[Received June 12, 1918]


May 12, 1918

10:30 P.M.

Dear Mother and Father:

I have been assigned to No. 32 Squadron, 9th Wing, Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) of the British Expeditionary Forces (B.E.F.) and will go there to-morrow.

They are using the type of machines I like the best.

I had a lovely cold swim in the surf of the English Channel all by myself this afternoon.

There is nothing much to tell about today. We landed here about 10:30 after a slow train ride and a long tender ride. We are bunking in frame huts. Meals O.K. I expected to go to my squadron after dinner today, but the transportation did not come. My baggage is all packed so I must hurry and unpack it so as to get out my cot and go to bed.



No. 32 Squadron had been formed in January, 1916. It was initially commanded by Lionel Rees, who later became the C.O. of the School of Aerial Fighting at Ayr (see Parr’s letter of April 3, 1918), then by Thomas Algar Elliot Cairnes, brother of William Jameson Cairnes, Parr’s instructor at No. 56 Training Squadron at London Colney. From September, 1917, until the end of the war, it was under the command of Major John Canaan Russell. By March, 1918, it was equipped with S.E.5a’s. At the end of March it was assigned to 9 Wing, IX Brigade.420 A brigade was generally made up of three wings; each wing in turn usually consisted of three or four squadrons; a squadron was made up of three flights—A, B, and C–of four to six airplanes each. Each brigade was attached to a particular British army, whose number it took, with the exception of IX Brigade, which served directly under the R.A.F. headquarters in France and could be sent wherever it was most needed.421

For this brief letter, Parr used stationery from The Grand in Folkestone, but he crossed out that address. According to his R.A.F. casualty form, here was “2 A.S.D.,” i.e. No. 2 Aeroplane Supply Depot. (Casualty forms, used to track pilot’s movements overseas, have recently been made available in digital form by the RAF Museum in London.) Parr was probably at the associated pilots pool near Berck, on the coast south of Boulogne. Bogart Rogers, in letters dated April 28 and April 30, 1918, writes of crossing from Folkestone to Boulogne and then being at Berck in a pilots’ pool for a few days prior to being posted to No. 32 Squadron on May 2; Parr’s journey was probably similar.