Sunday, March 6, 2011

The J.T. Fairall WWI Letters: (5) December 1 & 4, 1917

Tours, France - Jack is on the far left smoking a cigarette!
A month long journey from the States lands J.T. Fairall in Tours, France at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center for the beginning of his military training with the French.  In his fifth letter, Jack writes to his mother.  The short but rough boat trip across the channel from England to France brought about seasickness for many; apparently, it was worse than the trek across the Atlantic.

Jack's initial impressions of the French are very positive.  His thoughts on the available "rank" cigarettes are a different matter.  But he seems so happy to be flying again.  The 2nd Aviation Instruction Center is fairly new, and the airfield is still being completed.  Jack and his fellow aviators are finally preparing for the war on the front.

Supplementing Jack's letter, check out this film clip found at showing some excellent footage of the aviation center in 1918.

France 12/1/17

Dear Mother

I have been on the go since my last letter at Southhampton.  The worst part of the trip was that across the channel.  I don't believe that there was a person on board that didn't get sick.  I had to sleep standing in a corner to keep me from rolling around the floor.  We came over on a small fast steamer that bobed around like a cork.  We didn't see any submarines 

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the remains of the fire - Revolutionary times.  The people of France are exceedingly polite and will often forget themselves out to help you.  The other night we were having dinner in a cafe down town and one of our fellows took too much wine.  He was making a fool of himself by trying to talk to every one in the place.  He didn't know any French but was using one of the French-English phrase books.  All of the Frenchmen were doing their best to help him but had he been in the U.S. he would surely have been arrested as a nuisance.

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war isn't nearly over and the people of the U.S. will have to get that idea out of their heads and go at the proposition in a more business like manner.  I think that our government will be a big factor in settling the matter but the people will have to do a lot more towards helping out in the matter, than they are doing at present.


I was interrupted the other day and I have been unable to write more until today.

I am now located at the training school and hope to get busy flying very shortly.  This field like all of the rest is new and a little unsettled but the work is going on with good speed and will soon be as complete field as there is in the world. The flying is great. You can see the same tactics here that are used on the front.

I believe that I have caught up with all of the fellows that went ahead except Bob Kelly. He will turn up sooner or later they all do.

I am sending a carbon copy of my insurance. If I were you I would file it in case of any mixup. There is no telling. Of the 47 R.M.A.*, about 9 have gotten their commissions and the rest of us are waiting. If by any chance mine is sent home please forward at once. For I anticipate some little trouble from this mixup.

When you get this I wish that you would mail me some American cigarettes.  The ones that we get here are rank.  Be sure and pack them well.

Tell everyone to write but not to wait for an answer.  The mail is very slow in finding us.  I expect to be reading letters for a week when it does come in.

Goodby for this time.

* R.M.A. is an abbreviation for Reserve Military Aviator.

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