dear agnes -- Jan. - Feb. 1945
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Rockcliffe
Jan 2 1945
Dear Agnes

I received your letter to-night and I have the money order OK  It comes in very handy at this time.  I had forgotten about my mess bill at the end of the month but wasn't much stuck at all.  I borrowed five dollars and spent it all on New Years, in fact I got feeling pretty good but not drunk.

Dad with this air force suitcaseThe train comeing back was jammed to the roof, and at the station they had to get ten police to hold the crowd going to Montreal and Ottawa.  The rest of the trains didn't have any trouble, but they tried to load all Ottawa and Montreal on the same trains through the same gate.  There were quite a gang at the station when I got there and I was there by 10.10 and they didn't open up till twelve and by that time there must have been thousands.  After they opened the gate the crowd would start to push the they would close the gate.  At one time I was pushed till I was leaning over and my feet were off the floor and I didn't get them down for ten minutes.  However I finely got through and there were only two cars, full to the doors not even standing room so I decided not to go till they made up some more cars.  I didn't go back down into the station.  I couldn't have if I wanted to.  So when they made up another I was first on and got a seat so I didn't have anything to kick about.  Quite a lot of the chaps didn't get on a train at all they just told them there were no more trains till next morning so they had to stay over.  If I had known that I could have stayed home for another day.  However I can't complain because I had a swell Christmass I enjoyed every minute of it.  Being away from home has some advantage, it makes you appreciate it more when do get there.

Things were pretty busy here over New Years   We worked every night from the time we got back till New Years Eve.  but the weather wasn't very Happy New Yeargood New Years day so they let most of the men off.  We were asked over to the Officers Mess at eleven O'clock  Well I stayed for and hour and a half by that time I was feeling pretty good.  Then we came back and had dinner then had a few more drinks by that time somebody got a fiddle so we started to square dance well it must have been some sight there were no girls so I had to be a lady well I not much of a lady, but at that I think I was as good as the rest.

One of the chaps that live in town asked me in for supper, and we got a ride in with some others.  two of them got out before us so we had another drink at both places and by the time we got to the chaps home I was nearly starved.  We had a lovely supper chicken + all the trimmings and also some Jewish wine his landlord gave him.  Then we went out to visit some French people we had some more refreshments there, And I spent the rest of the evening singing Christmass Carols.

Well that's how I spent New Years and I hope you had as good a time as I had.

Well that's the news for now honey I expect to get home this week end but I'm not sure yet, its quite a job trying to keep up with half the staff but right now we are caught right up and the others should be back on Thursday, So good bye for now

hopeing to see you this week end  With heaps of love for a Happy New Year

Bill (XXXXX)

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TIMELINE:
As my father wrote this, the Germans began their withdrawal from the Ardennes, and the Battle of the Bulge turned in the Allies' favour. Soviet troops had besieged Budapest two days after Christmas.
Feb. 13/44 letter
Rockcliffe Ont
Jan 13/45
Dear Agnes.

How goes the battle?  The weather has been pretty cold here the last week, but it doesn't feel as bad as it did last Saturday morning at home.  It got a little milder on Friday but it snowed all day. That brings the total fall here to fifty-seven inches which is quite a lot considering we still have it all on the ground. 

Thing are going along here just about the same as usual we worked a couple of nights and one night I had some of the boys work all night.

Tuesday night I went bowling and as usual I didn't do so good.  The first game I made only 114 and second 197 so we lost another three points.

Ernie Roberts thats the chap I spent New Years day with came tearing in to the alley late and all excieted.  His wife had just had an eight and a half pound baby girl.  He didn't bowl very good after that.  Now every day we get a detailed report on its progress.  To-day he wasn't sure wheather it could see him or not.

They had a traveling show on the station to-night.  The Massey-Harris Combines.  Its the best show I've seen since I've been in the Air Fource.  They had some nice girls, in fact they were real smart.  They also had a one armed pianist along with two good singers, a baritone and a soprano and Joe Murphy as M.C.  I think you were with me one night when I met him last time in a restrant on St. 

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TIMELINE:
Three days after this letter was written, US 1st and 3rd armies linked up, ending the German offensive in  the Ardennes. In four days, Soviet troops would capture Warsaw.
Clair Ave.  Anyway Joe and I joined the K of C* at the same time.  So after the show I went around and had a little chat with him.

Well thats all the news for now I'm looking forward to next weekend when I'll see you again till then lots of love

Bill
(XXXXXXX)

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*Knights of Columbus
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*Servicemen had to be vague in their letters home when relating details of their postings, sailings, or troop movements. My father was unusually explicit in this letter about a sudden re-posting to Goose Bay in Labrador. His description of a flight that began on its way to Rockcliffe, Ontario, returned to Goose Bay, and was supposed to end in Argentia, Nfld. but finally dumped Dad and his crew in Moncton, New Brunswick, sounds like typical wartime logistic anarchy. Some men would turn the experience into Catch-22; my father, like most soldiers, just shrugged and accepted his fate.
Feb 5th
Dear Agnes

passed by RCAF censorJust a line to let you know I got back from Goose bay to-night.  We were on our way by air back to Rockcliff when they wired the plane to return to Goose bay.  When I got back there was a wire there telling me to go to Argentia thats over in Newfoundland about one hundred miles from Tor-bay.  So the pilot didn't know what to do, So he flew us back to Moncton where I'm writing from now.*

I won't have time to get to the R.R. station to send a wire as we are leaveing first thing in the morning I am just waiting on a phone call from Rockcliffe now as to the details

I'm awfull sorry I didn't get home for last Sunday to see Joe and hear his first mass*, and I also missed a chance to see Treasa + Jim.  It's just possible they won't all be together again for some time.  I am beginning to think it's a long time since I seen you, and although its only a little over two weeks it seems like two months.  I don't know how long it will take to do this job but its the same as the last one, and that took two days, but we had to wait for weather for four days to test the aircraft.  so at the worst it shouldn't be more than a week. (I hope)

I just got my phone call through and as its midnight and I have to be up again at six o'clock I had better head for bed

This isn't much of a letter but I'm so darned tired getting things fixed up and finding a place to sleep for the boys I don't know wheather we are coming or going.  I would like to hear from you but I can't give you any address and if I did the way I'm moveing around I doubt it would ever catch me.

Well so long for now I'll drop a line from someplace.  So good night till I see you again Honey and all my love from 

Bill

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TIMELINE:
As my father wrote this letter, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill were meeting in Yalta to decide the fate of post-war Europe. A week earlier, Soviet troops had liberated Auschwitz. In just over a week, the firebombing of Dresden would begin.
the big three at Yalta
the big three
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*Father Joe Barnes was the brother of John Barnes, my mother's sister's husband. He was a diocesan priest who spent most of his career in western Canada. His sister became a Loretto nun, Sister Simeon. There always seemed to be priests and nuns in our family.

 
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