Letter from Harold Gorton to his wife



Letter from Harold Gorton to his wife


He writes of his first training flight in a Wellington, the weather and domestic details.




Temporal Coverage



Ten handwritten sheets


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[deleted] SILVERSTONE, [/deleted] [inserted] Turweston, [/inserted]
[deleted] NR. TOWCESTER[/deleted] [inserted] Nr. Brackley [/inserted],
[Royal Air Force crest]
Thursday 8.0 p.m.
I nearly wrote to you this morning, when I spent a couple of hours in the Intelligence Library, but I decided to leave it till later, & I’m glad I did, as I got another letter from you today, - the third in three days running! – and I can also tell you about my first trip.
I therefore had an early dinner, and have come back to the hut so that I can spend the rest of the evening writing to you.
(At this point two others came in & interrupted me – that’s one of the snags of living in a hut like this. I’ve forgotten where I was!).
I suppose I’d better get my flying off my mind before I go any further, or else I shan’t be able to answer your letter properly.
We went out to the aircraft at 2.30, & were just going to start up when we found that the hydraulics
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were u/s. We waited until 3.15 without any luck, & then went to another aircraft. In consideration of my experience, I was allowed to taxi out & take off without demonstration. The take off was easy, but I found the auxiliary controls (u/c & flaps) very awkward to handle, especially as flying the Wellington is a two handed job at the best of times. You can’t just put it into the desired altitude and leave it there as you would with an Oxford or Anson – you’ve got to keep fighting it all the time.
Anyway, we went up & did some stalling & feathered an engine – for single engine flying - & then came back & did some landings. I did them all myself without demonstration. I was pleased with that fact because it confirmed the theory I’ve had that anybody with my experience ought to be able – after being
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shown the knobs, to take any aircraft up & bring it down safely.
However, we got held up on the circuit several times & had to do overshoots, so that by the time we’d done three or four landings it was 5.30 & time to stop. Although it would have been nice to have gone solo immediately, I was so tired after flying 2 hours that I didn’t want to go solo. I expect I shall do a check circuit on Saturday (if I can get a trip then, & then go off on my own.
Forgive all this (no doubt boring) description of my first trip. I’ll now settle down to answering your letters.
Thank you very much, darling, for doing my washing. I’ll try & not ask you to do any more.
The weather here has been quite cold, sharp frosts each
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night, but there has been quite a lot of sun & good flying weather.
I’m afraid I haven’t noticed the cut in the fuel ration. The only think I notice is that we seem to have no coal at all, & as you probably know, lighting a fire with wood & coke isn’t too easy.
My suitcase stood up to its last move very well, but I don’t know how long it will last. I thought that if it went again, I might be able to get a leather handle that was attached to some straps round the case.
From your letter I got two or three days ago, I thought you were going to look into that furnished flat in Cardiff. Still, as you say, if you’re going to live in lodgings, you may as well be near me.
Incidentally, re your remarks about the accommodation at Silverstone, I may as well
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tell you that there’s a spare bed in the hut here, only I won’t guarantee that there’s a pillow on it, as we’ve only had pillows for the past two nights. I call them “pillows”, but actually they are only pieces of sacking filled with straw – airmen’s pillows, not like the comfortable officer type I’ve been used to!
I’m glad you liked the chocolate. I hope it wasn’t too smelly! The Canadian chocolate came from a chap at Silverstone who’d been a staff pilot in Canada, & had just received a parcel.
The snag about the cottage at Ossington, is that even if I get to Newark, I’ve still ten miles to go. If I had some form of transport, of course, I should be all right.
I rang up Silverstone yesterday to enquire about “Genius of Friendship”. The girl there said
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she'd posted it off on Monday, but the post between there & here seems to be slower than between here & Abergavenny.
I got it this afternoon, & read it before dinner. Actually I was disappointed in it. While I was in Oxford I read half of a book by Henry Williamson, - his diary for the year 1936. I think that may have prejudiced me, because not only did he take himself far too seriously for my liking, but also a damning fault in these days, he then regarded Hitler as the world’s great man.
My opinion of “Genius of Friendship”, is that it boosts H.W. & forgets T.E.L. Since I don’t think much of the former, & have a high opinion of the latter, the result doesn’t please me. That’s a very sweeping & partial criticism, but I find it difficult to criticise properly in a letter
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You will know by now that I should like my bike. You had better address it to me here, and the railway station will let me know when it arrives.
Brackley is not an easy place to get away from unless you go along the main line, or the bus routes. Oxford unfortunately doesn’t lie on either of these.
The first chance I get, I’m going in to Brackley to book a room for you. I think I’d better go in person rather than phone, so as to make sure the place is O.K.
Whether the Yorkshire place will want you or not, I don’t know, but I’m sure you don’t realise how short they are of teachers. I shan’t be at all surprised if you get the job.
If you think you’d like the Clitheroe job, apply for it. It’s a very nice country town, just
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at the foot of the Pennines, but of course, not very easy to reach from the east of England.
As you say, I’m not able to do any studying at present. Even so, while I was in Oxford, I bought a large book on Roman Law (16/6) since I thought I shouldn’t have so good a chance of getting it anywhere else.
Somewhere in your letter, although I can’t find it, you discuss when you are to come here. You suggest next Thursday or Friday, or whenever I have a day off. That made me laugh sardonically, I fear, as we don’t have days off here! The first fortnight, that is until the end of next week, we fly & have lectures on alternate days. I expect I can cut the lectures without much trouble, but it would probably be easier to get an afternoon off when I’m supposed to be flying
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That will mean next Wednesday or Friday [inserted] Mar 8 & 10 [/inserted] or any day of the following week as we have no lectures then. When I go to Brackley I’ll book a room provisionally for next Friday, & make it definite when I hear from you. (N.B. Bring your cards. I don’t think I have any here!)
I’ve just realised that the first letter I answered tonight was one I’d already answered! I’ve found today’s letter in my pocket.
To reach Brackley, the best thing is to go to Paddington, cross over to Marylebone Station, & you can get a train direct. They may not allow you to travel that way on a Brackley ticket but it will pay you to buy a ticket to London and then to Brackley. I shouldn’t try & go cross country if I were you.
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If you are coming here to please yourself, then you’ll please me. The only reason [deleted] b [/deleted] I’ve been so negative & gloomy about your coming here is that I was afraid you would be unhappy. Actually, I think I want to see you more than you want to see me!
I think that’s all for now (9.45 p.m.). There are three chaps sitting round me talking, & its simply impossible to think now.
All my love,



Harold Gorton, “Letter from Harold Gorton to his wife,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 7, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/9212.

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