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
x x x x 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
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.

14th May 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering why you haven’t heard from me for such a long time and wondering where I was. Well for a start off you can see that I have left Hong Kong and that I am writing from Japan. Well I may as well start from the beginning, to put it short, during the last month we have been on a cruise of Japan, we left Hong Kong and first of all came here to Yokohama. There is nothing particularly brilliant about Yokohama, the weather is typical Manchester weather it has rained pretty well every day that we have been here. We were supposed to play football one of the days but when we got ashore we found the pitch was in a hollow and was covered with six inches of water which soon put an end to all our ideas of sport. The place is one of the bases of the American occupation forces and are they not too friendly with our chaps. There is a very strict non-fraternisation ban on which is surprising considering the Yanks are in control.

Well we stayed here for about four days and then sailed to the Northern Island of Japan, Hakkoddai island, where we put in at the main port of the island, Hakodate. Here we got a much different welcome. There were not so many Yanks and they were definitely “all for us” because as soon as we went ashore, they had lorries waiting for us and drove us out to their camp about six miles out of Hakodate. And did they give us a time, plenty of food, sweets, ices, coca-colas and for those that drank, as much beer as they wanted. But the main thing that nearly everyone bought were cigars, we pretty well all bought a box full of 50, two or three different brands, “White Owl – Corona – coronas” which cost us the ridiculously cheap price of 60 yen which is worth £1-0-0. You should see our ship at night now, talk about Rothschild, everyone on the ship is smoking them down from the Captain to the Chinese mess boys.

Besides all this there was table tennis, darts, billiards (American version with no pockets on the table which I didn’t get the hang of) cards dominoes and literally hundreds of the latest records with all the stars from Sinatra singing “The Hose I Live In”  and the Ink Spots singing “Address Unknown” to Bing Crosby singing “The Lord’s Prayer”. Have you heard the singing that number by the way, I think it is one of their best. They also gave us about half a dozen books each, you know the small Forces editions of nearly every book and author you could think of. They certainly do things in a big way for their Forces.

When we went back to the ship that night it was quite funny, nearly everyone had the same thought as ourselves “Try and get a couple of bottles of beer on board for the chaps who are duty”. Well we are not allowed to take beer on board so the way we work it is ti leave the bottles in the motor boat, go on board, pass the officer on duty and then nip down the rope ladder to the boat, get the beer and then take it on board. Well I say everyone had the same thought and there were about fifty of us all with two or three bottles in the boat, well we passed the officer and everyone nipped down to the rope ladder very quietly at first but there were so many that it was soon more like a roughhouse and everyone was shouting for everyone else to be quiet. Well the officer on duty soon heard the rumpus and came along to investigate but luckily for us he was a decent chap and realising what was happening he turned away and went to the other side of the ship. Still after all that we got it on board safely so that was all that mattered to us.

From Hakodate we went further north to Otaru on the western side of Hakkoddai island where once again we got a marvellous welcome. We went alongside the wall there which made it much more convenient. All the time that we were there the Yanks were coming aboard, having a look over the ship, taking photos, stopping to dinner, tea and even supper. It’s a good job we had plenty of stores on board or else we should have starved for the rest of the trip.

When we went ashore we again had the time of our lives, the only difference being instead of all living in one camp they had taken over all the big buildings in the centre of the town and were using them as barracks. They still had their own cafes, clubs, picture houses and bars only they were in Jap buildings. I saw two pictures while I was there. Betty Grable in “The Dolly Sisters” and Dick Haymes in “State Fair” they were both musicals and were quite decent.

By the way we were very surprised when we first came ashore to see real snow, it had pretty well cleared in the town but they told us that even a month ago there was five feet in the town itself so you can see it is not all warm winds and sunshine out here. I’ll admit it wasn’t as bad as all that, it was quite mild during the day but at night and in the morning we certainly felt the cold. Its a good job that we didn’t get there about December or January as they were snowbound for six weeks so you can see the climate is much more severe than in England although Japan and England are more or less on the same latitude.

While we were there we went to Mass by an American padre in the Yankee cinema then went to the R.C. missionary church and went to the service there. We found out that it was run by a priest and German sisters. They seemed frightened to tell us that they were Germans when they knew we were British but after a while they began to talk a bit more. They all spoke perfect English in fact they teach English at the school that they run. The priest came from the Koln while all the three sisters came from the Rhus. The priest said he hadn’t heard from his family since just before the war and he doesn’t know whether they are dead or alive.

We also visited a Buddhist temple which was quite an experience. It was more like an antique shop, idols, gods, vases, flowers stuck everywhere. There are no seats just straw mats on the floor on which they get down and do their “daily dozen”. We had to take our shoes off when we went in or else we were insulting their gods.

We got more gifts than at Hakodate when we left Otaru, they heaped literally thousands of books on us, games of all descriptions, hundreds of records, footballs, baseball gear, rugby gear, ice skates and even thirty sets of skis. If Roosevelt had still been alive I bet he would have been pleased, there was certainly plenty of Allied comradeship here. Oh, by the way, an item which probably interests Uncle Harry, I bought a bottle of Japanese whisky for twenty yen – 6s/8d. for my mates who were duty which was by all accounts a “drop of good”.

From Otaru we went back to the Japanese mainland Honshu and called at Ominato, I didn’t go ashore myself but again our chaps had a good time by the amount of stuff they brought back on board with them. Then from Ominato we eventually headed south and headed back at Yokohama here, yesterday.

We got our first mail for five weeks as well. I got three from you although they are not up to date. I expect there are a couple more recent ones somewhere. I haven’t got your letters with me at the moment so I’m afraid I can’t answer any questions but will do so next time. I am writing this on watch by the way, the time is 2.30A.M. so it helps to keep me awake. I am on until 4A.M. then I turn in until 6.30 just have time to wash, have my breakfast and then I am on watch again from 8 until 12 dinnertime when I get the next twenty four hours off duty. We are working in four watches while we are in harbour. Two watches duty and two stand off, we do four hours on and four hours off for twenty four hours then get twenty four hours off.

We are staying here until next Friday then we are going to Shanghai for six weeks, its very grim down there according to what other ships have told us. From Shanghai we go back to Hong Kong for a refit which will take about eight weeks. I don’t know for certain where we are going from there but I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is back home and that they keep me on board. If they don’t though it will just be a bit of bad luck and I shall have to try my luck with another ship.

By the way I expect you noticed the addition to my official number, Sto.1/c (Stoker, first class) I saw the engineer about a month ago and passed out. I don’t get paid the extra money yet as I have to wait until my service papers come before they can increase anyone’s pay. When I do get the increase though I shall put my allotment up a bit more, I might as well save as much as I can while I’m in the Navy.

I heard from Alan W. yesterday, you remember Jean’s favourite, he is still a Marine he is in the Gunnery and Torpedo branch now as a mechanic and seems quite pleased with himself. Do you remember when I parted from Norman and I said I hadn’t heard from him for ages. Well I have discovered the reason. Yesterday I had one of my own letters returned to me which I had written to him on June 20th last year giving him my then latest address which was Malvern. The letter had been cut open and my address taken off it and returned to me quite intact. Eleven months it had been in the post altogether.

Did Dad get my birthday card safely, I posted it late April as I knew we were going on the cruise and wouldn’t be able to send any letters so I expect he got it with quite a bit to spare.

How is Jean’s love affair going on nowadays? Has he popped the question yet? It looks as though she will beat me to the altar by a good few lengths yet.

Since I have been made first class I have taken off the boiler and am now the stoker for the turbo-generator which supplies all the electric power for the ship when we are at sea. We work in three watches at sea, so there are three of us altogether run the turbo between us.

By the way it doesn’t worry me two hoots where I sleep at Hobmoor. I’m sure buses going round the corner won’t disturb me. It’s a funny thing, I can go to sleep with a light by my hammock and the wireless on the bulkhead or wall just behind me, and yet any unusual sound during the night such as someone talking or someone coming down the ladder wakes me up. I suppose its just what you get used to.

Well, once again I think that is about all the news for this time so I shall have to close for the present
So until next time
All my love
x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x

8th April 1945

Dear Mom & Dad,

I hope by this time that you have received my washing safely. I am enclosing one of my latest photographs, I think this is a good one. I hope you like it.

I have bought a hair comb here in camp, it is a good one, you know the big type. I will forward it on when I send my pants home. I nearly dropped when they told me the price.

I had my first naval haircut yesterday, I felt as though I had been scalped, I used to think Dick I. was bad enough.

We had our first vaccination reading yesterday, there were only twelve out of forty of us who had taken. I am one of the lucky ones, because all those that had not taken have got to have another one.

Norman has not taken so far but he says he does not mind as he is getting married next week, the vaccination does not hurt until ten days which is his wedding day. We have got well into our course now last Wednesday we started on rifle drill. I thought squad drill was bad enough, but this certainly has it beat for making you ache.

Did you listen to “Music of the Footlights” on the wireless last night from nine fifteen until ten. It was played by the B.B.C. Theatre Orchestra and sung by the B.B.C. Theatre Chorus with Irene Eisinger and Roderick Jones as soloists. Stanford Robinson was the producer of the show and also conducted the Orchestra.

He gave a concert from eight fifteen until ten here last night and the programme I have mentioned was broadcast from here. He played the Overture “The Bartered Bride” – the Intermezzo “Cavalleria Rusticana” – the Aria “Voi de sapete” and “In uomini in Soldati” then the suite from the Opera “Carmen”. The rest of the programme was the B.B.C. feature “Music of the Footlights”.

The orchestra has sixty players in it and the chorus has five men and five women as well as the two soloists. All this lot was on the stage in the cinema so you can guess the size of the cinema. We got in for the usual price, threepence, we were lucky (Norman & I) as we had just come back on shore leave from Skegness and as the ratings seats were all occupied we were allowed to sit in the officers seats. Did we feel good, best seats in the house for threepence.

We have got to get up at four on Wednesday and catch the six thirty train from Skegness. The route we are taking is Lincoln, Doncaster, Leeds, Manchester, Burton, Worcester, Malvern, quite a nice little journey. All the men on draft on Wednesday go on this train and leave the train at the various stations mentioned from where they catch their connections for their campus. We arrive at Malvern at four so we shall be a bit browned off by the time we get there.

There are some chaps in the next dormitory who have come from Malvern and they say that from Malvern it is possible to get a sleeping out pass if you live in Birmingham so I may be able to get home.

I had a letter from Harold W. last Wednesday telling me about the football team. They certainly have started back to their old form lately. Talking of football I heard the Cup Final on Saturday in a cafe in Skegness. I got there about ten minutes before Chelsea’s first goal just before half time and heard all the rest of it. It is about the first time I have heard the wireless since I have been here. Well I will sign off for now as it is nearly teatime so I will say
Bye bye for now
Lots of love

P.S. Remember me to the gang and tell them I hope to see them soon.

P.P.S. Have you any envelopes that will take post cards?

Historical Notes

Music of the Footlights was broadcast on General Forces Programme on Saturday nights (and, later, Wednesday afternoons) from November 1944 to April 1945. It was produced by ENSA (the Entertainments National Service Association, set up to provide entertainment for the Armed Forces during the Second World War).

The Football League War Cup replaced the FA Cup during the Second World War. The match to which Graham listened was the South Final, in which Chelsea beat Millwall 2-0. The Cup Final (Chelsea 1-2 Bolton Wanderers) took place on the 2nd of June 1945.