Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents



Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents


Writes from Medicine Hat that he is having his first Sunday morning off. Writes of flying schedule, early starts, poor weather and lack of winter flying kit but this has now been issued. Tells of Christmas excursion by train to Calgary and activities there. Continues with account of hire car and adventures while driving to Banff and subsequent problems with car. Mentions going to Lake Louise and great scenery. Continues with news of warmer weather and having last of examination. Concludes with general news of activities on base.



Temporal Coverage



Ten page handwritten letter and envelope


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[inserted] Read Feb 24th [/inserted]
No. 1330340.L.A.C. H.R.MADGETT
Hut 14A. Course 33.
No. 34 S.F.T.S. R.A.F.
Medicine Hat,
Alta. Canada.
[underlined] 11th. Jan. [/underlined]
Dear Mum & Dad,
This is heaven – our first Sunday morning when we can stay in bed. We have nothing on this morning; this afternoon we are flying as per usual. Up to now it been my luck to be always on early flying on Sunday morning. Early flying means getting up in the middle of the night at the unearthly hour of 6a.m. to be down at the Flights for taxying the kites in position and warm the engines up at 7 o ‘clock. A week ago and for 6 or 7 days the weather was colossaly [sic] cold. The temperature got down to -310 & often did not get above -100 for the whole day. To make it worse there
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was a strong wind, so you can see early flying was no joke. The weather now is quite nice and very warm. (comparatively), and the snow is even trying to thaw. But a warm spell like this will not last long. It was during the cold weather I nearly got frost bite on one of my ears. It did not drop off however because I discovered it just in time. You see, it was not until a few days ago that we were issued with Winter kit. We just had our normal English kit to keep us warm. Now, however we have some [deleted] letter [/letter] leather fingerless gloves, which are very good, thick underclothing & long pants (which nobody is wearing including me) and as the R.A.F. terms all our equipment, Caps yucon, airman for the use of. These are very warm, and large
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[underlined] 3 [/underlined]
flaps fold down over your ears & tie underneath your chin.
Well, I had better tell you of our Xmas venture. Me and Eric (Markham) caught the 5.05p.m. train to Calgary on Xmas Eve. We met “Murf” (Murrray) [sic] at Calgory as per arrangement (he had one extra day leave). He had got us rooms in the Pallister Hotel, a whacking place. After we had had a meal at about 11p.m. we went around the town looking for what it had to offer us. We went into a café where there was a nice Cashier. We got talking, & found she was an American; she invited us then to a party & we went to meet her when [deleted] It [/deleted] she knocked off. So we went to the hotel to get an hour’s kip in, and went
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back to the café at 3a.m. But the manager would not let her go then as plenty of people were still coming in and out. after some wangling she managed to get away, but it was too late – the party had broken up by then.
Next morning we went along to hire the car. The best they had left was an old Buick. So we took that, had a meal & set off for Banff at about 1p.m. Out of town, we took a wrong turning & did not know where the road led to. So we asked at a farm, where the farmers wife kept us to have something to eat & drink, & gave us the address of her sister in Chiswick for us to see when we [deleted] got [/deleted] get back.
She set us on the right road –
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[underlined] 5 [/underlined]
by the way, we nearly finished the trip in Calgory, for on the outskirts two cars had stopped about 40 yards for the lights. We were doing about 30 m.p.h. to 40 m.p.h. and I had to stand on the brakes to stop & go in between the cars and the side walk. The next thing we discovered was that the clutch slipped above 50 m.p.h., and the steering – well to go straight the wheel had to be revolved 1/2 a turn backwards & forwards. There were one or two fairly steel hills to go down. We crossed our fingers hoping we would not have to stop because we couldn’t on the hills. [deleted] Its [/deleted]. It was a 2 driver job – the driver steering, in bottom gear - & standing on the brake
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and another pulling hard on the hand brake.
However we did get to Banff picking up 3 of our chaps whose car had skidded & gone for 6.
The other two in the car were in Banff with bruises & slight concussion.
We got up late and at about 11a.m. we thought about getting the car started. I press the starter – it just goes click. So we try by turning on the handle – and it was all we could do to move the engine round [underlined] 2”. [/underlined]
The whole thing had frozen. solid; the radiator was O.K. Eventually, the garage nearby got their big (omni)bus [sic] out. When they pulled us back out of the kerb the back wheels skidded for the first 5 yards so you can see
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how frozen the whole transmission [deleted] had go [/deleted] was. Then the bus pushed us round the block and we got the eight cylinders to fire. Then we had to carefully warm up the gears because when in neutral the gears were grinding round in the thick oil.
That afternoon we went to Lake Louise, half way skidding off the road into a snowdrift.
By the greatest of luck a heavy cattle truck happened to pass within 1/2 hour, who hauled us out. at Lake Louise we got stuck in, taking us 3/4 hour to move again using the starting handle as a spade, our gloves scarves, rugs etc. to make the wheels grip. Next day we [deleted] skidde [/deleted] slid down a hill
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[underlined] 8. [/underlined]
and over a narrow wooden bridge, & doing some exploring got stuck again.
the scenery was really great. Colossal mountains, firs, Red Deer & Moose etc. I shall send some pictures over when they are developed.
Coming back, it is slightly down hill all the way so we saw how quickly the car would move. On one corner, we hit a bump, and we went round on two wheels the rest of the corner. It was a good engine & had bags of power – too much in fact for the clutch. It just would not go faster than 60 m.p.h. down hill.
Next time I write I shall tell you more of our leave; I must
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[underlined] 9. [/underlined] stop soon or I shall write a book.
Thank you very much for the gloves & balaclavas. They [underlined] did not [/underlined] take long getting here.
[underlined] Monday. [/underlined] 12th.
Well, today has been again warm and most of the snow has gone. We had the last of our exams for a time at least by having the Oral Armaments. I did not do terribly well, but I got through, which is the main thing. We have no more exams till at the end of the Course, & they are on signals and Airmanship.
Tonight, there is a concert which should be good according to the programme. Tomorrow
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[underlined] 10. [/underlined]
[deleted] particular [/deleted]
we can get up at a respectable hour because we have nothing on till 9.00am. when all our Flight takes part in the funeral of one of our comrades.
Instead of lectures every day, [deleted] whe [/deleted] we shall have P.T. & games and [underlined] drill [/underlined] which we all [underlined] detest [/underlined]. Occasionally we shall have lectures on Signals Airmanship & Maintenance.
Well, I shall be writing again soon; I must be going now to enjoy the concert.
So, till next time,
Au Revoir,
Love from [underlined] Hedley [/underlined].
[page break]
[postmark][postage stamp]
[inserted] Read [underlined] Feb 24 [/underlined][/inserted]
Mr. & Mrs. L.R. Madgett.
127. Longlands Road,
[page break]
[underlined] From: [/underlined] L.A.C. [underlined] H.R. Madgett [/underlined]
34 S.F.T.S. R.A.F.
[encircled] 14th [/encircled]


Hedley Robert Madgett, “Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 18, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11198.

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