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.

27th July 1945

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am quite O.K. I am sending some money off tomorrow or Monday in a Registered envelope. Could you put it away for me? I haven’t been ashore for over  week so of course I am not spending any thing like my wage. I got £3.10.0 this week which is pretty exceptional I usually get £2.8.0 or £2.10.0.

I have written to Mr A. to ask him for a reference to say that I have been in the electrical trade for three years and have sufficient electrical knowledge. If I get it then I am putting in an application for a transfer to the Royal Marines as an electrician.

Alan W. by the way didn’t pass his exam at Portsmouth and had to go to Skegness. He has been there eight weeks now waiting for a trade test to get into the Marines in the same branch as I am trying to get in. Geoff P. is still going strong in the J.P.E.M. course, he is in the third month now, he certainly must have his head screwed on right. I haven’t heard from Norman since I came back off leave so he must have gone on draft somewhere. I have written twice to him so I think I will write to his home address.

If I stop on this course until I get to Portsmouth I have heard they usually send the ratings straight home on indefinite leave as the place is so crowded. It would suit me down to the ground although I suppose I would rather get in the Marines as a “sparks”.

What do you think of the war news tonight, it’s certainly come as a surprise. I expect the Japs are a bit windy about the Atom bomb it must be a terrible weapon.

Well I will sign off for now as it is time to turn in.

All my love
Graham
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Historical Note

The ‘war news’ could be referring to the announcement of the Potsdam Declaration on the 26th of July. Winston Churchill, (US President) Harry Truman and (Chairman of the Chinese government) Chiang Kai-shek issued an ultimatum, calling for the unconditional surrender of Japan; the alternative was ‘prompt and utter destruction’. The document did not explicitly mention the successful atom bomb trial. It was broadcast over public radio in English and Japanese, and American bombers dropped leaflets outlining the main points. Both listening to the broadcasts and reading the leaflets were banned by the Japanese government. Emperor Hirohito of Japan did not surrender.

24th June 1945

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just a few lines in reply to your letter which I received on Friday. I got your parcel by the following post, the apples and pears went down very well, especially the pears, I have still got some of the biscuits and part of the cake left. Tell Jean that she can send the lighter on as I smoke a pipe of ‘baccy’ now and again.

I hear Olive and Jim are getting engaged on September 16th, I shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t offer to look after the “Palace” for you during the winter.

I haven’t heard from Norman since I came back off leave, I have written twice but have got no reply, I suppose he has been drafted from Chatham. Talking of Chatham did you see that article in the Sunday Express entitled “It’s Punishment to be sent to Chatham” and it dealt with life in the three Naval Barracks – Chatham, Portsmouth and Devonport. It certainly didn’t say much for life in the Navy in Chatham there are 27000 men sleeping in accommodation meant for 10000 so it seems a bit grim.

What do you think of the new bomb, it is a good job that Jerry didn’t get it first or it might have meant a different tale to the end of the war.

I have heard unofficially that we are going on draft at the end of August but I expect it will be early in September before we go so I shall probably be home in the middle of September.

I see Sydney Wooderson had hard luck against Andersson, and England certainly have shown Australia how to knock up the score. Still I think it will be a draw for all that.

Well I can’t think of anything more to say this time and as it is getting late I will sign off.

By the way a good picture to see – Eric Portman in “Great Day” it is similar to “Canterbury Tale”.

Bye bye for now
Lots of love
Graham
xxxxxxxxxxx


Historical Notes

On the 16th of July 1945, the Manhattan Project detonated the world’s first nuclear bomb. This, the Trinity test, was carried out at what is now White Sands Missile Range, in the New Mexico desert, and it was (technically) a complete success. Gadget, a plutonium bomb, released about 92 terajoules of energy, equivalent to 20 thousand tons of TNT. The resulting crater was over 700 metres in diameter. A number of films of the test survive. Full details, however, were not made public until after the bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945.

Sydney Wooderson and Arne Andersson were middle-distance runners. In July 1945, Andersson beat Wooderson by 0.4 seconds over a mile.