Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother



Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother


Bill writes after Christmas, relating the cards he received and all that happened to him. Everything went very well: he went to camp pantomime and cinema just before Christmas and spent Christmas Day at his friends' house in Lower Heyford. He describes the dinner, company and games. The fun he had contrasted sharply with the men at base, where they either got drunk or played Monopoly. Had a long lie-in on Boxing Day.

Have just been moved in operational flights and should be finished in 6-8 weeks.




Temporal Coverage



Ten page handwritten letter


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underlined] Sun [/underlined] 27.12.42.
[underlined] Heyford [/underlined]
Dear Mum,
Now that Christmas has come & gone there seem to be more letters than ever to write! I got yours of the 24th today as well as one from Miss Mary enclosing a card from her friends in Reading where I used to go (I hope to get to Reading again while I’m here do you still know Joan Reeson’s address?) and a letter from Mr. Sunman. Couldn’t think [underlined] who [/underlined] the Mary was at L’pool. I think it must be Miss Mary Newbone I knew in London & met again on the way to W. Freugh. I got Harry’s letter & the present on the 23rd. They’re nice hankies & it was good of them to use up [underlined] more [/underlined] coupons on me. On the 23rd also I got 2 parcels from
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Kelsey – a lovely cake, chocolate & chocolate biscuits from Auntie and a Country book from Phyllis. On Christmas Day I got the R.T.G’s card. I suppose you saw it. I think it’s a very good idea for a present. If you didn’t [inserted] see it [/inserted] it was a “Book Token Stamp” a 3/6 stamp you can exchange for a book at most Bookshops. There are some books I’d like in Oxford. Also on the 25th a Greetings Telegramme [sic] from the Iliffes and a letter from Joyce and Harry Thats [sic] about the lot in the Mail line – except for [deleted] you [/deleted] mums & Mary’s letters
But I’ve had a marvellous Christmas, thanks to some [underlined] very [/underlined] good friends. They really are the grandest folks. It was just like being at home. They made
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me feel I really belonged.
On Monday we saw the camp Panto. It was very good indeed – all the actors were from the station. Christmas Eve I was down for flying but it was scrubbed so 2 of us biked into Bicester – the nearest town – in the afternoon & bought some apples, cigs for the boys & had something to eat. We went to the Pictures in camp & saw a very good film “The Young Mr. Pitt” (He was the “Churchill” who fought Napoleon) at night. Went to bed early but soon got roused again so got up & cleaned buttons &c till 2 a.m. Got up 7.45 & scrambled for breakfast – quite good an [underlined] EGG [/underlined]!!! Later in the morning I biked down to Lower H. & found the Bates still busy at the bakehouse & on the
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rounds. So I joined Sgt. Hughes & his 3 youngsters who were busy making [deleted] toy [/deleted] model aeroplanes.
I joined the Bates’s for dinner. What a dinner. [underlined] Nearly [/underlined] as good as my mother could cook – Great leg of goose, sprouts, &c &c, plum pud, mince pies.
After dinner the party began. Sgt Hughes & Mrs Hughes came in with Alan & Jean (Michael being out in the pram) Len Bates collected his friend Harold. Sgt Harding turned up (he couldn’t get to dinner as he had to wait on the Erks at Hinton) & of course the [sic] was Mr. & Mrs Bates & Enid. We played the most riotous games – everybody romping round, & all [deleted] had a [/deleted] sat down to a great big tea, & carried on with [underlined] more [/underlined] games – supper & still more games til 12.30. I went round with Mr. Bates & Len to mix the dough after tea.
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The youngsters of course went to bed before then. They had dragged me out to join in a Charade with Enid, Len, Harold, Alan & Jean, & were so pleased that I thought we were never going to stop doing Charades with me as producer & principal part. You should have seen me in a short skirt, trousers rolled up, umbrellas, hats &c as Grandma!! Then I did a ghost which made Alan – who’s only nine have a dream & sleepwalk when he got to bed!! What an uproar but I did enjoy it. They wanted Mr. Harding & I to stay overnight but we both had bikes & it was a fine night so we returned to camp where there was [underlined] plenty [/underlined] happening. The whole place sort of steamed & beer fumes hit you before you got there. There was a dance in the Naafi. In my room everyone was in bed after spending a very sober time playing “monopoly” all day. The Canadians have found
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another room I’m glad to say. The lads really are a decent crowd & I was sorry to think they’d had such a dismal time when I’d been so well done to. They’d had an awful queue & rush for dinner which was small (& they weren’t sure what it was they’d had) & there had been no tea or sugar.
On Boxing Day I woke up at 20 to 10 to find everybody still asleep so we slept on til 11!! Had quite a good dinner & then got on my bike & went for a long ride. The Bates had asked me to go to tea again. I really felt I shouldn’t but they just wouldn’t hear of my not doing so we had another lively evening with more games & more tucking in at a great home cured ham for supper. It was a treat. Poor Enid (“Miss Bunn”) was rather jealous when Len invited Harold’s sister along!! She reminded me ever so much of Isobel.
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By 11.30 that night I think there was no game from “Oranges & Lemons” to “Murders” that we hadn’t played.
Night flying’s out of the question tonight so I shall get to chapel O.K. & will be expected there again. I hope Bill Harding can get. He’s a wonderful pianist, and we had no time for singing on Christmas and Boxing Day. Must go now or I’ll be late.
[underlined] MONDAY [/underlined] Went to the Bates’s again after chapel last night. Really feel I shouldn’t go so often but they won’t hear of my not going and make me feel really at home. They’re such a homely lot of folks. They’re having a party on Wednesday and are anxious for me to go again but of course I can’t be sure of getting. Sgt. Harding turned up last night having just heard that he’d become a father on Christmas day. He’s a
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grand chap.
So you see in spite of all I’ve had a very, very happy Christmas. At camp things were dreadful. It didn’t seem like the same world after the home life at Lower H. I’m glad I got out of it. Anybody who didn’t drink had a miserable time of it. The trouble is that it’s encouraged & catered for so sober men – or women – were quite a novelty – You weren’t enjoying yourself unless you were reeling!
We were all amused about the Ities prisoners idea about the war being over. I expect they’re not particularly anxious to get much work done but if they can manage the carrots it will be something. How many have you got? I expect there’ll be somebody in charge.
However did Nipper manage to get home with all that lot?
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Talk about Santa Claus!!
I went to Oxford on my day off with a B. Aimer. It poured with rain & the place was packed – couldn’t get [underlined] near [/underlined] the shops. On [deleted] Monday [/deleted] Tuesday had a pleasant surprise when our crew was given [underlined] another [/underlined] day off! I just went for a ride into Bicester in the afternoon.
I don’t know quite how Isobel can be [underlined] getting [/underlined] fat!!
Expect David will be up. Don’t suppose he’d been home long when Mary called. Havn’t [sic] had a letter from him for a long while.
We moved into the Operational Flights yesterday. We should be finished here in about 6 – 8 weeks. I shall be glad. I’ve the worst part of the whole training ahead and bad weather in store too I expect. Still, I’d sooner have bad weather now than on the
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I’ll try to get my [deleted] laundry off [/deleted] dirty clothes of [sic] today. There may be some extra as I couldn’t get them to the Laundry.
Also enclosing £5.
We’re trying to get a 48. But as we get some lectures for 3 weeks there’ll be none til then & then I expect we’ll get it in crews & ours is at the bottom of the list. Anyway I’ll be hoping to see you all as soon as possible. A number of lads dodged of [sic] home on bikes, or in civvies or even forged permission to travel!! But the risk really wouldn’t be worth while as I’d got such good friends looking after me.
Love to all of you
[underlined] Bill [/underlined]
P.S. Where shall I write to the R.T.G’s to thank them?



William Akrill, “Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 25, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/18079.

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