10th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again to thank you for the very welcome letter that I received on Saturday. We are back in harbour once more after three days at sea, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and at the moment are alongside the wall which certainly makes it better for going ashore with no liberty boats to catch. I don’t think we are doing any more manoeuvres now until the 18th when we leave for Trincomalee and Bombay.

I am glad you liked the photos that I sent you, also my mates, “Blue” F. was my mate then, and I used to always go ashore with him, but I think I told you in an earlier letter that he has since gone on draft to England. He went on the “Empress of Scotland” and I believe was due to reach Liverpool today, so I bet he is doing a “little” shivering. Ken R. who is my latest mate comes from Tyseley and is quite a decent chap. Neither of them drink which is rare to find out here. Most “matelots” have a “couple of wets” when they go ashore which is not too bad, but there are always quite a few don’t know when to stop.

I am glad I never started in England because taking it all round, none chaps out of teen who get in to trouble in the Navy owe it to being drunk. My mess is not too bad though, so I am really lucky. Mind you I am not exactly strict T.T. as I now draw my tot of rum every day, it can’t do me any harm as it is well watered down to 2 parts of water to 1 of run. In any case you’d be surprised the number of favours you can get done by the promise of “half a tot”, so it comes in handy at times.

You certainly are having a stiff winter this time aren’t you. In this morning paper it says that 10″ of snow fell yesterday, Sunday, in some parts of England and Wales, also that in the Midlands and North West, a 100% cut in industrial fuel starts from today. Shinwell is certainly taking a battering from the Press. Talk about the biter bit, he was always one of the leading lights against the Tories and their lack of power and ideas. Now he’s at the receiving end.

Weren’t there a lot of cancellations in the football. Still I see Birmingham really “went to town” against Manchester City, it’s a good job they did as there are three Manchester chaps on my mess and I should never have heard the last of it if Manchester had won, especially as all the week I had been saying – “What a shame, poor Manchester getting knocked out at this stage” and each time I said it I got howled down. Still I’ve got the last laugh.

Talking of sport, I am at last beginning to make a name for myself on board here. Apart from playing football for the “Stokers” I now play hockey and cricket for the “Engine Room Department” teams. Engine Room includes all the Petty Officers, Chiefs and Antificers, and Engineers so it is quite an achievement. At Cricket I play Wicket Keeper, yesterday we played against the “Bermuda” Engine Room Department. They beat us but it was very close, we scored 115 runs of which my share was twelve, and they got 127 runs. Behind the stumps I only managed to stump one and there were five extras. Incidentally the one I got out was second highest score for them with 35. At hockey I am the only stoker in the team, the rest being Petty Officers and Officers with one Leading Stoker. I play goal as usual, I have only had one game so far which was against the “Venerable” which we won 3-1. We are playing again on Wednesday, I believe, against the Bermuda. By the way I forgot to say that I received an “Argus” and “Blue Nail” yesterday which is the first football papers I’ve had addressed to the “Glory”.

You asks if the “Glory” is one of the new carriers, well she is not exactly new, but then again it was only April ’45 when she was first commissioned which is only two months longer than the “Trafalgar”. Our sister ship the “Venerable” is leaving for U.K. on February 18th, so you might see her on the news at the pictures when she arrives as she is sure to get a big welcome. When we arrive home we shall probably get a bigger one as we are senior carrier out here so when we arrive it will certainly be ‘quite a do’. By the way did I even tell you, the Jap surrender in New Guinea and all the Southern Islands was signed on board us.

Have you been to the pictures lately? I notice the Yanks are sitting up and taking notice at a few of our films lately aren’t they. I have seen a couple of good ones over the weekend. On board on Saturday I saw Stewart Granger, Jean Kent and Ann Crawford in “Caravan”. It was definitely a well acted film and had a good story to it but all the same it wasn’t my choice of type. The one that I saw last night though, I really did enjoy, I expect you have at least heard about it. John Garfield and Lana Turner in “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. There has been quite a few arguments in the British press about it, and the Yanks have been criticising “The Wicked Lady”. Both with the argument that they were suggestive.Well I have seen both of them now, and I admit the “Wicked Lady” was rather close, but as for “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, well I think it was well ‘within limits’ and the story is definitely plausible and could take place in everyday life. Still your ideas may be different to mine. Last Thursday I saw Joan Leslie, my heart throb, in “Rhapsody in Blue” the story of the life of George Gershwin. Despite Joan Leslie, though, I didn’t think it was much to talk about.

I had a letter from Mr W. of the Youth Club, about last Wednesday. He told me that the village is pretty well deserted now of young lands. I get Roy is lost for want of mates. I bet you can’t guess who is the new chairman, or rather chairwoman, of the Youth Club – Dorrie T., of all people. What a change from the last three – Ken D., Roy and John D. Can you imagine her conducting a monthly meeting?

Well Mom I think I have finished with all the news once more so for the present
Bye bye, and all my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x
P.S. I liked the photo of Jean that you sent me!

P.P.S. So did the lads!!
x  x  x  x

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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

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.

22nd September 1946

Dear Mom, Dad and Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering where I have been for the past month and why you haven’t heard from me. Well I think I told you we were going on a cruise of Northern China in my last letter so really I expect you had at least a rough idea where I was.

Well to start from when we left Hong Kong towards the end of last month. We had a five day trip up to a place called Chin-won-tao which is right up in the north of China, almost in Manchuria. It is not a very big place and as here were no British Naval Bases within a few hundred miles we were unable to dispatch or receive any mail. We reached there on Sept 1st and stayed there until the 16th.

It was quite cold there, typical English November weather with wet mists in the morning and cold winds most of the day. Of course you can bet we didn’t mind that having been at Hong Kong for two months in the middle of summer.

There was a small detachment of American troops there stationed in case the Communists attacked the town and that was about the only signs of any military in the town. There wasn’t much to spend money on except at the Yankee camp canteen where you could get a few bottles of beer which of course satisfied most of the chaps on board.

We were also able to get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables which is the best I have seen out here including Australia. The apples, peaches, cabbage, onions, potatoes and other veg were all in perfect condition which is a change out here. The apples tasted something like a Worcester Pearmain and you can bet your boots we all filled our lockers with them. Peaches cost about  1000 C.N.C. dollars for ten which is about 1’/8d – about 2d each. I bet you would have liked a few boxes at that price wouldn’t you.

There was a football pitch ashore and the P.T.I. took advantage of it to run an interdepartment football knock out competition. There were 16 teams took part and in the first two games we won fairly easily and we were all quite confident that we would at least get into the final but we came unstuck. First of all to start the bad luck two days before we played the semi-final I had to go into the sick bay. You remember I told you I was nearly gong barmy with sweat rash, well coming up from Hong Kong to Chin-won-tao I broke out with tropical ring worms which made matters worse and I was attending sick bay for treatment with penicillin ointment. Well I had four ring worms on my left ankle and what with the rubbing of my shoes they rubbed raw and evidently the dye out of my socks worked in and the next thing I knew my ankle was up twice the normal size. Well I thought the best thing to do is to turn in early and perhaps it will go down by the morning. I thought perhaps the footballing had done it. Well when I woke up next morning I couldn’t move my leg, and I had a headache and sore throat and I felt like a piece of wet rag. So I  went down to the sick bay and showed them my leg. They took my temperature and found it was 101 so of course I was shoved straight into bed. The medical officers examined me and told me I had blood poisoning through the dye out of my socks. Well for three days I felt terrible, couldn’t eat and everything I drank I brought straight up again. I had to take 36 anti serum tablets a day, I think that is what he called them, I was in for a week altogether and was light duties for another three days so that finished me as far as football was concerned there at any rate.

The Engine Room Department team played the Quarter Deck in the semi final with a reserve in my place and as an extra bit of bad luck the centre forward got hurt pretty badly after about twenty minutes play and they played the rest of the match with ten men and from what I hear they put up a good fight but cracked in the last ten minutes or so and eventually lost 4-1. Still Quarter Deck won the competition so we had the consolation that we were knocked out by the winners.

The ships team also played the Chin-won-tao team and fielded four reserves and surprised everyone by winning 7-0 so I don’t think the Chinese team can have been very strong.

We left Chin-won-tao on Sept 16th for Wosung, where we picked up the cruiser “Belfast” with the C. in C.B.P.F. [Commander in Chief of the British Pacific Fleet] on board, Admiral Sir William Boyd, the man who relieved Bruce Fraser. That was the 18th. Wosung is just an oiling base and nobody went ashore as we only stayed six hours or so. The “Belfast” had a bag of mail on board for us as she had come from Hong Kong since us so she brought it along with her. I got letter 33 dated Aug 22nd so there should be another couple waiting for me at Shanghai. There is one bag of mail at last as we have had a signal to that effect.

From Wosung we travelled up the Yangtze for two days, steaming by day and anchoring by night. It was very interesting seeing all the towns and villages on the way up. We arrived here at Nanking on Friday. Nanking is 500 miles up the river inland so you can guess it quite a fair sized “stream”. At our present position it is about a mile and a half wide, and I believe you can go up about 1000 miles or more with a destroyer so we haven’t done so bad.

There was quite a bit of excitement about two months back when the “Newfoundland” which is a cruiser went up about 600 miles to some small town and got stuck on a sandbank. It took two destroyers and two tugs to get her off. The C in C was on board her then so I expect he thinks he has come far enough this time.

There is plenty of variety ashore, food and quite a few shops but most of it is a bit too much for an average sailor’s pocket especially at this end of the month so I think I’ll be satisfied with the one “run ashore”.

Today we had another game of football, this time it was a challenge match, the “Belfast” Engine Room Dept. challenged our Engine Room Dept. and we managed to get our full side out including the Engineer who has been making quite a name for himself as a centre forward while playing for the officers in the knock-out. They were the other losing semi-finalists by the way. Everyone expected us to lose by four or five goals as they have about four times as many men to choose from on the “Belfast”, but we surprised everyone including ourselves by holding them to a draw 2-2. Every man in our team seemed to have found his form and at times the combination was lovely to watch. They had a strong side out and after the match the spectators said it was one of the best games they have seen for ages. The Engineer got one and the Inside Right, an Engine Room Mechanic got the other. Their Inside Left got both their goals, he was like a streak of wind and once  he got past our backs there was no-one in our defence could catch him. Still with two men pretty well marking him up most of the time we managed to keep him quiet or else he would have certainly put it “in the bag” for “Belfast”. I played centre half again and I kept the centre forward pretty quiet all through the match. He was quite good with his head but I was a couple of inches taller than him and I kept pretty close to him while the ball was in the air and didn’t give him much chance to “use his nodder”.

We leave here on Tuesday for Shanghai where there is quite an extensive sports programme been arranged between us, the “Belfast”, Yanks and Chinese – Boxing, football, cricket, water polo and tennis so we should have quite a good time. I don’t know whether our department will get a game but I hope so as we have quite a decent team now and all we need is a few games together.

At Boxing, McMurdie, that ex London Junior amateur champion has left the ship now so that is one less boxer on board, but we have got a chap on board named Richards who has done some professional boxing in Liverpool. He also fought some Australian top notchers when he was down there so I should say he is a dead cert for a win.

Talking of boxing did you hear the recordings of the Woodcock-Leanevitch and Louis-Maurrelli fights. We got them and you should have heard the cheering when Woodcock was given the verdict. I hear Louis has offered to fight him in February. Personally I think it is a bit too early to tackle Louis yet as he needs more experience especially at American Boxing but all the same I hope he puts up a good show.

We shall stay at Shanghai for five days and then we go to a place called T’Singtao which is roughly halfway between Shanghai and Chin-won-tao where we stop for another two days. We leave the “Belfast” there as she goes on to Chin-won-tao and then she is going on a cruise around Japan. We return to Hong Kong about the 5th of October and leave on the 10th for Singapore and then home. From the signals that have been floating around during the last month I don’t fancy my chance of coming home with the ship at all now. It gives you a feeling like having sat for an exam and waiting for the result when you know you haven’t done very well. The last official signal said that all ratings over 60 group would be drafted off the ship so you can see my chances are almost nil now, as my group is 66 which is a big difference. Still I don’t think it will be long now. My estimate for my demob is just about the time when I am due for “the key of the door”. They reckon on demobbing up to group 60 by the end of the year and if they keep up the present rate of demobbing it will just about be my 21st, they are doing about a group a month now.

It certainly looks at the moment as though I shall be spending my second Xmas foreign, I bet we don’t get a 25 lb turkey this time especially if I am in Singapore Barracks. I have been out here 11 months in exactly 6 more days so I am getting quite an old “salt” now aren’t I.

You seem to have been doing quite a lot of travelling as well, what with trips to Sheffield, Malvern and Droitwich. Its funny you mentioning that you went to Malvern and didn’t see a sailor as I had a letter from one of my old mates from Suffolk Street who said that he came home on seven days leave and went to Skegness on a bus trip and he said the same thing about there.

That Arthur Hunt that you mentioned, the one that sang in the motor coach, I don’t know if you remember it but I came home from work once and told you that he sang “Old Father Thames” and ” When xxxx is Done” in a works concert and I said that he was as good as some of the singers I have heard on the B.B.C.

Do you see much of Wilf A. now? I expect Dad does at work. Ask him to remember me to all my old mates, Bob E. and Frank R. and ask him if Janet still works there. He’ll know who I mean. Tell him that I wrote to her about a couple of months back but never got a reply so I wondered whether she got the letter.

Have you been to many football matches lately? The Villa seem to have gone to seed don’t they. I have only heard of one match that they have won and that was against Derby. In fact the only Midland team that seems to be doing moderately well is Wolverhampton. I see Arsenal seems to be getting into stride again. I suppose she is getting her players back again.

Is the village running a team again this year? I still haven’t heard from Roy, I should think he must be courting strong or something.

Jean seems to be “going steady” doesn’t she. I can see if I stop out here much longer I shall be the only single member of the family.

How is the bread situation now. We are pretty short now, at least during the last fortnight. We are allowed five loaves a day for our mess and it works out 1 piece a man for tea and supper and 1 1/2 pieces for breakfast so you can guess we call the “chef” a few names. Of course its no fault of his really as he just hasn’t got the ingredients for making larger quantities but all the same he gets the blame.

Well I think that is just about all the news for now so I am afraid I shall have to close down once again, so until next time,
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x x x x x

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

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.

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
Graham
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