Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother



Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother


Letter written over several days. Initially expecting to have his flying test the next day and be able to return for leave soon after, but this is changed following snow. He and six others are unable to take their tests in time and remain at the unit for the next three weeks. Once he has accepted this, he is quite positive, since they only need to take their flying test (having done the ground ones), and should be easier.

Critical comments on the food provided by a civilian firm and suggests that they are selling some of the rations back to the men.




Temporal Coverage



Ten page handwritten letter


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No 1436220 L.A.C. Akrill,

No 26 E.F.T.S.


Bedks [sic]

Sat. Jan 17 ’42.

Dear Mum,

Thought I’d get this letter written now & then after my test tomorrow I can let you know the result & let you know whether or not its likely that I’ll be coming home on Wed.

Most of our flight have already had their test & got through. Some had it yesterday & our day off was cancelled today & a few more had it & just as I thought I was going up with the C.F.I. this afternoon he decided that we’d been working so hard that we deserved a bit of rest so we’ll take it tomorrow morning I expect. Shan’t I be glad to get it over!

We’ve spent the last 2 days down on the flying field & I’ve been getting in all the flying I could. I was a good way

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behind in my hours & my landings were still “power dives” or “arrivals”. Everything else I’ve got taped quite O.K. & my approach & landing has improved a lot. I had another instr. as my own’s been away & he just concentrated on landings & gave me both praise & encouragement which I’d not had before. Still standing by the Watch Office watching some landings that have passed the C.F.I. I don’t think I need fear about getting through! The ordeal of the test isn’t a pleasant thought though. The boys say that the C.F.I. can swear better than anything they’ve heard before and simply screams down the inter-com “you blank fool, you silly blank what the blank are you doing. blank [sic] blank blank [indecipherable symbol] !!!” with his teeth set all the time. When it’s over he’ll possibly say “Well its the blank worst blank flying I’ve ever seen. Oh I suppose you’ve scraped through.”

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Once that ordeal’s over there are the ground exams on Monday or Tuesday & then I believe we get leave on Wednesday for a week or maybe more. So I thought I’d have this letter ready & if I get through the test I could pop it in the post perhaps you’d get it on Tuesday or Wednesday & be in some way prepared if I decended [sic] upon you on Wed sometime. I shall be able to get a train from Kings X & can get right to Newark I should think. Though if I get stranded at Grantham it won’t be far hitch hike.

So keeping in mind the susceptibility [inserted] of those in power [/inserted] to change their minds at the last moment I’ll hope to see you sometime about Wednesday.

I absolutely forgot Harry’s birthday & could have kicked myself when I found out. I’m afraid days just come & go here & my poor old memory’s been working overtime

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Still it’s not too late to wish him “many happy returns” I wrote only the other day & still didn’t remember.

I’ve seen the group photo & ordered you one. There are too many on for it to be a good [deleted] grou [/deleted] photo but you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing that I was smiling anyway.

Gee it’s COLD today & upstairs my nose just seemed to turn to water. It’s still very sore & very red. Thats the worst of having such a big one!

Thanks, Mary for letter, I’ve been very lucky this week - 4 one day 2 the next & 2 the next and 2 at the beginning of the week! Miss Mary has raked up a friend in Reading!

[underlined] Friday 23 Jan’1 [/underlined]

I guess you’ve been wondering just what on earth’s happened! Well [underlined] I’ve [/underlined] been wondering just what’s going to

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happen. I’d better explain what this week has brought forth — On Sunday morning we got up in all eagerness & confidence for our test only to find that there was a heavy covering of snow & that it was still snowing. It snowed all Sunday night & by Monday there was a foot of it. By this time rumours were around that we were leaving on Wednesday & the two of us who’d yet to have their test realised that we’d had it. On Tuesday we knew that 18 were going - first for 1 days embarkation leave & then to Manchester. I was not among them. We were a dismal crowd on that Tuesday - the 7 who were left! The others were so noisy about their thought of Canada & grumbling because of their short leave that we thought it would be a relief to get rid of them. Now the only [deleted] worry [/deleted]

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grumble I have against the affair is that I’m separated from them. They were the grandest set of chaps one could wish for.

Since then, knowing that the worst had happened, I’ve just settled down to enjoy things. The [deleted] 8 [/deleted] 7 have all settled down in my room & we’re taking life as comfortably as possible. A new grading course has come in & as far as we can gather we’ll join them for another 3 weeks here. So life should be pretty good for the next 3 weeks for we’ve taken our ground exams & needn’t worry much about lectures & as soon as the weather’s fit we can get on to flying, get our test over & then amuse ourselves. Its funny but you’ve got to get down on your luck to realise how well off you are.

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The boys the went away on Wed. morning were grumbling in the same old way!!!

For the last few days we’ve been shovelling snow or dodging shovelling snow. Somebody has decided that a large + of runways should be cleared & the entire camp has been working on it — flying instructors, pupils, Ground Defence, assisted by some of the Civvy Staff & [deleted] one indecipherable word [/deleted] It was quite a grand sight to see everyone shovelling together with a few crazy flying Instrs. rushing madly around with the lorries. I admit I quite enjoyed it all - though I didn’t work very hard! Today its raining hard so it was all to little avail.

The remaining 7 are an odd collection. Brindle, who I get on with very well except for times when his all too
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[underlined] “frightfully” [/underlined] Oxford drawl gets on my nerves. At times he can be too superior forwards, but for the most part he’s good fun to have around. Hart & Nash I’ve not had much to do with. Their fathers fought together throughout the last war & they’ve managed to stick together so far. Warren’s rather a dumb cluck. The best two are Thornhill & Cook. Cook has been my room - mate all the time I’ve been here & George & I have got on very well together. He’s in my flight & group & the other one who’s not has [sic] a test yet. The others have had one test & not got through - in most cases because they’d not had enough hours. The tests are very unfairly carried out.

But I’m just beginning to get settled here so I’m not bothering in the least & I’m feeling chalks better than I ever did in Aber. I don’t think the mild

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sticky atmosphere suited me at all. Of course I get plenty of fresh air here which I didn’t there, as well as daily P.T. The food’s very very limited & I’m often hungry at nights though we can buy cheese sandwiches in the bar here. This is a scandal as everyone knows that it’s our own cheese ration that we’re buying. Phillips & Powis (the Civvy firm that run this joint) are the biggest swindlers out. At the canteen in the camp we have to pay 2d for a tiny little tart that disappears in a mouthful. [deleted] They [/deleted] P & P are the one big snag at this place. Their own employees are earning collosal [sic] wages - at our expence! [sic] Its real crazy that a civillian [sic] firm should be allowed such a free hand in such an important work - especially in war time.

Well if I go on at this rate I’ll

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be needing an outsize envelope to hold all this - have enclose [sic] £8 in notes too. We got paid today & there’s no sence [sic] in keeping it. We seem to get 6/6 a week deducted for insurance & various other mysterious things. We were paid £4.12 for the fortnight.

Well its gone 8.0. I like to retire about 8.0 for a bath & then snuggle into bed for a little read before turning over. Life must have its little luxuries.

Best of love to all. Thanks for letters — always [underlined] very [/underlined] welcome. Please pay for stamps out of my money. Would send some if it was easier to get them. I doubt if I’ve one left for this letter. If you got a couple of books while you were at it I could do with one but they must come out of my money.

[underlined] Bill [/underlined]



William Akrill, “Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 21, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/18006.

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