Letter from Bernard Gumbley to his brother Larry



Letter from Bernard Gumbley to his brother Larry


Transcription of letter from Ken Gill's pilot. Writes of snow clearing activities. Catches up with news of brothers and family's activities. Mentions recent snowy weather and a difficult flight when they had difficulty finding somewhere to land. Mentions they had now done nine trips on second tour. Reports loss of previous commanding officer (Tait) and mentions new boss. Concludes with family gossip.




Temporal Coverage



Two page printed letter


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[inserted] BERNARD GUMBLEY [symbol] BROTHER LARRY [/inserted]


Dear Larry*

Hello. Just managed to shirk an all-night job of clearing snow from the airfield perimeter tracks, dispersals and runways. Had some down from an afternoon flip and sat down to tea at six o'clock when the notice of snow clearing came through with the usual standby to keep the airfield open to traffic in case of emergency call. You can bet the boys were pretty hard to locate. Hardly the spirit I suppose but we have had pretty extensive training lately. Even now expect to be called down the 'drome.

How are you feeling after the ordeal with the doctors? It surprised me to learn that the anaesthetic affected you so. Hope you are now sitting up and enjoying things. I am addressing this to you at Albert St (Hastings). I suppose you have been fit enough travel up from Christchurch. By the way thanks for cable. It arrived the day or so after the New Year. Not received any mail for quite 4 weeks now from home. In the last Mum mentioned that John Taylor had left for England. I have made enquiries from headquarters but they could give me no clues as to his whereabouts so I presume that he has not arrived. What do you think of the nephews and nieces in Albert St. No doubt they keep you amused or rather you keep them amused with your yarns of North Africa and Italy – all about the Wogs you chased and the Jerries that chased you and probably about the lower life of bars and dens of vice. They must all be imagining – the youngsters I mean, all grown up. I wonder what remarks are whispered about my writing style and legibility.

Have experienced several snow falls lately although it hasn't been all that cold. Usually a fall means that all crews are put on chipping ice off the aircraft before they can become airborne but the snow feels very dry and doesn't cling at all. Easily comes off when the motors start up. We were caught out for the second time the other day, flying did not get a recall over the radio. It was the devils own job to find our 'drome and when it was located the blighters would not let us land. Everytime I made an approach they gave us the red light. It was pretty ____. The crew started to panic as we did not know for sure whether it was a local storm. Eventually found a field down South on the coast. It was a great piece of fun while it lasted. So far have only nine trips of the second tour and at this rate may finish before I am repatriated but I have my doubts. The Russians are doing well out there and obliterating prospective targets for which the boys are thankful. I hope this is not giving too much away talking about personalities in the Squadron. We have just lost our old C.O. "Tirpitz: Tait DSO four times DFC twice. He completed his 100 trips in Bomber Command and many others not recorded. Some lad. He was married a day or so ago. Our new boss is a Canadian and heck he has started off with a bang. He uses the big stick with good effect. He is "training" minded and gets us airborne regularly as clockwork. A good thing. It only remains to be seen whether his dictator methods show a dividend.

Auntie Sophie asked me to come down to Exeter for leave. Did not manage to make it. They tell me they had a cold snap down there in London and burst all the water pipes in the house. Not to [sic] good with the worst of the winter coming on. Would like to hear from you sometime about your views and impressions about being away for so long.

[page break]

Say cheerio to everybody for me. Goodnight and all the best.


*4 years younger brother, convalescing in a plastic surgery unit in Christchurch New Zealand after receiving serious wounds 13.4.44 at Cassino, Italy



B Gumbley, “Letter from Bernard Gumbley to his brother Larry,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35724.

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