Saturday, February 26, 2011

The J.T. Fairall WWI Letters: (3) November 18, 1917

A photo of a typical plane that J.T. flew - after two weeks of
no flying, Jack was anxious to get back in the air.
With just a day left of his voyage across the ocean to Europe, J.T. Fairall writes his third of fifty-two letters during World War I.  He's getting impatient with the "monotony" of life on the sea, especially considering he recently had been actively flying every day while training for his responsibilities in the war.  And two weeks of relative inactivity have resulted in Jack gaining some weight.  So in addition to looking forward to flying again, he's also anxious to get back into shape.

You'll notice in this letter that a word or two has been erased possibly by a censor.  You can see this in the scanned image of the first page of the letter far below.  It is not the first time something has been censored in Jack's letters. Since this letter was written in pencil, it would have been easy for either Jack or a censor to erase information that could be of use to the Germans.

Finally, on a side note, I aim to include a relevant photo with each of these letters.  After the war, Jack put together a small photograph album of pictures he took.  I think these photos will add a layer of depth and interest to Jack's letters.

Jack's third letter:    

Dear Mother,

We will be in port tomorrow, can see both Scotland and Ireland now.  The trip has been very tiresome and only saw 2 ships and several schools of fish to break the monotony of seeing nothing but water.  It has been nothing but eat sleep and rest.  After flying every day for 2 or 3 mo., this inactivity is surely tiring.  We had a stopover in Halifax but were not allowed to go ashore.

Yesterday our fleet was met by a fleet of [erased - censored?] Destroyers.  They are very speedy and it helps some to watch them run around our scows*.  For the last 2 days we have had to lug a life preserver around with us all the time even to our meals.  The weather was a little rough mostly all the way over but none of the fellows got very sick.  The salt air affected me as it always does.  I have eaten so much that I am about to the butchering stage.  It will take a good bit of work to get down to normal again.

Our orders read to France but we are liable to land in Egypt before we are settled.  I sent a letter from Halifax.  Hoping that this finds all well.  I am

Your affectionate son Jack

Address J.T. Fairall R.M.A.
Aviation Section Signal Corps
American Expeditionary Force
Via New York

* A scow in the literal sense is a flat-bottomed boat with a blunt bow, similar to a barge.  In this case, Jack was possibly making fun of the slowness of their ships compared to the speed of the Destroyers.

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