3rd April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line or two to let you know that I arrived safely back on Wednesday. It was nearly six by the time I got in the camp and as I wasn’t particularly hungry I went to bed after I had fetched my kit.

When I got here I was surprised to find the chalet empty, I thought Norman had gone on draft at first but when I went to the mail office there was a card from him to say he would be back tonight so he must have managed to get his leave after all.

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think it will be very long before he follows us to Skegness. He certainly doesn’t sound too optimistic about the exams which he gets next Monday.

We had a ‘spot’ of duty class this morning and were “coal heaving” quite a change from lying on our beds for a week.

I had a shock today when we got paid, I got 50/- it is a pound difference from what we usually get. I am quite a rich “fellah” at the moment and so I ahve just put in a form to start a Post Office Savings Account.

Well it is nearly tea time now so I will say bye bye for now

Lots of love
xxxxxxxxx x

P.S. Will give you a ring either next Wednesday or Thursday to let you know whether I am coming home at the weekend and also to let you know my address.




2nd April 1945

Dear Mom + Dad,

Many thanks for letter which I received today. The photograph which I sent you, the one without my cap. I was not allowed to smile so that probably accounts for my sad expression. I have a small reproduction which is stuck in my naval pay and identity book. On the big photograph Norman is fourth from the left in the back but one row. My other pal Alan W. is third from the left on the back row. The three birmingham boys are Osmond D., second from the right back row, Len T., the fat chap on the end of the second row from the back, John P., third from the right third row from the back and Denis N. end of the same row on the right. Denis is the best of the four he comes from Wolverhampton. He is also a good footballer and played for Coventry City Colts. Our Instructor is Chief Petty Officer Turner and our two class leaders Peter N. on his left with glasses, and “Taffy” J. on his right.

I had my first wages on last Thursday and got two pounds. I don’t think they have stopped any money yet so I don’t expect much next week.

I think our draft to Malvern is pretty much certain now as our Instructor has mentioned it, but I am waiting until we are on the move this time before I get too optimistic.

Remember me to Harry G. next time you see and tell him I will call on the Midland works when I come home on leave.

Could you let me have my pipe I can get tobacco at 2s/8d a pound, pretty good eh? Also if you can spare one could you let me have one of the shoe polishers? Could you also send me a jar of jam to help the meals down a bit. I will send the tin back next time I send my washing if you can send me some brown paper as I cannot get any here. I expect you noticed my washing was wrapped up in someone elses paper.

I don’t know if I mentioned it last time but I have had a parcel from Barmouth with a chocolate covered cake and about a pound of sweets. I thought the war was over when I saw the cake.

The weather here at the moment is lovely but last week it has been terribly windy. I can just about imagine the posters in peace time describing Skegness “Come to Skegness – Skegness is so Bracing” Bracing, blimey its like being in a hurricane all day.

I cannot ring up that late as they clear everybody out at nine so it will be a bit earlier. I think it will be Thursday this week as I am on shore leave then, and Friday I am on firewatch and I may not be able to get to the phone as there is always a queue.

Alan W. has been lucky this weekend as Sunday he managed to get home and today he got special permission to go on shore leave to Skegness as his parents were in Skegness for the day, although it wasn’t our turn for shore leave.

Yesterday Norman and I went down to Skegness expecting to have a dull afternoon as we thought all the shops would be shut as it was Easter. Luckily for us Butlins fair had opened up for the summer season and of course they passed away an afternoon for us. It is definitely the best fair I have been to since the war started. Boating pools, mirror mazes, like they used to have at Rhyl, ghost trains, big dippers and plenty more things. We went into the Toc H club about half past five and stayed until eight writing letters. I wrote to Edna, Barmouth, Radford, Jess O. and Uncle Fred. I got his address from Edna when she wrote the other day. By the way talking of letters, there is an address of a boy called K.G.M, one of my mates from school, in one of my drawers. I think it is in the small left hand drawer on my dressing table. If you find it could you send it on to me as I want to write to him. My other mate from Skegness is going on draft to Warrington, H.M.S. “Gosling” next Tuesday. Cliff A. is going there tomorrow I think, he mentioned it the other day but I have not seen him lately. James from the Met is also going next week, I think he is also going to Warrington, he could not get in the electrical trade and is down as a stoker.

We led a ten mile route march on Saturday, did we feel tired when we got back.

Our class was praised up by our divisional officer this morning for our marching. I was in the third row from the front right up by the band. The parade was five hundred yards long and there were about two thousand men in the parade.

We had a surprise this morning when we were told that that as it was Easter Monday we could have the afternoon off from work. We have had two games of snooker and six or seven games of darts in our mess and then we went up to a football match on the Stadium.

Focastle Division beat the Ships Coy by one goal to nil. We ar going to the camp picture tonight, Betty Grable in “Pin Up Girl”.

There is a boxing contest here on Wednesday, H.M.S. “Royal Arthur” versus an Army team. From what I hear of previous fights here it will be worth seeing. At the end of the week at the pictures is “Appointment in Berlin”, I think you’ve got the book at home haven’t you? On Sunday we have got “Is Everybody Happy” so we have got plenty of attractions this week.

Could you let me have Teresa’s address so I could drop her a line. You’d be surprised how everybody rushes to the class leaders in the morning when they come in with the letters, so the more people I write to the more letters I get back. You feel so lonely when you don’t get a letter for two or three days. So if anyone wants my address can you let them have it especially some of my old mates.

Well I don’t think there is any more I can say at the moment so I will sign off for the moment. Ask Mrs S. to remember me to Denis and don’t forget Harry G.

Bye bye for now
Lots of love

x   x   x   x   x
x   x   x   x

P.S. Remember me to the gang and all the girls in the shop.



30th March 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I am writing this on firewatch duty in the cinema. I am on patrol from 9-30 till 11-0 tonight which is not so bad. I have sent a parcel today containing my dirty washing.

I had to see the dentist today and had one tooth out and one stopped. Luckily it didn’t hurt me and I stopped bleeding within about five minutes. They don’t give us cocaine or gas, it is a new idea, they administer it the same as cocaine but the effect is much better, you can’t feel a thing. We are well on the way in our course now, we are quite smart now on the parade ground now, and knots, well I didn’t think there where so many to know. I can do most of them as I used to know a lot of them in the scouts.

We also have started our P.T. here, do they put us through it.

It is like the excercises on the wireless in the morning only tent imes as fast – up, down, up, down, up, down, up down till we are almost dizzy. We have also had a game of rugby, what a mad game, there are three of our chaps in sick bay with black eyes and one with a bruised thigh.

As well as this we have four in sick bay with blisters and two with colds. On top of this there is usually two men each day excused parades because they have had their teeth out.

There is still hope that we may go to Malvern it may be in two or three weeks time but we cannot take this as definite as it is still unofficial. Norman went to see if  he could get his marriage leave but the officer said he could not give him a definite answer as he thought we were going on draft on April 11th. Still we shall know in a day or two.

Well I cannot think of anything more to say at the moment so I will sign off as it is nearly time to go on patrol.

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

Historical Note

Cocaine was the first local anaesthetic, although procaine, also called novocaine, was invented in 1905 and was used widely by 1945.

28th March 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I am sorry that I didn’t reply to your letter dated Thursday before as I haven’t had much time to write letters lately. Saturday we were on ‘galley duty’ that is to wash up dishes and plates of about a thousand men, peel potatoes, cut the cabbage up and put the dinners up. Sunday we were duty class and had to wake the camp up, sweep up all the dining halls and main roads in the camp, put up the black out at night (the black out still applies here) and sweep out the cinema last thing at night.

By the time we had done this the effects of the inoculation had well worn off.

As we are not going to Malvern we have to do our No 1 training here and so we started on the course yesterday. We do squad drill, P.T. and seamanship here.

I had my first game of football yesterday when I was picked for Q.D. division against Top division. I played right half, and we won by six goals to nil.

I received the money and the two parcels safely. The money came first followed by the big parcel then the little parcel last.

Many thanks for same, we certainly knocked a hole in the cake. I received a cake from Barmouth today, a prewar affair, all chocolate covered, also a bag of sweets.

I also received a letter from Aunty Em and ten shillings, will you thank her for same.

I have just received your second letter dated 25-3-45. Will you tell Mr B. to thank Frank R. if he sees him and tell him I will write later.

I have just come back from a football match, the Dutch played Top Division, the division we played last night, and beat them by five goals to nil.

I have had a note from Frank R. at work telling me about the present, also one from Roy telling me all the local ‘scandal’. Did you hear about John D., he has started courting.

Roy says he is going out with a N.A.A.F.I. girl, I bet she must be a ‘smasher’. Talking of girls I still manage to see Jane every morning. They pin up about a dozen of the leading morning papers in the mess each morning so I don’t miss her.

I have posted a photograph of the class with the same post as this, I enclose an enlargement of my naval identity card photograph. Sorry it has not shown me with cap on but they do not take them like that.

The photographs I had took in Skegness in full uniform did not come out so I have got to have them taken again. I will send them on as soon as I get them. Well I cannot think of anything more for the moment so I will sign off. Let me know the nights you are likely to be home so I can catch you in when I ring.

Bye bye for now
Lots of love
x  x  x  x

P.S. We are on firewatch again Thursday night worse luck.

Historical Note

The N.A.A.F.I. (Naval, Army and Air Force Institutes) was a government organisation set up in 1921 to provide support for military personnel, which ran cafes, clubs, bars, supermarkets, laundry facilities and restaurants on military bases worldwide. By 1944 it had 7,000 establishments and employed nearly 100,000 people. Today, the N.A.A.F.I. continues to provide both the Naval Canteen Service and a number of other facilities, including services in Brunei, Germany, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and the Falklands.


25th March 1945

Dear Jean,

Many thanks for your letter it was very welcome. I except when I come on leave I shall listen to Forces Favourites. I am collecting my photographs this afternoon so I will send them on when I get them. I have met the boy James from the Met and also one of my mates from school who was sent down here the week after I came. Tell mom I received the two parcels, the big one yesterday and the small one this morning. We knocked a hole in the cake in bed last night, it was a treat to have some home made cake.

We had some bad news this morning, our draft to Malvern has been cancelled and I have to do my squad drill and P.T. course here. The course lasts for six weeks and at the end we get forty eight hours leave. Then we go to Portsmouth and at the end of the course I think we get seven days leave. We had our first inoculation Thursday, it nearly killed us. We could not move our arms on Friday, there is a great swelling in the back of my arm and it is now dinnertime Saturday and we can just about move it now. It was a bit different from the one we had at Dr Honigs-Bergers. We have two more inoculations to have yet. The first was 25 c.c. the next is 50 c.c. and the third is 100 c.c. Then we have to have a vaccination so we shall be mighty sore for a week or so.

Tell mom that I am sending my washing home in a day or two. There is one pair of socks, pants, one vest, one shirt, one collar and my three handkerchiefs. Well I will sign off now as I am going to catch the ‘liberty boat’ in ten minutes time.

Lots of love

P.S. Excuse writing as I am doing it balanced on my knee.


Historical Note

The inoculations mentioned may have included typhus and tetanus.

20th March 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I have a moment to spare so I thought I would drop you a few lines. I have my full address now, the P stands for Portsmouth which is the port division to which I have to report when I have finished my training. There are four port divisions – Portsmouth, Chatham, Lowestofte and Devenport.

I have been put in the starboard watch and was allowed out yesterday. We have to catch the ‘liberty boat’, that is a fleet of buses which runs down to Skegness. I went down with Norman and we thought the war was over. You can buy ice cream with MILK in and any amount of food. It was a treat to have a drink of tea with sugar in. We had a game of snooker and visited all the fairs and side shows in the town.

We had a plane crash here on Friday, I believe the crew were all killed. Saturday night the sirens went and we all had to go down the shelters. Luckily “Jerry” didn’t come near so we went back to bed again.

We tested our lifebelts today, it was a lovely feeling jumping into a tank full of water and having to rely on a lifebelt to keep you afloat. Still it worked so we didn’t mind so much.

Well I have got to sign off now as I am mess orderly and have to be in the mess in five minutes time.

Bye bye for now
Lots of love

p.s. Remember me to the gang and Mr A. x x x x x

20th March 1945

Dear Mom & Dad, and Jean,

I received your letter about two hours ago in the morning mail. I really expected it yesterday in the afternoon post as I posted the letter in the camp on Friday night so I guess it must have been delayed somewhere.

I saw Cliff A. on last Tuesday and Wednesday but I have not seen him since. It is easy to miss each other here as the camp is a terrific size, it is well over a mile from end to end. I agree with him that there is not much to eat, boy do we we “stuff” ourselves when we get shore leave into Skegness. We are going ashore again tonight so we shall not be too hungry tonight.

Is that boy from the Met called JAMES or JONES as Mr B. told me there was a chap named JONES coming to Skegness but the chap named JAMES used to be my mate for the last six months in ‘civvy’ street.

I am afraid I have not heard or even seen a wireless since I have been down here. The only broadcasts we have here are bugles to get us up in the morning etc. Bugles for breakfast, bugles for dinner, bugles for tea, bugles for supper, bugles for going to bed, bugles for turning the lights out, bugles to tell you when the tuck shop is open and bugles to tell you when you can ever smoke.

I have had my photograph taken, it is costing me a small fortune in fact. It costs 6/- for 5 postcard size in most of the photographers in Skegness. We are also having a class photograph taken which will cost us another three or four shillings.


My training will take ten months to complete providing everything goes according to plan.

Remember me to Jess O. if you go in there again and tell her I can get ice cream in Skegness but do they make us pay for it. Fourpence for a wafer, in about four licks it is all gone.

Don’t talk to me about fairs there is one in every other street in Skegness, every street you go down has arrows pointing to “Butlins fair ground” or “Amusement Arcade – Admission Free”.

We sleep in double bunks like in the shelter only made of iron. Norman sleeps on bottom deck while I sleep on top. We have eight double bunks and there is three other Birmingham boys in the dormitory and also one from Tipton.

We each have two hammocks, two mattress covers, one mattress (not very thick) three blankets and one pillow. I was frozen for the first night or two but I must have got used to it by now as I don’t get cold now.

Do you know what my present from the Met is yet? If you think it will be of any use to me then send it on but otherwise you had better keep it at home till I get back. I don’t know about being poverty stricken when I come home on leave I think I shall be broke before then.

I am getting used to uniform now but the only trouble is – my feet are killing me. We have stiff white collars on our shirts and our instructor has suggested that we send them home to be washed as we cannot do the ironing here, so don’t be surprised if you get a collar or two in a day or so. I haven’t packed my civvy parcel to come home except a pair of shoes and three handkerchiefs. I don’t expect they will get there before Friday or Saturday as it is Tuesday now.

I am on firewatch duty tomorrow luckily I am one of the lucky ones, I am on from 9-30 till 11-0 while Norman has to go on from 5-0 till 6-30.

We have to buy our own soap, gloves, handkerchiefs, scarfs and a lot of other nick nacks. It is a bit expensive at the moment but I suppose we only have to buy them once.

Tell dad we can get any amount of Brylcreem here so if he ever wants any just give me a tip and I’ll get him one.

I think I must have spent pounds on stamps, I have written to W-, B-, H- Rd, Aunty Edna, Roy twice, two mates from work and one from nightschool as well as four letters from me. Have you received them all safely, I wrote on Tuesday and Friday, one short letter Monday and this one. I have just seen the post van go so I don’t suppose you will receive this till Thursday.

Something must have gone wrong with the village F.C. to score 7 goals. Do you know who scored them all? I think there is an interclass match between us and a class from another division sometime this week so I might get a game.

I don’t need my football kit as all sports kit can be obtained from the stores. The Belgians are the ‘crack’ team down here. They recently played the rest of the camp and won by four goals to one.

I expect the betting is 10-1 on Ken Martin in the snooker handicap, I have heard he is a ‘good thing’ for the competition.

Well I had better sign off now as it is time to smarten myself up for ‘shore leave’ and that is something I don’t want to miss.

Lots of love for now
x x x x

Remember me to all my ‘fans’ in the village and also the gang.

Excuse writing as it is a ticklish job writing on a bed across your knees.