14th February 1946

-This is a continuation of yesterday’s letter.-

Here I am again, sorry I couldn’t finish the letter last night but we had an emergency call and had to “flash up” the borders. The match was also cancelled because of the emergency. Still nothing came of it as it was just an alarm. Today we are duty destroyer again instead of going to sea. We were again supposed to be playing football this afternoon against H.M.S. “Contest” but that match has also been cancelled. Still I expect we shall probably play one of them tomorrow, I hope so at any rate.

I had quite a few letters again this morning, two from you, one from Jean and an addressed envelope from Jean with nothing inside it. I wonder how that happened? Your two letters were numbered 12 and 13 the last one dated Feb 5th.

Dealing with number 12 first – I was surprised to hear about Margaret L. getting married, it seems that all my ‘old flames’ are getting ‘hitched’ doesn’t it.

Fancy Paul S. being at Capetown when I was there, its a pity that I missed him. Did you give him my address by the way?

I don’t expect that I shall have any chance of bumping into Aunt Pollie or your cousin at New Zealand. I should think that we shall gradually get nearer home now. The chaps on board here that have been to New Zealand say that it is the best place for hospitality that they have been to.

I shall keep an eye out for the “Newfoundland” when it comes in but I shall have a bit of a job finding Brian T. as I don’t even know whether he is a seaman or a stoker or what! Still I can try and find him!

Well that seems to be about all for letter 12 so here goes for No 13. Thank Granny K. for the £1 will you please. I will have to write to her again soon. At the moment I am absolutely “snowed under” with mail I have got about twelve people to reply to after this letter so I shall be pretty busy. I shall probably knock most of them off tonight.

I think I had better close for now or else I shan’t be able to send the letter by air mail. I shall probably be writing to Jean tomorrow or Saturday. I am enclosing a ten cent Hong Kong note that Jean might like.

So for the time being I shall have to say “cheerio”

All my love
Graham
xxxxxxxxxx

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13th February 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines to thank you very much for your letter which I received yesterday morning. I also got six “Birmingham Mails” this morning all of them dated November. They all had the Sydney address on so I suppose that is why they took such a long time to get here.

Since I last wrote to you I have been making quite a name for myself in the way of sport. Last Thursday I played cricket for the ship’s cricket team against a Command office’s XI. We made eighty eight runs which they easily got for the loss of only four wickets. I played wicket keeper and got eight runs.

On Saturday I played for the Stokers XI against the Torpedomen at football. I played right back in the first half and at half time the score was 0-0. In the second half I went centre half as he got hurt in a tackle. We scored twice then and won by 2-0. This is the first time that the Stokers have won a match. The ship’s selection committee was at the match and they picked me to play for the ship’s team as centre-half. I played again on Sunday for the ship against an unbeaten ship H.M.S. “Redpole”, the result was a 3-3 draw so we did pretty well. I think they deserved to win as they had most of the play during the second half.

Yesterday I played goalkeeper for the ship’s hockey team against an officer’s team. It was a very good game and was quite a thriller in the closing stages but we managed to keep them out and we won by 4 goals to 3.

Today I have again been picked for the ship’s side again as centre half. We are playing the Royal Engineers who are another of the “crack” sides around here. There will  be a navy selection committee in attendance to look out for men for a combined Navy side to play the Chinese 1st team who are unbeaten. They even beat the “Duke of York” side the other day and they are very food, so I shall have to be on my best behaviour. Not bad is it, representing the ship at three sports, all m mates are very envious as it gets me out of a lot of work.

Last week we went out twice, on Sunday we got called out to the aid of a flotilla of L.S.T.s who were in difficulties owing to a heavy gale that was blowing. We went out and after six hours sailing were wirelessed that they had reached harbour in Luzon so we headed back for Sydney. It was a very rough trip and I was sea sick most of the time. We got back in about midnight. Tuesday we went out on torpedo and gunnery trials but it was very calm so I wasn’t at all bad.

Tomorrow we are going out again on A.S.D.I.C. trials, that is Anti Submarine Detecting trials, I expect we shall be back in again about suppertime.

I got granny C’s pound quite safely last Wednesday, it will certainly come in handy. I shall probably write to her tomorrow or Friday though I shall have to send it to you as I am not sure of the address.

Glad to hear you got the photos O.K. I posted another photo of the ship this morning, it shows the ship just passing under Sydney bridge and I have had it frames and coloured so it should look nice on the mantlepiece. It cost 5 dollars, that is 6/3. It should have cost 8/- but I talked him down. If you see a silk scarf or something like that you say “how much?” and he will probably say “ten dollars” which is obviously too much. So you just turn up your nose and say “Too much” and start walking away. As soon as you walk away he shouts after you “Alright you can have it for eight dollars.” Everything you buy is like that, you can always knock them down a dollar or two. Cigarettes are the most valuable possession out here, you can get seven or eight dollars for fifty cigs. That is 8/- to 10/-. I suppose the people we sell them to go inland and sell them at a higher price still.

That song I told you about “I’ll be home for Xmas” is a real tune and was all the rage when I was in Australia.

Well I shall have to sign off for now as I want to get a shower before the match.

-To be continued-


Historical Notes

An L.S.T., or Landing Ship, Tank, was a ship designed to carry vehicles, cargo and troops to shore. They were used throughput World War II, with over a thousand being built from 1940 onwards by the US alone. The UK and Canada subsequently developed a new design and built around eighty, used from 1945.

A.S.D.I.C.s (the A.S.D. indeed standing for Anti-Submarine Division; I.C. came from the word ‘supersonics’, which was removed from the name for secrecy) was the forerunner to SONAR. A.S.D.I.C. was in development by the British from 1912 onwards. During World War II, the now widely-used technology was shared with the U.S.

1st February 1946

Dear Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t replied to your letter that I received at Port Darwin before but honestly this is the first opportunity that I have had.

The reason that letters are getting to you quicker than yours are getting to me is because mail to England should only take five days from Australia whereas it takes ten to get out to Australia. I don’t know what the service is like from here, I don’t expect I shall get much though as we shall be moving about quite a lot in the near future. Still I don’t mind that, it will certainly be better than staying here too long.

The weather here is not so hot as it was in Sydney, well not at the moment at any rate you can’t really tell by one day can you? As I have mentioned in my letter to Mom we are playing football tomorrow (I think it is tomorrow) so if it is like it was today it won’t be too bad. Still I reckon I am getting used to heat by now. In the boiler room there is an average heat of 110 to 120 or more degrees so you can guess it is pretty warm.

I expect it is getting a bit warmer at home now isn’t it? I should imagine it has been a pretty severe winter this year hasn’t it?

I will be handy for you for school when you move won’t it, the bus that passes by the door goes across, I think. Also handy for the pictures with your boy friend. It is funny that I was born just a few doors away and now after seventeen years I should pretty well return to my birthplace. Well I presume I shall return there, at least I hope I am not in that ling that you leave before I get demobbed.

It is a pity that I missed Bill H. just by a fortnight I should have liked to have seen him before he went home. Don’t forget if you hear of any other village boys that are out here just let me have their addresses and I will keep my eyes open for them.

Well I shall have to close for the time being so until next time
All my love
Your brother Graham
x x x x x x

1st February 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I am so sorry that I haven’t written to you for over a fortnight but I expect you can guess I don’t get much time when we are at sea. Still here goes.

I left Sydney on Wednesday 16th January and went to Port Darwin right round the East coast of Australia through the Great Barrier Reef across the Gulf of Carpentaria and so to Port Darwin. It wasn’t a very interesting place as it is only small. We stayed there overnight and left the next morning at seven thirty. Then we headed north between the Money Isles and Goulbarn Isles up with Melville Isles on our left, through the Timor Sea and Banda Sea, between the Burn & Serang Isles, through the Celebes Group, across the Malucca Sea, Mindanoa on our right Luzon on our right across the China Sea and finally to Hong Kong. I think you should be able to follow that if you want to look it up.

The first two days I was seasick but the rest of the trip I didn’t do too badly. All the way we were watchkeeping, that is three watches Red, White & Blue, I was in Blue taking it in turns during the seven watches per day. The seven watches are afternoon watch (12 midday to 4), First dog (4 to 6), Last Dog (6 to 8), First Watch (8 to 12), Middle Watch (12 midnight to 4), Morning watch (4 to 8), Forenoon watch (8 to 12 midday) so you do every third watch which shares it out evenly. The only trouble is you never get a full night’s sleep and so during the day when you are off duty you usually spend sleeping. Then you have all your washing to do so you can see why I haven’t written before.

I am certainly getting handy now on board here, I am the mess tailor and do all the mending for my mates (got to get some money somehow, I haven’t been paid since I left “Golden Hind”) mending suits, putting patches in overalls, darning socks and although I say it myself they are definitely passable. Also I am the “duff maker” on the mess and have to make the pudding for dinner, you should taste some of my “jam turnovers” they are definitely the favourite of the lot.

Tonight I made a “toad in the hole” for nineteen though I don’t know how that will come out yet. I shall have to send you a recipe or two.

I have heard that we are only stopping here a week and that we move on next Friday to Shanghai and then to Tokio but of course I shall have to wait and see. Pity I missed Bill wasn’t it, to think the time he has been here and then I miss him by a fortnight. Still it is about time he got his “ticket” isn’t it!

I got your letter number 8 and Jean’s number 1 also one from Byron at Port Darwin so I didn’t miss them after all. I was surprised about selling the shop and moving. Who are the new people? I read Jean’s letter first, I couldn’t think where she was on about, she said “what do you think about us leaving?” and also I should have the back bedroom but no mention of where you were moving to – I had to open yours to find that out.

I think Nelly did very well to get £6 for my suit, I have had it three years haven’t I? Still I think I shall get a “civvy suit” of the Navy when I get demobbed.

Talking of toast I might tell you that’s all I ate for two days, toast and Oxo that’s about the only thing I could manage to keep down.

I am playing football for the Stokers XI tomorrow as right back against the Seamen. I don’t expect we shall win as they have got much more men to choose from than us but all the same it will be a game. It is much cooler here by the way, just about September weather at home so it is not so bad.

Well I shall have to close once again so for the time being,

all my love,
Graham
x x x x x x x x

P.S. That air mail that you sent cost sixpence! Ask for a “Forces Letter” next time as they are only 1 1/2 d.
P.P.S. They are also quicker