Letter from Kenneth Gill to his mother



Letter from Kenneth Gill to his mother


Writes that he had finished the course and should be on his way home soon. Catches up with recent mail from home. Says he will try and get bananas to bring home. Mentions gifts for family that he has obtained to bring home. Catches up with news of family and friends. Comments that there was only a little rationing in Canada unlike at home. Mentions his experience helping on a farm and at experiences visiting a logging camp. Mentions he had to stop writing as he was due to fly. Concludes with gossip.




Temporal Coverage



Ten page handwritten letter and envelope


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

[inserted] AUG 1942 [/inserted]

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[RCAF crest]

[inserted] “No greater love hath no man than he that giveth his best for a friend” [/inserted]

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[RCAF crest]

1438901. L.A.C. GILL. R.
Co. 50. 10.[indecipherable letter].05.

Dear mum & all,

Hello dears, not long to go now, by the time this reaches you I should have finished here & be coming home.

We finished all our exams yesterday & are hoping they’re O.K.

It would just about break our hearts to fail now, after so many weeks of hard work.

Our wings – parade is to be held next Friday week, & I’ll be thinking of you all, hoping you’ll all be proud of me.

I received a letter from you

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today dad dated Aug. 25th/42 so it didn’t take long to get here.

It seems queer that you havn’t [sic] received as many letters as Vee.

I made a point of either writing you both together, or alternately so you should have about the same. Thanks for the snaps dad, theyr’e real good. The nipper seems to get more like Ronnie every-day. I’m sorry to say I don’t think I’ll be able to bring him any banana’s, as the only ones there are in Canada are flown here every two days from New York to a little girl who is seriously ill. I’ll have a try though so tell him to keep on hoping. The other day I bought him a heavy lumber-jacket with a zipp [sic] down the front, so I’m hoping it will fit him. I could

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do with a kit-bag or two just to bring home the things I’d like to bring. So far I’ve collected, soap, towels, razor blades, stockings, socks, cosmetics, pull-overs, hair-pins, material for mum’s dress, silk scarves, and other trinkets etc. If theres’ anything special let me know, I’ve still got some money left. The big trouble is the bulk, as wer’e only allowed two kitbags & my own service kit is terrific.

I’m glad to hear the lad is doing fine out East, sometimes I wish I’d have joined up with him, however Canada is a good place. Glad to hear the tomato experiment turned out good mum, they should taste good. You

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mum, Canada is spoiling us for coming home, although sugar and tea are rationed more here than they were at home when I left.

There is also some talk of wholesale rationing like there is at home, and I see this week soap, lard and cooking fats are to be rationed.

Seems dad we all have been reverting a little to the country life again lately. Only last week

I was out at a farm across the river from here and milked five cows, cleaned out over half a ton of muck from the [indecipherable word], separated the milk & churned the butter. I had a really enjoyable evening & am looking forward to going again. Last weekend we had a 48hr. pass & George & I went with Byron, Margarets’ brother (I’ve mentioned the Lobban’s before) to

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a logging camp up in the woods. We had a marvellous time & secured a pretty good story of the camp in pictures, which have not as yet been developed.

We travelled by lorry over miles of unpaved road and drove through a tunnel of pine trees to the camp.

The smell of the woods out here is grand, I wish you could have been with me. We rounded a corner and came upon the camp, the saw-mill was set up on the bank of the river and two teams of big horses were hauling up the logs from the log boom in the river to the saw-table; here the logs are clamped down and run against the circular saws which

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trim the logs to shape. The logs are then transformed into beams, and are then put through another pair of saws which cut them to width. From this saw they are lifted up onto the tellers’ table who marks the logs in length & width & as they slide off the tellers’ table a man cuts them to proper length and other men carry them away to the respective piles or straight onto the lorries. While this is going on the piles of sawdust are continually growing & two men are kept busy moving it away from the saws & piling it elsewhere.

Another two men with horses are kept busy moving away the strips from the logs while others are piling the strip-wood to be taken away & used for stove & furnace fuel.

The whole camp worked like a

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smooth, effortless, well-oiled piece of machinery, the men’s backs & arms moving in rhythm with the song of the saws. The spirit of friendliness in these camps is symbolic of the people of Canada, they work, sing, and play together as one large family. At 2.0pm. the mill stopped for dinner & the men insisted that we join them for dinner. We did, and how those men worked after such a meal beats me, all we wanted to do was lie down and sleep, but one curiosity kept us awake. We tried our hand at most of the jobs going, but the one job I liked was the foremans’; he’s the teller, & marks the logs as they come up from the saw-tables. Its’ a

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very interesting job & requires a good knowledge of each kind of wood, sizes & lengths, as there isn’t time to measure anything & the different types of wood come through together. The time for us to leave came all too soon, and we rode back to Chatham in the lorries with about 6 tons’ of wood on each. When we reached the wood-yard we helped to unload and stack, & then Byron took us home, where we had a nice tea and a sleep. The mill has been moved this week & as soon as it is set up again we are hoping to visit it again. The men who work in these lumber camps are all huge men, with shoulders like doors, & arms like the logs they work on, one man was over 65 years old, and to see him carry three or four 16 foot beams at once, you’d think he

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was in the prime of manhood.

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to give you a better description, but I can promise a better one [deleted] which [/deleted] when the photo’s are at hand.

I think I’ve about run out of things to say just now, and I really must do some work this afternoon. We fly again tonight, so I had to pinch some time to write this.

Tell Ronnie to look after himself, I hope he goes on swimmingly, I’ve been in the river a few times myself, but I have a hard job persuading my other foot to leave the safety of the bottom & perish with the rest of me.

Tell Leslie to keep on the good work & remember me to the lads

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at Templenewsam when he goes. David, are you still looking after Vera for me? hope so; keep the rabbits fed David, I haven’t tasted one since I left England, “or arn’t [sic] they for eating?” O.K. nipper I won’t eat your pets, keep your chin up, maybe you’ll be able to fight me soon. That’s all this time folks, give my love to Uncs & Aunts, Grandma & Grandad & remember me to everybody, not forgetting Eric Mitchell & Pip.

Cheerio, Chins up.

Your Loving Son

Ken. xxxxxxxxxx. David xxxxxx

Rabbits xxxx.

[underlined] P.S. [/underlined] Hope the snaps are O.K. I nearly forgot to send them.



K Gill, “Letter from Kenneth Gill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35573.

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