Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents



Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents


Written from Swift Current, Saskatchewan and apologises for not writing earlier but has been very busy. Thanks them for birthday greetings and writes about money. Writes that he has bought camera and about first snow. Says they have started flying and covers the difficulties of taxiing and describes early trips. Mentions his instructor and that his next lesson is on landing. Describes aspects of life in Canada, driving to Moose Jaw and entertainment in local area.



Temporal Coverage



Seven page handwritten letter


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No. 1330340. L.A.C. H.R. Madgett.
33 Course. [symbol] No 32 E.F.T.S. R.A.F. Station
Swift Current,
[underlined] 28th Sept [/underlined]
[inserted] Recd 21st Oct [underlined] 1941 [/underlined]
Dear Mum & Dad,
I am sorry I have not written earlier, but I have been rather busy as we have now started our course proper, and our mid term exams are not very far away.
Well, since I wrote last a lot of things have happened, but first, your telegrams. Thanks very much for birthday greetings. I received it 11 days after you sent it from Sidcup, but the others only took 3 days. For each one, there is a duplicate that arrives about a week later than the original. I was surprised and mighty glad when you said $50 was coming. Surprised because I wondered how you were going to manage sending it, as we had been told you could not send any money out of England. However, I should not worry about this now, as the pay question is improving, and is coming regularly now. On Monday (tomorrow) we are again due for $27, to last us a fortnight. So, we are happy now as far as money goes. I have bought a Kodak camera, and although have not finished one spool yet, I shall send some photos on. I enclose that snap taken of me when I was peacefully having a nice little nap; also one of
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of the hut interior. That’s me [deleted] out [/deleted] on the left and those long pipes and a funnel in the middle and at the end are the furnaces, which blow in hot air. There are three of them altogether, and we certainly need them, as in the morning, it is well below freezing.
The first snow came down on Sept. 26, and although was not thick enough to cover the ground, that day was terribly cold below freezing. And yet, two days earlier it was quite hot.
Well we have started flying! [deleted] We [/deleted] I first went up on Tuesday for air experience, and learnt the art of taxying. Its quite a business taxying – the plane does nothing you want it to because the plane takes an awful time to respond to the controls. However, I have got this pretty well taped now, and have now done 02.30 hrs [inserted] flying time [/inserted] and [deleted] have [/deleted] can now fly straight & level, climb, glide, stall with engine off, and on, do slight, medium and steep turns and yesterday I took off (after 2 attempts), & of course know the cockpit drill. Taking off is much harder that I thought – at the moment at any rate. You open to full throttle and push the stick forward to
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[underlined] 3. [/underlined]
get the tail up, but it is then that things go wrong. The ‘plane starts swerving round, and if [deleted] the [/deleted] my instructor had not pulled the throttle back quick, we would have had it, and we finished up at right angles to our take off path. So I had another go, and this time it did the same thing nearly tipping on to the right wing. But the next time, I managed to get it going straight, and the next thing we were in the air. Unlike the other instructors, who are Canadians & Yankees, mine is an [deleted] El [/deleted] English chap – Sgt. Smith. He is quite a decent chap, and sometimes has a habit of when I [deleted] ha [/deleted] was climbing the plane, he said “that’s O.K.” “now I’ll take over”, and then just when I was feeling very pleased about myself & having a look round, he [deleted] jams [/deleted] [inserted] jammed [/inserted] the stick forward & down we went vertically. I was standing upright on the rudder bar & staring at the ground. Then he pulled out suddenly & you feel your inside being squashed downwards. Still, its might good. The next lesson I have to learn on Monday is landing, the hardest of all. I [inserted] have [/inserted] seen plenty of pile up’s, none serious, but the
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[underlined] 4 [/underlined]
most extraordinary thing is the way those poor undercarts take some landings. Its not unusual for planes to land 20 feet in the air & come down bang on the wheels and then jump into the air again. Its then you have to open throttle quick and fly away again to have another try. My plane is no. 5072, and we fly in the morning & afternoon alternately. One day the weather was too bad for flying. There was supposed to be ice and very low clouds. To make sure & find out, our flight commander Flt/Lt. Smith had me as passenger, [deleted] [indecipherable letter] [/deleted] & [deleted] [indecipherable letter] [/deleted] make a weather test. We flew through cloud most of the time, & when we came down we found quite a lot of ice on the struts. This time next week we should know whether we will go solo or not.
Last Saturday was a free day as we had to work on Sunday because someone high up was visiting the camp. However, we got up on Saturday morning wondering how to spend the day. After breakfast we said “let’s go to Moose Jaw”, So when we were ready [deleted] we three started [/deleted] [inserted] we got a lift down [/inserted] to the main highway, and it was not long before arrived in Moose Jaw, 120 miles
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[underlined] 5 [/underlined]
away. Half way there on the road, we passed a particular car and saw a khaki uniform at the wheel.
We just mentioned “an army officer”, but he overtook us again 1/2 mile further on, and just as he was passing, a siren sounded and he signalled us to stop. He was a cop, and stopped us because [deleted] we [/deleted] there were more than three in the front seat of our coupé. He was a decent chap however, and let our driver off so on we went. That siren was the [deleted] most [/deleted] [inserted] best [/inserted] we got out of that episode – it was just like those you hear on the pictures.
Moose Jaw was not much of a town & there was not much to do there. After a meal and shop window gazing we started back at about 4 o’clock, and did not have very good luck in getting lifts back. In fact it took us 3 trucks and 3 cars and our legs for about 5 miles to get home again, and took 6 hours. Next week we intend going further on from Moose Jaw to Regina, which, they say is a better town, and only 40 miles further on.
On Sept. 19 we went to a corn feast at the
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experimental farm. There was community singing, vocal turns & piano playing, monologues, and also a film show & slide show of pictures of Canadian rockies, and other parts of Canada, where the presenter had toured. They were colour pictures, and were marvellous. Then had some sandwiches, and corn eaten off the cob and smeared in butter. I have never had this before and tastes good. I cannot describe the taste because it is [inserted] not [/inserted] like nothing else. Its very messy to eat and is very filling. It was a very good evening especially as the feminine element was not lacking. The farm but took us back to camp, as all the taxis that were to be used were helping in the train crash in Swift Current station. Several were injured & one killed. This is only one of three railroad crashes near Swift Current this last week, most of them serious.
I shall be sending a lot of papers, postcards & what not very soon, when I get hold of some large envelopes. I have such a lot of them that I must send them to get them out of the way.
Well, I guess that is most of the news for the
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[underlined] 7 [/underlined]
time being. I’ve had to condense it a bit. If I did not, I would not finish writing. I could write a book on the happenings over here.
So, I’m afraid I will have to stop now. I hope you are all keeping well & having good weather.
Cheerio, With Love & Best Wishes,
From [underlined] Hedley [/underlined]


Hedley Robert Madgett, “Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 17, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11187.

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