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.

18th December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you will be very surprised to hear that I am not going on board the “Euryalus” after all. We had a wireless message come on board saying that the “Euryalus” draft was cancelled and the draft was transferred to “Glory” as ships company. As we had already left Singapore it was too late to let you know before.

We left Singapore about twelve days ago and since then we have certainly had plenty of excitement. The first day out from Singapore we cruised up and down all day doing flying manoeuvres. I think I told you the “Glory” was an aircraft carrier didn’t I in a previous letter. It was really quite exciting. All the same I wouldn’t go up for a flight off a carrier for a pension. The taking off isn’t really all that bad but landing looks a bit too risky for me. I suppose familiarity breeds contempt but I think I would rather stay as an interested spectator.

Actually the system of landing is really quite simple. On the after end of the flight deck to say roughly a third of the way up the flight deck, eight steel hawsers are evenly spaced apart stretching across the width of the flight deck, each one independently loaded on a powerful spring. The plane has a adjustable hook fastened to the tail which should catch on to the “trip wires” as they are called. If the plane misses the trip wires then it will run into the first of two steel cable barriers which are erected approximately half way up the flight deck. The barriers are the last means of stopping the plane if she misses but it is a sure way to stop it  but usually makes quite a mess of the plane. I am enclosing a small sketch which will probably make it a little clearer to you.

Still it was a perfect day for flying and there were no accidents.

On the second day we proceeded for Hong Kong but after three days steaming we developed a bad leak in one of the engine room compartments and so we turned back to Singapore to undergo repairs. They turned all of us to on the job and we were working until ten thirty at night before we completed the job.

Next morning we again set sail for H.K. and reached here yesterday but didn’t go into the harbour but lay outside in Junk Bay. This morning we were joined by H.M.S. “Venerable” another aircraft carrier of the same class and all day the two ships have been doing flying manoeuvres. This afternoon came our first real spot of excitement. The sea was fairly choppy and consequently made landing more difficult as the ship was rolling pretty badly. The first plane to land came in too low and had to rise up at the last minute to avoid running into the stern of the ship. Unfortunately he didn’t rise quite enough and his wheels just caught the edge of the deck and he catapulted right over the eight trip wires. He touched down just past the last wire and crashed into the barrier at full speed turning onto its nose and ending up on its back. Everyone rushed forward to see if the pilot was O.K. and I for one was surprised to see him get out unaided and calmly walk away. His plane was very badly damaged and they dragged it away into the hangar. Luckily there were no more crashes on board us although there were two on board the “Venerable” one of them crashing into the stern of the ship and falling into the sea. Both pilots also were unhurt very luckily.

Tonight we have again anchored out in Junk Bay as they are doing more flying tomorrow. The ship is going in on Friday morning to H.K.

Tonight another accident occurred of a different sort. While they were lowering one of the boats, a cable broke and one end of the boat fell into the sea. The Marine coxswain of the boat got his legs trapped between the remaining pulley chains and the side of the boat and left him swinging in mid air. They had to hack part of the boat away to free him and get him onboard. He was pretty badly hurt and has suffered compound fractures of both his legs. They have took him ashore to Queen Mary’s Hospital.

To get back to a more cheerful note – I have been told by authoritive circles that all up to group 66 are going off the “Glory” in Trincomalee in early March to return to U.K. for service in the Home and Mediterranean fleets. If the report is true you can expect to see me early April. Still even if it is untrue or is altered the ship is returning to U.K. itself in July so that won’t be so long will it. Another good omen which shows I can’t possibly be out here much longer. There are approximately a hundred conscript stokers on here, and there are six to eight with lower group numbers than myself and some of those are going off when we arrive in Hong Kong on Friday.

I am afraid that it will be some time before I get any mail, it has been almost two months since my last lot except for those I managed to collect at “Sultan” before they were forwarded on to “Euryalus”. They won’t have the slightest idea on board the “Euryalus” who I am or where I am so it will be some time before they give me up for a bad job and return my mail to the mail office in Hong Kong. Then it will take them a little longer to find out where I am so by the time I get any it will probably be well past Xmas. Still as long as I eventually get it that is the main thing.

I hear that England have already had considerable falls of snow so it look as though it will be a hard winter doesn’t it. Are you going anywhere this year? Talking of Xmas I hope you got my Xmas cards safely, also the birthday cards.

I see England are having to fight hard again in the test match. I see Edrich is doing very well for himself, top score first innings, most wickets and now eighty six not out. I am glad really as in previous tests he has never quite made the grade. What did you think of Bradman and Barnes innings. They’re both certainly wonderful batsmen, aren’t they. In my opinion Barnes threw his wicket away when Bradman was out especially after playing an innings with hardly a chance out being out suddenly to scoop a high catch to Hain at the same score as Bradman. Seems too much of a coincidence to me.

I see Wolverhampton (my tip for the league) are still pegging away at the top of the league. They must certainly be playing well to put five past the previous leaders, Liverpool on Liverpool’s ground.

Well once again I am afraid that is all the news so I think I will sign off until next time
All my love and have a good time at Xmas
x x x x x x x x x x x

4th December 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still O.K. and keeping fairly fit. I am still on board the “Glory” but we are leaving for Hong Kong on Sunday so shall probably pick up the “Euryalus” about the 13th or 14th. I should think there will be quite a stack of mail waiting for me when I get on board there as all my mail from “Sultan” will have been forwarded on to there by now. I have one letter from you dated Nov 18 which I collected from “Sultan” a couple of days ago when I went ashore. Apart from that all my mail will be on its way now or already there.

I have found out that the “Euryalus” is in Taikoo dry dock in Hong Kong doing a refit and will remain there until late December so it looks as though I shall have quite a busy Xmas. It’s quite a coincidence about the “Trafalgar” and “Euryalus”, when I joined the “Trafalgar” she was doing a refit. I joined the “Traf” just before Xmas and I am doing the same again this year. The “Traf” set sail from Sydney in mid-January for H.K. and as far as the rumours about the “Euryalus” go she is leaving H.K. in mid-January for U.K. but I am not doing any wishful thinking this time until I get on board her and find out for myself. If the rumour is correct about her going home and I am lucky enough to stay on her I should get home late February or early March. Still that is looking too far ahead already.

I see by your letter that you have been having quite a rainy autumn. Singapore is also in its rainy season at the moment and rarely a day goes by without at least one downpour. It doesn’t give us much of a chance to get our “smalls” dry. That was quite a downpour they had during the test yesterday at Brisbane wasn’t it – 6 inches of rain in 20 minutes.

Talking of Australia, fancy you getting that parcel from Australia I had quite forgotten sending it. As a matter of fact I believe I sent about four altogether but we had a signal saying that owing to unforeseen delays in postal services parcels posted between certain dates were unable to be forwarded. Well at the time I couldn’t remember how many I had sent before the date so I only claimed a refund on two so if I remember correctly there is probably another one floating around somewhere which I believe I sent to “booful”. I think I payed 7/- in Australian money which is about 5s/6d.

Sorry to hear you have broke your little deano, mine are still going strong, I reckon they must be unbreakable. Do you remember I broke them playing cricket when I was home on leave last, well I have never hard them repaired and they still keep in position with only one clip. When I get back to the U.K. I think I will treat myself

The rest of the letter is missing.

31st October 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

So sorry I haven’t written for a week but there have been so many drafts going out to ships in the last ten days that I thought I would delay writing until I knew whether I should get a draft or not. Six out of the original ten that came off the “Trafalgar” have already gone so I don’t suppose it will be all that long before I shall be on my way once again. Still there is one consolation of being in barracks, it at least gives you a chance to get your kit up to date again and to get your boots mended etc.

By the time you get this letter I expect the “Trafalgar” will be nearly home. She reaches Portsmouth on November 15th so if you see anything in the paper to that effect will you cut it out for me.

I had a surprise on Sunday, I was standing on the balcony of our block watching a draft march by that had just come in off the cruiser “Adamant” when I thought I recognised one of them so I nipped across to them and who do you think it was – “Taffy” Jones you remember the boy I joined up with, you saw him at Malvern once I think didn’t you? He is going home for demob, I certainly joined the wrong branch for getting out early didn’t I. He has let here now for England on the aircraft carrier “Indefatigable” so he should be home for Xmas, lucky devil. I suppose Jack S. will also be getting his demob pretty soon.

We have had a couple of old films here this week, but I hadn’t seen either of them as luck would have it. Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz” and James Mason & Phyllis Calvert in “They were Sisters”. The first one was really a kids film but it caused a good laugh, but the second one I thought was very good with James Mason as the unpleasable husband who eventually drives his wife to suicide with his cruelty. We also saw the “Victory Parade” film in Technicolour.

I don’t know how long it will be before I get any mail, it will be at least another month or so as all my mail addressed to “Trafalgar” will be held in the U.K. until November 15th and it is sure to take a couple of days to readdress it and post it out here plus twelve days to get here so it will be at least December 1st before it gets to “Sultan”. By then I am pretty certain to have moved on so eventually I shall get it about December 7th.

Have you seen any more football matches lately? The football season seems to have settled down a bit now although there are still plenty of surprise results. My tip for the league is still Wolves and Preston for the cup!!!

Have you heard how the village are doing this season, I have only heard one result so far when they drew against Shirley Stadium on Rovers.

Well I can’t think of anything else to say just now so I think I will sign off until next time
All my love
Your loving son
x  x  x  x  x  x  x

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
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
p.s. I got the papers this morning telling about Dad selling the shop.