25th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know all the latest news. We have just come back from the boating lake where we have been all afternoon learning to row. The boats are manned by twelve men and a coxswain, which is a bit different to those at Sutton.

We have finished our squad rill and rifle drill now and have started on bayonet fighting, they evidently expect us to do some hand to hand fighting.

Some of the chaps in our class are going on draft on Saturday to Rugby, they were going to send us to Portsmouth next Wednesday but it has been cancelled (good job). They were going to cut the course down to three weeks but we are now going to do the full five weeks.

By the way I have seen Taffy, he is now allowed out although he is not allowed to mix with anyone. He has to stand one side of a big crater while I had to stand the other side. He has been back classed which means that he will have to start the course all over again and will be separated from us. However he is getting ten days sick leave when he comes out so he is a bit luckier than us. In any case I should have parted from him here as J..E.Ms go to Portsmouth and Taffy goes to Wetherby. Have you sent the money off yet as he enquired after it when I saw him?

Norman’s wife is down in Malvern today as she has got 48 hours leave, I think Norman has applied for a sleeping out pass for the night.

Have the photographs been developed yet and have the ones from Skegness come yet? Don’t forget to send them along when they are done.

I am enclosing Norman’s cheque and I think it is all O.K. this time.

Well, it is suppertime now so I will say bye bye for now.

Lots of love.
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x

Advertisements

23rd April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I arrived safely back on Saturday night. I got to Snow Hill at eight and the train was on the platform so I managed to get a set. My one mate from Wolverhampton caught the train with about two minutes to spare. The train got into Malvern at about two minutes to ten so we didn’t do so badly and got back to camp at half past ten. One of the boys from another block missed the train and arrived back in camp this morning at eleven. All his division has had their leave cancelled which means that only “Anson” division is allowed to Birmingham besides “Blake”.

I collected your parcel from the Mail Office this morning. I have checked up on my collars and have definitely ‘won’ one from somewhere. Still I don’t suppose it will matter as nobody has claimed it yet.

We had another game of football this afternoon and this time we only managed to draw by the skin of our teeths. We were losing two goals to one at half time and immediately after the resumption of play I got crocked and had to go on the left wing. They scored shortly afterwards making it three-one. Before long however our centre forward reduced their lead and two minutes from time I scored a third making it three all. So we still have an unbeaten record and are still top class in “Blake” division.

By the way will you thank Jess O. for the chocolate covered toffee it certainly was a surprise just what the doctor ordered.

Have you got the maps developed yet and have the photographs come from Skegness yet?

Well I think that is about all for this time so I will sign off until next time. I will give you a ring Thursday or Friday.

So bye bye until then
Lots of love
Graham
P.S. Excuse writing as I am in a hurry as I am on messenger duty in ten minutes time.

20th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still fit. I have just about shaken off the vaccination fever now although I have still got a bit of a cold. Taffy by the way is now in sick bay with Scarlet Fever. He went in Monday morning and I had a note from him yesterday. He says that he will be in for four weeks at best which means that he will be back classed and will miss his draft.

To think that I was out with him all Sunday night and slept over him all night. Still I have felt no ill effects so I should say that I am alright.

We have started our training this morning and have just come in from squad drill. Our C.P.O. has gone on leave this morning on ten days leave so we have got a new one, C.P.O. Daly. He is Irish so I expect the air will be blue on the parade ground for the next three weeks.

I have got to fall in at ten fifteen to see whether my applications to come home has been granted. There are quite a lot of them trying to get home so it seems that it is a common request.

12-30
Have just come back from P.T., we had a relay practice in classes to run for the division. I came in first in the trial run of two twenty yards in our class and so was no 1. for our class. We had fifteen in each trial and had a straight two twenty race for each section. There were thirty in our class so we had to have two races. Then the first eight in each section had to run against each other and the first fifteen were picked for the class. I came in first in both trials. We then ran against 144 class and beat them in a hundred yards relay.

We were on Workshop duties yesterday and we were on the washing up party, we were washing up till half past nine so we had a pretty long day.

There were four of us out of 279 class in this class when we started here. Taffy is in with Scarlet Fever, Coote is in under observation with suspected Scarlet Fever and Bowles is in with Vaccine Fever so that I am the only one left now.

I have got my hat back, it mysteriously appeared on the table in the main hall but nobody seemed to know how it got there.

I had another issue of tobacco on last Saturday (I don’t know whether I told you) I shall have to do plenty of smoking to use it all up.

3-0
Just come back from Divisional Office to see about coming home on Saturday. It has been put thro’ and I have got to see the Commander in the morning.

Mail has just come in and I got Dad’s letter. I wondered what all the rumpus was on Sunday when I came in the guard said to me, “Who was it your mother or grandmother?” I thought he was referring to the parcel that I had so I said “Mother”. Then when I got to my block all my mates told me that they had been broadcasting three times for me during the afternoon. Of course I wondered what the dickens they were on about. Now I know. Evidently Granny C. had been to the gate and asked for me.

7-0
Have just come back from a football match which we won by three goals to one. Our captain was in sick bay with scarlet fever so I was captain of the team. We have played three games now and won them all so perhaps we shall be attracting our Divisional Officers attention.

Well that is about all, I think, I will give you a ring on Friday night.
Lots of Love
Graham
x  x  x  x
P.S. Excuse writing.


Notes

By ‘two twenty’ Graham meant 220 yards. This confused me to start with!

According to Graham’s later writings, his grandparents were looked after even though he wasn’t there – they were ‘treated as V.I.P. with tea and sandwiches in the Hospitality Lounge’.

17th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line to let you know that I arrived safely back at camp on Sunday. At the moment I am not feeling so well as I have got a touch of vaccine fever. “Taffy” is in sick bay where he is under observation for two or three days. Most of the class have the same complaint and there are quite a few in beside ‘Taffy’. I didn’t bother to go in myself and have felt pretty rotten all day. I had a shower after tea and it bucked me up a bit.

We are on Drake fire party tonight and have to report at nine. I shall try and get out of it and get to bed early.

This morning we were on work ship duty and I had to do a spot of gardening. We planted about an acre of runner beans, I shall certainly be versatile when I come on leave.

Norman came back last night from his short leave, he didn’t seem very pleased with his return to Navy life.

All leave has been stopped in Frobisher division as one of the men was three hours adrift. Luckily it doesn’t apply to us so I am still living in hopes that I shall be home Saturday. I have put my application in, I think I shall get it alright.

I had my cap ‘pinched’ this morning while I was having a wash and so far I have not got it back yet.

We have knocked a hole in the sandwich and have had one slice off the big cake. The sandwich went down very well. It was a change from the cake we get here.

Don’t forget to send Aunty Win one of the photographs if you get them from Skegness. When you get the others developed send them along so that I can see them.

I am posting my washing tonight. I expect you will get it on Thursday or Friday.

How is the snooker handicap going on now?

Well I will sign off for now.
Hoping to see you Saturday
Lots of love
Graham
xxxxx

12th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I received the parcel safely Monday afternoon. I kept the cakes and biscuits for the train journey and sent the remainder on with my kit which went yesterday. As you can see I have had my address changed, I am in BLAKE division instead of Berlow. This is a nuisance as it means I am parted from all my mates, Alan, Norman, Denis. Still I shall probably meet up with them again when we leave Malvern.

Tell Jean I gave her message to Alan and he says that he will come home on leave with me.

By the way I forgot to mention that I received your letter as well last night.

I don’t know whether I shall be on ‘shore leave’ on Sunday but I will probably ring up before then. In any case I will let you know.

We left Skegness at about seven thirty this morning. We had to get up at four this morning and had breakfast at five.

One o-clock

Have just come through New Street, we came via {a number of stations}. I never thought I’d get that near to home. Then we passed through W.H. right past the Met. I saw the hut where I used to work.

We have just drawn up at B., I expect I shall call on the farm while I am here.

We stopped at Leicester for a mug of tea which was supplied by the N.A.A.F.I. and was dished up by A.T.S. girls. We had a twenty minute delay then we arrived at Nuneaton and from then on I was a guide for the men in our carriage.

I have just took  walk down the train and have seen Alan and Norman and Denis. Norman is fast asleep with his head in Denis’s shoulder while Alan is very nearly gone.

I will sign off for now as Malvern is next station.

Nine o-clock

Have settled down now, the camp is tons better than Royal Arthur. By the way did you receive my book from there. Don’t judge the camp by what you see in it. It certainly is different to that now.

Have seen Norman and the rest of the ‘gang’. They are in the next house to me. Each house is completely covered in and are on each side of the parade ground.

IMG_20160412_204041938

They are all in Frobisher and I am in Blake so we are not far away. Norman is on the same watch as me so he will be on leave with me. By the way he has been granted his marriage leave for Saturday. He gets from Friday morning until Monday morning.

I have made enquiries about getting home and I can get home each weekend but only the day I am on ‘shore leave’ but I will see about that later.

Well I will sign off now
Lots of love
Graham
x   x   x   x   x


Historical Note

Like the HMS Royal Arthur, the HMS Duke was a shore establishment, commissioned in 1941 and based at Great Malvern, Worcestershire.

Place names in the above letter have been removed or abbreviated for the sake of anonymity.

8th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I hope by this time that you have received my washing safely. I am enclosing one of my latest photographs, I think this is a good one. I hope you like it.

I have bought a hair comb here in camp, it is a good one, you know the big type. I will forward it on when I send my pants home. I nearly dropped when they told me the price.

I had my first naval haircut yesterday, I felt as though I had been scalped, I used to think Dick I. was bad enough.

We had our first vaccination reading yesterday, there were only twelve out of forty of us who had taken. I am one of the lucky ones, because all those that had not taken have got to have another one.

Norman has not taken so far but he says he does not mind as he is getting married next week, the vaccination does not hurt until ten days which is his wedding day. We have got well into our course now last Wednesday we started on rifle drill. I thought squad drill was bad enough, but this certainly has it beat for making you ache.

Did you listen to “Music of the Footlights” on the wireless last night from nine fifteen until ten. It was played by the B.B.C. Theatre Orchestra and sung by the B.B.C. Theatre Chorus with Irene Eisinger and Roderick Jones as soloists. Stanford Robinson was the producer of the show and also conducted the Orchestra.

He gave a concert from eight fifteen until ten here last night and the programme I have mentioned was broadcast from here. He played the Overture “The Bartered Bride” – the Intermezzo “Cavalleria Rusticana” – the Aria “Voi de sapete” and “In uomini in Soldati” then the suite from the Opera “Carmen”. The rest of the programme was the B.B.C. feature “Music of the Footlights”.

The orchestra has sixty players in it and the chorus has five men and five women as well as the two soloists. All this lot was on the stage in the cinema so you can guess the size of the cinema. We got in for the usual price, threepence, we were lucky (Norman & I) as we had just come back on shore leave from Skegness and as the ratings seats were all occupied we were allowed to sit in the officers seats. Did we feel good, best seats in the house for threepence.

We have got to get up at four on Wednesday and catch the six thirty train from Skegness. The route we are taking is Lincoln, Doncaster, Leeds, Manchester, Burton, Worcester, Malvern, quite a nice little journey. All the men on draft on Wednesday go on this train and leave the train at the various stations mentioned from where they catch their connections for their campus. We arrive at Malvern at four so we shall be a bit browned off by the time we get there.

There are some chaps in the next dormitory who have come from Malvern and they say that from Malvern it is possible to get a sleeping out pass if you live in Birmingham so I may be able to get home.

I had a letter from Harold W. last Wednesday telling me about the football team. They certainly have started back to their old form lately. Talking of football I heard the Cup Final on Saturday in a cafe in Skegness. I got there about ten minutes before Chelsea’s first goal just before half time and heard all the rest of it. It is about the first time I have heard the wireless since I have been here. Well I will sign off for now as it is nearly teatime so I will say
Bye bye for now
Lots of love
Graham
xxxxxxx

P.S. Remember me to the gang and tell them I hope to see them soon.

P.P.S. Have you any envelopes that will take post cards?


Historical Notes

Music of the Footlights was broadcast on General Forces Programme on Saturday nights (and, later, Wednesday afternoons) from November 1944 to April 1945. It was produced by ENSA (the Entertainments National Service Association, set up to provide entertainment for the Armed Forces during the Second World War).

The Football League War Cup replaced the FA Cup during the Second World War. The match to which Graham listened was the South Final, in which Chelsea beat Millwall 2-0. The Cup Final (Chelsea 1-2 Bolton Wanderers) took place on the 2nd of June 1945.

 

6th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I have received the washing safely. I have also sent home my next lot except pants which I will forward later. When you have washed them do not forward them back to this address but wait until you get my new address from Malvern.

I have just arrived back from the dentist and have now finished my treatment. I have had one tooth stopped this afternoon, well he said he had stopped it, I thought he had drilled it all away. I am now supposed to have a set of reliable teeth.

So far I have had no ill affects from my vacinations but they say it takes a week to ten days before you get any trouble. There is a possibility that the vacine may not take in which case I should have to have another vacination.

We have started on rifle drill this last two days, I thought squad drill was bad enough but blimey it tires you out much quicker. Still the number one course only takes six weeks and we have done three so we shan’t have much more to do.

Well I will sign off for the moment as I want to get down to the Post Office to catch the afternoon post

Bye bye for now
Lots of love
Graham
x x x x x