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

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22nd September 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering where I have been for the past month and why you haven’t heard from me. Well I think I told you we were going on a cruise of Northern China in my last letter so really I expect you had at least a rough idea where I was.

Well to start from when we left Hong Kong towards the end of last month. We had a five day trip up to a place called Chin-won-tao which is right up in the north of China, almost in Manchuria. It is not a very big place and as here were no British Naval Bases within a few hundred miles we were unable to dispatch or receive any mail. We reached there on Sept 1st and stayed there until the 16th.

It was quite cold there, typical English November weather with wet mists in the morning and cold winds most of the day. Of course you can bet we didn’t mind that having been at Hong Kong for two months in the middle of summer.

There was a small detachment of American troops there stationed in case the Communists attacked the town and that was about the only signs of any military in the town. There wasn’t much to spend money on except at the Yankee camp canteen where you could get a few bottles of beer which of course satisfied most of the chaps on board.

We were also able to get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables which is the best I have seen out here including Australia. The apples, peaches, cabbage, onions, potatoes and other veg were all in perfect condition which is a change out here. The apples tasted something like a Worcester Pearmain and you can bet your boots we all filled our lockers with them. Peaches cost about  1000 C.N.C. dollars for ten which is about 1’/8d – about 2d each. I bet you would have liked a few boxes at that price wouldn’t you.

There was a football pitch ashore and the P.T.I. took advantage of it to run an interdepartment football knock out competition. There were 16 teams took part and in the first two games we won fairly easily and we were all quite confident that we would at least get into the final but we came unstuck. First of all to start the bad luck two days before we played the semi-final I had to go into the sick bay. You remember I told you I was nearly gong barmy with sweat rash, well coming up from Hong Kong to Chin-won-tao I broke out with tropical ring worms which made matters worse and I was attending sick bay for treatment with penicillin ointment. Well I had four ring worms on my left ankle and what with the rubbing of my shoes they rubbed raw and evidently the dye out of my socks worked in and the next thing I knew my ankle was up twice the normal size. Well I thought the best thing to do is to turn in early and perhaps it will go down by the morning. I thought perhaps the footballing had done it. Well when I woke up next morning I couldn’t move my leg, and I had a headache and sore throat and I felt like a piece of wet rag. So I  went down to the sick bay and showed them my leg. They took my temperature and found it was 101 so of course I was shoved straight into bed. The medical officers examined me and told me I had blood poisoning through the dye out of my socks. Well for three days I felt terrible, couldn’t eat and everything I drank I brought straight up again. I had to take 36 anti serum tablets a day, I think that is what he called them, I was in for a week altogether and was light duties for another three days so that finished me as far as football was concerned there at any rate.

The Engine Room Department team played the Quarter Deck in the semi final with a reserve in my place and as an extra bit of bad luck the centre forward got hurt pretty badly after about twenty minutes play and they played the rest of the match with ten men and from what I hear they put up a good fight but cracked in the last ten minutes or so and eventually lost 4-1. Still Quarter Deck won the competition so we had the consolation that we were knocked out by the winners.

The ships team also played the Chin-won-tao team and fielded four reserves and surprised everyone by winning 7-0 so I don’t think the Chinese team can have been very strong.

We left Chin-won-tao on Sept 16th for Wosung, where we picked up the cruiser “Belfast” with the C. in C.B.P.F. [Commander in Chief of the British Pacific Fleet] on board, Admiral Sir William Boyd, the man who relieved Bruce Fraser. That was the 18th. Wosung is just an oiling base and nobody went ashore as we only stayed six hours or so. The “Belfast” had a bag of mail on board for us as she had come from Hong Kong since us so she brought it along with her. I got letter 33 dated Aug 22nd so there should be another couple waiting for me at Shanghai. There is one bag of mail at last as we have had a signal to that effect.

From Wosung we travelled up the Yangtze for two days, steaming by day and anchoring by night. It was very interesting seeing all the towns and villages on the way up. We arrived here at Nanking on Friday. Nanking is 500 miles up the river inland so you can guess it quite a fair sized “stream”. At our present position it is about a mile and a half wide, and I believe you can go up about 1000 miles or more with a destroyer so we haven’t done so bad.

There was quite a bit of excitement about two months back when the “Newfoundland” which is a cruiser went up about 600 miles to some small town and got stuck on a sandbank. It took two destroyers and two tugs to get her off. The C in C was on board her then so I expect he thinks he has come far enough this time.

There is plenty of variety ashore, food and quite a few shops but most of it is a bit too much for an average sailor’s pocket especially at this end of the month so I think I’ll be satisfied with the one “run ashore”.

Today we had another game of football, this time it was a challenge match, the “Belfast” Engine Room Dept. challenged our Engine Room Dept. and we managed to get our full side out including the Engineer who has been making quite a name for himself as a centre forward while playing for the officers in the knock-out. They were the other losing semi-finalists by the way. Everyone expected us to lose by four or five goals as they have about four times as many men to choose from on the “Belfast”, but we surprised everyone including ourselves by holding them to a draw 2-2. Every man in our team seemed to have found his form and at times the combination was lovely to watch. They had a strong side out and after the match the spectators said it was one of the best games they have seen for ages. The Engineer got one and the Inside Right, an Engine Room Mechanic got the other. Their Inside Left got both their goals, he was like a streak of wind and once  he got past our backs there was no-one in our defence could catch him. Still with two men pretty well marking him up most of the time we managed to keep him quiet or else he would have certainly put it “in the bag” for “Belfast”. I played centre half again and I kept the centre forward pretty quiet all through the match. He was quite good with his head but I was a couple of inches taller than him and I kept pretty close to him while the ball was in the air and didn’t give him much chance to “use his nodder”.

We leave here on Tuesday for Shanghai where there is quite an extensive sports programme been arranged between us, the “Belfast”, Yanks and Chinese – Boxing, football, cricket, water polo and tennis so we should have quite a good time. I don’t know whether our department will get a game but I hope so as we have quite a decent team now and all we need is a few games together.

At Boxing, McMurdie, that ex London Junior amateur champion has left the ship now so that is one less boxer on board, but we have got a chap on board named Richards who has done some professional boxing in Liverpool. He also fought some Australian top notchers when he was down there so I should say he is a dead cert for a win.

Talking of boxing did you hear the recordings of the Woodcock-Leanevitch and Louis-Maurrelli fights. We got them and you should have heard the cheering when Woodcock was given the verdict. I hear Louis has offered to fight him in February. Personally I think it is a bit too early to tackle Louis yet as he needs more experience especially at American Boxing but all the same I hope he puts up a good show.

We shall stay at Shanghai for five days and then we go to a place called T’Singtao which is roughly halfway between Shanghai and Chin-won-tao where we stop for another two days. We leave the “Belfast” there as she goes on to Chin-won-tao and then she is going on a cruise around Japan. We return to Hong Kong about the 5th of October and leave on the 10th for Singapore and then home. From the signals that have been floating around during the last month I don’t fancy my chance of coming home with the ship at all now. It gives you a feeling like having sat for an exam and waiting for the result when you know you haven’t done very well. The last official signal said that all ratings over 60 group would be drafted off the ship so you can see my chances are almost nil now, as my group is 66 which is a big difference. Still I don’t think it will be long now. My estimate for my demob is just about the time when I am due for “the key of the door”. They reckon on demobbing up to group 60 by the end of the year and if they keep up the present rate of demobbing it will just about be my 21st, they are doing about a group a month now.

It certainly looks at the moment as though I shall be spending my second Xmas foreign, I bet we don’t get a 25 lb turkey this time especially if I am in Singapore Barracks. I have been out here 11 months in exactly 6 more days so I am getting quite an old “salt” now aren’t I.

You seem to have been doing quite a lot of travelling as well, what with trips to Sheffield, Malvern and Droitwich. Its funny you mentioning that you went to Malvern and didn’t see a sailor as I had a letter from one of my old mates from Suffolk Street who said that he came home on seven days leave and went to Skegness on a bus trip and he said the same thing about there.

That Arthur Hunt that you mentioned, the one that sang in the motor coach, I don’t know if you remember it but I came home from work once and told you that he sang “Old Father Thames” and ” When xxxx is Done” in a works concert and I said that he was as good as some of the singers I have heard on the B.B.C.

Do you see much of Wilf A. now? I expect Dad does at work. Ask him to remember me to all my old mates, Bob E. and Frank R. and ask him if Janet still works there. He’ll know who I mean. Tell him that I wrote to her about a couple of months back but never got a reply so I wondered whether she got the letter.

Have you been to many football matches lately? The Villa seem to have gone to seed don’t they. I have only heard of one match that they have won and that was against Derby. In fact the only Midland team that seems to be doing moderately well is Wolverhampton. I see Arsenal seems to be getting into stride again. I suppose she is getting her players back again.

Is the village running a team again this year? I still haven’t heard from Roy, I should think he must be courting strong or something.

Jean seems to be “going steady” doesn’t she. I can see if I stop out here much longer I shall be the only single member of the family.

How is the bread situation now. We are pretty short now, at least during the last fortnight. We are allowed five loaves a day for our mess and it works out 1 piece a man for tea and supper and 1 1/2 pieces for breakfast so you can guess we call the “chef” a few names. Of course its no fault of his really as he just hasn’t got the ingredients for making larger quantities but all the same he gets the blame.

Well I think that is just about all the news for now so I am afraid I shall have to close down once again, so until next time,
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x x x x x

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

14th May 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering why you haven’t heard from me for such a long time and wondering where I was. Well for a start off you can see that I have left Hong Kong and that I am writing from Japan. Well I may as well start from the beginning, to put it short, during the last month we have been on a cruise of Japan, we left Hong Kong and first of all came here to Yokohama. There is nothing particularly brilliant about Yokohama, the weather is typical Manchester weather it has rained pretty well every day that we have been here. We were supposed to play football one of the days but when we got ashore we found the pitch was in a hollow and was covered with six inches of water which soon put an end to all our ideas of sport. The place is one of the bases of the American occupation forces and are they not too friendly with our chaps. There is a very strict non-fraternisation ban on which is surprising considering the Yanks are in control.

Well we stayed here for about four days and then sailed to the Northern Island of Japan, Hakkoddai island, where we put in at the main port of the island, Hakodate. Here we got a much different welcome. There were not so many Yanks and they were definitely “all for us” because as soon as we went ashore, they had lorries waiting for us and drove us out to their camp about six miles out of Hakodate. And did they give us a time, plenty of food, sweets, ices, coca-colas and for those that drank, as much beer as they wanted. But the main thing that nearly everyone bought were cigars, we pretty well all bought a box full of 50, two or three different brands, “White Owl – Corona – coronas” which cost us the ridiculously cheap price of 60 yen which is worth £1-0-0. You should see our ship at night now, talk about Rothschild, everyone on the ship is smoking them down from the Captain to the Chinese mess boys.

Besides all this there was table tennis, darts, billiards (American version with no pockets on the table which I didn’t get the hang of) cards dominoes and literally hundreds of the latest records with all the stars from Sinatra singing “The Hose I Live In”  and the Ink Spots singing “Address Unknown” to Bing Crosby singing “The Lord’s Prayer”. Have you heard the singing that number by the way, I think it is one of their best. They also gave us about half a dozen books each, you know the small Forces editions of nearly every book and author you could think of. They certainly do things in a big way for their Forces.

When we went back to the ship that night it was quite funny, nearly everyone had the same thought as ourselves “Try and get a couple of bottles of beer on board for the chaps who are duty”. Well we are not allowed to take beer on board so the way we work it is ti leave the bottles in the motor boat, go on board, pass the officer on duty and then nip down the rope ladder to the boat, get the beer and then take it on board. Well I say everyone had the same thought and there were about fifty of us all with two or three bottles in the boat, well we passed the officer and everyone nipped down to the rope ladder very quietly at first but there were so many that it was soon more like a roughhouse and everyone was shouting for everyone else to be quiet. Well the officer on duty soon heard the rumpus and came along to investigate but luckily for us he was a decent chap and realising what was happening he turned away and went to the other side of the ship. Still after all that we got it on board safely so that was all that mattered to us.

From Hakodate we went further north to Otaru on the western side of Hakkoddai island where once again we got a marvellous welcome. We went alongside the wall there which made it much more convenient. All the time that we were there the Yanks were coming aboard, having a look over the ship, taking photos, stopping to dinner, tea and even supper. It’s a good job we had plenty of stores on board or else we should have starved for the rest of the trip.

When we went ashore we again had the time of our lives, the only difference being instead of all living in one camp they had taken over all the big buildings in the centre of the town and were using them as barracks. They still had their own cafes, clubs, picture houses and bars only they were in Jap buildings. I saw two pictures while I was there. Betty Grable in “The Dolly Sisters” and Dick Haymes in “State Fair” they were both musicals and were quite decent.

By the way we were very surprised when we first came ashore to see real snow, it had pretty well cleared in the town but they told us that even a month ago there was five feet in the town itself so you can see it is not all warm winds and sunshine out here. I’ll admit it wasn’t as bad as all that, it was quite mild during the day but at night and in the morning we certainly felt the cold. Its a good job that we didn’t get there about December or January as they were snowbound for six weeks so you can see the climate is much more severe than in England although Japan and England are more or less on the same latitude.

While we were there we went to Mass by an American padre in the Yankee cinema then went to the R.C. missionary church and went to the service there. We found out that it was run by a priest and German sisters. They seemed frightened to tell us that they were Germans when they knew we were British but after a while they began to talk a bit more. They all spoke perfect English in fact they teach English at the school that they run. The priest came from the Koln while all the three sisters came from the Rhus. The priest said he hadn’t heard from his family since just before the war and he doesn’t know whether they are dead or alive.

We also visited a Buddhist temple which was quite an experience. It was more like an antique shop, idols, gods, vases, flowers stuck everywhere. There are no seats just straw mats on the floor on which they get down and do their “daily dozen”. We had to take our shoes off when we went in or else we were insulting their gods.

We got more gifts than at Hakodate when we left Otaru, they heaped literally thousands of books on us, games of all descriptions, hundreds of records, footballs, baseball gear, rugby gear, ice skates and even thirty sets of skis. If Roosevelt had still been alive I bet he would have been pleased, there was certainly plenty of Allied comradeship here. Oh, by the way, an item which probably interests Uncle Harry, I bought a bottle of Japanese whisky for twenty yen – 6s/8d. for my mates who were duty which was by all accounts a “drop of good”.

From Otaru we went back to the Japanese mainland Honshu and called at Ominato, I didn’t go ashore myself but again our chaps had a good time by the amount of stuff they brought back on board with them. Then from Ominato we eventually headed south and headed back at Yokohama here, yesterday.

We got our first mail for five weeks as well. I got three from you although they are not up to date. I expect there are a couple more recent ones somewhere. I haven’t got your letters with me at the moment so I’m afraid I can’t answer any questions but will do so next time. I am writing this on watch by the way, the time is 2.30A.M. so it helps to keep me awake. I am on until 4A.M. then I turn in until 6.30 just have time to wash, have my breakfast and then I am on watch again from 8 until 12 dinnertime when I get the next twenty four hours off duty. We are working in four watches while we are in harbour. Two watches duty and two stand off, we do four hours on and four hours off for twenty four hours then get twenty four hours off.

We are staying here until next Friday then we are going to Shanghai for six weeks, its very grim down there according to what other ships have told us. From Shanghai we go back to Hong Kong for a refit which will take about eight weeks. I don’t know for certain where we are going from there but I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is back home and that they keep me on board. If they don’t though it will just be a bit of bad luck and I shall have to try my luck with another ship.

By the way I expect you noticed the addition to my official number, Sto.1/c (Stoker, first class) I saw the engineer about a month ago and passed out. I don’t get paid the extra money yet as I have to wait until my service papers come before they can increase anyone’s pay. When I do get the increase though I shall put my allotment up a bit more, I might as well save as much as I can while I’m in the Navy.

I heard from Alan W. yesterday, you remember Jean’s favourite, he is still a Marine he is in the Gunnery and Torpedo branch now as a mechanic and seems quite pleased with himself. Do you remember when I parted from Norman and I said I hadn’t heard from him for ages. Well I have discovered the reason. Yesterday I had one of my own letters returned to me which I had written to him on June 20th last year giving him my then latest address which was Malvern. The letter had been cut open and my address taken off it and returned to me quite intact. Eleven months it had been in the post altogether.

Did Dad get my birthday card safely, I posted it late April as I knew we were going on the cruise and wouldn’t be able to send any letters so I expect he got it with quite a bit to spare.

How is Jean’s love affair going on nowadays? Has he popped the question yet? It looks as though she will beat me to the altar by a good few lengths yet.

Since I have been made first class I have taken off the boiler and am now the stoker for the turbo-generator which supplies all the electric power for the ship when we are at sea. We work in three watches at sea, so there are three of us altogether run the turbo between us.

By the way it doesn’t worry me two hoots where I sleep at Hobmoor. I’m sure buses going round the corner won’t disturb me. It’s a funny thing, I can go to sleep with a light by my hammock and the wireless on the bulkhead or wall just behind me, and yet any unusual sound during the night such as someone talking or someone coming down the ladder wakes me up. I suppose its just what you get used to.

Well, once again I think that is about all the news for this time so I shall have to close for the present
So until next time
All my love
Graham
x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x

1st April 1946

Dear Jean,

I am sorry that I haven’t written a reply to your last letter before but I don’t seem to have so much time for writing letters as I did when I was at Sydney. Still here goes!

You will probably know by now, through Bill B., that I hadn’t fractured my arm after all. The doctor on board said that he thought I had fractured it and he sent me ashore to the Chinese civilian hospital to have it X-rayed. They took three shots of it and found that there were no broken bones at all so I was lucky wasn’t I? Still the bone is very badly bruised and I can’t do my usual work. The last couple of days I have been Engineer’s messenger so I have had a pretty easy life. It has gone down a lot now though and I don’t have to wear a sling now, I think another week and it should be quite O.K. again.

I think it is pretty definite about us going to Japan on April 20th now. I hope we don’t stay there too long, you have to have a little respect for your neck in places like that.

Yesterday I saw the United Services play the Combined Chinese at football. It was a very exciting game and ended in a 2-2 draw. The Chinese centre half and goalkeeper were both brilliant and would easily get their place in any English team. All the same though the Services should have won because they were leading 2-1 when the goalkeeper went to punch the ball and didn’t connect properly and the Chinese centre forward only had to tap it into the net.

I see Villa and Birmingham re having a fight to win the league though Birmingham has the best chance as they are matches in hand. They have both done very well this year haven’t they!

I had a letter from Roy on Saturday and he said that Harry G. is going out with Dorrie T. of all people! and John D. is going out with Joan F., she certainly gets around a bit. That’s about the sixth or seventh isn’t it? What did you think about Margaret H.’s baby dying? A shame wasn’t it, I believe she died of haemorraghe (is that spelt right?)

Have you been to the pictures lately with your lover? I have seen three in the last fortnight, Fred McMurray Edward G. Robinson in “Double Indemnity”, Claudette Colbert, Joseph Colten and Shirley Temple in “Since You Went Away” and Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O’Brien in “Our Vines have Tender Grapes”. They were all very good pictures and I quite enjoyed them, especially the last one which is the best film that I have seen since I left Sydney.

Well I think that is about all for now Jean so I will close once again until next time.

I am enclosing a couple of combs, I hope you get them O.K. Did you get my last photo by the way?

So all my love
Your loving brother
Graham
xxxxx
P.S. Tell dad that Docker is favourite for the snooker handicap. He beat Alf Deeler and Alf Austin the same night!!

27th March 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for a week but we have been pretty busy cleaning and repairing the boilers just now so have not had much time for letter writing.

We are still at Hong Kong as you can see by the address but I don’t think we shall be here much longer. There are certainly plenty of rumours going around, some say we are going to Shanghai, some to Tokyo and today there is a rumour that it is back to Sydney which I hope is correct. Still we can’t really believe any of them so I shall have to wait and see what does happen. I certainly think we shall leave here though.

I am still doing very well at sport, this week I was elected captain of the Stokers’ football team, there were 40 votes altogether and I got 34 of them so it was pretty unanimous. We play our first match in the new Ships League tomorrow against Chief and Petty officers who won the last league only dropping one point. Last Monday week we played H.M.S. “Finistere” who have not lost a match coming out from England to here. They were certainly a good side, the best ships’ side that we have played so far but we managed to beat them by three goals to one. Last Wednesday we played the pick of the Navy team who are called H.M.S. “Nabcatcher”. They had eight of the usual side out and we expected to get the thrashing of our lives. After five minutes play our captain had his head cut open and was taken to hospital, that left us with ten men. They scored five goals in the next quarter of an hour so you can guess we were pretty “choka”. However we packed our goal and at half time the score was still five-nil. Directly after half time our centre forward reduced the arrears with a smashing solo dribble which certainly inspired our forwards for the next ten minutes they overwhelmed their defence and two more goals were netted by the centre forward who thus got his hat trick. From then on it was a terrific struggle with fast end to end play. However the loss of our skipper was too much and the increased their lead with ten minutes to go. I don’t know how we managed to keep them out after that as we were heading the ball out, kicking it out, kneeing it out but somehow we did and that was the final score 6-3. The Navy selection committee was at the match and their chairman said that it was the best Navy game that he had seen and considering the fact that we had only ten men it certainly was a good performance. Still we are having a replay shortly so we are hoping for better luck.

The day after we played H.M.S. “Hague” with five reserves in the side and lost by the only goal of the match. The last time we played them with a full side we got seven without reply.

By the way at the “Nabcatcher” match I meat Reasoon, one of the boys on the Skegness photo who I joined up with, also a leading hand who was in my mess on the “Aquitania”.

At hockey on Sunday we also came unstuck against the “Finisterre” losing by two goals to nil. Still our hockey team is mucked about too much by officers playing so we don’t worry so much about that.

I heard the commentaries of the semi finals over the wireless last weekend, they certainly sounded very exciting. Did you go the Villa Park match? I bet the Birmingham-Derby match was a real thriller. I notice Dearson hasn’t got his place in the team now. They certainly have plenty of players to choose from, I wonder whether Billy Hughes will get his place back in the team. I see Frank O’Donnell has left the Villa and has gone to Notts Forest. To think the Villa paid £1000 for him in 1938, they certainly didn’t get their money’s worth out of him.

I got your letter number 17 last Saturday which was very welcome. Bill B. also got Jean’s letter on Monday. Glad to hear that you have started getting tinned fruit through again. I bet you’ll enjoy it when you do open it won’t you? You don’t seem to be doing too badly with your shopping either.

I don’t expect the bells would worry me at night even if I slept in the front room. You’d be surprised what you can sleep through in this mob after you’ve been in a while (it’s over a year now by the way) it’s funny after doing a week or two of watchkeeping you drop off to sleep pretty well straight away and always wake up about ten minutes before you are due to go on watch, I can always reckon to wake up at ten to twelve or ten to four now if I know I have got to go on duty though when I am off duty I never wake up.

I heard from Norman the other day, he says he has got a “Golden Hind” draft so maybe I shall see him out here one of these fine days. He is a Petty Officer now by the way, he’s certainly had luck smiling in his direction.

What do you think of Margaret H’s baby dying after nine days. I bet it was a shock to them. She weighed 9 1/4 lbs at birth so she must have been quite a “bouncing” baby. He’s got home just too late to see her alive. Margaret nearly lost her life as she had to have a blood transfusion.

Did you get my last photo safely? Dorothy H. said she got hers O.K. so I should think you will have got yours O.K. by now.

I am glad to hear that the Russians have started to clear out of Persia. I thought there was going to be trouble over that lot and I am a bit too near to Russia for my liking if any trouble does start.

The weather is getting much warmer here now, we are dressed in tropical rig most of the day now, it is only during early morning and late at night that we put our “blues” on.

Well I don’t think there is much more to say now, I am enclosing a photo of the Japanese general who we took to Saigon by the way, he certainly looks a deadly piece of work doesn’t he!

So until next time all my love,
Bye bye,
Graham
x x x x x x

IMG_20170328_213435775

15th March 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for such a long again but I think I mentioned in my last letter that we were going out to Saigon in French Indo China. We arrived back here yesterday so we were gone for just over a week.

IMG_20170311_114158044
Caption reads: H.M.S. ‘Trafalgar’ alongside jetty at Saigon in French Indo-China (later re-named Vietnam) in March 1946. Ship had taken Japanese General back to Saigon to face war crimes court martial.

The main reason that we went to Saigon was to collect mail that has been held up owing to heavy storms that have prevented the mail planes taking off. We also took a Japanese war criminal, General Okado, who is wanted for trial for atrocities on the Indonese. He was a tough looking devil but I can’t say that he looked very perturbed at the fact that he was going to his death.

 

IMG_20170311_114214757.jpg
Caption reads: Japanese General Okado, wanted for war time atrocities in French Indo China, allowed out for exercise on board H.M.S. ‘Trafalgar’ en route to Saigon.

 

 

Saigon is the place where they have had a lot of trouble lately between the French and the Indonese. There was a bit of sniping going on while we were there. The town is about fifty miles up the Saigon River so you can guess it was quite a nice view going up river. We had plenty of fresh fruits while we were there, pineapples, bananas and coconuts. The town is roughly divided into two halfs, one where the French live and the other where the Annamites live in very primitive huts. The French quarter is very modern and is just like a British city. On the Sunday I went ashore and went to church in Saigon cathedral which is a very beautiful building. The service was conducted in French and I was just about able to gather a smattering about what the service was.

The climate there is terribly hot as it is in the tropical areas and it is quite a jungle just outside the city. We had to have anti malaria pills while we were there just in case.

Also while we were there we had two games of football. The first was against a Navy hospital ship which we won easily by seven goals to none. The second was against the R.A.F. and was a very tough match which we just managed to win by four goals to three.

I think we are going out again early next week though I don’t know where to yet. It may be only a “buzz” though. At the end of the month we are going to Shanghai which I don’t fancy very much. I don’t expect we shall stay there very long as we are the “senior” ship out here in the China Fleet now that the “Duke of York” has left home for Sydney so we shan’t be able stay away from the main base, which is here, for long.

I got two letters from you yesterday and also one from Jean so I will start with your No 15 first, dated Feb. 24th. I certainly was surprised to hear that Dad had sold out to the Coop, I thought it would probably be Wrensons or else some private trader. I bet Wrensons over the road don’t think such a lot of it. What price did they pay? Did they argue over the goodwill like the others that have been interested.

It sounds quite like a chain circle when you get a letter from me, I hope Uncle Fred got that last letter of mine safely and that it didn’t miss him when he left for home.

Bill H. certainly seems to be doing well for himself doesn’t he. I am surprised at him taking the Petty Officer rank though as it will make it harder for him to get demobbed. I see in the Pacific Fleet Notices that have just come out that the “Taurus” is en route from Fremantle so it looks as though he is heading for home.

Fancy Stan A. getting demobbed, the jammy devil, he has only been in about two years or so hasn’t he.

I would be glad if you could send me a bit of money I want to buy a new suit and I can never afford it out of my navy pay. I should think it would be safe sending it in an ordinary letter as so far there hasn’t any been lost.

Am glad to hear Dad beat C. in the snooker, I bet he was upset for a day or two as he always fancied his chance. Roy got knocked out by “Pop” C. though he said that he was glad that he lost to him in preference to some of the others.

Micky seems to have been having quite a game since arriving at his new home. I bet he will have quite a lot of fun chasing the strays that usually hang around the drive.

Have you still got the car by the way or did that go in with the shop.

I am afraid that I have forgotten what fish and chips taste like, the last time that I had any decent ones was when I was home when I pinched that weekend if I remember right that’s what I had for supper. I am still doing very well with my cakes and puddings, I made a cake this morning and when I went to fetch it from the galley the cook recommended me on it. I mixed it up until it tasted like “scraping out the dish” and I thought “that’ll do” and sure enough it did. Yesterday I made a steamed duff which was also very tasty. I shall certainly make someone a very good wife.

Well that seems about all for that letter so I’ll have a look at the other one which is the smallest. Sorry to hear that you hadn’t heard for such a long time. I expect the mail had been held up as there has been quite a lot of stoppages recently.

What sort of job is Dad getting at the Met factory, it will be pretty handy to get to even if he doesn’t go in the car, you can get a Midland Red pretty often past there. I wonder what job I shall get when I get “outside”. I am afraid that by then I shall have forgotten most of the electricity that I ever knew. Still I have always got a knowledge of a drawing office as a second choice.

Glad to hear that Mary was pleased that I remembered here, is she still working at the shop.

Roy told me about Frank P., I bet he is pretty “choka” fancy doing a trick like that and even having the cheek to take his money.

I will just answer a few of Jean’s questions and I think I shall have to call it a day as it is getting pretty late.

That Bill that wrote to you is a Leading Stoker on here. He came on about the same time as me although he has been out here about eighteen months. He is going home for demobbing any day as his relief came on board yesterday so he shouldn’t be long.

Eric that chap on the motor bike is on board H.M.S. “Avenger” which I think is an aircraft carrier and is still at Sydney.

I have lost most of my sunburn since I have been here as it gets really cold at times though I would rather have it like that in preference to the heat of Saigon.

I am enclosing an Indonesian “piastine” which is valued at eightpence halfpenny at the moment although it alters from time to time.

Did you get my last photo O.K. that one where I am standing with another boy. I am glad you liked the one in the frame of the ship. I have got one of the football team also in a frame and will send it on tomorrow or as soon as I cam get an envelope big enough for it.

What do you think of Birmingham in the cup now, I hope they win it don’t you. They certainly did well to knock six up against Bradford. I heard the commentaries of both matches over the wireless and it certainly sounded very exciting. Has Dad got any “long odds” on any teams this year? Even if he has he won’t win such a lot as Bolton are the best odds and they are only about 33-1 aren’t they?

Well I think I shall have to close now as it is twenty to twelve so until next time,
All my love,
Graham
x x x

P.S. I am posting a Saigon newspaper in another envelope. It is written in foreign “twang” but it will be alright as a souvenir
x x x x x


Notes

French Indo China is, of course, now called Vietnam.

Major General Okado Tasuku was tried as part of the Yokohama War Crimes Trials, which lasted over two years (from 1946 to 1948). Okado was found guilty of ordering the execution of a number of captured American pilots shortly before the end of the war, and he was hanged on the 17th of September 1949. He accepted responsibility for the killings, and his trial and execution were made into a film, Best Wishes for Tomorrow, in 2007.