[Received June 5, 1918]


[Beauvois] France

May 15, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Ab Lincoln has nothing on me when it comes to candles. You should see where I am now. My boudoir is part of the peaked roofed attic of an old French 2 story house. I have four candles blazing merrily in a row right beside this paper. It is really quite comfortable. A good wooden floor with a door mat and two old rugs; good brick walls up four feet and then roof beams and a tiled roof with seven little circular lights. I have got my cot, trunk, camp table, wash basin on a box, clothes line conveniently arranged about 3 sides and all the comforts of home with none of its cares and worries.

We all (meaning the flying officers of this No. 32 Squadron) live in this and one other house and have our mess in a house at the cross roads of this very small village. We have a piano and victrola there besides good food.

I cannot say much about the men or the squadron or place. But you can consider me very fortunate to have drawn this place. The pilots are good fellows, the C.O. is fine, the busses are great and the aerodrome O.K. (good selection of high school adjectives).

I have had two tootles around to study the geography of these parts, and also to get acclimated to the upper air. During training I never went up over 9000 feet, these times I went up 15 and then 17 thousand. You surely can see over a tremendous area of land from up there. Just now France is quite pretty. The roads are very distinct, straight, and white, and the trees and many fields are nice and green. Today we did a job over what is now Hun land. We tootled up and down well back of their lines for 1 hour and I never saw a Hun. Some of the fellows who were ahead of me saw some. That country over which they have been scrapping surely does look a mess. The roads and town stand out white on a surface that is like white small pox all over.

Tomorrow I expect to do some target practice. This is a very disappointing letter considering that it should relate my first experiences over the lines. I am feeling fine, am not tired, and am enjoying all the doings immensely but the writing muse is not with me, and if I get to really telling about it the Huns might get the letter and find out some information. I’ll tell you all about it after the scrapping is all over.



Parr has crossed out “American Officers’ Inn. 5 Cavendish Square. London. W.1.” on the Y.M.C.A. stationery he used for this letter.

Place names in brackets are supplied. The editor of Bogart Rogers’s letters notes (p. 98) that “in France, censorship rules prohibited the naming of locations.” It is apparent from Parr’s Pilot’s Flying Log Book and histories of No. 32 Squadron that he was writing from Beauvois. There are a number of French towns of this name; this was apparently the town of Beauvois about five miles west of St. Pol and about eight miles east of Hesdin in the department of Pas de Calais. Bogart Rogers, in a letter from May 2, 1918, describes his arrival there: “We finally turned off the main road. After a mile or so across the fields we pulled up in a dirty little village—muddy streets, ramshackle houses and buildings, chickens, dogs, and children running about, trucks and tenders parked along the roadside. At a dingy little building on a corner with ‘Au Trocadero’ in large red letters over the door we stopped. That was the officers mess.” Alvin Andrew Callender, writing on May 27, says: “We are billeted in a cottage set in the middle of an apple and peach orchard, about 20 miles from the lines, far enough away for the guns not to keep us awake at night.”425 Official photos taken on this day of No. 32 Squadron pilots (see the photos at the end of this chapter) place them at an air field at Humières, about a mile northwest of Beauvois. There was apparently also a landing field just south of Beauvois itself.426 Whether both fields were used by 32 (and other squadrons based at Beauvois) I have not been able to discover.