[Received June 29, 1918]


[Fouquerolles] France

June 5, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Well it has been some time since I wrote, but I guess the unevenness of the mail delivery has kept you all from thinking much of it.

We have moved. Now we are in a very pretty part of France and supposedly where there is a war on. They told us great tales about these parts. All about Huns putting on shows right over our airdrome, and that you would never have to look twice or fly far to find them, but it has not panned out that way. We have been out, up and down the line and a little way into Hunland twice now and we have not seen a Hun.

Our work has changed a little now, and I think it will be even more interesting. Instead of flying as a squadron away high up we are going out as flights and stay where you can see the ground and realize that there is a shell or two bursting below.

The country here is very pretty and abounds in good land marks. There are lots of forests, some very large ones, and canals and villas and very pretty towns.

Today in the patrol I was very much elated over having a streamer on my rudder. I was the rear guard (and top most)—the smell of the outfit as it were. Our flight, B flight, is coming into its own now. Our regular leader has come back from leave. He is an Irish boy about 20 years old, and some boy. He has gotten about 10 Huns. Once he dogged a Hun two seater and made him land behind our lines by shooting at him every time he tried to turn back home. He has just been made a captain and has the M.C. (English Military Cross). He led us today for the first time.

The sky was pretty full of bunchy clouds at about 6 or 7 thousand. The sun was bright between, and the ground was bright in spots and covered with shadows in others. The shadows look very much like the forests at times. The air was very bumpy, and every little while I and a couple of the high ones ran into the clouds. We would duck out in a few moments and scurry about to find our mates. It would have been some setting for a dog fight if any Huns had dropped on us between clouds. One of the interesting parts was discovering where the Hun archie was and seeing which bunch of it was the most accurate. I suppose the old Hun thinks he can easily put the wind up these newcomers (we English busses). Because we would be flitting along in somewhat of a formation, turning every little while so as he could not use cold mathematics on us, and every time he would start barking with his black puffs we would twist and turn and go all about like peas in a can. He did not scare us, but I guess we looked a bit windy. His archie makes a nice excuse to bust up the formation and play about a little.

Moving is a very easy game for a flying officer. All I did was pack my baggage, and everything else was done for me. We got word that we should be ready to move at any time. Everybody packed their clothes and lived with what we had on and could carry in our little haversacks, and our cots and blankets and flying duds. The equipment officer, and the various sergeant majors were very busy loading lurries with all sorts of truck—our stores, shops, parts, offices, mess equipment, etc. This sort of thing went on about l ½ days. We doing patrols as usual. Then one night at 12.30 when we were asleep the message came to move at once. We all got up, dressed, packed our bedding rolls, got into our flying suits and went to sleep again. But there was great activity on the part of the working members of our squadron. The batmen packed what was left out of wash basins, lamps, etc. The mechanics put the last rites [sic] in the lurries, pulled up telephone wire, etc. The lurries with all our belongings left about 2.30 a.m. Caswell and I after leaving our beds for the batmen to load on the lurries for us went up to the airdrome, got into our flying duds, crawled up on top of the canvas hangars (which were left intact and standing) and slept under the stars with the ridge pole for a pillar and the belly of the canvass between roof girders as a hammock.

The next morning we had breakfast at the village, and later on the squadron got to their machines and flew here. We had a party of mechanics to start us off and everything.

It was a rather short trip. The clouds were very thick and low so we had a little trouble getting together and picking out the route. We passed over a couple of newsy [sic] towns. When we got here the clouds cleared a bit. There are several aerodromes right nearby and most of us came down at the wrong one, took off again and came here. The drome itself is pretty large and level, but it is somewhat of a French farm, with a multitudinous variety of grass and crops growing in little 2x4 patches all over it. Some of the grass is pretty high and we have to be pretty careful not to let it turn us over when we land.

None of our working party had arrived so we all put our busses in the very good French hangars and scurried around in the small nearby town for food and drink. We did not have much luck, but soon the C.O. car arrived. It was relieved of its load of recording officer, dogs, and C.O’s. luggage, and was used to take us to a fair sized town some 10 kilos away, in relays. We stayed there for lunch and dinner. Our lurries arrived here about 5.30 P.M. and when we came back about 10 P.M. our tents were up, kit set up and everything ready for us to go to bed. We surely are worried a lot with work.

Just here I was agreeably interrupted by some mates from A and C Flights coming in and telling me about the scrap they just had.

The day before we left our old airdrome I received two letters nos. 50 and 62. No I have not been getting any post cards. I don’t think they are worth toting around. In this town Monday I looked over the handsome cathedral with Callender the Louisiana chap who studied architecture at Tulane and then in Paris. It is some edifice. Also the tremendous and multitudinous clock was quite a curiosity.

We are living in tents here and during this beautiful weather it is hard to beat. We have those 14′ dia. conical tents, two officers in each one, and a fine housie sort of a tent, we call a marquis, for our mess. It is all in a grassy lot surrounded by trees and bushes. There is enough room for a ball game, etc., on our lawn. I am tenting with Caswell. He is a most interesting fellow. He is a true saint with the habits of a wild devil. He is very wise and knows a lot about this war flying game so aside from his amusing company he is a very valuable mate.

Give my best to Marion, glad to hear about John Van Sickle. Frank Read’s father is in the coal business. I believe they live at Sudbrook. Once again I announce that I did get the tin box of Christmas cakes and enjoyed them immensely. I now pay a mess bill of 43 francs (1 franc = 18¢) a week plus 42¢ a week rations, and all other expenses. I ought to save a lot of money. I have only received 23 days of officers pay (for April) and have paid for all the stuff I drew as clothes when a private. If my regular pay ever gets to me I will have some money and will put some aside. It is 2000 a year plus 10% for foreign service. Nothing doing on flying pay or quarters, but I hope to get 4¢ a mile for traveling from Glasgow to France.

I cannot speak any French. In the town Monday is the only time I tried to and it did not work at all.

I am so glad Father was in good shape for the operation and hope he will come out O.K. I am very anxious to get another letter telling about it.

I will have to write to Rose again. I received a nice letter from Cousin Lizzie.

Well this is Mary B’s. birthday. Give her my best wishes and some 27 or 28 wallops. I received her box of stuffed prunes. They were very fine and thoroughly enjoyed. Many thanks.

All the news clippings are very interesting. The old N.Y. Ship is kicking through in some style. I think Schwab will get results out of the ship yards. Of late I have been thinking that I will go into the job of operating aerial travel and mail routes in the States after the war. If one could get in with enough capital it would develop into a big money making and very interesting work. It is 9.30 P.M, I am sitting inside of a tent, and there is still light enough to write by. It must be like noon in Scotland.



B flight’s regular leader, Captain Walter Alexander Tyrrell, was born in Belfast in 1898. He joined the R.F.C. in 1917 and was posted to No. 32 Squadron before the end of October. By the time of this line patrol, he had 14 victories to his credit.465

Parr’s roommate, Caswell, is probably the Englishman he mentioned in his letter of May 21, 1918, with whom he decided to share a room on the first floor, having moved out of the attic. George Frederick Charles Caswell, born to a silk merchant, Charles W. Caswell, in Twickenham on February 3, 1887, spent part of his youth in the U.S. where he was employed as a structural engineer from about 1901 until at least 1914. In his letter of May 21, 1918, Parr indicates that his English roommate “was one of the first pilots in the Aero Club U.S.A,” and Caswell’s wife, Florence May Caswell, in a 1974 interview, remarks that “he had originally flown with the Wright brothers in America.” On returning to England at the beginning of 1917, Caswell gave his occupation as aviator.466 On May 24, 1917, he was among those appointed 2nd Lieutenants in the R.F.C.467

The small nearby town was perhaps Fouquerolles. The fair sized town where they got a decent meal and which Parr visited with Callender was Beauvais, with its cathedral and the cathedral’s remarkable astronomical clock.

Rogers was in A flight; Callender in C. In his letter of June 6, 1918, Rogers gives an account, truncated by censors, of “two shows yesterday,” which may have been the topic of conversation when Parr was agreeably interrupted: “ . . . in the afternoon we got into a stiff scrap with several Albatross’ which tumbled down from above. . . . [Callender] went down for several thousand feet belching flames and smoke and it surely looked like curtains for him but he dove the fire out and came home with nothing worse than a pale face and rather shaky nerves.” Callender’s own account, also written on June 6, 1918, is off hand: “Last night [9] of us ran into [13] Huns though and had a lively time of it for a while, [my S.E.5a now has] a new top [petrol tank].” (Bracketed text supplied by Callender’s editors.)

Marion was probably Marion Byrd Hopkins, of the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, tobacco farming family, a distant relative of the founder of Johns Hopkins University.468 He and his family lived a few blocks from the Hoopers; he attended Hopkins and received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from there in 1912 and 1915 respectively before going on to serve as the Baltimore city chemist for several years.469 He was best man at Charles Reid Johnson’s wedding in 1915, where Parr was an usher.470

John Van Sickle, the same age as Parr, was born in Colorado, but from 1900 until about 1911 lived not far from the Hoopers in Baltimore, where his father was superintendent of schools, having been brought to Baltimore by mayor Alcaeus Hooper, a cousin of Parr’s father.471 After graduating from Baltimore City College John Van Sickle attended Haverford, graduating in 1913.472 He then went on to graduate studies at Harvard. He interrupted his studies in 1917 to join the war effort, becoming a 1st lieutenant in the Aviation Section, Signal Corps; he was in France throughout 1918.473

Cousin Lizzie was perhaps Elizabeth Anne Pope, a maternal cousin of Parr’s mother.