8th July 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Well here I am at last, I expect you have all been wondering what I have been doing with myself since I left Singapore. Well to start from the beginning, we left Singapore on June 23rd, with the “Theseus”, “Contest” and “Cockade” in perfect weather all looking forward to our “Aussie” cruise. On Tuesday we “crossed the line” and of course had to have the traditional crossing the line ceremony. The day before they erected a large canvas water tank on the flight deck with a tip up seat just jutting over the water. Then at roughly nine in the morning King Neptune and his “court” assembled on the flight deck and after the initial “proclamations” and “warrants” were read out the fun commenced. The “wild bears” were then let loose and all jumped into the water tank. Then the courts “barbers” and “policemen” prepared to carry out their “Majestic” orders. The first “arrest” was the skipper who was “decorated” for distinguished service during wartime and also for bringing so many “novices” down to Neptune’s court for passing out. He was given the “high order of the airborne sea-dog”. The next was the commander who was charged with driving the seamen to such an extent by making them “turn to”, “turn out”, “turn about” etc. that they were so mixed that they couldn’t tell their left from their right. For this “scandalous conduct” he was ordered to be “shaved” by the “barber” and thrown to the “bears”. The shaving soap was a big bucket and he was slapped all over with a big paint brush till he looked like an advertisement for Rinso. Then he was shaved by a huge cut throat razor about four feet high and finally thrown to the bears who gave him a good ducking. Of course the antics of the court and the “bears” had everyone roaring their heads off. Actually the ceremony lasted about two hours and all the “novices” were thrown to the bears. I was excused as I had crossed the line before but all the same I took no chances and kept well out of the way while the quest for victims was on.

The following day we hit rough weather and it kept on all the way down to the bottom corner of Australia. We were all dreading crossing the Australian Bight which is their equivalent of the Bay of Biscay, but much to our surprise it was “like a millpond” and it was so calm that we had flying all the way across. Well so much for our trip down, now for our reception in Adelaide.

We arrived in Adelaide on Friday about ten, just previous to entering the harbour we flew off ten “Firefly”s and ten “Seafires” who gave an exhibition of formation flying and ‘aerobatics’ over the city. When we tied up on the jetty there were quite a large number of people waiting there. The ship was soon swarming with press photographers and news reporters. The weather was very cold but quite bright. I went ashore at dinner time and we spent most of the afternoon looking around the city. It is a fair sized city about the size of Coventry I should say, but not as closely populated. It is fairly quiet and there is not really much entertainment except for dancing or pictures. The nickname for the city by the way is the “city of churces”. At night it soon got bitterly cold so we decided the best thing we could do was to take a trip to the pictures. The pictures we saw were “King of the Lumberjacks” and “Captains of the Clouds” with James Cagney. They weren’t particularly good pictures but it was at least warm. After the pictures we all got beds at the Y.M.C.A. and turned in early. On the Saturday I was duty watch and was detailed a guide to the visitors that came on board so I had a busy time explaining as much about the ship and its equipment as I was allowed to. Sunday Ken R. and myself went on an outing arranged by the Royal Naval Friendly Society, and went to the National Park for a picnic and games. At night we were entertained to a social and a supper. Monday we had an invitation to a private home where we had an evening by the fireside talking about England etc. They came from Bristol many years ago. Today I played for the “Glory” 1st IX hockey versus Adelaide University as goalkeeper. It was strange to us playing on a damp pitch but we soon settled down to a ding dong struggle. At half time we were losing by one goal to nil. Soon after half time we equalised but University soon gained their lead with a break away goal. We pressed back and again equalised from a short corner. After that it was University but we managed to hold out until five minutes from time when the right half accidentally turned the ball past me and the final game finished at that score, 3-2.

We are leaving here tomorrow for Melbourne with “Contest” as our escort destroyer. We are due to arrive on Friday morning with the rest of the fleet – “Theseus” and “Cockade”.

I expect you have received my letter or rather envelope with the newspaper cuttings in. Every day there is something in the papers about the activities of the “Glory” or the ships company so you can guess we are getting quite a fair amount of publicity on this cruise. On the trip down to Melbourne we are taking seven news reporters, photographers and wireless agents which are broadcasting two or three times daily programmes entitled “Life on the Glory” etc, so it looks as though we shall be even more in the news at Melbourne.

Well Mom, I am afraid I shall have to sign off now as it is nearly suppertime so until next time,
All my love as always,
Graham
Be seeing you soon.
xxxxxxx
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19th June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines in reply to your very welcome letter that I received yesterday. You certainly have been having a “hot spot” of weather recently, I can understand how difficult and uncomfortable it would be for you to sleep. I mean  out here I sleep on a camp bed with just a pair of pants on and nothing over me and invariably in the open air which is a lot more different to sleeping indoors on a feather bed.

Glad to hear that you have more or less got straight again after the plumber etc. had been in. Still its worth it just to get the house dry again isn’t it!

I am writing this while we are at sea on our last exercises before proceeding to Australia. We are out for two days, returning to Singapore tomorrow night. We are out mainly for flying exercises but we are also giving the main engine a thorough test. When we return tomorrow we stay in the dockyard until Sunday and then we move round into Singapore Roads and anchor there until Monday morning when we sail with the “Theseus”, “Contest” and “Cockade”. I suppose we have “had our time” for another run ashore here this time not that I am really worried, the only thing I really go ashore for in a place like this is just to break the monotony.

I didn’t find out who sent me those books although I have thought out the likely solution. Perhaps my label and “X”s label came off – mine off the football papers and his off the books. Then the labels were put on the wrong parcels and I got his books while “x” got my football papers. Still I’ll enclose the chit and see what you think!

Its funny you mention Granny C. as only last Sunday I was in two minds whether to write to her or not but in the end I decided to leave it to “Aussie” as I didn’t think it was worth writing to her about Singapore as there is nothing really interesting to talk about especially on a refit. So if you see her, tell her I shall be writing from Adelaide probably.

To tell you the truth I haven’t heard from Roy at all this year, he never was a regular writer but he has created a record spell this year. It must be “girl trouble” I should imagine. Jess O. is about my only source of village gossip nowadays as Dorothy H. hasn’t written for ages. Mr W., the youth club leader drops me a line now and again with Youth Club news, while Wilf A. and Frank R. give me all the works “gen”.

Glad to hear Dad is still doing very well at tennis. I should say that was a very good performance beating Bourneville on their ground as they have a strong sporting reputation haven’t they. We haven’t had so much lately just a couple of games of hockey and one at football. The hockey was for the ships team and we lost both of them by the same score 2-1. At football I played for the “Conscripts” versus “Regulars” in a return match to when we beat them 3-1. We hadn’t got our strongest side out as three of our men were playing for the ships team and everyone expected us to lose. Still we upset the critics and beat them again this time by 2 goals to 1. I was Captain for the game and played in goal again.

Talking of sport all the topic here lately has been about the visiting Chinese team – Sing Toa Football Club. They have visited the Philippines and they have played three games here all without defeat. They are visiting England shortly so keep me notified how they get on will you. They come from Hong Kong and I have seen them quite a few times and you can take it from me they’re “hot stuff”. In the Philippines they played six winning them all with a goal aggregate of 27 goals for and 2 against. In they three games they have played here they have scored 13 goals with 6 against. They beat the Combined Services 5-1, the Combined Civilians 5-2 and drew against the Combined Chinese 3-3. There was some excuse for that however as they arrived by air from the Philippines in the morning and turned straight out and played in the afternoon. In my opinion they will come unstuck in U.K. as their centre half plays an attacking role and leaves quite a gap down the centre. Of course he might change his tactics then but you can see what I mean by the fact that out of 8 goals scored against them on their town seven of them have been netted by the opposing centre forward.

Well Mom I am afraid I shall have to close now as it is five minutes off “lights out” so until next time,
all my love,
your loving son,
Graham
xxxxx
xxxx
xxx
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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.

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