24th April 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few more lines to let you know I am still O.K. and in the best of health. At the moment of writing we are at sea on five days exercise with the East Indies Fleet but we return to Trincomalee tonight about six. There are seven ships out altogether, the cruisers “Jamaica” and “Glasgow”, carriers “Glory” and “Theseus”, destroyers “Contest” and “Constance” and the oiler “Green Ranger”. We have had quite a lot of flying, making attacks on the cruisers and “Theseus” and on the airfield ashore which has been defended by the R.A.F. We haven’t had any crashes yet this trip but yesterday one of the flight deck hands got killed by the wing of a plane which caught him as the plane was landing. He was killed instantaneously so at least he didn’t suffer. Last night they had his funeral service and he was given a sailor’s burial. He was only eighteen and only joined the ship a couple of months ago. It shook the pilot up pretty badly but of course he couldn’t be blamed as of by rights the lad shouldn’t have been on the flight deck when planes are landing on.

I received two papers and your letter dated 11.4.47 on Monday, we had our own mail brought out to us, which was quite a surprise as we had all resigned ourselves to the thought that tomorrow would be the first chance we would have of getting any.

Glad to hear you have been having a decent drop of weather at last. I see the Navy has started wearing summer dress in U.K. which is an omen. I hope it is at least a little milder when I get home.

I haven’t seen “Frenchman’s Creek”, as a matter of fact I have only seen one film worth mention in the last week or so. That was “Night and Day” with Gary Grant as Cole Porter and Alexis Smith as his wife. It is the story of the life of Cole Porter and I really enjoyed it. Have you seen it? On board tonight is “A Matter of Life and Death” which I shall probably see tomorrow.

I haven’t played cricket since I last wrote as the weather hasn’t been too good lately. Last Friday I played hockey for the ship against “Jamaica” and we beat them 3-1. They have started an inter fleet knock out competition at hockey and football. The “Glory” won their first round of the hockey against R.N. ashore, that is the Dockyard, by 5 goals to 4. I didn’t play in that as I was duty watch and couldn’t get a sub.

Sorry to hear about Jean missing the biology practical exam again. Still as you say she is still young so perhaps next time she’ll manage it O.K.

What did you think of Bruce Woodcock the other night, I bet he was in agony the last six rounds. Still he’s proved that he can ‘take it!’ I expect he will be out of the ring for a few months now won’t he? Still apart from that I think Baski was too good for him. I bet the Baski-Louis fight will be a thriller.

Well Mom I think that once again that is about the lot so until next time
All my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x

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27th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a  few more lines, as you can see by my address I am back at Trincomalee again. We arrived here on Tuesday afternoon after five days at sea, the latest official rumour is that we are staying here until the end of April and then down to Singapore for four weeks on a minor refit. I still don’t know what the ship is doing after that.

Yesterday I received your very welcome letter dated 17.3.47. You certainly are having a weird and wonderful winter aren’t you. First snow, then gales, and now floods, it certainly is a good job that I didn’t really come home last November isn’t it? Still I hadn’t better count any chickens before they are hatched as I shall be home for all next winter, touch wood.

I hope you have all got over your sore throats, bad eyes, swollen glands, headaches and teethaches by now. It sounds more like a doctors case book instead of a letter doesn’t it?

I liked the photo of the cat that you sent, he does look like Mickey did when he was a youngster. Sorry to hear that he is also having a rough time this winter, I hope his fur gets better.

Will you thank Granny from me for the £1 that she sent and tell her that I shall be writing to her soon.

Have you heard anything from George B. the ‘Gaumont’ organist yet. I had a letter yesterday saying that he has made a note of my request and will notify you when it is being played. I hope you can get along to hear it.

I did very well for myself this afternoon at cricket. I was picked as wkt. keeper for “Glory” 1st XI vs H.M.S. “Contest”. We scored 110 for 5 declared and got them out for 55 runs. I didn’t let a single bye go by which was very good considering that all the three bowlers are fast, one especially, Sub-Lieut. Davies who has played for Yorkshire 2nd before he joined the Navy. He clean bowled seven of their men for 14 runs. Apart from wicket keeping I really did best as a bat. I went in fifth wicket when the score was 56 for 4 and between myself and Midshipman Richards we carried the score to 110 when he was caught in the slips. He got 27 runs and I got 23 not out which included 2, 4s and one 6 which I hit clean off the pitch with a cut to leg. Surprised even myself.

I saw a very good picture on Tuesday night on board, Ray Millard and Sonny Tufts were the principal actors and the film was the “Well Groomed Bride”. On board tonight we have Rita Hayworth in “Gilda” which the lads say is a very good film.

We are going out on exercises sometime next week with H.M.S. “Theseus” the aircraft carrier which relieved the “Venerable” and has just come out from U.K. We are now Senior ship here again as the new Rear Admiral (Air) has joined the ship and at the moment we are flagship again. Still the “Theseus” will be taking over soon when the ship leaves to do her refit before returning home.

Well Mom I am afraid that is all for now as the lights have just been switched out so until next time
All my love
Graham
x x x x

18th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering what has happened to me and why I  haven’t written for a week. Well I am still at Bombay but I haven’t felt much like writing what with one thing and another. At the moment we are out on the combined exercises with the Army and R.A.F. It is quite a ‘large do’, just like the real thing, the “Jamaica” and “Couvery” put up a naval bombardment about five this morning followed by an air attack on the “enemy” positions, which are held by the 16th Leicestershire Regiment. Then at dawn the landing craft went in and put the Koops ashore under air cover by the “Glory”‘s squadron. Later on this morning our squadrons will be attacking various ‘military objectives’ ashore and the whole area ashore should be ‘captured’ by D+13 hrs tonight (6p.m.). In charge of defensive operations ashore is the S.E.A.C. Civil, General Claude Auchinleck, Monty’s predecessor in North Africa. We shan’t be staying out all day as after noon there is no need for aircraft so we shall return to Bombay just after dinner.

I have only had one run ashore in Bombay yet, but I have been ashore three or four times playing hockey. It is quite a decent place, plenty of good pictures ashore, some quite new such as “Great Expectations” and “London Town”, two or three swimming baths, big eats and plenty of sports fields. There is hardly anything to give you any idea that the Indians were fighting each other a few weeks ago. When I went ashore I spent the afternoon swimming at the Breach Candy swimming baths, which is European only. At night we had a walk around doing a bit of shopping. I was quite laden when I got back on board.

At hockey we haven’t been doing too well. I have had three games for the ship’s teams during the last week. Last Sunday we played against an Indian Navy XI and lost by two goals to one. On Wednesday I played for the ships second XI against the same team and they really went to town and thrashed us five-one. Friday I played again for the 1st XI against the Leicestershire Regiment and they also beat us 3-0, finally Saturday I played goalkeeper for the Engine Room XI versus Communications in the ships knockout competition and we won this 2-0. I think we stand a very good chance of winning this as besides myself seven other members of the team play for either the 1st or 2nd XIs, so we have quite a good side.

We are staying here at Bombay until Thursday night when we go out again, back to Trincomalee I should think that we should be able to find out something more about the ships movements then.

By the way, I was listening to a radio programme from Radio S.E.A.C. Ceylon two or three nights ago and they broadcast a special notice to all “Brummies”. Mr George Blackmore, the “Gammont” cinema organist has offered to play requests for forces in the Far East for their relatives back home. He also offers to notify the people back home of the time of playing the request and the message. There were about a dozen times to pick from and I chose “Constantly” so probably you will be hearing something from him in a day or two. It was about Tuesday when I wrote to him.

I bet Colin was pleased that the doctors wouldn’t allow him to go back to camp when he came home. Still all the same he wouldn’t get so much of enjoyment out of it being on the sick list would he.

I was surprised to hear of Uncle Fred dying. I didn’t know he was all that ill. It is a good job for Aunty Nan that her children are all working and can look after her, isn’t it.

As you say, Ceylon is certainly a beautiful place but I’m afraid that we don’t look for beautiful countryside scenery when we are ashore. Ninety nine sailors out of a hundred when they go ashore look round for the nearest cafe for ‘big eats’. After that they usually have a look around for a picture house or a dance hall I usually choose the ‘flicks’.

Talking of pictures we have a good one on board tonight. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in “Spellbound” which I shall probably see. The other two pictures we have had during the last week haven’t been particularly good, Googie Withers in “Rink String and Sealing Wax” and Mickey Rooney in “National Velvet”. Have you seen any of them?

I have just been told that I am playing hockey again for the ship’s team vs the “Small Ships” in the harbour. There are about eight ships in here so they should be able to get a fair side out.

Well Mom, I am afraid I can’t think of anything more to say at the mometn so I will sign off once more until next time
All my love as usual
Graham
x  x  x  x  x
x  x  x  x

10th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again to thank you for the very welcome letter that I received on Saturday. We are back in harbour once more after three days at sea, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and at the moment are alongside the wall which certainly makes it better for going ashore with no liberty boats to catch. I don’t think we are doing any more manoeuvres now until the 18th when we leave for Trincomalee and Bombay.

I am glad you liked the photos that I sent you, also my mates, “Blue” F. was my mate then, and I used to always go ashore with him, but I think I told you in an earlier letter that he has since gone on draft to England. He went on the “Empress of Scotland” and I believe was due to reach Liverpool today, so I bet he is doing a “little” shivering. Ken R. who is my latest mate comes from Tyseley and is quite a decent chap. Neither of them drink which is rare to find out here. Most “matelots” have a “couple of wets” when they go ashore which is not too bad, but there are always quite a few don’t know when to stop.

I am glad I never started in England because taking it all round, none chaps out of teen who get in to trouble in the Navy owe it to being drunk. My mess is not too bad though, so I am really lucky. Mind you I am not exactly strict T.T. as I now draw my tot of rum every day, it can’t do me any harm as it is well watered down to 2 parts of water to 1 of run. In any case you’d be surprised the number of favours you can get done by the promise of “half a tot”, so it comes in handy at times.

You certainly are having a stiff winter this time aren’t you. In this morning paper it says that 10″ of snow fell yesterday, Sunday, in some parts of England and Wales, also that in the Midlands and North West, a 100% cut in industrial fuel starts from today. Shinwell is certainly taking a battering from the Press. Talk about the biter bit, he was always one of the leading lights against the Tories and their lack of power and ideas. Now he’s at the receiving end.

Weren’t there a lot of cancellations in the football. Still I see Birmingham really “went to town” against Manchester City, it’s a good job they did as there are three Manchester chaps on my mess and I should never have heard the last of it if Manchester had won, especially as all the week I had been saying – “What a shame, poor Manchester getting knocked out at this stage” and each time I said it I got howled down. Still I’ve got the last laugh.

Talking of sport, I am at last beginning to make a name for myself on board here. Apart from playing football for the “Stokers” I now play hockey and cricket for the “Engine Room Department” teams. Engine Room includes all the Petty Officers, Chiefs and Antificers, and Engineers so it is quite an achievement. At Cricket I play Wicket Keeper, yesterday we played against the “Bermuda” Engine Room Department. They beat us but it was very close, we scored 115 runs of which my share was twelve, and they got 127 runs. Behind the stumps I only managed to stump one and there were five extras. Incidentally the one I got out was second highest score for them with 35. At hockey I am the only stoker in the team, the rest being Petty Officers and Officers with one Leading Stoker. I play goal as usual, I have only had one game so far which was against the “Venerable” which we won 3-1. We are playing again on Wednesday, I believe, against the Bermuda. By the way I forgot to say that I received an “Argus” and “Blue Nail” yesterday which is the first football papers I’ve had addressed to the “Glory”.

You asks if the “Glory” is one of the new carriers, well she is not exactly new, but then again it was only April ’45 when she was first commissioned which is only two months longer than the “Trafalgar”. Our sister ship the “Venerable” is leaving for U.K. on February 18th, so you might see her on the news at the pictures when she arrives as she is sure to get a big welcome. When we arrive home we shall probably get a bigger one as we are senior carrier out here so when we arrive it will certainly be ‘quite a do’. By the way did I even tell you, the Jap surrender in New Guinea and all the Southern Islands was signed on board us.

Have you been to the pictures lately? I notice the Yanks are sitting up and taking notice at a few of our films lately aren’t they. I have seen a couple of good ones over the weekend. On board on Saturday I saw Stewart Granger, Jean Kent and Ann Crawford in “Caravan”. It was definitely a well acted film and had a good story to it but all the same it wasn’t my choice of type. The one that I saw last night though, I really did enjoy, I expect you have at least heard about it. John Garfield and Lana Turner in “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. There has been quite a few arguments in the British press about it, and the Yanks have been criticising “The Wicked Lady”. Both with the argument that they were suggestive.Well I have seen both of them now, and I admit the “Wicked Lady” was rather close, but as for “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, well I think it was well ‘within limits’ and the story is definitely plausible and could take place in everyday life. Still your ideas may be different to mine. Last Thursday I saw Joan Leslie, my heart throb, in “Rhapsody in Blue” the story of the life of George Gershwin. Despite Joan Leslie, though, I didn’t think it was much to talk about.

I had a letter from Mr W. of the Youth Club, about last Wednesday. He told me that the village is pretty well deserted now of young lands. I get Roy is lost for want of mates. I bet you can’t guess who is the new chairman, or rather chairwoman, of the Youth Club – Dorrie T., of all people. What a change from the last three – Ken D., Roy and John D. Can you imagine her conducting a monthly meeting?

Well Mom I think I have finished with all the news once more so for the present
Bye bye, and all my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x
P.S. I liked the photo of Jean that you sent me!

P.P.S. So did the lads!!
x  x  x  x

29th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Thanks once more for your very welcome letter dated 15.1.7 that I received yesterday. The mail situation seems to be a little better now as I have had quite a few letters during the last week.

I am glad that Jean did so well in her exam this time, I hope she manages to pass the remaining exam easily. I bet she was pleased when she heard the result.

I bet you are pleased that the snow has vanished at least, it makes me shudder to think of it. I hope I can manage to get home in summer time so that I can get a chance to get acclimatised before next winter. It is fairly cold here still, that is, by our standards, but I expect you would call it mild. It is really just about the coldest time of the year now here. Last year they did have snow late January but I didn’t notice the cold as much then.

It will be much easier for you now that Dad has managed to get another car. I wonder how long he will have to wait until he gets the new Austin. Still a Morris “8” is a handy little car to run around in. Whereabouts is the Met factory? Is it one of these prefabricated affairs they were building down there?

You certainly have been busy writing, who the dickens were they all to? You’re telling me I daren’t leave my letter writing for long. During three days at Xmas I wrote eighteen letters and from the twelfth of the month to date I have written thirty. Altogether I write to seventeen people fairly regularly, at least three of the frequently so you can see what it is like. Admittedly I don’t keep that up all the time as wen I am sea I very rarely write what with watchkeeping etc. Then when I get into harbour I have all that to catch up with. To think that once upon a time when I used to go upon my holidays it was as much as I could manage to write a postcard.

At the moment of writing this letter by the way, we are at sea doing flying exercises and manoeuvres with the “Venerable”, but we are going back into harbour tonight.

Last night at the cinema on board we saw Bob Hope in “Monsieur Beaucaire” which was really funny. It had us in stitches, most of the time. Have you seen it? The other night I saw Jack Carson in “Roughly Speaking” which was also very funny. Talking of pictures, Jess O. told me that they are preparing to start work on the local cinema soon.

I am glad you liked the photo taken with the Chinese children. I can’t speak any Chinese but the average Chinese can just about understand the simple English words. Some of them though are really educated and you can chat with them just as though you were chatting to your best pal. The suit I had on was my best one but it is not particularly new, I had it made about last June actually but I haven’t really used it much as we have been in tropics most of the autumn.

Well Mom, I shall have to close now as it is lights out so for the time being
All my love
Graham
xxxxxx

19th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Many thanks for your two very welcome letters which I received this morning, well I say two letters, but one was really the short note with the £1 from Uncle H. I will have to write and thank him. The letters were dated 6.1.47 and 7.1.47, so there is three weeks mail missing somewhere. I presume it is that which is addressed to the “Euryalus” so it will be probably held in U.K. until the “Euryalus” arrives and redirects it.

I am sorry to  hear that you have been having trouble with your back again, I hope it didn’t spoil your Xmas. You seem to be a sorry lot between you, you with your back, Dad with his teeth and Jean with her eyes.

I hope Jean does O.K. in her exams this time, what on earth did she have to go to Manchester for? Couldn’t she have sat for them in Birmingham and had them posted on.

That certainly a fine way to start the new year I must say, joining the Army! I bet he will find it a bit strange for the first few weeks. What branch of the Army is he in?

Leonard K. and some of the others are certainly lucky to be stationed so near home, but there is always another way to look at it. They have their overseas service to come yet, while mine is nearly over.

You asked me whether I like the “Glory” better than the “Trafalgar”. Well I will say the routine is much easier, the principle is “one man – one job”, on board here, whereas on the “Traf” everyone had a “green hub”, especially at times when we arrived in harbour from sea as probably you would have just come off watch and then you’d have to turn to and oil the ship, on here they have a special party on board for just that job.

On the other hand it is a well known fact that you get much happier ships companies on board “small ships”, there is much better companionship and not so many arguments. The food was also much better on board the “Traf” as we used to prepare it ourselves and decide upon our own menu. On here you have what the galley decide and like it. Still it is not too bad usually.

I am glad you are getting a few “Ink Spots” records, I can’t say that I have heard of “To Each His Own”, I probably have heard it but don’t recognise the title. In the Fleet Club Canteen ashore they have a “Juke Box” with about twenty records including one of theirs – “I cover the Waterfront” which is another one that I like. There was also a very funny record by “Snozzle” Durande who sings in his throaty voice “Who will you be with while I’m away”.

I hope Jean soon gets her photo taken so I can show the lads. You have probably read in one of my later letters that I have been going round with a lad named Syd F. just lately, but as he went on draft to England yesterday I haven’t got a “shore-going pal” at the moment. There is a lad that I have been spending quite a lot of time with, I went ashore with him last night so he will probably be my new mate, he is Ken R. from Brum, you can see his photo on quite a few of the photos that I have sent you!

The lads on my mess are all younger than me except one, barring of course, the peace-time navy ratings on Active Service who are in for twelve years! I am one of two in group 66 and we are the lowest group on the mess now. As I told you group 64 have left the ship and there are only 3 in group 65 so really I am getting quite an old sea dog now.

No I haven’t seen “Forever Amber” or read the book yet, I should like to see the film as I have heard quite a lot of criticism about it. That is the film that James Mason refused to play in as it was “below his moral standards”. Should be good I should imagine.

Glad to hear that they have at last decided upon a 40 hour week at last, I shall certainly be O.K. for my football now shan’t I. The “Aussies” went on strike for the same thing while I was down there if you remember. I think I told you about it at the time.

Have you seen any pictures lately? Last night I saw a very good film which I really enjoyed. It was “Bedelia” with Margaret Lockwood, Jan Hunter and Barry K. Barnes as the principal stars. The story was written by the same authors that wrote “Laura” which I think you liked didn’t you? I you haven’t seen it, I can definitely recommend it to you.

Tomorrow I shall probably see the film that they have been showing aboard for so long – “the thrilling story of the gallant men of Arnhem”, etc., etc. “Theirs is the Glory”. I am also going up the Peak again, providing the weather is O.K., to take a few snaps.

Well, Mom, once again I think that is the lot for the time being so until next time
All my love
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x x

12th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines to let you know that I am still O.K. and keeping pretty fit. We are still at H.K. although we have been out twice for three days since we arrived. The last time we went out was the end of last week and we got back in on Friday night. On this trip we had a crash, the pilot signalled through to the ship that he would have to make an emergency landing on board. Well they cleared the deck as a safety measure and waited for him to come in, but he never made it. He was just circling the ship prior to landing on when to everyone’s surprise his engine suddenly cut out and he nose dived into the sea. The plane disappeared in less than twenty seconds. The crash boat that was with us HMS “Finisterre” tore across and luckily picked up the pilot who was suffering from severe concussion and rushed him into Hong Kong to hospital.

The “Venerable” who was also out with us had a bit of excitement. They had a P.O. in Sick Bay who had “gone around the bend” to put it in naval language, or in other words was slightly off his rocker. Well as I say he was in Sick Bay under observation, and when his recreation time came along they took him on the flight deck for a breather. The orderlies let him wander around on his own for a spell and while they weren’t looking he walked up to the end of the flight deck and shouting “I’m going for a swim”, he dived into the wake of the ship. Well the flight deck is about thirty or forty feet above sea level so it was some dive. They lowered a boat and caught up with him and tried to pull him into the whaler but he struck out at them and there was quite a struggle before they overpowered him.

I am enclosing some more photos taken by my new camera, which I think are quite good. Incidentally there is one showing me sitting in the cockpit of a “Corsair”, the same one that crashed into the sea on Thursday. There is also one of a group of “Brummies”, three of them of my mess.

I have had a couple of games of football recently, last Saturday we had a Stoker’s trial match versus the Seamen which was rather one sided as the Seamen had their usual team out whereas the Stokers treated it as a trial and consequently were hopelessly disjointed. The Seamen won by 5 goals to 1. Then on Sunday I was picked for the Stoker’s 1st XI and we played against the Marines in the 3rd round of the cup. It was a very good game and I really enjoyed myself. It was fairly ding dong until about twenty minutes from time when the Stokers scored three times giving us a 4 to 1 victory.

Talking of football I see the “Blues” managed to get through the third round of the cup by the odd goal in three on Fulham pitch. Villa came up against a hot side.

I shall be sending a couple of large photos of the ship some time this week, they will probably take about a month to get there.

Well I think that is about all the news for time being once again so until next time,
All my love,
Hope to be with you soon
Graham
x x x x x x