This letter is excerpted from Hasting’s book Bomber Command (103-104).
It is written by 23 year-old John Bufton. He was a pilot, flying Hampdens with 83 Squadron. He addresses it to his girlfriend, Jenny and it seems the perfect introduction to our next topic: bravery.
“Poor Jenny, I’m so sorry you were upset by my last letter. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so blunt in what I wrote, but I only wanted to put things to you as fairly as I could. You’ve got such wonderful faith, dear, in my chances and I mustn’t upset you be being pessimistic.
Anyway, I’m not pessimistic- I’ve rarely felt happier and more set on a job in my life, and my chances are as good as anyone else’s. But I’m not ass enough to assume I’m going to be okay and everyone else will be unlucky, as it’s a sheer gamble in the game, but damn good fun while it lasts… If anything happens to me, I’ll want you to go and have a perm, do up the face, put the hat on and carry on- it’ll take a lot of guts but I know you’ll tackle it in the right way. And remember that I’d be wanting you to get happily married as soon as you could. And don’t worry for me these nights more than you can help. It may buck you up to know that I’m feeling bung full of confidence in my own ability, but if I’m to be unlucky, well, I’m prepared for anything. Over the last three months I’ve got used to the idea of sudden accidents- they’ve happened so often to friends and acquaintances that the idea doesn’t startle one now. Realizing fully what one is up against helps one along a lot.
I’m not really windy about anything now. Anyway, there’s too much to do to get windy. I’m longing to see you again, Jenny, and we must make it soon! Keep writing, and when you come up, wear your hat please, and the smile that cheers me up!”
John and Jenny were never married; he was killed just a month later.