William Holmes memoir - training in Canada



William Holmes memoir - training in Canada


Describes crossing the Atlantic to Canada and journey to Bowden, Alberta and then on to Estevan, Saskatchewan. Day by day account of activities, flying and life in Canada, Concludes with journey back across Canada






Thirty one page handwritten document


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





July 2nd 1942. Today is the day. We paraded at 04.30 am & with usual RAF management we eventually entrained at 07.10 Heaton Park. 11.30am Carlisle. [deleted] 4 [/deleted] 16.00 hrs Gourock. Scotland & here we boarded a tender waiting to take us out to the troopship. Again the usual waiting & then finally we are off & board the LETITIA approx. 14,000 tons. Assigned to D2 deck & acquire a hammock & two blankets. We then had tea. 16 to a table & two of us detailed as mess orderlies + a Canadian corporal who is in charge. I decided to wash & shave but I reckoned with out the queue & then after took a turn on deck. 22.00 hrs. I slung or rather attempted to sling my hammock & after much effort, swearing & sweating achieved my goal. That however was only the start. One, then had to get in & stop in, which isn’t so easy. I think I did sleep after a while.
July 3rd 06.00 hrs Reveille & I turned out. “Turn” is the correct word. feeling quite sharp this morning & after inspecting the queue for the wash basins, dashed off & washed under a salt water shower. Ten minutes later I felt much “smarter” & had to rub Vaseline into my skin. Breakfast at 07.30 hrs. & then cleaning up until 09.00 hrs. The rest of the day was ours except for boat drill & a lecture telling us to sleep in our clothes & always to carry our life jackets.
21.00 hrs we are under way & we go to bed feeling very self satisfied
[page break]
July 4th. Wake at 05.30 hrs & find the ship riding quite a swell. Arrived on deck just in time to see the last of Ireland (I think) on our port bow & fast being left behind. fairly heavy swell all day & most of the lads are sick. My turn came at 8/0 pm & I then decided to put my hammock on the floor & sleep there which I did. Remembered that Marie had probably met Mum by then
July 5th. Feeling better this morning & ate a good breakfast The sea & sky are a dirty grey & we look as if we shall meet dirty weather. Our destroyer escorts are shipping seas & we have started to roll. 8/0 pm. Sea is [deleted] q [/deleted] getting rough & I am still sleeping on the floor.
July 6th. A really nice morning & not so rough. During the usual life boat drill at 10.0 am one of the ships officers starts community singing which goes down very well. The sea now appears to be light blue instead of dirty grey & it looks much better for it too. Have been wondering how Marie is getting on at Banbury & wondering if she is enjoying herself or is just bored stiff. R.a.f. issues a lot of tourist literature on Canada which is something to read at any rate. Read the novel of Al Jolson’s film “The Singing Fool” & I was as pleased with it as I was with the talkie I first saw years back. I’ll try & keep it to return to Mrs Payne.
[page break]
July 7th. The sea is very calm this morning & we all had a good breakfast. (2 Boiled eggs each). Still cheesed off with the monotony.
Fog descends in the evening & it’s a dismal sort of evening, so after posting a letter home & to Marie I turned in.
July 8th. Fog very thick this morning & our siren sounds frequently. Still very monotonous day & I turned in early. Watches put back 1 hr for the fifth time this voyage.
July 9th. Still thick fog, sea calm. We handed in our English money for exchange to Canadian dollars, in the afternoon. I again went to bed early.
July 10th. Lovely calm morning & the wind is quite warm & the sun shines. A Lockheed flew over this morning & that was the first sign of nearing land. We are all hoping to sight the Newfoundland coast this afternoon. Clock’s were not altered last night & altogether we are five hours in front of English time.
July 11th. I woke at 3.50 am & went up on deck to see what all the excitement was about. It was beautiful, the Halifax harbour & water-front was all lit up & the dawn was just breaking. One of the high spots of the war for me. Disembarked at 10.30 am & entrained at 11.0 am. Monckton 5/0pm. & dismissed at 8/0pm. Viewed the city & turned in 1.30 am. First date with French Canadian girl.
July 12th. Paid 11 dollars & promptly called home. Grub very good & plentiful. Not a bad place.
[page break]
July 13. Very hot. Scrounged as usual & went to my first flick.
Wrote & sent an airgraph to Mrs Payne.
July 14th Still damned hot & dry. Clicked for a really good permanent scrounge. Excused all parades for rest of my stay here at Moncton. Sent 2 airgraphs home. One to home & one to Gloria. Invited out 7/30pm on Wed.
July 15. Usual scrounging process. Paid $48.63. for my £11 & I now feel quite rich. Also visited 63 Bonnacord St. & had a very nice evening & supper concluding with another invitation for a car ride on Saturday evening.
July 16. After strolling in the evening I met Jean Davidson, seemed quite a nice girl & I arranged to call home for her tomorrow (Fri) at 8/0pm. I am hoping she likes me.
July 17th. Informed that smallpox had broken out on the ship coming over & had to be vaccinated all over again. pressed my slacks with an iron we had bought & christened both the iron & the slacks. Called for Jean at 8/0pm & had a really good time. she is a really nice girl & pretty into the bargain.
July 18th. Finished at 12 noon. & we went shopping early in the afternoon. 5/0pm started by car, for Magnetic Hill. had supper of N.B. pancakes with maple syrup & butter at the Hill. Rained all night from 9/0pm & we had a taxi to the camp.
[page break]
July 19. Church parade 9.30 am & Ralph & I were roped in to receive the collection. If only the padre had known us. Wrote & sent a letter to Jean at home & then took the other Jean out.
July 20th. Usual kind of day. Still cheesed. Had a quiet walk out at night & got back early for a change.
July 21st. Lee’s birthday. We bought a couple of bottles of Jamaica rum & celebrated in town. Went dancing later then got home somehow. God knows how as I certainly was canned.
July 22nd. Nasty hangover; Met Arthur Turner at the gas centre & so we got together. & had a night out.
July 23rd. Raining & looking miserable. Went to a hooch liquer place in town. Beer pretty bad & I had all I could carry.
July 24th Awful sick & a bad hangover. To hell with liquer from now on. I went along to Jean’s & stopped there until [deleted] neal [/deleted] nearly midnight talking.
July 25. 1/30pm started for the Point du Chine in the car from No 63. It’s a lovely place & the warmest water I have ever swam in. I was sorry to dress & leave for town at 7/0pm. Hot dogs & coffee on the way back.
[page break]
July 26th. Invited to dinner at No 63. Bonnacord St. Excelent [sic] meal & I stayed until about 3/30pm. Went strolling & took a few pictures & then was [deleted] hos [/deleted] invited 5 miles out of town to a bogus date. We returned by taxi sad but much wiser.
July 27th. Worked in the new gas centre until 3/0pm & then did my weekly wash.
July 28th. Last day in gas centre, the best scrounge I ever had. Went out with Arthur at night
July 29th. [deleted] F [/deleted] First day in cook house. Went to see the “Corsican Brothers” with Arthur
July 30th. Collected Jean & went to the flicks.
July 31st Clicked for fire piquet. The powers that be, are catching up with me.
Aug 1st. Out camp at 12 noon & hitchhiked to Amherst
Darn good show, we were the only cadets in town
Met Dorothy & June Gordon & met them after work finished. Stayed at “Birds Nest” & slept till 11.0 am next morning.
Aug 2nd Dined & then Bill Jones & I, again called for Dorothy & June. Left Amherst 7/0pm & arrived Moncton 10/30pm.
Aug 3. Paraded 8.30 am full of trepidation & hoping
[page break]
that we were not missed, off a fatigue party that we should have been on Sunday.
Aug 4th. Every thing [sic] under control & no mention made of Sunday. Fire-Piquet duty at night.
Aug 5th Slapped on a charge for being absent off the 10/30pm Fire-Piquet parade & I am placed under open arrest. Went out with Arthur & played bowling at YMCA.
Aug 6th. Awarded 3 days extra Piquet duties, starting tonight
Aug 7th. Usual day. Fire duty at night.
Aug 8. Wangled a 36 hr pass when I should have been on jankers & hitched to Amherst Met Dorothy & June plus their Mother. Stopped at “Bird’s Nest”
Aug 9th Went swimming at the “Quarry” Amherst & took a few snaps. Hitched back at night.
Aug 10. Roumers [sic] of a posting soon. However, when I [inserted] am [/inserted] moving Ill [sic] believe it. Letter from Dorothy & a postcard from Magnetic Hill. Fire Piquet duty.
Aug 11th. Posted to Bowden. Alberta Wrote to Dorothy & explained about the posting. Letter from Home.
Aug 12th Entrained for Montreal & slept in the luggage rack all darn night
[page break]
Aug 13th. Arrived in Montreal about 9.30 am & after marching to the C P R station we were dismissed until 6/30pm. I hurriedly viewed the city & saw the Notré Dame Cathedral. Had several beers in the first public house I had seen in Canada. I also went to the top of Mount Royal & saw the whole city from there. Also met Betty & Beryl (Note [underlined] leave [/underlined]
On arrival back at the station I was able to snap Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands complete with R M C P. [deleted] B [/deleted] in full regalia.
Entrained for Winnipeg at 8/0pm.
Aug 14th. Still travelling amidst typical Canadian scenary [sic] Excellent food on board the train. Had a chat with the driver on the foot plate at one place of call & looked the loco over.
Aug 15th. Arrived in Winnipeg where a reception, organised by last war pilots of the RAF, was held. An hour later we were given a packet of cigarettes & sweets & again entrained this time for Calgary. Stopped at Regina & Moosejaw in the evening.
Aug 16th. Still travelling in prairie land which is giving way to foothills as we get nearer the Rockies.
Watches have been set beck 3 hrs altogether on this trip
[page break]
Aug 16th. [underlined] cont [/underlined]. Arrived in Calgary at 9.30 am & were dismissed until 4/30pm. Went to a Natural History & Zoological Park in the afternoon. After entraining we had a good meal & arrived in Bowden at about 7/0pm.
Aug [symbol] 17th. Inoculated again & obtained all the gen. Allotted flying instructors etc & looked the kites over. (Stearmans.)
Aug 18th. More “gen” as regards the course in the morning & lounged about all afternoon in the crew room waiting for the first flight in Canada. Retired to the camp YM. for the rest of the evening after flying for 1/2 hr. with my instructor. Did my first flick roll & then generally stooged around getting used to the kite & the feel of the controls
Aug 19th. Usual day. Circuits & bumps for first time.
Aug 20th. Usual day. Circuits Pictures in the evening.
Aug 21st
Aug 22th. [sic] Cleared camp about 3/0pm & hiked to Innisfail where I spent the night in the hotel. Poor show. Met Susie & [inserted] Dolly. [/inserted]
Aug 23. Slept till 12.0 midday, dinner, & then called for the girls at 2/0pm. walked 4 1/2 miles out to a farm & heartily regretted it afterwards. Came back to camp by taxi.
[page break]
Aug 24th. Black Monday. Cheesed off & sick & tired of this joint Chatted to Jean in y m c a until 10/0pm & then strolled home with her.
Aug 25th Raining in torrents & flying cancelled.
Aug. 26th No flying
Aug 27th Took a few shots with a 2.9 lens camera at night.
Aug 28th Still cheesed off.
Aug 29.th. Met Margaret & had quite a decent evening
Aug 30th. Duty weekend plus flying. Saw the Smiling Ghost at the camp cinema with Margaret & went walking afterwards Learned that her people & she were Ukerainian [sic] & came from Poland.
Aug 31st. Changed my flying instructor & am now with F/O Fergusson.
[deleted] Wel [/deleted] Went walking out of camp at night. Soloed for 40 mins.
Sept 1st. Cheesed off as usual No flying
Sept 2.nd. Still bad weather & no flying. Went to Innisfail with Margaret & went to the flicks.
Sept 3rd. Weather has brightened & the sun is quite warm.
Sept 4th. Left camp 2/30pm. & hitched to Edmonton 140 miles North. arrived 6/15pm. Jock & I & two of the lads immiediatley [sic] found ourselves a pub. A smashing night & finished up in the Liquer Control board with a liquer [deleted] lise [/deleted] licence. Stopped the night in a temperance Hotel.
[page break]
Sept 5. Breakfasted on four eggs etc etc. & started back at 1/0pm. arrived home from Innisfail in a taxi 9/30pm.
Sept. 6.
Sept 7
Sept 8 Sold camera 30$ to Pat Lockton.
Sept 9 Accident at Netook & LAC Presland was killed after baling out.
Sept 10.th Duty watch in control tower, met Al Brown, morning shift. & secured some shots of Ansons, Stearmans & a Harvard.
Sept 11th. Went shopping in Innisfail & bought socks, shorts & singlets. Flt Kay & Lee collided while landing at Netook. Nobody really hurt.
Sept 12. Flying as per usual & I got a shot of the crashed kites.
Sept 13. [deleted] Ple [/deleted] LAC Presland buried in Innisfail. Did my first Instrument flying under the hood.
Sept 14th. Changed F/O Ferguson for P/O Kersey. but I did not meet him. Letter from Gloria (great news) wrote airgraph & airmail
Sept 15th. Letter from Sid. Airgraphed him too.
Sept [underlined] 16. [/underlined] Cheesed off to tears. Put in pass for weekend.
Sept 17. Night flying! Not too bad
Sept. 18 Wyne & Instructor killed after failing to pull out of a spin
Sept 19. Weekend pass. Started hitching with Jim Grimshaw with the intention of getting to Banff in
[page break]
(saw “This Above All” at night)
the Rockies. Landed up in Calgary at 6/0pm.
Rain & cold all the weekend & a lousy time was had by all. Started back 7/0pm Sunday night & arrived back at 12 midnight.
21st Sept. Instructor on leave. Night flying also. Airgraph [deleted] 22nd. [/deleted] from home.
22 Sept. Funeral of the lost. I took a few shots of the Rockies from 4,000 ft. East of Netook.
[underlined] 23rd. Sept. [/underlined] Sent films to be developed 36.
24th. Thurs.
25th Fri.
[underlined] 26 [/underlined]th Went to Innisfail & sent a parcel of groceries home Also bought Dad some socks & shirt, Two prs stockings for Mum & 1 pr of silk, hairpins & elastic. Groceries + clothes; 10$ Went to the flicks & saw 49th Parrelel. [sic]
27th. “Genning” ? for exams.
28.th Airmanship & Aircraft paper today I think I scrambled through. Jim Grimshaw left for Trenton today “shaky do”. Airgraph from “Mr” Manchester.
29.th. Navigation & Armaments exam today.
[underlined] 30 [/underlined]th. Signals etc.
[page break]
[underlined] [deleted]3[/deleted]1st [/underlined] Oct. Transferred to 63 Course (lack of flying hours.)
2nd Oct. L.A.C. Craw stops our long weekend, God help him if the boys get him on Saturday.
3rd Oct. Posted a parcel home (clothing). Went to Red Deer & bought some stockings & my suede jacket. Lee paid 5$ for pyjamas & then lost the darn parcel. Bought another camera. 35$.
4th Oct. Went to Red Deer again, this time in a T model Ford with the prop swingers. Not bad! Met a little girl from Eckville. Tried out the camera & exposed a roll of 18. Super XX. Picture’s in camp at night. “Kit Carson”
5th Oct. Usual routine day.
6th Oct. Usual routine day. Wrote a letter home & 2 airgraphs to Manchester..
7th. Sat Navigation & Airmanship again. Jeanette Mac’donald & Nelson Eddy in “I married an Angel” Not so hot.
[underlined] 8 [/underlined]th Passed both exams. transferred to 63 Course Sat all night in Canteen “composing” verse for autograph books.
9th. Jock Davidson Posted & some of the gang. Last night out together so we went on the spree at Innisfail Hotel Smashing night & we really went to town.
[underlined] 10 [/underlined]th Sat. Boy oh boy! what a head Ive got.
Very quiet evening & finished up at flick. Saw
[page break]
Jock off.
Sun 11th. Usual lousy day. Pictures in camp at night
Mon 12th. First flip with new instructor & first aerobatics
First solo [deleted] areo [/deleted] aerobatics & quite pleased with my loops.
Tues. 13.th Lads went on leave.
Wed 14th. Cross country to De-Winton Dual.
Thur. Solo Cross country to De-Winton Met Veronica in canteen
Fri. Week end pass. Started for Edmonton & landed up in Ponoka for the night. Contacted the little girls people & gave them the photograph.
Sat 17th. Started for Calgary. Arrived 3/0pm & failed to buy a camera. Tried to hitch to De Winton & got lost on some darned side road. After finally getting back to Calgary I found a room & kipped down for the night.
Sun. 18. Lovely morning in bed & hitched back to Bowden in the afternoon. pictures at night
Mon. 19th. Letters from home & one from Bill Mobbs giving me all the gen.
Tues. CFIs check & I passed OK. Answered Bill Mobbs letter. went to Life [deleted] Bou [/deleted] Buoy Follies in Recreation Hall. A smashing evening & a real wizard show + an excellent girl singer
[page break]
Wed 21st Evening in Innisfail. Chicken & mushroom supper.
Thurs. 22.nd IF Test with W/O Davidson. Pictures in camp. finished flying here.
Fri 23rd. Hoping for leave on Mon.
Sat 24th Granted leave from Mon. pictures in Innisfail “How Green was my Valley”
Sun. 25th Invited out to Mrs Dye Bowden. Very nice supper & enjoyable evening
Mon 26. Leave starts today.? Sent airgraph to Arthur (Bath).
Tues. Leave stopped on account of 63 course dinner
Wed. Drill, PT etc
Thurs. Heartily cheesed off. Sent an airmail home
Fri. Broke camp & went to Calgary for a weekend. Hitched & arrived 8/0pm. Couldnt [sic] get a room & I finally met Mrs Edwards. (Police) who took me home & insisted I stopped there the whole weekend.
Sat. 31st. Breakfast in bed & then got in town about 10/0am & then started my Xmas shopping. Finished by 1/0pm & accidently met Eleanor Jamison. Dined together & then went along to her apartment. Quite a nice kid. Left her 5/0pm & spent the usual Calgary evening. Went home in a taxi
Sun 1st November. Slept till noon & then got
[page break]
up for dinner. Sat & yarned all afternoon while it snowed like the dickens. Mr Edwards drove me down in the car & I caught the 4/45pm bus to Bowden. Arrived Bowden 7/0pm & went to flicks.
Mon 2nd Nov. Sent Mrs. Payne, Kath. Dot (Amherst) & Mum a letter. Still snowing & blowing like a blizzard Posted to Estevan. Saskatchewan on Saturday next.
Tues. 3.rd.
Wed 4th Night out in Innisfail, 15 men to a round and oh boy what a booze up.
Thurs. 5 What a headache.
Fri 6 Pack inspection for our posting.
Sat 7th. Moved out at 11.0 am & caught Calgary train at 12. noon at Bowden. 2/0pm arrived Calgary, dashed around to Eleanor’s place & took her to a show.
Left negs. At Mc’dermid’s to be sent on.
Left Calgary 9/0pm & arrived Estevan next day. at 12/noon.
Sun 8 Moved into billets. No heating except 5 blankets Looks pretty grim. Pictures at night
Mon 9. First Parade here & its not like Bowden.
Wrote to Bill, George, & 3 airgraphs to England.
Tues10 Usual business of being posted. Domestic night and every one cleaning like a housewife. Pictures at night
[page break]
[underlined] Mon. 16th Nov. [/underlined] Started Ground school lectures today & Im not feeling at all happy about them. Saw Greta Garbo in the camp cinema.
Tues. 17.th First [deleted] ling [/deleted] link trainer hr in Estevan & I had quite a time using a wheel control column instead of the old type cont[missing letters] stick.
Wed 18th Marie’s account of her holiday came, also a letter fro[missing letter] Bath & my proofs from Moosejaw. Wrote an airmail home & to Marie.
Thurs. 19.th. Obtained “The first hundred thousand” Ian Hay fro[missing letter] station library & retired early to bed with it
Fri 20th Attended 60 Course’s wings parade, very dissappoin[missing letters] effort. Went into Estevan with Arthur & supped & saw a show. (Sat 21st posted a parcel home.)
Sat 21st First time at flights, tried to remember the cockp[missing letters] check, not very successfully. & sat around in the cockpit gettin[missing letter] the feel of things. Evening in Estevan. not impressed.
Sun 22.nd. Flying & then pictures at night saw “”Tish” very good
Mon 23rd. Flying & then on getting out of my Anson I met Mobley, a [deleted] bloc [/deleted] fellow from Bon. He seemed quite amazed when I told him who I was. promised to see him & have another chat later. Read “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri. very
[page break]
good indeed.
[underlined] Tues [/underlined] 24 Had another chat with Mobley and he told me another chap from Bon is here as well. A [deleted] cop [/deleted] corporal photographer who used to work with Blinkhorn. Hope to meet him soon. No mail yet.
Wed 25th. Usual day. Saw “Iceland” with Sonja Henie. and I quite enjoyed it. Had a letter from Moosejaw & Amherst.
[underlined] Thurs [/underlined] 26 Still no mail from home.
[underlined] Fri [/underlined] 27 48 hrs. pass. Went in to Estevan & played bowls. Stopped overnight & caught Greyhound at 6/0 am in the morning
Sat. 28th 11.0 am arrived Regina. Bought an Argus f.3.5 36mm camera. Three filters & borrowed an exposure meter for weekend. Obtained a few shots, both day & night. Saw Bette Davis in “Now Voyager” very good.
Sun. 29.th Lay in until dinner time. had dinner & then went out with camera, trying a few angle shots. Caught bus[deleted]t[/deleted] back at 5/0pm
[underlined] Mon. [/underlined][deleted] 29 [/deleted] 30th Letter from home. Pictures at night. “Gunga Din” not at all bad. met Sgt. photographer from Bon. Checked on [deleted] Tues [/deleted] camera for copying work & finished roll.
Tues. 1st Dec. Filled up with SuperXX & took a few with aid of 1 photo-flood. Received winter issue.
Wed. Snowing again
Thurs. Saw “Mrs. Miniver” a smashing picture. Wrote an airmail home.
[page break]
[missing page]
themselves. Airgraph from Jean.
Thurs. 17. Still sick & light duties. Wrote airgraphs home & to Jean. letters & Cards to folk in Canada. One to Regina about my photo’s.
Fri. 18.th. Dick Bailes off the course Went to Estevan & saw the flicks. Photo’s came. very good. Xmas & birthday card from home.
Sat 19th. Two or three drinks with Dick & Andy. & lots of grub
Sun. 20th Usual Sunday In Estevan in the evening. Grub & Hostess Club. Christmas Card from Dot & a letter from Lee, Penhold.
Mon. 21st Night on the beer with Andy, Not bad. Wrote Lee.
Tues. 22nd. Night in camp & feeling very cheesed, roll on that boat.
Flew solo in first storm, “a shaky effort.”
Wed 23rd. Night in Estevan with Archer & Andy. Pictures.
Thurs. 24 Letter from Moosejaw. Night in Town.
Fri 25th. Flying in the morning. Dinner at 1/0pm & it was excellent Officers waiting on us & the RAF dance band. Stuck all my pictures in a new album. Went to Stella’s at night & had ham & eggs chips etc. including two bottles of coke, which I mixed with a half bottle of whisky. Slept well.
Sat 26th Morning in bed. Flew in afternoon Estevan at night. Pictures & grub.
Sun. 27th Walked into town & took a few snaps. Sat in hostess club all night
[page break]
Mon 28th. Card from June (Amherst). Stella’s at night.
Tues. 29.th My birthday. In town at night with Andy & Archer. Excellent meal & pictures afterwards.
Wed. 30th. Gos on 5 days leave today. Slept in Estevan & caught 6.0 am bus.
Thurs 31st Arrived in Regina 11.0 am & bought an exposure meter. 21
Caught bus at 3 & arrived in Moosejaw 5/0pm. 1035 Calton St at about 10 mins to 6/0pm & spent a quiet evening [deleted] at home with all the folks. [/deleted] including a visit to flicks etc with Mike & (hors[missing letters] Oper[missing letters] Ruth & Mary. Walked home in the snow & really enjoyed it
Jan 1st 1943. Slept till 10.0 am & then had breakfast. Stopped in all day & ate massive meals of turkey Met Ina Johnson at the party at night, also Dorothy, (Fred’s girl.)
Sat 2nd. Rose late & then went shopping. Bought a tripod & went home early because of the cold. The cold was intense & I suffered frostbite on my ears before I could get from the bus to home.
Sun. 3rd Breakfasted nearer 12.0 midday than breakfast time & waited for Mary so I could get cracking with the camera Took quite a few snaps indoors & then we all had a big sup[missing letters] of turkey & all the trimmings. Went out with Mike at night & saw the skating at the ice rink.
[page break]
Monday 4th Black Monday & I have to report to camp tonight said goodbye to everyone & travelled by greyhound back to camp.
Tues. 5th Back to work, although I had bags of mail when I got back from leave. letters from home, Marie & Ma, Lee, Jean Kath. & cables from Ivy & home for Xmas & my birthday. Spent the night replying to them.
Wed. 6th. Into Estevan & the hostess club.
Thurs. 7th Stopped in billet & did nothing all night, Finished off a film roll
Fri 8. Letter airgraph from Mum saying my 3 parcels had arrived on Dec. 18.th. Saw “Somewhere Ill find you” Clark Gable & Lana Turner & So very much enjoyed it Finished “Mortal Storm”.
Sat. 9.th. Got Somerset Maugham’s “Theatre” from library & stooged around alone. Sent a parcel of food home
Sun. 10th Walked into Estevan, saw Babe in the Canada Café. Played table tennis in Hostess club.
Mon. 11th. Pictures in camp Cross country check with Lowe.
Tues. Went to town alone & chatted to Babe for a bit, A very nice girl.
Wed 13th Went with Archer in to town & stooged the usual round of café’s
Thurs. Finished Theatre very good indeed.
Fri. Went to town & got “My Son” “My Son” from library
Sat 16th. Very cold weather No flying
Sun. 17 Very cold & getting colder No flying Stopped in all day &
[page break]
went to flicks at night.
Mon 18th. Getting still colder.
Tues. 19. Temperature 30° below freezing.
Wed 20th. Blizzard blowing up & temp. of -45 or 77 degrees of frost. Weather report so bad that we were given a 48 hrs. pass Went into Estevan at 4/0pm & did the usual stooging. Met Dorothy in hostess club & was invited to a masonic party effort. Very pleasant evening indeed & arrived back at camp 2/0pm.
Thurs. 21st Slept to 10. am Went out with the lads at 12.0 midday & waited in Stella’s for a taxi. Spent afternoon with Ladbury Joe, Braithwaite & Bonnerman in the beer parlour. Tea at 5.0pm & then dashed in & chatted to Babe “Bernice” at drugstore. Pictures on my lonesome & then met a pleasa[missing letters]
Kiddy in Deans taxi place. “Freda”. Back by taxi to camp
Fri 22nd.Slept late & then started back at ground school through about a foot of snow.
Sat 23rd. Spent night in camp. read “Marion [inserted] alive [/inserted]” Vicki Baum.
Sun. 24th. No flying still, Very cold. Telegram for birthday
Mon 25.th. No flying still, Canteen & camp evening. Wrote several letters.
Tues. 26th Getting the “gen”
[page break]
Wed 27th. Still getting the “gen” & collected for 3 day B list over missing PT.
Thurs. 28 Exams.
Fri 29 Exams Two hectic days. Went to town & celebrated.
Sat. 30.th Started B list Mrs Lackey rang up inviting me to supper tomorrow & had to turn it down as I am confined to camp.
Sun 31st More B list
Mon 1st More B list last night.
Tues 2nd. Febuary [sic]. Night in town. Deaney posted
Wed. 3 Went in with Archer & changed my look for Halters Castle. Explained to Mr & Mrs Lackey our absence on Sunday.
Thurs. Stopped in again & pasted my album up to date.
Fri. 5th Cross country with Cox. All OK.
Sat 6th. Night in Town.
Sun. 7th. Flying all day & pictures in the evening.
Mon. 8
Tues. 9 Seupplementary [sic] Signals exam. OK. Boose up with Ginger.
Wed. 10th. 3 X Country. Lots of pictures. Ginger went to Trenton.
[deleted] Fri [/deleted]. Concert in camp. “Gopher Pie” not too bad.
[page break]
Fri 12. Off on a 48 hr pass. Reading “this above All”
Sat. 13 No bus to Regina so here I apparently stop. Had a few beers & finished up at the pictures.
Sun. 14th. All day in the billet & its deadly. Stella’s for grub at night & then the pictures in camp.
Mon. 15. Left on 5/0pm Bus for town & wrote a few letters in the hostess club. Finished “This above All” excellent.
Tues. 16. Letters from home & one from Blondie Leicester.
Wed 17.th. Photographed for new identity card. Finished [deleted] Clad [/deleted] “Claudia” very good
Thurs 18th. Read “Shelten” by Steen. Not bad. started night flying & enjoyed it.
Fri 19. Woke at 12.0 & went to flights at 1/30 pm. told to go back & report for night flying again at 6/0 pm.
Sat. 20th. Went to see the Ice Exhibition at the rink & enjoyed it very much. Changed my library books & had the usual supper. Sent another parcel home.
Sun. Flying at night again. first Night X country. OK.
Mon 22 Started reading. [deleted] Spu [/deleted] “Fame is the Spur” H Spring Letter from home & one from Lee.
Tues 23. Usual day.
Wed. Usual day. pictures in town with Joe Berry
Thurs. Evenings photography in billet with Plumbs reflex.
[page break]
[underlined] Fri [/underlined]. 26. Low level X Country flight today. quite enjoyed it. Started a 48 hrs pass & removed to International Hotel in town. Saw “Desperate Journey” at night
Sat 27th. Lay in bed late & got up in time for dinner Roamed around with the camera most of the day. Spent the latter part of evening with Babe & Mr & Mrs Lackey chatting Had coffee etc in the Coffee bar & then went to bed.
Sunday 28th Another lay in before an early dinner. Spent afternoon in Hostess Club. 6/0pm turned up at Lackeys for supper & partook of an excellent turkey & plum pudding. Had a volume of Tennesons poems given to me. Took several pictures of Percy the cat. Back to camp on last bus.
[underlined] Mon 1st March. [/underlined] No 1 LL. X. Country with Sgt. Quinn.

Tues 2.nd. Letter from Dad Had a bust up with Grundy & F/LT Brown Pictures in camp at night. 1st Amatuer [sic] Dramatic presentation in [deleted] Duel [/deleted] Understudy for a duke.
Wed. 3rd. Went to town at night & collected films, laundry etc. Chatted in Lackeyes. Blizzard blowing up.
Thurs 4. Blizzard still raging. No flying.
[underlined] Friday 5th. [/underlined] Had supper with Lackey’s & enjoyed really super waffles + lashings of butter & maple syrup. Chatted till 8/0pm Bought a suede jacket & a tie & underwear.
[page break]
Sat. 6 Usual day of flying. Town at night & supper at the coffee bar.
Sunday 7th. Bags of polish for inspection by AOC tomorrow
Monday 8th. Slept late & collected 3 days. No mail.
Tuesday 9.th Full pack parade etc all morning & flying started at 3/0pm. New instructor P/O Enefer. Darn nice fellow & lots of gen.
Wed 10th. Last night flying session. Interview for commission.
Thurs. 11 Confined to camp again. Howie loses 230$.
Fri. 12. First wings check. I.F. OK. Went to town
Sat. Blizzard blowing, no flying. Went into Estevan as usual. The trip back was quite an adventure & we only just made it
Sun. 14. Blizzard raging & the drifts are getting very deep. I tried to get a taxi to take me to supper at Lackey’s, but they wouldnt risk it. I got ready & started for the guard house still hopeful. However I was refused permission to leave camp on account of the weather, so I eventually supped in the mess.
Mon 15. There seems no end to the blizzard & we are completely isolated. It was quite an adventure to leave the billet for meals, & we had to struggle through the storm & drifts to get there.
[page break]
Tues 16th. The weather is worse if anything & conditions are quite serious. Every man is put on rations as food is getting low.
Wed 17. At last the fury of the storm seems to be abating & we all hope to see the last of it today.
Thurs. 18th. This morning the sun is shining brightly & everything is calm. Now the real chaos can be seen & the ‘drome I U.S. until at least Sunday next. Bad news! course is again extended for another week. Road to town is blocked.
Fri. 19th. Put back a course. (Nav.) Went in & got very drunk. (Really cheesed now.).
Sat. 20. The lads are shovelling snow to clear the runways. [missing letters]urally I scrounged off it & read instead.
[missing letters]n 21st. Lay in bed all day. Went to Stella’s at night & ate an enormous supper.
Mon 22nd “Genning” for Nav.
Tues. 23rd. Sat the Supplementary & passed OK. Went to town
Wed. 24th. Stooged about all day & in to Estevan on the bus at night.
Thurs. 25th Flying started again this afternoon & 68. Co. finished off CFIs etc. I saw S/L. Bennett & asked for gen. possibility for an individual posting sometime next week.
Fri 26th.
[page break]
27th Sat Feeling lonely now that the lads are gone
28th Sun. Town as usual. Strolling around & came back early
[underlined] 29th [/underlined] Mon. Invited to supper. Wed. with local librarian
30th Tues. Went to town with Fred. Came back early & saw “Mokey” at the camp cinema. I really enjoyed it although the lads thought it mushy. He was just such a little boy that I’d love. I guess Im feeling “mushy” myself. Fred read my tea-cup.
31st Wed. Started flying again. Just got to my supper date in time. Very nice evening indeed.
1st April Thurs Flying like a ding-bat, Went to Winnipeg
2nd. Fri. Flying late & then went to camp cinema
3rd Sat. CFI check. Didnt go much on me.? Went to town & did the usual round. River very high & road to camp is under water in places. I hope it goes down soon or we will be shut off from Estevan again. sent a food parcel home.
4th Sun. Confirmed to camp by floods. No buses & road is impassable. Also collected 4 days jankers.
5th Mon. Everyone confined.
6 Tues. Started in B flight. Sent back & told to do as I like
7 Wed. Last night of jankers. Hope the river & floods are going down.
[page break]
8th Thurs. Went to town on first possible bus. Sent parcel of cosmetics etc home
9th Fri. Still Scrounging. Went out early on a[deleted]n[/deleted] chit & did a few miles on my feet. Fred & his girl came along & I took several shots of them during the afternoon. Saw “Casablanca”. very good
10th Sat. Had a wizard (salmon salad) with lashings of “miracle whip” in the Princess. After the store closed I took “Babe for a coke & bowling. Then walked her home.
11th Sunday. Went out early in the morning & finished off the reel of exposures in Stella’s.
Hitched to town with Fred. Had a splendid afternoon listening to Ron Davenport playing a church organ. “Liebenstraum”, “Ave Maria” & similar stuff to that He’s wizard on the organ. Plays under the name of Harry March professionally. His mother was Josie Collins who sang in The “Maid of the Mountains” in London. At 6/0pm I went to supper with Lackey’s & enjoyed a wonderful meal of turkey & finished up with pumpkin pie & whipped cream. An excellent evening indeed.
12th Monday. Saw the “Black Swan” very good
13th Tues Usual day.
[underlined] 14 [/underlined]th Wed. Saw “China Girl” at the Orpheum, not bad.
15 Thurs Wings parade today. Usual dreary routine & then shoals of sprog sgts, walking about town. Beer parlours are all shut & so I stayed sober. Cabled home & to Manchester.
[page break]
[underlined] 16th Fri. [/underlined] Packed everything bright & early. Chased around & said goodbye to every-one. Fred & Alf shared my taxi + two kitbags. Stopped the night with Mr & Mrs Lackeye’s
17th Sat. Rose at 5.45am & had a glass of milk + 2 oranges & choc. for my pocket. After saying goodbye I arrived at the station at 6.30. Entrained 7.15 & we were off on our 2000 odd mile journey to the east. 3/0pm arrive Brandon & we change for Winnipeg. Winnipeg 6/15 & I checked my webbing & had a stroll in the city. 7/20. Entrain for Montreal. A wizard set-up. Sleeping booths & a coloured boy to make our beds up. I turned in at 10/0pm & slept soundly & comfortably till 6.30.
18 Sund. Breakfast at 7.45. after putting watches on a further hour. (2 hours in all since we started). An excellent meal & then ablutions. Cleared up my kit & I now have time to observe the scenary [sic]. We are travelling through tree & snow covered territory now & in the bright sunlight it is a beautiful glistening & gleaming world.
19 Mon. Breakfasted while we drew in to Ottawa. Montreal at approx. 10.00 am. Free till 3/0pm. Strolled around the city trying to buy a camera. No luck. Looked in the Notre Dame cathedral. very impressed but as a service was
[page break]
in progress I could not stay long Had a wizard bottle of stout in the Windsor Hotel. The best drink in Canada I have ever had. Entrained at 3/15. And prepared for my last night on the train.
20th Tues. Breakfasted in St. Johns. & entrained at 7.0 am Arrived at Moncton 11.0 am. & having no reception committee, I promptly lost myself & had dinner. Reported at 31 at 1/0pm [underlined] Not impressed [/underlined] Out of camp again at 2/0pm. Stooged around as usual. Back to camp at 11/30pm. & turned in. (Wrote home & to Estevan. earlier in the evening).
21 Wed. Usual routine on being posted. with the addittion [sic] of collecting a respirator. Im still not impressed, in fact Im worse off here as a sgt. than I was in Estevan as an Erk. Met lots of lads I knew or at least knew me.



W Holmes, “William Holmes memoir - training in Canada,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 2, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/17969.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.