In England, Verne writes in his diary . . . .
Another short practice mission today from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. Up on the battle order for tomorrow. Sure was pissed off when they called a mission so darn late in the afternoon.
Since the assignment of Maj. Gross1, the crew seems to be flying a number of practice missions. None of these, of course, are counted among the total missions they require in order to go home.
Sometime during the day on February 19, Verne wrote to his grandparents who lived in Denver, Colorado. His grandfather, Daniel Thomas Gray, would soon be 80 years old and his grandmother, Etta Elizabeth Roberts, 76.
Dear Grandma & Granddad,
So far today we haven’t had much to do so I’ll try and write you a few lines while taking life easy.
How about sending me a history of where the Grays originated. Maybe I can find some of our very distant line while over here.2
This is a very dead part of the world as far as amusement is concerned. The dances and pubs always close by eleven p.m. all over England. Yes, even in London. Drinks cost about a dollar apiece so you can see I don’t drink very often. Shows in London cost as high as two dollars if a guy sits in the better seats.
The reason things are so darn slow and monotonous is because we are now on our fourth pilot. Every time we get one broken in we have to lose him. Almost all the fellows we came over with have twice as many missions in and have their Staff Sgt. ratings. We were just unlucky enough to get into a Sqdn the wont give Staff ratings until after the fifteenth or twentieth mission. Oh well, it doesn’t do any good to gripe about it since we’re already stuck here.
As yet I’ve had no word from Bobby3 or Nordie4 since coming over here. Mail is awful slow and that may account for it.
Myself and the crew all look ahead to at least a full year more over here. It isn’t a very pleasant prospect but I guess it could be much worse.
How is Granny Bartel? Be sure and tell her I send my love. Wish there was someway of telling her in person.
I received the Air Medal a couple of weeks ago and have sent it home to Aileen.
If my next pass comes after payday I hope to have some pictures taken and will send you one of them.
What is the news of Dad? I’m undecided whether to continue writing him in Washington or in Fort Collins.
Do you see Ray & Jean very often? Tell them hello for me.
Tom & Lula write me pretty often so I’m not entirely out of touch with you folks.
How is Pal, as playful as ever I suppose.
Say I’ve gone on here and have run out of things to say so will have to say adios for now.
Take care or yourselves folks and pray the war ends soon.
Love to all,
Notes & Commentary
1 Maj. James O. Gross.
2 Daniel Thomas Gray’s mother, Martha Richardson, was born 11 July 1836 at Wistow, Huntingdonshire, England. When she was 17, she accompanied her parents, Thomas Richardson and Rachael Richardson, to the United States. They sailed from Liverpool on 04 April 1853 aboard the sailing vessel Western World.
Thomas Richardson was born at Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, England on 17 June 1810. In 1831, he married Rachel Richardson, a second cousin who had been born at Chatteris on 12 Jun 1815. Prior to emigrating to the United States, Thomas and Rachel lived at Wistow Fen near Warboys, Huntingdonshire. Verne never made contact with the distant line as he called them. His family is still seeking contact with their English cousins.
3 Robert Searls Gray, stationed in Italy.
4 Harry Nordman Gray, with the infantry in Belgium / France
It’s a shame he never got to see any cousins.
Love the letter. It reveals a lot about Verne. Wow, a $1 for a drink in London? Expensive back then. Nice post.
Interesting reading. I live about 30 minutes from Chatteris! A small world!
We are still looking for our cousins.
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I hope you find them.
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