Finders, Keepers

"A European Shipmate & Conversationalist"

HMS Ulsta Queen 1944

"Dear Doris,  How are you doing these hard times?  ... Unfortunately, for the consuming public the main part of the British trawler fleet has been engaged for anxiliary duties by the Admirality & the only people really doing any fishing now are the inshore fishermen who fish a few miles form their villages in small cobbles."

HMS Vernon.

"The other day I was looking at these Spitfires flying on the sea, inshore. I was just about to indulge in a look-see at them with the glass & two red-nosed Heinkel 113's who had been likewise travelling on the sea jumped up and over us, just missing our aerial.  Afterwards we found out they were all Heinkels of the famous 113 brand which are smaller than our spitfires & faster, they can touch 380mph and when we saw them, - as far as I can judge - they must have been doing 381.  They dropped a couple of bombs & raked some Trawlers with their cannon fire, before the AA gun crews had finished their washing. To add insult to injury - a short time after their plaines had got away, we saw one of ours towing a target accross the sky, no doubt to keep the guns crews up to scratch... you lucky people being able to go to the seaside. "

"I'll try to give you a visit ... & I'll tell you some of my hair-raising adventures beneath the sea in my submarine, as there's something for you to look forward to..."

(Finders, keepers : when something is unowned or abandoned, whoever finds it first can claim it. The phrase relates to an ancient Roman law of similar meaning and has been expressed in various ways over the centuries)

"Dear Doris,   I am just writing you a line to tell you that I have had a letter from Ron in which he tells us of the delightful experience & thrill of being in the bombing of the Tirpitz first hand, he was on the cruiser Royalist and was in the whole show free of entertainment tax. He said it was like summer up there in the artic circle etc etc.."

"The truth is, I’m a little bit frightened of chimney sweeps. The whole profession strikes me as being anchored in ancient superstitions."

HMS Blencathra  1942

“… I could do with a bit more walking exercise and a little more space to breath in at night time.  The chance of getting an immediate draft from this ship are fading pretty fast, but I have another idea in hand which may see me on the road to fame and fortune in a new branch. What do you think of us for letting through those German Battle cruisers?  Not very good work, is it?...  However, such as you and I don’t profess to understand naval strategy still less to direct it and we must leave those things to those mighty sea -lords who do.

“To revert to the subject of the lost library book … take the money from my allotment.

I have had two letters from Douglas.  They give me little information as to his geographical position in longitude or latitude but I know he is aboard a ship going somewhere, and now we know that he isn’t likely to get to Singapore so we can set our minds at ease about that can’t we?

When you don’t get any real news from home but only his sentiments he becomes just like somebody floating in a sea of air with no definite points of reference and co-ordination around him.  Personally I shall feel a lot quieter in my mind after he has arrived at his destination and dropped us some hints as to his whereabouts.  Incidentally since he left I have written home one letter every day.”

Obviousy it missed a generation ...

HMS Scylla 1944

"Here I  am inside an envelope again to tell you how I am faring amid this great historical upheaval.

"Life, after all goes on with pretty much the same tempo & has more or less the same meaning or lack of it, as the days go by.  However, it certainly has meaning for us these days.  We seem to have entered the final & most critical phase of the war & everywhere you feel that people are enthusiastic to get on with it & get it finished." 

"You probably read in the papers, or heard on the radio that Scylla was carryng the Admiral & this got us our early mention & let our folks know, almost as soon as it happened that we were well in the picture of this 2nd Front business.  It would be easy for me to shoot a line about our part in the business and what a good show we put up, but modesty forbids and we leave it to the History books & newspapers etc.  But for my first communique on 'how we did it' ...

"A whole week has now passed since we first set foot on this pleasant beach of Normandy and on the whole operations are proceeding with success & we are making good progress.  The big ships are banging away all day & night throwing their 16inch 'prodogies' at any point up to twenty miles distant which is getting a little hot for our boys on land.  The effect of these shells never come along singly but always travel in pairs or more for company."    

"The invasion scene is very colouful & interesting, a scene of feverish activity & military might such as the world has never seen before & never, we hope, will see again.  If the German submarine aces could see the number of ships lined up around these beaches they would get some cases of lager beer on board and submerge and only come out to get rid of the empties."

"Yes we are doing this thing in real style, as we always threatened we would, and is a sight which I wouldn't williingly have missed for all the tea in China."

"There is always of plenty of good white-bread & butter to feed up on, and a simple diet never harmed anyone.  Our worst grumble is the lack of matches to light our cigarettes with ... "

"Dear Edgar,  Actually I think I'm just recovering from the shock ... it's quite heartbreaking isn't it?  I think I've never realised before or sympathised very much with people who have lost someone very dear - but when its brought home it cures you for all times. I am now conscripted into the Civil Defence Ambulance Service & have to do more or less as I am told.  Jean told me Doris was expecting another baby - I asked her to write to you & tell you as I didn't quite know what effect it would have.   I really must close now & get some work done.  I am on duty now but so far haven't done any work... I better pull my weight or I might be getting chucked out."

1941 RAF Pocklington

"Dear Teddy,  Just a short interruption while I discover that Audrey has just 'posted' about six envelopes into the wireless, so that they have disappeared infront of the indication panel & glass & I can't get them out... 

Marjorie & 'Rick' are at Blackpool this week.  Jack ... is much too heavy ...  well Sweetheart, the fire's going out & I could do with a couple of hankies - I am sick of sneezing &  I could do with some improvement somewhere."

Good Old Doris aka 'Daphanie'.

"I seem to do quite well in spite of minor injuries and am living at the wrong end of the day  - you may laugh but it has been happening."

May 1944 Burn Camp, Orkney

“Dear Doris,

It is sometime now since you heard from me, so I thought I had better give you a reminder that I am still alive & in good health etc.  But the prime purpose of this letter was the extra-special, once annual and most ceremonious occasion of wishing you a happy Birthday and still many and happier birthdays in future & happier years.  This letter may reach you before or after the 7th & so I thought it the best thing to do was to send it well in advance, just in case it took several days to reach you.  Of course, it may by some fine chance reach you exactly on your birthday, which I hope will happen, but forgive my poor judgement if it doesn’t.  I should have been happier if I could have got home to see you & wish you greetings in your presence so that I could have given you a big kiss.  But the Admiralty (without first consenting me) decided otherwise & here I am, stuck in nether Yule awaiting the next call to arms.  So I shall have to put your kiss in my ditty box ‘protein’ and hand it over to you ‘in toto’ and ‘ad lib’ when I see you and yours in the course of God’s good time.

Have you heard of my doings of late weeks from Mother, or are you in blissful ignorance that I’ve won the **?    Anyway I have just suffered a ride in an aircraft carrier which was not too bad taken all-in-all (in toto) I was hopefully expecting to come South to Kingsdown when I had finished, but such was not written, and the moving hand wrote on & wrote something else, which at present is undecipherable.

This trip was quite an interesting novelty to me, for a carrier is a type of ship which has never been honoured by my presence heretofore.   Looked at from whatever angle you wish, they are queer ships, and their miles of corridors & messes etc make them worse than Hampton Court to find your way about. You may have to go half a mile for a wash, and at least as far to ‘spend a penny’.

However, although I am not in your warm southern climate I am tolerably contented, in a cow- like manner, because the past week I have been entirely free from irksome work and I have spent my time reading a History of England, drawing, going to the pictures & Eusa concerts, eating eggs and chips, sleeping and spinning yarns.  That is a good programme, you must admit & just serves to indicate the invaluable services which I render to the Navy and to my beloved country.

Well Doris,  with heart full of pride I announce the approach of my pettyofficership and in order to indulge this pride with the appropriate quantity of outward show (we call it something else in the navy) I am seriously wondering entering into a contract with my tailors for a super duper double-breasted, gold badged and bemedalribboned doeskin suit and petty officer’s cap & gold badge for the purpose of impressing all & sundry with the towering height of my ambition and the smartness of my figure.   So on the next windface of pay, if & when the wind elects to fall I think I’ll make a plunge.

Thus my tale draws to its close and I feel that your time has come to spin a yarn, so write to me even if it’s a short one and let me know how *** are waxing and how *** is waning.  Meanwhile keep cheerful and may God protect you from using too much coal."

Found it ... 26/10/2015

(Sept) 1943 – HMS Eglinton c/o GPO London

Dear Doris,

Pardon my silence, (as you usually seem to have to) of the past three weeks, but I have been too busy selfishly enjoying myself to worry much about anyone else, and now that I have had my good time and got rid of a bit of cash, I am beginning to rake up my old friends brothers sisters aunts uncles and chums just in case.

However I always feel I should write to you out of a sense of duty to my beloved sister who has so carefully looked after me during and between the two great wars of our lifetime, and wouldn’t like to think that you were thinking I didn’t care very much wether you heard from me or no.  As for myself I am growing older every day, but my beautiful complexion never fades and my hair is till a “mass of wonderful curls”."

"It is marvellous what pig like circumstances a man can endure without its altering his disposition or modifying his charm, and here I am in my fourth year in the Altmark regiment enduring all manner of ignominious insults and abominable swear words without depriving me of any sense of humour and of the real if not always apparent eliquity of man.

You see the thing that drives a man bonkers in this kind of life is not his immediate circumstances or financial straights or even the wireless belching fourth all day but the thought that he has left a decent home behind and a wife or a sweetheart or alternatively a motorbyke and that he has a wait of maybe even some years before he can get the real value from the license he bought for his wife or his motorbyke.

However with the fall of Smolensk things begin to look a little shorter than they did and as we are making our way alright in Italy things are certainly pointing to a speedy winding up of the war in Europe and to the eclipse of our hateful enemy to the general benefit of mankind and of men serving in the armed forces in particular. 

I am once again back at sea and it hasn’t changed a bit and is still salty & many are the stomach trials this winter will bring and many are the suppers I shall leave on the table untouched, but I am getting to like being sick now, and it is an experience I shall miss when I return to civil life. 

My thoughts are always turning to your children and you and your hubby.  I think I am the most curious in watching their antics and learning how they are getting on and watching their progress in education etc.  I heard from Douglas that *** was now at school and of how she had asked her teacher for the afternoon off under false pretences and also that *** is now beginning to sit up and look round and I feel bound to warn you that if you don’t keep her out of sight Mr Bevan may find something for her to do. 

I am sending *** a box of chocolates and as soon as I can get ashore I shall find ***  something for her birthday.  Excuse at being a day or to late but I hope you will be able to find time to write a few words.. and how Edgar is going on in his lonely outpost. 

For the present then I’ll bid you adieu and may all your queues be short ones."

Erm ...

14/09/41  Doris to Teddy

"Jack is a wonderful baby now ... I hope you passed with wonderful flying colours, I can't bear to think of you not coming home to see us 'we three'"

HMS Tanatside 19/11/1944

"Roper is a bit of an old woman"

Personally, I'd like to know how ** (Mother) could sit up at six weeks old ...

"You Sly Dog leaving without saying..."

Needless to say those letters (to this very day) remain unopened.

HMS Marne Aug 1942

"Dear Mother & Dad,  How glad I was to get your letters last Sunday, one was dated 2nd August and it arrived with several other letters dating back as far as 15th July which was the date of Doris's parcel with the parkin biscuits in it which were simply a godsend & couldn't have come at a more opportune moment as I shall be in a position to explain later.  Actually this is the first opportunity that I have had of writing to you for six weeks now...

In fact this is just a scribbled note written in a big hurry to relieve your feelings as to my whereabouts."

It is upmost important to let you know how release my feelings were when I heard that you & Doris had had letters from Doug.  It is extremely possible to me that he may be sailing around in the back areas way behind the lines, driving or maintaining a staff officers armoured car or something.  I was sorry to hear that you had such bad weather during your stay at the seaside but doubtless you found plenty of good things to do."

"I am getting a change myself in the next few days and guess from 'buggies' I have heard that I shall not remain much longer on this ship.  There seems to be something better in the wind if? I can pull it off - if I can - and I'm going to have a darned good try.

I have just eaten two oranges one after the other, but don't jump to geographical conclusions 'cos you're bound to be wrong."

"... things have gone a bit hay wire ... don't forget to prepare the apple pie you promised to crum together"

Fact is, I never met the Great Ronnie until Doug was on his deathbed ... somin to do with Sand the 8th, Egypt & the 'osphogus'.

"I can't promise to finish this in one sitting, as when I'm off watch my time is mainly preoccupied with sleeping and many days I dont even feel inclined to wash myself let alone shaving which is almost unnecessary aboard here.  One of the main satisfactions which I derive from this poor existence is turning into my hammock after doing a watch on the bridge in bitterly cold weather with my face burning and stinging with the wind - but it comes equally hard hopping out again at some uncivilised hour like 4 am, and going and doing the same again... I am not looking forward to rough weather which may blow up any day around this quarter of the globe... before once more we can have two eggs & bacon for breakfast, joint for dinner & pears for tea and plenty of jam.  Dreaming - thats all it is. But thats the best thing you could probably spend your spare time doing in the rough and tumble existence like this."

"On the whole I don't care much for this ship as the Bleu which was smaller and had a better run than this one.  Also on this ship I have more responsibility and keep a watch on my own and if the yeoman on the Blencartha could see me now he would go off the deep end. In fact this ship works entirely different from my last one and the officers are a great help with my signals and give me a hand reading the morse and are not at all impatient like those on the Bleu... everyday the whole business seems to get more senseless and I long increasingly for my ticket... so it behoves me to make the best of things and take the rough with the smooth."

"The night before I left for this ship I had a last fling in a comparatively civilised town and went to see "The Gondoliers" by Gilbert & Sullivan on the stage play by D'Ogley Carte and really did enjoy myself... If you get the chance to see  "Louisiana Purchase" with Bob Hope & Vera Zorina, do so, because it is by far & away the most comical picture I have seen in years.

Keep cheerful & eat more fruit."

Anyhoos it was the Great Rons job to put the kettle on and make a nice cup of tea for any POW they managed to pull out of the water.




'The Internet Stole my Revenue' ?

"Do networks refuse to broadcast the lies? Do media outlets disrupt the tirades with live fact-checking? Broadcast the news (and a president speaking meets the news test) without interruption, but put straps at the bottom of the screen alerting viewers to the fact a politician is making false claims? Broadcast minus the filter, leaving viewers to form their own conclusions?"

"Bret Wolfe, the refuge manager, said he was first alerted by someone walking on the beach who told him: "There's something weird going on over here". But while it may look fun, officials think the cause of the pond turning pink could be more concerning."

"“In recent years, the municipality has taken various measures and run campaigns to limit the growth in tourism and nuisance,” a council spokesperson told the Guardian. “It’s important to stress that this is not only aimed at Britons but general measures aiming to counter a worldwide growth in nuisance tourism. So the council looks hopefully at these figures.”"

Never, Forgets.

Agree to Disagree

 ""I think we are living at a moment in time where the world is a very uncertain and anxious place," he said.

"I think the real risk we have, with quite a lot of regional conflicts that are going on at the moment, is you could see escalation lead to miscalculation and that is a thing I think we have to guard against."

Explaining what he meant by miscalculation, the military chief said: ""The protagonists, either because they don't realise the implications of their actions, lead to an escalation, which means that more people perhaps get involved, more weaponry gets involved and before you can contain it, it leads the sides ending up in a full-blown war.

"We have to remember history might not repeat itself but it has a rhythm and if you look back at the last century, before both world wars, I think it was unarguable that there was escalation that led to the miscalculation which ultimately led to war at a scale we would hopefully never see again."

Asked whether he was saying the threat of another world war was real, General Carter said: "I am saying it's a risk and I think we need to be conscious of those risks and that's why Remembrance matters because if you look back at history, hopefully you learn from their experience, and you make sure you're very cautious about how you manage the sorts of regional conflicts that we see playing out in the world today.""

Not that we'll ever know...

"So yes, Joe Biden has won. And thank goodness for that. But let’s understand that he did so despite, not because of, his social graces or promise to restore normality to the White House. The confluence of discontent that powered Trump to power in 2016 has not gone away. To pretend like it has is only to invite future disaster – for America and the rest of the world."

If I never walk into another 'Tesco' again I will be very happy.

Judgemental Pricks.