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

13th February 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines to thank you very much for your letter which I received yesterday morning. I also got six “Birmingham Mails” this morning all of them dated November. They all had the Sydney address on so I suppose that is why they took such a long time to get here.

Since I last wrote to you I have been making quite a name for myself in the way of sport. Last Thursday I played cricket for the ship’s cricket team against a Command office’s XI. We made eighty eight runs which they easily got for the loss of only four wickets. I played wicket keeper and got eight runs.

On Saturday I played for the Stokers XI against the Torpedomen at football. I played right back in the first half and at half time the score was 0-0. In the second half I went centre half as he got hurt in a tackle. We scored twice then and won by 2-0. This is the first time that the Stokers have won a match. The ship’s selection committee was at the match and they picked me to play for the ship’s team as centre-half. I played again on Sunday for the ship against an unbeaten ship H.M.S. “Redpole”, the result was a 3-3 draw so we did pretty well. I think they deserved to win as they had most of the play during the second half.

Yesterday I played goalkeeper for the ship’s hockey team against an officer’s team. It was a very good game and was quite a thriller in the closing stages but we managed to keep them out and we won by 4 goals to 3.

Today I have again been picked for the ship’s side again as centre half. We are playing the Royal Engineers who are another of the “crack” sides around here. There will  be a navy selection committee in attendance to look out for men for a combined Navy side to play the Chinese 1st team who are unbeaten. They even beat the “Duke of York” side the other day and they are very food, so I shall have to be on my best behaviour. Not bad is it, representing the ship at three sports, all m mates are very envious as it gets me out of a lot of work.

Last week we went out twice, on Sunday we got called out to the aid of a flotilla of L.S.T.s who were in difficulties owing to a heavy gale that was blowing. We went out and after six hours sailing were wirelessed that they had reached harbour in Luzon so we headed back for Sydney. It was a very rough trip and I was sea sick most of the time. We got back in about midnight. Tuesday we went out on torpedo and gunnery trials but it was very calm so I wasn’t at all bad.

Tomorrow we are going out again on A.S.D.I.C. trials, that is Anti Submarine Detecting trials, I expect we shall be back in again about suppertime.

I got granny C’s pound quite safely last Wednesday, it will certainly come in handy. I shall probably write to her tomorrow or Friday though I shall have to send it to you as I am not sure of the address.

Glad to hear you got the photos O.K. I posted another photo of the ship this morning, it shows the ship just passing under Sydney bridge and I have had it frames and coloured so it should look nice on the mantlepiece. It cost 5 dollars, that is 6/3. It should have cost 8/- but I talked him down. If you see a silk scarf or something like that you say “how much?” and he will probably say “ten dollars” which is obviously too much. So you just turn up your nose and say “Too much” and start walking away. As soon as you walk away he shouts after you “Alright you can have it for eight dollars.” Everything you buy is like that, you can always knock them down a dollar or two. Cigarettes are the most valuable possession out here, you can get seven or eight dollars for fifty cigs. That is 8/- to 10/-. I suppose the people we sell them to go inland and sell them at a higher price still.

That song I told you about “I’ll be home for Xmas” is a real tune and was all the rage when I was in Australia.

Well I shall have to sign off for now as I want to get a shower before the match.

-To be continued-


Historical Notes

An L.S.T., or Landing Ship, Tank, was a ship designed to carry vehicles, cargo and troops to shore. They were used throughput World War II, with over a thousand being built from 1940 onwards by the US alone. The UK and Canada subsequently developed a new design and built around eighty, used from 1945.

A.S.D.I.C.s (the A.S.D. indeed standing for Anti-Submarine Division; I.C. came from the word ‘supersonics’, which was removed from the name for secrecy) was the forerunner to SONAR. A.S.D.I.C. was in development by the British from 1912 onwards. During World War II, the now widely-used technology was shared with the U.S.

29th December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad & Jean,

At the moment of writing I am on leave and am writing this in the house of a Mr & Mrs Norton of Roseville, near Sydney. He is in the Australian Army and they seem decent people. I am spending my leave with another chap off the Trafalgar, Reg F. from Northampton. I have got leave until next Friday, January 4th and I started it yesterday. I came ashore intending to stay at the British Centre for my leave but last night after I came out of the pictures seeing Danny Kaye in “Wonder Man” and Tom Conway in “The Falcon in Hollywood”, I bumped into Reg and he suggested that we should go into the Methodist Hospitality Centre and see if we could get an address where to spend our leave. Well they said that everywhere was packed out but if we came back at two in the afternoon they would see if they could get us an address. So we messed around and at two they managed to get this address after ringing up about a dozen people.

Roseville, what I have seen of it, is not a very big place and seems pretty quiet so it will be a change from Sydney.

Yesterday H.M.S. “Formidable” and “Implacable” left Sydney for England with ex P.O.W.s and men from demobbing. You should have seen the crowds waiting to see them off, brass bands and such like. Most of the big ships out here are returning home shortly as there is a big naval review in March back home and they are fetching all the big ships for it. I hope that they send me back with them.

I received two Birmingham Mails during last week and also the local ‘rag’, it was good to see a decent paper again. Apart from that though I haven’t had any letters for just over a week. I suppose they have been delayed somewhere over Xmas. I shall have to wait another week until I go back to the ship so I hope there is some for me when I get back.

How is the weather back home now, have you had any snow yet? Some of the people here have never seen snow and very few of them have got overcoats. Business men walk around in shirt sleeves so you can tell it is pretty warm.

How is the football going on lately are the Midland clubs still going strong? Who is top scorer of the league by the way? I saw an article in the Pacific Poet that said that Edwards of the Villa was likely to be England’s centre forward in place of Lawton or Stubbins. Is it right? How is the village going on lately, are they top of the league yet? I expect the cup matches will start soon won’t they? What price Villa this year again? Favourites aren’t they?

Don Bradman the Australian batsman made a come back this week. He played for his old club South Australia for the first time since the war and made 68 and 52 not out in the second innings. Syd Barnes of New South Wales has also been getting plenty of runs lately. He has got over 500 runs in three innings, 193 167 and 152 not out. Not bad eh!

Well I think that is about all for this time once again so I shall have to close.

All my love
Your loving son and brother
Graham
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P.S. My signature tune now is “I’ll be home for Xmas” have you heard it?

18th December 1945

Dear Mom & Dad & Jean,

Just a line or two to thank you for your very welcome letter which I received this morning. It was number five dated December 3rd so it must have been held up somewhere as it doesn’t usually take fifteen days for letters to get out here. I had one from Norman R. last week that was posted on December 2nd and I received it on the 10th which is pretty good isn’t it? We have had two hold ups of mail from England since i arrived here, they said it was because of the fog in Britain and so the mail planes couldn’t get off.

In regard to all the fruit that I have been having lately I very rarely eat any now as I have had so much that I am sick of it. I have had three pineapples peaches and cherries during the last week but have definitely gone off them now! We don’t get such a selection of sweets and chocolate out here, there is a shortage of certain brands owing to the strike and the Xmas shoppers. My favourite is full cream Fudge. Do you remember Dad used to sell it once?

I am glad to hear that Dad’s finger is getting better, I hope that he doesn’t get any more trouble with it. It would spoil Christmas if he has to keep it in a sling all the time. I still don’t know definitely where I shall spend my Christmas yet, Eric and myself made friends with a couple of girls from North Sydney and we have been around to their house two or three times. We are hoping that we shall get an invitation from them but if we don’t, well I suppose it will have to be the British Centre. There is nothing serious with them, it is just “purely platonic”, they are both much older than us.

I had a letter from Geoff P. this morning, he is down at Devonport now, still on the same course and has got a hook up now. Gets thirty shillings a week which is nearly double my wages. He says that only himself and “Ginger” B. are left out of the old Skegness class and only ten of them still on the course out of the original sixty odd. He was going to get engaged for Xmas but has decided to wait until he gets demobbed. Talking of demobbing Norman says that he is expecting his “ticket” in April or May. He certainly is jammy isn’t he. He is stationed about six miles from his wife’s home as well so he certainly hasn’t got anything to grumble about.

This afternoon we had a surprising change in the weather, after a record temperature of 115° yesterday it certainly came as a surprise to have a thunderstorm which has only just stopped after being on for five hours. There has been eleven people die in Sydney and suburbs during yesterday through the terrific heat. Most of them were old people over sixty or so. In one place about fifty miles from here the temperature has exceeded 100° for the last twelve days, I reckon they must be getting a trifle sunburnt.

You say that Britain had most of the war, well you should hear them out here. Anyone would think Australia had won the war. They say they won the Libyan campaign, Crete, Greece, Italy, Burma, most of the islands in the Pacific just to mention a few of their campaigns. Then they tun the British fleet down and say “Why didn’t the British fleet come out to the Pacific until 1941 and 1942.” They forget that we were fighting a war on our own doorsteps since 1939. Then they say “Why can’t our servicemen get home for Xmas?” All the British ships are fetching them back while their own ships are lying in the Australian harbours “on exhibition”. They say Australia is the finest country – a “land fit for heroes”, yet they have had three general strikes in two months, it just shows how satisfied they are.

Tell Jean I think the photograph is very good, there are quite a lot of chaps in my hut who want to write to her. The only way I could keep them away is by telling them she is courting strongly and is ‘as good as engaged’.

This weekend I am going down to Manly Beach to do a spot of sunbathing and attempting to learn to swim. There are plenty of instructors there. Manly Beach is a famous surfing beach and people come from all parts of N.S.W. to surf there. It is pretty well a national sport out here. The cricket season is in full swing at the moment, N.S.W. seems to be the top dogs at the moment. W. J. O’Reilly the test bowler is captain of the team but he is going off now. The other day I saw Stan McCabe, the Australian vice captain, he owns a sports shop down George Street, tat is the main street like Corporation Street. He hasn’t been playing during the war.

I am sorry that the letters I have been writing recently haven’t been very long but as there wasn’t much to write about especially when I haven’t got one of your letters in front of me. Still I know that you would rather have a short letter than none at all.

Have you received my photos yet taken in tropical rig, I think the one taken by myself was the best. I have got two more taken with a couple of girls. Again nothing sentimental!!!

I am on duty again while I am writing this letter, I have to stop in the Regulating Office all night until seven thirty in the morning when I get relieved. We have changed our leave system now. There are only six of us so we have split up into two watches and take it in turns one watch every day while the other watch is ashore. We start the day at dinner so we are allowed to go ashore at twelve thirty and don’t have to report back until eleven thirty the next morning. It is a much better way as it means we get a lie in in bed, that is when I stop out at night and sleep at the British Centre.

Did you get the Xmas card O.K. You’d be surprised the trouble I had trying to get them. You see the strike was on and most of the stationers shops were shut. I eventually got them on an underground railway station bookstall. I hope you get it in time for Xmas. I sent them to Hobmoor, Byron, Whiteacre and Roy besides yourself.

Have you heard any news of the local lads lately, Brian J., Bill, Boyd K., Jack S. Do you know Brian T. from Mackadown, I believe he is at Tokio, he was on the “Duke of York” I think when she entered the harbour. Could you find out for me if he is on “Duke of York”? Mr H. would probably know.

By the way I hear Roy Statham has got himself ‘hooked’ up. Who was the girl, was it his old flame? I expect he will be getting demobbed soon won’t he?

Well I really think that is about all I can think of at the moment so I will close down again until next time.

All my love
Graham
x x x x x x x x x x x x
x         x         x

30th October 1945

Tuesday

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a line or two just to let you know that I am O.K. and just about getting used to the “life on the ocean wave”. At the moment of writing we are just about opposite Gibraltar (roughly) though of course there is no land to give us a clue. We haven’t seen any land since about ten on Sunday morning so you can guess we haven’t had much change of scenery. I have just had dinner the first meal since Sunday dinnertime as since then I have been violently seasick just lying on my bunk and every now and then making a dash for the bathroom. Not that I was on my own as there were dozens besides myself, crossing the Bay of Biscay was the worst as we came across in a gale, well so they tell me but I was too far gone to worry about that at the time. Still I think that I have just about got over it now, I hope.

Did you get my letter O.K. I posted it late Saturday night so I should think you got it by Monday or early Tuesday. I don’t expect you will get this until next Tuesday or Wednesday as I shan’t be able to post it until Friday and it usually takes air mails about three days to get to England so it should reach you about then. I hope by the time I get to Australia I shall have a nice pile of letters and paper waiting for me. I shall look forward to the “Brum Mail” as I don’t even know how the Villa got on last Saturday. There is a wireless on board but they didn’t start using it until yesterday. Still once I get out there I should think I shall get mail pretty regularly again. By the way I have only sent my address to you and Roy so far so if Granny C., Aunty Em, Edna, Teresa want to know my address will you pass it on to them. I expect Edna will want it for Fred though I should think he will be coming soon pretty soon. How long has he been abroad now, three or four years isn’t it. It certainly will be a long time before I see him, altogether it won’t be so far of six years.

The sea is beginning to get much calmer now and the weather much hotter, I expect tomorrow or Thursday we shall all be wearing tropical kit. It is beginning to make us sweat a bit more now all the same, and we are only two days and two nights sailing from England. Still I reckon I am going at the right time of the year, it will be summer by the time I get to Australia. Just in time for the cricket season.

By the way did you get Bill H.’s address, if he is still out there I can drop him a line or I might even bump into him if he is still at Sydney.

I have met quite a number of my old mates on board, two from when I was at Skegness, P. and F. I don’t think you know them though. P. had just had his teeth out and looked pretty miserable.

It’s a pity that Alan nor Geoff nor Norman are with me, Alan said in his last letter that he would be soon going abroad but he didn’t say where to. Still all the same there are hundreds of Marines on board so perhaps he may end up out at Australia.

How did the village go on last Saturday, I can’t understand why Jean doesn’t go down and see Johnny H., or was it Nobby that caught her eye, as well as Moggy. Still I expect she’s got enough to go on with for the time being at S. St.

Well I think that’s about all I can get on this letter so I will sign off until next time
All my love
Graham
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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

22nd August 1945

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just a line or two to let you know that I received the birthday cards quite O.K. I had one from Granny C., Teresa, and a letter from Aunty Em, who sent me £1. Granny C. sent me 10/-. I will forward money on next time I write when I can get a postal order.

I played for the first team on Saturday, we got 95 for 6 wickets declared. I made 2 not out and then we got them all out for 15 runs. I got two men out behind the stumps. One bowler, named Hall who has had trials for Surrey I think it is got seven wickets for three runs. Not bad eh! On Tuesday we played H.M.S. “Vincent” and got them out for 30 runs and then they caused a surprise by getting us out for 38 runs. One P.T. instructor made 32 so you can see what a rout it was. I was not out again as I have got a batting average of infinity.

I am enclosing a photo of the “Resolution”, which is the one I am on, the photo was taken off Scotland somewhere. You can see it is a big ship.

The King and President Truman are coming here today, they are meeting in the battle cruiser “Renown” which is moored in the ‘Sound’ off Plymouth Hoe.

Has the log book come through yet. I hope that I shall be able to get some petrol next time. I hear there is a lot of talk of them increasing the basic soon in any case.

Has Granny C. “moved in” yet, I expect she has the garden all planted out all ready for when she goes down in eighteen months time?

I have been to the pictures quite a lot lately, last night I saw John Carradine in “Black Parachute” and Abbott and Costello in “In Society” and on Monday I saw Bob Hope and Virginia Mays in “The Princess and the Pirate”, which was a very funny film, the best I have

The rest of the letter is missing.


Historical Note

This was the first time President Harry Truman visited the UK.