Letter to his wife from Herbert Gray



Letter to his wife from Herbert Gray
No. 22


Expresses concern over regularity of wife’s letters and length of time that letters take to get through. Mentions that they might not be able to depart on leave until Tuesday as the might be on operations Monday night. Recounts that planned 13th operation proved particularly harrowing. Because it was a long operation, the station medical officer would not let their captain, Squadron Leader Van Rolleghan, fly as he was limited to found and a half hour operations. Attempted again to fly operation replacing an aircraft that returned early but were eventually stopped by group headquarters. Reserve crew notified as missing. Concludes with short mention of possibility of a commission for some crew members.




Temporal Coverage



Four page handwritten letter


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[underlined] No. 22. [/underlined] Saturday. 7.30 pm.

[inserted] 10 [/inserted]



What a relief – three whole days without a word from you – and now, on the fourth day, two letters arrive from you, for both of which I thank you. Unfortunately the first, written on Wed, is not numbered so I am calling it No. 29. But the other was written on Frid. and is numbered No. 31 so it very much looks as if at least one letter is missing. You see, according to the letters I have had you did not write either Tues. or Thurs.

I see from your Wed. letter that it is taking three days for my letters to come through so the posts are certainly not normal.

I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear what a rotten time you had Tues. Wed. and Thurs. All on your own, too, [sic] poor darling, with no

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sympathetic husband to look after you. Yes, pet, I also hope that God will keep me safe until leave comes along. It rather looks as if we shall not be able to leave here until Tues. but of course we are hoping for the best and praying not to be on ops. on Mon. night. If we are on ops. Mon. I shall come straight home after landing rather than sleep here. I should have to tumble straight into bed when I got home in that case. But don’t think I am necessarily on ops. if I don’t blow in on Mon. evening for it doesn’t follow.

Like you, I am also running short of note paper. They have no more printed paper like this for sale in the Mess so I shall probably have to get an ordinary plain pad when it runs out.

Uncle Jack is not only a Fairy Godmother to the two kiddies but also a very prolific letter

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writer by all accounts. It will not take me long to get the hedges in order once I get home.

I was certainly feeling pretty worried about you by the time these two letters arrived. I was feeling particularly low last night as we prepared for our 13th op. We had been briefed and had been out at the kite some time and had finished our final checks. The trip was another long one of well over 8 hours with every [deleted] indecipherable word [/deleted] chance of a diversion to another ‘drome on return as the vis. was likely to be bad with low cloud. Then the Wing Co. arrived in his car to tell Van that the M.O. would not allow him to do the trip as it was of course well over 4 ½ hrs. So the reserve crew and kite had to go in our place whilst we stood around our kite watching take off. After the last kite was off the deck, we returned

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To Flights and had only just got there when we saw one of our kites returning on three engines. Van was off to the phone in a shot and got provisional permission to return to our kite and take off and go in place of the lame duck. So off we went again back to the kite. By the time [deleted] indecipherable word [/deleted] we reached the kite word had come through from Group that they would not allow Van to fly in view of the M.O.’s veto! What a night of false alarms and panics. Unfortunately the reserve crew are missing though this does not mean that we would have run into trouble had we gone for it is millions to one against being in the same bit of sky at the same moment of time when the other kite ran into trouble.

I see you are counting the day – like me – till Mon. or Tues. Yes, Van has told the Wing Commander that he considers that Wilf, Pete and myself should have commissions but it rests with our respective Leaders to recommend us and I think they want us to get two or three more ops. in first. See you soon, my darling. God bless and keep you. Your loving husband.

[underlined] Bertie [/underlined]



Bertie Gray, “Letter to his wife from Herbert Gray ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 14, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/1045.

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