[Received May 11, 1918]


Carleton House,


April 21, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Today has been a prize. I stayed in bed until 11:30, and this evening has been spent sitting around a fire in our anteroom. Ha-Ha! You wonder how I can call this a prize day. It is because of this afternoon. Just one little afternoon.

I had an engagement to take tea at Sorn Castle with the McIntyres. The only way to get there was via aeroplane, so I was very anxious about the weather. It was rather windy all morning and I was afraid Avros would be “washed out.” When I arrived at the aerodrome to my joy I saw them wheeling out the Avros. I consulted my flight commander about what I could take up. He said to flip an Avro. I suggested that if I was going to fly an S.E.5 I would like to do it early in the afternoon as I had a fine chance to take an Avro to tea. He got me right away and said “O well then you might as well wash out the S.E., as there are others I want to fly it today, and buzz off.” Two o’clock seemed very early to leave for tea, but there was a storm brewing, a little rain (almost sleet) was falling, so we decided we had better get off before we were made to stay home. Frank sat in front and I piloted from the rear. The storm passed with a little rain and pretty good bumps.

We went first to Failford House and played around to see if we could attract Miss Latta’s attention. They all came out and we could see Miss Latta among them. We staged a few simple stunts. An Avro with two people is a pretty slow and clumsy bus. Then we saw their message LAND laid on the lawn in letters about 6 feet high. We had no intentions of landing there, but in the face of that invitation we could not resist. I could not find a field. All the land is cut up in little ridges due to the streams and winding river. From 500 feet almost everything looks level. We dropped down to a couple of fields, but were always disappointed and had to go up again. Then I decided on one and resolved to plant her and plant her we did—right on a hillside. We did not run along the ground 15 feet, and our tail skid sticking into the ground kept us from rolling down the hill backwards.

The usual crowed gathered, and in a few minutes the Latta party arrived. We met Mr. and Mrs., her brother, a captain in infantry, and two guests. They invited us to stay, but of course we could not.

Our take off was quite thrilling. We did about 20 mi/hr. up the hill, zoomed a hedge fence before we had flying speed and then started to fly off the other side of the hill and got away. We went immediately to Sorn and on our second trial got a field where the ridges ran near enough into the wind to stall her down.

A tremendous mob, Sunday afternoon, gathered from all points of the compass. The constable was among them, all dressed up in civies and we left our bus in his care and beat it to the castle. Miss McIntyre soon came to us and then Mr. and Mrs. and two guests a Mrs. Somebody and a Mr. Weir.

We had a wonderful visit. Walked over the wonderful picturesque estate, Frank and I with Miss Mc. Then Mr. took me over part of the castle. It surely is a wonder. 600 years old and kept up to top notch. All modern luxuries, yet all the old beauties preserved and brought out. He has one bed room of beautiful oak panels. The only furniture is a magnificent old carved 4 poster (and roofed over) bedstead. Every panel opens like a door and behind them were concealed the slickest furniture you ever saw. Desks, wardrobes, chest of draws, mirrors, modern bath room, etc. There is no hardware (latches, handles, or hinges) visible from the outside. Even the door by which we entered was a panel and I could not find which it was. The view from the windows was wonderful. The cliffs and banks of the river are all gardened with vines, rhododendron and flowers.

I cannot begin to describe even the small part of the place that I saw. The spiral stone steps in a tower with look out windows, loop holes, and signal bells, his two studies, one down in the foundations with stone arched roof.

We had a fine tea. Afterwards Mrs. played the organ. Then we got out the victrola and had a dance.

It surely was a wonderful place and wonderful people. Frank and I had the time of our lives.

Our take off was again very exciting. The field was pretty large. It was bordered to windward and the two adjacent sides by large pine trees. There seemed to be considerable eddy down from them, because we got off the ground O.K., but could not climb over the trees. I held her down to keep flying speed, and it looked about like we would strike them about their middle (up and down). Just as we got to them the bus seemed to get a grip on the air and responded to a zoom which took our nose over their tops and apparently got us into good air because we flew over them very nicely. I turned half a circle. The engine was running regularly but did not seem to have sufficient pep. The rev. counter was out of wack. Of course we were supposed to put on a show for the folks below. We barely had time to get home before the mechanics were due to leave (6 P.M.) so I thought I would consult Frank. We were up 200 feet. I shut the engine off (so as to be able to talk to Frank) and asked him what he thought of the engine. Before he could turn his head around the prop stopped dead. I struck her nose straight down. To my surprise she did not take. Down we went, luckily just clearing an edge of woods. Still the prop stood still. I dove her right to the ground and as I pulled up the prop started turning and took the throttle and pulled us up over the opposite trees. I cannot imagine what made it stop. You can always shut off the engine and the motion of your glide keeps the prop. slowly spinning around so that you can turn on the petrol and start her pulling any time. Also a slight dive ought to start a dead prop on an Avro. I decided for sure then that the engine did not suit me so buzzed off home.

I have been in lot worse situations when by myself and they only affect me as being interesting, but with Frank in the front seat with no belt, it was not particularly funny. We got back just in time to go in the hangars with the last machine to come in.



Flip,” more usually as a noun, was apparently standard slang. Andrew Alvin Callender in a letter of April 1, 1918, writes to his sister from Upavon: “First—the weather: It’s been rotten for the last five days, with the exception of a short while yesterday afternoon, when most of us managed to get up for a short ‘flip,’ as we call it.”360

Mr. Weir was probably a member of the family that founded G. & J. Weir, an engineering firm initially based in Liverpool, but since 1873 associated with Glasgow.361 William Douglas Weir (1877–1959), who in 1910 succeeded his father, James Weir (1843–1920), as chairman, was a cousin of Agnes Steele Latta (née Douglas), wife of James Gilmore Latta (parents of Parr’s acquaintance from the party at Sorn Castle, Hilda May Latta).362 James Gilmore Latta had been closely associated with the firm of G. & J. Weir since the 1880s, eventually becoming a partner and a director; his sons had worked at G. & J. Weir before the war.363

Apparently two days after Parr wrote this letter, his fellow cadet and photographer, Louis Ward Wheelock, Jr., was badly injured when the Bristol Fighter he and Norman K. Berry were flying crashed and burned at Ayr.364 Rorison took a grim photo of the burned out plane.365