24th April 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few more lines to let you know I am still O.K. and in the best of health. At the moment of writing we are at sea on five days exercise with the East Indies Fleet but we return to Trincomalee tonight about six. There are seven ships out altogether, the cruisers “Jamaica” and “Glasgow”, carriers “Glory” and “Theseus”, destroyers “Contest” and “Constance” and the oiler “Green Ranger”. We have had quite a lot of flying, making attacks on the cruisers and “Theseus” and on the airfield ashore which has been defended by the R.A.F. We haven’t had any crashes yet this trip but yesterday one of the flight deck hands got killed by the wing of a plane which caught him as the plane was landing. He was killed instantaneously so at least he didn’t suffer. Last night they had his funeral service and he was given a sailor’s burial. He was only eighteen and only joined the ship a couple of months ago. It shook the pilot up pretty badly but of course he couldn’t be blamed as of by rights the lad shouldn’t have been on the flight deck when planes are landing on.

I received two papers and your letter dated 11.4.47 on Monday, we had our own mail brought out to us, which was quite a surprise as we had all resigned ourselves to the thought that tomorrow would be the first chance we would have of getting any.

Glad to hear you have been having a decent drop of weather at last. I see the Navy has started wearing summer dress in U.K. which is an omen. I hope it is at least a little milder when I get home.

I haven’t seen “Frenchman’s Creek”, as a matter of fact I have only seen one film worth mention in the last week or so. That was “Night and Day” with Gary Grant as Cole Porter and Alexis Smith as his wife. It is the story of the life of Cole Porter and I really enjoyed it. Have you seen it? On board tonight is “A Matter of Life and Death” which I shall probably see tomorrow.

I haven’t played cricket since I last wrote as the weather hasn’t been too good lately. Last Friday I played hockey for the ship against “Jamaica” and we beat them 3-1. They have started an inter fleet knock out competition at hockey and football. The “Glory” won their first round of the hockey against R.N. ashore, that is the Dockyard, by 5 goals to 4. I didn’t play in that as I was duty watch and couldn’t get a sub.

Sorry to hear about Jean missing the biology practical exam again. Still as you say she is still young so perhaps next time she’ll manage it O.K.

What did you think of Bruce Woodcock the other night, I bet he was in agony the last six rounds. Still he’s proved that he can ‘take it!’ I expect he will be out of the ring for a few months now won’t he? Still apart from that I think Baski was too good for him. I bet the Baski-Louis fight will be a thriller.

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

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7th April 1947

Dear Mom Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 29.3.47 that I received on Saturday. I was beginning to wonder when we were going to get any mail again as the ship hasn’t had any for a week. I suppose it is the bad weather that has been delaying it as usual. Talking of mail we have got to start paying for our mail again starting from May 1st which will be a bit of a nuisance especially getting near pay day. Still I shan’t have to put up with it much longer at any rate, I hope.

I still haven’t heard anything really definite about when the ship is going home but the dates we have got up to now are
May 10th leave Trincomalee
” 16th arrive Singapore
June 7th complete refit
” 20th leave Singapore
” 26th arrive Hong Kong
after that we are still doubtful but I think it is safe to say that another two or three weeks on top of that and the ship should be on its way home. While we are here in Trincomalee two or three days every week will be used up in flying exercises so it will all help to pass the time more quickly.

I have started another sport now, sailing. We have had a cutter out a couple of times during the last week finishing up with a dip in the sea. It is surprising really how fast you can travel when there is a good breeze blowing. I am also getting along fine with my swimming. The other day I learnt how to float on my back and am getting quite used to the idea now. I have only had one hockey match since I last wrote, versus H.M.S. “Glasgow”, who we managed to beat 3-1. I have had another couple of games of cricket for the ships team, one against H.M.S. “Highflyer”, the shore base who previously hadn’t lost a match this year. Luckily we had our full side out and rattled up 140 for 9 decl. against them. I scored 24 run out, we then dismissed them fairly easily for 51. The other match vs 16th Carrier Air Group (maintenance parties attached to the carriers out here), we ran up 91 of which I got 11 again run out, and dismissed them for 36. Today I am playing football versus the Supply in the “Glory” football league. Stokers “A” at the moment stand in the fourth place with a match in hand so if we win today it should bring us up into second place.

Glad to hear Mickey is getting over his “raw” deal over the winter. I expect he is a little happier now that the snow has gone isn’t he?

I have been seeing plenty of pictures as usual recently though none really outstanding. Last Monday we had Olivia de Havilland in “Dark Mirror”, Thursday we had Mickey Rooney in “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy” and yesterday when I was ashore with Ken R. I saw James Cagney in “13, Rue Madeleine” which was a story of American Secret Service during the war. Being American it was naturally a bit far fetched. Tonight on board we have a good film, “The Killers” I can’t remember who is in it at the moment but according to the lads who have seen it, it is very thrilling and exciting. So i don’t suppose I shall be able to recommend it to you!

Well Mom I think that is about all I shall be able to manage at the moment as our boat for football teams leaves in half an hour & I want to get a swill before I leave,
So for the time being,
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x x

27th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a  few more lines, as you can see by my address I am back at Trincomalee again. We arrived here on Tuesday afternoon after five days at sea, the latest official rumour is that we are staying here until the end of April and then down to Singapore for four weeks on a minor refit. I still don’t know what the ship is doing after that.

Yesterday I received your very welcome letter dated 17.3.47. You certainly are having a weird and wonderful winter aren’t you. First snow, then gales, and now floods, it certainly is a good job that I didn’t really come home last November isn’t it? Still I hadn’t better count any chickens before they are hatched as I shall be home for all next winter, touch wood.

I hope you have all got over your sore throats, bad eyes, swollen glands, headaches and teethaches by now. It sounds more like a doctors case book instead of a letter doesn’t it?

I liked the photo of the cat that you sent, he does look like Mickey did when he was a youngster. Sorry to hear that he is also having a rough time this winter, I hope his fur gets better.

Will you thank Granny from me for the £1 that she sent and tell her that I shall be writing to her soon.

Have you heard anything from George B. the ‘Gaumont’ organist yet. I had a letter yesterday saying that he has made a note of my request and will notify you when it is being played. I hope you can get along to hear it.

I did very well for myself this afternoon at cricket. I was picked as wkt. keeper for “Glory” 1st XI vs H.M.S. “Contest”. We scored 110 for 5 declared and got them out for 55 runs. I didn’t let a single bye go by which was very good considering that all the three bowlers are fast, one especially, Sub-Lieut. Davies who has played for Yorkshire 2nd before he joined the Navy. He clean bowled seven of their men for 14 runs. Apart from wicket keeping I really did best as a bat. I went in fifth wicket when the score was 56 for 4 and between myself and Midshipman Richards we carried the score to 110 when he was caught in the slips. He got 27 runs and I got 23 not out which included 2, 4s and one 6 which I hit clean off the pitch with a cut to leg. Surprised even myself.

I saw a very good picture on Tuesday night on board, Ray Millard and Sonny Tufts were the principal actors and the film was the “Well Groomed Bride”. On board tonight we have Rita Hayworth in “Gilda” which the lads say is a very good film.

We are going out on exercises sometime next week with H.M.S. “Theseus” the aircraft carrier which relieved the “Venerable” and has just come out from U.K. We are now Senior ship here again as the new Rear Admiral (Air) has joined the ship and at the moment we are flagship again. Still the “Theseus” will be taking over soon when the ship leaves to do her refit before returning home.

Well Mom I am afraid that is all for now as the lights have just been switched out so until next time
All my love
Graham
x x x x

18th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering what has happened to me and why I  haven’t written for a week. Well I am still at Bombay but I haven’t felt much like writing what with one thing and another. At the moment we are out on the combined exercises with the Army and R.A.F. It is quite a ‘large do’, just like the real thing, the “Jamaica” and “Couvery” put up a naval bombardment about five this morning followed by an air attack on the “enemy” positions, which are held by the 16th Leicestershire Regiment. Then at dawn the landing craft went in and put the Koops ashore under air cover by the “Glory”‘s squadron. Later on this morning our squadrons will be attacking various ‘military objectives’ ashore and the whole area ashore should be ‘captured’ by D+13 hrs tonight (6p.m.). In charge of defensive operations ashore is the S.E.A.C. Civil, General Claude Auchinleck, Monty’s predecessor in North Africa. We shan’t be staying out all day as after noon there is no need for aircraft so we shall return to Bombay just after dinner.

I have only had one run ashore in Bombay yet, but I have been ashore three or four times playing hockey. It is quite a decent place, plenty of good pictures ashore, some quite new such as “Great Expectations” and “London Town”, two or three swimming baths, big eats and plenty of sports fields. There is hardly anything to give you any idea that the Indians were fighting each other a few weeks ago. When I went ashore I spent the afternoon swimming at the Breach Candy swimming baths, which is European only. At night we had a walk around doing a bit of shopping. I was quite laden when I got back on board.

At hockey we haven’t been doing too well. I have had three games for the ship’s teams during the last week. Last Sunday we played against an Indian Navy XI and lost by two goals to one. On Wednesday I played for the ships second XI against the same team and they really went to town and thrashed us five-one. Friday I played again for the 1st XI against the Leicestershire Regiment and they also beat us 3-0, finally Saturday I played goalkeeper for the Engine Room XI versus Communications in the ships knockout competition and we won this 2-0. I think we stand a very good chance of winning this as besides myself seven other members of the team play for either the 1st or 2nd XIs, so we have quite a good side.

We are staying here at Bombay until Thursday night when we go out again, back to Trincomalee I should think that we should be able to find out something more about the ships movements then.

By the way, I was listening to a radio programme from Radio S.E.A.C. Ceylon two or three nights ago and they broadcast a special notice to all “Brummies”. Mr George Blackmore, the “Gammont” cinema organist has offered to play requests for forces in the Far East for their relatives back home. He also offers to notify the people back home of the time of playing the request and the message. There were about a dozen times to pick from and I chose “Constantly” so probably you will be hearing something from him in a day or two. It was about Tuesday when I wrote to him.

I bet Colin was pleased that the doctors wouldn’t allow him to go back to camp when he came home. Still all the same he wouldn’t get so much of enjoyment out of it being on the sick list would he.

I was surprised to hear of Uncle Fred dying. I didn’t know he was all that ill. It is a good job for Aunty Nan that her children are all working and can look after her, isn’t it.

As you say, Ceylon is certainly a beautiful place but I’m afraid that we don’t look for beautiful countryside scenery when we are ashore. Ninety nine sailors out of a hundred when they go ashore look round for the nearest cafe for ‘big eats’. After that they usually have a look around for a picture house or a dance hall I usually choose the ‘flicks’.

Talking of pictures we have a good one on board tonight. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in “Spellbound” which I shall probably see. The other two pictures we have had during the last week haven’t been particularly good, Googie Withers in “Rink String and Sealing Wax” and Mickey Rooney in “National Velvet”. Have you seen any of them?

I have just been told that I am playing hockey again for the ship’s team vs the “Small Ships” in the harbour. There are about eight ships in here so they should be able to get a fair side out.

Well Mom, I am afraid I can’t think of anything more to say at the mometn so I will sign off once more until next time
All my love as usual
Graham
x  x  x  x  x
x  x  x  x

1st March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines to thank you for the two letters, plus one from Jean that I received yesterday, dated 6th, 18th and 6th respec.

We arrived in Trincomalee yesterday afternoon but the mail didn’t come on until after suppertime and I didn’t bother to reply then as I was too tired and I turned in early to catch up with some of the sleep that I had lost during the last ten days. On the way up from Hong Kong we called in at Singapore for two hours to draft fifty seaman ratings due for demob. Altogether I received ten letters yesterday so I shall be pretty busy catching up with them today and Monday for Bombay. We are staying there about three weeks so by the time we get back it will be well into April.

Well so much for my end, to answer your letters, the big one first!

You have certainly been having a long winter this year haven’t you, still I hear on the wireless that most of the industries are back at work again now which is the main thing isn’t it.

I am glad you have got “I cover the waterfront” with the Inspots, you say that I should have already know that as you had written me about it once before. Well I have looked up all my old letters and I can’t find anything about it so evidently that letter has gone astray altogether, unless of course it is still on the “Euryalus” as it is just about the time when I was addressing my letters to her. Still it can’t be helped.

Am glad you liked the photos of my shore pals. I don’t think I shall part from Ken R. as he is group 67 and all the “buzzes” going around seem to think that 66 and 67 will go on draft together. By the way did I tell you in my last letter that we are now the senior group on board here as group 65 went on draft the other day. I still don’t know when it will be my turn for U.K. as nobody knows for certain what the ships movements are after Singapore. There is one rumour going around that the “Aussie” trip is off and that the ship is going home in June which would make it just right for my birthday. Still we should get to know something definite soon.

I had a letter from Jess again this morning with a bit more news of the M.G. Coral lads. Michael I. is stationed in Egypt, Stan H. or Stafford from the Radleys has just left England for the Rhine, Jimmy T. is stationed in Scotland, George P. has just been called up for the R.A.F. and Bert S. and Henry L. are in U.K. waiting for demob. Her cousin has settled in Australia and has married an Australian girl.

You mentioned the 4th test well I see the 5th one has started now with Len Hutton getting his first test century in Aussie. A bit of bad luck on Hammond getting the fibrositis again though I don’t think it can make much difference as Laurie Fishlock is as good a bat as any isn’t he.

Colin is certainly having a rough start to Army life isn’t he. For anyone who is an old hand it would be bad enough but to get to get used to an Army routine I shouldn’t like at all.

You mention that Jack S. has now been demobbed, well  it is not quite as easy as that to reckon my demob date. For one thing he is in a different branch to mine and their demob is well advanced whereas ours is only up to group 58. Do you remember me telling you about “Taffy” J. going home, well he joined at the same time as me yet he went out about the same time as Jack S. so it isn’t much of a guide. To tell you the truth I think I shall just about complete three years service in the Navy so I have approx 12 months to do. I think it is silly to hope for anything much sooner. Still it won’t be too bad as the best part of the time I expect to be in U.K. or at least in the Home Fleet so I shall at least get leave which is the main thing. I don’t think there is any possibility of my coming out here again.

I haven’t seen any films at all recently. I think I told you I had seen Deanna Durbin in “Lady on a Train”. Well since then I have seen Danny Kaye in “Wonder Man” and Jimmy Henley in “Murder in Reverse” which were quite good, and tonight Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are on in “Time of their Lives” which should be a good laugh.

The “Venerable” left here today for U.K. with the Flag Officer, R.A.A. (Rear Admiral, Air) on board. He is being relieved by R.A.A. Creasey, who is coming out on the “Theseus”. When he gets here he will come on board us as we are the flagship.

Well Mom, I think that is about all the news for now so once again I will close until next time.
So for the time being
All my love
Graham
x x x x x x

17th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad, & Jean,

Just a few lines once more to let you know that I am still keeping fit and in the best of health.

I have been delaying writing to you over the last week in the hope that I should get a letter before I left Hong Kong. Still it looks as though it is too late now, as tomorrow morning we are leaving for Trincomalee and Bombay, so here goes. I suppose it is all the bad weather in the U.K. and elsewhere that has delayed the mail as it now nine days since I had any. Still by the time we get to “Trinco”, I expect we shall have quite a stack waiting for us.

There has been a strong “buzz” going around lately that the ship is going to Australia in May to do a refit instead of doing it at Singapore so if I am on the ship then I shall be able to get some decent presents at least.

The “Venerable” left here on Friday for England and is being relieved by H.M.S. “Theseus” which is due out here sometime April. The “Venerable” is doing a refit in England and then will be returning out here again as our relief. She got quite a send off when she left, what with bands and aircraft display.

I hear on the wireless that the “Vanguard” has just reached Capetown about an hour ago. Did you hear about the reception that they got. Grandstands all along the road from the quayside, dances & dinners, parties and dozens of other amusements. Lucky devils!

I have seen a couple of good films over the weekend, the first which I saw on board was Orson Welles, Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson in “The Stranger” which I really enjoyed. The other one that I saw ashore, was Van Johnson and Esther Williams in “Thrill of a Romance” which was also very good. Unlike most ‘Yankee’ musicals it had quite a decent story. An added attraction was John Melchior, the Metropolitan opera singer. He sang “Please don’t say No” and others but I liked that one very much. The funny part about it he wasn’t supposed to be singing it so he was hiding behind a car while Van Johnson was pretending to sing and serenading Esther Williams. It looked very realistic. On board tonight is Deanna Durbin in “Lady on a Train” which I shall probably go to see if I can finish my letter writing in time.

I see Birmingham won their local ‘derby’ game against Coventry, I think they will just about manage to gain promotion but I still don’t fancy their chances in the cup. Preston is still my tip with Burnley as an outsider, and Wolves for the league with Sheffield United as a dark horse.

In regards to my sporting activities lately. Yesterday I played in goal for our Engine Room hockey team against the “Bermuda”. It was a very exciting game and finished in a goalless draw. At football on Friday against the Marines we won by 5 goals to 0.

Well Mom I think that is all the news now until I get to “Trinco” on Feb. 28th so for the present
All my love
Hope to see you soon
Graham
x x x x x x

10th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again to thank you for the very welcome letter that I received on Saturday. We are back in harbour once more after three days at sea, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and at the moment are alongside the wall which certainly makes it better for going ashore with no liberty boats to catch. I don’t think we are doing any more manoeuvres now until the 18th when we leave for Trincomalee and Bombay.

I am glad you liked the photos that I sent you, also my mates, “Blue” F. was my mate then, and I used to always go ashore with him, but I think I told you in an earlier letter that he has since gone on draft to England. He went on the “Empress of Scotland” and I believe was due to reach Liverpool today, so I bet he is doing a “little” shivering. Ken R. who is my latest mate comes from Tyseley and is quite a decent chap. Neither of them drink which is rare to find out here. Most “matelots” have a “couple of wets” when they go ashore which is not too bad, but there are always quite a few don’t know when to stop.

I am glad I never started in England because taking it all round, none chaps out of teen who get in to trouble in the Navy owe it to being drunk. My mess is not too bad though, so I am really lucky. Mind you I am not exactly strict T.T. as I now draw my tot of rum every day, it can’t do me any harm as it is well watered down to 2 parts of water to 1 of run. In any case you’d be surprised the number of favours you can get done by the promise of “half a tot”, so it comes in handy at times.

You certainly are having a stiff winter this time aren’t you. In this morning paper it says that 10″ of snow fell yesterday, Sunday, in some parts of England and Wales, also that in the Midlands and North West, a 100% cut in industrial fuel starts from today. Shinwell is certainly taking a battering from the Press. Talk about the biter bit, he was always one of the leading lights against the Tories and their lack of power and ideas. Now he’s at the receiving end.

Weren’t there a lot of cancellations in the football. Still I see Birmingham really “went to town” against Manchester City, it’s a good job they did as there are three Manchester chaps on my mess and I should never have heard the last of it if Manchester had won, especially as all the week I had been saying – “What a shame, poor Manchester getting knocked out at this stage” and each time I said it I got howled down. Still I’ve got the last laugh.

Talking of sport, I am at last beginning to make a name for myself on board here. Apart from playing football for the “Stokers” I now play hockey and cricket for the “Engine Room Department” teams. Engine Room includes all the Petty Officers, Chiefs and Antificers, and Engineers so it is quite an achievement. At Cricket I play Wicket Keeper, yesterday we played against the “Bermuda” Engine Room Department. They beat us but it was very close, we scored 115 runs of which my share was twelve, and they got 127 runs. Behind the stumps I only managed to stump one and there were five extras. Incidentally the one I got out was second highest score for them with 35. At hockey I am the only stoker in the team, the rest being Petty Officers and Officers with one Leading Stoker. I play goal as usual, I have only had one game so far which was against the “Venerable” which we won 3-1. We are playing again on Wednesday, I believe, against the Bermuda. By the way I forgot to say that I received an “Argus” and “Blue Nail” yesterday which is the first football papers I’ve had addressed to the “Glory”.

You asks if the “Glory” is one of the new carriers, well she is not exactly new, but then again it was only April ’45 when she was first commissioned which is only two months longer than the “Trafalgar”. Our sister ship the “Venerable” is leaving for U.K. on February 18th, so you might see her on the news at the pictures when she arrives as she is sure to get a big welcome. When we arrive home we shall probably get a bigger one as we are senior carrier out here so when we arrive it will certainly be ‘quite a do’. By the way did I even tell you, the Jap surrender in New Guinea and all the Southern Islands was signed on board us.

Have you been to the pictures lately? I notice the Yanks are sitting up and taking notice at a few of our films lately aren’t they. I have seen a couple of good ones over the weekend. On board on Saturday I saw Stewart Granger, Jean Kent and Ann Crawford in “Caravan”. It was definitely a well acted film and had a good story to it but all the same it wasn’t my choice of type. The one that I saw last night though, I really did enjoy, I expect you have at least heard about it. John Garfield and Lana Turner in “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. There has been quite a few arguments in the British press about it, and the Yanks have been criticising “The Wicked Lady”. Both with the argument that they were suggestive.Well I have seen both of them now, and I admit the “Wicked Lady” was rather close, but as for “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, well I think it was well ‘within limits’ and the story is definitely plausible and could take place in everyday life. Still your ideas may be different to mine. Last Thursday I saw Joan Leslie, my heart throb, in “Rhapsody in Blue” the story of the life of George Gershwin. Despite Joan Leslie, though, I didn’t think it was much to talk about.

I had a letter from Mr W. of the Youth Club, about last Wednesday. He told me that the village is pretty well deserted now of young lands. I get Roy is lost for want of mates. I bet you can’t guess who is the new chairman, or rather chairwoman, of the Youth Club – Dorrie T., of all people. What a change from the last three – Ken D., Roy and John D. Can you imagine her conducting a monthly meeting?

Well Mom I think I have finished with all the news once more so for the present
Bye bye, and all my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x
P.S. I liked the photo of Jean that you sent me!

P.P.S. So did the lads!!
x  x  x  x