Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen



Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen


Gives excuses for his poor correspondence. Writes of moving between bases. Mentions his first meeting with her and playing Heathcliff to her Cathy. Explains his feelings. Continues with description of some of his activities. Writes of his recent furlough and seeing his brother. Goes on with general chat and hopes to see her again.




Temporal Coverage



Four-page handwritten letter


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.






March 12 – ‘45

Monday Evening

My dearest Cathie:

Today I received your letter of March 5th – the third I have received since the first of January. I’ve written once since then – in reply to your 2 that I found upon my return from furlough Feb. 8th. Both of them had been written weeks before and were delivered to my base some time after I had left the base.

I don’t suppose it’s any use trying to explain my negligence. I’ve laid it to the mail system so much that that excuse, though it still prevails, seems to have worn thread bare. There are other reasons too – this pen is so awful – and I keep sending home for a pen which never arrives – that I hate to write to anyone (note spot at top of page) To Mom when I requested the pen, I said: “Writing would be a pleasure instead of an Ordeal” (cap. O).

Too we have moved. We’re no longer at Chettington we spent weeks packing, moving and unpacking. I think I’m a little nearer to you than I was there. We’re at Alconbury – not far from Peterborough. We’re in a [indecipherable word] site, but the food is wonderful – such an improvement over the last place. Small mess hall, sort of like we had at Sculthorpe & Oulton. Oh! What wouldn’t I give to be stationed at Oulton again. Or Sculthorpe (if you were there) I wish I could recapture those few weeks we had there almost a year ago. What a happy person I was there –

I first remember seeing you with Rennee, bicycling down the hill at Cyderstone with another G.I. Immediately I saw him with you I felt pangs of jealousy – I wasn’t jealous of him, but of his friendship (or acquaintance – I think you had only met him) with you. I swore then, as I can so clearly remember now – your cheery smile, your hair blowing in the wind; your eyes that twinkled merrily as you raced along, [missing word] I would know you one

[page break]


day (and soon, I promised myself) regardless of the consequences and then that fateful night in the pub when (with the assistance of a generous amount of mild and bitters,) I summoned enough courage to strike up a conversation with you. How rude I was, telling you that England was 200 years behind the times. I also said I’d play Heathcliffe to your Cathie; to which you replied that Heathcliffe was tall and dark, and I replied I’d be brooding & moody like him. And when I stopped Rennee and you at the shop one day as you returned from Fakenham, on pretense [sic] of talking to her, when you, my sweet, were the objective all along. That’s the final time you were ever exposed to my inconsistency and irresponsible character – for that was when I made the first “date” to meet you in the village & failed to show up. If I had it to do over again, I’d break every tie that held me, to be able to get there.

Why did I have to be sent up here? So far away from you? What did I ever do to deserve such punishment? I’m not too bad. But maybe it’s for the best, because if I were near you all the time your life would be pretty uncertain, because my first obligation is to the Army (which enforces these obligations regardless of how I may feel) and if I made an engagement to see you, and something unexpected arose which necessitated my remaining on the base (as it frequently did), there would be you, looking forlorn and desolate, and I don’t like you to be like that. The Cathie I know and want is the laughing, gay, sweet girl I’ve seen and known so often. Yet, you must not realize how terrifically I miss you. I seldom go out – never with any girl – I haven’t been out with a girl (another) since I met you. Occasionally I’ll go to the pub with a few of the guys – and to London about once a month just to relax, and take in a play, or see a late American picture.

I’m sitting on my bunk, away up in the clouds; they’re double-deckers, and I occupy an upper bunk, writing this on my knee, which will account for the scratching you find, I’ve borrowed a reasonable pen to complete this “communique,” so hope the remainder turns out better than the previous page. I’m sitting here half-reclining, smoking a Chesterfield (the P.X. had no Camels this [indecipherable word]) and listening to the G.I. supper club – request records play for the guy on the American Forces network from 6:15 to [missing word] P.M. Dinah Shore is singing “Always” – which has won a cherished spot in my heart, since “Christmas Holiday.” It is very popular at home also “Together”. I wrote, asking you if you knew the words, and have never received a reply to the affirmative or negative – Wait I’m not saying you didn’t write – I said [underlined] I didn’t receive [/underlined] it.

[missing word] first of this month I spent a two-day pass in London

[page break]


with John Armstrong – do you remember him? – the Texan – [indecipherable word] spoken, etc. He is a fond admirer of Wm. Shakespeare, so we went to the movies – to see Shakespeare’s “Henry V” – an English production in technicolor. [sic] Even though it was in Shakesperian language, I thought it was a beautiful production, and we both enjoyed it very much. I found myself touched deeply & rootin’ for the good king, when he was fighting the French, and as his men became depleted and sick, foot-weary rallied them to a final battle and victory at Ajincourt. [sic]

My furlough? I did get to see my brother, thank God, but not for long, as he was called back suddenly and I have just received a letter from him, from France, so we were lucky that we had these last few days together. I went to Warrington to his base; from there we travelled to Liverpool (I don’t think much of that town), and to Southport – by-the-sea. What a honey of a town that is! The cleanest, most modern town I have seen in England – a lovely view of the sea beside the hotel where we stayed. It seemed as if the war had not touched the town, so far removed from everything warlike was it. No bomb-scarred [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] buildings as a grim reminder of the blitz – [missing word] in Liverpool, such wide nice streets. It was almost as though I had been transported home for a day.

As Eddie had never been to London, I decided to show it to him. We came all the way back having but a couple of days to spend together before he was called back. But in those 2 days [missing words] saw & did quite a bit of the city. He was crazy about it. Now he has been to Paris – which he also liked – but he says he wants to come back to England; that he liked it much better than France. He can neither buy anything, nor speak the language, therefore he is at a great disadvantage.

I started a letter to my other brother’s fiancee, in New York, and didn’t have a chance to finish it. It has been well over three years since I have seen him. He’s in the infantry, and has been fighting the Japs in the Pacific for 2 1/2 years; recently invading Luzou [sic] and helping liberate Manila. What a joyous reunion it would be if we could all get together for awhile with Mom. She worries so much – 3 sons, and they’re scattered to the four corners of the earth – She is such a wonderful person, Cathie; I wish you could meet her. So sincere, and sweet, and devoted to us. And what an unappreciative character I used to be, being the baby of the family, demanding more than was necessary & getting it, taking her for granted. I think maybe God drew these things to make us realize how valuable these treasures called families are; to make us appreciate them, while we are together. How it hurts me to think that she is growing older each day and I haven’t seen her for 2 years, and maybe for many more. And her long raven hair that was the pride of my life turn

[page break]


gray. [sic] You know she used to get me to pick the few gray [sic] ones out, and I’d complain. She wouldn’t dye it, still didn’t want the gray. [sic] There weren’t many then. I’d spend a solid week doing nothing else if we could be reunited.

She wrote in a V-mail (Air-graph, you call them) that she was sending a box of Valentine cards to me, and it was for you. So when it arrives, I’ll send it along. I’ll enclose her address, and if you’ll write to her, I know it will make her very happy. But if she writes back, telling you a lot of things about me, don’t be surprised. (not bad – just things)

Cathie; I spent one pass on the base – due to financial irregularities (immediately after returning from furlough) – so took down “Wuthering Heights,” I had read it, or part of it, when I was a kid, but for the most part had forgotten all of it. Never have I been so enthralled by writings of a human being. I neither ate nor slept until I had devoured the final word. And to think it was written about 120 years ago. Such magnificent form is rare – I place it at the pinnacle of best books I have ever read. He was such a vile person, but because he loved Cathie as consumingly I couldn’t hate him (Heathcliff,) Cathie was such a changling [sic] one. Flitting from one to another, not knowing what she wanted. I liked that passage especially well where Miss Bronte” was describing the black, dirty, little pig-like child (Mr. H.) – saying he was probably a Spaniard, a gypsy, or an [underlined] American! [/underlined] I like to think that he [underlined] was [/underlined] an American.

Young lady, I wish you would come to see me! I take you up on that challenge. This base isn’t bad at all. We have a nice theater [sic] with 2 35mm. movie projectors – the same as all cinemas use, and an elevated floor, and they are raising money to get upholstered seats. A nice Red Cross, & P.X. but the field is so dispersed that you almost must have a bicycle to get from area to area.

I’ve got to see you! How about the first of April – sometime after the first – I must wait until we’re paid (which we get once a month – the 30th – or last day when there are 31 days. I think we can get three day passes. Bill (Blaise) has started a rumor [sic] that we are to get no more passes for 5 weeks. He was probably trying to pull somebody’s leg; maybe there’s some truth in it. I don’t know – But if it is possible at all, I want to see you. Write early – as soon as you get this, and let me know when you can get leave after April 1st. I can get mine almost anytime – and where you want to go. I’d like to see London with you. I’d [underlined] love [/underlined] to see London with you. Write all the info – what time you will arrive, date, etc. then I can arrange my pass so that I can meet you. If you told me what train you were taking perhaps I could meet the train at Peter -



F Killen, “Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39816.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.