Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother



Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother


Bill is at the Receiving Centre in London. He writes that he has had a good Sunday with going to a Baptist Chapel and being invited for tea by the pastor and meeting up with another cadet - 'I can say my first Sunday in the RAF has been splendid'. He has thoroughly enjoyed his first week generally.

There have been all kinds of tests, drills, lectures, PT and next week they will have vaccinations etc. He's not sure he will pass the maths and may have to stay there to retake it - would rather do this than fail at the Initial Training Wing. Describes Preselection being before a Psychological Board of WAAFs.

Has now got his uniform - which is a bit hot. Finding the food disappointing, although it is getting slightly better. So many officers in West End that saluting them makes your arm ache.

London doesn't seem to be altered - especially during the day, but at night everyone is on alert and the tube shelters are full.

Not sure where he will be posted to. Gets a good reaction to his uniform in London - 'we're getting some of the glory for the Battle of Britain'.




Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage



Six page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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Sunday 21 [underlined] st [underlined] Sept ’41. NO: 1436220 AC2. AKRILL
9/12 No.4 SQUADRON.
Prince Albert Road,

Dear Mum,

Thought I’d be getting a letter from you yesterday & was glad not to be disappointed. Knew you’d find time anyway. Nice to hear every body’s OK but tell the whole household that a few times won’t come amiss now & then.

I’m writing this in bed. I intended getting lots of writing done this afternoon as I’ve not yet done any, but I’ve had a very full and miraculously enjoyable day. I woke this a.m. rather dreading Sunday [deleted] though [/deleted] We had nothing to do after Church parade at 8.40. I was sure I should be so tempted to think of the great difference between the old Sundays & this. Weekdays are full & I’m perfectly happy but I was afraid of Sunday. Well we went to C.P. The Nonconfirmists [sic] have to parade to a Baptist Chapel near where the Raf Padre should have spoken to us but as he was away we had the Pastor. Well he gave a general invitation to us to go down to the service afterwards & so I went & [deleted] sta [/deleted] I was the only one & everyone was extremely Kind & I stayed sacrament & the Pastor invited me to tea in the afternoon so I had a grand afternoon & evening. The Pastor & his wife were the grandest old couple

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& you can imagine how fine it was to get a nice quiet time in a [underlined] home [/underlined] again for Sunday. I went to Chapel again & back to supper with another Cadet who is also a Methodist & has been here for 4 months & has been looked after generally by these two kind souls. We had a lovely evening & I can say that my first Sunday in the Raf has been splendid. I’m sure mother will be glad to know that another mother & father - can share her feelings about her precious little one!

Well my first week’s over — though it feels as though I’ve been here months. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. They are a grand set of fellows and in our room we are already great friends. My pals’ - Jo Phil & Ken don’t know London so I’ve had to more or less look after them - though I left them to their own devices today. During the week we’ve had all our Tests & filled up time with drills, lectures, P.T &c. Next week we don’t do much. Tomorrow is [deleted] vaccine [/deleted] vaccination, inoculation & Blood Grouping & for the rest of the week we recover.

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& get a few lectures. Then we’ll probably be posted though I expect I’ll have to stay on for Maths Revision. The paper we got was quite straight forward — I needn’t have done any of that swotting but I hadn’t anything like enough time to do it satisfactorily but I’m not going to worry for if I know I’m not up to standard I know I’ll have to get there for I don’t want to go on to I.T.W & fail there as that would be the end so If I have to stay for another fortnight I’ll not mind except that it will mean parting from the boys though I suppose that that’s bound to happen though we want to keep together. A story goes that only about 40% get through right off so expect some of them will stay but my particular chums are pretty good on Maths. Preselection was a rum do. Had to do craziest thing before a Psychological Board of [underlined] Waafs [/underlined]. It’s to see, of course, whether you’r [sic] fitted for fighter, bomber or nothing at all.

We’re now without an N.C.O. as Cpl: has gone on leave. He was the best of sorts though [deleted] you [/deleted] though no one would think so on Parade. He was quite the stricktest [sic] of the lot & put us through it but we soon became the

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smartest flight around. Got our uniforms now. Mine had to be altered & fast as they’re struck on perfect fittings, so I escaped it for a while. Fed up of it already this hot weather  and my feet! What do you do for corns? Sending my civvies tomorrow I believe, so possibly get this posted with them.

Food  may as well tell you it’s disappointing. At first it [deleted] was [/deleted] couldn’t have been worse. Very little of it too. One day we got fish for the umpteenth time. It was Haddock & the smell was unbearable & I just couldn’t eat a crumb though we had some nice buiscuits [sic] as well. There were complaints but the cooks ignored them as soon as the officer had gone. Anyway there’s been a steady improvement since & todays breakfast was very tasty & I hear that dinner was good. I miss tea parade whenever possible  though it means buying some. We get v.good cheap meals in the Canteen under St. Martins. So you see I’ll not save much. Also seen two shows.

I often think of that story of Mr. [indecipherable word] when in the West End. Every other person seems to be an officer of some sort or Nationality

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& so [deleted] my [/deleted] our arms soon ache. Worst of it is that after giving them [deleted] blighters [/deleted] a perfect salute they wave a paw at you in the sloppiest manner imaginable  [deleted] if [/deleted] that is if they acknowledge you at all. I’ve not saluted any Waafs or ATS yet  I dodge ‘em but I’d like to try some time for fun.

Well the boys all seem to be asleep so I’d better put the light out & join them. See if I can finish this tomorrow.

[underlined] Monday after dinner [/underlined] We’ve got a bout an hour’s rest so I can finish this. We’ve had Kit Inspection this morning & this afternoon we are on a Swimming Parade. Tonight we’re on guard. Food’s been very good today.

No I havn’t found London altered at all. Where I have been there’s hardly any bomb damage to be seen though I hear that the City is practically destroyed. Food is plentiful. The shops are full & nobody dreams of queues. You hardly know there’s a war on here. Everything seems absolutely normal until night time. Then you can see that everybody’s on the alert. The Tube shelters are still pretty full. I believe a big Blitz is expected. Anyway no one’s taking chances & the whole town’s prepared. The Houses of P & the Abbey are a bit scarred & I should imagine they’re [deleted] about [/deleted] ruined inside but there’s not much to be seen of

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If I get posted at the end of the week I shall go on to I.T.W. at Torquay, Cambridge, Stratford, or Scarborough most likely. I f I get through there I think I can [deleted] squee [/deleted] manage to get a few days leave before being sent abroad. I should be there about 6 weeks.

I expect you’ve got on well with the barley this hot weather. It’s more of a scorcher than ever today & I’m not liking my uniform.

I must write to the boys. Possibly Dave will have written. I want to get my civvies off today if possible as they’re in the way & getting in a mess. Please pack them away in moth balls for me as I’ll be wanting them when on leave. Though I suppose I’ll have to parade around in my uniform. I may as well swank in it while I have a chance. It’s pretty common here, but the Londoners treat us very well. We’re getting some of the glory for the Battle of Britain.

Best of love to everybody. Glad to hear from you all, all about everything. Tell everybody I’m having a good time. [underlined] Bill [/underlined]



William Akrill, “Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 24, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/17998.

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