Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother



Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother


Bill writes home describing saying goodbye to everyone at the chapel, his experience of Christmas 1941 and the antics of his fellow cadets. He writes 'Christmas in the RAF seems to be summed up in the one word "BOOZE"'. He didn't join in at all but was woken up by drunken revelry and was rather disgusted by it all. On Christmas morning he got up early and went to Chapel.Christmas Dinner had a 'limited supply of WAAFs' and the food wasn't all that good. He was glad to escape to the party at his friends' house. They had PT first thing the next morning, which many of the men found very hard.

He writes that his time at Aberystwyth is nearly over and there are various ideas where they will be sent. The next phase of his pilot training will be a three-week pilot ability assessment. He then writes that he believes that America is a ghastly place with strict discipline and low pass rates, Canada would be preferred. Thanks people for presents and cards and sends money for his mother to buy Savings Certificates on his behalf.

Has managed to do some walking in the local countryside, but also saw lots of mines washed up on the shore.


Temporal Coverage



Ten page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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No 1436220 L A C Akrill.
A 6 Flight No 4 Squadron.
[underlined] Sunday [/underlined No.6. I.T.W RAF.

Dear All,

A last letter from 6 I.T.W! Thought I’d better tell you all about Christmas before I left as there’ll be so much to write about when I get to EFTS.

I’ve just got into the canteen after many good byes to all the folk at chapel. I never realised I knew so many people here. I’d begun to feel really at home. They’ve all been jolly good - Mr. Bray is one of the very best.

Hope your Christmas party went off alright. Christmas in the RAF seems

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to be summed up in the one word “BOOZE”. Christmas Eve was terrible. We were paid in the morning & got our back “props money” £6-18 in all. This would have called for wild celebration in normal times but as it fell on Christmas Eve - well that night of Peace and Goodwill was Hell let loose. I spent a lonely night & went to bed early. I managed to doze off but was awaked at 10.30 by the most terrible nightmare imagined. The streets seemed full of hordes of [deleted] pe [/deleted] lunatics in full cry. On waking up more I realised that it wasn’t Bedlam let loose or Doom’s Day but merely “A” flight & the rest of the squadron + local inhabitants celebrating Xmas Eve. When Max & Joe came in

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from being on guard & celebrating mildly I expected them to be at least merry but they were rather disgusted with what was happening. The seasoned drinkers were merely noisy but others had to be carried in & were sick all over the lavatories & rooms. A good many were right by tea time. Consequently I was about the only one who sprang out of bed very early on Christmas morning, cleaned all my stuff & made a good breakfast of eggs & bacon. At 9.0 I went to communion. The padre was grand. Then I went to chapel at 11.0 & Mrs Bray asked me to take someone along to tea that afternoon. Dinner was meant to be a grand occasion all the tables were arranged in 3 rows - 1 for each flight

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& covered with a fair linen cloth. A limited supply of Waafs had been imported & sprinkled sparingly along the tables. “A” flight had got more than their share [deleted] cons [/deleted] & from the other tables came the shout “We want Waafs!” Well we were waited on by the officers & N.C.O’s with the Squadron Leader dancing round making speeches which every-one cheered wildly ( A flight was just back from visiting Flt/Lt Dickey on leave at the “Skinners Arms”) Sgt. Brown started serving the other flights so we yelled out at the top of our voices “We want Brown!. We want Brown!” & Brownie blushed bashfully & brought us large plates of [deleted] dinner pork [/deleted] [inserted] soup [/inserted]. He got some of his own back as the old saying goes by

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remarks such as “Come on Brownie, Off your knees!” or “Come on get crackin’” and “One, two, three, four five pisht”. P/O Spence dumped an enormous plateful by me. It consisted of a [deleted] pile of [/deleted] very small piece of pork camouflaged by a large pile of potatoes, sprouts and stewed apple. Anyway I found it & eat [sic] it & Brownie squeezed my arm playfully & pressed another like plateful upon me but one was enough. Next we got a small island of dark substance in a deadly sea of custard. This was Christmas Pudding & wasn’t bad. Beer was plentiful but I noticed that no one had more than one helping. The combination of beer & pud. produced more

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unpleasant results.

Well I was very glad to escape with [deleted] Wh [/undeleted] Barney Whitehead to the Bray’s party. We had a grand time - there were the 4 children, a soldier & an A.T. the German girl & her Brother, another soldier, 2 ladies & a girl [deleted] s [/deleted] another soldier& Barney & I so we made quite a crowd.

The next morning we got P.T. first thing. Imagine fellows with dizzy heads & stomachs doing Brownie’s favourite twists & bends! He certainly got his own back! in the end! So much for Christmas 1941. Now for farewell parties tomorrow night!

I got the parcel alright. The mince pies [deleted] of [/deleted] have already gone but I’m saving a bit of the cake

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for the train journey on Tuesday. My! I don’t know what you put in it but it’s certainly good. I never tasted anything like it.

Well my stay in Aber’s nearly over. Next week will be the great week. We now find that we’re not bound for Scotland after all. There is a station called Theale there but there’s also one near Reading which is on the Thames - not so far from London - in Berkshire which sounds much better than the Highlands & won’t be as bad as Wales for getting home. We’re there for 3 weeks & only fly until we convince the instructor that we are going to make pilots. If we do this in good time we qualify for overseas. Flt/Lt Dickey who’s on leave

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from EFTS gave us some gen on what to expect. He’s heard from lots of Cadets who’ve gone to the U.S.A. &c. It’s a recognised fact that the U.S.A is a g [inserted] h [/inserted] astly place to be sent to but after his talk I liked the idea less. American Army discipline is pretty grim & chances of getting through the course much less than elsewhere. Well we don’t know where we’re going yet. Canada - in good weather - is definitely the best place. Good old England has it’s merits! Well I now have to do the best I can & hope for the best there is.

Please thank Ros for her present. Tell her I’ve bought a book which I’m very pleased with & will write soon. Had some chocolate from R T G S. A few Xmas cards rolled up at the

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end of the week from Kelsey, Dave, Nat Rosey & Douglas. I hope you all had a happy time. I shall expect to hear all about it. Will send my new address as soon as I know it.

Am sending home [deleted] some [/deleted] my last pay. It’s no use keeping it here. I intended getting some savings Certificates but don’t seem to have had a chance. Afraid I havn’t [sic] had my photo done either. Will see what I can do.

Well I feel like bed. Cold no better. Give my love to all [underlined] Bill [/underlined]

Have enclosed £6 which you will perhaps look after for me.

Have you had any snow! I went

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for a long tramp over the downs & through some gorgeous woods & over to the East all the hills were covered with snow. It was very beautiful. You can see Plynlymon [sic] from there. Saw lots of beautiful natural “rock gardens” & lots of rather choice plants.

Had a lot of mines washed ashore lately & several shocks. The shore is quite strewn with them. [underlined] B [/underlined]



William Akrill, “Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 28, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/17993.

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