Letter from Kenneth Gill to his parents



Letter from Kenneth Gill to his parents


Writes that he had returned to Moncton after being eliminated from pilot training and that after being boarded at Trenton Ontario, he re-mustered as an observer. Goes back to describe his activities while at Moncton including local sightseeing, hospitality of local family and people. Goes on with full description of activities with locals. Mentions visit to Toronto and provides descriptions of area and activities there. Describes new camp, facilities and weather. Catches up with family news and gossip. Goes on to recount other adventures including visit to Sarasota and other travels in Florida.




Temporal Coverage



Twenty page handwritten letter


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[CANADIAN Y.M.C.A crest]


1438901. L.A.C. GILL. K.
No. 31. R.A.F. P.D.
APRIL. 22ND/42.

Dear Mum, Dad & all,

Hope you are all keeping as well as I am & enjoying the spring sunshine? The weather here is grand, plenty of sunshine, no rain, and not cold at night at all.

Well I guess I’d better tell you where I am now. As I said in my last letter I went back to Moncton after being eliminated from Pilot training because of dangerous & mechanical flying (standard phrases for excuse for elimination), and after staying there for nearly two weeks we

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were sent up here to Trenton in Ontario. The other day we went past a load of officers & I re-mustered to Observer. Trenton as you will see from the map is on the Eastern end of Lake Ontario, and is also about 100 miles from Toronto.

I’ll go back a little way now and tell you a little about the stay in Moncton.

We arrived there on the day before Good Friday after a 3 day journey from Florida. After being given billets we were told to report at 9.0am. on the Saturday morning giving us a whole day off. (not bad eh!) Well George & I, by the way George is an old Leucharian & the only one in our

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our [sic] flight, consequently we hang together, made a tour of the town to see if it had changed any since our stay in January. The town was just the same, except for the snow, which wasn’t (get me), so we went back to camp & bed.

The next day, Good Friday we wandered round the town after dinner & were just coming back from the Ponticoddiac [sic] River; we’d been watching the pack ice drifting down to the sea; when a gentleman hailed us. Naturally we turned round, & he offered to drive us round in his car for a while. About 4.pm. he said “Now lads I know English folks like a cup of tea about this time so let’s

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go home & see what there is.”

The gentleman took us home & we met his wife Mrs. Grant & her two children Eleanor & Mildred & two friends of the family. Well tea followed, the friends left & we talked quite a lot then had late dinner.

During our conversation Mr. Grant spoke quite a lot about his visit to Liverpool in 1920 & again in 1930. & George who comes from there pricked up his ears a little. It transpired that Mr. Grant had stayed in the next street to where George lives at the house of Georges’ dad’s friend.

George new the daughter a little better than the father but they had quite a good chat. It just shows once again what a small world this is. We had a really wonderful time

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there & Mr. Grant drove us back to camp & asked us to dinner on the following Monday. We knew that a Teachers Convention was to be held in Moncton that week but you can imagine our surprise when we found two charming young ladies awaiting us on the Monday evening.

The girls Hilda & Laura were from the backwoods (so to speak) & taught school to the children from the lumber-jack camps. Never the less they were well schooled & we had a fine evening discussing various subjects from customs and courtesies of different nations, through various sciences to music & art. After that we showed them how to play Whist, in return we were shown how to

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play “Auction 45’s” one of the funniest card games I’ve ever seen. We left at 2.30 am. & got back into camp quite easily undetected. Well as you will guess, the rest of the week we acted as escorts & guides & had a grand time. The girls left on the Friday afternoon for home & we returned to our new home Mrs Grants.

It really did feel like home they made us so welcome, & we were free to come & go as we pleased.

Our posting came through on the Thursday morning & we said “Cheerio” to the Grants & departed on our way to Trenton. We arrived here last Friday afternoon & on the way we stayed in Montreal for an hour & had a look round. By Saturday morning we were through with the

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usual station procedure & were given leave until 6.30 a.m. on the Monday morning. Now George being a handy guy to have around remembered he had a cousin in Toronto so we decided to go. We only new his name but that didn’t worry us. The fare to Toronto was $3 return so we purchased tickets & boarded the train at 4.10 pm. Now these trains they have here are trains & then some & 70 m.p.h. is not unusual. The goods trains are often over half-a-mile long & boy do they hustle along. Well to get back to what I was saying, we arrived in Toronto at 6.45 pm & armed with just a name (Mr. Lawrenson it is) we made our way to a phone booth. Luckily there were only three Lawrensons in it so we chose the 2nd one

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and low & behold we struck lucky once again. We were [deleted] tall [/deleted] told to meet him at the station & in twenty minutes I was being introduced to George’s cousin, an Englishman of perhaps thirty or so. He couldn’t quite realise that George was the Nipper he’d been used to back in England twelve years ago but we convinced him that it was. We drove round Toronto & viewed the lake (Ontario I mean). and several interesting places then we went to a café & ate.

Harold (George cousin) is married, and later on when we had done a little more driving round we went home.

Here we were introduced to Mrs. Lawrenson (Ted by nickname) & her mother a Mrs. Cameron. By this time it was getting late so we retired to bed.

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The following morning we had breakfast & then went to church.

At the church we might have been two persons of nobility the way we received & everybody wanted to speak to us & shake our hands.

Luckily we managed to get away at last & went back for dinner.

The sun had come out grand by this time & after dinner we went for a long drive round Toronto.

It really is a lovely city & the suburbs are grand with large open gardens & no hedges or fences. The whole place seemed like a huge park with rows of grand houses placed here and there among the lawns & gardens. There was

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no snow at all anywhere & the grass was a new green & the trees starting to put on their spring clothes of brilliant greens. I wish you could have been with us it seemed like something you read about that had suddenly come true.

The time for departure soon came round & we had to leave & catch the 11.15 p.m train back to camp. We have been granted a 48 hour pass this weekend & are hoping to go to Niagara Falls with Georges’ cousin on the Saturday.

I think I’ll tell you about this camp now, it’s the finest camp in Canada & I doubt if we have one in England to touch it. Everything possible is done for the airmans’ comfort and well-being. The barracks are

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grand places to live in , with polished floors, [deleted] s [/deleted] lockers, writing tables, an electric plug for each bed for radios etc, plenty of showers, a drying room & a baggage room. The messes are grand halls & the food is excellent. We also have an Airmens Lounge with large divans, leather chairs, tapestries, grand pianos, & soft carpets.

Attached to the Lounge we have two Billiard rooms with six tables, then six table-tennis sets, darts, & a bowling alley, checkers, draughts, chess & what-have-you.

I forget the writing room in which I am now. In the large Y.M.C.A. building we have Wet & Dry Canteens, another Lounge, Reading & Writing Rooms, a Library, Barbers’ Shop, large swimming pool, showers, dressing rooms & a large gymnasium.

Then in the Sports Hangar we have a large dance-hall, a boxing ring, another gymnasium, tennis-courts, badminton courts,

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& a well-equipped Sports Store. On the Sports Field we have a running track, baseball diamond, cricket pitch, football & rugger pitches, & horseshoe courts. We also have a landing stage & launches on the lakeside & as far as I know they organise fishing matches for the fisherman. Naturally as is necessary for all stations, we have two very large drill-squares & they are made good use of too. Before I forget we also have two large cinemas with three shows every week, twice nightly for 10 cents each show. There are also excellent facilities for laundry, dry-cleaning & pressing on the camp. If anybody should wish to go out of camp for an evening, we have a Hostess House in the camp & the two venerable ladies distribute invitations from the various homes in the town for airmen to go for supper – or to a show etc.

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I don’t think I can say any more about the camp, except that the N.C.O’s & the officers here are the best lot of fellows we’ve ever had to contend with. Trenton in our opinion is the tops & we’re glad to be here.

Well I think I’ll run over your last letter of the 9th of March, which I received a little over a week ago.

Up to press I’ve had three letters from home, two from Vera & a cable; one from Auntie Glad, Auntie René, & Grandma which I have still to answer as yet (I mean the last three are to answer).

As you say dad the journey from snow to sunshine was grand & coming back was a little nicer. We left Florida in the beginning of the hot season (it reached 100°) & travelled North up the

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coast. We ran into snow & ice in north Virginia & strange as it seems we ran out of it again just across the border and it seemed to get a little warmer as we went further North.

When we reached Moncton it was quite warm & I was glad I’d packed my greatcoat. However the Good weather didn’t last long, we had a terrific snow storm three days later & we had over a foot of snow over-night with a strong wind which made deep drifts.

The sun prevailed, & in the end the snow was cleared again by the time we left. I havn’t [sic] written a letter to Ron yet, but when I do I s’pose [sic] it will nearly be a repetition of your letter. He seems to be having a little travelling to do himself these days but when you think of what he’d have to do if he was with me

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it would seem small. You know mum so far we’ve journeyed over 7,500 miles by train, 3,000 by boat, & over a 1000 miles by car; the train journeys taking over 170 hours all-told, so hows’ that.

Remember you used to say the fortune teller said one son would travel, well it seems it’s me, what do you say?

You know dad I was saying to the boys I wondered who would be digging up the gardens this year, as we usually had an illness around February & March, when your letter came & you’ve all been ill. Well I can only hope you’re all well again now. Poor mum, I bet she had a job with you all at home to ‘help’ her.

Hope the Nipper keeps up with the good work, he’ll have to be a wireless operator then he say – A for Apple himself. or will he??

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I suppose by now Gladys will be well & truly initiated to the land. At least Ron will have somebody to help him dig his garden ahem!!!

Glad to hear youv’e [sic] heard from Pip, & hope she can get over for a bit this month. Remember me to her & tell her I’m having a grand time.

No dad we don’t have “Pie-clets” over here, worse luck, we do have Flap-jacks & whaffles [sic] though & they’re quite nice with Maple Syrup or Sugar.

You know dad when I do get home I think we’d best have a family gathering affair then I [inserted] can [/inserted] see all the relations together& try & answer their questions. I’ve managed to collect a few photographs together & I’ve put them in an album so maybe they’ll help a little. Still its’ good to know people outside our family do take an interest in us dad. You know every

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where we go, people ask if we have any photo’s of the folks at home, & they all say your grand, I’m so proud of you all.

Tell Leslie to remember me to the boys in the H.G. They have a similar sort of organisation in Canada now too.

Sorry to hear the lad-o! had a bus smash, but glad he’s O.K. again now.

Tell him to give my regards to Gladys when he writes; but not to say anything about digging his gardens.

The Cook’s car sure was a beauty dad, that’s one thing the Yanks have on us. The car we used to use in Florida was an 80hp. 1941 model Oldsmobile & we managed 100m.p.h. on one occasion & frequently drove at 80 & 90 m.p.h. I remember on one occasion we we [sic] doing round about 90 m.p.h.

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and we had to slow down for a corner. Well as you know when you’ve been going very fast, you can’t judge speed properly when you slow down, & we took the corner at 60 m.p.h. in a lovely broadside skid. After that we watched the speedometer at corners & did alright.

As I said in my last letter we had three days leave from Arcadia when we were eliminated and seven of us hired the car and went off. We stayed in Sarasota for two days, swimming, & sunbathing on the Gulf of Mexico. We were invited to stay at the Siesta Keys Hotel & had a fine time there.

On the third day we got up at 8.30am & met the rest of the boys at 10.00am. & set out in the car.

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We travelled up the West Coast of Florida & passed through Bradenton, then on to Tampa, across the Davis Causeway to St. Petersburg. From there we crossed over by ferry to Piney Point & back to Bradenton. There we met some ladies at the Y.M.C.A. & they asked us if they could write to you so we gave them our home addresses. I havn’t written to them myself as I forgot to ask for their address but I hope they’ve written you.

From Bradenton we went back to Sarasota, then on to Punta Gorda & finally back to camp. We covered about 500 miles that day & boy were we tired.

I’m trying to remember everything we saw, but I suppose I’ll get a little muddled at times, we saw so much variation.

I don’t think I have any more news just now for you

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mum, hope you arn’t [sic] bored reading this lot, excuse spelling & scribble. I have to write pretty fast else I get in front of myself if you get what I mean, my hand won’t go as fast as my brain wants it to.

Give my love to Grandma & Grandad, Aunts & Uncles & remember me to everybody.

Look after yourselves & God Bless You.

Lots of love.

Your loving Son.

Ken xxxxxxxxxx.

David xxxxxxxxxx.

P.S. I got Mrs. Priestley’s brothers address a little two [sic] late to go down to Miami but I’ll try & find time to write to him.

Love Ken xxx



K Gill, “Letter from Kenneth Gill to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35568.

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