10th September 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I have just about settled down here now, and have just about got to know my way around the camp. It is not a very big camp and there is only about a thousand men here so it not too bad. It is a good job that I came here and didn’t have to go to Portsmouth Barracks as it is absolutely packed out. I expect you have read in the papers that there are 25000 at the barracks whereas it is only supposed to accommodate 10000. We live in Army “Nissen” huts, twenty of us to each one, and sleep on bunks. There is a table in the centre of the room and also a window so it is quite a palace to what we have had at “Imperieuse”. Still I have only slept in the camp once as we are allowed ashore three nights out of four so I have gone into Portsmouth and slept at the Sailor’s Hostel, the Savoy Cafe. It is only a shilling a night so it is worth it just to sleep in between sheets.

The food here is very good as well so I hope that I stop here a good while. We fall in each morning and get detailed for work, sometimes we go out of the camp to Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth, the Docky and on various farms in the district as working parties. If we get a job in we either get farming parties or working parties. Farming parties do all the gardening round the camp as they grow all their own vegetables here. Working parties can do anything, coaling parties, galley squad, wood party, or just cleaning up the camp

We get two weekends off every month, I get a long weekend next week, that is Friday dinner to Monday morning plus VJ makes it Wednesday. A fortnight later I get a short weekend which is Saturday dinner to Monday morning so I should be getting home pretty frequently. Of course I am liable for foreign draft all the while but you can never tell when you are going to get a draft chit. Some chaps get them the same day they get in camp while others hang on two or three months. As long as I don’t get on what they call the “Golden Hind” draft, it is either a draft to Australia on shore base or draft to Germany in occupation army in the German ports.

I have been to the pictures twice this week I have seen Betty Hatton, Charles Ruggles in “Incendiary Blonde” and Yvonne de Carlo in “Salome, where she danced” and Cora Sue Collins, David Reed in “Youth on Trial”, all of them were very good pictures especially the first two.

This afternoon we were given the afternoon off much to our surprise. When we fell in for work, the officer in charge said “All men in F.I. mess fall in on the extreme right” Well we thought we were in for it, we racked our brains and wondered what we had done. Then he said “This morning I was walking round your hut and having a look at the flower beds round it.” We thought he was going to tick us off for something to do with the garden. Then he went on “The garden is an absolute credit to your mess and you can all have the afternoon off in the mess.” We nearly dropped as he is usually a miserable devil. The other blokes were pretty jealous, you should have seen their faces.

By the way I had to ditch those tins as I couldn’t get them in my kit bag, if you send me another cake can you pack it without putting it in a tin then I shouldn’t have to worry about getting the tin back.

I received the papers O.K. before I left Plymouth, it was a surprise to get the football final. Could you send t on for me every week as it is a treat to be able to read all the local football reports. The Villa are doing well again, aren’t they, they did well to beat West Ham in London on Monday. I see George Cumming is the new skipper now that Alex Massie has finished, and that Jackie Martin is playing for them again. The Midland teams are still doing very well, it should be interesting to see who finishes the highest out of them.

Well I think that is about all for now so I will close down for the time being
All my love
Be seeing you soon
Graham
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P.S. Excuse writing as I am in a hurry as I have to fall in at five for duty watch.

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2nd September 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line or two to let you know that I arrived back safely. The train got in about five thirty so we had plenty of time to spare and managed to get a cup of tea at the Y.M.C.A. I had to stand all the way to Bristol and also from Bristol to Torquay when I managed to get a seat.

We started on our course at ten and as we had to get our kit unpacked you can guess we didn’t waste much time. By the way we have had a good bit of news about the course. They have cut it down to five weeks from eight so perhaps I shall be having another long leave shortly. I hope so at any rate.

My parcel has not arrived today, its certainly taking a long time to get here. I hope it arrives by the morning post as we are working in the boiler house tomorrow afternoon so I shall need them. I shan’t be able to send them home to wash as we have to change them twice a week.

By the way there was no mail for me this morning so it looks as though those four or five that have gone to Portsmouth have really got lost.

By the way I think that any money that is coming to me for my birthday had better be put in the N.S.C.s so if you know anyone who is sending me money you had better have it off them and put it in for me.

Don’t forget the license by the way as I shall probably be needing it again shortly

By the way there was a cricket meeting this morning on board as the team has been split up what with men on leave and others going on draft. We had a practice match tonight and I was “stumping”, I made twenty three runs and caught two men out so I think I did O.K. There is a final practice match on Wednesday night and I have been picked. The ship team needs a wicket-keeper as the usual one is on leave so perhaps I shall get a game for the ship’s eleven.

Well I think that is about all for now so I will close.

Lots of love
Graham
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