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Parker, William J., Sanford, Manitoba, Class of ’19. B.S.A. (1921). Graduation delayed by WWI. Military Service: Attestation Papers not found. Diary References: “[W. J.] Parker, President of Union Lit. Society,” 1:3 Nov ’14.
Additional Biographical Information:
Parker, always active in student affairs at M.A.C., was a 1st Year Agricultural Student at M.A.C. in the winter of 1914-1915
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XI, No. 1 (Nov 1917), 9.
W. J. Parker (Y.M.C.A., Toronto, Christmas)
University of Manitoba,
Well, how are you, old boy? Quite well, I hope. Of course no doubt you will make a hog of yourself and feel rotten to-morrow. But then that is to be expected.
Suppose that you were very successful in your exam.; hope that you all were. No doubt Short and Ern [Ernest A. Baragar] are now busy on the debate. Well, I wish you the best of luck – intercollegiate and interclass.
Well, H. C.[H. C. Andrews?], you fellows were awfully good to me those last couple of weeks and I was pleased to see you boys at the station that night. Wish Ern and Ray [Ray E. Wells?] had been there too.
I arrived in Toronto 6.30 Sunday p.m. Reported Monday morning, was sent up to be measured for my uniform and then issued with my present completment [sic] of junk. First we wear the infantry uniform with all the brass buttons, etc. The only distinction being a white band around the cap. Our next uniform is the one we were measured for. It is very natty and smart. Last we get our officer’s duds (?) I wonder.
Well, on Tuesday morning 26 of us were sent to Camp Borden, where we take drill, do plenty of fatigue and generally get whipped into shape. It is just a discipline camp – will last about five weeks – discipline is comparatively lax though. There are six flights out there; we are No. 6. When a new bunch comes in we go to No. 5 and so until we come back to Toronto to the U. Here we stay about six weeks, then are ready to learn to fly.
At Camp Borden, routine – Reveille 6 a.m., wash and shave, make bunk; breakfast at 7.15. Parade and drill from 8 until 12.30, with one hour lecture on wireless, 10 to 11. Dinner 12.30, parade 1.45 and drill until 5.30. We have a splendid drill room, one of the large hangars, resembles the Aud. Rink with a concrete floor. It is splendid, but has one disadvantage, it is 1½ miles from the barracks; 1½ X 4 = 6 miles per day. Of course that is our only outside exercise. There are about seventy-five men in each flight and each flight takes its turn doing fatigue.
The board is plentiful, clean and of good quality. Considerably better than any other branch of the service I believe. We even get milk, sugar and butter. For Xmas they got turkey, goose, etc.
This fatigue work did not appeal to me very much. While washing dishes Wednesday night I had an inspiration; result, application for leave – got five days’ leave after being only four days in camp. Three of us are spending our Xmas holidays at the Y., shows, etc., and go back to camp on Thursday.
I have fallen in with a fine bunch of boys. Only hope that we can stick together. A couple from our flight are stopping at the King Edward hotel – classy place – four bucks per day with meals and tips extra. I visit them regularly and have a good time. We take possession of the ladies’ tea room and as one of them is a splendid musician we utilized a first class piano to advantage. Will get kicked out yet.
We have just taken two lectures on wireless and same on machine gun so far. I can now receive about three words per minute wireless. It just takes some study I think. The machine gun is hard but all mechanical, and although over fifty percent of the cadets fail on it I think that I can pass. It appears that only a small percentage of those who enlist in this corps make fliers. Gee, I hope that I can make good. I am going to like it fine I think. Hardly think that I’ll get to Texas because it will be March before I am ready to do bird stunts, and then in all probability will be sent to Armour Heights.
Toronto is a fine city. Seems to the homes of cadets and the public are very good to us, awfully obliging. I was rather lost for a while, but can now navigate reasonably well. The weather is very mild here – I never wear gloves. Snow was deep when we came, but in the city it has mostly disappeared. Suppose that it is cold in Winnipeg. Was sure cold when I left.
Well, remember me to your mother and all the folks, the boys and girls. I hope you have a merry Xmas and wish you all a happy New Year. As ever, “Bill” Parker.
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XI, No. 4 (Jan. 1918), 36-38.