Letters from a Bomber Pilot

Share

For anyone wishing to read some of the letters Donald Plaunt wrote home, I’ll post the odd one here in sync with the calendar. Donald has undergone several stages of pilot training, both in Canada and the U.K. At his last posting, he underwent training in Operation Training with a crew in Kinloss, Scotland and was assigned to fly a Lancaster bomber that required a crew of seven aircrew. After Kinloss, he was given leave and expected to report to 97 Squadron of the RAF in Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire, U.K.

Dec. 31 ’42Jeanie! “Bonne Annee, ma petite soeur! In other words it is New Years Eve and I am celebrating it by writing to you and a few other chosen few. Boy would I like to get in the necking and mugging you will tonight and here I am cooped up 1,000,000 miles from nowhere, with only O’Brian to kiss in bringing in the year of the great and final victory. On Taking a good look at him, I’ve changed my mind and will kiss no one.

Ah me, I guess it is an awful life but to me it will be OK just as long as it keeps on going for a while.

My dear dear little sister, thank you a million for your swell sweater and scarf. The sweater fits fine and the scarf is just the thing. Also the array and assortment of the candies was just something I dream about so consider yourself a pretty good box packer-upper.

Aha, so your loved one is off to the wars, my beauty, no doubt he receited Lovelaces old line about “I could not love thee dear half so much, Love I not honour more”? Boy, see what education does for one! What is the wee lad going to be, pilot!

So you want me as Air Marshall eh? You don’t like your little brother as a plain old Sarg./Pilot. Well, well! However, without saying too much, I figure that there may be a change coming very soon! But say nothing.

“No doubt you know Bill Lane is a Pilot Officer which is a bit of OK. I spent Xmas with him and had a darn good time. I understand that Mike Kennedy is becoming a bombardier and will soon be coming over, No doubt you heard about Syd. I certainly felt pretty bad about it, you can be sure. There certainly aren’t many of our class left now and there is only one other fellow and myself [in] operations in the whole class so that is pretty tough.”

“Well, my Luv, it is time I had a wee bite to eat so I will toast me a few slices of “national bread”, and go to it. Write soon and often and send lots of pictures. Thanks again for your sweater, scarf and parcel.

Love  Donald

Dec. 31 ’42Woodhall Spa –

Dad 

Well, aren’t I the lucky guy? I get two letters from you on the same day, one of Nov. 19 and one Dec. 1st, as well as 22 other letters.

The news as you said is definitely improving although there was a short lull in Dec. I guess from here in is the big show.

That was a darn good show you and Sudbury District put up on the Victory Loan. I knew that Canada as a whole had gone over the top but I hadn’t heard about the nickel district. Will you be mixed up in the next one in May, maybe?

..

It certainly is too bad about Syd (reported missing) but I wasn’t to surprised to hear about it as both Bill Lane and I felt that it was coming sooner or later. It was no reflection on Syd’s ability of course but it was “just one of those feelings.” However we are still hopeful that he may be kicking around France or is a prisoner of war. It is too bad it happened when it did as he was due to go onto Stirlings almost immediately. He was flying the type I showed you.

Jimmie Hinds wrote me and told me Syd Aistrop is a Flight Lieutenant now. He is certainly coming up in the world eh? Bill Lane as you probably know is a Pilot Officer now and it was a deserved promotion. I really was glad to see that happen.

I hope you will excuse any black smudges you may see on this but I have just been stoking up the little coal stove we have in the room. These English have yet to hear of central heating it seems so for any heat we must keep the stove cracking.

We had our first snow fall in the last couple of days but now it has turned to slush and is most uncomfortable and most disappointing. In spite of the in climate and damp weather we get here I have been rather fortunate and have had no more than the “sniffles”. I guess this largely due to the ultra violet treatment we get four times weekly.

I got a card from Major Page today and from LAC Morris (two Ridley teachers). Mr. Morris is getting his commission as an intelligence officer and it certainly is just about time! Also he is getting married again. I can hardly get over that! You know he has a boy 12 at Ridley too.

Well, Dad I guess I have written just about all I can for now so I will close, hoping to hear from you again, very soon.

Love,  Donald

PS I really like that photo of you, the cabinet members, and the soldier from Dieppe! Also send me one of your new portraits, please!

Dec. 31 ’42 – [name cut-out ]

Kae

I certainly am a rat for not having written to you before and welcomed Katherine Anne Jr. but again I use the same old alibi of not enough time. So to make time I am staying in ”Hogmanay” or, in other words, New Year’s Eve to get caught up in my correspondence. Imagine staying in on such a night? However, I can’t complain as I had a few days leave at Xmas and which I spent with Bill Lane and had a super time, no doubt.”

“Yes, indeed, hurrah for the USA. Again they are winning the war for us. But even so they are doing a good job. But I do get sick of hearing their fantastic claims of how many Focke-Wolfs they bang down each trip.”

I have a new navigator. A PO Smith from B.C. A real nice chap but I am still skipper of the kite!”

“I guess the Smith’s would feel pretty awful about Syd, it certainly was a tough break. He was lost on the Turin, Italy raid Dec. 9 so we should hear soon if he is POW. I hope so.

“Well, Kae, I will close now thanking you, Mac and all your family for the Xmas parcel and will remember your excellent advice to fly low and slow and to throttle back going around the corners.”

Love to all and a Happy New Year    Donald

 

Dec. 30 ’42 [place cut out by censor]

Dear Mother

Well, you can imagine the mighty pleasant finale to an excellent leave when I arrived back here and found twenty one letters waiting for me and four parcels. It certainly was swell, quite a variation of persons too. I will list them. Of course, from you and Dad, Kae, Jean, Mrs. A. C. Edwards – lovely letter indeed, Mr. Hamilton of Ridley and two of my juvenile friends, Jim Hinds and Gordon O’Reilly. I received a super camera from Helen, Bill and Agnes, so tomorrow I will proceed taking some snaps and will send them immediately, if not sooner! A swell box from Kae including sox, braces (scare as hen’s teeth over here) and a real sweater.  A big sweater arrived from Jean, for my birthday 1941, remember?

I am writing this under the greatest of difficulty. You remember, I told you that my wireless op was a horn player, well my flight engineer turns up with guitar so they are both hammering away.

Well, tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve and I am thinking of the swell times we had on that date and on Jan. 1st. I hope you have the usual time “at home.” I will celebrate my New Years at 5 am Greenwich time and at 12 pm Sudbury time, the same time as you will.

You asked about Mason Hargreaves of London [he went missing on a searchlight cooperation exercise]. Yes, I knew him real well and roomed with him at Kinloss. The snaps I sent you were his and were in his kit when he was shot down. It was the same time I had to force land at [cut-out]. It is not my idea to include that of that sort of thing in a letter but seeing you knew his mother !

I hear from Jimmie Hinds that Syd Aistrop is now a Flight Lieutenant which is just fine! Also that he is the proud father of a baby boy.

Well, Mom, I have been flying tonight [three hours of night training on a Lancaster] and it is getting quite late so I must say good night and good bye for now as I could use a bit of shut-eye.

Write soon and often. I will answer your letters next time I write.

A very, very, Happy, and again I say, Victorious New Year Mother.

All My Love,

Donald

PS Perhaps you have noticed I have given my squadron number. I just found out it was OK to disclose it. I thought I couldn’t before because of security reasons.  DCP

 

Dec. 25 ’42 – Catterick, York

Dear Mom and Dad;

Well, here it is Xmas and although it isn’t anything like the good time we have at home it isn’t too bad considering. As you probably know by my cable of Dec. 22 I am on Bill Lane’s squadron for my leave. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have Xmas dinner with him as he is now a Pilot Officer and I don’t belong! It is too bad but it can’t be helped!

In spite of everything else there seems to be no shortage of liquor and everyone, excluding me of course, is quite inebriated, “ye olde English spirit,” you know.

However, Christmas for Bill and I is somewhat dampened due to Syd’s absence (their Sudbury friend was shot down over France on Dec. 9th). However, we are quite confident he will turn up as a prisoner or make a clean escape from France as it isn’t too tough a proposition.

Dec. 26 ’42 (same letter)

Well, as you see I didn’t get this letter finished Xmas day. Bill turned up and he and I went to town and had a very nice tea at a home in Darlington, then back here. Bill didn’t feel too well so hit the hay early so I went to the dance on the station without him.

The more I see of this station with the Canadian squadron the more envious I get of Bill. He has the swellest bunch of fellows imaginable here, – all pilots and the same types – so it is much nicer.

How is Katherine Anne Jr. coming along these days? No doubt the older gaffers had quite a time at Xmas or at least you would have had quite a time with them.

Well, Pater et Mater, Willie is champing at the bit so I must awa’.

Goodbye now .

Love,

Donald

Dec. 22 ’42telegram – overseas  – Mrs. W PLAUNT  SPENDING XMAS WITH BILL HOPE YOU HAVE GOOD HOLIDAY LOVE  DONALD PLAUNT

Dec. 18 ’42telegram – sans originMr. W Plaunt   LEAVE ON MONDAY FOR XMAS MAY YOU ALL HAVE A VERY HAPPY ONE ALSO THE PARTY ON NEW YEARS IS AS GOOD AS EVER.        LOVE DONALD PLAUNT

 

Dec. 17 ’42 – Mom  I see by my score sheet I have been  a very bad boy and that I haven’t written you since Dec. 7. However, as ever I have an excuse, that is I have been very busy and that I was again on the move. Now, I am told I am here (in Woodhall Spa, the 97th Squadron base) for quite a while but that is what they keep saying at all these places.

I have your letter of Nov. 19 and I am indeed glad to hear of the arrival next June of W.B. III eh! I just bet the kids are all very cute indeed. The snaps have fallen off lately so I am left merely guessing. I no doubt told you I received a very nice Xmas box from Mrs. Humphrey and since then Mrs. Prince of the S and C Club and from a Marie Cook of Sudbury High School, which is all very, very, nice and comes in handy.

I guess you received my letter asking for lots of butter. Well, at present I am on a dispersed  drome and I am sleeping in a hut, and in my room, I have a stove on which I cook much toast, so butter comes in very handy.

Right now it is 6:00 pm and I am in pyjamas and bathrobe sitting in my room writing. I just got the fire started and am quite comfortable and I am going to get caught up on my mail. The weather is bad and the squadron has a stand-down, so rather than go to town I shall have a nice evening “at home.”

On Monday I am going on an eight day leave so I have only a couple of more days up here before a little rest. I expect to be spending Xmas with Bill Lane, who incidentally is receiving his commission this week. I hope Syd can get up as I won’t be able to travel as there are certain restrictions on it over the holidays. Let me tell you that Xmas doesn’t have the same significance over here. People don’t enjoy it so much I don’t think and then again, I haven’t seen any snow yet this year. Just fog and rain.”

You asked me if I am 1st or 2nd pilot on these kites. Well for your “info” I am 1st pilot and captain and still I am an almighty sargeant, 12 months gone in three weeks time. Not bad eh?

Well, Mom, I will write again before I go on leave so – good-bye now!

Love, Donald

PS  I sent a few Xmas cards out, a little late, but I just got them a couple of days ago.

Dec. 12 ’42  – Dear Mother  “Well, here it is the twelfth month and wee Sandy’s birthday (his niece). It certainly is different here at the time of year than it is at home (Sudbury, Ontario). Why the grass is still green here and little sign of snow. It still is pretty foggy though, but the condition is improving as a rule.”

“Today, or yesterday I received three letters from you, written Oct. 23, Nov. 10 and 11. I cannot understand why your letters aren’t getting here sooner as I have received lately mail written only two weeks before. I also received an airgraf (type of air mail) from Aunt Pearl and one from Mrs. Clark in Hamilton. I think that is very nice of them to write. Crossie (her son and a close friend) is at Meds at McGill, so he can’t make the army. As you know, the set-up in their family is something similar to that at home. Always a crowd around; now – no-one. They have a granddaughter named Donnie – short for MacDonald. I think Andy is over here – sub-lieutenant on an English boat. I must write Mrs. Clark again this evening.”

“I have just heard Lord Haw Haw, and I agree he is rightly named, he is just one big laugh. It is a shame there are Englishmen like him. It is too bad that young fellow is like that as his father is quite a big shot and an esteemed statesman.”

So glad to hear the Victory Loan went over so well, but did the Sudbury district, Dad’s part, reach its objective? You seemed to be doing a lot of entertaining dealing with the Loan.

So you all like Rev. Combs eh? At least you said you liked his sermon. It is funny what you said about the way you felt when you were at church. I think I wrote and told you about the same thing here. When I get a chance to, I go but that only occurs when I am on leave.

“I absolutely cannot understand why you are not receiving more mail from me as I know I have written more often than you say you have received. Particularly since I have arrived here I have made an effort to write every second day. Again I shall start numbering. This will be #1.

“So one of the men at Raphoe (his father’s lumber operation) thought the soup was thin! That really burns me up. If he was forced to eat what most people have to eat here he would more than howl. The food is substantial enough, as a rule, but nothing particularly tasty. Really going to make an effort for a snapshot.”

“ Must be off. Write often.”

All My Love,

Donald

PS Send Air Mail envelopes please!