Leonard Dorricott's wartime letters to his parents

EDorricottLWVarious41-42.pdf

Title

Leonard Dorricott's wartime letters to his parents

Description

Note book containing 84 pages of letters covering the period 1 September 1941 to 4 July 1942. It covers his training in the UK, Canada and the USA. He describes, in detail, his social life and eating arrangements but very little about the actual training he received.

(The notebook is incomplete.)

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Rights

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.

Format

84 handwritten sheets

Language

Type

Identifier

EDorricottLWVarious41-42

Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Regents Park. Page 1

Torquay Page 12.

Eastbourne. Page 59.

Canada Page 70

Miami U.S.A. Page 74

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LEAVES

Nov 14th to Nov 21st 1941
from Torquay

Feb 28th to March 2nd 1942
from Eastbourne

March 8th to March 14th
from Eastbourne

March 18th to March 21st
from Eastbourne.

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1

Sept: 1, 1941.

1230753 A.C2 Dorricott,

No1 ACRC 16/10 Flight,

Stockleigh Hall,

Abbey Lodge, Park Rd

London.

Dear Ma, Pa, and Nibs,

I arrived at Lord’s at 12.45, had to fill up at least half a day on forms, and then watched a cricket match, Then we were marched up to our billets. Doesn’t it sound posh?, but its only a block of modern flats. We had dinner at 3 o’clock – the cabbage was not too good, but we enjoyed the pud (plenty of sugar). We can go out within a 5 mile radius from 6 – 10-30 pm any night, but about once a fortnight, two of us have to look after the billet. I forgot to say we had dinner in a cafe in Regents Park which is just outside. We shall be issued with uniforms tomorrow, should have been today, only there were too many of us. Everyone is [sic] our flight is going to be an Observer. They re not a bad lot of chaps, and weve got a [inserted] negro [/inserted] with us. He talks good English, & has come

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from Canada. We shall probably be here from 2 weeks to a month.

Cheerioh for now,

Len.

Sept 4th.

Dear Mum, Dad, & Nibs,

I have not put the address this time, as it takes up too much room. I have just finished helping scrub the floor of our room, quite a mucky business. We had our uniform issued to us on Tuesday, but the tailor has had to alter our coats, etc, so we shall not wear them till tomorrow. We had a night vision test today, we had to wear very dark glasses, for 1/2 an hour, without taking them off and then went into a blacked-out room for a 1/4 hour, and then had to describe dimly illuminated objects on a screen in front of us, hardly anyone could name them. Soon we shall have umpteen innoculations [sic] and vaccinations, and am I

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delighted? We have had to get tons of brushes, marking ink, and cleaning tackle today, and all the fellows are busy cleaning their buttons and marking their kit. Two kitbags full, 3 shirts 5 pairs socks, (very hairy and all standard size) 2 vests, 2 pants, 2 towels and yards of other stuff. I don’t know what we’re gonna do about laundry. Most of the other chaps send theirs home, as you don’t get your own back, if you send them to the laundry. The Church Army van comes round at 7.30 pm to sell cakes and tea, our last meal is 5.15 pm. That cake came in very handy for us. Blow this writing pad its just like blotting paper. I shall be sending a case with my clothes in, as soon as I get my uniform,

Cheerioh for now

Len.

8.9.41

Stockleigh Hall.

Dear Mum, Dad and Herbs,

Im still having a pretty good time here. Yesterday we attended a

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Church Parade at Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, St Johns Wood, it was quite a nice service, started at 9.25 A.M. Later in the morning and in the afternoon I went with Gilbert Fairhead, one of the lads in my room, to the Zoo, we watched the keepers feed the lions, penguins, sealions etc, and had quite a good time, it is open free to Service men on Sundays. In the evening both of us went to the Allied Services Club in Marylebone Rd, and read and played cards, till 8.30. P.M. We’ve had a very slack day today, the only thing we did wad attend a lecture for 1/2 an hour this morning. Tomorrow morning we have two innoculations, one for typhoid, and the other for tetanus, one vaccination, and a blood group test. The M.O said we would not feel the effects till 10 days later. We don’t get paid till next Friday, single blokes get 30/- a fortnight, and married ones only 20/. By the way, that is not Acne in my address, but A. C. R. C (Air Crew Receiving Centre), ever been had I. Ive just had a letter from Grandma Dorricott

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I have not got Grandma Comptons address, so I could write them. All of us are sending our “civvies” home tomorrow, but I think I will keep my case as it is handy to keep my cleaning tackle, pygamas [sic], and writing pad in, its such a mess having to hunt in a kit bag every time you want a thing. Several of the chaps in our Flight live in, or have relations near London, so they went home, we are free after Church Parade, so Gilbert and I were about the only two left. I don’t think I told you, but next door we have half a dozen Ex-Met. Policemen, and theyre the best pals you could have. The Corporals in charge of us are very decent, we are supposed to do so many hours drill, but so far we have not done one hour. They tell us to go to our rooms, and do what we like, as long as we co keep [sic] from the windows, in case the Squadron leader sees us. We are having our photos taken in a group, I’ve ordered one and will send it when I get it. There are about 5,000 cadet pilots, and observers here now, and another 1,000 are coming today, we in uniform

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feel like veterans when we see them in civvi [rest of word missing] We might be posted to I.T.W. [Initial Training Wing] this week, but I doubt it, some chaps have been here 8 weeks. Tell ‘Gay Gay, that the A. T. [missing word] kids guard some of the blocks of flats on Sundays. There are about 6 great blocks of flats along Prince Albert Rd, and all are occupied by the Air Force, I bet Gay-Gay wishes he was here. Well I must toodle on now.

Cheerioh,

Len

Tuesday,

I did not have time to post my letter, so I m adding some more to it. About 11 AM I had to go to the Dentist, all he did was fill one tooth, the other two he will probably do tomorrow, up to now I have had no toothache but when he got the drill on, he nearly murdered me. Immediately after I went for
Inoc, etc. it made about 5 fellows faint. There was one right behind me, and I had to hold him up because he was swaying. The whole thing was

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well organised, we had to walk round several tables, while the doctors jabbed us. I think Dr Brynne Quinne must be here because there was a notice on one of the doors signed, B Quinne H.P. We shall have two more Inocs in 6 weeks time. We get one weeks leave every 3 months while training, but when we get on operational duties we get much more. Also there are 48 hours a month, but it is usually kept till your weeks leave. We’ve got nothing to do all day now but read or sleep, I feel as fit as a fiddle, but two of the policemen have taken it badly, and are in bed sweating it off.

Thursday.

I didn’t half have a rotten time of it yesterday. I kept going hot and cold, and felt so bad, I didn’t have tea, but went to bed at 5.30 pm & slept till 6 AM next morning. I don’t feel too grand today, so am staying in tonight. We got paid today30/-, we might get posted to I.T.W. this weekend, if not we shall go to posting wing here. I’m going to bed now, so Cheerioh, Love, Len.

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P.s. Don’t write to this address again, as I might be moved, I’ll send the next address

Len

“P” Squadron.

Avenue Close, Avenue Rd

London N.W. 8

15.9.41

Dear Mum, Pop, Gay-Gay, Janet and the little Shrimp,

Ow be thee a-g-ettin on, Oi be foine

We have been moved to Posting Wing, and are in another block of flats, about 50 yards from the others. Its like moving from a Mansion to a Corporation house. We are crowded, there are two other chaps in my room, and yesterday afternoon we had to mess about with the wash basin in our room, as it was stopped up. Many Happy Returns of the Day Mum, Ive just remembered its your birthday tomorrow. On Friday night Gilbert and I went to the “State” Cinema, Kilburn, it is at least twice as large as any Cinema I’ve been in. We saw “Great American Braodcast” a Dr Kildare picture, second portion of that captured Nazi terror film, also a film of Air Sea Rescue. We had had a lecture on this

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subject a few days previous, at the Odeon Cinema, by a Wing Commander. On Saturday night, Gilbert, Allen and I went rowing on the Lake in Regents Park, and had a fine time On Sunday, Gilbert and I went to the Zoo again, while Allen went to his relations at Luton. This morning we’ve had a medical lecture at the Odeon, and this afternoon a kit inspection, its bedtime now so I ll close with Love

Cheerioh,

Len.

Avenue Close

Friday

Dear Mum Pop & Niblets

Ta, muchly for the parcel, which I received tonight, the other letter which which [sic] you sent previously with the 5/- has not reached me yet. Thanks so much for the cake, I thought your birthday was the 16th, but we’ll celebrate tomorrow. We leave for Torquay sometime after breakfast, it’s a bit farther from home, but it’ll be a nicer place than London. I’ll be glad to leave here,

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as you can’t go anywhere without spending. From 9. AM Thursday till 3 P.M. this afternoon, we did 30 hours guard, 2 hours on and 4 off, We have to patrol up and down the main Rd, in real “sentry go” manner, so we can’t do much slacking. It wasn’t so bad at night, because providing no-one was coming, you could sit down on a low wall outside the flats. I don’t know our exact address yet, but will write as soon as I get to know it. We’re darn lucky to leave here so soon, usually you have to wait 3-6 weeks. There are 1,700 civvies coming here on Monday, so they have had to clear us all out. On Tuesday night 3 of us went to the Rudolf Steiner Hall, run by the Church Army, for a quiet evening. Then on Wednesday we went to the Odeon to see Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in “Caught in the Draft” you ought to see it if it comes to W. hampton. Most days this week we have had P.T, and o are the backs of my legs aching! I have not seen anyone from W. hampton here yet. It seems as if I have known the chaps here ages

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We’re C.B. tonight, normally since we were the guard yesterday, we should have had all today off, from 9. AM., so you see it’s a bit of bad luck for us. We have an excellent way of pressing trousers, we damp the creases, and put our ‘biscuits on top of them, and sleep on them, and hey presto! you have a knife edge crease that will last. We’ve got a small Naafi here, buy [sic] you can only buy cleaning stuff, cigs and slab cake. I’m sending a Zoo book for Sylvie, those news-paper cutting [sic]were interesting, send me as many as you like, we only get the London papers here. Most of the shops in London close at 6 pm, except cafes, so we can’t do any shopping. At Avenue Close weve been having brekker at 6.15 AM. , then a break at 10.30 AM. So we could go to a Cafe for something to eat, you begin to get hungry then. The quality of the food is not bad, but the cooking is. Today, for instance, 3 out of 4 of my spuds were bad. They’ve started dishing out suppers now, you get a helping twice what you get for dinner, it’s the left-overs from dinner

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warmed up, sometimes its not too bad, but its mostly the other way round. Anyway when we get to Torquay, the grub’ll probably be much better. Some chaps have come back from Torquay to here for eye training, and they say this is a lousy hole. It will be much stricter at I.T.W. but we’ll get used to it. I can’t understand why the post is held up, I have had your first letter and this parcel, however all the rest should be sent on to us. Well I’m very tired now, and am gonna go to bye byes,

Cheerioh,

Len

Sept 23rd 1941

1230753 A.C 2. DORRICOTT

“A” Flight

No 4 Squadron

Beacon House

No 3 I.T.W.

Torquay,

Dear Mum, Dad, Gay-Gay Janet & Baby Sylvie,

As you see I’ve changes my address again, you could not wish for a nicer place than Torquay. All around the

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bay and harbour are hills, with hotels and boarding houses upon them, and trees and foliage in between. We are in a boarding house 15 yards from the harbour, its only a third rate place but we have beds, and washbasins in each rooms, and a tall locker each, like a wardrobe We have meals in a hotel next door, in a room which used to be a Dance floor. The food is cooked ten times better than at Regents Park, the spuds are either cooked in their jackets or else properly peeled and mashed. When we came yesterday, we had, half a steak & kidney pud, two big roast spuds, some carrots and a saucerful of beetroot, and a big plate of rice pud. This morning we had Shredded Wheat, sugar & milk, pork sausages, fried tomatoes & gravy, and a pint of coffee. Dinner today was a large slice of beef steak, roast spuds, & cabbage, and after prunes and custard, hows that for a start. It took us 5 hours yesterday to get here, its about 2.20 miles from London. Its quite warm today, I wish you could all be here

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to enjoy I shall get through my course in 6 or 7 weeks, if I work hard, and then I shall have a weeks leave. The officers and N.C.Os say that the civilian volunteers mostly go abroad if they pass, while ground staff airmen, who have transferred to Air Crew, or Army transfers have to stay in England. Its going to be jolly hard work, plenty of discipline, but we need that! There’s plenty of drill, P.T, games swimming etc. We pay 2/- for the whole time we are here and can go to the Baths free, use the Recreation room, listen to the Wireless, have some of our clothes washed, and have several odd jobs like that done. The Officers and N.C.Os are very decent chaps, so we should get on O.K, I’m on fire picket tomorrow, I think I stick around, and don’t do anything till the sirens go. We had the “Sirens” last night, but the “All Clear” went into 1/2 an hour [sic] In receiving wing at Stockleigh there were 4 chaps besides me in my room, at Avenue Close, I was in a room with the two oldest, and here I am in a room with the two

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younger chaps. Theres Gilbert the youngest in the Flight (ten days younger than I), and Allen who’s nineteen. Allen is Methodist, so we had to go to the Congregational along with the other Denominations, we are going again tonight. Gilbert is Church of England, so he is going for a walk instead. That cake’s lovely, the five of us have shares in it. We don’t get suppers here, so as I said before it comes in handy. We have to wear white ceremonial belts here, and have to blanco them every day. We have Morse and signals here, navigation, maths, armaments, and Aircraft identification every day. We have to know 90 different planes but the navigation is by far the hardest subject in the whole course, or so the Officers say. We’ve got to learn to swim, and will not be able to play football till we can swim 2 lengths, I don’t mind a bit. We’re not having much time for going out, what with homework etc, its up to ourselves now. We wake at 6. AM, brekkies at 7 AM. – 7.30, lessons start at 9, half hour break about 10, then on

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till 1 o’clock. From 1 till 2 pm. Is dinner, then work till 6 pm, then tea, and we are free till 10 pm, 11 pm Saturdays. We can have a late pass till midnight once a week if we want it. Couldst thou send me one or two of they blue hankies, the white ones show the dirt so easily. I’ve got quite a large sore over my vaccination mark. I’ve got a cold: I’ve got a headache! And my “stitch” has bleeded this afternoon, all the effects of the vaccinations. Even with the hard work, I think I shall enjoy myself here. Lets know all the noos as soon as possible. Tell bruvver Gay-Gay that if he goes in the R.A.F. to go as Pilot, its ten times easier than Observer.

Cheerioh,

Len.

Beacon House,

Dear Mum, Dad & Infants,

Ow be things agoin on at No 10? I’ve just had a p c. from Shrewbury [sic] sent on from London, but that lost letter

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has not turned up. That [underlined] was [/underlined] a nice cake we all enjoyed it & no one refused a slice. Couldn’t send me some peanuts?, if you could get them, we can’t get sweets or chocs here, although we can get cakes at the Naafi. I’ve had some sweet cider, guess the price! 5d a pint. Tell Gay-Gay, if he wants a good Aircraft Identification Book to get Aircraft Recognition, by R. A. Saville-Sneath, it’s a Penguin Special, and only 6d. You can tell how good it is, one morning we were having A./C Recog, when the Officer recommended this book, and asked who wanted it, he counted how many, and then walked to the bookstall at the station, and nearly bought the shop out. He said they were the best 6d worth you could get. Monday morning, we had clay pidgeon [sic] shooting with 12 bore shot guns, Clay discs were skimmed in the Air & we had to hit them, we had 9 shots, standing in three different positions, and I hit 4, the highest was 5, by a copper. We can mostly

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get a second helping of pud but one day I got 3. I already had had two when the cook asked who wanted any more? No one answered as they had had enough, but he caught my eye! And beckoned, and he gave me twice as much as the other helpings. We’ve all had interviews with the C.O, and he wanted to know if we had any objection to going abroad after I.T.W. He said I was very good at Maths & to keep it up. We can sent [sic] our stuff to the laundry here, it should be Ok. We went swimming in the Salt Water Baths, I swam 3 separate widths, more than I’ve ever done before. Were supposed to swim 2 lengths before we leave here. Gilbert’s jolly hard up, he’s only got 7 1/2 d to last him till a week tomorrow. I was on Fire Piquet [sic] Monday night, we are only supposed to stay awake if the sirens go. They went on Sunday and Tuesday, but not on Monday, so I was Ok. My legs are pretty tired today, weve had drill, P.T, Swimming, walked up nearly all the hills in Torquay, besides tramping up and

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down 6 flights of stairs, I’m on the [letter deleted] top story. Lets know all the news as soon as possible

Give my love to thyself, Pop, Gay-Gay, Evelyn Jeanne Althea and Sylvia June

Toodle-pip,

Len xxxxx

Monday Morning,

I have not had time to post this letter yet, but will do so tonight, thanks ever so for your registered parcel, the ten shilling has come in very handy, also thanks for the suck, I can easily manage on 15/- a week, but its unexpectedly having to go another week that’s done it. Gilbert isn’t so well off, hes had to borrow 10/- from his Pop, he’s got no mother, its my lucky day today. I’ve had a parcel from Ede at Shrewsbury 7 blocks of chocs & 2/-, I think its because I went to Chapel twice yesterday. I don’t think I told you, but we heard they gave free teas at the Airmen’s Rest on Sundays, so three of us went. Half way through a bloke got up and said, “We will now sing

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a hymn. It proved that they have a Salvation Army meeting after tea. We waited till 1/2 way through, about 5 to 6 o’clock & then bunked, Allen & I went to the Congregational & Gilbert went to Toc H. Today we went into the Gas Chamber, they use C.A.P. Tear Gas. My nose tickled a bit, but my eyes did not water at all. In Aunty Ede’s letter, she says that although Uncle Ern has not named the day, the wedding will probably come off in the near future. They have asked Ede to be bridesmaid, but she says she does not know where to get the coupons from. It’ll probably be a very quiet affair, what with food and clothes rationing. Well thanks again for your parcel, but don’t rob yourself of sweets, Give my love to everyone

Ta Ta.

Len xxxxx

I’m sending on this photograph, John Hart gentleman farmer, David Anderson, clerk to the Westminster Bank London, Gilbert Fairhead Map maker Chelmsford, and Allen [indecipherable word]

[Photo missing]

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wages clerk, Loughborough

Len

Torquay,

Dear Mum Pop, & Erbs,

As you say I ain’t arf ‘aving a birthday, I got your cake & nuts yesterday, and another letter today. That cake is even better than the last one, if you’d taste them before hand, it would perhaps teach you to keep one for yourself once in a while. When I ask Gilbert or Allen to have a lump they never refuse. Last night the mice nibbled through the Cardboard and silver-paper to get at it, I’m putting it on the top of my locker tonight. Those nuts came in very handy, I was chewing them all through Signals class this morning. I’ll probably be sending another large photo of “A” Flight soon, we had our photos taken on Monday. Tell Gilly Hart that in 6 weeks time, I’ll probably be 4.A.C. with rise in way, if I pass my exams. Then I’ll most likely get two weeks Embarkation leave, before we go abroad. I don’t think we have had any baked beans here yet. You can’t

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grumble at the grub here. One day we had for breakfast fried egg on toast, porridge, bread and butter and jam. The best of it is at dinner, you can mostly get a second helping of fruit or dinner. Tell Padden of the Home Guard, that if he wants to go as Pilot or Observer to swot up Arithmetic, elementary Algebra, Morse (we have to pass out at 6 words a minute), and if possible try and learn to recognise British & German Aircraft, also Antigas Precautions. Its all pretty easy, the Arith & Algebra we did in first and second year at school. We have Maths and Morse every day, and at the end of last week 90% of us could send and receive at 4 words per minute. We had our laundry back yesterday, What a sight! the sleeves of my shirt have shrunk at least two inches, and the starched collars are only just big enough, also half the buttons are off. This afternoon I went to the Baths & swam 2 lengths and several widths They re salt water baths, shallow end 4’10” deep end 7’6”, I think I shall go in the sea next time. We got paid today, I got 34/- but

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there’s still a weeks money to come. We had a lovely tea today, Cheese & potato mash on toast, cake trifle, bread & butter & jam and currant cake & tea, hows that? And its only supposed to cost 1/ 5 1/2 a day to feed an airman. We had our Anti gas Exam yesterday afternoon, 6 questions on Respiration, Effects of gasses & First Aid, decontamination, Gas Defence Scheme & Gas detection. The official questions had not come, so the Gas N.C.Os had to set some. It’s the biggest twist out, they set easy questions that anyone could answer. Our Pilot Officers had to take the exam as well, so we didn’t find it so difficult. I’m writing letters nearly every night, but can only manage one at a time, as we get Arith Homework every night. I’m about the best in our Morse and Maths classes, There are two classes 24 in each.

Cheerioh for now

Love to one an orl

Len xxxxx

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Torquay

Dear Mum, Pop and the three babies,

Thanks very, very, very much for your parcel of sweets, You’ve no idea how pleased I was when I opened the parcel, I’ve been dying for something to chew for the las [sic] 3 or 4 weeks. You can get plenty of cakes at the Naafi, but nowt chewable, Thanks very much for the hanks, also thank Aunty Alice for the sardines and biscuits. I havnt eat [sic] the sardines yet, as I’ve got to get some bread from somewhere I’ll probably be able to slip a slice in my gas mask haversack when I’m up the canteen. I’ve still got two packets of sweets, after giving Allen & Gilbert some, oc [sic] I’ve kept myself well in hand, by not eating them all in a day Ive just had a letter from Loreen & Joyce so I will write them on Thursday when I get my pay. I’m sure weve got mice, because on Friday morning, I opened my locker & pulled the biscuits out. We had one each and then I noticed a little pile of what proved to be bits of paper. And then I found a little

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hole in the cardboard, and I remembered the biscuits had looked a bit crumbly, then one of my hankies had been bitten through in 4 places. When we were at Regents Park I thought it funny I hadn’t had a letter from you for nearly a fortnight. I’ve had a letter from Shrewsbury & one from Loreen redirected from there, but no sign of your two. I reckon there are about 800 Airmen in Torquay, pilots and observers. Weve got our Antigas Exam on Wednesday, and Maths Exams on Oct 8th. The maths Exam is like we did in IIs & IIIs at school, so I should walk the Exam. About laundry, we can send 1 shirt, 1 pair pants, 1 towel 1 vest, 1 pair socks & 3 hanks each week to the laundry, free of charge. Yes we do use sleeping suits, and if you can send another pair its O k by me, anytime will do, no hurry. Thanks muchly for the E & S cuttings, it seems ages since I was in W. hapmton. I’m writing to Grandma Compton & Mr Nicholls as soon as I can, thanks for the addresses. You want to know what woollies I will

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need, Well if were going to be here a couple of months, I won’t need as much, as if I was in Scotland. However, I think socks are the main thing, we get 5 pairs, but they’ve got to last as long as were in the Air Force. Thank Janet for her letter, tell her the innoculations [sic] were in my arm & two in my chest. You ought to see the scab on my vac, its bigger than a tanner. If Gay-Gay wants some girls tell him to come here, theres ‘undereds & fahzends of um. We had a mock gas raid yesterday afternoon. We were doing drill when the gas rattle sounded, we had to rush to shelter put gas masks cap covers & capes on & run back to our billets. Then there was a mock fire in one of the rooms, and we had to go into the street. I’m on the top floor of a four storeyed house, you can guess I puffed and panted. This morning we went to Congregational Chapel, then went & sat on seats on the Prom & swotted our Anti gas stuff this afternoon. By Jove, it wasn’t half hot, I’m quite sunburnt.

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This evening Allen & I went to Congregational, & they invited us to a Table Tennis Club, on Wednesday, I ve got exactly one bob to last me till Thursday, so I shant be able to get drunk this week. Ill write again as soon as I get time Love to everyone at No 10

Ta Ta,

Len xxxxx

PS Janet asked for a long epistle she’s got one

Torquay,

Dear Mum, Pop & Erbs,

Ta ever so for your parcel which I received today. We will be able to have supper of that cheese & biscuits I’ve been just as lucky this monday [sic] as last Monday, Ive had a parcel of choc & a few sweets from Brenda & a letter from Mr Nicholls.

On Saturday afternoon 6 of us went to the Baths, I didn’t do so good as last time, only single widths; we mostly have to go in in football shorts, as we have no trunks or costumes, sometimes we can borrow

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them from the Baths. On Saturday night Gilbert and I went to Toc H, and had a plate of chips sausage, fried bread and tea for 5d. Then we played Darts & table Tennis. If you want any buttons sewing on, or any clothes stitching, you can get it done while you wait at Toc. H. On Sunday morning we went to the Congregational for Church Parade. The following Sunday, however, the service will be held in Union St Methodist. After Church Gilbert and I had a boat out on the sea. There was quite a large swell, and the boat kept rocking up and down. We were out for an hour and I got three blisters on my hands from rowing. Then in the afternoon we went to the Baths, and I did 3 widths straight off, getting quite good ar’nt [sic] I? Gilbert managed 1/2 a width. After tea Allen and I went to Union St Methodist, it’s a lovely place, and so modern, much longer and wider than Bethel. Then we went to Toc. H. and met Gilbert there. We had to order our photos today, so I ordered a big one, and

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I will send it on as soon as I get it. Now that we’ve finished Anti-gas, we are starting on the Vickers Gas-operated Air-Machine gun. We’ve got to know how to take it to bits, & put it together again. We had a Morse and Maths test today. In the last Morse test, I was one of the three in our class who got it all correct. The former test was 4 words per minute, and the latter 4 1/2 words per minute. I think I’ve got everything right in the Maths test as well. We get our Maths Exam on Wednesday, & if we get less than 60% we fail on the whole issue, and have to go ground staff. I should get 100% if I go carefully, as it is very easy stuff, its gets [sic] Gilbert bottled though. Our Officer has been telling us that Torquay I.T.W. is the strictest in England, and that any one from here is supposed to be the goods. If we did so much saluting anywhere else as we do here, everyone would think us batty. However, I’m not browned off yet, and weve

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got the best to come. Air Commodore Critchley the Greyhound Racing and Boxing Promoter is over our Group, and his word’s law.

I think it must be the food, but I feel constipated, I have taken 3 Beecham Pills and a desertspoonful of Andrews liver salts, without effect yet. I had a letter from Auntie Ede, & she wanted to know if you had had those films developed. I weighed myself yesterday, and I was 11st 12lbs, and I’ve put on 3 to 4 lbs. The sun’s been brilliant today, it was as much as we could do to stagger up the hills to lessons. We have Morse at a Place called Rock End, & it’s a darn good name. You have to march 1/4 mile up two steep hills, and then along a rocky footpath, you don’t feel like lessons after that climb. Well I must buzz off and see what I can do.

Cheerioh

Len

Dear All,

I’m just adding a bit more

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to Mondays letter. It was boiling hot yesterday, and we had to march up to Rock End in our Gas-masks. This morning Commander Bullock of the American Navy inspected us drilling. It was quite a big event, they had the band out to serenade him. We had our Maths Exam this morning Its easy enough, and I think Ive got ‘em all right. Gilbert will just about go 60% just enough to pass.

Cheerioh Len,

I’m writing this lunch-time, so you’ll have to excuse the writing.

Torquay

Dear Mum, Dad & Erbs

I’m not sending this letter till tomorrow, as we get the results of our Maths Exams about 11 am. If we pass we should get our flyin [sic] kit sometime tomorrow. Yesterday we had a 6 w p.m. test in Morse with buzzer and I got everything right, I can do 12 words easily sending. Gilbert and I go to Toc H every night for supper. You can get

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sausage, bacon, baked beans, tomatos [sic], chips and fried bread and coffee for 11d, but we don’t usually have so much as that. We went swimming last Saturday afternoon, and I did four widths without touching side or bottom. So I should be able to do two lengths by the time I finish my course. I had to do a bit of sewing yesterday, we have to swing our arms to shoulder height when marching to attention and the seam of my jacket came undone under the armpits. Ask Pop if he’s ever made his boots shine with spit and polish, that’s how we do ours here, and I can almost see my face in mine. On Saturday morning I had a tooth [indecipherable word], and theres still one more to be done.

Monday

Thanks very much for the parcel of sweets. I should be home two weeks next Sunday, whether I pass out or not We had our Vickers gun Exam last Wednesday I thought I had made a mess of stripping the gun, and naming the parts, although I got the stoppages right, but I heard after

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wards that I had 84%. We’ve had our flying kit issued to us, it fills a kit-bag. If we go abroad, we shall have to give it up, but will have another issue on the other side. We have been learning the American Winchester rifle this morning, & will be [deleted] fl [/deleted] firing it next lesson We have not got to pass an Exam on this, so its nothing to worry about. I was on Fire Picquet last Tuesday, & on a guard last Friday, There are four of us on guard, and one has to act as Guard Commander, we had to toss for it, and I lost, so I had to have the job, and all the other chaps were over 25.

Last Thursday I was supposed to go to the Dentist at 12 noon, but the Dentist had too many there, I had to go back, the same thing happened this dinnertime, so I’m still waiting Tell Gay, we have a lot of A.T.C. Officers down here for training, you ought to see them doing drill, its better than going to the “flicks”.

Last Sunday Reg Shaw (one of the cops) and I were going for a row, but we could not get a boat, so we walked to Paignton

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and bussed back just in time for tea. Its getting colder down here, we get plenty of warm sun during the day, but its at night & early morning we feel the cold. We breakfast while the moons still out, and it isn’t very light when we have Inspection at 7.30 am. Some of the chaps are very tired, they go to sleep in Navigation and law lessons, and although the masters are in between. Pilot officers & Flight Lieutenant, they don’t mind, but tell the sleeper to wake up when they have anything important to say. How would you like to do P.T on a cold morning, with only shorts socks & slippers? Sometimes we have to lay flat on the dewy grass, to do some exercises. One P.T lesson last week it was raining, so we put shorts and vests on, then went for a cross country run, I enjoyed it more than P.T. Hows Gay getting on with his Morse and aircraft recognition? If he can’t read more than 6 words p.m, and doesn’t know more than 75% of the planes on the list I sent him, I shall want to know the reason why when I get home.

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Torquay is O.k., the only thing, they. don’t half sting you for food, I spend nearly all my money on coffee and cakes and supper at night. We get plenty of grub at the canteen, but we always seem to be hungry, I suppose it’s the hard work we do (Don’t laugh).

Well I think this is all the news for now, so Ill quit the cackle, love to all at No 10,

Toodle pip,

Len xxxxx

Tuesday Evening,

We don’t know for sure the Maths results even yet, but our officer says we’ve all passed. Monday morning we had a March past Air Commodore Somebody of the [indecipherable word] Air Force, we marched behind the band from Rock End, This afternoon we had to walk up to Daddy Hole plain behind Rock End in our Gas-masks, but when we got there, we lay on the grass for 1/2 an hour and eat black berries. I’ve had stomach ache all day today I think its something Ive eaten. I havent had a letter from anyone since your parcel last


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Monday. Im sending my mac and case home this week, it is only in the way here, we have lockers here, whereas in London we had nowt

Well, I must close now

Love to all

Cheerioh Len

Torquay

Nov 1st

Dear Mum Pop and Nibs,

Thanks so much for the oranges and sweets. They were the first oranges Allen & Gilbert had tasted this year. It’s bitter cold here now, except in the sun, anyway we did P.T in pullovers this morning, instead of stripping. I had a lovely day on Thursday. We should have had games in the afternoon, but I had to have a Medical Exam like the one at Cardington, then I had a tooth filled, and at 5.30 we all had two innoculations [sic] In the arm, it does not hurt as much as when we had it in the chest.
but my left arm is all swollen and red from shoulder to elbow. This morning we had a flying kit parade, and we had to put every

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thing on to see if there was anything that did not fit. It was lovely and warm in them.

Yesterday afternoon we had rifle practice, and had to fire rifles which were almost the same as the Home Guard 300’s. We had small targets at 25 yards and I got 25/25 for grouping, and 24/25 for hitting the centre, which wasn’t bad considering I had to aim 3” below the bull. We’ve had the photo’s dished out, so I shall bring mine when I come home on leave. Our officer says we will probably get only four days leave, which is not so good considering how far some of us have to travel. We take our navigation exam a week next Friday morning, and I believe we catch the train about 12 noon, as soon as we’ve finished the Exam. Our flight are on guard next week, but it’s a good job its not a week later when we take our Exams. You’ll have to excuse my writing, as I m writing this in my bedroom, and my fingers are nearly frozen,

Love to Pop and the nibs

Cheerioh

Len xxxxx

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Torquay

Dear Mum, Pop and Nibs,

How do you like my notepaper We had 6 sheets of paper and 3 envelopes given us [sic] from our Squadron Comforts Funds. That’s all we’ve received so far although we’ve paid a bob into it. I’ve had a rotten sore throat since Monday, it probably began on Sunday when I was walking with another cadet to Babbacombe because my nose started bleeding. I could hardly speak on Tuesday but I did not report sick, as I did not want to miss the party, so I went sick yesterday. All the M.O gives me is [indecipherable word] whatever that is, 3 times daily for 3 days, but I’ve bought a box of Iodised Throat Tablets. I’m writing this letter in Drill lessons, I asked Corporal if I could be excused P.T, and drill, and he said O.K. I should have been on guard on Tuesday, but its been changed to Sunday night. We had a lovely time on Tuesday night, the party took place in a Posh Hotel called the St George, Marychurch near Babbacombe. The C. O, Pilot Officer in

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charge of flight and Corporal Hayton were present, and I think they enjoyed themselves. It wasn’t a dinner, but a running buffet, but I think we all had plenty to eat. One of the cadets made up some verses about different members of the Flight including the C.O. a P.O. who asked for a copy of the song afterwards. It was a Stag Party, so there were plenty of good jokes flying about. We finished about 11.20 pm, so had to walk 3 miles home & got in just before 12. Theyve started having supper now in our Canteen, last night was first night, but I went to bed at 8 and missed it, anyway its only bread and soup.

“A” flight is the best in 4 Squadron, and up to yesterday no one had been put on a charge, and the P.O i/c “B” flight was jealous! Well we were up Rock End yesterday morning, some of us were in a cold room doing nothing while the rest were on the range, firing. We had been told not to smoke, but as no one was taking us, and it was very cold, some of the cadets lit up. That rat of a P.O.

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came snooping round and caught two of them so they got 7 days C.B. [Confined to Barracks] When our Corporal heard, he said he’d make it hot for B. flight.

Dear Mum and etc’,

Thanks very much for the parcel which I received yesterday, we heard yesterday that we definitely have 7 days leave, we had to fill our leave passes up, ready for the C.O’s signatures, and we had to put 7 days leave on from midday Friday to midnight the following Friday. I received the invitation to the wedding yesterday and am replying now. The C.O. told us that we are liable to recall at a moments notice should our Posting come through, but its very unlikely. I saw the corporal yesterday about chit for pygamas [sic], and he told me to see the C.O tomorrow

Reg Shaw (one of the cops) and I went to the pictures yesterday, the first time I’ve been since I’ve been here. We went for tea to Toc. H., then went to the “Regal” to see “Penny Serenade”. It’s the only decent cinema in Torquay. Then we went to the W.V.S. for supper, then to the Marine Tavern for a glass of cider, then to the chip

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stall for some chips. We really enjoyed ourselves Its very windy today, the seas the roughest I’ve seen since we’ve been here, the spray comes up to 20’ to 30’ over the pier. I’m on guard tonight, I hope it is not so rough as now. Then we have Morse Exam tomorrow morning.

Air Commodore Critchley, the chap who makes us wear white belts (were the only 4 squadrons in Brittain [sic] who have to wear them) is coming to inspect us next week, so we’ve got to jump about a bit. We’ll [sic] I’ll tell you all the news when I get home.

Cheerioh,

Len xxxx

The Senior man in our flight has just been round with a form, on which we have to put our destination station, and route for when we go home, 8 days more. I should be doing my navi exam about this time, If I get the 11.55 am train from here, I shall probably be in W ton by 6.45 AM. For the next week we will probably be swotting every night or going to evening classes. Well I cant think of

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anything else to tell you about so give my love to everyone,

Cheerioh Len

I’ll be seeing you soon

Nov 27th

Torquay

Dear Ma, Pa & Nibs,

So sorry I have not written before, but I have been feeling pretty rotten. I went to the M.O., and he told me to bathe my arms in hot permang, and put some ointment on, and also to inhale menthol every day for a week, I’m feeling much better,. although I still cant smell. Well, I’m not L.A.C yet, [indecipherable word] just heard we’ve got to pass everything at 6 [indecipherable word] in Morse, but it won’t take me long to pass that, there are only 8 chaps in our Flight who have passed. Everyone has passed in Navigation, but now have got to take laws or [indecipherable word] again. We look like being here over Xmas according to our C.O. who says everything slows down in winter. He did not say anything about leave, but we are optimistic. We don’t do much work now, the only lessons being Navi, Morse, Drill P.T and Games

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The rest of the time we just hang around. I was on guard on Tuesday from 7 morning to 7 evening [sic]. Its a lot better than night guard, although you have to run a few errands for the N.C.Os. Im on Fire Piquet again on Saturday night, which means I can’t go out. Our Pilot Officer has left us to go abroad. He was a decent chap, and we are sorry to lose him. Allen’s confined to bed today with a cold, he’s got a temp. of 102°F. I had to fetch his tea from the cookhouse tonight. I went clay pidgeon [sic] shooting this afternoon, instead of going swimming. It was drizzling and although it was windy as well, I hit 7 out of 15 pidgeons [sic], the highest score was 8. Although its windy down here, it isn’t very cold, and I don’t have to wear a pullover, I’ve stayed in every night this week so there isn’t any more news.

Give my love to everyone,

Cheerioh

Len

Dec 4th 1941

L.A.C. DORRICOTT

Torquay

Dear Mum, Dad & Little Twerps,

I received the requested

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parcel yesterday, and oh boy! was I pleased with the contents. Allen has got a wallet something like mine, but his is not so big, or such good quality. Thank you for a pukka Christmas present. Thanks also for the photographs, I think they have come out O.k. I’ll see that Grandma, etc. get one at Christmas. Sylvias getting quite an artist isnt she? You will have to send her to the Art School. I was on Fire Picquet last Saturday night and we had to clean out the Flight Sergeant’s and C.Os office. There were four of us on the job, and when we had finished we started nosing round to see if we could get any “gen” about posting. We didn’t find anything about that, but John Deas found a notebook, indexed with names of cadets who could do anything, carpentering and painting etc, in fact anything that could be useful on the station. Under the heading Draughtsman was my name and another cadets. As I have not told the C.O. I could draw, someone else must have told him.

On Monday afternoon we went

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out on the motor boats instead of doing Navigation in classes. The weather was awful: it was misty, pouring with rain, and there was a heavy swell in the bay. We had to plot our courses on a chart, find the current and steer the boat. I stayed outside the cabin all the time and John Deas did the plotting for the 6 of us. Two of the chaps in our boat were sick, both Scots. One of them got a bit muddled with the compass and read it the wrong way round, so that he was steering the boat in the opposite direction he should have gone. It so muddled up the course, that on returning, I had to steer at right angles to the course we had been told to use, else I should have rammed the cliffs. Gilbert and Allen left there [sic] dinners behind, but I enjoyed it, although I got wet through.

I think we must be expecting Gas attack [sic], because we have orders to wear gas. masks for 10 minutes every morning coming back from lessons as well as our usuall [sic] Gas Drills. Well, I have not retaken Morse but an L.A.C. at last. The C.O heard from Wing H. Quarters that all those who took the Morse Test before

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Dec 1st, had only to pass at 4 wp.m., I think we will get our L.A.C. pay from Nov 15th, at least that is the latest rumour. John Deas was one of the chaps who passed Morse at 6 wpm & was promulgated to L.A.C. after we came back from leave. But this afternoon we heard he has got to take the Prop down, because he failed his Armaments. Tuesday afternoon we had to scrub our stairs and landings, as A. C. Critchley was going to inspect us on Wednesday. We practiced March past and Eyes Right, but he did not come yesterday or today. I saw in the paper yesterday that they are going to conscript men up to 51, does Dad come into this? We went on a run with the Flt. Sg.t yesterday, and when he say [sic] run he means Run. Our ordinary P.T corporal lets us run or walk alternately for not more than 1/2 a mile, but the Flt, Sgt. Made us run 1 1/2 miles, and walk 1/6 mile and run 1 1/2 miles back all round Rock End. We all enjoyed it I think, although our muscles ache today. Well I think this is all the news, so I will put a sock in it. Cheerioh

Len.

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Sunday Dec: 14/ 1941.

Torquay

Dear Mum, Pop, and Nippers,

Thanks very much for the parcel you sent, it was a good idea you sending those crayons. I am sorry I have not written before, but over half of our flight have been posted to Eastbourne, on the south Coast They went yesterday, early morning and we have been celebrating. Allen’s one of those going, so we went to the pictures Thursday night, in case they were C.B. Friday night. As it happened we were told they were going Friday midnight, instead of Saturday afternoon, as we had been previously told, so Gilbert and I went out and brought back some lemonade, cakes and chips, and we had a little feast. The Ex-policemen had previously arranged to have a “beano” on Friday night, but that was knocked on the head Reg Shaw, the only copper who is not going away, was fed up so he and Dick Carr went on the booze. They came back just before 11; and you could see Reg had been rolling in the dirt, he was so drunk. He staggered upstairs to where

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we were shaking hands and saying “Good-bye to one another, and when we saw how merry he was, we started joking with him. He tried to walk up the next flight of stairs, but he could not keep his balance, and walked backwards downstairs, bumped into the bannisters, and fell over them, onto the ground, 4 flights of stairs below. It’s a spiral staircase and what saved him was the fact that he struck the other bannisters farther down, which broke his fall a little, and then landed on his side in the dustbin. We raced downstairs, took him into a room, and sent for the M.O. He was quite O.k. and said “I likesh fallin down shtairsh”, and walked upstairs to his room. Then he started dancing a hornpipe, and singing, but when he saw the M.O. he sobered down a lot. All he had wrong with him was a bruised thigh. He’s the first chap I’ve heard of who’s fallen down 25’ and then got up and danced.

Those of us who are left had to join the remaining half of “B” flight, so we’ve had to go into another part of the hotel. Sgt Cleverlys in charge of us and none of us like him.

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I had a parcel yesterday from the “Women’s own There were a pair of socks, packet of stamped envelopes, writing pad, Xmas card, and a nice letter from Mrs Bickley. I’m afraid there are no leaves or postings before Xmas. Those of us left are almost certainly for overseas, so before we go we should get at least 7 days leave. Four out of our Flight have got 17 days leave, as they are going abroad, but they are only to make up another squadron who are posted overseas. A new flight came in yesterday, and all new flights are having their courses extended from 8 to 14 weeks, so they will have to wait longer for their leave. I suppose we will have to do a lot of drill, and gardening up at the R.A.F allotments at Rock End. Its raining “cats and dogs”, and I got wet through looking in shop windows, coming back from Chapel. I think I’ve told you all the news now but I will write again before Xmas

Love to everyone

Cheerioh

Len

50

1230753 LAC. DORRICOTT

“A” FLIGHT

4 SQUADRON

ST JAMES HOTEL

TORQUAY.

24.12.41

Dear Mum Pop & Nippers,

At last I have found time to write and thank you for the parcel of cake and sweets. We have eaten almost half of us [sic], but I am saving the rest for tomorrow. Everyone said the cake was delicious. I‘m on guard today from 7 am to 7 pm, but I don’t mind as I don’t have to do drill or anything. We are going to have a lovely dinner tomorrow, roast turkey, roast pork, baked spuds sprouts & carrots, Xmas pud and plenty of other stuff. Tomorrow morning we have to do a March Past for Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur Longmore, Ye Gods! If thoughts could kill! Then in the afternoon we can either go to the Good Companions Party, or the R.A.F. Canteen Xmas Dinner, also we have a late pass till midnight, so it wont be so bad after all.

What do you think of this? A week last

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Monday afternoon we should have had games , but as we were Duty Squadron, 24 of us were sent to Rock End to do gardening etc. Well three others and myself had to cart pig muck from the piggeries to the dump, while the others just swept a few leaves from the path. Next day we were told that we would have to go up their [sic] on Saturday afternoon, as we had not given the pigs the swill. We explained everything to the Flight Sergeant, and he got us off. Pretty decent of him wasn’t it? Well Mum, I hope you like the presents, I didn’t have much choice, as we didn’t have much time to get them, I had to do most of the shopping in the dinner-time.

I’ve just received your letter and Xmas card, and Aunty Alice’s purse, also a card from Ede & Gert. I’m getting L.A.C’s pay now, 5/- a day, so Im buying a Savings Certificate every fortnight, and sending a £1 a fortnight for you to get things for yourself, Pop and the Erbs’. Since 1/2 of our flight and half of B flight have been posted to Eastbourne, the rest have been formed into B flight, under Sgt. Cleverly, and P.O. Foley, the

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worst N.C.O. and officer in the Squadron. We’ve now got to leave out the name of the hotel & 3. I.T.W. from our address and just put St James Hotel. Our daily programmes have now been revised , so now we needn’t rise till 7 am. We parade at 8.15 am, break at 10.30 till 11.00. dinner 1 pm-2. 5pm and finish at 5.30. All our new flights have had there [sic] courses decelerated from 8 to 14 weeks, also an hour less lessons every day. We are mostly able to go to the “flicks” two nights a week now, as we have no swotting to do. I don’t think we’ll be posted for a while yet, as this Japanese business has probably knocked American postings on the head, however I should get another leave before
a months out.

Cheerioh, Merry Xmas and a Happy New Years

Len.

Sunday Jan 4th ‘42

‘B’ Flight

4 Squadron

St James Hotel

Torquay

Dear Mum, Pop & Nibs

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Thanks muchly for your letter, which I received on Thursday. I’m so glad you all liked the presents. I received the 10/- P.O. from Shrewsbury and bought a fountain pen with it. The purse I had from Aunty Alice is the same sort of leather as the wallet you sent me. I don’t think I written [sic] since Xmas Eve when I was on guard. Since then I’ve done Squadron Day Guard on Tuesday, St James Armed Guard on Wednesday night, New Year’s Eve, and Squadron Fire Piquet [sic] on Thursday night; so I think I’ve done my fair share of Guards for a bit. Xmas week, I went to the “flicks” 5 times with Gilbert, while he went another two by himself. On Wednesday afternoon we had a “pep” talk from the “Boss”, Air Commodore Critchley, and on Friday morning we had to march past him. There were about 3,000 cadets in the March Past, including Polish and Turkish Airmen. The Old Boy gave us all the day off, so he can’t be a bad old stick. Friday afternoon, Gilbert and I went to the Odeon to see Charles Boyer in “Hold Back the Dawn”, and in the evening to the [indecipherable word] to see “Ships with Wings”

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We saw the latter film twice, it was so good. When it comes to Wolverhampton, Gay-Gay should go to see it. Its about the Fleet Air Arm, and although some of the scenes are faked, its quite good. I’m afraid there will be no leave till we’re posted, which may be weeks or months, unless I can get a 48 hours pass. Critchley told us that while he was in the U.S.A. he had arranged for a greater flow of cadets but that had been knocked on the head with the Japanese attack. Still we’re not doing so bad here, so it won’t hurt us to stay a little longer. I don’t think theres any more news for the present, so I’ll pack up now, Love to everyone at No 10.

Cheerioh,

Len.

24. 12 . 41

Torquay

Dear Mum, Pop & Nippers,

At last I have found [deleted text] time to write and thank you for the parcel of cake and sweets. We have eaten almost half of us [sic], but I am saving the rest for tomorrow. Everyone said the [/deleted text]

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[deleted text] has probably knocked American postings on the head, however I should get another leave before a months out.

Cheerioh, Merry Xmas and

a Happy New Year,

Len.
[/deleted text]

St James Hotel

Torquay

Sunday

Dear Mum

Thanks very much for your parcel which I received on Friday. I ve got a bit of good news in this letter. It’s almost certain we get a weeks leave after we’ve been here 10 weeks, which is a week on Friday I shouldn’t bank on it, but its highly probable. I’m afraid I won’t be able to get any 48 hours leave, as they are only being granted on compassionate grounds. 13 more cadets out of “B” flight were posted to Eastbourne last Friday, leaving the young unmarried cadets. Our officer told some of the boys that there was a big Rhodesia posting in 3 weeks time and that we would probably in it. Gilbert and I are trying to

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get permission to go in Reg Shaw’s room, in place of those boys who were posted. Its on the ground floor, so we won’t have to climb any stairs.

I was on Day Guard on Friday, and on Fire Piquet [sic] at Haldon Manor tonight. We are now allowed to wear great coats on first parade in the morning, when there is always frost on the ground In the afternoon the sun is out and it is quite warm. I don’t think there is any more news this week, so I’ll pack up,

Cheerioh

Len.

ps The boys liked that Flap Jack

Tuesday

Dear Mum & all,

I’ve kept this back till I’ve known something definite about leave. I should be in W. hampton at teatime a week on Friday for 7 days. We might be able to get 9 days, but its not definite, anyway the 7 days is O.k. Last time Scotch boys were granted two days travelling time, but they are not getting it this time. Well, cheerioh for now, I’ll write again later.

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Wednesday morning,

Dear Mum,

Our P.O has just old us that our leave is cancelled & we are being posted to Eastbourne on Saturday. So it will be [indecipherable text – possibly erased] 8 more weeks before we get any more leave. We’re all terribly disappointed, and you want to hear the language some of the boys are turning out. Well, it can’t be helped,

Cheerioh

Len

Jan 21 st

R.A.F.

Eastbourne

Sussex

Dear Mum Dad & all,

I arrived at Eastbourne 11 am Saturday. We left at 10 pm Friday, so it was 13 hours travelling. We had to wait at Newton Abbot for 2 hours, then at London for 1 1/2 hours. At Brighton, Reg, Dickie Gilbert and I got out of the train and walked to the sea front. We are billeted at the best Hotel

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in Eastbourne, and there are a few score here I can tell you. Its called the Grand, and Oh boy, it’s a lovely place. Reg, Dickie Gil & I and 5 others are in a room 3 times as large as the sitting room at home, there are two radiators, one at the side of my bed, and pink satin curtains at the windows. The only thing that’s wrong is that we have no lockers or cupboards, so we have to put our stuff in our kitbags. The grub is about as good as at Torquay, only there is not quite so much. We have a “Naafi” inside the Hotel, so don’t need to go out at night, we have compulsory study 4 nights a week anyway. We work till 5.30 pm Mon to Saturday, and have all day Sunday off, except once a month when there is Church Parade. The Officers & N.C.O’s are all observers and are all pretty decent blokes. Our main subjects are Astro Navigation & Meteorology, we have been dished out with watches & sextants once between 5 cadets, and if they get lost they will cost us £30 each. Its going to be hard work for the next 6 weeks although we have an advantage over the previous 1/2 of our flight as we did a little

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astro-navi. at Torquay. This place is No 1 Elementary Air Observers School, and under a New scheme all air crew cadets have to come to an E.A.O.S. before going abroad for Flying Training. Eastbourne is a big place with scores of Cinemas of which only two are open, so if we had every night off, there would be nowhere to go. I don’t think we will get leave for another 11 weeks, & no 48 hours passes for the next 6 weeks. We can have a pass from 5.50 pm on Saturday till 10.30 pm Sunday, but we can only go 100 miles. I saw Allen & several other fellows of the Old A. flight today, and their hotels are only about 1/2 a mile away along the sea front from us. This morning a German J.U. 88 flew low over our hotels, although the sirens did not go. Well, I don’t think theres any more news, and as I want to get to bed early, I will pack up now

Cheerioh

Love

Len

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Feb 2 nd

Eastbourne

Dear Mum, Dad & Erbs

Thanks very much for the cake which I received this dinnertime. I don’t think we are doing so badly down here except for the grub. We nearly always have cornbeef [sic] or stew for dinner except Sundays. One teatime we had fishcakes made out of Icelandic Cod or Salt Ling and Oh boy! did they stink. We almost made one chap sick, by saying it was made out of pus from a discharged ulcer. Tonight we had cheese and potato and chopped up half cooked beans all mixed together and it tasted vile. The last couple of days, we have come back from lessons to dinner a bit late, and there has been a queue 50 yards long, so yesterday the four of us went to the Violet cafe and had two welsh rarebits, cake and tea, and it cost us 2/7 each. The food is not half so plentiful as at Torquay. At night we can go down to the N.A.A.F.I. which is in one of the ground floor rooms, and have minced steak and onions, or mixed grill, which does not cost us so much as when we go out to supper.

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At Torquay during break between lessons in the mornings, we would go to the Cove cafe, and spend as much as 1/6 on cream buns, etc, but here a NAAF.I. van comes to the College, and also there is a stall inside the Hall, so we only spend 3d or 4d on tea and penny buns. We have lessons in Eastbourne College, so we’re getting quite toffs, aint we? We have 24 hours of navigation a week, including astro-navigations, when we use a bubble sextant to find out latitude & longitude from the stars. We have to measure the altitude of a star to a 1/60 of a degree, and take the time of the observation to the nearest second, otherwise we are miles out in our position. Then we take Meteorology, and have to tell the state of the weather, by the forms of the clouds etc, We learnt the Vickers gun at I.T.W. and now we are doing the Browning machine gun, which is twice as difficult.

Its a lot colder here than at Torquay. From the day we arrived till last Thursday, the roads were 6 inches deep in snow, then it

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rained on Thursday night, and on Friday to Sunday, we had hot hot sunshine all day, now its just as cold as ever. The officers and N.C.Os down here have all got there [sic] observer wings up, and are all good chaps. At I.T.W. it was mostly ex school-masters who took us for Navi and although they could make us understand better than our instructors here, they had no actual experience. Most of them are down here for a rest, after being on operational duties for a few months. Our P/O was the only survivor of a Wellington that crashed. One of the sergeants who has got the D.F.M. is walking about and doing normal duties with a broken neck. One thing if you get injured in Air Crew, you get better medical attention than anyone, plastic surgery, etc, that would cost hundred of £1 [sic] in peacetime.

Dear Mum, I wonder if you could get a new winder put on my watch, as it would be very useful for taking star positions. We have been dished out with £30 watches, one between 5 cadets. They never vary except for 2 & 3 seconds a day. Also we have £50 sextants, so they must trust us.

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We had our photographs taken yesterday, but it will be a fortnight before we get them. I wonder if Gay-Gay would like to go to the Library for me and look for a book on astronomy its a smallish blue one, I don’t know who its by or who are the publishers, but if he sees it, you could perhaps send me the name of the author & publisher etc. We dont get any leave till we have been here six weeks, but I think I can get a 48 hour pass in a week or two, so if I do, I ll get home, if its only for a few hours. We have plenty of fun in our room, there’s not a night but somebody’s bed collapses under them, because someone has put the legs at an angle. Another trick is taking all the springs out of a bed, so that the victim drops thro’ the bottom when he gets in it. A few nights ago Dickie and Terence carted Gilberts bed out to the end of the corridor and left it there, so he pinched George Cators bed, and started to make it. When George came in he pinched it back again and thanked Gilbert for making it! Gilbert thought I’d take

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his bed away, so he tipped me out of mine, I’ll have to do something about tonight, I think. We have inspection only once a week, so we only had to clean our buttons twice a week. Would it be Ok if I sent my laundry home to be washed, as the laundry don’t clean them at all well. My socks are so short that the heel comes under the instep, but I washed a pair myself last week, so they are normal now. Well, I think I have said enough for this letter, so I’ll quit the cackle,

Love to everyone

Cheerioh

Len

P.s

I saw Neville Gardner form the Intermediate in the Barbers’ today, he came down here the same day as I.

R.A.F.

Eastbourne

Feb 10. 1942.

Dear Mum, Pop & Nippers,

Thanks muchly for the reg. letter I received on Friday, the astronomy book you sent was not the one I meant, but it’s a very

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good one, and I’m already half way through it. I’m hoping to have 48 hours leave about 12 pm – 1 am Friday night, I shouldn’t bank on it, as you never know what the powers-that-be are going to do, In any case, I can find my way from the station, so you needn’t wait up for me. Well I’ve been in sick quarters last week, from Wednesday dinner-time to Friday dinner-time with a high temp. The grub was a lot better, we had a roaring fire and plenty of books to read. I’m sending a photograph we had taken in front of Eastbourne College, a week or so ago, it isn’t very good though. [Photograph missing] We had a Meteorology test this afternoon, it was pretty easy, and I think everyone has passed. We had plenty of fun last night. George Cator went out to the “pub” to see his pals who were going abroad, and while he way away [sic], we put his ground sheet in place of his sheet. Then we bent the legs of his bed, and tied them together, so that when he pulled one leg, the others collapsed. Later on, ”Billy” Bennett and the Irish boy nicknamed “Shamus” started talking in their sleep. Then Billy fell out of bed

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and when we put the light on, he was still asleep on the floor. When we woke him up, he accused us of pushing him out of bed. He was asleep 5 minutes later and still talking.

I dont think there’s any more news, so here’s hoping,

Love to all,

Len.

Feb 24 th

Eastbourne

Dear Mum, Pop & Nibs,

I’m so sorry I haven’t written before now, but at present we’re swotting hard for the Exams. We’ve got to get 18 star, sun, moon, and planet sights by next week, also we get Armaments and Morse Exams on Friday & Saturday. I shall most probably be coming home leaving here a week next Saturday or Sunday, Ill let you know the exact time later. We’ve got our ration card that we should have had for our 48 hours, so I’m dating mine for next weekend. Dear Mum, you’ll have to excuse me, as this is a short letter, I’m writing it during Navigation, & I shall be swotting all next week. Anyway, I ll

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tell you all the rest of the news when I get home.

Love to everyone

Cheerioh for now

Len.

Eastbourne

Tue. March 17th

Dear Mum,

The Flight Lieutenant has just told us that we are being posted abroad on Monday next, and that we are getting 48 hours leave from Wednesday to Friday night, so you can expect me Thursday morning. We might possibly be going to Heaton Park before we embark & & [sic] might possibly get extra embarkation leave from there. I’ll tell you all the news when I get home.

Cheerioh

Len

We leave here 2.36 pm Wednesday, so might get home before 10 pm.

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April 9th 1942.

c/o. R.C.A.F.
Ottawa.
[underlined] Canada [/underlined]

Dear Mum, Dad, & Nippers,

As you see Ive arrived safely in Canada. I’m sorry I could not get a letter away at Heaton Park, but we were there only 3 days, and during that time had innoculations, clothing parades, and lectures, as you see, we didn’t get much time for writing. We were billeted at 25 Wellington St. East, Salford, near the Jewish District of Cheetham Hill. The Manchester people made us welcome, and were always willing to help us, exactly opposite to Eastbourne.

We had a very quiet trip across the Atlantic, although the sea was rather rough for 3 days. Gilbert was so seasick, that he ate no food for 3 days. We slept in hammocks, and at night when we slung them, we were packed like sardines. The cigarettes sold on board were very cheap, Woodbines 3d for 10, and Players 4d for 10. What I liked best were the tins of fruit and salmon and blocks of chocolate, which we could buy in

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unlimited supplies. We disembarked at an East coast town, and are now at Moncton, New Brunswick. The scenery we passed through by train was lovely: Blue sky above, fine trees covering the hills, with small wooden houses scattered about. Whatever the size of the villages we passed through, whether they contained 5 or 100 houses, they always had a small wooden chapel or church built in a prominent spot. You don’t see many brick buildings out here, except in the town centre. The food here is marvellous, although pilots who have come back here, after finishing there [sic] course elsewhere, say it is the worst place for food. We get plenty of eggs, butter and jam, and the bread is just like sponge cake, in fact I could make a meal of bread and butter alone. At Eastbourne it was a pain to queue for meals, but here it is a pleasure. The worst [deleted] place [/deleted] thing about this place is that when you go up town, you can’t help spending money. When you see the Restaurants dishing up turkey, steak or pork, you can’t resist going in and sampling some. The price of food isn’t bad, but we were

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staggered when we had to pay 45c/ or 2/- for a hair cut, and 15 c/ extra if you had a little hair oil put on. The “Dead End Kids” thats Reg Gilbert, Dicky, Shamus & I bought a folding camera for 30/-, so we shall take as many photographs as we can. We’ve all bought corn-cob pipes, and yesterday got a railwayman to take a photograph of us smoking them, standing above the cowcatcher of a locomotive. We shall not be staying here long, but will be most probably [sic] posted to where the cadets went who had their photos printed in the “Express & Star”. I would like to write to Mums aunt in Windsor, but I have not got the address.

We’ve had to change our English money into Canadian Dollars, and so far we’ve managed OK with the coinage. Those 12 sided 3d bits are rare over here and in the U.S.A, and cadets often get invited out for the evening if they give a civilian one. The people were [sic] them on their watch chains. Every where we go little urchins pester us for English pennies for souvenirs, Im rather late, but wish Gay Many Happy Returns of the Day

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for me , please. Its nearly lights out now, so I’ll pack up. Tell Grandma I’ll write as soon as possible, but when we get posted, we’ll have to work hard, so there won’t be much time for letterwriting. The next course should last about 6 months, so I should be home again before Xmas.

Cheerioh for now

Len.

Picture Card from New York, written on top of Empire State Building.

Wed 13th May ’42.

Dear Mum,

I’m writing this on the way down to Miami. I m having a fine time so far. At Moncton I met a nice family called MacDonald, & used to stay at their house. Bill & Dorothy are writing Gray & Sylvia. Letter following

Love

Len

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British Cadet Dorricott,

Room 306.

Hotel San Sebastion,

348 Santander,

Miami, Fla.

June 2nd 42

Dear Mum, Pop, & Erbs,

Thanks very much for your very welcome letters, the Air Mail which I received yesterday and the ordinary mail today. I don’t think theres much difference however you send it, although ordinary mail is not censored. That bit about the Home Guard in your Air Mail was censored. Well I’m glad everything is O.k. at home, and that you are getting plenty to eat.

By the way, before I forget, if you send me the sizes of your stockings & the kids, I’ll bring some Nylon ones when I come home, also if theres anything you want, just let me know, and I’ll get it. Theres nothing you can’t get in Miami. Boy, its hot down here, hotter in the shade than it is in the sun on an English Summer Day. My arms & face are getting quite brown

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and at the weekend I’m going bathing at Miami Beach, so I should soon be brown all over. At the University there used to be a lot of fellows & girls taking different courses, but they went last week, so we’ve got the place to ourselves now. While we are down here, we are given the same treatment as an officer. We are waited on at table, have our rooms cleaned out by the maids, and don’t have to clean our shoes even. However, we have to work hard, although so far its been pretty easy, as we did all the stuff Eastbourne, We get plenty to eat, in fact, as soon as one dish of food is finished, the waiters rush up to refill it. Imagine eggs, bacon, chicken etc lying on the tables as the fellows are too full. The national drink down here is “iced tea” but we always have hot tea. Over this side of the Atlantic, the people use there knives just for cutting their food, then transfer their fork to their right hand & drop the knife. It looks funny to us, but I guess we appear just as funny to them. Shamus & I go to Central Baptist Chapel, and we’ve met hundreds of nice people. Its one of the nicest

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chapels I ve been in. We go up in the gallery and the ladies dresses, and waving fans make a lovely sight. After the service people come up to you, and almost fight as to who is to take you home to dinner. Shamus & I have met two very nice girls from the Chapel, his is Kay Porter, chief telephonist and radio telephonist for Eastern Air Lines, she’s pretty rich, and owns a ranch in Texas. I go with her pal Betty Denham, who works at the same place. Last Sunday, Shamus & I went to Chapel with Betty, had dinner at a Cafe, & then she showed us round Miami Beach She works from 4 pm to midnight, so we didn’t have much time. Then we went to the Airport with her, and met Kay as she came off duty. Next weekend we are going bathing, so should have a grand time. I’m sending you a few photos of various places & people [photographs missing] & will send some more in my next letters. I’ve bought 4 shares out of 5 in that camera we bought on the boat, and I’m hoping Shamus will sell me his share. One or two girls who have stayed on for the Summer Session at the University,

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have formed a dating Bureau, the C.O has O’ked it, so its perfectly legal, the entrance fee is a dollar. I’ve not joined yet, although tonight Shamus is out on a “Blind Date” with a girl the Bureau have chosen for him. Gay-Gay would be in his element down here, the fillies are darn good, tell him. Tell him not to go by Betty as she is pretty lousy as regards looks & figure. I cant think of much else to say, its hard work thinking what to put down in this heat, even though I’m finishing this letter at 9. Pm with the windows and doors wide open. Still, I ll keep the rest of the “gen” (“pukka & Duff”) for my next letter, remember me to every one at home, including mrs Pugh, and let me have a letter from you as often as poss. We hang around the post-office 3 or 4 times a day, waiting for letters, So cheerioh.

Love from Len.

Miami Fla’

May 16th

Dear Mum Pop & Nippers,

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MAY 16 1942

Well, as thou seeest, I’ve arrived in Miami at last, We reached here yesterday morning at 7 o’clock, and even at that early hour we were melting with the heat. We left Moncton 3 pm on Tuesday, and out first long stop was St John’s, New Brunswick, where we had tea, or supper as it is called here, in a restaurant. Then we had a walk round the town. Being a seaport, it was almost as dirty as Manchester, and not half as nice as Moncton. We had a very uncomfortable night, as we had no mattresses and only 1 blanket, so we were up at 5 next morning. Our next stop was Boston, Masserchusetts [sic] in the USA., where we changed stations, and had a lovely meal in the large Station Cafe. Then we walked round the town, and took photos of the War Memorial. We only had an hour here, otherwise I would have like to have seen the [indecipherable word] commemorating the Boston Tea Party. However, an old man, who was born in North Devon showed us around the State House. It was a lovely building; it had the flags used in the Civil War. We also visited the House of Representatives,

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and the Senate Chamber. While I was there I bought a Camera, which takes 16 pictures on a [sic] 8 film roll, so I’m taking as many photos as I can. Our next stop was New York (I believe youve heard of it). The first thing we did after tea, was to [inserted] pay [/inserted] a visit to the top of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world. It was one of the most wonderful sights I’ve ever seen. We could see the Normandie lying on her side in the harbour, the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, and other skyscrapers in Manhattan. One thing that amazed me was that all the streets with few exceptions, ran North-South, or East-West. We only had 4 hours in New York, so with the rest of the time, we walked down Broadway and other main streets. We spent an even more uncomfortable night on the train, as we had to sleep sitting up in the train, and as we were farther south, the heat was far worse. The next morning at Richmond, we were coupled to 2 streamlined Diesel engines, the “Florida Special”, and “Vacationers”, and were soon flying along at 70 miles ph. with 24 coaches in tow.

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That night we stopped for an hour and a half at Jacksonville, and as it was too dark to take photos, the “Gang” went into an Amusement Park, and had a game of “bowls” or Skittles as it is called in England. I ve never touched a bowling ball before, but I knocked 81 skittles down our of 100, Norman was next with 55 so I didn’t do so bad. Well. As I said before we arrived here yesterday morning. The food is marvellous, you get more than you want, the meals are served up as good as any hotel (serviettes etc), in fact its better than an officers mess. At every meal we get 5 drinks, water milk, grapefruit, coffee & tea. We have not been in the town yet, but what buildings and scenery we have seen is very picturesque, we are being allowed out to Coral Gables tonight and I shall take some more snaps, and get those I’ve already developed taken.

Now I ll tell you about the Macdonalds. One Sunday in camp at Moncton, the Padre asked for 25 cadets to go to a free supper at Moncton First Baptist Church on the Monday night, so

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[inserted some of us [/inserted] [deleted] and I [/deleted] volunteered. Well we enjoyed ourselves there, and a scout invited me up to his house, so I went the following night, and every evening I was at Moncton. Mr & Mrs M[inserted]acdonald [/inserted] oncton welcomed me as if I had known them for ages, I think they are the most hospitable family I’ve met yet. I went there every night before 7 pm and didnt leave till 11.55 pm on weekdays, and 1.55 am early Sunday morning. If I hadn’t had a tropical kit parade on Sunday morning, they would have made me stay the night. The first night I was doing Bill’s, Murray’s and Ida’s homework. Bill is about 16 years old, and I think he’s already written to our Jeanne. Murray is about 14 & Dorothy nearly 13. Dorothy is the image of Sylvia in her looks and manners, I’ve told her to write to Syls’. Ida is 17, left High School after taking Matric Course, and is now learning Shorthand & Typing at a Business College. She’s a very nice girl indeed. On Monday night before we left, I took my camera to take some snaps, we told Mrs MacDonald we would only be half an hour, but we walked so far

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and were feelish [sic] peckish coming home, so we had supper at a Grill, and didn’t get home till turned 11 pm. Of course, I took some photos, but did my usual trick of forgeting [sic] to wind the film after each photo, but I think at least one photo of Ida will be O.k, so I’ll send you one when I get them developed. When I’ve finished the course here, and go back to Moncton, Mr MacDonald is going to take me deer hunting, so I look like having a good time. After this weekend we’ve got to start working overtime, especially as [deleted] its [/deleted] the hottest part of the season is just starting I don’t think theres much more I can write about without being censored, so I’ll pack up now. Remember me to both Grandma’s in case I don’t get time to write much, Love to all at No 10.

Lets have all the news as soon as possible

Cheerioh

Len xx

July 4th

Miami, Fla.

Dear Mum, Dad & Erbs,

Gee, T’anks for your 3 rd letter which I received last Tuesday. I’m glad

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to see you’re carrying on O.k, & hope you are getting enough to eat. A funny thing happened last Tuesday: Gilbert received a parcel from home with a tin of oxtail soup in! The parcel had been addressed to Eastbourne, so you see how it came about that the British are sending food to America.

I think I ve beaten Graham is [sic] flying , as my first flight was a week yesterday, and I also had a longer flight yesterday. I had a good time, but on the first flight, Gilbert was up to his usual tricks, & was the only one sick on our flying boat. He was O.k yesterday, although it was much bumpier. It was a good job we had that course at Eastbourne, as it has helped us very much, and we mostly manage to get our homework done in class. I think the exams will be easy enough, although we’ve got to get 80% to pass. We had our Met. Exam this morning, and I think I’ve got on O.k. In another few weeks I should be able to put my “wings” up, although I don’t think we get our “stripes” till we arrive

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home. We are now Senior Course down here & shall not have to do any more orderly duty. One good thing, we don’t get any P.T. or Drill down here. We will do our first bit of parading (other than meal or pay parades) tonight. We’ve got to march round Coral Gables to celebrate Independence Day.

I’ve met another nice girl from Chapel, her name is Jackie (short for Jacqueline) Hutto, & she’s good looking, as you can see from the photo [photograph missing]. I’ve introduced Shamus to her blonde pal Mary Jane Fannin, Jackie & I see each other every weekend, but Shamus & I only met Mary last night. After going to the ‘flicks’, we all went & had a game of carpet golf. Up to last night Jackie was champ, but last night I was the winner, did 3 holes in 1. The girls are coming over to watch us marching, & then we’re going to meet them afterwards.

The last fortnight we’ve been almost bitten to death by mosquitos, although they are nearly all gone now. The ones they get down here, are what we call gnats or midges in

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Citation

Leonard Dorricott, “Leonard Dorricott's wartime letters to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 21, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/7274.

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