Dec. 10, 1943
I am finally over here in jolly old England! This is a very
beautiful country just like I have read and heard it was. It
looked especially good after we had been flying a long time and
wondered how soon we would see land. The countryside is divided
up into small fields irregularly shaped and they are divided by
what appears to be hedges or shrubbery, but when you examine
them closer they are made of stones and are covered by a thick
jumble of vines, etc. It is very easy to understand and talk to
the people although they talk a little different and use some
different words, etc. But I notice they are just as amused at
the way we talk. This pound, shilling, pence, etc. seems strange
but we are getting used to it already. I have been to town the
last two nights and it is an interesting experience, the shops,
cinemas, etc. We drop in once in a while and have our spot of
tea or fish and chips which is quite a dish here. I have had a
few glasses of English beer or ale. It isn't bad but is not as
good as our beer.
Dec. 13, 1943
I am getting more used to England's weather every day. I think
it is even muddier than it ever was around home. The only thing
I don't like is that our barracks is so cold. We only have two
little round stoves about 2 feet high and ten or 12 inches in
diameter and they don't do the work. That's the only kind of
stove I've seen in this country. I guess they are being
I've been going to radio school every day. I guess that will
never end, but there is always something new to be learned.
Dec. 23, 1943
I still haven't gotten to town yet but hope to soon. I will have
plenty money saved up by then. We couldn't get a pass til we had
a mission to our credit and we have gone over on one now so I
hope we get a pass soon. I hope we get the other 24 over with
soon so I can come back home.
Dec. 25, 1943
I didn't have such a bad Christmas after all. We didn't have to
do anything which made things nice. All we did is take life easy
and also eat a turkey dinner, no pie though. We spent most of
the day playing cards, etc. I also got to hear some Christmas
music on the radio today which was the first I have heard this
year and it sure sounded good.
Dec. 26, 1943
I had a very nice ride through the English countryside today.
The other Hanson on our crew, who got malaria, was moved to a
hospital several miles away and since we hadn't seen him for
some tine are went over to our hospital here and got a ride in
an ambulance to where he is. It sure seems funny driving along
on the wrong side of the road. He is getting along fine now and
looks well but I don't know how soon we will get him back.
Dec. 31, 1943
I am just taking life easy today. I went to bed last night at
nine o'clock because we had gotten up at 5 in the morning to go
on a mission and I was really worn out. I set my alarm for 7
this morning, but didn't get up. I stayed in bed til eleven
o'clock then went over to dinner. This is the first time since
I've been here that I missed breakfast. I got to see a little of
German fighter planes and they really aren't much to be afraid
of. They don't like to expose themselves to our fire long enough
to get in a good shot.
Jan. 3, 1944
I had a tame New Year's eve. All I did to celebrate was to clean
machine guns til 11 PM. I really did celebrate New Years day
though. I never knew before that there was a shower house around
and hadn't had a bath for 3 weeks. New Years day I discovered
one and was I happy! I had a whole bunch of laundry too-2 suits
of winter underwear, 10 pr. sox, 3 towels, and some hankies. So
I got in the shower with all my dirty clothes and stayed there
for 2 hours and killed two birds with one stone.
Jan. 8, 1944
We don't get cigarettes free here but just about. They only cost
us 3 pence a pack which is about 5Ę. That's all they've costs
since we left the states. They are rationed here, 7 packs a
week. or 14 cigars a week. I picked up several cartons on the
way so I have plenty. We got a 24 hour pass the other day and
went to town for all night. It was a fairly big town and there
are a lot of interesting things. The trains sure seem funny.
Passenger coaches are divided into compartments and the freight
cars are little 4 wheel rigs about 12 or 14 feet long. I have
never seen such a smoking people as they are here. You can see
small kids about 12 years old smoking in front of their folks,
and about every woman I have seen smokes. You can see them
walking down the street with a cigarette about 3/4 of an inch
long in their mouth. They sure go for french fried potatoes.
They call them chips, and have a lot of small joints where they
sell them. It reminds me of our hamburger stands--which you
don't sea over here. They have different names than we do for
many things. A barber is a hairdresser, a hardware dealer is an
iron monger, a drugstore is the chemists, and many such things.
I've got 3 missions in now and I hope the other 22 go by in a
hurry. I was on one which according to the paper here was one of
the deepest into Germany by the Americans.
Jan 13, 1944
We still have to go to school a couple hours everyday, to
communications and aircraft recognition. They are two important
things in this racket. We got our flying pay a couple days ago.
I am going to buy a bicycle. Nearly everyone has bikes here as
we have so much walking to do. They are an English make with
Jan 19, 1944
He went on a 48 hour pass Sunday morning and got back yesterday
noon so there was nearly 3 days shot. In town I ran onto a model
airplane shop so I bought a couple glider hits. I started in
last night on one of the kits and the other Hansen on our crew
is making the other one. We had a pretty good time in town. I
went to see Robin Hood again. I saw it years ago. In one place
one of the characters in the picture said, "I am going to
Norwich tomorrow", and that interested me, because that
happened to be the town I was seeing the show in and I didn't
realize that it was such an old town. I got on a scale in town
and when the arrow stopped I looked to see what I weighed and I
was surprised and puzzled when I read 12 stones. I had never
heard of such a thing. An English man there told me that a stone
was 14 pounds so I figured it out that I weighed 168 lbs. with
my clothes on--minus overcoat, so I haven't lost any. It is some
job running around town at night, everything is blacked out and
the town seems dead, but when you've been there a while you can
find pubs, restaurants, etc.
Well, I've only got 21 more missions to go. I am gradually
whittling it down. One of the guys in our barracks has a radio
now and we have music all day now. We have quite a variety. The
Germans broadcast good music and propaganda to us and we can
also get British stations.
Jan. 26, 1944
I have to do some washing again today. Every time I get a bunch
I take a shower and do my washing at the same time. The shower
room isn't heated so I leave my winter underwear on while I'm
doing my laundry and getting soaked.
Jan. 31, 1944
I have really been quite busy. I was so tired last night that I
stayed in bed til 9:30 this morning--13 hours. I went on 2
missions in a row and it really played me out. I wouldn't mind
about 5 or so like that in a row because they would go by that
I am now sporting an Air Medal. They really aren't much. You get
one when you have made five missions, then for each five
thereafter you get an oak-leaf cluster, so you don't get them
because you're a hero or something. You don't actually get a
medal here but a ribbon to wear on the blouse. I guess they give
the medal later on in the states.
Feb. 2, 1944
It's just 10:30 and I had my 'tay' and sandwiches. There is a
little place here run by the Limeys to serve the laborers tea
and lunch and we usually get a cup in the forenoon. I don t
think the English could get along without their tea. They knock
off work around 10 for tea then just get back to work in time to
quit for dinner, then just get back to work in time to quit for
afternoon tea, really a good system.
We get pretty good music on the radio most of the time, if we
don't like what's on the British stations we can get French or
German stations. We can also get both sides of the news that
Feb. 20, 1943
I finally bought a bicycle, I looked all over town for 2 days
and finally had to buy a girls bike, that's all they had
anywhere. It cost 11 pounds, 2 shillings and 6 pence, really
high priced. Bike tires aren't rationed here and only cost the
equivalent of $1.10. It sure saves a lot of walking. I went to a
couple of shows in town. We were there 2 days. It is hard to get
anything to eat besides fish or sausage and chips but we get
I have enough missions now to add an oak leaf cluster to my Air
Feb. 24, 1944
I really think our B-24's are wonderful ships but the 17's are
also doing a good Job and I sure don't think they will become
extinct for a long time. The only thing that makes us mad is
that the Forts get all the publicity in the news.
I had a 48 hour pass a few days ago and stayed in town. We
managed to find a little bit of gin and scotch and are also
getting used to English beer. I think if anyone murders the
English language it's the English. One thing they say is he've
got, or she've got instead of he has, as we would say it. They
also think nothing of damn and hell. I've even heard them used
in British shows.
I've got thirteen missions in now so I hope it won't be long.
Feb. 28, 1944
I had an interesting day today. We were awarded our air medals
(the ribbon). It was quite an affair. We were all lined up and
when our name was called we walked up to the Colonel and saluted
him then he pinned them on and shook our hand and we saluted
again and walked away. We all laughed (quietly) at the guy's
nervousness as they marched up to the Col. but when I heard them
call Technical Sgt. Richard F. Hanson I was as scared and shaky
as anyone else was.
Mar. 2, 1944
I have been taking life easy the past couple days, just reading,
etc. They have an afternoon show now so that helps spent the
day. They opened up a red cross club on the base which is nice,
reading rooms, pool and ping pong tables, and they have a
juke-box in the PX now that's the second one I've seen over here
in England. I've only got eleven more to go.
Mar. 17, 1944
We are getting a week's furlough and I am going to see a bit of
Scotland I guess. I think I will miss army chow too. About all
there is in the cities is chips and tea and sausage.
Mar. 25, 1944
I spent the whole week at Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a very
interesting place too. I liked it much better than London. I was
going to play a little golf up there but didn't get around to
it. I looked the town over quite well and went through the old
castle. I saw several men wearing kilts. It looks quite funny to
see their bare knees hanging out of their over coat. There were
a couple old fellows walking around the streets playing bagpipes
too. Many rulers lived in the castle, Queen Mary. etc. It is
supposed to date back to 626 and is a wonderful building. The
roof structure of the old banquet hall is of oak and not a nail
in it. It is a big roof too. There are a bunch of old cannon
around the wall. I don't see how they could turn out such work
in those times. The people up there sure talk with a scotch
accent. I enjoyed listening to them.
Mar. 29, 1944
I have gotten right to work since coming back from furlough and
have eighteen missions now. Have to get to school now. It isn't
work, more or less fun. Every once in a while they surprise us
and flash a picture of a nude lady on the screen instead of an
Mar. 31, 1944
I had my fortune told in town the other day, on a penny
machine--just as accurate as a gypsy fortune teller though. It
said, "sudden luck will be experienced in schemes long
delayed". That sounds good. Another thing I attribute my
good luck to is that I never go up without that lucky cigarette
lighter Dave gave me. I even carried it a couple times when it
wasn't in working order, silly isn't it. I haven't laid in bed
in morning these past few days off. I get up at 7:20 and get to
breakfast. There are 3 of us who do, Chet, our first engineer
and another guy. When we get back we build a fire then clean up
the barracks and the yard around the barracks. We're ambitious
aren't we! It gives us something to do though and when it's
sunny and nice it's really enjoyable to be working around. This
morning I hang my blankets out on the line to air out and in a
few minutes it started snowing so I had to bring them in. This
is just like spring at home. This afternoon I am going to take a
shower and turn my clothes in to the laundry. We have pretty
good service. It only takes 2 weeks. Today is also pay day so
it's a big day all around.
Apr. 5, 1944(click to see the original letter)
Itís been a long time since I wrote you so I am going to get busy. Itís a beautiful day today, just like a sunny spring day at home,
I think I will go for a bicycle ride after while and get a little of the sunshine.
I have been taking life easy the past few days, about all the work Iíve done is to help clean up the barracks in the morning,
the rest of the day we spend in reading, writing and also plenty of arguing as to when the invasion will start and about various things in the states
from cars to politics. I got a couple letters from Mom yesterday some nice pictures of Lois. I never realized how much photos could mean,
I certainly appreciate the ones the folks have sent me. I guess things are going pretty well at home, mom in gradually getting the house fixed up
and I hope she can get a roof put on this summer and maybe paint it. I guess all of my nieces and nephews are fine too.
I had a week furlough a couple weeks ago and spent it in Edinburgh, Scotland, that is some pretty country, it is quite hilly and green.
I went through an old castle there which dates back around 626, which the rulers used to live in, Queen Mary, etc. The Scots donít seem to like the English so well and always point out to us the fact that they treat us better in regard to prices etc. I enjoy hearing them talk, they have a real brogue. It is hard to get anything to eat in restaurants except fish or sausages and potatoes so it was a treat to get back to camp and get a good meal. It sure is amusing to hear soldiers kicking about army food, no matter how good a meal someone always complains but I noticed that everyone who had been on leave was glad to get back to army chow. Is Fred in the army yet? I suppose everyone is busy around the ranch now arenít they. I would like to see Lloyd and Ralph, I bet they are growing up fast. I have seventeen missions in now but I think we have to do 30 now instead of 25 so I will be a little longer getting through. I was lucky enough to get to see the enemy capital one day. I guess I will close for now tell everyone hello for me and I hope I can get over to your place this summer.
My A.P.O is changed to 558
Apr. 8, 1944
I have been sitting around so many days doing nothing that I
will be getting barracks happy maybe. This flying sure is funny.
You fly often and you start hollering that you wish they'd leave
you alone a while. Then when I have it easy a few days I am an
eager beaver again. I even volunteered to go up on a check
flight today so I could get a ride.
Apr. 10, 1944
They have a matinee movie in the afternoons, today we saw
"Casablanca". It had an added interest to me for I was
in that neck of the woods back in the old days. It showed the
natives selling stuff. They started with a price about 10 times
too high and let you talk them down to a few francs and still
made money. I am going to have a cup of coffee now. I see there
is a can of it on the stove. We are sitting around talking about
what we are going to do when we get to the states--that's a
I've got nineteen missions over with now. Maybe I'll get to see
the states in the summer yet.
[Note: This was my last letter before being shot down on April 12,