17th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line to let you know that I arrived safely back at camp on Sunday. At the moment I am not feeling so well as I have got a touch of vaccine fever. “Taffy” is in sick bay where he is under observation for two or three days. Most of the class have the same complaint and there are quite a few in beside ‘Taffy’. I didn’t bother to go in myself and have felt pretty rotten all day. I had a shower after tea and it bucked me up a bit.

We are on Drake fire party tonight and have to report at nine. I shall try and get out of it and get to bed early.

This morning we were on work ship duty and I had to do a spot of gardening. We planted about an acre of runner beans, I shall certainly be versatile when I come on leave.

Norman came back last night from his short leave, he didn’t seem very pleased with his return to Navy life.

All leave has been stopped in Frobisher division as one of the men was three hours adrift. Luckily it doesn’t apply to us so I am still living in hopes that I shall be home Saturday. I have put my application in, I think I shall get it alright.

I had my cap ‘pinched’ this morning while I was having a wash and so far I have not got it back yet.

We have knocked a hole in the sandwich and have had one slice off the big cake. The sandwich went down very well. It was a change from the cake we get here.

Don’t forget to send Aunty Win one of the photographs if you get them from Skegness. When you get the others developed send them along so that I can see them.

I am posting my washing tonight. I expect you will get it on Thursday or Friday.

How is the snooker handicap going on now?

Well I will sign off for now.
Hoping to see you Saturday
Lots of love
Graham
xxxxx

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12th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I received the parcel safely Monday afternoon. I kept the cakes and biscuits for the train journey and sent the remainder on with my kit which went yesterday. As you can see I have had my address changed, I am in BLAKE division instead of Berlow. This is a nuisance as it means I am parted from all my mates, Alan, Norman, Denis. Still I shall probably meet up with them again when we leave Malvern.

Tell Jean I gave her message to Alan and he says that he will come home on leave with me.

By the way I forgot to mention that I received your letter as well last night.

I don’t know whether I shall be on ‘shore leave’ on Sunday but I will probably ring up before then. In any case I will let you know.

We left Skegness at about seven thirty this morning. We had to get up at four this morning and had breakfast at five.

One o-clock

Have just come through New Street, we came via {a number of stations}. I never thought I’d get that near to home. Then we passed through W.H. right past the Met. I saw the hut where I used to work.

We have just drawn up at B., I expect I shall call on the farm while I am here.

We stopped at Leicester for a mug of tea which was supplied by the N.A.A.F.I. and was dished up by A.T.S. girls. We had a twenty minute delay then we arrived at Nuneaton and from then on I was a guide for the men in our carriage.

I have just took  walk down the train and have seen Alan and Norman and Denis. Norman is fast asleep with his head in Denis’s shoulder while Alan is very nearly gone.

I will sign off for now as Malvern is next station.

Nine o-clock

Have settled down now, the camp is tons better than Royal Arthur. By the way did you receive my book from there. Don’t judge the camp by what you see in it. It certainly is different to that now.

Have seen Norman and the rest of the ‘gang’. They are in the next house to me. Each house is completely covered in and are on each side of the parade ground.

IMG_20160412_204041938

They are all in Frobisher and I am in Blake so we are not far away. Norman is on the same watch as me so he will be on leave with me. By the way he has been granted his marriage leave for Saturday. He gets from Friday morning until Monday morning.

I have made enquiries about getting home and I can get home each weekend but only the day I am on ‘shore leave’ but I will see about that later.

Well I will sign off now
Lots of love
Graham
x   x   x   x   x


Historical Note

Like the HMS Royal Arthur, the HMS Duke was a shore establishment, commissioned in 1941 and based at Great Malvern, Worcestershire.

Place names in the above letter have been removed or abbreviated for the sake of anonymity.

8th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I hope by this time that you have received my washing safely. I am enclosing one of my latest photographs, I think this is a good one. I hope you like it.

I have bought a hair comb here in camp, it is a good one, you know the big type. I will forward it on when I send my pants home. I nearly dropped when they told me the price.

I had my first naval haircut yesterday, I felt as though I had been scalped, I used to think Dick I. was bad enough.

We had our first vaccination reading yesterday, there were only twelve out of forty of us who had taken. I am one of the lucky ones, because all those that had not taken have got to have another one.

Norman has not taken so far but he says he does not mind as he is getting married next week, the vaccination does not hurt until ten days which is his wedding day. We have got well into our course now last Wednesday we started on rifle drill. I thought squad drill was bad enough, but this certainly has it beat for making you ache.

Did you listen to “Music of the Footlights” on the wireless last night from nine fifteen until ten. It was played by the B.B.C. Theatre Orchestra and sung by the B.B.C. Theatre Chorus with Irene Eisinger and Roderick Jones as soloists. Stanford Robinson was the producer of the show and also conducted the Orchestra.

He gave a concert from eight fifteen until ten here last night and the programme I have mentioned was broadcast from here. He played the Overture “The Bartered Bride” – the Intermezzo “Cavalleria Rusticana” – the Aria “Voi de sapete” and “In uomini in Soldati” then the suite from the Opera “Carmen”. The rest of the programme was the B.B.C. feature “Music of the Footlights”.

The orchestra has sixty players in it and the chorus has five men and five women as well as the two soloists. All this lot was on the stage in the cinema so you can guess the size of the cinema. We got in for the usual price, threepence, we were lucky (Norman & I) as we had just come back on shore leave from Skegness and as the ratings seats were all occupied we were allowed to sit in the officers seats. Did we feel good, best seats in the house for threepence.

We have got to get up at four on Wednesday and catch the six thirty train from Skegness. The route we are taking is Lincoln, Doncaster, Leeds, Manchester, Burton, Worcester, Malvern, quite a nice little journey. All the men on draft on Wednesday go on this train and leave the train at the various stations mentioned from where they catch their connections for their campus. We arrive at Malvern at four so we shall be a bit browned off by the time we get there.

There are some chaps in the next dormitory who have come from Malvern and they say that from Malvern it is possible to get a sleeping out pass if you live in Birmingham so I may be able to get home.

I had a letter from Harold W. last Wednesday telling me about the football team. They certainly have started back to their old form lately. Talking of football I heard the Cup Final on Saturday in a cafe in Skegness. I got there about ten minutes before Chelsea’s first goal just before half time and heard all the rest of it. It is about the first time I have heard the wireless since I have been here. Well I will sign off for now as it is nearly teatime so I will say
Bye bye for now
Lots of love
Graham
xxxxxxx

P.S. Remember me to the gang and tell them I hope to see them soon.

P.P.S. Have you any envelopes that will take post cards?


Historical Notes

Music of the Footlights was broadcast on General Forces Programme on Saturday nights (and, later, Wednesday afternoons) from November 1944 to April 1945. It was produced by ENSA (the Entertainments National Service Association, set up to provide entertainment for the Armed Forces during the Second World War).

The Football League War Cup replaced the FA Cup during the Second World War. The match to which Graham listened was the South Final, in which Chelsea beat Millwall 2-0. The Cup Final (Chelsea 1-2 Bolton Wanderers) took place on the 2nd of June 1945.

 

6th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I have received the washing safely. I have also sent home my next lot except pants which I will forward later. When you have washed them do not forward them back to this address but wait until you get my new address from Malvern.

I have just arrived back from the dentist and have now finished my treatment. I have had one tooth stopped this afternoon, well he said he had stopped it, I thought he had drilled it all away. I am now supposed to have a set of reliable teeth.

So far I have had no ill affects from my vacinations but they say it takes a week to ten days before you get any trouble. There is a possibility that the vacine may not take in which case I should have to have another vacination.

We have started on rifle drill this last two days, I thought squad drill was bad enough but blimey it tires you out much quicker. Still the number one course only takes six weeks and we have done three so we shan’t have much more to do.

Well I will sign off for the moment as I want to get down to the Post Office to catch the afternoon post

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

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
Graham
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
Graham

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
Graham
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.