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
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
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
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
x  x  x  x  x  x  x

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,
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

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
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