13th June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Well here I am again with a few more lines to let you know that I am still keeping pretty git and in the best of health. We have practically finished our refit now and the rest of the time here we shall be cleaning up the ship in preparation for our “Aussie” cruise. We have moved back on board again now after nearly two weeks in the barracks ashore, “Terror”. Our mess-deck has been painted in a light green and cream colour scheme and it looks very nice now.

We are leaving here in ten days time for Adelaide so you can guess we are all anxiously waiting to get up steam and get away from here. Still I can at least state definitely that this is my last cruise out here and then the ship heads for home. Actually we are going out before the twenty third, on two days flying exercises and general manoeuvres, so that will be a change and help to pass the next days away more quickly.

By the way what is the mail getting through like in England, it is pretty grim out here just lately, I haven’t had a letter from anyone for a week, the only mail that seems to come on board is from “Aussie” so of course it means nil for me. Still it is only slightly over three months and mail won’t worry me then.

What did you think of Freddie Mills and Jack London both getting beat recently, it certainly seems as sport has “gone to the dogs” recently doesn’t it. I see in the paper that they have been criticising the way Bruce Woodcock was handled in his Baski fight. It said that any second with an atom of “savvy” would have thrown the towel in the towel at the end of the second round or the third at the latest.

What happened to Hutton and Dollery in the Test, they certainly didn’t show up like world beaters did they. It’s a good job that we’ve got chaps like Edrich, Comption, Yardley and Evans it strikes me. I should think that Pope will get his chance again after his performance of 13 wickets for 50 runs against Somerset. Hollises also did fairly well in South Africa’s first inning.

Have you seen any good pictures lately? On board tonight we are having “Great Expectations” with John Mills and Valerie Hobson, so I shall go and see that. Other films I have seen recently are “Scariest Street” with Edward G. Robinson, “Utah” with Roy Rogers, “Cluny Brown” with Paulette Goddard and “The Fleets In” with Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton. They are all pretty old films but I had only seen “The Fleets In” and I had more or less forgotten the story.

How are you going lately with your heat waves and hail storms. They had a hail storm in Aussie at the beginning of the year with hail stones as big as tennis balls. Hundreds of windows were broken and several old people were killed.

I haven’t been doing so well at sport lately, actually we have been toppled off our perch at the top of the league and we lost two matches in five days. Still to soften the blow the runners up also lost one so we are now following them with one point difference in our totals and we have still to play them so we are still hopeful. On Wednesday we again lost this time at hockey, I played in goal for the ships team against the cruiser H.M.S. “Sussex” and we were beaten by three goals to two.

We had a big draft of ninety nine ratings come on the ship yesterday. They had all just come out from U.K. and have about four months to do before they get demobbed so have been sent out here for the rest of our commission. Lucky devils coming on at a time like this with an “Aussie” cruise ahead. Most of them haven’t left England before.

Well Mom I think that’s just about the lot once again so until next time
All my love as usual
Graham
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P.S. Be seeing you soon.

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2nd June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 19.5.47 that I received on Saturday. Glad to hear that you had at least a drop of summer weather, let’s hope it at least keeps sunny during the real summer months. Still I see in the paper this morning that the London Meteorological Society report that there are strong possibilities of a warm summer. The weather here is at the moment quite warm which is a change as we had a quite wet week last week. Still the main thing is there is quite a fresh breeze blowing most of the time so I don’t quite mind it so much.

We are getting on well with our refit now and aren’t working quite so hard as we have been doing this last fortnight. Thank goodness it will be my last refit out here at any rate. We are hoping to leave on June 17th for exercises before going down to Aussie so that knocks another week off the refit.

What did you think of the “Wolves” coming unstuck at the last match. That’s the third season they’ve missed the championship isn’t it? I see Birmingham have been trying out some young ‘blood’ in readiness for next season. I think they will manage to get back next season, they’ve certainly had a couple of red hot teams above them this season. I see there are quite a few end of the season surprises taking place – Cullis retiring from the game, Stanley Matthews going to Blackpool, I think they’ll have to be watched next year.

Talking of football we played yesterday in the ‘derby’ game of the “Glory” league when we played against Stokers “B” team. It was very even for the first twenty minutes but then a couple of goals by our centre forward, “Taff” C., seemed to knock most of the life out of their team and we eventually ran out winners by 7 goals to one. Our figures now stand at played 6, won 5, drawn 1, lost 0, goals for 30, goals against 4, pts 11, we are now lying third in the league but are two matches in hand of the leaders and three points in arrears. We are now the only unbeaten team in the league and with the team playing as it is now I don’t think that any of the others are likely to beat us. Incidentally there are four Birmingham lads in the team besides me, so “Brum” must be a sport minded city.

I had a letter from Mr W. today and he said that the village got to the semi final of a cup again this year but lost by the odd goal or 5. I believe George R. and Bill S. are playing again now. The Youth Club also entered a team in a table tennis league with Roy as skipper and they are winning that hands down.

Changing the subject to cricket I see Dollery and Hollies of Warwickshire are amongst the twelve selected to represent England versus South Africa. Let’s hope they put up a better show this year.

As regards getting me a birthday present I am afraid I can’t help you out much as probably if I suggested anything it might be unobtainable or much too expensive. Still I’ll think it over too and let you know if there is anything that I particularly fancy. Talking of presents I treated myself to a pair of football boots yesterday they are a smashing pair and cost me 15 $ that is just over 30/-. I tried them out yesterday and they fit a treat. Also if I go to Aussie I intend buying myself a pair of flannels and a sports jacket ready for my leave when I get home. If I can get my war gratuities before then I shall get a suit instead. I have about twenty pounds to come in so I’m hoping I can get it out here instead of when I get home.

Well Mom I think that is the lot once more so until next time
All my love
Graham
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23rd May 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering what on earth has happened to me since I last wrote to you. Well as you can see I am now at Singapore, and at the moment we are working all hours getting on with our “rush refit”. We left Trincomalee on May 12th with the destroyer “Contest” as escort. We arrived here on Saturday 17th, actually it was late Friday night but we cruised up and down all night so that we could fly our planes off in the morning. We had quite a bit of excitement just as we were pulling in as a police boat came alongside and we found that there were opium smugglers on board, namely the Chinese stewards. It appears that the police in Trincomalee found a hoard of opium in a deserted hut at Trinco. They left it there but kept it under frequent observation, then the night before the “Glory” left it disappeared and they put two and two together. Then they decided it was no use warning the ship as they would manage to get it well hidden away by the time the ship got to Singapore whereas if they boarded the ship at Singapore they would probably catch the Chinese by surprise. I am enclosing a cutting from the local rag which has a report of the case. Since then though another eight Chinese have been arrested.

During the time we are in dry dock most of the ships company are sleeping in the shore base H.M.S. “Terror” which is about a couple of miles away from the ship. It is a nuisance really as we have to wait every night for lorries and also have to keep carrying our bedding back and forward when we are duty and have to sleep on the ship. Our department have been working really hard as we have really got to move around to get the boilers cleaned and ready for June 23rd when the ship leaves for “Aussie”. By the way the ship is also going to Brisbane now as well as Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, so we shall be visiting all the scenes of the massacres of our test team. We shall certainly have to keep our tongues in our cheeks when cricket is being discussed down there.

The weather here is much cooler here now than when we were here last time, bags of rain as well. Still it will be a taste of the Aussie weather as it will be their winter when we get down there which again will prepare us for going home in October.

I expect you have noticed the change of my address i.e. the M. after the Stoker. Well the Admiralty have decided that the title “Stoker” does not accurately describe our work and that a Stoker on a modern ship is in reality a Mechanic so now we are called Stoker Mechanics. A 2nd class Stoker is just called Stoker and a 1st class Stoker is now called Stoker Mechanic; a leading Stoker is Leading Stoker Mechanic and so on to Chief Petty Officer Stoker Mechanic in lieu of Chief Stoker. It’s really a copy from the Yanks as there are no stokers in their navy but instead are Machinists, 4th class.

Fancy Colin’s people going to Switzerland, it’s a pity Jean didn’t get a chance to go with them. It’s certainly a lot of money to spend on the fare as you say. I don’t think I could enjoy a holiday after having paid that much for a ticket. It’s certainly the fashion now what with Uncle Harry as well and Mrs W. ‘nipping over’ to Rhodesia. Is he still in the R.A.F. by the way?

I see the cricket season is in full swing now, Edrich getting a double century against Warwickshire. Has Dad seen the S. Africans yet? Is he turning out for the Met this year?

I’m sorry I didn’t send Dad a birthday card this time but I couldn’t get any in Trincomalee and I went ashore here the first night in but as it was Saturday it was early closing and I was unlucky again. Still next year I shall be a civvy so I shall be able to wish him “Many Happy Returns” personally.

I saw a very good picture a couple of nights ago, “This Man is Mine” which had everyone in fits of laughter throughout. Incidentally it was an English film.

Well Mom I think that is about the lot once again so once more until next time
All my love
Graham
P.S. Hope to be seeing you soon!!
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10th May 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

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

We have at last got the ship’s movements from now until we reach U.K. We leave here on Monday for Singapore arriving on May 17th, we shall be remaining there until June 23rd, when we depart for a tour of Australia, the ports we are visiting are Adelaide (5 days), Sydney (17 days) and Melbourne (10 days). That takes us to roughly the end of August and we then start out for dear old “Blighty” and we arrive in Devonport on Oct 4th. So there it is Mom, admittedly it is a little later than I first thought, but it would be a good tour round “Aussie” and it will at least give me a chance to buy myself some “civvies” before I get home. Of course there is still a chance that I shall leave the ship in Singapore but much as I want to get home, in the long run I should do better if I stayed on the ship as I do know where I stand then. Whereas, if I left at Singapore, I might be messing around there a couple of months before I left for U.K. which would only get me home five or six weeks before the “Glory”. Not as I shall have any say in the matter at all, they certainly don’t run this Navy to our likes and dislikes. I shan’t be sorry to leave this place now as I am just about browned off with it.

We have been having quite a bit of excitement this last couple of days as the East Indies Fleet are holding their annual regatta and there has been bags of rivalry between the various ships and shore bases. The cruiser “Glasgow” has been walking away with it so far having won ten races out of a possible fifteen. The Stoker’s cutter came in second yesterday being beaten by the “Glasgow’s”. This morning though was the big event, the “Stoker’s whaler race”, we won the B.P.F. regatta last December in Hong Kong with the same crew and of course we all fancied them again, but the critics said that we wouldn’t have a chance as the “Glasgow” up till then had won nine out of twelve races. Still it was a terrific race and our Stokers again won which shook the “Glasgow”. There was a fleet tote on all boats and the stokers fetched in odds of 11 to 1. The majority of our mess is rolling in money now. Altogether over £600 pounds were won by this ship’s company on that one win alone.

We have also been doing well at football again, on Sunday our Engine Room Dept. played the “Glasgow” Engine Room Dept. who old the East Indies Fleet cup. I was selected as right back, and altogether eight men out of my team Stokers “A” were chosen. We held them to a 1-1 draw and should have beaten them, we are having a replay tomorrow. That is all three sports, football, hockey and cricket, that I have played for the Engine Room which is not bad going seeing that there is roughly two hundred men in the Engine Room Dept. We are still top of the league by the way so taking it all round we Stokers are doing quite well for ourselves.

By the way did you send me a parcel of books or know anyone who sent them to me, the address looks as though it’s written by Jean but there is a slip of paper inside that says ‘To my darling from Rosina’ and I’m blowed if I can recognise the writing. It isn’t one of Jean’s friends is it? Scrawled in pencil across the top of an “Everbody’s” is an address. Actually it puzzles me a lot as I’ve never had picture papers before and it seemed strange to suddenly get them now. In any case I’ve no “bits of fluff” with a name like that.

I hear the cricket season has started in England, did Dad see the S. Africans when they played Worcestershire. We are hoping to start an interport cricket competition on here when we get down to Singapore but I think it is a bit of optimistic thinking as I can’t imagine anyone finding time to cricket during a refit.

We haven’t had any good pictures here lately, last night I saw James Mason in the “Seventh Veil” but as I had already seen it, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I would have done normally. During the week we had “One More Tomorrow” with Denis Morgan and Jack Carson, and “Along Came Jones” with Gary Cooper. Have you seen any of them?

Well Mom I think that is about the lot once again so until next time
All my love
Graham
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2nd May 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Many thanks once again for your last welcome letter that I received on Wednesday dated 23.4.47. Glad to hear you got the photos safely and that you liked them. I hope you soon hear from the “Gammont”, if it is much longer before he plays it then perhaps it might coincide with Dad’s birthday. Still I expect he has a terrific list of requests to play as the appeal he made out here would sure to have been heard by dozens of “Brummies”. Glad to hear that the weather has at least been a little better lately. You are certainly right about the weather being hot here, it is getting on towards summer again. Still I don’t feel it as much now as I suppose I am really acclimatised and bags of swimming helps to keep it a little cooler.

I didn’t know Pamela C. was engaged but I knew about May B. Personally I think they are both too young especially with the country as it is now.

I am glad to say that the tax on cigs won’t affect me as to quote Monty’s words “I don’t smoke, am T.T. and am 100% fit”.

I haven’t seen either of the pictures you mention. “The Outlaw” has had quite a lot of criticism in the papers I believe hasn’t it? On Monday we had a comedy on here – Eddie Bracken in “Hold That Blonde” which was quite a change from some of the stuff they have been giving us. Tonight there is “Bells of St. Mary’s” on with Bing and Ingrid Bergman. I shall probably be having a basinful of that. Have you seen it?

We are top of the league now at football as we beat the Chief Petty Officers, who were leaders, by one goal to nil on Wednesday. It was a ding dong struggle and we scored early and managed to hold on to our lead although it was quite close at times. I played right back again. There was quite a large crowd at the match and by the cheering for us the majority of them wanted us to win as the chiefs won the league last year and we are the only team to beat them this year. Our goal aggregate is 23 goals for and 3 against and we have only dropped one point against the Chiefs two.

We have been out on exercises since I last wrote. This time we were out from Monday night until Wednesday dinnertime. We had a bad crash on deck during the flying and the squadron leader of 806 squadron was killed. That is two squadron leaders in less than a month that we’ve lost. It was really bad luck as he hit the end of the flight deck when coming in just as the ship rolled and he lost control of his plane and shot across the flight deck and shot over the side crashing into the wireless masts and then vanished instantaneously into the sea. The ship looks as though it has been hit by enemy shells on the port side. Large dents made in the ship’s side, railings flattened, gun barrels bent and twisted and one wireless mast missing. We had to burn it off as it was a source of danger.

That is two deaths in a week! I always keep well behind cover when I go up watching the flying now. The “Theseus” also lost a plane in the sea while we were out.

Yesterday the Chief Stoker told us “unofficially” that group 66 will leave the ship on June 23rd in Singapore, but of course I am not banking on anything yet as anything can happen. Still it’s the first time that a date has been mentioned. So perhaps I might even get home for my birthday yet? Still it’s best not to look forward yet as he only told us “probably”, I’ll let you know as soon as it’s confirmed.

We are leaving here on the 12th of May for Singapore, so shall be starting on our refit about the 17th or 18th.

Well Mom I am afraid that is about the lot once more so for the time being,
All my love,
Graham
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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
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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
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