29th December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad & Jean,

At the moment of writing I am on leave and am writing this in the house of a Mr & Mrs Norton of Roseville, near Sydney. He is in the Australian Army and they seem decent people. I am spending my leave with another chap off the Trafalgar, Reg F. from Northampton. I have got leave until next Friday, January 4th and I started it yesterday. I came ashore intending to stay at the British Centre for my leave but last night after I came out of the pictures seeing Danny Kaye in “Wonder Man” and Tom Conway in “The Falcon in Hollywood”, I bumped into Reg and he suggested that we should go into the Methodist Hospitality Centre and see if we could get an address where to spend our leave. Well they said that everywhere was packed out but if we came back at two in the afternoon they would see if they could get us an address. So we messed around and at two they managed to get this address after ringing up about a dozen people.

Roseville, what I have seen of it, is not a very big place and seems pretty quiet so it will be a change from Sydney.

Yesterday H.M.S. “Formidable” and “Implacable” left Sydney for England with ex P.O.W.s and men from demobbing. You should have seen the crowds waiting to see them off, brass bands and such like. Most of the big ships out here are returning home shortly as there is a big naval review in March back home and they are fetching all the big ships for it. I hope that they send me back with them.

I received two Birmingham Mails during last week and also the local ‘rag’, it was good to see a decent paper again. Apart from that though I haven’t had any letters for just over a week. I suppose they have been delayed somewhere over Xmas. I shall have to wait another week until I go back to the ship so I hope there is some for me when I get back.

How is the weather back home now, have you had any snow yet? Some of the people here have never seen snow and very few of them have got overcoats. Business men walk around in shirt sleeves so you can tell it is pretty warm.

How is the football going on lately are the Midland clubs still going strong? Who is top scorer of the league by the way? I saw an article in the Pacific Poet that said that Edwards of the Villa was likely to be England’s centre forward in place of Lawton or Stubbins. Is it right? How is the village going on lately, are they top of the league yet? I expect the cup matches will start soon won’t they? What price Villa this year again? Favourites aren’t they?

Don Bradman the Australian batsman made a come back this week. He played for his old club South Australia for the first time since the war and made 68 and 52 not out in the second innings. Syd Barnes of New South Wales has also been getting plenty of runs lately. He has got over 500 runs in three innings, 193 167 and 152 not out. Not bad eh!

Well I think that is about all for this time once again so I shall have to close.

All my love
Your loving son and brother
Graham
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P.S. My signature tune now is “I’ll be home for Xmas” have you heard it?

23rd December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad & Jean,

I expect you have had my other short note telling you that I have got a ship at last. She is a pretty new ship, built during the war and is a battle class destroyer. That is a destroyer, slightly bigger than usual, built with a heavier armament on the lines of a battleship. She is also the flotilla leader of the destroyer squadron.

At the moment we are lying alongside a sister ship, H.M.S. “Camperdown” alongside the wharf in Sydney harbour. There are dozens of wellknown ships pretty near to us, H.M.S. “King George V”, H.M.S. “Berwick”, “Implacable”, “Indomnitable”, “Indefatigable”, “Pioneer”, “Glory”, and many others. The troopship that turned back in the Bay of Biscay due to engine trouble, the S.S. “Orion” came in this afternoon.

Last night I saw an old mate of mine from “Imperieuse” named Jim J. who came in yesterday on H.M.S. “Perseus”. My other mate, Eric D., is on H.M.S. “Glory” as working party so it looks as though we shall be split up.

Next Friday, I am going on six days leave though I don’t know where I shall go yet. I think I shall go to the British Centre and get an address. We sail from here on January 15th with about a dozen other ships and are going to Melbourne. We might go to New Zealand from there but if we don’t we shall go round to Fremantle on the West coast. Then to Singapore, Hong Kong and end up at Tokio. From there we are going on fleet exercises in and around the islands. After we have done that there is a possibility that we shall go to America and from there back to England in July. I hope that they don’t draft me off by then, that would just suit me down to the ground.

The ships company on board at the moment (that is me) are having an easy time as there is a big working party on board doing all the dirty work such as boiler parties and painting. There are only half the crew on board at the moment as the Starboard watch is on Xmas leave. I am duty on Xmas Day but am ashore on boxing day. I don’t expect there will be much doing though.

The food on board is excellent, we had roast potatoes and a lovely piece of pork for dinner Friday. Then we had a tin (large size 1lb 14ozs) of Yellow Cling peaches between two of us. They only cost us 1/3d a tin and so we do ourselves swell. We eat what we like see, we don’t have to eat what is for dinner on daily orders, we just prep our own meal and take it up to the galley to get it cooked.

On Friday I saw Franchot Tone and Susanna Foster in “That night with You” and Gloria Jean in “Fairy Tale Murder” and yesterday afternoon I saw Bing Crosby, Betty Hutton, Paulette Goddard, Alan Ludd, Dorothy Lamour, Eddie Bracken, Sonny Tufts in “Duffy’s Tavern”. They were all pretty good. I thought that the first was the best of the three.

I expect you are looking forward to Xmas now at home aren’t you, where are you going to? I hope you all have a good time, I should love to be with you, still I think I shall be home by next Christmas. I will keep my fingers crossed at any rate.

Well it is the bottom of the page again so I shall have to close until the next time. So all my love
Love and kisses
Graham
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22nd December 1945

Dear all,

Just a few lines to let you know my latest address. I will write again later to let you know the latest news. The ship is the flotilla leader of the British Pacific Battle Class destroyer squadron. We leave Sydney on January 15th and are going on a “pleasure” cruise – Melbourne, Fremantle, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokio then fleet exercises in the Pacific. From there we go to America and eventually Britain in July. I don’t know whether I shall still be on by the because they usually taken men off them if their group number is not up. Still I shall keep my fingers crossed.

Am going on 6 days leave next Friday that is the 25th. Got the “Birmingham Mail” dated November 3rd yesterday. Thanks for same!

Shall have to sign off now will write fuller tomorrow,

All my love,
Graham
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18th December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad & Jean,

Just a line or two to thank you for your very welcome letter which I received this morning. It was number five dated December 3rd so it must have been held up somewhere as it doesn’t usually take fifteen days for letters to get out here. I had one from Norman R. last week that was posted on December 2nd and I received it on the 10th which is pretty good isn’t it? We have had two hold ups of mail from England since i arrived here, they said it was because of the fog in Britain and so the mail planes couldn’t get off.

In regard to all the fruit that I have been having lately I very rarely eat any now as I have had so much that I am sick of it. I have had three pineapples peaches and cherries during the last week but have definitely gone off them now! We don’t get such a selection of sweets and chocolate out here, there is a shortage of certain brands owing to the strike and the Xmas shoppers. My favourite is full cream Fudge. Do you remember Dad used to sell it once?

I am glad to hear that Dad’s finger is getting better, I hope that he doesn’t get any more trouble with it. It would spoil Christmas if he has to keep it in a sling all the time. I still don’t know definitely where I shall spend my Christmas yet, Eric and myself made friends with a couple of girls from North Sydney and we have been around to their house two or three times. We are hoping that we shall get an invitation from them but if we don’t, well I suppose it will have to be the British Centre. There is nothing serious with them, it is just “purely platonic”, they are both much older than us.

I had a letter from Geoff P. this morning, he is down at Devonport now, still on the same course and has got a hook up now. Gets thirty shillings a week which is nearly double my wages. He says that only himself and “Ginger” B. are left out of the old Skegness class and only ten of them still on the course out of the original sixty odd. He was going to get engaged for Xmas but has decided to wait until he gets demobbed. Talking of demobbing Norman says that he is expecting his “ticket” in April or May. He certainly is jammy isn’t he. He is stationed about six miles from his wife’s home as well so he certainly hasn’t got anything to grumble about.

This afternoon we had a surprising change in the weather, after a record temperature of 115° yesterday it certainly came as a surprise to have a thunderstorm which has only just stopped after being on for five hours. There has been eleven people die in Sydney and suburbs during yesterday through the terrific heat. Most of them were old people over sixty or so. In one place about fifty miles from here the temperature has exceeded 100° for the last twelve days, I reckon they must be getting a trifle sunburnt.

You say that Britain had most of the war, well you should hear them out here. Anyone would think Australia had won the war. They say they won the Libyan campaign, Crete, Greece, Italy, Burma, most of the islands in the Pacific just to mention a few of their campaigns. Then they tun the British fleet down and say “Why didn’t the British fleet come out to the Pacific until 1941 and 1942.” They forget that we were fighting a war on our own doorsteps since 1939. Then they say “Why can’t our servicemen get home for Xmas?” All the British ships are fetching them back while their own ships are lying in the Australian harbours “on exhibition”. They say Australia is the finest country – a “land fit for heroes”, yet they have had three general strikes in two months, it just shows how satisfied they are.

Tell Jean I think the photograph is very good, there are quite a lot of chaps in my hut who want to write to her. The only way I could keep them away is by telling them she is courting strongly and is ‘as good as engaged’.

This weekend I am going down to Manly Beach to do a spot of sunbathing and attempting to learn to swim. There are plenty of instructors there. Manly Beach is a famous surfing beach and people come from all parts of N.S.W. to surf there. It is pretty well a national sport out here. The cricket season is in full swing at the moment, N.S.W. seems to be the top dogs at the moment. W. J. O’Reilly the test bowler is captain of the team but he is going off now. The other day I saw Stan McCabe, the Australian vice captain, he owns a sports shop down George Street, tat is the main street like Corporation Street. He hasn’t been playing during the war.

I am sorry that the letters I have been writing recently haven’t been very long but as there wasn’t much to write about especially when I haven’t got one of your letters in front of me. Still I know that you would rather have a short letter than none at all.

Have you received my photos yet taken in tropical rig, I think the one taken by myself was the best. I have got two more taken with a couple of girls. Again nothing sentimental!!!

I am on duty again while I am writing this letter, I have to stop in the Regulating Office all night until seven thirty in the morning when I get relieved. We have changed our leave system now. There are only six of us so we have split up into two watches and take it in turns one watch every day while the other watch is ashore. We start the day at dinner so we are allowed to go ashore at twelve thirty and don’t have to report back until eleven thirty the next morning. It is a much better way as it means we get a lie in in bed, that is when I stop out at night and sleep at the British Centre.

Did you get the Xmas card O.K. You’d be surprised the trouble I had trying to get them. You see the strike was on and most of the stationers shops were shut. I eventually got them on an underground railway station bookstall. I hope you get it in time for Xmas. I sent them to Hobmoor, Byron, Whiteacre and Roy besides yourself.

Have you heard any news of the local lads lately, Brian J., Bill, Boyd K., Jack S. Do you know Brian T. from Mackadown, I believe he is at Tokio, he was on the “Duke of York” I think when she entered the harbour. Could you find out for me if he is on “Duke of York”? Mr H. would probably know.

By the way I hear Roy Statham has got himself ‘hooked’ up. Who was the girl, was it his old flame? I expect he will be getting demobbed soon won’t he?

Well I really think that is about all I can think of at the moment so I will close down again until next time.

All my love
Graham
x x x x x x x x x x x x
x         x         x

17th December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad & Jean,

I am writing this in a pool of sweat although it is only just seven oclock. For most of yesterday we had a temperature of over ninety degrees. I bet it is a bit different at home now.

We heard the other day that the Port watch, that is the watch that I am in, is having four days leave at Xmas so I am homing that I don’t get a draft before then. I don’t know where I am going yet, I expect I shall end up at the British Centre in Hyde Park.

Have you read about the general strike in Sydney in the papers, it is a nuisance to us and we can’t have such a good time ashore now. It is practically impossible to get a cooked meal and we are just about sick of the sight of salads now. Still in this mornings paper it says that some of the strikers are going back to work this morning so perhaps it will be back to normal before long.

Last week I went over Sydney suspension bridge by train. It really is a marvellous sight, there is a first class three traffic line road, two sets of railway lines, two sets of tramway lines and two pedestrian footpaths so you can guess the width of it. It takes about five minutes to cross it on the train.

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We can go anywhere on a Sydney tram for 1d and also can get a fortnightly railway ticket for 3/- which takes us on any railway within a thirty mile radius of Sydney.

I am posting a photograph taken last week in Hyde Park, at the same time as this letter so you should get them at the same time. Also a cutting that should interest Dad.

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By the way did you ever send the ‘local mags’ out to me? They say it takes them two months to reach here so if I go up the ‘Islands’ I shall get them about the end of January. Still as long as I know if there are any on the way.

Well I shall have to close down once again so
All my love
Your own son
Graham
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

9th December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just to thank you for your very welcome letter which I received yesterday, No 4. I can’t understand that you hadn’t had a letter from me from Capetown by the twenty sixth of November as that was two days off Sydney which means that my Capetown mail would have been on the way for a fortnight. Still I should think that you would probably get it in the beginning of the week. If I remember right it was a pretty heavy letter so probably it would be sent by sea mail instead of by air. Talking of mail and letters, I think you will find that you can send my letters for 1 1/2 d instead of putting a 2 1/2 d stamp on them. Have you sent any newspapers on to me yet? I think a parcel of newspapers costs threepence to send!

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Newtown rolling skating rink in Sydney with three other boys. We were there for three hours or so and had a pretty good time. I was a bit shaky at first but soon picked it up again. Sometime next week we are going to have a try at ice skating and see how we get on at that. I expect we shall end up with a few broken bones.

Thank you for the Christmas cards. You needn’t have worried about them getting here in time, they did it with a fortnight to spare. A letter from England takes roughly a fortnight to get here which will give you a bit of a guide. How long does it take them to get from here?

I have got a special duty job here now, I am in the Main Engine Room Regulating Office as a messenger. There are eight of us altogether and we work it in shifts. We all work in the mornings and knock off at dinnertime except for duty watch, two of them. Non duty watches can go ashore at dinner time. I do that for three days. On the fourth day I work until four thirty and can go ashore at night. Then another three half days and on the eighth day I work until dinner and then knock off until seven at night when I come on again and work until seven in the morning. So you can see I get plenty of time off.

There is a general strike of the electricity and gas workers on in Sydney and the rest of N.S.W. at the moment. All the ships are operating with candles and very few cinemas are working, only those that produce their own current. As long as the electric railway into Sydney keeps running it won’t be too bad.

Well I am getting to the end of this letter so I shall have to close again. I hope you all have a very happy time at Christmas and plenty of ‘big eats’. There is a rumour going round that we are all having five days leave at Christmas so I shall probably spend mine at the British Centre where they are having a big “bust up”. So for the time being I will have to say “Cheerio”

All my love
xxxxxxx Graham xxxxxx

1st December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just to let you know that I received three letters from you this morning safely. The last one was dated 14.11.45 so I expect there will probably be some more on Monday as the mail from Britain has been delayed. Altogether I had twenty three letters so you can guess I shall be pretty busy for a day or two.

Tomorrow I am playing for the ship’s cricket team against a local Marine team. They broadcast anyone interested to play for the team to report and we had a trial. As they wanted a wicketkeeper I managed to get selected so I hope I manage to do O.K. Not bad considering there are 10000 men here.

You will be pleased to know that the washing facilities here are very good and this afternoon I did all my dirty washing. This morning they told us that we shall get paid next Wednesday so I shan’t have to wait all that long. I expect it will be about £4 or £5, we get tropical pay out here, another 6d a day I think it is.

Isn’t Jack S. lucky to get straight back so quickly after going abroad.

I think there is a good chance that I may bump into Bill H. as there is a good percentage of chaps go from here to Hong Kong.

Those two chaps who I met on the “Aquitania” are both on the photo. I forget their whereabouts on the photo. There is also one here who comes from Birmingham, Edwards is his name, I believe he is sitting down in the front line, a blonde chap who looks a proper “weed”.

Pleased to hear about the fowl, there is certainly no shortage of eggs here. We always have two at least when we have eggs and sometimes we get three. Last night we had steaks, tomatoes and two eggs and yesterday we had peaches and ice cream. I don’t know what the Navy is coming to. Tonight for supper we had liver, mash and sausages.

Tell Jean I think the poly photo is very good, quite a lot of my mates wanted to know if I had any “gash” (naval term for tit bits that a person doesn’t want).

How is the car running lately, has the petrol ration been increased yet. I don’t expect you use it so much now with all the foggy weather.

Did you both have a good birthday, I bet you had a sponge sandwich cake and tons of little cakes. Boy what would I give to dig my teeth into one of them now.

I am enclosing some more cuttings out of the Sydney “Daily Mirror” this time giving a bit more news of the “Aquitania”. Seems as though we were quite a rough crowd doesn’t it what with breaking ashore at Capetown and Sydney and throwing “good” shoes at M.P.S. It is a bit of an exgatteration (is that spelt right?) about the shoe actually it was taken out of the rubbish tins. By the way I had my photo taken by a newspaper reporter in Wednesday. When we pulled in alongside the dock I was standing at a big steel door in the side of the ship with a lot of Aussies and he took a snap of the “returning Aussies”. I bought two papers but it wasn’t in either and as I wasn’t particularly ‘flush’ I couldn’t afford to go around buying copies of all the Sydney newspapers.

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The caption in Graham’s photo album reads: H.M.T. Aquitania, the last 4 funnelled liner arriving at Woolloomooloo, Sydney on November 28th 1945. The 45,000 ton ship carried some 2000 Australian servicemen returning from war time service in England. The ship left Southampton on October 28th, and travelled to Australia by way of Freetown – Sierra Leone, Capetown – South Africa, Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and then to Sydney. Photograph reproduced from picture in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’.

By the way you should see their papers, thirty odd pages and the “News of the World” has nothing on it. Talk about freedom of the press, they certainly have it out here. Did you read about that French swimsuit case (it reported it was in the British papers) a girl was hired to walk in a fashion parade  with a swim suit on (french model) Well evidently the higher class of people thought it was shocking. The case was splashed across the headlines in two inch letters, while atom bomb discussions, fighting in Java and Palestine was on page 2. To give you an idea of how “shocking” it was she was fined – 10/-.

Well I think that is about all I can think of at the moment as I wrote to you yesterday so – all my love
Graham
P.S. Tell Uncle Harry that I had celery for tea. Very tasty – very sweet.


Notes

Apart from the above photograph, the newspaper clippings appear to be missing. Sadly, I can’t find any reference to the intriguing shoe-throwing incident.