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F. L. Wanklyn letter

F. L. Wanklyn, a colleague of Professor James Mavor, responded to a Mavor’s request for copies of correspondence he had received from his son serving with the Royal Flying Corps at the western front.

10 February 1915

Your note of the 6 instant reached me by the early post this morning , and the copies of letters you have collected from officers and others at the front turned up by the afternoon mail

Regardless of your request to have copies of letters that I received from my eldest son, who is Flight Commander in the Royal Flying Corps. So far, I would not consider them of sufficient interest from a military point of view to appeal to others than his direct friends and relatives. He is an old solider, and is very guarded in what he says about the events that occur at the front, in fact they do not convey anything of military interest. In one letter he describes his flight from Farnborough to the Headquarters of the Flying Corps abroad at a point that he does not disclose. He evidently made good time in a new machine of high power that he took over by himself, and mentions having on one stretch done 96 miles in fifty-two minutes from ground to ground at an average height of 6000 feet. He also mentions having passed over Calais at 8000 feet, at which altitude he could plainly see at one time the estuary of the River Somme; the inundated areas in Flanders and the British Coast line, which he says made him appreciate how close to home the scene of the war really was. He says he is comfortably billeted in a villa with four other officers, the proprietor of which beat a hasty retreat, leaving them in possession of all his furniture and worldly goods.

He is at the Headquarters of the Royal Flying Corps, about twelve miles from the trenches that he visits occasionally. From his Headquarters he can hear the incessant boom of the guns, and is constantly reminded that he is close to the firing line.

He tells me that the German aeroplanes are beautifully made, but not as fast or as easily maneuvered as the English ones. He speaks very highly of the machines lately received, equipped with wireless telegraphic apparatus, which enables the observer to keep in close touch with the battery commanders, and says that the accuracy of the work they are now able to do is almost beyond belief.

Generally, he considers that all is well with us, and that the critical period has passed, but that everybody at the front appreciates that they have a long hard task ahead of them before they drive the Germans out of France and Belgium. Out troops are contented and well fed. The Army Service Corps has been simply wonderful, and the commissariat so good that he says many of the boys will be sorry when the war is over.

Trusting that these few details may be of interest to you, and with kind regards, believe me, F. L. Wanklyn

PS I return you under separate cover the letters you kindly sent me to read over, many of which are very interest. If at any time I should be fortunate enough to receive a letter of special interest from my boy I would be pleased to send you a copy.
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