13th June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Well here I am again with a few more lines to let you know that I am still keeping pretty git and in the best of health. We have practically finished our refit now and the rest of the time here we shall be cleaning up the ship in preparation for our “Aussie” cruise. We have moved back on board again now after nearly two weeks in the barracks ashore, “Terror”. Our mess-deck has been painted in a light green and cream colour scheme and it looks very nice now.

We are leaving here in ten days time for Adelaide so you can guess we are all anxiously waiting to get up steam and get away from here. Still I can at least state definitely that this is my last cruise out here and then the ship heads for home. Actually we are going out before the twenty third, on two days flying exercises and general manoeuvres, so that will be a change and help to pass the next days away more quickly.

By the way what is the mail getting through like in England, it is pretty grim out here just lately, I haven’t had a letter from anyone for a week, the only mail that seems to come on board is from “Aussie” so of course it means nil for me. Still it is only slightly over three months and mail won’t worry me then.

What did you think of Freddie Mills and Jack London both getting beat recently, it certainly seems as sport has “gone to the dogs” recently doesn’t it. I see in the paper that they have been criticising the way Bruce Woodcock was handled in his Baski fight. It said that any second with an atom of “savvy” would have thrown the towel in the towel at the end of the second round or the third at the latest.

What happened to Hutton and Dollery in the Test, they certainly didn’t show up like world beaters did they. It’s a good job that we’ve got chaps like Edrich, Comption, Yardley and Evans it strikes me. I should think that Pope will get his chance again after his performance of 13 wickets for 50 runs against Somerset. Hollises also did fairly well in South Africa’s first inning.

Have you seen any good pictures lately? On board tonight we are having “Great Expectations” with John Mills and Valerie Hobson, so I shall go and see that. Other films I have seen recently are “Scariest Street” with Edward G. Robinson, “Utah” with Roy Rogers, “Cluny Brown” with Paulette Goddard and “The Fleets In” with Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton. They are all pretty old films but I had only seen “The Fleets In” and I had more or less forgotten the story.

How are you going lately with your heat waves and hail storms. They had a hail storm in Aussie at the beginning of the year with hail stones as big as tennis balls. Hundreds of windows were broken and several old people were killed.

I haven’t been doing so well at sport lately, actually we have been toppled off our perch at the top of the league and we lost two matches in five days. Still to soften the blow the runners up also lost one so we are now following them with one point difference in our totals and we have still to play them so we are still hopeful. On Wednesday we again lost this time at hockey, I played in goal for the ships team against the cruiser H.M.S. “Sussex” and we were beaten by three goals to two.

We had a big draft of ninety nine ratings come on the ship yesterday. They had all just come out from U.K. and have about four months to do before they get demobbed so have been sent out here for the rest of our commission. Lucky devils coming on at a time like this with an “Aussie” cruise ahead. Most of them haven’t left England before.

Well Mom I think that’s just about the lot once again so until next time
All my love as usual
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x

P.S. Be seeing you soon.

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2nd June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 19.5.47 that I received on Saturday. Glad to hear that you had at least a drop of summer weather, let’s hope it at least keeps sunny during the real summer months. Still I see in the paper this morning that the London Meteorological Society report that there are strong possibilities of a warm summer. The weather here is at the moment quite warm which is a change as we had a quite wet week last week. Still the main thing is there is quite a fresh breeze blowing most of the time so I don’t quite mind it so much.

We are getting on well with our refit now and aren’t working quite so hard as we have been doing this last fortnight. Thank goodness it will be my last refit out here at any rate. We are hoping to leave on June 17th for exercises before going down to Aussie so that knocks another week off the refit.

What did you think of the “Wolves” coming unstuck at the last match. That’s the third season they’ve missed the championship isn’t it? I see Birmingham have been trying out some young ‘blood’ in readiness for next season. I think they will manage to get back next season, they’ve certainly had a couple of red hot teams above them this season. I see there are quite a few end of the season surprises taking place – Cullis retiring from the game, Stanley Matthews going to Blackpool, I think they’ll have to be watched next year.

Talking of football we played yesterday in the ‘derby’ game of the “Glory” league when we played against Stokers “B” team. It was very even for the first twenty minutes but then a couple of goals by our centre forward, “Taff” C., seemed to knock most of the life out of their team and we eventually ran out winners by 7 goals to one. Our figures now stand at played 6, won 5, drawn 1, lost 0, goals for 30, goals against 4, pts 11, we are now lying third in the league but are two matches in hand of the leaders and three points in arrears. We are now the only unbeaten team in the league and with the team playing as it is now I don’t think that any of the others are likely to beat us. Incidentally there are four Birmingham lads in the team besides me, so “Brum” must be a sport minded city.

I had a letter from Mr W. today and he said that the village got to the semi final of a cup again this year but lost by the odd goal or 5. I believe George R. and Bill S. are playing again now. The Youth Club also entered a team in a table tennis league with Roy as skipper and they are winning that hands down.

Changing the subject to cricket I see Dollery and Hollies of Warwickshire are amongst the twelve selected to represent England versus South Africa. Let’s hope they put up a better show this year.

As regards getting me a birthday present I am afraid I can’t help you out much as probably if I suggested anything it might be unobtainable or much too expensive. Still I’ll think it over too and let you know if there is anything that I particularly fancy. Talking of presents I treated myself to a pair of football boots yesterday they are a smashing pair and cost me 15 $ that is just over 30/-. I tried them out yesterday and they fit a treat. Also if I go to Aussie I intend buying myself a pair of flannels and a sports jacket ready for my leave when I get home. If I can get my war gratuities before then I shall get a suit instead. I have about twenty pounds to come in so I’m hoping I can get it out here instead of when I get home.

Well Mom I think that is the lot once more so until next time
All my love
Graham
x  x  x  x
x  x  x
x  x
x

23rd May 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering what on earth has happened to me since I last wrote to you. Well as you can see I am now at Singapore, and at the moment we are working all hours getting on with our “rush refit”. We left Trincomalee on May 12th with the destroyer “Contest” as escort. We arrived here on Saturday 17th, actually it was late Friday night but we cruised up and down all night so that we could fly our planes off in the morning. We had quite a bit of excitement just as we were pulling in as a police boat came alongside and we found that there were opium smugglers on board, namely the Chinese stewards. It appears that the police in Trincomalee found a hoard of opium in a deserted hut at Trinco. They left it there but kept it under frequent observation, then the night before the “Glory” left it disappeared and they put two and two together. Then they decided it was no use warning the ship as they would manage to get it well hidden away by the time the ship got to Singapore whereas if they boarded the ship at Singapore they would probably catch the Chinese by surprise. I am enclosing a cutting from the local rag which has a report of the case. Since then though another eight Chinese have been arrested.

During the time we are in dry dock most of the ships company are sleeping in the shore base H.M.S. “Terror” which is about a couple of miles away from the ship. It is a nuisance really as we have to wait every night for lorries and also have to keep carrying our bedding back and forward when we are duty and have to sleep on the ship. Our department have been working really hard as we have really got to move around to get the boilers cleaned and ready for June 23rd when the ship leaves for “Aussie”. By the way the ship is also going to Brisbane now as well as Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, so we shall be visiting all the scenes of the massacres of our test team. We shall certainly have to keep our tongues in our cheeks when cricket is being discussed down there.

The weather here is much cooler here now than when we were here last time, bags of rain as well. Still it will be a taste of the Aussie weather as it will be their winter when we get down there which again will prepare us for going home in October.

I expect you have noticed the change of my address i.e. the M. after the Stoker. Well the Admiralty have decided that the title “Stoker” does not accurately describe our work and that a Stoker on a modern ship is in reality a Mechanic so now we are called Stoker Mechanics. A 2nd class Stoker is just called Stoker and a 1st class Stoker is now called Stoker Mechanic; a leading Stoker is Leading Stoker Mechanic and so on to Chief Petty Officer Stoker Mechanic in lieu of Chief Stoker. It’s really a copy from the Yanks as there are no stokers in their navy but instead are Machinists, 4th class.

Fancy Colin’s people going to Switzerland, it’s a pity Jean didn’t get a chance to go with them. It’s certainly a lot of money to spend on the fare as you say. I don’t think I could enjoy a holiday after having paid that much for a ticket. It’s certainly the fashion now what with Uncle Harry as well and Mrs W. ‘nipping over’ to Rhodesia. Is he still in the R.A.F. by the way?

I see the cricket season is in full swing now, Edrich getting a double century against Warwickshire. Has Dad seen the S. Africans yet? Is he turning out for the Met this year?

I’m sorry I didn’t send Dad a birthday card this time but I couldn’t get any in Trincomalee and I went ashore here the first night in but as it was Saturday it was early closing and I was unlucky again. Still next year I shall be a civvy so I shall be able to wish him “Many Happy Returns” personally.

I saw a very good picture a couple of nights ago, “This Man is Mine” which had everyone in fits of laughter throughout. Incidentally it was an English film.

Well Mom I think that is about the lot once again so once more until next time
All my love
Graham
P.S. Hope to be seeing you soon!!
x x x x
x x x
x x
x

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

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
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