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.

1st April 1946

Dear Jean,

I am sorry that I haven’t written a reply to your last letter before but I don’t seem to have so much time for writing letters as I did when I was at Sydney. Still here goes!

You will probably know by now, through Bill B., that I hadn’t fractured my arm after all. The doctor on board said that he thought I had fractured it and he sent me ashore to the Chinese civilian hospital to have it X-rayed. They took three shots of it and found that there were no broken bones at all so I was lucky wasn’t I? Still the bone is very badly bruised and I can’t do my usual work. The last couple of days I have been Engineer’s messenger so I have had a pretty easy life. It has gone down a lot now though and I don’t have to wear a sling now, I think another week and it should be quite O.K. again.

I think it is pretty definite about us going to Japan on April 20th now. I hope we don’t stay there too long, you have to have a little respect for your neck in places like that.

Yesterday I saw the United Services play the Combined Chinese at football. It was a very exciting game and ended in a 2-2 draw. The Chinese centre half and goalkeeper were both brilliant and would easily get their place in any English team. All the same though the Services should have won because they were leading 2-1 when the goalkeeper went to punch the ball and didn’t connect properly and the Chinese centre forward only had to tap it into the net.

I see Villa and Birmingham re having a fight to win the league though Birmingham has the best chance as they are matches in hand. They have both done very well this year haven’t they!

I had a letter from Roy on Saturday and he said that Harry G. is going out with Dorrie T. of all people! and John D. is going out with Joan F., she certainly gets around a bit. That’s about the sixth or seventh isn’t it? What did you think about Margaret H.’s baby dying? A shame wasn’t it, I believe she died of haemorraghe (is that spelt right?)

Have you been to the pictures lately with your lover? I have seen three in the last fortnight, Fred McMurray Edward G. Robinson in “Double Indemnity”, Claudette Colbert, Joseph Colten and Shirley Temple in “Since You Went Away” and Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O’Brien in “Our Vines have Tender Grapes”. They were all very good pictures and I quite enjoyed them, especially the last one which is the best film that I have seen since I left Sydney.

Well I think that is about all for now Jean so I will close once again until next time.

I am enclosing a couple of combs, I hope you get them O.K. Did you get my last photo by the way?

So all my love
Your loving brother
Graham
xxxxx
P.S. Tell dad that Docker is favourite for the snooker handicap. He beat Alf Deeler and Alf Austin the same night!!

27th March 1946

Dear Mom Dad and Jean,

I expect you are wondering why I have written to you twice in one day but since I last wrote this afternoon I have had an accident so I thought I’d let you know in case you don’t hear from me for a while and begin to worry.

While I was coming off watch out of the boiler, the steel hatch fell on my arm and I have fractured my left arm. I have got to go to hospital tomorrow to have an X ray taken. If it is very bad I suppose they will keep me in so I thought it best to let you know now just in case. There is nothing really to worry about as it is not very painful as he has put something on to numb it so I don’t feel much.

So don’t worry if you don’t hear for a day or two, I shall be quite O.K.

All my love
Graham
x x x x x x x

27th March 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for a week but we have been pretty busy cleaning and repairing the boilers just now so have not had much time for letter writing.

We are still at Hong Kong as you can see by the address but I don’t think we shall be here much longer. There are certainly plenty of rumours going around, some say we are going to Shanghai, some to Tokyo and today there is a rumour that it is back to Sydney which I hope is correct. Still we can’t really believe any of them so I shall have to wait and see what does happen. I certainly think we shall leave here though.

I am still doing very well at sport, this week I was elected captain of the Stokers’ football team, there were 40 votes altogether and I got 34 of them so it was pretty unanimous. We play our first match in the new Ships League tomorrow against Chief and Petty officers who won the last league only dropping one point. Last Monday week we played H.M.S. “Finistere” who have not lost a match coming out from England to here. They were certainly a good side, the best ships’ side that we have played so far but we managed to beat them by three goals to one. Last Wednesday we played the pick of the Navy team who are called H.M.S. “Nabcatcher”. They had eight of the usual side out and we expected to get the thrashing of our lives. After five minutes play our captain had his head cut open and was taken to hospital, that left us with ten men. They scored five goals in the next quarter of an hour so you can guess we were pretty “choka”. However we packed our goal and at half time the score was still five-nil. Directly after half time our centre forward reduced the arrears with a smashing solo dribble which certainly inspired our forwards for the next ten minutes they overwhelmed their defence and two more goals were netted by the centre forward who thus got his hat trick. From then on it was a terrific struggle with fast end to end play. However the loss of our skipper was too much and the increased their lead with ten minutes to go. I don’t know how we managed to keep them out after that as we were heading the ball out, kicking it out, kneeing it out but somehow we did and that was the final score 6-3. The Navy selection committee was at the match and their chairman said that it was the best Navy game that he had seen and considering the fact that we had only ten men it certainly was a good performance. Still we are having a replay shortly so we are hoping for better luck.

The day after we played H.M.S. “Hague” with five reserves in the side and lost by the only goal of the match. The last time we played them with a full side we got seven without reply.

By the way at the “Nabcatcher” match I meat Reasoon, one of the boys on the Skegness photo who I joined up with, also a leading hand who was in my mess on the “Aquitania”.

At hockey on Sunday we also came unstuck against the “Finisterre” losing by two goals to nil. Still our hockey team is mucked about too much by officers playing so we don’t worry so much about that.

I heard the commentaries of the semi finals over the wireless last weekend, they certainly sounded very exciting. Did you go the Villa Park match? I bet the Birmingham-Derby match was a real thriller. I notice Dearson hasn’t got his place in the team now. They certainly have plenty of players to choose from, I wonder whether Billy Hughes will get his place back in the team. I see Frank O’Donnell has left the Villa and has gone to Notts Forest. To think the Villa paid £1000 for him in 1938, they certainly didn’t get their money’s worth out of him.

I got your letter number 17 last Saturday which was very welcome. Bill B. also got Jean’s letter on Monday. Glad to hear that you have started getting tinned fruit through again. I bet you’ll enjoy it when you do open it won’t you? You don’t seem to be doing too badly with your shopping either.

I don’t expect the bells would worry me at night even if I slept in the front room. You’d be surprised what you can sleep through in this mob after you’ve been in a while (it’s over a year now by the way) it’s funny after doing a week or two of watchkeeping you drop off to sleep pretty well straight away and always wake up about ten minutes before you are due to go on watch, I can always reckon to wake up at ten to twelve or ten to four now if I know I have got to go on duty though when I am off duty I never wake up.

I heard from Norman the other day, he says he has got a “Golden Hind” draft so maybe I shall see him out here one of these fine days. He is a Petty Officer now by the way, he’s certainly had luck smiling in his direction.

What do you think of Margaret H’s baby dying after nine days. I bet it was a shock to them. She weighed 9 1/4 lbs at birth so she must have been quite a “bouncing” baby. He’s got home just too late to see her alive. Margaret nearly lost her life as she had to have a blood transfusion.

Did you get my last photo safely? Dorothy H. said she got hers O.K. so I should think you will have got yours O.K. by now.

I am glad to hear that the Russians have started to clear out of Persia. I thought there was going to be trouble over that lot and I am a bit too near to Russia for my liking if any trouble does start.

The weather is getting much warmer here now, we are dressed in tropical rig most of the day now, it is only during early morning and late at night that we put our “blues” on.

Well I don’t think there is much more to say now, I am enclosing a photo of the Japanese general who we took to Saigon by the way, he certainly looks a deadly piece of work doesn’t he!

So until next time all my love,
Bye bye,
Graham
x x x x x x

IMG_20170328_213435775

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.

 

4th March 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I am sorry that I haven’t written for such a long time but we have been to sea again at the end of last week. We were out three days on gunnery and torpedo drill. We are going out again tomorrow to Saigon the capital of French Indo China, we shall be there for about three days so it will be over a week before we get back.

I have got the photo of the ships football team in my case, I am having one framed like the last ships photo that I sent and I will send one on then. It is a pretty good photo, I think you will like it. I also had a photo taken with another of the lads off here but I have not seen that one yet.

I played football again last Wednesday against the Stokers of H.M.S. “Barfleur”. I was centre forward for our side as we were trying to strengthen the forward line a bit more. Playing for the “Barfleur’s” stokers also at centre forward was Charlie H. out of the R.’s. He is nearly due to go home as he has been out here about two years. We won by two goals to nil, I got one of them with a header.

Also the same day I played in goal at hockey for the ships team against H.M.S. “Barfleurs” team. We drew that match 3-3 so altogether I had quite a sporting day.

I haven’t had any mail for over a week now, they reckon it is being held up at Singapore owing to a heavy storm which has prevented any mail planes from taking off.

I heard the account of the Birmingham-Bradford match at Bradford over the wireless, it was certainly exciting especially as I knew the players. I think the Blues will get through to the next round now don’t you. I notice Bolton are doing very well again this year. I should think the odds for the semi-final team will be Birmingham Bolton Derby and Charlton although I hope Villa beat Derby so I have been telling everyone on the mess that they will walk it.

I am afraid I can’t think of anything more at the moment so I will close until next time. I am hoping that I shall get some letters in the morning and I shall be able to write a bit more then. So for the time being
All my love
Graham   xxx

P.S. Excuse writing as am on watch in half an hours time and I have got to have a wash I shall have to step on it
xxxxx x x