26th July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few more lines to let you know that I am still feeling quite O.K. and in good health. I am back on board again now after my fourteen days leave and I might tell you it took a bit of getting used to the heat again after being ore or less out in the open for so long. Still it is not really all that bad as there is only half the Ship’s Company at the moment so we are not crowded as much as usual.

We are going on well with the refit, the boilers have been cleaned now and nearly all the messes have been painted out. We are staying in the “Basin” which is in the dockyard for about another ten days, we shall probably be busy painting out the Boiler Rooms and Engine Room. Then about August 7th we go into dry dock and have the ships’ “props” and bottom scraped.

After that I am not sure where we shall be going to but the two rumours that are circulating at the moment are either going to Yokohama for trials and naval manoeuvres, or Shanghai Peking and Nanking on a “showing the flag”. The better rumour is that at Peking we are getting four days and are to be taken on an organised sight seeing tour of the city and surrounding country. Peking is supposed to be one of the most picturesque cities in China.

Still myself I wouldn’t mind which rumour is correct. Then there is another rumour that the ship then goes down to Sydney to load up with “food for Britain” and leaves for the U.K. in October but I think that is just a little too much to bank on just yet.

We have had two films on here since I came back. Vic Olwen and Margaret Lockwood in “I’ll Be Your Sweetheart” which was an old time musical and was quite funny. The other, which I thought was a very good film indeed, was Bette Davis in “The Corn is Green” and was the story of a typical uneducated Welsh Village in the heart of the mining country. The acting was very good and the people in the film were the same type as “How Green Was My Valley”.

It is definitely worth seeing if you get the chance and I know you would like it.

What do you think of the trouble in Palestine lately? Terrible thing at the St George Hotel wasn’t it. It’s a good job Uncle Fred is away from there now isn’t it.

How is Dad going on at work lately, has he got his leg up yet? I suppose Norman W. has left now hasn’t he?

How are you managing now with the bread rationing, it sounds pretty grim to me. They are cutting ours down on Monday bit I don’t think it will be quite so bad as yours even then.

By the way will you ask Dad to get my driving licence renewed please, I think it is due towards the end of August sometime.

Has Jean heard the results of her exams yet? I hope she manages to get through it will certainly be a good start won’t it.

Well Mom it is getting pretty late so I think I had better close until next time

So all my love
Graham
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Notes

The King David Hotel (not St George) in Jerusalem was the British administrative headquarters in Palestine. On the 22nd of July 1946, it was bombed by a right-wing group called Irgun, killing 91 people and injuring a further 46.

20th July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still in the best of health and feeling pretty fit. I am still on my leave which expires on Monday, I can’t say that I am really looking forward to gong back on board although I suppose I shall have to if I want to get back to the UK.

We have just been recovering from the effects of a typhoon which hit Hong Kong on Thursday evening. I’ve never seen winds like it before in my life and I don’t particularly want to be in them again. Early Thursday morning a strong wind blew up and by dinner time it was blowing at gale force. Well then it started raining in torrents so we decided the best place was in bed. So nearly all of us snuggled down and listened to the storm. We were soon rudely awakened as the gale actually blew the verandah door off and left us with no protection from the wind which blew in at the door. For the next three hours or so we spent our time shivering and hanging onto our blankets and gear which threatened to blow away.

Well when supper time came we decided to risk our gear and go for something to eat so we pushed all our beds into a corner and hoped for the best. It took us about five minutes to get the couple of hundred yards to the galley as the wind was that strong it literally stopped us dead. When we eventually reached there we found nearly all the windows had been smashed so we ate our meal in a rainstorm. For the next hour the typhoon was at its height and all the windows were smashing and doors were being blown off their hinges. The football posts were lifted clean out of the ground and ended up on the bank by the side of the pitch. All the netting around the tennis court was blown away. In Hong Kong itself all road traffic was stopped and what people there were about had to go on foot. Seven Chinese ships mostly ferry steamers were smashed up when they broke away and finished up on the rocks.

About ten however the wind dropped but the rain kept pouring down and when we woke in the morning the football pitch was ankle deep in water and most of the roads were half flooded at least. The papers say that in some streets in the city the streets were waist deep. Still it is much better this morning and the sun is already out fairly strong so probably by the end of the day it will be quite normal again.

I haven’t had any mail this week so I expect by the time I get back on board there will be quite a few letters to answer. There will probably be one from you I should think as it ten days since I received the last one so I shall be writing again in a few days.

I haven’t heard for certain what we are doing for certain after we have finished the refit but I will let you know if I hear any “official” rumours when I get back on board.

So for the present
All my love
Graham
x x x x x x x

13th July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Many thanks for letter number 27 which I received last night, one of my mates who went down to the ship brought it up for me so it was really quite a surprise. I also had a letter from Aunty Em at Scarborough, I wondered who it was from at first.

I think one of my letters must have gone astray because I know I mentioned once that I had received the £3. It was about the time when I hurt me arm, I wrote two letters on the day I hurt it and another one two days later which I am almost sure was the one I told you. The dates were 27.3.46 and 29.3.46.

Glad to hear Dad has played cricket for the Met. I hope he does O.K. Wilf A. played for them once or twice when I was at work. Does he play now? Talking of cricket the Indians are doing very well on their tour aren’t they. There is also plenty of big scores in the county matches.

The food on board is still very good, the only thing that they are really short of is cooking fat so we don’t get chips very often. I am still caterer of the mess so you can bet I see to it that we don’t starve. Up here at the Rest Camp the food is not too good but as there is a good canteen there is always plenty to fill up with.

I bet it seems strange to see Riley’s house up again doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t seem as long as six years since they were bombed out does it.

I am still having a good time up here. I am trying hard to swim every time I go in the water and if the weather keeps as warm as it has been so far I should hope that I shall be able to by the end of my leave.

This morning we had a football match between the ratings and the Chiefs and Petty Officers. There was nobody in our crowd who played in goal so I had to go in. I had plenty of work to do in the first half as the ball very rarely went out of our half and the Ch & P.O.s held a 1-0 lead at half time however we had more of the play and it was pretty even during the half. Still the result was 2-2 so everyone was satisfied. I expect we shall have a return match. Yesterday the Seamen played them at cricket and gave them quite a thrashing, about seven wickets victory I think it was. I don’t know whether the Stokers can get out a side as there are only sixteen of us up here and I don’t think half of them are too keen.

By the way it is sixteen months today since I joined the Navy, I should hope that I am on the “home” straight now. I know I shall never look at a “JOIN THE NAVY” notice again. I should think the Navy is about the worst example of class distinction that there is. I’ve certainly had my eyes opened since I came out here. Still I suppose when I am a civvy again I shan’t regret my having been abroad.

Well I am just about at the end of the page so I shall have to close until next time.

All my love
Graham
xxxxxxx

11th July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I hope you will excuse me writing this letter in pencil but I haven’t got any ink in my pen as it has run dry. AT the moment I am on fourteen day leave at the Navy Rest Camp in Stanley R.M. Barracks.

Although the camp is a Barracks there is no discipline for us and we wander around just as we like, dressed as we like and in fact it is almost like being on holiday at home on civvy street. The only thing we have to do with the Marines is eat with them at meal times.

There is a football pitch, tennis courts, hockey pitch so I do O.K. for outdoors sports. If we don’t get enough to eat there is a N.A.A.F.I. canteen where we can get cooked meals, cakes, fresh fruit. Also in the N.A.A.F.I. there is a games room, with ping pong and darts, reading room and recreation room where we can write or play cards etc.

The camp is situated on the other side of the island from the harbour, and faces the open sea so we get a lovely sea breeze all the time which makes the heat quite bearable. You don’t get that sticky sweat and here you feel fresh all the time. The country is just like Barmouth, we are up in the mountains and it is about a couple of miles down to the beach. This morning we climbed straight down the mountainside to the beach instead of going the road way, which took us about a quarter of the time.

When we came back though it was quite the reverse, it took us just over an hour to climb up and it nearly killed us. We all collapsed on our bunks when we got eventually got here. Still apart from that I am really enjoying myself and that is the main thing.

I have been in the water about four times since we came here on Monday and I am getting a real chocolate brown again like I was in Australia.

We shan’t get any mail while we are up here so I shall have to leave replying to your letters which come until I get back.

Just down the road from here is Stanley prison where all the atrocities took place. It has been cleaned up of course now and some of the buildings have been burnt down and built up again. You can still see the walls where any “trouble makers” were shot and the rifle ranges where prisoners were lined up for practice at bayoneting and firing.

There is a field outside the prison which is choc-a-bloc with home made graves where all the casualties were buried. Reports say that 2000 were shot altogether.

Well I think that’s all once again so until next time
All my love
Graham
xxxxxxx


Notes

Stanley Prison was the site of Stanley Internment Camp during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong between 1942 and 1945. 2800 ‘enemy nationals’ were held here, over 2000 of whom were British. The civilians were not provided with enough food or medical care, the buildings were insufficient for the number of people, and the toilet facilities were inadequate and unsanitary. In 1944 the Japanese military took control of the camp, and from then on, violence towards the prisoners increased.

3rd July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

I received your very welcome letter dated 14-6-46 this morning. It certainly took longer to get to me than usually, but perhaps it was held back in Hong Kong until we returned here.

We arrived in at five thirty this morning, and we certainly got a promising welcome as it was drizzling with rain. Still I must say that it is quite an event here especially at this time of the year as it is just about at its hottest now. We are going into the dockyard tomorrow to start the refit so we shall be shutting down which will give us a break from watchkeeping for a while. It will certainly be a treat to go to sleep at night knowing you won’t get shaken at twelve or four. I am on watch at the moment by the way, it is just after one o’clock and I am on until four. I never thought I’d see the day when I should be able to stay awake from twelve until four in the morning without even dozing. I am getting to be as bad as Mr A. now aren’t I!

There is not much to go ashore for in Hong Kong now as in Hong Kong there is a cholera epidemic and two thirds of Hong Kong is out of bounds while at Kowloon, the other side of the harbour there is a smallpox epidemic. I expect we shall have to have another injection tomorrow as a protection against smallpox. That is the worst of it out here anywhere you go where there is an epidemic or disease onshore well you must be vaccinated whether you are going ashore or not. Still I suppose I shan’t always be a sailor.

I am pleased to say I wasn’t troubled with sea-sickness coming across from Shanghai to here this time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sea so calm since I’ve been out here. It really looked uncanny, looking in all directions and seeing nothing but sea not even a ripple, except those caused by the ship. It’s funny every time I go to sea, I always remember the song “I joined the Navy, to see the World, and what did I see – I saw the sea”.

I don’t know if I mentioned in my last letter or not, that I had managed to get a set of woman’s underwear. Silk, four piece set with nightdress slip, brassiers and “scanties”. I don’t know exactly what colour you would say it was, it’s a cross between yellow and pink really. Do you want me to save it until I come home or do you think it is worth taking the risk of sending it through the post? Personally I’d rather save it, but please yourself, if you think it will help your coupons out then I’ll take the risk.

On the films on board tonight I saw George Formby in “I didn’t do it” and last weekend I saw Laurel and Hardy in “The Bullfighters”. They were both very fair and I can’t say that I’d recommend either film to anyone.

I hope Jean passes the exam OK again. I suppose she will be taking the practical exam today according to the dates you gave in your letter. I suppose Colin is sitting for them as well isn’t he?

The “Wave King” that you mentioned, the one that the woman from Wimbushes’ son was on was here last time we were in Hong Kong but I couldn’t say for certain whether it is still here. I will have a look in the shipping lists in the papers tomorrow and find out. I don’t suppose I should be likely to meet him as I believe she is a merchant ship so we don’t come into contact with them often.

Glad to hear Will A. had called round and that you had quite a chat with him. He is pretty well a neighbour really as he lives by the “Yew Tree”. I wrote to him about a week ago so he will probably bring the letter round to show you.

If I remember rightly the one that you describe as the man with the nice voice in the Ink Spots Quartette died not long back and they have got a girl singing with them now. I haven’t heard them singing “Your feets too big”.

I have already mentioned in one of my letters that I received all the £3 safely, I should have thought you would have heard by now, but perhaps you haven’t had the letter yet.

I am pleased to hear Dad s still gong strong at work and also at sport. I think I ought to know Bob H. but I can’t seem to place him at the moment. Talking of tennis I see Britain’s remaining hope at Wimbledon, Mottram, got beat the other day. I still say Dinny Pails is my forecast.

I had a letter from Granny C. last week and she told me about the two rabbits that Dad shot. She also said that after Jean had described the intestines of it that nobody seemed too keen to eat it after that.

I see in this morning’s paper that the Atom bomb experiment on the American “scrap” fleet didn’t turn out the success they expected it to be. Personally I think it’s a good job really.

Well Mum I think I have just about answered all your questions in your letters and I can’t think of anything more at the moment so will close until next time.

Oh, I forgot, I am enclosing a couple of cuttings from the Shanghai papers about the boxing there. The headlines are wrong by the way as his name is McMundie. Still I think they are worth keeping as they are not many ships do as well as we did there.

Well until next time
All my love
Graham
xxxxxxx


Notes

Two nuclear tests were carried out at Bikini Atoll in July 1946. The first bomb was dropped from an aircraft, but dropped well off target and only sank five of the target ships. The second was an underwater explosion which ended up contaminating the target ships with radioactive seawater; although they were not all destroyed by the explosion, most were subsequently sunk as a result of the contamination.

1st June 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for nearly a fortnight but we have been “mooning” around and nobody seemed to know exactly where we were going to next. We left Yokohama with the intention of going to Shanghai but when we were only a day’s steaming from there we received a wireless message telling us to proceed to Hong Kong. Since we arrived there have been quite a few rumours. Some said that we were going to Saigon, Shanghai, Sydney, Auckland but as you can see by my address we are still pegging along here. I think we shall stop here until the refit and then probably go down to Sydney or Auckland for a visit. The latest rumour about going home is that we leave here in August and take our time visiting quite a few places eventually arriving in Portsmouth on December 1st. Still that is a bit too far ahead to consider yet.

The weather here is terribly clammy at the moment, it seems to take all life out of you, talk about sweat, it comes off in torrents. The trouble is it is not clean sweat but always leaves you terribly sticky. Still another month and it should be getting a little cooler here.

Did you read that about the demobbing announced by the New Government White Paper. According to that I shan’t get demobbed until about July 1948. At the demobbing rate they are going at the moment I should be out by about May 1947 so if they are going by the new rate it means that demobbing in the Navy will stop for a few months.

Am glad Dad got my birthday card O.K. I posted it before I went up to Japan as I didn’t know how long we would be there and I thought it might be late so I posted it early to make sure. Did you get my last letter safely, I posted that at Yokohama and is about the cruise of Northern Japan.

I hope your neck is better by now it certainly is a nuisance when you have to hold it in one position. I have had “vaccine fever” for the last four days, we had vaccinations against smallpox and I suppose it was the heat that caused us to feel a bit groggy but quite a few have had headaches sore throats and colds. Still mine is wearing off a bit now and I have just got a “tickly” cough and a stuffy nose.

By what you say about Dad’s job at the Midland it sounds as though he is on bus building or something to do with buses. Brunton was in charge of that when I was there and Potter was the Foreman. Ask Dad to remember me to the electrical dept chaps, especially Will Andrews and Frank Radford.

I think I shall need all my own coupons when I get home as don’t forget I haven’t got a suit now.

Oh by the way did you get those two envelopes I sent one with the “Nippon Times” in and the other with views of Hong Kong? I am getting quite a few decent souvenirs out here now although there is nothing really in the way of womens clothing that I’ve bought as-well can you imagine yourself wearing a Kimono and wooden clogs?

By the way an R.C. chaplain came on board yesterday and asked us to make a “confession” and to have a chat with him. Well I went and saw him and told him I’d never made a confession and that I didn’t know all that much about the “whys and the wherefores” of R.C. religion so he is going to give me some books to read. He was a very nice man and told me that he was pleased that I had the courage to go and see him and tell him as he said that nine times out of ten the people like myself are afraid to approach him. I bought a Rosary in Japan which is quite nice. The beads are green and there is quite a smart little cross on. It only cost me 30 Yen (10/-) which shows how cheap stuff like that is in Japan.

I have got another job now, I am watchkeeping on the Evaporator which makes all the ships drinking water. It is usually a leading stoker’s job but as being as such a lot of men have been drafted off they are looking to the future and training three of the higher group members.

I am also “caterer” of the mess now and have to buy all the mess’s food and provisions and decide what the meals will be so I am kept busy now making pudding every day and pastry. Last night I made “Toad in the Hole” for supper, today for tea we had a cake which was just right. I should think that you’ll be able to lie back and leave the cooking to me when I get home!!!!

Well I think that is all once again so I will close until next time. Please excuse writing as really it is quite a job to hold a fountain pen what with all the sweat and the heat.

All my love
Graham
p.s. I got the papers this morning telling about Dad selling the shop.

3rd April 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a short letter to let you know I received your number 17 quite safely yesterday. I don’t expect I shall be able to write more than a couple of pages as I wrote to you last Saturday and to Jean on Monday and there hasn’t been anything fresh happened since then.

I had a letter from Barmouth yesterday as well as yours also one from Jess O. She said that she liked my photo very much and took it in to show Mr C. who said that he didn’t even know that I was in the Navy. Evidently I wasn’t as notorious in the village as I thought or else he would sure to have missed me. Do you realise I have been in over a year now?

Aunty Win spent most of her letter telling me about Uncle Fred and how the kids were looking forward to seeing him. It was a bit of bad luck for Aunty Edna wasn’t it! This is the tenth letter I have written today, don’t think I have nothing to do but it is always a half day on a Wednesday. The other nine were to Gilberstone Avenue, Mr. A., Barmouth, Whitehouse (youth club leader), Gilbert (night school mate), a flame from Sheldon, Jess, Norman R. and Dorothy H. Pretty busy aren’t I?

Am glad you liked the photo everyone said what a lot like Randolph Scott I looked. Cliff A, by the way is supposed to have contracted T.B. so wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t get his ticket.

Don’t forget that it is not the first time that I have ‘followed in my father’s footsteps’ in the back bedroom. Do you remember when I used to go over to Granny C’s at the weekend about nine or ten years ago. Well I used to sleep there with Uncle Fred and I remember it used to be the bright spot of the weekend when he used to bring me a cup of Horlick’s and “tuppence” worth of chips in a piece of dirty old newspaper about midnight. Very tasty, very sweet.

Well I can’t think of anything more at the moment so I will close down until next time.

All my love
Graham

P.S. Did you get my last letter O.K. as there has been a plane crash and a lot of mail has been lost. I see there was also a crash with mail coming out here. I hope none of mine was on board.