15th March 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for such a long again but I think I mentioned in my last letter that we were going out to Saigon in French Indo China. We arrived back here yesterday so we were gone for just over a week.

IMG_20170311_114158044
Caption reads: H.M.S. ‘Trafalgar’ alongside jetty at Saigon in French Indo-China (later re-named Vietnam) in March 1946. Ship had taken Japanese General back to Saigon to face war crimes court martial.

The main reason that we went to Saigon was to collect mail that has been held up owing to heavy storms that have prevented the mail planes taking off. We also took a Japanese war criminal, General Okado, who is wanted for trial for atrocities on the Indonese. He was a tough looking devil but I can’t say that he looked very perturbed at the fact that he was going to his death.

 

IMG_20170311_114214757.jpg
Caption reads: Japanese General Okado, wanted for war time atrocities in French Indo China, allowed out for exercise on board H.M.S. ‘Trafalgar’ en route to Saigon.

 

 

Saigon is the place where they have had a lot of trouble lately between the French and the Indonese. There was a bit of sniping going on while we were there. The town is about fifty miles up the Saigon River so you can guess it was quite a nice view going up river. We had plenty of fresh fruits while we were there, pineapples, bananas and coconuts. The town is roughly divided into two halfs, one where the French live and the other where the Annamites live in very primitive huts. The French quarter is very modern and is just like a British city. On the Sunday I went ashore and went to church in Saigon cathedral which is a very beautiful building. The service was conducted in French and I was just about able to gather a smattering about what the service was.

The climate there is terribly hot as it is in the tropical areas and it is quite a jungle just outside the city. We had to have anti malaria pills while we were there just in case.

Also while we were there we had two games of football. The first was against a Navy hospital ship which we won easily by seven goals to none. The second was against the R.A.F. and was a very tough match which we just managed to win by four goals to three.

I think we are going out again early next week though I don’t know where to yet. It may be only a “buzz” though. At the end of the month we are going to Shanghai which I don’t fancy very much. I don’t expect we shall stay there very long as we are the “senior” ship out here in the China Fleet now that the “Duke of York” has left home for Sydney so we shan’t be able stay away from the main base, which is here, for long.

I got two letters from you yesterday and also one from Jean so I will start with your No 15 first, dated Feb. 24th. I certainly was surprised to hear that Dad had sold out to the Coop, I thought it would probably be Wrensons or else some private trader. I bet Wrensons over the road don’t think such a lot of it. What price did they pay? Did they argue over the goodwill like the others that have been interested.

It sounds quite like a chain circle when you get a letter from me, I hope Uncle Fred got that last letter of mine safely and that it didn’t miss him when he left for home.

Bill H. certainly seems to be doing well for himself doesn’t he. I am surprised at him taking the Petty Officer rank though as it will make it harder for him to get demobbed. I see in the Pacific Fleet Notices that have just come out that the “Taurus” is en route from Fremantle so it looks as though he is heading for home.

Fancy Stan A. getting demobbed, the jammy devil, he has only been in about two years or so hasn’t he.

I would be glad if you could send me a bit of money I want to buy a new suit and I can never afford it out of my navy pay. I should think it would be safe sending it in an ordinary letter as so far there hasn’t any been lost.

Am glad to hear Dad beat C. in the snooker, I bet he was upset for a day or two as he always fancied his chance. Roy got knocked out by “Pop” C. though he said that he was glad that he lost to him in preference to some of the others.

Micky seems to have been having quite a game since arriving at his new home. I bet he will have quite a lot of fun chasing the strays that usually hang around the drive.

Have you still got the car by the way or did that go in with the shop.

I am afraid that I have forgotten what fish and chips taste like, the last time that I had any decent ones was when I was home when I pinched that weekend if I remember right that’s what I had for supper. I am still doing very well with my cakes and puddings, I made a cake this morning and when I went to fetch it from the galley the cook recommended me on it. I mixed it up until it tasted like “scraping out the dish” and I thought “that’ll do” and sure enough it did. Yesterday I made a steamed duff which was also very tasty. I shall certainly make someone a very good wife.

Well that seems about all for that letter so I’ll have a look at the other one which is the smallest. Sorry to hear that you hadn’t heard for such a long time. I expect the mail had been held up as there has been quite a lot of stoppages recently.

What sort of job is Dad getting at the Met factory, it will be pretty handy to get to even if he doesn’t go in the car, you can get a Midland Red pretty often past there. I wonder what job I shall get when I get “outside”. I am afraid that by then I shall have forgotten most of the electricity that I ever knew. Still I have always got a knowledge of a drawing office as a second choice.

Glad to hear that Mary was pleased that I remembered here, is she still working at the shop.

Roy told me about Frank P., I bet he is pretty “choka” fancy doing a trick like that and even having the cheek to take his money.

I will just answer a few of Jean’s questions and I think I shall have to call it a day as it is getting pretty late.

That Bill that wrote to you is a Leading Stoker on here. He came on about the same time as me although he has been out here about eighteen months. He is going home for demobbing any day as his relief came on board yesterday so he shouldn’t be long.

Eric that chap on the motor bike is on board H.M.S. “Avenger” which I think is an aircraft carrier and is still at Sydney.

I have lost most of my sunburn since I have been here as it gets really cold at times though I would rather have it like that in preference to the heat of Saigon.

I am enclosing an Indonesian “piastine” which is valued at eightpence halfpenny at the moment although it alters from time to time.

Did you get my last photo O.K. that one where I am standing with another boy. I am glad you liked the one in the frame of the ship. I have got one of the football team also in a frame and will send it on tomorrow or as soon as I cam get an envelope big enough for it.

What do you think of Birmingham in the cup now, I hope they win it don’t you. They certainly did well to knock six up against Bradford. I heard the commentaries of both matches over the wireless and it certainly sounded very exciting. Has Dad got any “long odds” on any teams this year? Even if he has he won’t win such a lot as Bolton are the best odds and they are only about 33-1 aren’t they?

Well I think I shall have to close now as it is twenty to twelve so until next time,
All my love,
Graham
x x x

P.S. I am posting a Saigon newspaper in another envelope. It is written in foreign “twang” but it will be alright as a souvenir
x x x x x


Notes

French Indo China is, of course, now called Vietnam.

Major General Okado Tasuku was tried as part of the Yokohama War Crimes Trials, which lasted over two years (from 1946 to 1948). Okado was found guilty of ordering the execution of a number of captured American pilots shortly before the end of the war, and he was hanged on the 17th of September 1949. He accepted responsibility for the killings, and his trial and execution were made into a film, Best Wishes for Tomorrow, in 2007.

 

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