25th October 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line or two to let you know that I got back safely and didn’t get caught.

I got back about twelve as my train was two hours late, and I got into camp alright through the ‘Burma Road’ although I ripped my overcoat in the process. Still I’m glad that I came and took the risk as I have got a chit today to say that I have to report tomorrow so it looks as though I am on the move at last. I think it is going this time as there has been a rumour going round for the last week that the draft is going and there is usually some truth in the rumours. Still when I come back to England again it will be for demob. Did you read the Daily Express yesterday and see what Churchill said about the demob, I think if he keeps on against the Government he will get it speeded up again just to keep everyone quiet.

By the way I have got 120 Hensites cigs here but I haven’t had chance to post them yet but I will see if I get a chance tomorrow.

There doesn’t seem much to say this time as I don’t know anything really definite until I get into Barracks tomorrow or Friday so I will sign off for the time being. I will write again when I get into Barracks.

P.S. Do not reply to this address until I write again.

All my love
Graham
xxxxxx

P.P.S. I will number all my letters when I leave the country and will you do the same so that we shall both know whether any letters have gone astray.


Notes

Burma Road was slang for a passageway below the decks of a ship. It seems likely that there is another meaning, possibly specific to Belmont Park…

Although I can’t find the Daily Express article online, a similar article was published in the Stanford Daily on the 23rd of October 1945. Churchill argued that the Navy should be cut to 133,000. Demobilisation under the Labour government was progressing too slowly and that Forces personnel were needed to work in industry to help the economic recovery.

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16th October 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line or two to let you know all the ‘latest news’. I am afraid it looks as though I shall be unlucky for more leave as I had a draft chit the day after I rang you up for “Golden Hind” and as the draft was supposed to go today they wouldn’t grant me any more leave. I don’t know where the draft is going to as it is a “mystery” draft and nobody knows where it is going to officially until they get into Barracks. It usually goes to Germany or Australia and more often than not to the latter. Still if I haven’t gone on draft by the weekend then I will “pinch” one.

I tried to get home last weekend but the train from Portsmouth to London was late and I missed the Birmingham train. Well there wasn’t another for two hours so I didn’t think it was worth going home then so instead I went to the Paramount in Tottenham Court Rd. I saw Fred McMurray and Lloyd Nolan in “Captain Eddie” and Joel McCrea in “Banjo on my Knee”. They were both very good pictures especially the first one which was about Eddie Rickenbacker the American motorist and flying ace of the first war. It isn’t a war picture though as it more or less deals with his private life.

What do you think of the football last Saturday, the Midland clubs got a thrashing or two didn’t they. The Villa have been doing well with their gates lately as well. Three 50000 gates in a row, a nice bit of income tax, or entertainment tax whatever they take off them, I expect.

How has the village been going on over the weekend, did they manage to win again.

What has the weather been like lately round Birmingham, it has been like summer down here for a week now, there has been no rain for sixteen days now.

Well I can’t think of anything more to say at the moment so I will sign off until next time.

All my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x  x

10th October 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to thank you for the papers which I received today and the letter which I received yesterday. As you can see by my address I still haven’t moved from Havant, I should have left over the weekend but it was cancelled the night before.

Since I arrived back here I have been to the pictures three times, twice in Portsmouth and once in the camp. The pictures I have seen are “Diamond Horseshoe” with Betty Grable and Dick Haymes, “Tampico” with Edward G. Robinson, Lynn Bari, Victor McGlagen, and “Mr Skeffington” with Bette Davis. I didn’t think much of the first one but the other two were very good indeed especially “Mr Skeffington” it is one of the best that I have seen Bette Davis. It is definitely worth seeing and I think you’d enjoy it.

On Saturday I saw Portsmouth play Leicester City, it was a very good game but I don’t think that Leicester deserved to lose by two goals to nil Frank Soo was captain for Leicester and he played a smashing game. Septimus Smith, the left half, was also very good. The two best players on the field though were the goalkeepers, Walker of Portsmouth and Graham of Leicester, they both saved certain goals time and time again.

How did the village team get on Saturday, Johnny Harris and Constable didn’t play did they? They seem to be bucking up a bit lately now, I expect they have got used to playing with each other by now.

Well I can’t think of anything more to say at the moment so I will sign off until next time

All my love
Graham
P.T.O. x x x x x x x x

P.S. Do you know what time that Forces train leaves Birmingham on Saturday night for London? Is it 10.30 or 11.30?

5th October 1947

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few likes to let you know that I arrived back safely yesterday. I got into camp about six, just in time for supper. I travelled down with a Birmingham chap from our camp so it wasn’t too bad with someone that I knew. I had a seat all the way from Birmingham to Havant so I should think that my luck has changed.

Today I have been doing drafting routine but I don’t think that we are going into Barracks tomorrow as they usually tell you if you have to report and they didn’t say anything to us so it might be a day or two yet. I believe that we are sailing from Liverpool and as far as I can make out we pick up a ship there and work out passage out to Colombio via Malta and Suez Canal. When we get there the ship is taken over by men due for leave or demob who bring it back to England. We then go into Mayina Barracks and are employed as working party until we get a ship which may be joining the Far East fleet or may be on its way back to England???

Still whatever happens I don’t suppose I shall be abroad more than about nine months to a year because if group 45 is out by next June then it should only be about six months at the latest till I get demobbed so I should be on the way back by this time next year.

Well I can’t think of anything more to say at the moment so I will sign off for the time being,

All my love,
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x

September 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still O.K. and am now longing to get home again. The time seems to go terribly slow when leave gets near. As far as I know the routine at Havant is, we arrive Tuesday night and get our draft routine over the same night. Wednesday we send settling down having kit musters and medical inspections. That far I know definitely, but after that nobody seems quite sure what happens. The general idea is that we go on leave on Thursday dinnertime but I am afraid that I can’t take that as definite yet. I will give you a ring or send you a telegram as soon as I know anything more definite. That is if I come home this week otherwise I will send you a letter.

I don’t even know whether I am likely to go abroad or not, if I do then I shall get 14 days leave plus 2 days V.J. leave plus 2 days travelling plus 3 days special leave as the barracks are so crowded.. Otherwise I may only get nine days leave if I am to stop in the country.

I had to see the Divisional officer yesterday and he said that as I had done so well on the course he was going to put a special recommendation on my service papers so that I can get my transfer to Stoker (E). There are three Stokers (S) in our division, that is men who are training for officers. In the exam they got 91, 84, and 79 marks so you can see I did pretty well as they are supposed to be exceptional ratings who are specially picked out for officers.

Yesterday I went and saw Plymouth Argyle play Derby County on Home Park. It was a very poor match and if it hadn’t been for Bobby Brown, Scotland’s goalkeeper who was playing for Plymouth it would have been 10-0. He is a P.T. instructor at Devonport Naval Barracks and when you get near to him he looks just like a schoolboy and he certainly doesn’t look like an international goalkeeper. Latham of Aston Villa and Gardner the ex-Villa player also play for Plymouth.

Midland teams certainly seem to be doing well this year so far, three of them in the top four.

Well it is time to turn in now so I had better close down for the time being. Hoping to see you some time after Thursday.

All my love,

Graham
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Date unknown. In an envelope marked 5th October, together with another letter.

10th September 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I have just about settled down here now, and have just about got to know my way around the camp. It is not a very big camp and there is only about a thousand men here so it not too bad. It is a good job that I came here and didn’t have to go to Portsmouth Barracks as it is absolutely packed out. I expect you have read in the papers that there are 25000 at the barracks whereas it is only supposed to accommodate 10000. We live in Army “Nissen” huts, twenty of us to each one, and sleep on bunks. There is a table in the centre of the room and also a window so it is quite a palace to what we have had at “Imperieuse”. Still I have only slept in the camp once as we are allowed ashore three nights out of four so I have gone into Portsmouth and slept at the Sailor’s Hostel, the Savoy Cafe. It is only a shilling a night so it is worth it just to sleep in between sheets.

The food here is very good as well so I hope that I stop here a good while. We fall in each morning and get detailed for work, sometimes we go out of the camp to Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth, the Docky and on various farms in the district as working parties. If we get a job in we either get farming parties or working parties. Farming parties do all the gardening round the camp as they grow all their own vegetables here. Working parties can do anything, coaling parties, galley squad, wood party, or just cleaning up the camp

We get two weekends off every month, I get a long weekend next week, that is Friday dinner to Monday morning plus VJ makes it Wednesday. A fortnight later I get a short weekend which is Saturday dinner to Monday morning so I should be getting home pretty frequently. Of course I am liable for foreign draft all the while but you can never tell when you are going to get a draft chit. Some chaps get them the same day they get in camp while others hang on two or three months. As long as I don’t get on what they call the “Golden Hind” draft, it is either a draft to Australia on shore base or draft to Germany in occupation army in the German ports.

I have been to the pictures twice this week I have seen Betty Hatton, Charles Ruggles in “Incendiary Blonde” and Yvonne de Carlo in “Salome, where she danced” and Cora Sue Collins, David Reed in “Youth on Trial”, all of them were very good pictures especially the first two.

This afternoon we were given the afternoon off much to our surprise. When we fell in for work, the officer in charge said “All men in F.I. mess fall in on the extreme right” Well we thought we were in for it, we racked our brains and wondered what we had done. Then he said “This morning I was walking round your hut and having a look at the flower beds round it.” We thought he was going to tick us off for something to do with the garden. Then he went on “The garden is an absolute credit to your mess and you can all have the afternoon off in the mess.” We nearly dropped as he is usually a miserable devil. The other blokes were pretty jealous, you should have seen their faces.

By the way I had to ditch those tins as I couldn’t get them in my kit bag, if you send me another cake can you pack it without putting it in a tin then I shouldn’t have to worry about getting the tin back.

I received the papers O.K. before I left Plymouth, it was a surprise to get the football final. Could you send t on for me every week as it is a treat to be able to read all the local football reports. The Villa are doing well again, aren’t they, they did well to beat West Ham in London on Monday. I see George Cumming is the new skipper now that Alex Massie has finished, and that Jackie Martin is playing for them again. The Midland teams are still doing very well, it should be interesting to see who finishes the highest out of them.

Well I think that is about all for now so I will close down for the time being
All my love
Be seeing you soon
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x
x  x  x  x  x  x

P.S. Excuse writing as I am in a hurry as I have to fall in at five for duty watch.

2nd September 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line or two to let you know that I arrived back safely. The train got in about five thirty so we had plenty of time to spare and managed to get a cup of tea at the Y.M.C.A. I had to stand all the way to Bristol and also from Bristol to Torquay when I managed to get a seat.

We started on our course at ten and as we had to get our kit unpacked you can guess we didn’t waste much time. By the way we have had a good bit of news about the course. They have cut it down to five weeks from eight so perhaps I shall be having another long leave shortly. I hope so at any rate.

My parcel has not arrived today, its certainly taking a long time to get here. I hope it arrives by the morning post as we are working in the boiler house tomorrow afternoon so I shall need them. I shan’t be able to send them home to wash as we have to change them twice a week.

By the way there was no mail for me this morning so it looks as though those four or five that have gone to Portsmouth have really got lost.

By the way I think that any money that is coming to me for my birthday had better be put in the N.S.C.s so if you know anyone who is sending me money you had better have it off them and put it in for me.

Don’t forget the license by the way as I shall probably be needing it again shortly

By the way there was a cricket meeting this morning on board as the team has been split up what with men on leave and others going on draft. We had a practice match tonight and I was “stumping”, I made twenty three runs and caught two men out so I think I did O.K. There is a final practice match on Wednesday night and I have been picked. The ship team needs a wicket-keeper as the usual one is on leave so perhaps I shall get a game for the ship’s eleven.

Well I think that is about all for now so I will close.

Lots of love
Graham
xxxxxxxxxxx