Letter from Kenneth Gill to his mother



Letter from Kenneth Gill to his mother


Writes that he had arrived after an uneventful voyage across the Atlantic but did not know the name of port at which he disembarked. Comments about the voyage and his current situation, including sleeping arrangements, food, activities, weather and fellow travellers. Concludes with family gossip. Mentions they would be going on to the USA.




Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage



Eight page handwritten letter and envelope


IBCC Digital Archive


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[underlined] ON ACTIVE SERVICE] [/underlined]


Mr & Mrs F. Gill.
55, Kyffin Avenue,


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[Royal Air Force Crest]

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1438901. L.A.C. GILL. K.
JAN. 18TH/42.

Dear Mum & all.

I’m very pleased to say that we have at last arrived at the other side of this endless stretch of water. I can’t tell you what place it is we will be disembarking at because I don’t know (up to writing that is).

The voyage has been uneventful thank goodness. I am of course speaking about enemy interference, not the weather.

We have had quite our share of gales & heavy seas & at times the boat has rocked and pitched to such an

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extent that the driving screws have been out of the water.

However here we are, none the worse for our experience, well-fed, healthy, & eagerly awaiting our next course of training.

When this war does come to an end, as well it might one of these fine days, I shall find sleeping in a nice soft bed a discomfort, I think. What with hammocks, decks, seats, the mess-table tops & occasionally coils of rope I’m beginning to become expert in sleeping anywhere & at any time. My sleeping place at night is the table top, about two feet wide, & only on one occasion have I slipped half off. This happened one

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night when Frank decided to sleep on the table as well as me. It’s a long table & we placed our beds end to end & settled down to sleep. The ship was rolling a bit, but not enough to make it hard to keep on the table. During the night, the storm increased, the rolling increased & I suddenly I had a horrible feeling that I was sliding head-first down a hill. I awoke in time to clutch my hammock as my bed slid half-way off the table. Frank’s weight increased the impetus & he came sliding down after me.

He slept in a hammock after that & I slept with my head in the centre of the table, just in case.

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The food we’ve had has been very good, considering the circumstances. The two Sundays we’ve been aboard have brought forth chicken for dinner & very nice t was too. We’ve had rabbit, pork & plenty if beef, liver, kidneys & fish. Potatoes done in their jackets have been the popular mode, although baked potatoes & mashed ones have appeared as variations. The vegetables have been mostly of the dried variety, although today we have savoy which was quite fresh.

Well I think I’ve satisfied you as to the food aspect, let’s try the weather now. As I’ve said we’ve had some bad storms & gales & we’ve also had some very heavy seas with spray covering the ship like rain. Yesterday we had a little

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snow & even below decks it was cold enough for two pairs of bootlaces. On Friday we had a grand day, the sky was blue, with white clouds moving slowly across it & the sun was very warm. Today we had the same conditions, but with a strong wind thrown in which spoilt things. Porpoise tuned up at the port side of the ship & stayed for an hour or so, leaping clean out of the water & diving back in again with hardly a splash at all. Apart from gulls and petrols, this was the only sign of life we had seen the whole voyage apart from ourselves.

We have on board several officers & their wives & families &

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also the wives of Air Force men in Canada so our company has been varied. We have had quite a few interesting talks from our own officers, to the others on board in the afternoons, & these talks, combined with fatigues, guards & boat-drills have kept off the monotony of a long trip with nothing to do.

Twenty of us from our mess volunteered for duties as deck sweepers & so were relieved of guard duties. After all you can’t sweep the decks when the boat is rolling badly & the broom helps one to walk a little easier. Did you say artful dodger?; well, remember the cookhouse job in London? Same principle. The lads from Leuchars are here together & I hope

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we’ll all stay in one party over here & when we go into U.S.A.

Dad would you mind letting Mr Mowthorpe know where I am, I said I’d write but hadn’t the time at Manchester. The firm’s number is 29737 hope you don’t mind.

We’ve been recalling the happy days we had at Leuchars & the boys would like to be remembered to Eric Mitchell & his friends.

Well I think I’ve said enough about myself, how about you. I hope you’re all keeping well & your chins up. David should be getting used to school again by now isn’t he, hope he isn’t giving much trouble in being taken there.

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Let Ronnie know I’m O.K. will you, & wish him luck at Filton for me. That’s all for now, hope it doesn’t take too long to reach you.

Cheerio for now,

Yours Loving Son.

Ken xxxxxx

David xxxxxx



K Gill, “Letter from Kenneth Gill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 20, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35564.

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