Part 1 - Windsor and Toronto: January to March 1942

My father, Wendell Young, served in the RCAF and the US Army Air Corps during WW2. This page contains some of the letters he wrote home to his parents during that time. My grandmother (Dad's mom) saved all the letters and bundled them ( and labeled them) according to when and where he was at that time. The actual text of the letters is in plain text, grandmother's labels are in bold and my comments are in [brackets]. The only editing I did was to add the odd paragraph break.

Windsor, Jan. 19 - Jan. 26 1942
[Dad went to Windsor, Ontario to see if he could enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot. He sent the first 5 letters home on 2 cent postcards. Dad's shorthand translates as: tt = that, and wd = would. 88 is ham radio shorthand for 'love and kisses'.]


1:30 PM; Jan. 19, '42

Dear Mother & Dad,

Made application for RCAF. Could not pass eye test. Officer said to come back in a couple of days & try again. In a week or so they may change the reqmts. It wd help. The Pilot test is the only one tt I could possibly pass for flying duty. I plan to keep at it for a week. If it seems hopeless, I'll take something on the ground.

My goggles are all wrong. I could probably get them reground in canada for less. My pres. is:

    SPh     CY  Axis
R: -1.25 -.50 180 L: -.25 -.50 180

The goggles are approx:

R: -.62    ?    180
L: +12/-36 ?    180

continued on next card

CARD No. 2

The error is probably due to the cement filling the void and changing the refraction. I might send the goggles to Toronto & get a single lens ground i.e. not cemented. I'll have plenty of time to make up my mind. I think tt I'll send a card to Edwin [Edwin is a cousin]. I not going to write Katty or Annette until I know more. So far I have spent:

Ticket  95
gum     05
room    75 one night only
Dinner  30
B'fast  35
lunch   65
Room  3.75 one week

I have enough money to last a week.


1942-1-20-16-50 CARD #3

Dear Mother & Dad,

Got a card from the G.G. Rosses. very thoughtful of them. (The YMCA) have 25 cycle current here. Hard on the eyes.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to have my eyes tested again. Have not received statement of education. There are many different "trades" on the ground in the Air Force. Photography is one. I dont believe tt there is a school for it. One just takes a "trade test" & if good enough goes to work after, of course, the manning pool.

The fellow at the Rec. Office was trying to interest me in Radio (same as Edwin) after he found out tt I had 3 years Univ. They would send me to a Univ for 6 months to study Advan. Radio Electronics. I don't think that I would like it. Getting a commission on the ground depends on how good you are. I can't think of anything more so


1942-1-21-11-30 CARD #4

Dear Mother & Dad,

I was going to have my eyes tested again today but decided to wait. The officer of the RCAF Rec. Office told me to see Dr. Tait (an O- ?) he seems to be in favor of this "sight with out glasses". He told me to go without mine & practice reading letters at a distance with my bad eye.

I got your letter & the U of M letter today. If you brought a dinner over, there would be NO place to eat it. I wrote a card to the Rosses but tore it up. Sounded too stilted. have not written to Anyone else.


1942-1-22-12-45 Card #6 (?)

Dear Mother & Dad,

This morning I changed from Air Crew to Ground Duties. This afternoon I'll take a Mental Aptitude Test. And tomorrow morning I'll know more abt wt I'll be getting into. I may not be able to leave for a manning pool until Feb 1st or so.

They can't tell you much until you have taken all the tests etc. I don't want to come back into the U.S. for fear tt I might get stuck there. I don't know wheather I'll want you to bring any more clothes or not.


1942-1-23-13-20 #7

Dear Mother & Dad,

Got your $5.00, am taking vitamins. Johnson Opt. has not sent any money. I got the dollar you sent.

Am getting into radio. Would not be able to get into anything else for 5 months. It is a tough course. I shouldn't have done so well on my I.Q. test. But it may be just as well. I think the next quota will be in in 11 days. I will probably leave shortly after. Will go to manning pool 2 - 4 weeks. then to a school or Univ for 3 months, then another school for 5 weeks, then 2 weeks leave. Then Active duty. It's a good safe job. With lots of possibilities.

Now tt I'm not worried abt my eyes, I have a good time here, reading etc. I hope you can read this.


[The next few letters are on Royal Canadian Air Force stationary as are many of the subsequent letters]

YMCA, Windsor Ont. (still)


Dear Mother & Dad,

I wrote a card this morning (#7)

If you think that you could do it, I would like you to send me one of my "spiral Sketch Books" There are two - send the empty one. And my Oct. Red eraser. (Probably in my drawer or on my desk). You can't buy them over here. I think that's all in that catagery (sp). I bought 2 T shirts - 50 cents each. Mine were all so bad tt I didn't bring any.

How do you like my writing paper. I've written to Kathy and Annette. I just ate a head of lettuce. Everybody that I've talked to seems to think that Radio is the best thing to get into.

The sketch book may be in "the room over the garage" or the basement or my room. It is 5" x 7" & abt 3/8" thick.

I have made friends with one of the boys at the Rec Office. He's from Toronto. I don't know his whole name, but, of course, he knows mine. I've been helping him with his E.M. - they go to night school. (required) for future pilots and Obs. It's very simple but he has never had any of it & finds it quite hard.

I'll be glad when I finally get started. I can't think of anything else to say.


Letter #2


Dear Mother & Dad,

All through exams etc. at Rec Office. Only remaining thing is quota from Ottawa. Word came from Ottawa today to enlist only 5 men in Radio for Feb. quota. There are 4 or 5 more of us with high I.Q.'s. The Office here is writing for permission to enlist us (this month i.e. Feb). It will take at least 2 weeks to get an answer. The next quota will for March which will be in one month.

Until I am actually enlisted & in uniform I would not want to go the U.S. with out a passport. That would take a month to get, I think. So far it has cost me 3.75 for room & 1.00 per day food. I'll enclose 2 3 x 5 cards with my expenses on it you will be able to see abt how I'm running.

The round trip to the Soo from here is $32.30. Leave here 5:15 afternoon & arrive Soo 1:00 PM Not a bad trip.

I don't know if I would go nuts here or not. I would like to spend 2 or 3 weeks at the Soo & get a chance to see the cottage and Gypsy.

Would like your advice & if nec. the funds. I have at the moment $2.95 & a refund for room if I leave sooner than a week

88. Wendell

1942-1-25-17-15 #8

Dear Mother & Dad,

As you know, I have decided to take Radio. It is the only thing I could get into without waiting 5 months. As it is, I will be here another 8 days. I hope not longer. It costs me $1.00 per day for food (or less) and 3.75 for Room per week. So if you could spare 6 or 8 dollars I have 3.75 left. They will trust me for my room for a day or so.

88 Wendell

1942-1-26-11-42 #9 I think

Dear Mother & Dad,

Got your letter with last $5.00. Max could come & see me. I would either be at the Y, eating, or out for a walk. Glad you found my sketch book. One can't have cameras so must either sketch or remember. I will be at the Y until I leave. I may know tomorrow where. Please disregard the card asking for "6 or 8 dollars" have since recieved the 5. I can get my washing done through the Y.

There is a good fruit store around the corner. I would like a metal, telescopic drinking cup. Dad knows wt they are like. I can't find one in Windsor. Got Joe's letter. Got "U" letter. Meet me at Y. Go in and ask at girl at desk if I'm there.

Don't know about leave yet. 88 WEY

Toronto - Feb. 12 - Mar. 17 1942


A.C.2 Young, WE
R-145388, RCAF
No. 1 Manning Depot
Toronto, Ontario

Dear Mother & Dad,

Got in abt 1:00 hrs this morning. The train was late. Getting in the swing of it already. We wont be very well established until next week.

Do not come over to see me until I let you when. We won't be able to leave the grounds & sometime the building for abt 10 days. - during our inoculaction, vac. etc. And you can't come in.

I located Ed. Gimby's bunk. I guess he's on a 48. I doubt if I will see him before Mon. I think that you should address the letters to me as:
R-145388, AC.2 Young, W.E.
#1. "M" Depot RCAF
Toronto, Ontario

I'm quite sleepy just now. We have to fall in at 1500 hrs. so I think I'll cut this one short. I'll write again tomorrow. I was going to write G'ma, too; but I'll do tt tomorrow also.


1942-2-17-20-00 Card No. 13

Dear Mother & Dad, I've been quite busy here getting started etc. & when we do get time, we're pretty tired from the strain of every thing new, although I'm not so bad off as some of the boys. I like it very much here. The uniforms are not as nice as my ROTC one. But Edwin says that if I get over 80% I should stand a good chance of getting a commission (officer's uniform better). If I were at the top of my class it would be a sure thing. 60% of the uniforms from stock fit the boys. - mine does not. I'll have to get quite a bit done.

Got your letter OK. It will be at least Wed of next week before I will be able to see any one. I'm writing this in a big arena. We have quite a bit going on: M-Stage Show Tu-Boxing Match W-Movie Th-Ladie's Softball, Fr-CBC Broadcast (from here), S-Movies, Sun-musical.

Well, more later, 88 WEY

1942-2-10-1720 (5:20 PM) Card No. 14

Dear Mother & Dad,

Got your letter with Mary's letter in it. I'l send it back tomorrow - The last 2 days I've not felt very good. Vac & Innoculations etc. I'll write you more details when I feel better. I see E. Gimby once in a while. I think that I'll go & eat now. I haven't eaten much today.

88 W.E.Y.

Feb 20, 1942 2030 hrs

Dear Mother & Dad,

I'll send Mary's letter with this one.

Just listened to a broadcast (from our theater) - heard in US over Colm. Brod. at 2000 hrs (8:00 PM) on every Fri. Lasts 1/2 hour. Very pretty singer & a good orcestra. You should listen; you might hear me clapping. [Dad had a distinctive clap - he cupped his hands and made a loud popping sound]

I now have all my kit & most of my shots (in the arm). Next week will go on the range & fire 22 cal rifle, & later .303 cal. They covered 2 weeks rifle inst. in 1 1/2 hours. - Some of the boys won't even hit the target. -

So far we have done the following things: (1) Gone through the Pay & Allowances Office - I'm sending $10.00 home to you. Do any thing you want with it. Feed the horses or fix the house, or pay your income tax. It wont start coming until March. (The end, I think). (2) Dental inspection (4) Kit Marking (5) Photographed (5) Gone through Stores (6) Recruit Lec. (7) Musketry Lec (8) Ship Civ. Clothes home. & had the following tests - vaccination, Dick test, S.F. toxin, schick test, D'phtheria toxiod, T.A.B.T. & Drill - I have quite a time keeping the drill straight. We have a swell fellow in charge of our flight.

We get payed every two weeks. We live on the ground of the Exibation. One hell of a big building. - takes me 5 min. to walk from my bunk to the mess hall. All one building. It was used to show stock, I think. One runs into an occasional food box in the dark. Quite well heated and lighted until 2245.

I usually go to bed between 2100 & 2200 hrs. We get up at 600, have until 800 hrs to - dress, shave, make bunk, polish boots & brass & eat. B'fast runs continually from abt 6 to 8 - so you can do these things in any order, almost. This is a lot slower than Corps of Eng. We have bunk inspection at 8:00 hrs. & fall in right after. Drill & lec etc. follow 'til about 110 or 1115 hrs & then we have until 1300 to eat. Fall in at 1305, Drill, etc. to 1600 or 1615 hrs & have from 1615 to 1800 hrs to eat.

The mess hall won't hold all of us at once so it is something like a restruant - (Cafetera Style) Very good food - better than we got at Ft. Custer - but that was an exception (Ft. Custer) quite heavy on beaf roast, spuds. but the beef is real good. For b'fast we have: Oatmeal, eggs, bacon, toast. The eggs come a different style each time & rotate - I don't always eat them, though. At noon we always start with soup, then meat & then desert. A big tin of eating apples on the table & lots of Bread & butter & jam.

I'm writing this in the lounge. It has about 65 overstuffed chairs, 8 davenports, 30 double writing desks, 25 tables for cards, checkers, chess etc. There is an extension branch of the Tronto Pub. Libary here & a "Mother's Corner" - which will darn your socks & sew buttons etc. for you. Mothers that have sons in the service come here & donate their time. They're very nice. There is a radio in here & one in our barracks. All this, & 2 more barracks and 2 arenas (like the sportsman's show at Detroit - dad knows) under one roof! Partitions of course

I havn't written G'ma or G'pa yet or Jack or Joe or Annettte or Romeo. I wrote a short one to Kathy. I think that I'll write grandma tomorrow. I'm getting tired now. It's 2130 now I don't think that I have a stamp & our post office is closed. So I think that I will stop now & add more tomorrow & post it.

Oh. I wish you would send me Julie's address in England! so, more tomorrow.


My chum here, Pat. McCarron, looks exactly like Elwyn Ransom it's startling!

There are quite good looking girls in the canteen. I think they give their time free. - at the canteen -.

Edwin gets off almost every weekend. I usually see him during the week.

My bunk No. is 7641 (until next Wed). We'll be out of C.B. then & have a different bunk. If you should ever have to phone me, it helps to know my bunk No.

Edwin says that there is a slim chance of getting a commission in Radio. Said that I might stand a chance. Admits that he never studied. From what I hear about it from him, I think that I'll like it.

Am issued a blue jacket - sweater. Too short in the sleeves. Manufacturer made a mistake on all of them. Betty said that she might finish the sleevless one that she started for an ex-boyfriend.

I will probably be here for 3 more weeks. If I can get all my papers i.e., letter from C.O.,pictures, visa etc. in order before I get a 48, I would like to come home. I might be able to do that on a weekend after I get out of my C.B. It wil take a whole 48 to get there and back. I don't know just when I'll get a 48 & I don't know how far in advance we're told. One asks for it & sometimes get it. I would rather go home than have you come here. It would cost less, too, I think. As soon as I get out of CB, I'll start seeing about the nec. papers & pictures so as not to waste any time once I get a 48.

I got your letter with Al's card in it this noon.

We all going (marched) over to the "Sally Ann" - the post Canteen - for a free movie. A good one, I hear.

Well, I think that I will stop now & take my laundry down. The Air Force does our sheets & pillow case but we have to pay for the washing of all our clothes. We are issued 2 shirts & 4 collars & 2 ties. - I think that I'll buy another shirt or so.

88 Wendell

1942-2-26-1400 Card No 15

Dear Mother & Dad,

Been very busy since I wrote last. Have been transferred to another barrack block - In the same building - I'm through quarintine now & can go to Toronto. Went in last night & spent my last penny on a movie. - We get paid tomorrow - At the start, money goes fast, so many things tt you can buy to make things easier. I've been spending abt 25 cents per day on ice cream etc. & sometimes more.

I'm going to try to get a 48 one week from this week end. I probably wont get it. I let you know later. I would probably get it the next one if not that one.

Got your letter with lady's & your picture - very good - [lady was the family dog]. Got a letter from Al. Ransom two from Katie - one tt u sent - Edwin & I are going out for a walk. He says to give you his regards. We must be going now.

88 WEY

#1 'M' Depot.

Dear Mother,

I'm writing this hoping that it will get there tomorrow. But if it doesn't, Happy Birthday anyway! Did you get the Birthday present tt I left in my Army locker? That's the Royal S. on the jacket.

I was going to see the amer. counsel in Toronto yesterday afternoon, but I spent the whole afternoon looking for a tailor shop to alter my tunic. Didn't find one. - Bought a teloscoping drinking cup in a pawn shop for 25 cents - I'll have to get it sterilized before I use it. Also got a pair of small field glasses for $1.75 (used).

I writing this before I go to church. We have to go! That's about the only thing that I hate about the service. I would probably go anyway as we can't go out Sun morning & have to get up. But when they are so nasty about it, a lot of us resent it!

I don't see how I can possibly get home next weekend. I'll have to spend next Sat getting my papers & pictures etc. The orderly room said that we weren't supposed to get a 48 next week anyway, but E. Gimby said to apply for it & I might get it. But I don't think that I will. I will try for the following weekend.

Edwin is leaving soon for his I.T.S. I don't see very much of him. Got a letter from Romeo. He has finished E.F.T.S. & will be going to Service Flying School. Doesn't know yet if it will be single or twin engine.

Got a letter from Al. Ransom, one from Bob Herbst, 2 from Katy - same two - A valentine from Joyce W. Haven't heard from Annette yet. I sent her a letter with a 10 cent packet of crested ciggettes in it - she will probably have to sign her soul away at customs. I'll send you some when I'm not particular wether or not the letter ever gets to you.

I have been smoking every little. I bought two 10 cent packets of cigarettes - smoked one packet & sent the other one to Annette. I bought a package of pipe tobbacco & still have it. Had two beers Wed night though.

Went swimming at the YMCA with Edwin on Thrs. Doesn't cost anything for men in the servise.

Bought an Identifaction Bracelet yesterday. $4.50 including the lettering. It's not as nice as the one tt Dad got me. But I looked all over. I could have had one made up to suit me but it would have taken 3 weeks. the one I got looks: Wendell's sketch of the bracelet It won't be done untill Thur.

Yesterday I did something tt I always wanted to do. I bought a half pound of mixed nuts & ate them - 44 cents worth

Sometime when you think of it, send me Julie's address. There are a lot of English lads here.

I expect that the Sgt will be bellowing for us to get the hell out of here and into church. I'm in the lounge.

A street photographer took my picture on a single frame movie camera. I took in the slip & will have 2 pictures of me - when they mail them. It only cost 28 cents. The fellow said that about 10% of the people send in for their pictures.

Someday I'm going to look up Henry Levy - he's a frosh at Toronto.

Well I think that's about all now so I'll stop.

88 Wendell

1942-3-2-12-15 No. 16

Dear Mother & Dad,

Got Dad's letter with the $5.00. Not very hopeful of being able to get home next weekend. Unless you have started the sleeves would rather have a sleeveless sweater - Betty probably won't ever send the one tt she has. It's quite small anyway -. Was firing on the indoor rifle range this morning. Did better than average. It's abt 7 hours on the train, I think, to AA [Ann Arbor]. I'll either phone or wire if I know far enough in advance.

Must shine my boots now

88 Wendell.

1942-3-6-2045 No. 17

Dear Mother & Dad, would like a Vee necked sweater. Can't have any showing. Did you hear the broadcast tonight? 1930 to 2000 hrs - i.e. 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm. How is my car getting along? I think tt I'll be able to get home next weekend. But like our emblem & "motto" - and albatross "flying backwards because it doesn't care where its going, but wants to see where its been!" I can never be sure. The blond singer on the broadcase is quite alright. I've not met any girls over here. Edwin knows some but hasn't done any thing about it.

Our diet is quite heavy. Almost every noon we have (1) roast beef (fb), (2) Mashed potatoes, (3) carrots (a few), (4) cake, (5) tea. At night we have scraps etc. All very good food. But when we get down town, we buy tomato & lettuce sandwitches & a malted milk, etc. The money really goes.

We have free movies here, all old ones, but sometimes go to town. - they're 60 to 75 cents there! I think that we'll be paid before our next 48. Wrote to Katy today.

88 Wendell

1942-3-10-19-00 18

Dear Mother & Dad,

We'll be paid on Fri. afternoon. - I had to use the five to get my uniform fitted. The trip is $7.60 return. Which I'll have by Fri. I'm broke now. I hope tt I'll have time on Fri to get Katy a RCAF pin. I can't get it before. See above.

I'm going over to the Sally Ann now to see a movie (free) with Lan Turner a Soo boy. Sally Ann stands for Salvation Army (canteen). tt abt all for now, I think. 88 Wendell

Toronto, Ont.
Sun., 1430 hrs.

Dear Mother & Dad,

I'll post this in Montreal. I have no stamps here. I think that the right address will be:
R-145388, AC2 Young, WE
McGill Detachment RCAF
Montreal, Que.

We leave tonight at about 11 PM. Get there next morning. I'm all packed. The way we live it doesn't take long. I'll enclose some pictures of the depot that I found in a circular.

I got a wings pin for Katy. It's sterling silver. I could not find anything that I liked for $1.50 so had to pay more. I'll mail it to you from Montreal. I'll insure it for $5.00 which is more than it cost.

I got a pin for Annette for 65 cents but don't know if I should give it to her or not. Maybe I could send it to Ruthie - No I don't think so! I'll send it home - don't give it away. The one that you should give Katy is a large pair of wings. I'll enclose a card with the wings.

If it wern't for the fact that I'm going to McGill, I'd be very sad at not being able to get home first. But when I think how lucky I am to get McGill when a lot of the boys are going to other Univ's.

Phoning up twice was almost as good as being home. I'll send you some crested ciggarettes. I can get a pack of 10 in a letter.

I think that the reason I've been spending so much money here is that we have so little to do. We used to go out and drill for a while & get cold & fall out at the Sally Ann for coffee & pie, etc. When at the Irish Regnt [regimental?] Armory we'd do the same thing. And in the afternoon we'd march out to Sunnyside abt 4 miles & then fall out at the Donut Shop.

When we come out of the mess hall we run right into the "Milk Bar" with pretty girls & usually get a sunday or a milk shake, etc. etc. When we get to McGill we'll be so busy that we can save our money.

I havn't gotten the $5.00 that you said Dad was sending. We get no mail on Sat afternoon or all day Sunday. It will be f'wd to me.

We have a job to do & I'l so happy abt getting going so soon. Some of the lads have been here weeks! I guess I'm just lucky!

I got a pair of socks from Eva - handknitted. I'm going to answer her today.

I have to write Eva, Jack, G'pa, Katy, Annette & Joe. So maybe I should stop this one here

88 Wendell

P.S. My writing is getting worse & worse 88!W.E.Y.

PPS Please keep pictures tt are enclosed! W.E.Y.

March 20, 1942
1420 hrs.

Dear Mother & Dad,

This is the last piece of paper. My next class is at 3:0 PM. I sending you some crested (Airforce) ciggarettes in this letter.

This is the second nice day tt we've had. I like it very much!

In my top right hand dresser drawer at home is a brass cylinderical lighter.

Would you please take out the pushrod & spring only & send them to me. They will fit in a letter OK. I have the mate to that lighter here but not those parts. There is a screw bushing on the rod. If you can't find it, don't worry abt it. I've only smoked one tin of pipe tobbacco since I enlisted. But a lighter is a good flashlight to carry in one's pocket.

I have to finsh this tonight

1900 hrs.
We have just sent our uniforms to the cleaners. We (4 in a room) can't go out without them. So are sitting around in our fatuiges studying. I've only been downtown once any way.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll send you Katy's wings pin. We can get a 36 any weekend. - That is, from Noon on Sat to Midnight Sun. I might go to either Jack or Joe sometime. Well I had better get to work. We are taking nothing but Physics (Radio, & elect.). So 88,

On to Part Two

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Last revised March 12th., 2006. Comments to: E. A. Young