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
x  x  x  x  x  x

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7th April 1947

Dear Mom Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 29.3.47 that I received on Saturday. I was beginning to wonder when we were going to get any mail again as the ship hasn’t had any for a week. I suppose it is the bad weather that has been delaying it as usual. Talking of mail we have got to start paying for our mail again starting from May 1st which will be a bit of a nuisance especially getting near pay day. Still I shan’t have to put up with it much longer at any rate, I hope.

I still haven’t heard anything really definite about when the ship is going home but the dates we have got up to now are
May 10th leave Trincomalee
” 16th arrive Singapore
June 7th complete refit
” 20th leave Singapore
” 26th arrive Hong Kong
after that we are still doubtful but I think it is safe to say that another two or three weeks on top of that and the ship should be on its way home. While we are here in Trincomalee two or three days every week will be used up in flying exercises so it will all help to pass the time more quickly.

I have started another sport now, sailing. We have had a cutter out a couple of times during the last week finishing up with a dip in the sea. It is surprising really how fast you can travel when there is a good breeze blowing. I am also getting along fine with my swimming. The other day I learnt how to float on my back and am getting quite used to the idea now. I have only had one hockey match since I last wrote, versus H.M.S. “Glasgow”, who we managed to beat 3-1. I have had another couple of games of cricket for the ships team, one against H.M.S. “Highflyer”, the shore base who previously hadn’t lost a match this year. Luckily we had our full side out and rattled up 140 for 9 decl. against them. I scored 24 run out, we then dismissed them fairly easily for 51. The other match vs 16th Carrier Air Group (maintenance parties attached to the carriers out here), we ran up 91 of which I got 11 again run out, and dismissed them for 36. Today I am playing football versus the Supply in the “Glory” football league. Stokers “A” at the moment stand in the fourth place with a match in hand so if we win today it should bring us up into second place.

Glad to hear Mickey is getting over his “raw” deal over the winter. I expect he is a little happier now that the snow has gone isn’t he?

I have been seeing plenty of pictures as usual recently though none really outstanding. Last Monday we had Olivia de Havilland in “Dark Mirror”, Thursday we had Mickey Rooney in “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy” and yesterday when I was ashore with Ken R. I saw James Cagney in “13, Rue Madeleine” which was a story of American Secret Service during the war. Being American it was naturally a bit far fetched. Tonight on board we have a good film, “The Killers” I can’t remember who is in it at the moment but according to the lads who have seen it, it is very thrilling and exciting. So i don’t suppose I shall be able to recommend it to you!

Well Mom I think that is about all I shall be able to manage at the moment as our boat for football teams leaves in half an hour & I want to get a swill before I leave,
So for the time being,
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x x

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
x x x x

1st March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines to thank you for the two letters, plus one from Jean that I received yesterday, dated 6th, 18th and 6th respec.

We arrived in Trincomalee yesterday afternoon but the mail didn’t come on until after suppertime and I didn’t bother to reply then as I was too tired and I turned in early to catch up with some of the sleep that I had lost during the last ten days. On the way up from Hong Kong we called in at Singapore for two hours to draft fifty seaman ratings due for demob. Altogether I received ten letters yesterday so I shall be pretty busy catching up with them today and Monday for Bombay. We are staying there about three weeks so by the time we get back it will be well into April.

Well so much for my end, to answer your letters, the big one first!

You have certainly been having a long winter this year haven’t you, still I hear on the wireless that most of the industries are back at work again now which is the main thing isn’t it.

I am glad you have got “I cover the waterfront” with the Inspots, you say that I should have already know that as you had written me about it once before. Well I have looked up all my old letters and I can’t find anything about it so evidently that letter has gone astray altogether, unless of course it is still on the “Euryalus” as it is just about the time when I was addressing my letters to her. Still it can’t be helped.

Am glad you liked the photos of my shore pals. I don’t think I shall part from Ken R. as he is group 67 and all the “buzzes” going around seem to think that 66 and 67 will go on draft together. By the way did I tell you in my last letter that we are now the senior group on board here as group 65 went on draft the other day. I still don’t know when it will be my turn for U.K. as nobody knows for certain what the ships movements are after Singapore. There is one rumour going around that the “Aussie” trip is off and that the ship is going home in June which would make it just right for my birthday. Still we should get to know something definite soon.

I had a letter from Jess again this morning with a bit more news of the M.G. Coral lads. Michael I. is stationed in Egypt, Stan H. or Stafford from the Radleys has just left England for the Rhine, Jimmy T. is stationed in Scotland, George P. has just been called up for the R.A.F. and Bert S. and Henry L. are in U.K. waiting for demob. Her cousin has settled in Australia and has married an Australian girl.

You mentioned the 4th test well I see the 5th one has started now with Len Hutton getting his first test century in Aussie. A bit of bad luck on Hammond getting the fibrositis again though I don’t think it can make much difference as Laurie Fishlock is as good a bat as any isn’t he.

Colin is certainly having a rough start to Army life isn’t he. For anyone who is an old hand it would be bad enough but to get to get used to an Army routine I shouldn’t like at all.

You mention that Jack S. has now been demobbed, well  it is not quite as easy as that to reckon my demob date. For one thing he is in a different branch to mine and their demob is well advanced whereas ours is only up to group 58. Do you remember me telling you about “Taffy” J. going home, well he joined at the same time as me yet he went out about the same time as Jack S. so it isn’t much of a guide. To tell you the truth I think I shall just about complete three years service in the Navy so I have approx 12 months to do. I think it is silly to hope for anything much sooner. Still it won’t be too bad as the best part of the time I expect to be in U.K. or at least in the Home Fleet so I shall at least get leave which is the main thing. I don’t think there is any possibility of my coming out here again.

I haven’t seen any films at all recently. I think I told you I had seen Deanna Durbin in “Lady on a Train”. Well since then I have seen Danny Kaye in “Wonder Man” and Jimmy Henley in “Murder in Reverse” which were quite good, and tonight Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are on in “Time of their Lives” which should be a good laugh.

The “Venerable” left here today for U.K. with the Flag Officer, R.A.A. (Rear Admiral, Air) on board. He is being relieved by R.A.A. Creasey, who is coming out on the “Theseus”. When he gets here he will come on board us as we are the flagship.

Well Mom, I think that is about all the news for now so once again I will close until next time.
So for the time being
All my love
Graham
x x x x x x

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

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.