8th July 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Well here I am at last, I expect you have all been wondering what I have been doing with myself since I left Singapore. Well to start from the beginning, we left Singapore on June 23rd, with the “Theseus”, “Contest” and “Cockade” in perfect weather all looking forward to our “Aussie” cruise. On Tuesday we “crossed the line” and of course had to have the traditional crossing the line ceremony. The day before they erected a large canvas water tank on the flight deck with a tip up seat just jutting over the water. Then at roughly nine in the morning King Neptune and his “court” assembled on the flight deck and after the initial “proclamations” and “warrants” were read out the fun commenced. The “wild bears” were then let loose and all jumped into the water tank. Then the courts “barbers” and “policemen” prepared to carry out their “Majestic” orders. The first “arrest” was the skipper who was “decorated” for distinguished service during wartime and also for bringing so many “novices” down to Neptune’s court for passing out. He was given the “high order of the airborne sea-dog”. The next was the commander who was charged with driving the seamen to such an extent by making them “turn to”, “turn out”, “turn about” etc. that they were so mixed that they couldn’t tell their left from their right. For this “scandalous conduct” he was ordered to be “shaved” by the “barber” and thrown to the “bears”. The shaving soap was a big bucket and he was slapped all over with a big paint brush till he looked like an advertisement for Rinso. Then he was shaved by a huge cut throat razor about four feet high and finally thrown to the bears who gave him a good ducking. Of course the antics of the court and the “bears” had everyone roaring their heads off. Actually the ceremony lasted about two hours and all the “novices” were thrown to the bears. I was excused as I had crossed the line before but all the same I took no chances and kept well out of the way while the quest for victims was on.

The following day we hit rough weather and it kept on all the way down to the bottom corner of Australia. We were all dreading crossing the Australian Bight which is their equivalent of the Bay of Biscay, but much to our surprise it was “like a millpond” and it was so calm that we had flying all the way across. Well so much for our trip down, now for our reception in Adelaide.

We arrived in Adelaide on Friday about ten, just previous to entering the harbour we flew off ten “Firefly”s and ten “Seafires” who gave an exhibition of formation flying and ‘aerobatics’ over the city. When we tied up on the jetty there were quite a large number of people waiting there. The ship was soon swarming with press photographers and news reporters. The weather was very cold but quite bright. I went ashore at dinner time and we spent most of the afternoon looking around the city. It is a fair sized city about the size of Coventry I should say, but not as closely populated. It is fairly quiet and there is not really much entertainment except for dancing or pictures. The nickname for the city by the way is the “city of churces”. At night it soon got bitterly cold so we decided the best thing we could do was to take a trip to the pictures. The pictures we saw were “King of the Lumberjacks” and “Captains of the Clouds” with James Cagney. They weren’t particularly good pictures but it was at least warm. After the pictures we all got beds at the Y.M.C.A. and turned in early. On the Saturday I was duty watch and was detailed a guide to the visitors that came on board so I had a busy time explaining as much about the ship and its equipment as I was allowed to. Sunday Ken R. and myself went on an outing arranged by the Royal Naval Friendly Society, and went to the National Park for a picnic and games. At night we were entertained to a social and a supper. Monday we had an invitation to a private home where we had an evening by the fireside talking about England etc. They came from Bristol many years ago. Today I played for the “Glory” 1st IX hockey versus Adelaide University as goalkeeper. It was strange to us playing on a damp pitch but we soon settled down to a ding dong struggle. At half time we were losing by one goal to nil. Soon after half time we equalised but University soon gained their lead with a break away goal. We pressed back and again equalised from a short corner. After that it was University but we managed to hold out until five minutes from time when the right half accidentally turned the ball past me and the final game finished at that score, 3-2.

We are leaving here tomorrow for Melbourne with “Contest” as our escort destroyer. We are due to arrive on Friday morning with the rest of the fleet – “Theseus” and “Cockade”.

I expect you have received my letter or rather envelope with the newspaper cuttings in. Every day there is something in the papers about the activities of the “Glory” or the ships company so you can guess we are getting quite a fair amount of publicity on this cruise. On the trip down to Melbourne we are taking seven news reporters, photographers and wireless agents which are broadcasting two or three times daily programmes entitled “Life on the Glory” etc, so it looks as though we shall be even more in the news at Melbourne.

Well Mom, I am afraid I shall have to sign off now as it is nearly suppertime so until next time,
All my love as always,
Graham
Be seeing you soon.
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2nd June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 19.5.47 that I received on Saturday. Glad to hear that you had at least a drop of summer weather, let’s hope it at least keeps sunny during the real summer months. Still I see in the paper this morning that the London Meteorological Society report that there are strong possibilities of a warm summer. The weather here is at the moment quite warm which is a change as we had a quite wet week last week. Still the main thing is there is quite a fresh breeze blowing most of the time so I don’t quite mind it so much.

We are getting on well with our refit now and aren’t working quite so hard as we have been doing this last fortnight. Thank goodness it will be my last refit out here at any rate. We are hoping to leave on June 17th for exercises before going down to Aussie so that knocks another week off the refit.

What did you think of the “Wolves” coming unstuck at the last match. That’s the third season they’ve missed the championship isn’t it? I see Birmingham have been trying out some young ‘blood’ in readiness for next season. I think they will manage to get back next season, they’ve certainly had a couple of red hot teams above them this season. I see there are quite a few end of the season surprises taking place – Cullis retiring from the game, Stanley Matthews going to Blackpool, I think they’ll have to be watched next year.

Talking of football we played yesterday in the ‘derby’ game of the “Glory” league when we played against Stokers “B” team. It was very even for the first twenty minutes but then a couple of goals by our centre forward, “Taff” C., seemed to knock most of the life out of their team and we eventually ran out winners by 7 goals to one. Our figures now stand at played 6, won 5, drawn 1, lost 0, goals for 30, goals against 4, pts 11, we are now lying third in the league but are two matches in hand of the leaders and three points in arrears. We are now the only unbeaten team in the league and with the team playing as it is now I don’t think that any of the others are likely to beat us. Incidentally there are four Birmingham lads in the team besides me, so “Brum” must be a sport minded city.

I had a letter from Mr W. today and he said that the village got to the semi final of a cup again this year but lost by the odd goal or 5. I believe George R. and Bill S. are playing again now. The Youth Club also entered a team in a table tennis league with Roy as skipper and they are winning that hands down.

Changing the subject to cricket I see Dollery and Hollies of Warwickshire are amongst the twelve selected to represent England versus South Africa. Let’s hope they put up a better show this year.

As regards getting me a birthday present I am afraid I can’t help you out much as probably if I suggested anything it might be unobtainable or much too expensive. Still I’ll think it over too and let you know if there is anything that I particularly fancy. Talking of presents I treated myself to a pair of football boots yesterday they are a smashing pair and cost me 15 $ that is just over 30/-. I tried them out yesterday and they fit a treat. Also if I go to Aussie I intend buying myself a pair of flannels and a sports jacket ready for my leave when I get home. If I can get my war gratuities before then I shall get a suit instead. I have about twenty pounds to come in so I’m hoping I can get it out here instead of when I get home.

Well Mom I think that is the lot once more so until next time
All my love
Graham
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23rd May 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering what on earth has happened to me since I last wrote to you. Well as you can see I am now at Singapore, and at the moment we are working all hours getting on with our “rush refit”. We left Trincomalee on May 12th with the destroyer “Contest” as escort. We arrived here on Saturday 17th, actually it was late Friday night but we cruised up and down all night so that we could fly our planes off in the morning. We had quite a bit of excitement just as we were pulling in as a police boat came alongside and we found that there were opium smugglers on board, namely the Chinese stewards. It appears that the police in Trincomalee found a hoard of opium in a deserted hut at Trinco. They left it there but kept it under frequent observation, then the night before the “Glory” left it disappeared and they put two and two together. Then they decided it was no use warning the ship as they would manage to get it well hidden away by the time the ship got to Singapore whereas if they boarded the ship at Singapore they would probably catch the Chinese by surprise. I am enclosing a cutting from the local rag which has a report of the case. Since then though another eight Chinese have been arrested.

During the time we are in dry dock most of the ships company are sleeping in the shore base H.M.S. “Terror” which is about a couple of miles away from the ship. It is a nuisance really as we have to wait every night for lorries and also have to keep carrying our bedding back and forward when we are duty and have to sleep on the ship. Our department have been working really hard as we have really got to move around to get the boilers cleaned and ready for June 23rd when the ship leaves for “Aussie”. By the way the ship is also going to Brisbane now as well as Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, so we shall be visiting all the scenes of the massacres of our test team. We shall certainly have to keep our tongues in our cheeks when cricket is being discussed down there.

The weather here is much cooler here now than when we were here last time, bags of rain as well. Still it will be a taste of the Aussie weather as it will be their winter when we get down there which again will prepare us for going home in October.

I expect you have noticed the change of my address i.e. the M. after the Stoker. Well the Admiralty have decided that the title “Stoker” does not accurately describe our work and that a Stoker on a modern ship is in reality a Mechanic so now we are called Stoker Mechanics. A 2nd class Stoker is just called Stoker and a 1st class Stoker is now called Stoker Mechanic; a leading Stoker is Leading Stoker Mechanic and so on to Chief Petty Officer Stoker Mechanic in lieu of Chief Stoker. It’s really a copy from the Yanks as there are no stokers in their navy but instead are Machinists, 4th class.

Fancy Colin’s people going to Switzerland, it’s a pity Jean didn’t get a chance to go with them. It’s certainly a lot of money to spend on the fare as you say. I don’t think I could enjoy a holiday after having paid that much for a ticket. It’s certainly the fashion now what with Uncle Harry as well and Mrs W. ‘nipping over’ to Rhodesia. Is he still in the R.A.F. by the way?

I see the cricket season is in full swing now, Edrich getting a double century against Warwickshire. Has Dad seen the S. Africans yet? Is he turning out for the Met this year?

I’m sorry I didn’t send Dad a birthday card this time but I couldn’t get any in Trincomalee and I went ashore here the first night in but as it was Saturday it was early closing and I was unlucky again. Still next year I shall be a civvy so I shall be able to wish him “Many Happy Returns” personally.

I saw a very good picture a couple of nights ago, “This Man is Mine” which had everyone in fits of laughter throughout. Incidentally it was an English film.

Well Mom I think that is about the lot once again so once more until next time
All my love
Graham
P.S. Hope to be seeing you soon!!
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2nd May 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Many thanks once again for your last welcome letter that I received on Wednesday dated 23.4.47. Glad to hear you got the photos safely and that you liked them. I hope you soon hear from the “Gammont”, if it is much longer before he plays it then perhaps it might coincide with Dad’s birthday. Still I expect he has a terrific list of requests to play as the appeal he made out here would sure to have been heard by dozens of “Brummies”. Glad to hear that the weather has at least been a little better lately. You are certainly right about the weather being hot here, it is getting on towards summer again. Still I don’t feel it as much now as I suppose I am really acclimatised and bags of swimming helps to keep it a little cooler.

I didn’t know Pamela C. was engaged but I knew about May B. Personally I think they are both too young especially with the country as it is now.

I am glad to say that the tax on cigs won’t affect me as to quote Monty’s words “I don’t smoke, am T.T. and am 100% fit”.

I haven’t seen either of the pictures you mention. “The Outlaw” has had quite a lot of criticism in the papers I believe hasn’t it? On Monday we had a comedy on here – Eddie Bracken in “Hold That Blonde” which was quite a change from some of the stuff they have been giving us. Tonight there is “Bells of St. Mary’s” on with Bing and Ingrid Bergman. I shall probably be having a basinful of that. Have you seen it?

We are top of the league now at football as we beat the Chief Petty Officers, who were leaders, by one goal to nil on Wednesday. It was a ding dong struggle and we scored early and managed to hold on to our lead although it was quite close at times. I played right back again. There was quite a large crowd at the match and by the cheering for us the majority of them wanted us to win as the chiefs won the league last year and we are the only team to beat them this year. Our goal aggregate is 23 goals for and 3 against and we have only dropped one point against the Chiefs two.

We have been out on exercises since I last wrote. This time we were out from Monday night until Wednesday dinnertime. We had a bad crash on deck during the flying and the squadron leader of 806 squadron was killed. That is two squadron leaders in less than a month that we’ve lost. It was really bad luck as he hit the end of the flight deck when coming in just as the ship rolled and he lost control of his plane and shot across the flight deck and shot over the side crashing into the wireless masts and then vanished instantaneously into the sea. The ship looks as though it has been hit by enemy shells on the port side. Large dents made in the ship’s side, railings flattened, gun barrels bent and twisted and one wireless mast missing. We had to burn it off as it was a source of danger.

That is two deaths in a week! I always keep well behind cover when I go up watching the flying now. The “Theseus” also lost a plane in the sea while we were out.

Yesterday the Chief Stoker told us “unofficially” that group 66 will leave the ship on June 23rd in Singapore, but of course I am not banking on anything yet as anything can happen. Still it’s the first time that a date has been mentioned. So perhaps I might even get home for my birthday yet? Still it’s best not to look forward yet as he only told us “probably”, I’ll let you know as soon as it’s confirmed.

We are leaving here on the 12th of May for Singapore, so shall be starting on our refit about the 17th or 18th.

Well Mom I am afraid that is about the lot once more so for the time being,
All my love,
Graham
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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
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27th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well Mom I am afraid that is all for now as the lights have just been switched out so until next time
All my love
Graham
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18th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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