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

Advertisements

7th April 1947

Dear Mom Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 29.3.47 that I received on Saturday. I was beginning to wonder when we were going to get any mail again as the ship hasn’t had any for a week. I suppose it is the bad weather that has been delaying it as usual. Talking of mail we have got to start paying for our mail again starting from May 1st which will be a bit of a nuisance especially getting near pay day. Still I shan’t have to put up with it much longer at any rate, I hope.

I still haven’t heard anything really definite about when the ship is going home but the dates we have got up to now are
May 10th leave Trincomalee
” 16th arrive Singapore
June 7th complete refit
” 20th leave Singapore
” 26th arrive Hong Kong
after that we are still doubtful but I think it is safe to say that another two or three weeks on top of that and the ship should be on its way home. While we are here in Trincomalee two or three days every week will be used up in flying exercises so it will all help to pass the time more quickly.

I have started another sport now, sailing. We have had a cutter out a couple of times during the last week finishing up with a dip in the sea. It is surprising really how fast you can travel when there is a good breeze blowing. I am also getting along fine with my swimming. The other day I learnt how to float on my back and am getting quite used to the idea now. I have only had one hockey match since I last wrote, versus H.M.S. “Glasgow”, who we managed to beat 3-1. I have had another couple of games of cricket for the ships team, one against H.M.S. “Highflyer”, the shore base who previously hadn’t lost a match this year. Luckily we had our full side out and rattled up 140 for 9 decl. against them. I scored 24 run out, we then dismissed them fairly easily for 51. The other match vs 16th Carrier Air Group (maintenance parties attached to the carriers out here), we ran up 91 of which I got 11 again run out, and dismissed them for 36. Today I am playing football versus the Supply in the “Glory” football league. Stokers “A” at the moment stand in the fourth place with a match in hand so if we win today it should bring us up into second place.

Glad to hear Mickey is getting over his “raw” deal over the winter. I expect he is a little happier now that the snow has gone isn’t he?

I have been seeing plenty of pictures as usual recently though none really outstanding. Last Monday we had Olivia de Havilland in “Dark Mirror”, Thursday we had Mickey Rooney in “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy” and yesterday when I was ashore with Ken R. I saw James Cagney in “13, Rue Madeleine” which was a story of American Secret Service during the war. Being American it was naturally a bit far fetched. Tonight on board we have a good film, “The Killers” I can’t remember who is in it at the moment but according to the lads who have seen it, it is very thrilling and exciting. So i don’t suppose I shall be able to recommend it to you!

Well Mom I think that is about all I shall be able to manage at the moment as our boat for football teams leaves in half an hour & I want to get a swill before I leave,
So for the time being,
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x x

17th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad, & Jean,

Just a few lines once more to let you know that I am still keeping fit and in the best of health.

I have been delaying writing to you over the last week in the hope that I should get a letter before I left Hong Kong. Still it looks as though it is too late now, as tomorrow morning we are leaving for Trincomalee and Bombay, so here goes. I suppose it is all the bad weather in the U.K. and elsewhere that has delayed the mail as it now nine days since I had any. Still by the time we get to “Trinco”, I expect we shall have quite a stack waiting for us.

There has been a strong “buzz” going around lately that the ship is going to Australia in May to do a refit instead of doing it at Singapore so if I am on the ship then I shall be able to get some decent presents at least.

The “Venerable” left here on Friday for England and is being relieved by H.M.S. “Theseus” which is due out here sometime April. The “Venerable” is doing a refit in England and then will be returning out here again as our relief. She got quite a send off when she left, what with bands and aircraft display.

I hear on the wireless that the “Vanguard” has just reached Capetown about an hour ago. Did you hear about the reception that they got. Grandstands all along the road from the quayside, dances & dinners, parties and dozens of other amusements. Lucky devils!

I have seen a couple of good films over the weekend, the first which I saw on board was Orson Welles, Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson in “The Stranger” which I really enjoyed. The other one that I saw ashore, was Van Johnson and Esther Williams in “Thrill of a Romance” which was also very good. Unlike most ‘Yankee’ musicals it had quite a decent story. An added attraction was John Melchior, the Metropolitan opera singer. He sang “Please don’t say No” and others but I liked that one very much. The funny part about it he wasn’t supposed to be singing it so he was hiding behind a car while Van Johnson was pretending to sing and serenading Esther Williams. It looked very realistic. On board tonight is Deanna Durbin in “Lady on a Train” which I shall probably go to see if I can finish my letter writing in time.

I see Birmingham won their local ‘derby’ game against Coventry, I think they will just about manage to gain promotion but I still don’t fancy their chances in the cup. Preston is still my tip with Burnley as an outsider, and Wolves for the league with Sheffield United as a dark horse.

In regards to my sporting activities lately. Yesterday I played in goal for our Engine Room hockey team against the “Bermuda”. It was a very exciting game and finished in a goalless draw. At football on Friday against the Marines we won by 5 goals to 0.

Well Mom I think that is all the news now until I get to “Trinco” on Feb. 28th so for the present
All my love
Hope to see you soon
Graham
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

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

18th December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you will be very surprised to hear that I am not going on board the “Euryalus” after all. We had a wireless message come on board saying that the “Euryalus” draft was cancelled and the draft was transferred to “Glory” as ships company. As we had already left Singapore it was too late to let you know before.

We left Singapore about twelve days ago and since then we have certainly had plenty of excitement. The first day out from Singapore we cruised up and down all day doing flying manoeuvres. I think I told you the “Glory” was an aircraft carrier didn’t I in a previous letter. It was really quite exciting. All the same I wouldn’t go up for a flight off a carrier for a pension. The taking off isn’t really all that bad but landing looks a bit too risky for me. I suppose familiarity breeds contempt but I think I would rather stay as an interested spectator.

Actually the system of landing is really quite simple. On the after end of the flight deck to say roughly a third of the way up the flight deck, eight steel hawsers are evenly spaced apart stretching across the width of the flight deck, each one independently loaded on a powerful spring. The plane has a adjustable hook fastened to the tail which should catch on to the “trip wires” as they are called. If the plane misses the trip wires then it will run into the first of two steel cable barriers which are erected approximately half way up the flight deck. The barriers are the last means of stopping the plane if she misses but it is a sure way to stop it  but usually makes quite a mess of the plane. I am enclosing a small sketch which will probably make it a little clearer to you.

Still it was a perfect day for flying and there were no accidents.

On the second day we proceeded for Hong Kong but after three days steaming we developed a bad leak in one of the engine room compartments and so we turned back to Singapore to undergo repairs. They turned all of us to on the job and we were working until ten thirty at night before we completed the job.

Next morning we again set sail for H.K. and reached here yesterday but didn’t go into the harbour but lay outside in Junk Bay. This morning we were joined by H.M.S. “Venerable” another aircraft carrier of the same class and all day the two ships have been doing flying manoeuvres. This afternoon came our first real spot of excitement. The sea was fairly choppy and consequently made landing more difficult as the ship was rolling pretty badly. The first plane to land came in too low and had to rise up at the last minute to avoid running into the stern of the ship. Unfortunately he didn’t rise quite enough and his wheels just caught the edge of the deck and he catapulted right over the eight trip wires. He touched down just past the last wire and crashed into the barrier at full speed turning onto its nose and ending up on its back. Everyone rushed forward to see if the pilot was O.K. and I for one was surprised to see him get out unaided and calmly walk away. His plane was very badly damaged and they dragged it away into the hangar. Luckily there were no more crashes on board us although there were two on board the “Venerable” one of them crashing into the stern of the ship and falling into the sea. Both pilots also were unhurt very luckily.

Tonight we have again anchored out in Junk Bay as they are doing more flying tomorrow. The ship is going in on Friday morning to H.K.

Tonight another accident occurred of a different sort. While they were lowering one of the boats, a cable broke and one end of the boat fell into the sea. The Marine coxswain of the boat got his legs trapped between the remaining pulley chains and the side of the boat and left him swinging in mid air. They had to hack part of the boat away to free him and get him onboard. He was pretty badly hurt and has suffered compound fractures of both his legs. They have took him ashore to Queen Mary’s Hospital.

To get back to a more cheerful note – I have been told by authoritive circles that all up to group 66 are going off the “Glory” in Trincomalee in early March to return to U.K. for service in the Home and Mediterranean fleets. If the report is true you can expect to see me early April. Still even if it is untrue or is altered the ship is returning to U.K. itself in July so that won’t be so long will it. Another good omen which shows I can’t possibly be out here much longer. There are approximately a hundred conscript stokers on here, and there are six to eight with lower group numbers than myself and some of those are going off when we arrive in Hong Kong on Friday.

I am afraid that it will be some time before I get any mail, it has been almost two months since my last lot except for those I managed to collect at “Sultan” before they were forwarded on to “Euryalus”. They won’t have the slightest idea on board the “Euryalus” who I am or where I am so it will be some time before they give me up for a bad job and return my mail to the mail office in Hong Kong. Then it will take them a little longer to find out where I am so by the time I get any it will probably be well past Xmas. Still as long as I eventually get it that is the main thing.

I hear that England have already had considerable falls of snow so it look as though it will be a hard winter doesn’t it. Are you going anywhere this year? Talking of Xmas I hope you got my Xmas cards safely, also the birthday cards.

I see England are having to fight hard again in the test match. I see Edrich is doing very well for himself, top score first innings, most wickets and now eighty six not out. I am glad really as in previous tests he has never quite made the grade. What did you think of Bradman and Barnes innings. They’re both certainly wonderful batsmen, aren’t they. In my opinion Barnes threw his wicket away when Bradman was out especially after playing an innings with hardly a chance out being out suddenly to scoop a high catch to Hain at the same score as Bradman. Seems too much of a coincidence to me.

I see Wolverhampton (my tip for the league) are still pegging away at the top of the league. They must certainly be playing well to put five past the previous leaders, Liverpool on Liverpool’s ground.

Well once again I am afraid that is all the news so I think I will sign off until next time
All my love and have a good time at Xmas
Graham
x x x x x x x x x x x

31st October 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry I haven’t written for a week but there have been so many drafts going out to ships in the last ten days that I thought I would delay writing until I knew whether I should get a draft or not. Six out of the original ten that came off the “Trafalgar” have already gone so I don’t suppose it will be all that long before I shall be on my way once again. Still there is one consolation of being in barracks, it at least gives you a chance to get your kit up to date again and to get your boots mended etc.

By the time you get this letter I expect the “Trafalgar” will be nearly home. She reaches Portsmouth on November 15th so if you see anything in the paper to that effect will you cut it out for me.

I had a surprise on Sunday, I was standing on the balcony of our block watching a draft march by that had just come in off the cruiser “Adamant” when I thought I recognised one of them so I nipped across to them and who do you think it was – “Taffy” Jones you remember the boy I joined up with, you saw him at Malvern once I think didn’t you? He is going home for demob, I certainly joined the wrong branch for getting out early didn’t I. He has let here now for England on the aircraft carrier “Indefatigable” so he should be home for Xmas, lucky devil. I suppose Jack S. will also be getting his demob pretty soon.

We have had a couple of old films here this week, but I hadn’t seen either of them as luck would have it. Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz” and James Mason & Phyllis Calvert in “They were Sisters”. The first one was really a kids film but it caused a good laugh, but the second one I thought was very good with James Mason as the unpleasable husband who eventually drives his wife to suicide with his cruelty. We also saw the “Victory Parade” film in Technicolour.

I don’t know how long it will be before I get any mail, it will be at least another month or so as all my mail addressed to “Trafalgar” will be held in the U.K. until November 15th and it is sure to take a couple of days to readdress it and post it out here plus twelve days to get here so it will be at least December 1st before it gets to “Sultan”. By then I am pretty certain to have moved on so eventually I shall get it about December 7th.

Have you seen any more football matches lately? The football season seems to have settled down a bit now although there are still plenty of surprise results. My tip for the league is still Wolves and Preston for the cup!!!

Have you heard how the village are doing this season, I have only heard one result so far when they drew against Shirley Stadium on Rovers.

Well I can’t think of anything else to say just now so I think I will sign off until next time
All my love
Your loving son
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x  x