17th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad, & Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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29th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you think I must have gone barmy or got a touch of the sun writing three times in five days. Still as I had one of the ‘missing’ letters from you and have nothing to do at the moment I might as well reply to it. The letter I received was dated 29.12.46 which gave me all the Xmas news.

You certainly had quite a family gathering over Xmas, I bet Grannie & Grandad felt strange being “visitors” instead of “host & hostess” I suppose Jean will be staying in a lot now that her “beau” is in the Army. I had a letter from Teresa today and she bets me that Jean will beat us to the altar easily, us being Teresa and myself. Any offers???

Glad you enjoyed the tin of meat from my food parcel. Talking of tins Jess O. wrote and mentioned that they had quite a selection of tinned stuff for distribution just before Xmas – peaches, pears, etc. You were right about Ginny T. being on leave, she mentioned a “short” list of other lads who managed to get home for Xmas – Leonard K., Dennis R., Eric P. (Navy) , Stan S., Arthur (Arkey to the lads) H., John P. and Michael I.

No, we didn’t have any effects from the Japanese tidal wave, I believe we were at Singapore at the time which is a good way from Japan.

Did you read about that Greek steamer that struck a mine and had two hundred casualties. We also had another bad accident near here when a Chinese river boat capsized and four hundred Chinese were drowned (?).

I am afraid that I do’t play darts very often out here. The last time I played was in Sietan and I was well off form then. Still with a little practice I think I could defend the younger generation of the family name when I get home.

We have had a change in the ship’s programme since I last wrote to you. When the ship reaches Trincomalee she is only staying a few days instead of six weeks, and then she is going to Bombay for a while. I don’t fancy the idea of that so much what with the riots they have been having. I don’t think I shall bother to go ashore there, I don’t think the British are too popular there at the moment.

Well, Mom, I can’t think of anything else to day just now as I haven’t been ashore since I last wrote.

So for the present
All my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x

19th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12th January 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21st December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am again with a few more lines to let you know that I am keeping fit and still in the best of health. Last night I went ashore and as the “Euryalus” was in I went aboard her and found that there were twenty letters on board for me bu unfortunately there was nothing particularly new and as yet no Xmas cards. Actually, three parts of it was addressed to the “Trafalgar”, so you can tell how old it was. I had three from you dated 23/9 – 5/10 – and 16/10, I believe I have had one or two up at Sultan since then before I left.

Well to answer your letters-
I hope that you have lost your backache by now as it would certainly spoil Xmas wouldn’t it. I also hope Dad has got over having his teeth out and didn’t have as much trouble about it as last time.

You certainly seem to have started an early winter this year. We are having our first spot of “things to come” here as we are wearing full blues which is our U.K. suit and I might say that while I was ashore last night I regretted that I hadn’t got my overcoat with me, but unfortunately I had sent it to the cleaners the day before. I don’t know what I shall do in England though as I suppose this is actually mild to U.K. Still it certainly gets rid of sweat rashes and ringworms.

I am glad you liked “The Corn is Green”. I thought it was one of the best films I have seen since I came out here, certainly one of the best for the acting. Yes, I have seen Eric Portman in “Wanted for Murder”. I don’t miss any of his if I can help it.

It’s a funny thing you mentioned that tune “Put another chair up to the table” as only about a week ago I was talking with a mate of mine who is also group 66 and we were discussing what we had been told about going off the ship at Trincomalee and he said it would be a good idea to send a request tune to the B.B.C. as soon as we heard definitely that we would be coming home. Well as I had a song book we looked through to choose a tune and that was the one that we chose. We were going to send it about a month before we sailed for home.

Jean is quite a forces favourite on board here already, every time anybody brings out any photographs and I show anybody mine, there is usually a prolonged whistle and I am always pestered with “How old is she?” – “Is she courting?” – “What’s her address?” – “Any chance of writing to her?” – “What’s her name?” – or, “Any spare photos?” and then there is usually an argument with the Birmingham lads consoling themselves and letting everyone on the mess know – “I only live a mile away” or “I shall have to call around when I am up the line.”

There are three other Birmingham lads or near Birmingham lads on my mess out of fifteen so we have quite a majority in any arguments. One from Smethwick, one from Tyseley and one from Nuneaton.

I am glad you found that book on wireless for Uncle Fred, did you have much trouble finding it?

Fancy Leonard K. going in the army, it can’t possibly do him any harm. I had a letter from Jess O. and she told me quite a bit of news about local lads in the forces. Norman R. has been home on leave from Palestine and has had to go back there. He is group 58 in the army which has quite a long time to do yet. Denis S. is in Italy and is having quite a good time by what she says. Peter R. is in the Army but the best of all which is sure to make you chuckle – Jimmy T. is also in the Army and had to report to Warwick. The best part is, he is in a division of men of the same size as himself and straight away they were nicknamed the “Bantams”. He is now at Chester. The latest call up is young Denis R. who has signed on for 5 years service.

You asked me if the food that I’m getting is any better now. Well at the moment we are still on dehydrated spuds but I should think they will get some real spuds on tomorrow or Monday. The bread ration is quite sufficient as it is baked on board. I will say that for the big ships in preference to small ships. Other advantages are we have our own laundry on board, bigger canteen, our own clothing store, and more room, we can even play hockey and occasionally football at sea.

We have “Spike Jones and his city slickers” on quite a lot out here. “Glory” – “Clink, Clunk, the glasses Chink” the one you mention “You always hurt the one you love” “Black Magic” and one or two more. I haven’t heard the “Ink Spots” lately, have they any more new records.

By the way I almost forgot to tell you that I received the “Arguses” and “Mails” also the football books and “Blues News”. You can guess what a fight there was for the papers when I had finished with them.

I also had a letter from Teresa and one from Uncle Fred. He sent me a £1 for Xmas which will come in handy. I am trying to save a bit of money now so that when I get home I shan’t be broke. I expect I shall have to pay a bit of Customs Tax so I had better get a bit in hand.

Last night I went to the pictures ashore and saw Done Amecke in “Heaven can wait” which I thought was quite amusing. Have you seen it? I am going ashore tomorrow and shall probably see “Sudan” with Sabu. I had my photograph taken yesterday and am collecting it tomorrow so will forward one if they turn out any good.

I am enclosing a small photo of the ship, I am getting some large ones but I shall have them coloured so they will be a couple of days.

Well mum I think that is about all the news once again so until next time
All my love
Graham
P.S. Hope you all have a good Xmas.
x x x x x x x x x x x

P.P.S. For the second Xmas in succession I am duty watch.