August 6, 1944
I hardly know how to start this letter – I wanted to write to you before but I didn’t have your address – Mrs. Cassidy sent it to me in a letter the other day. Joyce, I guess you want to know just what happened. There’s not much to tell. We took off early one morning, the eighth of May to be exact. Just as we got off the ground one of the engines caught on fire. We started losing what little altitude we had and Paul did a magnificent job getting the plane straightened out. There were some houses up ahead of us but Paul saw them and turned the plane away. Without a doubt he saved the lives of many English people.
After that we hit a tree and it tore away the tail – all control of the plane was lost and we hit the ground. Joyce, no one suffered. The shock was too great. Hunter and Benny were the only ones who lived for a few minutes after the crash. I spoke to Benny and he said he was alright but he died on the way to the base hospital. I’m telling you this Joyce, because I want you to know Paul didn’t suffer. I didn’t know who had been killed because they thought I had a brain concussion and I wasn’t told anything for three weeks. Cassidy wasn’t knocked out and he told me most of the things that happened after the crash. I became conscious a few seconds after we crashed, but as I was thrown clear I could only see Johnny, Nix, and Cassidy. I couldn’t move and when I tried to, I lost consciousness again.
I woke up five days later in a General Hospital about forty miles from the base. I won’t be able to walk for quite a while as my left leg was badly broken and burned. Eventually I’ll be alright tho. I still can’t believe Paul and the rest of the boys are gone. I keep expecting Paul to come walking in and give me the devil for not doing something.
Joyce, Paul was one of my greatest friends, you probably don’t know this, but I lost my brother two years ago and Paul was just like a brother to me. We fought a lot and had our differences, but just as brothers fight and argue. For a while there in England, I thought Paul didn’t want me on the crew, and one night we were sitting in his room and I asked him about it. He said he would rather get rid of any other member of the crew than me. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t. He told me if he hadn’t liked me a lot, I would have been off the crew long before we came overseas. I know he was right because he could have gotten rid of me several times. He fought a lot for me but I never knew or appreciated it until it was almost too late. I’ll always be grateful to him for straightening me out. I know I’m a better man because of him.
Joyce, Paul was a hero. Through all the missions we flew, he did a wonderful job, and gave the best in him. I don’t have to tell you that you were his whole life and he lived only for the day he could be with you again. I only hope if I marry I can love my wife half as much as he loved his. Joyce, perhaps it will be too painful for you to write to me, but I wish you would. If you have any questions or anything you want to know about, just ask me and I’ll do my best to answer them. Another thing, Joyce, if there’s anything I can do for you believe me I’ll consider it an honor and privilege – anything at all. I know the baby is due soon or perhaps it has already been born, so if there’s anything I can do, don’t forget to call me. I don’t know whether or not I should have written this letter, but in my clumsy way I’m trying to put your heart and mind a little at ease.
Write soon if you can Joyce, and God Bless you.
(letter written by Doyle to his pilot, Paul Kingsley's, widow)