3rd July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

I received your very welcome letter dated 14-6-46 this morning. It certainly took longer to get to me than usually, but perhaps it was held back in Hong Kong until we returned here.

We arrived in at five thirty this morning, and we certainly got a promising welcome as it was drizzling with rain. Still I must say that it is quite an event here especially at this time of the year as it is just about at its hottest now. We are going into the dockyard tomorrow to start the refit so we shall be shutting down which will give us a break from watchkeeping for a while. It will certainly be a treat to go to sleep at night knowing you won’t get shaken at twelve or four. I am on watch at the moment by the way, it is just after one o’clock and I am on until four. I never thought I’d see the day when I should be able to stay awake from twelve until four in the morning without even dozing. I am getting to be as bad as Mr A. now aren’t I!

There is not much to go ashore for in Hong Kong now as in Hong Kong there is a cholera epidemic and two thirds of Hong Kong is out of bounds while at Kowloon, the other side of the harbour there is a smallpox epidemic. I expect we shall have to have another injection tomorrow as a protection against smallpox. That is the worst of it out here anywhere you go where there is an epidemic or disease onshore well you must be vaccinated whether you are going ashore or not. Still I suppose I shan’t always be a sailor.

I am pleased to say I wasn’t troubled with sea-sickness coming across from Shanghai to here this time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sea so calm since I’ve been out here. It really looked uncanny, looking in all directions and seeing nothing but sea not even a ripple, except those caused by the ship. It’s funny every time I go to sea, I always remember the song “I joined the Navy, to see the World, and what did I see – I saw the sea”.

I don’t know if I mentioned in my last letter or not, that I had managed to get a set of woman’s underwear. Silk, four piece set with nightdress slip, brassiers and “scanties”. I don’t know exactly what colour you would say it was, it’s a cross between yellow and pink really. Do you want me to save it until I come home or do you think it is worth taking the risk of sending it through the post? Personally I’d rather save it, but please yourself, if you think it will help your coupons out then I’ll take the risk.

On the films on board tonight I saw George Formby in “I didn’t do it” and last weekend I saw Laurel and Hardy in “The Bullfighters”. They were both very fair and I can’t say that I’d recommend either film to anyone.

I hope Jean passes the exam OK again. I suppose she will be taking the practical exam today according to the dates you gave in your letter. I suppose Colin is sitting for them as well isn’t he?

The “Wave King” that you mentioned, the one that the woman from Wimbushes’ son was on was here last time we were in Hong Kong but I couldn’t say for certain whether it is still here. I will have a look in the shipping lists in the papers tomorrow and find out. I don’t suppose I should be likely to meet him as I believe she is a merchant ship so we don’t come into contact with them often.

Glad to hear Will A. had called round and that you had quite a chat with him. He is pretty well a neighbour really as he lives by the “Yew Tree”. I wrote to him about a week ago so he will probably bring the letter round to show you.

If I remember rightly the one that you describe as the man with the nice voice in the Ink Spots Quartette died not long back and they have got a girl singing with them now. I haven’t heard them singing “Your feets too big”.

I have already mentioned in one of my letters that I received all the £3 safely, I should have thought you would have heard by now, but perhaps you haven’t had the letter yet.

I am pleased to hear Dad s still gong strong at work and also at sport. I think I ought to know Bob H. but I can’t seem to place him at the moment. Talking of tennis I see Britain’s remaining hope at Wimbledon, Mottram, got beat the other day. I still say Dinny Pails is my forecast.

I had a letter from Granny C. last week and she told me about the two rabbits that Dad shot. She also said that after Jean had described the intestines of it that nobody seemed too keen to eat it after that.

I see in this morning’s paper that the Atom bomb experiment on the American “scrap” fleet didn’t turn out the success they expected it to be. Personally I think it’s a good job really.

Well Mum I think I have just about answered all your questions in your letters and I can’t think of anything more at the moment so will close until next time.

Oh, I forgot, I am enclosing a couple of cuttings from the Shanghai papers about the boxing there. The headlines are wrong by the way as his name is McMundie. Still I think they are worth keeping as they are not many ships do as well as we did there.

Well until next time
All my love
Graham
xxxxxxx


Notes

Two nuclear tests were carried out at Bikini Atoll in July 1946. The first bomb was dropped from an aircraft, but dropped well off target and only sank five of the target ships. The second was an underwater explosion which ended up contaminating the target ships with radioactive seawater; although they were not all destroyed by the explosion, most were subsequently sunk as a result of the contamination.

1st June 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry that I haven’t written for nearly a fortnight but we have been “mooning” around and nobody seemed to know exactly where we were going to next. We left Yokohama with the intention of going to Shanghai but when we were only a day’s steaming from there we received a wireless message telling us to proceed to Hong Kong. Since we arrived there have been quite a few rumours. Some said that we were going to Saigon, Shanghai, Sydney, Auckland but as you can see by my address we are still pegging along here. I think we shall stop here until the refit and then probably go down to Sydney or Auckland for a visit. The latest rumour about going home is that we leave here in August and take our time visiting quite a few places eventually arriving in Portsmouth on December 1st. Still that is a bit too far ahead to consider yet.

The weather here is terribly clammy at the moment, it seems to take all life out of you, talk about sweat, it comes off in torrents. The trouble is it is not clean sweat but always leaves you terribly sticky. Still another month and it should be getting a little cooler here.

Did you read that about the demobbing announced by the New Government White Paper. According to that I shan’t get demobbed until about July 1948. At the demobbing rate they are going at the moment I should be out by about May 1947 so if they are going by the new rate it means that demobbing in the Navy will stop for a few months.

Am glad Dad got my birthday card O.K. I posted it before I went up to Japan as I didn’t know how long we would be there and I thought it might be late so I posted it early to make sure. Did you get my last letter safely, I posted that at Yokohama and is about the cruise of Northern Japan.

I hope your neck is better by now it certainly is a nuisance when you have to hold it in one position. I have had “vaccine fever” for the last four days, we had vaccinations against smallpox and I suppose it was the heat that caused us to feel a bit groggy but quite a few have had headaches sore throats and colds. Still mine is wearing off a bit now and I have just got a “tickly” cough and a stuffy nose.

By what you say about Dad’s job at the Midland it sounds as though he is on bus building or something to do with buses. Brunton was in charge of that when I was there and Potter was the Foreman. Ask Dad to remember me to the electrical dept chaps, especially Will Andrews and Frank Radford.

I think I shall need all my own coupons when I get home as don’t forget I haven’t got a suit now.

Oh by the way did you get those two envelopes I sent one with the “Nippon Times” in and the other with views of Hong Kong? I am getting quite a few decent souvenirs out here now although there is nothing really in the way of womens clothing that I’ve bought as-well can you imagine yourself wearing a Kimono and wooden clogs?

By the way an R.C. chaplain came on board yesterday and asked us to make a “confession” and to have a chat with him. Well I went and saw him and told him I’d never made a confession and that I didn’t know all that much about the “whys and the wherefores” of R.C. religion so he is going to give me some books to read. He was a very nice man and told me that he was pleased that I had the courage to go and see him and tell him as he said that nine times out of ten the people like myself are afraid to approach him. I bought a Rosary in Japan which is quite nice. The beads are green and there is quite a smart little cross on. It only cost me 30 Yen (10/-) which shows how cheap stuff like that is in Japan.

I have got another job now, I am watchkeeping on the Evaporator which makes all the ships drinking water. It is usually a leading stoker’s job but as being as such a lot of men have been drafted off they are looking to the future and training three of the higher group members.

I am also “caterer” of the mess now and have to buy all the mess’s food and provisions and decide what the meals will be so I am kept busy now making pudding every day and pastry. Last night I made “Toad in the Hole” for supper, today for tea we had a cake which was just right. I should think that you’ll be able to lie back and leave the cooking to me when I get home!!!!

Well I think that is all once again so I will close until next time. Please excuse writing as really it is quite a job to hold a fountain pen what with all the sweat and the heat.

All my love
Graham
p.s. I got the papers this morning telling about Dad selling the shop.

4th June 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know that I think I can say I shall definitely be home next weekend on five days leave. I am entitled to Interim leave which is three days plus two days Ve leave which makes five. I shall leave here on Friday dinner time so I should get home on Friday night but what time I don’t know as I don’t know what times the trains are. Coming back I have to get the first train from Birmingham to Skegness which is the 10.23 which gets me here about ten past five on Wednesday. It’s not a bad leave is it and in any case in five weeks time I get my periodical leave which is nine days I believe. Still I shall find out about that later, in any case I don’t expect I shall be here then.

I tried to give you a ring last Thursday but I couldn’t get a reply so the phone must have been switched off. So don’t forget to switch it on this Thursday as I am almost sure to give you a ring to let you know definitely the time of my train.

I have managed to get in the same chalet as Norman again, they did split us up at first. We got in the front of the class expecting to be put in the first chalet but we were unlucky as there was one chalet with only two in and he up me in there. Norman was then put in the second chalet with two other chaps, so we both moved out and joined on the back of the class again. Eventually we ended up in a chalet to ourselves but since then we have had another chap put in with us.

By the way that boy I told you about, the one I used to be at night school with, who had yellow jaundice, is still here. I met him in Skegness Saturday afternoon, it was a surprise seeing him as it was a fortnight since I had a letter from him so I thought he had gone on draft.

On Saturday we watched the Skegness Cricket Club play Boston Cricket Club, Skegness won by eight wickets. Boston went in first and got 126 for 9 wickets declared. I thought it was a pretty good score but when we had come back from having tea, Skegness had got 43 for 1 wicket. They finished up with 130 for 2 wickets which certainly gave Boston a thrashing. They have got a cricket team here but I don’t think it is worth putting my name down as by the time I have finished my leave it will be a fortnight gone and we are only expecting to be here three weeks or so. By the way don’t forget to tell Eddie M. about next Sunday if it can be arranged.

Yesterday we didn’t have to fall in until nine so we went without our breakfast and stayed in bed until half past eight. Quite like civvy street isn’t it?

The food here is so much better than when we were here before, well at any rate better cooked although we still feel hungry. By the way, what has happened to my washing? If yo haven’t sent it yet could you pop two or three jars of fish paste in, we find that it is the best thing to carry around with us, as a jar of jam is likely to arouse suspicion.

Well I think that is all for now so I will say cheerio until Friday.
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x

P.S. How is the ‘fag’ rolling going on?

20th May 1945

4.30 Sunday morning

Dear Mum + Dad,

Many thanks for our letter which I received safely on Friday afternoon. Also will you thank Uncle Harry for ten shillings, it will come in very handy.

At the time of writing I am on duty at the main gate, I am on until eight in the morning. I was on from eleven to twelve thirty yesterday dinner, six till eight last night and four until eight this morning. I am on messenger duty and have to take phone messages and deliver them to whoever they are for.

We are going to the Isle of Wight today. I don’t know what the place is like but I have heard it is pretty good.

I will drop Granny K, Edna, Aunty Em a line when I have time but I don’t know when it will be as I don’t get much time to write letters now what with the notes I have to copy up and the homework. We get our first school exam on Wednesday, it is the only thing I am a bit windy about. The practical side is pretty easy, we have had three tests which I passed all three, two of them I was given a star for.

I see Manchester United has gone through to the final then, I still think they will win it. Did you hear the recording of the game, they said that Chesterfield had been attacking three quarters of the game and yet they couldn’t score so I think Manchester’s defence will pull them through.

By the way Lyndhurst is so near Southampton so I shan’t be far away from here then. I shall certainly know how to catch the trains as it is on the same line to Portsmouth.

I had to go to sick bay yesterday morning as I had a terrible headache and felt sick. I felt pretty bad yesterday evening but I don’t feel so bad this morning. I haven’t had anything to eat since Friday night as I haven’t felt like it but I will go to Breakfast this morning.

I have looked up the times of trains to Birmingham and there is one gets to Birmingham at two minutes past five I think. The book I looked it up in is June 1944 however, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have been altered since then.

Did you get my shirt safely, I will send the rest tomorrow night if I can get to the Post Office in time.

I expect the cricket season has started now, there is a cricket team here but I don’t have enough time to play as I have to go to school at night at same time a practices are on. They say that Lyndhurst is red hot at cricket and there is compulsory cricket I hope so anyway. Remember me to Eddie M. if he comes in the shop.

You should see the ships in the harbour now, there are dozens of them, I expect they have come in for refueling before going out to the Jap. It seems a bit silly but in the harbour it is like a city centre at night with lights on all over the place, while here in camp the Black Out restrictions are still on.

I see in yesterdays paper that the first eleven groups are being demobbed on June 18th. My groups number is 66 so it looks as though it will be a good time before I get out. Still by the time I pass my course (if I do) it will be another twelve months gone so I suppose it will be getting near then.

I had a letter from Wilf A. the shop steward at the “Midland”, he sent me my Trades Union Forces card which will enable me to get a job after the war. I only have to report to my trades union branch and they will get me a job.

3-30 Sunday afternoon

At the moment we are at Cowes sitting on the promenade doing a spot of sunbathing. We came across from Portsmouth on the eleven o’clock ferry to Ryde, then we had dinner at Ryde, walked around a bit and caught a bus to Newport. Not much doing there so we caught another bus to Cowes. It is a very nice place, very quiet, but has a nice sea frontage. The ferry from Portsmouth to Ryde took thirty five minutes so I am getting some practice in for next week.

I am enclosing a photo giving a scale of the country round Portsmouth, the camp, approximately, is marked by a cross so you will have a better idea of where I am stationed. As you can see we have sea on three sides pretty well so you can imagine it is pretty fresh here.

How is the weather in Birmingham I expect you have got a heat wave like we have here, it was terrible trying to sleep last night. I had only got the blanket but I needn’t have had that, it was so hot.

By the way, I think I remember a little pillow that used to be in Jean’s room. I wonder if I could have it as I have nothing to lie my head on at night. If you haven’t got a small one don’t bother as a big one wouldn’t lash up in my hammock.

Well I think that is about all for now as we have to catch the bus so cheerio for now.

Lots of love,

Graham
xxxxxxx


Historical Notes

Manchester United played a football match against Chesterfield on the 12th of May 1945. Manchester eventually lost the Football League War Cup North Final to Bolton Wanderers 3-2 in a game played in two legs.

30th March 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I am writing this on firewatch duty in the cinema. I am on patrol from 9-30 till 11-0 tonight which is not so bad. I have sent a parcel today containing my dirty washing.

I had to see the dentist today and had one tooth out and one stopped. Luckily it didn’t hurt me and I stopped bleeding within about five minutes. They don’t give us cocaine or gas, it is a new idea, they administer it the same as cocaine but the effect is much better, you can’t feel a thing. We are well on the way in our course now, we are quite smart now on the parade ground now, and knots, well I didn’t think there where so many to know. I can do most of them as I used to know a lot of them in the scouts.

We also have started our P.T. here, do they put us through it.

It is like the excercises on the wireless in the morning only tent imes as fast – up, down, up, down, up, down, up down till we are almost dizzy. We have also had a game of rugby, what a mad game, there are three of our chaps in sick bay with black eyes and one with a bruised thigh.

As well as this we have four in sick bay with blisters and two with colds. On top of this there is usually two men each day excused parades because they have had their teeth out.

There is still hope that we may go to Malvern it may be in two or three weeks time but we cannot take this as definite as it is still unofficial. Norman went to see if  he could get his marriage leave but the officer said he could not give him a definite answer as he thought we were going on draft on April 11th. Still we shall know in a day or two.

Well I cannot think of anything more to say at the moment so I will sign off as it is nearly time to go on patrol.

Bye  bye for now
Lots of love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x


Historical Note

Cocaine was the first local anaesthetic, although procaine, also called novocaine, was invented in 1905 and was used widely by 1945.