20th July 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still in the best of health and feeling pretty fit. I am still on my leave which expires on Monday, I can’t say that I am really looking forward to gong back on board although I suppose I shall have to if I want to get back to the UK.

We have just been recovering from the effects of a typhoon which hit Hong Kong on Thursday evening. I’ve never seen winds like it before in my life and I don’t particularly want to be in them again. Early Thursday morning a strong wind blew up and by dinner time it was blowing at gale force. Well then it started raining in torrents so we decided the best place was in bed. So nearly all of us snuggled down and listened to the storm. We were soon rudely awakened as the gale actually blew the verandah door off and left us with no protection from the wind which blew in at the door. For the next three hours or so we spent our time shivering and hanging onto our blankets and gear which threatened to blow away.

Well when supper time came we decided to risk our gear and go for something to eat so we pushed all our beds into a corner and hoped for the best. It took us about five minutes to get the couple of hundred yards to the galley as the wind was that strong it literally stopped us dead. When we eventually reached there we found nearly all the windows had been smashed so we ate our meal in a rainstorm. For the next hour the typhoon was at its height and all the windows were smashing and doors were being blown off their hinges. The football posts were lifted clean out of the ground and ended up on the bank by the side of the pitch. All the netting around the tennis court was blown away. In Hong Kong itself all road traffic was stopped and what people there were about had to go on foot. Seven Chinese ships mostly ferry steamers were smashed up when they broke away and finished up on the rocks.

About ten however the wind dropped but the rain kept pouring down and when we woke in the morning the football pitch was ankle deep in water and most of the roads were half flooded at least. The papers say that in some streets in the city the streets were waist deep. Still it is much better this morning and the sun is already out fairly strong so probably by the end of the day it will be quite normal again.

I haven’t had any mail this week so I expect by the time I get back on board there will be quite a few letters to answer. There will probably be one from you I should think as it ten days since I received the last one so I shall be writing again in a few days.

I haven’t heard for certain what we are doing for certain after we have finished the refit but I will let you know if I hear any “official” rumours when I get back on board.

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

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.

19th June 1946

Dear Mom Dad & Jean,

I was very pleased to get your letter number 26 this morning and to hear that you had heard from me at last. I should think that my letter must have got held up somewhere as I know it wasn’t all that long between the times that I wrote. Still you heard eventually which is the main thing.

Glad to hear that Dad is settling down nicely at work now. I know all the men that you mention that he works with, Mr P. and Mr K. and Norman, tell Dad to ask Mr K. if he remembers the day when I set the sprinkler installation off on myself in the saw mill cellar. I am glad that quite a few of the chaps remember me, especially Will A. I had a letter from one of my old mates, Frank R., about a fortnight ago. I haven’t replied yet but probably shall write tonight or tomorrow.

I am afraid it isn’t quite as simple as all that about going home when you have done twelve months abroad. You used to stand a good chance some time ago but now as so many are going home for demob, well every ship that goes home is made use of and all high group numbers are drafted off the ship, usually at Colombo, to make way for lower groups. In any case the way I look at it, why go home, have leave, and then probably, almost certainly get drafted out foreign again when if I waited out here another three months when I did come home it would be for good.

Dad also seems to have been doing very well at sports at the Met. You ask whether I have ever been up the Sports Club, if you remember I used to play for the works Reserve football team before I joined up, well for about three months or so anyway. Billy B. used to run the football, has Dad met him yet?

Well we have been at Shanghai for over a fortnight now and are quite getting used to being moored in a river instead of right out in a harbour hundreds of yards from land. I went ashore the other night, Saturday, and had quite a good time ashore. I spent quite a lot of time in the Union Jack Club playing darts billiards snooker etc. It is the first time that I’ve picked up a snooker cue since I left England so I felt quite strange for a bit.

I am enclosing a few photos of Shanghai which should give you some idea of the place. No 1. shows you one of the biggest buildings the Park Hotel which is a wonderful sight. 2. shows you a close-up view of a typical section of a Chinese street. Notice the trams and rickshaws and how slim the average Chinese are. 3 is an aerial photo showing Soochow creek and the bridge across it. 4 shows a section of the continental quarter of the city. 5 shows some more big buildings overlooking Shanghai racecourse. 8 same as 2 showing more human taxis. Notice all the banners on the right denoting the tradesmen’s names and what they are selling. 6 and 7 two views of the main street and 9 and 10 show another big building the French Consulate.

Am also enclosing a couple of photos of the ship which I hope you like.

Well it is getting a bit late now so I am afraid I shall have to sign off until next time.

So all my love
Graham
x x x x x x x x

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.

3rd April 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a short letter to let you know I received your number 17 quite safely yesterday. I don’t expect I shall be able to write more than a couple of pages as I wrote to you last Saturday and to Jean on Monday and there hasn’t been anything fresh happened since then.

I had a letter from Barmouth yesterday as well as yours also one from Jess O. She said that she liked my photo very much and took it in to show Mr C. who said that he didn’t even know that I was in the Navy. Evidently I wasn’t as notorious in the village as I thought or else he would sure to have missed me. Do you realise I have been in over a year now?

Aunty Win spent most of her letter telling me about Uncle Fred and how the kids were looking forward to seeing him. It was a bit of bad luck for Aunty Edna wasn’t it! This is the tenth letter I have written today, don’t think I have nothing to do but it is always a half day on a Wednesday. The other nine were to Gilberstone Avenue, Mr. A., Barmouth, Whitehouse (youth club leader), Gilbert (night school mate), a flame from Sheldon, Jess, Norman R. and Dorothy H. Pretty busy aren’t I?

Am glad you liked the photo everyone said what a lot like Randolph Scott I looked. Cliff A, by the way is supposed to have contracted T.B. so wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t get his ticket.

Don’t forget that it is not the first time that I have ‘followed in my father’s footsteps’ in the back bedroom. Do you remember when I used to go over to Granny C’s at the weekend about nine or ten years ago. Well I used to sleep there with Uncle Fred and I remember it used to be the bright spot of the weekend when he used to bring me a cup of Horlick’s and “tuppence” worth of chips in a piece of dirty old newspaper about midnight. Very tasty, very sweet.

Well I can’t think of anything more at the moment so I will close down until next time.

All my love
Graham

P.S. Did you get my last letter O.K. as there has been a plane crash and a lot of mail has been lost. I see there was also a crash with mail coming out here. I hope none of mine was on board.

27th March 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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