Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother



Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother


Disappointed to tell his mother that he has failed the flying test. Bill described the final test with the Chief Flying Instructor, which went badly, despite having completed a successful test beforehand with his own instructor. Has now been recommended for training as an observer (probably in Brighton) and is awaiting posting. On reflection quite happy with this, but disappointed at failing to become a pilot.

Describes the various local friends he has made through a family and via the chapel. Also taking a walk suggested by some friends along the river Kennet to Reading.

Ends with PS that they have a new Cadet Commander who has been investigating the question of food and it seems to have improved. Suggestion that eggs which have gone missing probably not stolen by the men.




Temporal Coverage



Eight page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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No 1436220 L.A.C. Akrill
No 26 E.F.T.S.,
Reading, Berks.
Sun. 15.2.42.
Dear Mum,
Pleased to get your letter on Friday.
Now I’ve got some news that’s really going to disappoint you – that’s the worst part about it -. I managed to cut a promising career short last Tuesday, or at least I had it cut short for me when the C.F.I. decided to suspend every body he could!
I told you I’d had the one test. That seemed O.K. Then he started giving every one of us another. Peachey passed me out for Solo. He was quite satisfied & didn’t seem to have the least doubt about me & I’d none either & we were both chatting happily about what we’d do when I’d done my first solo. I flew with him in the morn & again in the afternoon did a couple of circuits before he got out & C.F.I. got in. He told me to taxy [sic] out & I had to go right round the field to get right for take off, at a slow pace & I suppose
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that must have shattered my nerves rather. Anyway I went all to pieces but never, never imagined that I’d get suspended for I’d been so sure & confident a few minutes before with Peach. I simply couldn’t believe he meant it & Peachy nearly wept, but couldn’t do anything about it. He’s a grand instructor – young, quite a little boy to look at but a F/L & hot stuff.
That was that but I’ve managed to get recommended as observer, & am now waiting for the posting to come through when I’ll go to Brighton. It’ll be a very interesting job anyway – It’s always been interesting to me & if I hadn’t had a crack at pilot & found that I liked it & could do it I wouldn’t mind at all. I’d prefer to be observer to pilot on a bomber anyway. The pilot’s just the bus driver there & does as the observer tells him, though in England the pilot is usually
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[underlined] 3 [/underlined]
the captain. But it makes me feel so useless not to have got through & I feel most upset that you’ll be disappointed. However it’s perhaps prolonged my life a bit. If I had been a bit unsafe or doubtful it may have meant that I’d have come to a sad end one day in an Oxford. There are ghastly stories from the S.F.T.S. near hear [sic] of the number of pupils who are killed.
The C.F.I. asked for me the other day to sign papers ac. & had the cheek to say [inserted] twice [/inserted] that it was sheer bad luck that I hadn’t made it & then went on to say that it was a definate [sic] loss to the Air Force as I would have made a very good pilot !!!!!????? He also said that had it been peace time he’d certainly not have let me go as I only wanted a little more time which I couldn’t have in war time & that I’d had a rather unfair chance!! Well I didn’t know [underlined] what [/underlined] to make of it nor do any of us, but it looks as if anyone left over from Grading Courses has little or no chance of getting through as we’re just in the way.
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[underlined] 4 [/underlined]
It means that I lose my 2/6 a day flying pay but I’ll get 2/- of this made up when I get to AONS (Air Observer Navigation School). [deleted] Two [/deleted] Once trained the pay’s the same.
Your brain-wave seems to have worked alright. Yesterday I went to the Wrays when I had my day off & got to know where Emmerdale Rd was. Its only a few mins. walk from there. Today I just “brake camp” & went to Reading again so I’ve had a whole week end off. It was a risk & I’d have been in for it had anyone found out but it was worth it.
I looked Joan up in the afternoon & sure enough she still lives there & though she didn’t recognise me she made me very welcome & I stayed for tea. Her husband isn’t called up yet. The child was a vile, hefty little brute, with a shocking temper which was politely put down to a cold & a tooth & various other reasons but I think that the
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the chief reason was insufficient use of a heavy hand. Joan is growing the image of her mother. Auntie Gertie is still living in Bourne, but she says uncle doesn’t do much travelling these days. The twins are both working in a Solicitors Office. Can you imagine them as somebody’s capable secretary? She says they’re getting on very well. One gets a slightly higher wage than the other so they split the difference!
The Wrays is just like a “home from home” these days & I can just wander in & out & do as I please. Mrs. Wray’s given me the freedom of the garden – and the tools so I can amuse myself there. I’ve got to know the guests too & find that only 3 are school missesses [sic] & they are not as bad as you’d think. They’re all just a happy family party & its grand to join in with them.
I’ve also got to know some people in the village. The minister at the Cougl. Chapel I attend asked me to supper.
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one night & I’ve a pressing invitation to go whenever I like & they’re also wanting me to go to this & that chapel function. They’re very nice people. The minister’s young & newly married & his aunt & sister are living with him. They’re grand homely Welsh folk. So you see just as I’m about to depart I’ve found plenty of friends! Next I start exploring Brighton. Wonder if Miss Mary has any friends there!
I had a grand walk today along the [deleted] pa [/deleted] tow path of the River Kennet to Reading. I don’t know how far it was but it took me 3 hours. It was a lovely walk & I did enjoy it. The folk at the Wrays suggested it. They’re great walkers & country lovers & we have great discussions on Natural History ac.
Well, I’m feeling very sleepy after my exertions but I can’t go to bed yet as I’m Orderly Corporal today which means that I have to tuck everybody [inserted] else [/inserted] in bed first. I suppose I’d better attend lectures tomorrow as the old brain will have to get used to hard usage now
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I don’t suppose I’ll be able to get 48 as they never know when my posting will come through. Unfortunately George, Thornhill & Harty were posted to Brighton the other day but I don’t think I’ll be alone as there have been so many suspentions [sic] that some are bound to get recommended as Observers. I think Brindle will be coming anyway (of [underlined] all [/underlined] people)
Best of love to everybody.
[underlined] Bill [/underlined]
Yes, written to Auntie, & to Annie who has replied v promply [sic]. Will send mucky clothes when I get to Brighton but I haven’t another pr. pants to change into.
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[underlined] 8 [/underlined]
[underlined] P.S [/underlined] Must tell you this. We’ve got a new Cadet Commander whose been looking into Food Question & inquired about what happens to our Jam and Cheese Rations & has ordered that we get a 3 course meal at 6.30 instead of the feeble mouthful of bubble & squeak we usually get.
One morning we actually got EGGS but when [deleted] 40 [/deleted] there were found to be 40 short [underlined] we [/underlined] were accused of pinching & there was a terrible scene over it.



William Akrill, “Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 17, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/18010.

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