Letters Home RCAF Overseas
Letters Home RCAF Overseas by Janet Smolders is centred on a collection of over 100 letters written by a young RCAF recruit, mostly to his mother, during the Second World War. Part of the Allies’ intensive bombing of Germany toward the end of the war, the author’s dad, Bill, flew six operations as the flight sergeant and mid-upper gunner of a Halifax bomber. Tragically, the plane crashed on Valentine’s Day 1945 at Tholthorpe Air Station in Yorkshire, killing the whole crew except Bill. He was only nineteen.
The letters are surprisingly cheery and filled with youthful optimism and hope for the future. Most of the letters end with “Keep Smiling” or “Don’t worry – I’ll be okay!” but there was a lot to worry about. Every day, the newspapers listed the dead, wounded, and captured, accompanied by a brief, harrowing tale. The letters, combined with diary entries, the RCAF Daily Operations, and telegrams from overseas, provide a weird tableau of fun, excitement, pure terror, and horror.
Dedicated to the crew, Letters Home, RCAF Overseas, is an in-depth look at “what it was like” to be “on Active Service” in England during the war. When Winston Churchill said “this was their finest hour,” truer words were never spoken.