The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow, Part 13: To the Royal Flying Corps (and Landlady Trouble!)

I’m posting the First World War memoirs of my grandfather-in-law, Sampson J. Goodfellow, a few pages at a time…

(Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9. Part 10. Part 11. Part 12.)

There was another driver who was going to the R.F.C., named Blanchford, from Providence, Road Island.

When we brought the matter to the attention of our Officer, we were sent on our way in a Cattle Car to General Haig’s Headquarters at Hesdin. An Officer interviewed us, and then we left for Bologne.

After reaching Dover, we boarded the train for Farnsborough which was the recruiting center for the Royal Flying Corp.

We stayed at this place for a few days and then we departed for Hastings, which was where the Flying Corp decided whether you would be a Pilot or Observer, or returned to your original unit as not suitable to be a flyer.

I went to London with my flight and was turned down as a Fighter Pilot. My category was to be an Artillery Observer.

I was very disappointed on the selection. I had an appointment with our O.C. and asked to be allowed to go to the R.F.C. Medical Centre for another examination.

I went to London with the next flight; was re-examined and turned down again as a Pilot.

I asked the doctor why. He informed me my nerves were not very good.

“You are from France,” he said.

I said, “Yes.”

He asked what happened and I told him about the German Bomb raid at the Ammunition Dump.

He said, “I passed you as an Observer as I figured that when you are through your course, you will be in good health. I know you would make a good fighter pilot but your dizziness might affect you in training.”

I decided I would be the best Artillery Observer in the R.F.C.

Hastings was a summer holiday point for the natives. We were housed in one of the houses there.

What a mistake! Instead of us sleeping in beds, the Landlady bought cots, and had us Cadets sleeping in the attic. The bathroom, toilet, etc. was in the basement.

You should know the British always saw to it that their Forces received sufficient rations, but we didn’t get our correct food.

The Landlady was filling up her house with summer boarders and using our food to feed them.

We never mixed with her boarders and we ate in a different room. She would take our bread, and cut it into dices, the same size as a lump of sugar. We were only allowed a few dices. The rest of the food would not feed a pigeon.

As Colonials from France, we knew there was something wrong. The native boys would not complain.

We went to our Sergeant-Major and our Flight Officer, and told him what was happening. They said they would investigate.

I must tell you that when you are eating in a Barrack, the Officer of the Day would come in and ask if there was any complaints.

The Officers made an excuse to visit the boarding house at dinner time and asked if we had any complaints. We Colonials made the complaint in front of the Landlady. The Officer opened the door of the visitors’ dining room and saw what they were eating, he then visited our sleeping quarters, etc.

He told the landlady in a few words that the matter would be investigated and then he left.

She knew she was in for it and gave us the devil.

The next day we were moved to a Barrack.

The Landlady was informed that she was in trouble with the Military for stealing food, and would not be allowed to have any more Cadets.

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