull it back and go off in a loop. I managed to half roll fairly well this time, but the best looking stunt must have been the roll and a half to the right that she did beautifully every time.

Frank did not go on the party. I told him all about the girls. There are two of them that live within four miles of each other and we planned to go call on them. The other girl, Miss Latta, did not say that she was going to be away so we decided to take a chance this morning. Frank did not turn up at the regular time. I got rather excited waiting for him while the Avros were leaving one by one, so finally I decided to buzz off taking a boy mechanic with me to start the bus again. I located the place as marked on the map just after my engine started to run on eight cylinders instead of all nine. I ventured down and circled around, but could not see anything that looked like the house. There were two collections of what I thought were stone barns, and an inn. I decided that that locality was Failford but that the castle itself must be some place else and I would have to gain more information about it. So I tried to make Sorn Castle. The bus would not climb but the engine gave just enough revs to keep us poking along. We got to Sorn Castle and I put her down in a nearby field, making a bum cross wind landing. I left the youngster to watch the bus and I beat it for the castle. A constable and a couple of farmers came up. They directed me to the castle and added that I would be very welcome there because an aviator had given a wonderful exhibition over it yesterday morning.

A respectful and pleased old butler let me in. No, Miss McIntyre was not in. She had taken the early train to Glasgow, but I could come in and he would be very pleased to show me to the phone. I called up my flight commander and told him about the engine and its location. He said he would send somebody out, and then I could buzz off and enjoy myself, knowing and sporty Scotsman, he realized that I did not put her down at a castle for nothing. So then I called up Miss Latta, got the location of her house, and said I would try and get to see her after the mechanics arrived. While I was waiting to get these calls through, I was ushered by the butler into a charming big room. It was about 25′ × 100′ with a break of two steps across the floor about 1/3 way from the end and pillars and arches up to the high ceiling at that section, sort of making two rooms of it. There was a fine fire going in a cozy diagonal fire place near this divisional section. One end of the room had a big church organ built into it.

Mrs. McIntyre came in and charmed me with her hospitality and kind interest, and walked out on the grounds a little way towards the bus with me.

When I got back to my bus I did a few of the things I should have done immediately on landing. Turned her into the wind and made a more thorough examination of the engine. Although some small part was rolling around in side of it, all the tappet rods and valves seemed to be working O.K. In a few minutes we heard a machine coming in the air and an instructor with a mechanic landed. We changed the bad plugs and after a little fiddling got her running again. By this time the wind had increased considerable and a storm was just starting. The engine ran up so well that I decided to fly her home.

Just before I took off I saw Mr. and Mrs. McIntyre standing at the edge of the field looking on. I hope I can feel as pleased every time I take off a dud engine as I did that trip. Because I thought to myself she is bound to go enough to get off and if she conks out I can plant her down near Miss Latta’s house. But she gave pretty good revs. and not much shaking so we buzzed on home through the sleet storm.

The weather has been bad all this afternoon. Frank and I are going calling tomorrow morning if we can get a bus.

I am enclosing 9 prints and one film. Sorry you enlarged such a poor picture. Wait a while and select the best.



Parr’s entry for April 17, 1918, in his Pilot’s Flying Log Book indicates he flew Albatros 391/16 “to judge vision.” This was the Albatros D 1 that had been flown by Lt. Büttner of Jasta 2 and forced down and captured near Pommier by Captain George Alec Parker (December 19, 1892–November 27, 1916) and his observer 2nd Lt. Hamilton Elliott Hervey (November 6, 1895–May 30, 1990) of No. 8 Squadron on November 16, 1916.350 This is probably the same plane that Parr mentions inspecting in his letter of April 3, 1918, made airworthy in the meantime. Apparently Parr got in his flight just in time. A photo by his friend from ground school, John Rorison, who left Ayr a few days before Parr, shows the Albatros, wings crumpled, after a crash.351

George Vaughn was one of the three other Americans invited to the party; he wrote a brief account of it in a letter of April 18, 1918.352

See the commentary on Rose Lindsay Hopkins in Parr’s letter of January 8, 1918, regarding Catonsville.

Parr’s host was Thomas Walker McIntyre who, with Joseph Paton Maclay, had founded Maclay and McIntyre, a Glasgow shipping firm, in 1885.353 In 1889 he married Jeanie Paterson Galloway; they had four children. In 1907 McIntyre purchased Sorn Castle, parts of which date from the fourteenth century. Curtailing some of his extensive business activity, the new owner devoted much of his attention to improvements at the castle, which is still in the McIntyre family.354

According to Parr’s Pilot’s Flying Log Book, this second S.E. flight, on April 18, 1918, was in [D]3433, presumably manufactured somewhat later than the one he flew on April 16, 1918.

The family of James Gilmore Latta lived at Failford House, about halfway between Failford and Mauchline, and a few miles to the west of Sorn Castle.355 Parr’s acquaintance was the youngest of three children and only daughter, Hilda May Latta.356 Both Latta sons (James Douglas and John) were in the R.A.F., and James Douglas was at Ayr during this period.357 It may have been this connection that prompted the McIntyres’ invitation to the pilots at Ayr.

Parr’s Pilot’s Flying Log Book indicates that his boy mechanic passenger on the flights to and from Sorn Castle on April 19, 1918, was “Boy Ridelgouch,” otherwise unidentified.

Miss McIntyre was Thomas Walker McIntyre’s daughter Margaret Alison (born in 1900). As Parr notes in his letter of April 26, 1918, her two older sisters were both already married.358

Parr’s flight commander was probably Gerald Joseph Constable Maxwell. Born near Inverness, three years younger than Parr, Maxwell was commissioned on the first day of the war and served in Gallipoli and Egypt before transferring to the R.F.C. in 1916. He was with No. 56 Squadron from March through October of 1917, scoring 20 victories, before returning to Great Britain to serve as an instructor. He rejoined 56 in the summer of 1918 and scored six more victories.359