19th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Many thanks for your two very welcome letters which I received this morning, well I say two letters, but one was really the short note with the £1 from Uncle H. I will have to write and thank him. The letters were dated 6.1.47 and 7.1.47, so there is three weeks mail missing somewhere. I presume it is that which is addressed to the “Euryalus” so it will be probably held in U.K. until the “Euryalus” arrives and redirects it.

I am sorry to  hear that you have been having trouble with your back again, I hope it didn’t spoil your Xmas. You seem to be a sorry lot between you, you with your back, Dad with his teeth and Jean with her eyes.

I hope Jean does O.K. in her exams this time, what on earth did she have to go to Manchester for? Couldn’t she have sat for them in Birmingham and had them posted on.

That certainly a fine way to start the new year I must say, joining the Army! I bet he will find it a bit strange for the first few weeks. What branch of the Army is he in?

Leonard K. and some of the others are certainly lucky to be stationed so near home, but there is always another way to look at it. They have their overseas service to come yet, while mine is nearly over.

You asked me whether I like the “Glory” better than the “Trafalgar”. Well I will say the routine is much easier, the principle is “one man – one job”, on board here, whereas on the “Traf” everyone had a “green hub”, especially at times when we arrived in harbour from sea as probably you would have just come off watch and then you’d have to turn to and oil the ship, on here they have a special party on board for just that job.

On the other hand it is a well known fact that you get much happier ships companies on board “small ships”, there is much better companionship and not so many arguments. The food was also much better on board the “Traf” as we used to prepare it ourselves and decide upon our own menu. On here you have what the galley decide and like it. Still it is not too bad usually.

I am glad you are getting a few “Ink Spots” records, I can’t say that I have heard of “To Each His Own”, I probably have heard it but don’t recognise the title. In the Fleet Club Canteen ashore they have a “Juke Box” with about twenty records including one of theirs – “I cover the Waterfront” which is another one that I like. There was also a very funny record by “Snozzle” Durande who sings in his throaty voice “Who will you be with while I’m away”.

I hope Jean soon gets her photo taken so I can show the lads. You have probably read in one of my later letters that I have been going round with a lad named Syd F. just lately, but as he went on draft to England yesterday I haven’t got a “shore-going pal” at the moment. There is a lad that I have been spending quite a lot of time with, I went ashore with him last night so he will probably be my new mate, he is Ken R. from Brum, you can see his photo on quite a few of the photos that I have sent you!

The lads on my mess are all younger than me except one, barring of course, the peace-time navy ratings on Active Service who are in for twelve years! I am one of two in group 66 and we are the lowest group on the mess now. As I told you group 64 have left the ship and there are only 3 in group 65 so really I am getting quite an old sea dog now.

No I haven’t seen “Forever Amber” or read the book yet, I should like to see the film as I have heard quite a lot of criticism about it. That is the film that James Mason refused to play in as it was “below his moral standards”. Should be good I should imagine.

Glad to hear that they have at last decided upon a 40 hour week at last, I shall certainly be O.K. for my football now shan’t I. The “Aussies” went on strike for the same thing while I was down there if you remember. I think I told you about it at the time.

Have you seen any pictures lately? Last night I saw a very good film which I really enjoyed. It was “Bedelia” with Margaret Lockwood, Jan Hunter and Barry K. Barnes as the principal stars. The story was written by the same authors that wrote “Laura” which I think you liked didn’t you? I you haven’t seen it, I can definitely recommend it to you.

Tomorrow I shall probably see the film that they have been showing aboard for so long – “the thrilling story of the gallant men of Arnhem”, etc., etc. “Theirs is the Glory”. I am also going up the Peak again, providing the weather is O.K., to take a few snaps.

Well, Mom, once again I think that is the lot for the time being so until next time
All my love
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x x

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12th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines to let you know that I am still O.K. and keeping pretty fit. We are still at H.K. although we have been out twice for three days since we arrived. The last time we went out was the end of last week and we got back in on Friday night. On this trip we had a crash, the pilot signalled through to the ship that he would have to make an emergency landing on board. Well they cleared the deck as a safety measure and waited for him to come in, but he never made it. He was just circling the ship prior to landing on when to everyone’s surprise his engine suddenly cut out and he nose dived into the sea. The plane disappeared in less than twenty seconds. The crash boat that was with us HMS “Finisterre” tore across and luckily picked up the pilot who was suffering from severe concussion and rushed him into Hong Kong to hospital.

The “Venerable” who was also out with us had a bit of excitement. They had a P.O. in Sick Bay who had “gone around the bend” to put it in naval language, or in other words was slightly off his rocker. Well as I say he was in Sick Bay under observation, and when his recreation time came along they took him on the flight deck for a breather. The orderlies let him wander around on his own for a spell and while they weren’t looking he walked up to the end of the flight deck and shouting “I’m going for a swim”, he dived into the wake of the ship. Well the flight deck is about thirty or forty feet above sea level so it was some dive. They lowered a boat and caught up with him and tried to pull him into the whaler but he struck out at them and there was quite a struggle before they overpowered him.

I am enclosing some more photos taken by my new camera, which I think are quite good. Incidentally there is one showing me sitting in the cockpit of a “Corsair”, the same one that crashed into the sea on Thursday. There is also one of a group of “Brummies”, three of them of my mess.

I have had a couple of games of football recently, last Saturday we had a Stoker’s trial match versus the Seamen which was rather one sided as the Seamen had their usual team out whereas the Stokers treated it as a trial and consequently were hopelessly disjointed. The Seamen won by 5 goals to 1. Then on Sunday I was picked for the Stoker’s 1st XI and we played against the Marines in the 3rd round of the cup. It was a very good game and I really enjoyed myself. It was fairly ding dong until about twenty minutes from time when the Stokers scored three times giving us a 4 to 1 victory.

Talking of football I see the “Blues” managed to get through the third round of the cup by the odd goal in three on Fulham pitch. Villa came up against a hot side.

I shall be sending a couple of large photos of the ship some time this week, they will probably take about a month to get there.

Well I think that is about all the news for time being once again so until next time,
All my love,
Hope to be with you soon
Graham
x x x x x x

21st December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am again with a few more lines to let you know that I am keeping fit and still in the best of health. Last night I went ashore and as the “Euryalus” was in I went aboard her and found that there were twenty letters on board for me bu unfortunately there was nothing particularly new and as yet no Xmas cards. Actually, three parts of it was addressed to the “Trafalgar”, so you can tell how old it was. I had three from you dated 23/9 – 5/10 – and 16/10, I believe I have had one or two up at Sultan since then before I left.

Well to answer your letters-
I hope that you have lost your backache by now as it would certainly spoil Xmas wouldn’t it. I also hope Dad has got over having his teeth out and didn’t have as much trouble about it as last time.

You certainly seem to have started an early winter this year. We are having our first spot of “things to come” here as we are wearing full blues which is our U.K. suit and I might say that while I was ashore last night I regretted that I hadn’t got my overcoat with me, but unfortunately I had sent it to the cleaners the day before. I don’t know what I shall do in England though as I suppose this is actually mild to U.K. Still it certainly gets rid of sweat rashes and ringworms.

I am glad you liked “The Corn is Green”. I thought it was one of the best films I have seen since I came out here, certainly one of the best for the acting. Yes, I have seen Eric Portman in “Wanted for Murder”. I don’t miss any of his if I can help it.

It’s a funny thing you mentioned that tune “Put another chair up to the table” as only about a week ago I was talking with a mate of mine who is also group 66 and we were discussing what we had been told about going off the ship at Trincomalee and he said it would be a good idea to send a request tune to the B.B.C. as soon as we heard definitely that we would be coming home. Well as I had a song book we looked through to choose a tune and that was the one that we chose. We were going to send it about a month before we sailed for home.

Jean is quite a forces favourite on board here already, every time anybody brings out any photographs and I show anybody mine, there is usually a prolonged whistle and I am always pestered with “How old is she?” – “Is she courting?” – “What’s her address?” – “Any chance of writing to her?” – “What’s her name?” – or, “Any spare photos?” and then there is usually an argument with the Birmingham lads consoling themselves and letting everyone on the mess know – “I only live a mile away” or “I shall have to call around when I am up the line.”

There are three other Birmingham lads or near Birmingham lads on my mess out of fifteen so we have quite a majority in any arguments. One from Smethwick, one from Tyseley and one from Nuneaton.

I am glad you found that book on wireless for Uncle Fred, did you have much trouble finding it?

Fancy Leonard K. going in the army, it can’t possibly do him any harm. I had a letter from Jess O. and she told me quite a bit of news about local lads in the forces. Norman R. has been home on leave from Palestine and has had to go back there. He is group 58 in the army which has quite a long time to do yet. Denis S. is in Italy and is having quite a good time by what she says. Peter R. is in the Army but the best of all which is sure to make you chuckle – Jimmy T. is also in the Army and had to report to Warwick. The best part is, he is in a division of men of the same size as himself and straight away they were nicknamed the “Bantams”. He is now at Chester. The latest call up is young Denis R. who has signed on for 5 years service.

You asked me if the food that I’m getting is any better now. Well at the moment we are still on dehydrated spuds but I should think they will get some real spuds on tomorrow or Monday. The bread ration is quite sufficient as it is baked on board. I will say that for the big ships in preference to small ships. Other advantages are we have our own laundry on board, bigger canteen, our own clothing store, and more room, we can even play hockey and occasionally football at sea.

We have “Spike Jones and his city slickers” on quite a lot out here. “Glory” – “Clink, Clunk, the glasses Chink” the one you mention “You always hurt the one you love” “Black Magic” and one or two more. I haven’t heard the “Ink Spots” lately, have they any more new records.

By the way I almost forgot to tell you that I received the “Arguses” and “Mails” also the football books and “Blues News”. You can guess what a fight there was for the papers when I had finished with them.

I also had a letter from Teresa and one from Uncle Fred. He sent me a £1 for Xmas which will come in handy. I am trying to save a bit of money now so that when I get home I shan’t be broke. I expect I shall have to pay a bit of Customs Tax so I had better get a bit in hand.

Last night I went to the pictures ashore and saw Done Amecke in “Heaven can wait” which I thought was quite amusing. Have you seen it? I am going ashore tomorrow and shall probably see “Sudan” with Sabu. I had my photograph taken yesterday and am collecting it tomorrow so will forward one if they turn out any good.

I am enclosing a small photo of the ship, I am getting some large ones but I shall have them coloured so they will be a couple of days.

Well mum I think that is about all the news once again so until next time
All my love
Graham
P.S. Hope you all have a good Xmas.
x x x x x x x x x x x

P.P.S. For the second Xmas in succession I am duty watch.

18th December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you will be very surprised to hear that I am not going on board the “Euryalus” after all. We had a wireless message come on board saying that the “Euryalus” draft was cancelled and the draft was transferred to “Glory” as ships company. As we had already left Singapore it was too late to let you know before.

We left Singapore about twelve days ago and since then we have certainly had plenty of excitement. The first day out from Singapore we cruised up and down all day doing flying manoeuvres. I think I told you the “Glory” was an aircraft carrier didn’t I in a previous letter. It was really quite exciting. All the same I wouldn’t go up for a flight off a carrier for a pension. The taking off isn’t really all that bad but landing looks a bit too risky for me. I suppose familiarity breeds contempt but I think I would rather stay as an interested spectator.

Actually the system of landing is really quite simple. On the after end of the flight deck to say roughly a third of the way up the flight deck, eight steel hawsers are evenly spaced apart stretching across the width of the flight deck, each one independently loaded on a powerful spring. The plane has a adjustable hook fastened to the tail which should catch on to the “trip wires” as they are called. If the plane misses the trip wires then it will run into the first of two steel cable barriers which are erected approximately half way up the flight deck. The barriers are the last means of stopping the plane if she misses but it is a sure way to stop it  but usually makes quite a mess of the plane. I am enclosing a small sketch which will probably make it a little clearer to you.

Still it was a perfect day for flying and there were no accidents.

On the second day we proceeded for Hong Kong but after three days steaming we developed a bad leak in one of the engine room compartments and so we turned back to Singapore to undergo repairs. They turned all of us to on the job and we were working until ten thirty at night before we completed the job.

Next morning we again set sail for H.K. and reached here yesterday but didn’t go into the harbour but lay outside in Junk Bay. This morning we were joined by H.M.S. “Venerable” another aircraft carrier of the same class and all day the two ships have been doing flying manoeuvres. This afternoon came our first real spot of excitement. The sea was fairly choppy and consequently made landing more difficult as the ship was rolling pretty badly. The first plane to land came in too low and had to rise up at the last minute to avoid running into the stern of the ship. Unfortunately he didn’t rise quite enough and his wheels just caught the edge of the deck and he catapulted right over the eight trip wires. He touched down just past the last wire and crashed into the barrier at full speed turning onto its nose and ending up on its back. Everyone rushed forward to see if the pilot was O.K. and I for one was surprised to see him get out unaided and calmly walk away. His plane was very badly damaged and they dragged it away into the hangar. Luckily there were no more crashes on board us although there were two on board the “Venerable” one of them crashing into the stern of the ship and falling into the sea. Both pilots also were unhurt very luckily.

Tonight we have again anchored out in Junk Bay as they are doing more flying tomorrow. The ship is going in on Friday morning to H.K.

Tonight another accident occurred of a different sort. While they were lowering one of the boats, a cable broke and one end of the boat fell into the sea. The Marine coxswain of the boat got his legs trapped between the remaining pulley chains and the side of the boat and left him swinging in mid air. They had to hack part of the boat away to free him and get him onboard. He was pretty badly hurt and has suffered compound fractures of both his legs. They have took him ashore to Queen Mary’s Hospital.

To get back to a more cheerful note – I have been told by authoritive circles that all up to group 66 are going off the “Glory” in Trincomalee in early March to return to U.K. for service in the Home and Mediterranean fleets. If the report is true you can expect to see me early April. Still even if it is untrue or is altered the ship is returning to U.K. itself in July so that won’t be so long will it. Another good omen which shows I can’t possibly be out here much longer. There are approximately a hundred conscript stokers on here, and there are six to eight with lower group numbers than myself and some of those are going off when we arrive in Hong Kong on Friday.

I am afraid that it will be some time before I get any mail, it has been almost two months since my last lot except for those I managed to collect at “Sultan” before they were forwarded on to “Euryalus”. They won’t have the slightest idea on board the “Euryalus” who I am or where I am so it will be some time before they give me up for a bad job and return my mail to the mail office in Hong Kong. Then it will take them a little longer to find out where I am so by the time I get any it will probably be well past Xmas. Still as long as I eventually get it that is the main thing.

I hear that England have already had considerable falls of snow so it look as though it will be a hard winter doesn’t it. Are you going anywhere this year? Talking of Xmas I hope you got my Xmas cards safely, also the birthday cards.

I see England are having to fight hard again in the test match. I see Edrich is doing very well for himself, top score first innings, most wickets and now eighty six not out. I am glad really as in previous tests he has never quite made the grade. What did you think of Bradman and Barnes innings. They’re both certainly wonderful batsmen, aren’t they. In my opinion Barnes threw his wicket away when Bradman was out especially after playing an innings with hardly a chance out being out suddenly to scoop a high catch to Hain at the same score as Bradman. Seems too much of a coincidence to me.

I see Wolverhampton (my tip for the league) are still pegging away at the top of the league. They must certainly be playing well to put five past the previous leaders, Liverpool on Liverpool’s ground.

Well once again I am afraid that is all the news so I think I will sign off until next time
All my love and have a good time at Xmas
Graham
x x x x x x x x x x x

4th December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still O.K. and keeping fairly fit. I am still on board the “Glory” but we are leaving for Hong Kong on Sunday so shall probably pick up the “Euryalus” about the 13th or 14th. I should think there will be quite a stack of mail waiting for me when I get on board there as all my mail from “Sultan” will have been forwarded on to there by now. I have one letter from you dated Nov 18 which I collected from “Sultan” a couple of days ago when I went ashore. Apart from that all my mail will be on its way now or already there.

I have found out that the “Euryalus” is in Taikoo dry dock in Hong Kong doing a refit and will remain there until late December so it looks as though I shall have quite a busy Xmas. It’s quite a coincidence about the “Trafalgar” and “Euryalus”, when I joined the “Trafalgar” she was doing a refit. I joined the “Traf” just before Xmas and I am doing the same again this year. The “Traf” set sail from Sydney in mid-January for H.K. and as far as the rumours about the “Euryalus” go she is leaving H.K. in mid-January for U.K. but I am not doing any wishful thinking this time until I get on board her and find out for myself. If the rumour is correct about her going home and I am lucky enough to stay on her I should get home late February or early March. Still that is looking too far ahead already.

I see by your letter that you have been having quite a rainy autumn. Singapore is also in its rainy season at the moment and rarely a day goes by without at least one downpour. It doesn’t give us much of a chance to get our “smalls” dry. That was quite a downpour they had during the test yesterday at Brisbane wasn’t it – 6 inches of rain in 20 minutes.

Talking of Australia, fancy you getting that parcel from Australia I had quite forgotten sending it. As a matter of fact I believe I sent about four altogether but we had a signal saying that owing to unforeseen delays in postal services parcels posted between certain dates were unable to be forwarded. Well at the time I couldn’t remember how many I had sent before the date so I only claimed a refund on two so if I remember correctly there is probably another one floating around somewhere which I believe I sent to “booful”. I think I payed 7/- in Australian money which is about 5s/6d.

Sorry to hear you have broke your little deano, mine are still going strong, I reckon they must be unbreakable. Do you remember I broke them playing cricket when I was home on leave last, well I have never hard them repaired and they still keep in position with only one clip. When I get back to the U.K. I think I will treat myself


The rest of the letter is missing.

19th November 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for a good while but my name went up on the drafting board about four or five days ago so I thought I might as well delay writing until I knew where I was going. Well I did my drafting routine yesterday and found that I have got the “Euraylius” which is an anti-aircraft cruiser. It will certainly be a lot different to the “Trafalgar” in regard to routine and discipline. As to what she will doing and when she will be going home I am afraid I shall have to wait until I get on her before I can let you know anything definite. There are so many rumours floating around that I don’t know which to believe. There is one rumour that says – “Aussie for Xmas”; another that she is going on a world cruise, and another even more optimistic that she is leaving for England in mid January. Still from what I know of her during the last twelve months she certainly does plenty of travelling around which is the main thing.

I heard about Jack G. the other day from M.G. Bad luck isn’t it going through part of the war and then getting mined like that especially when he was on the way home.

Brian J. has been in about twelve months longer than me I think, but that is hardly much of a guide as  he is in a different branch to me.

I haven’t seen “Bedelia” yet and I don’t expect I shall see it here as most of the pics here are at least 18 months old. “How Green Was My Valley” is arriving next week so you can see what it is like. Tonight in the camp cinema Gene Tierney is on in “Dragonwyck” so I expect I shall slip down and see it and there is not much else to do now at night.

I am getting on splendidly now with my swimming and can swim quite a decent way. I can just about do a hundred yards now. This afternoon I went swimming off the jetty where the water is about thirty foot deep. I dived off the jetty after funking it a few times and swam out to a small buoy about thirty yards or so from the jetty and then back. The jetty is about 12ft above the water level but after the first attempt I soon did it without funking it.

Well I am afraid I shall have to close once again as I want to get down to the pictures in good time. I think I shall be going on draft on Thursday taking passage on the aircraft carrier “Glory” to Hong Kong to pick up the “Euraylius” so I may not write until I get to Hong Kong so until next time,

All my love,
Graham
xxxxxx
P.S. Hope you got the cards O.K.
P.P.S. Thank you for the £1 it will come in very handy was we are allowed to wear “civvies” out here now so I am saving up just in case I get a chance to get a suit anywhere.