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Ken Lobb - The Letters (2) - May 1955

HMS Gambia at Sea - Sunday Evening, May 1, 1955

Hello Darling,

It's been another cloudless day, but a very windy one, and the ship has a peculiar corkscrew motion, both roll and pitch, I'm enjoying it, but some people aren't. I took my camp bed up on deck this afternoon in the shelter of a turret, to get some sunshine; it was nice, but the wind was cold so I had to put on shirt and flannels, and I finally gave up when a shower of sea came over the side and the water was running all around me.

It's surprising how the wind is fetching the water over the side, it's running with water up forward. I've just been out watching the waves, and it looks marvellous with all the spray turning to miniature rainbows in the sun, all colours. I'd be quite content to spend every day like this, just watching the water go by, but I suppose I'll have to do some work from Mondays to Saturdays. The only disadvantage to this wind is that I can't open my "window" in my cabin because the water would come in, and consequently it's stuffy down here. I've just filled my Income Tax forms in, I was hoping we wouldn't have to pay when we're out of the country (ha ha!). We have a film tonight, "Botany Bay" which I think is a glorious technical colour one, it will make a change anyway. I hope you are all well.

I went to Church this morning, I felt like it, and they had some good hymns I know so I had a good loud sing and felt much better.

All my love now Dear.

Monday Evening

Hello My Love,

Whew it's hot today! I'm feeling so tired and warm I just don't want to move. I expect I shall be in shorts and shirt and sandals after today, which will be far more comfortable, but a nuisance to keep clean. The film was quite good last night, after a bad start with two breaks right at the beginning. We had to put the clocks on another hour last night (that's the third time since we left England) so of course I lost and hour, and I feel so dozy any way.

We shall be at Port Said tomorrow morning, where this letter will be landed, and I hope that there'll be one waiting there for me from you. I expect I'll have to get up early tomorrow, we anchor off Port Said at 04.00, a ridiculous time I think. Did you pinch and punch Penny yesterday for the first day of the month? I hope they are all living in harmony now.

The motion is much the same today and the sea seems very empty, we rarely see any other ships passing, there's an awful lot of sea not being used. We really are in the Mediterranean Cruise weather now, I only wish we could enjoy it all day long, this working is ridiculous, it's a struggle.

Now my love I'll finish off, I expect I'll have some new sights to describe in my next letter; keep smiling, the year will soon pass (I hope) then we'll have a good time again,

Your everloving Ken xxxxxxx

[Clearly Father was quite homesick. When he returned my Mother burnt all her letters so it is difficult to know the ups and downs of family life at home. At times I think he felt he had to try and keep up morale at both ends]

HMS Gambia in the Suez Canal - Tuesday, May 3

Hello My Love,

We're all very disappointed because on arrival at Port Said there was no mail waiting for us, which means that unless it's been sent to Suez which we reach tomorrow, we shall have none until Sunday when we get to Aden.

We've had a day of chaos really, we weren't supposed to get to Port Said until eight o'clock this morning, but at quarter past six I was shaken and told we'd arrived and would anchor in a quarter of an hour's time. There was considerable confusion too as to whether we should wear blues or whites, so I compromised by wearing white overalls! One officer changed to and fro four times and eventually we anchored at entrance to the Canal and went into whites for breakfast.

Port Said looked very interesting, a mixture of old and new buildings, and after we'd been boarded by lots of officials (dressed like Farouk in red fez's) we set off leading the noon convoy through the Canal at a steady 71/2 knots (or mph).

Of course it's all sand, and the bright sun produced some mirages which made it look as though there was sea a few miles off on each side of the Canal, with trees (palm trees) and things sticking up in it. The natives are a murderous looking lot, all wearing nightshirts, and of course there are camels. It's funny, I looked out of the scuttle and saw what I thought was a flat roofed building in the distance with lots of washing hanging out near it, but when I looked again I found the "washing" was a line of camels (one-humped variety).

Alongside the Canal there is a road, and alongside that is a railway. There are lots of Egyptian army patrols on motorcycles and in jeeps on the road, and Yankee-type fast cars and buses. Lots of palm trees of course and an occasional village of flat topped mud huts with people in their nighties and skinny donkeys and cows. We're tied up now in a section where the channel splits in two, and we're waiting for a northbound convoy to pass. I find shorts and shirt very pleasant (and sunglasses necessary) although there is a strong wind (which raised a sandstorm at one time this afternoon), and it's not too hot, the temperature is in the eighties. If it weren't for the wind it would be very hot.

Whilst in the Canal we can't make so much fresh water, and we're not allowed to use baths today or tomorrow. Tonight we anchor in the Great Bitter Lake, and about two o'clock in the morning push on to anchor off Suez during the forenoon, then of course set off on our long trip down the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea, which can be very hot. Funnily enough, although it's certainly a reality, I can't really feel that I am so far away (3,000 miles) from you all, it's like a dream really, and fairly pleasant so far.

We're wearing some peculiar rigs this evening, Red Sea rig it's called, open necked shirt with shoulder strips, blue trousers and cummerbund. Very arty-tarty! It's a lovely night, moonlight, with an enormous barren desert on the left bank, and palm trees and so on, on the right bank where the road and railway are. We have enormous double searchlight on the bows which lights up the banks ahead for about a quarter of a mile.

I've given my marine some instruction in white shoe cleaning and he's just done them for the first time, quite well too. The Marines of course go into khaki shirts and shorts, but the officers look resplendent in the evenings with white shirt, blue trousers with a red stripe, and a red cummerbund, even more arty-tarty! I'd better finish this letter my lover, and carry on with my experiences tomorrow.

Goodnight my love,

Your Own Ken xxxxxxx

[One experience Father didn't mention in his letters was being shot at by Arabs whilst on watch at night. He told us years later. He was coming on to the bridge for his watch and heard a pinging, zinging noise ricocheting around the upper decks. He asked the officer he was relieving what it was. He replied that it was just Arabs taking pot shots at the ship which was lit up at night in the canal. On his way out the officer laughed and said, "If you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined!"]

HMS Gambia in the Red Sea - Wednesday May 4

Hello My Love,

I woke up at six this morning and it was a lovely morning, so nice that I got up right away and after shaving and dressing, went up on the quarter deck until breakfast at seven. The first time I looked out of my scuttle I thought what a lovely cloud formation, and then I thought about it and looked again, and it wasn't clouds but mountains in the distance, very big along the Gulf of Suez.

What a barren place it is though, all day we've been coming down the Gulf, after leaving the Canal at four this morning, and we can just see the shore on both sides, with bare rocky mountains and sand at their feet. Very warm, brilliant sunshine in a cloudless sky. I always thought this art of the world was a crowded traffic route, but we haven't seen any villages or towns all day, and only a few other ships, it really is a desert; it's deserted anyway.

I find the working day a great nuisance, but it finished today at four o'clock, and then the real day started as far as I was concerned. They rigged a canvas swimming bath on the quarter deck and although most people reckoned it was too cold (ha ha!) it wasn't too cold for me, and so I had two dips , and of course a gentle lie in the sun, and I really feel I am on holiday. I'm browning off of course, and as yet I don't really feel too hot, although it will be warmer every day now, and I expect I shall be soon feeling it.

We had some PT afterwards and the PTI brought out a set of strong springs which no-one could stretch (including the PTI) so of course I had a go, and it was easy so I had to give a demonstration then. What with that, and the fact that I dived in over the side of the bath and splashed all the onlookers heavily, I had a pleasant evening.

In fact if every evening can be as pleasant, I think I can stick it out through the working day. It's a lovely evening again, dead flat water, moonlight, and cool on deck. I think when we retire we'll use our £1000 for a luxury world cruise. Would you like that? I'm going to bed now my love, it's half past ten.

Goodnight Dear.

[My Father like his father was a strong swimmer and was used to swimming in all weathers. Later, I was given these exercise springs bit by bit along with a range of movements, and they were clearly what my Father had used in his late teens to become fit.]

Thursday Evening.

Hello Dear,

We put the clocks on another hour tonight, and we're steaming down the Red Sea, very much warmer today, the temperature has been between 90 and 95 degrees all day, and it's very warm in the ship, though I find it quite pleasant on deck. Someone was saying tonight that I appear to thrive on this weather. Of course I've had my half hour sunbathe at lunchtime, and an hour and a half this teatime, with a jump into our "swimming bath." Very nice!

Sharks are supposed to live here (well they do actually) but we haven't seen any tearing about, although one officer saw a swordfish with its long nose. We had a formal dinner this evening, with full mess kit, little white waiter's jackets you know and that was pretty hot after wearing open necked shirts only for the past few days. The sea is rougher tonight, and I'm wondering whether I dare leave my "window" open. I'd have a rude awakening if it came in over me. We've had no land in sight at all today in any direction, this Red Sea is a big place, it's as far as from Plymouth to Gibraltar, and we seem to be the only people using it, it's funny really. You'll have to buy a cheap atlas from Woolvers to show Penny where I am. Of course, I'm finding a real use for the one you bought me long ago. Goodnight my Lover, kiss the infants for me, I'll have to write to them at the weekend.

Your Own Ken xxxxxxxx

HMS Gambia in the Red Sea - Friday, May 6

Hello my Lover,

The hottest day yet today, 95 degrees in my office and many places in the ship much more. 130 degrees in the engine room, but I keep clear of this. I had a poor night's sleep last night, only in my pyjama trousers but keep waking up in the heat, and it got rough so that I had to close my scuttle at half past three.

In my lads mess deck they left theirs open and they were flooded out, one lad sleeping on a camp bed on top of the mess table was washed off, bed and all, by an inrush of sea. I was glad to get up this morning, and I went up on deck in the nude and stood under a hose they use to wash the decks down, just like Hornblower! That was sea-water too, we're not allowed to use much fresh water, and that was quite warm (about 75 degrees). I had a dip in our canvas bath at lunchtime, and then dried off in the sun, which is nearly right overhead here, but it was much too hot, and I've been feeling sore since.

This evening I've had my dip but I didn't hang around in the sun, I mustn't overdo it! I don't want to blister. We've started rehearsing for a ship's concert party. I'm playing the part of the Wren Admiral in a sketch of the Navy run entirely by women. I've got to learn my lines now, all good fun for the kiddies though. We should have had some fun today, the idea was to drop a depth charge and then lower a boat and pick up all the dead fish for supper. Everyone who could be spared stood staring aft when it was dropped, and we all waited for the explosion – and nothing happened! Of course there were some red faces, and we're going to try again next week.

We're not looking forward to this weekend at Aden, it will be terribly hot, the sun will be right overhead there, and we'll have to be frightfully formal in our uniforms, sunbathing will be out, and bathing too I expect. I've put my name down for a bus trip, but I expect it will be too hot. I don't particularly want to turn in tonight it's so warm.

Goodnight now my love, I'm looking forward to some letters at Aden xxx

[My Father told me a story only a few years ago about a banyan to the dunes and desert. I presume it was the electrical messdeck. He said they landed and the sailors were playing football and relaxing. Suddenly, this Arab appeared over a dune and said to Father, "What are you doing on my land?" He looked every inch a sheik which he was, with a hawk on his wrist riding a thoroughbred horse! He was dressed like Lawrence of Arabia. He had an Arab minder with him on a camel carrying a long barrelled ornate musket. My Father apologised and said that they would clear up everything when they left. It turned out that he had been sent to be educated at Oxford University and had returned from England to take up his title and lands. Naturally, I can't verify the story but it came out suddenly with a humorous chuckle of remembrance from Father while we were going through some of his photos. I have no reason to doubt it.]

Saturday Night - Still in the Red Sea!

Phew! What a scorcher it's been today, temperatures over 100 degrees. A very smooth sea too, and not much wind, which makes it seem even hotter. Even the black men are sweating, and I've just come along the upper deck, and it's littered with bodies sleeping out, most of them laid down with just a pair of pants on. All the black goons glisten all over too, a good advert for Cherry Blossom.

We saw a magnificent school of porpoises this afternoon, twenty or thirty of them, each about four feet long, and they were jumping clear out of the water, long graceful jumps three feet clear of the water. We thought they were sharks at first because they have the same sort of fin sticking up out of the water. But when they started jumping we saw what they were.

Later on we tried fishing for sharks with an enormous hunk of raw beef on an enormous hook with a heavy rope attached, but we didn't get a bite. I've had a couple of dips in the pool today, but I've kept out of the sun, it's much too fierce, the decks feel red hot to walk on. I shall have another one later on now, but I haven't finished work yet. We've developed a fault on a piece of equipment which they've been trying to find all day. In the end I had to go and the snag is right down the bottom of the bilges. I haven't been so far down before and I've sweated gallons in the last two hours. They're repairing it now (half past ten) and I have to go down and look at it in half an hour's time. After which I shall have a dip and retire.

Incidentally, I've arranged through the Naafi to send Grandma a bunch of flowers on her birthday, for a change. Aden tomorrow, and jolly hot it will be too, I've arranged to go on a bus trip to see the Queen of Sheba's tanks whatever they are and I'm hoping to haggle around the bazaars sometime. Well dear, One tenth of the Commission is over, it won't be long before I'm home and then it will all seem a dream. Goodnight my lover, remember me to the infants, I'll write to them tomorrow.

Your Own Loving Ken xxxxxxxxxx

[The term "goon" is used for the black men on board. My Father didn't have a racist bone in his body. He was just using the common term on board and doing what he always did; observing what was going on.]

HMS Gambia at Aden - Monday, May 9

Hello My Darling,

How nice I've had four letters from you here, so I'll look through them again in order and see what answers you need. I'm glad you've got your machine, you'll have no excuses now for not making lots of clothes for yourself and the kids. I'll write about your travelling warrant, and you should get one eventually. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos, it's a pity they take so long, we're not getting any parcel post until we get to Mauritius which will be the first week in June. I think the sooner you lose the mice the better, lose them permanently I mean. I don't know how you manage to have chicken, I think you must be improving as a housekeeper (ahem). You're a clever girl using the old boiler, I suppose next you'll be writing to say you've knitted new rollers for the wringer!

(I'm writing this in just my pants, with a fan blowing full speed right on me, and I've just had to douse my head in cold water to try and keep cool, of course the water isn't cold , it's warm, everything is warm to touch, even lavatory seats feel as though someone has just got off!) I'm glad you liked the photos, I've a larger one for you, mounted on card ready for framing which I'll send on later. You've had some fun with your plastic curtain stuff. Fancy Andrew being left-handed, he must take after Grandad!

I'd willingly send you half my ration of sun, I'm afraid my head is in and absolute whirl tonight. We've had an exhausting two days here and I have a confused notion of heat and natives and heat and camels and heat and goats and heat and heat and so on!!!

I'm pressing on with this because I must catch the night post, but I'm afraid I'll have to describe this place in my next few letters when I've digested all I've seen and done, I'm absolutely confused tonight, and very tired. It will be much better after we leave here in the morning, we have about a week's trip ahead of us, probably in Monsoon weather, with heat, swell and torrential downpours of rain at night. I think it will be preferable to Aden though.

Now my love I must shower and try and sleep, we have to be up early tomorrow. I love you as dear, as ever,

Ken xxxxx

HMS Gambia in the Gulf of Aden - Tuesday night - April 10

Hello my Lover,

As I expect you must have gather from my last letter I was feeling queer last night, too much heat really, but I'm afraid I just couldn't see straight, nor could I write, and I even forgot to put Penny's stamps in the letter, so I'll put them in this one. My troubles really started on Saturday night, when I didn't get to bed until after four o'clock after putting the echo-sounder right, and as all the work had to be done in the bowels of the ship just inside the bottom you can guess how dirty and hot it was. In fact it has steadily got hotter and reached its worst at Aden, where with the ship anchored and without the air blowing through which we get at sea life was really intolerable.

The sun at midday is right overhead, and your shadow is a little ring round your feet just like it says in the books. Of course on Sunday I was up at six thirty, so I was exhausted on arrival at Aden. It's a magnificent sight coming in from the sea, rugged grandeur, it's all extinct volcanic rock here, no vegetation, and bags of sand.

The harbour is interesting, lots of fish swimming about in full view, with baby swordfish about a foot long and green, and rays, triangular fish with tails all swimming about in groups. There are sharks and barracudas too but I didn't see any and jellyfish. Our visit started with the local RAF officers coming on board to be entertained, and they seemed to stay forever. Eventually I went ashore with a couple of others to have a look round at half-past two.

It was in the heat of the day then and the shops and bazaars were shut. They open every day here but not until 3 in the afternoons. The streets were strewn with sleeping natives having their siestas, just flaked out in the shade of the walls, all sleeping quite peacefully in their "nighties" and shirts and turban thing, with goats dozing gently among them.

On the other hand the taxis are all modern high powered Yankee type cars all driven at high speed by cut-throats, who won't let you alone, but follow you along in their cars shouting after you. There are two natives to each taxi; one drives while the other goes out and tries to get customers, they're funny to listen to, they all speak in the same sing-song way. With the shops open I bought a cream "wide awake" straw hat for 5/-s, a proper tropical style, and some swimming trunks, and a "Phillishave" razor at half the price they are in England!

With my sun and wind burned face, shaving is painful lately, so I thought I'd try a Philli-shaver as we've heard so much about them, and I'll never get a chance of such a cheap one again. The money here is East African pound, shillings and cents, with 100 cents to the shilling, and the 10 cent pieces are called pennies. They're the same size and shape as ours with a hole in the middle. So of course there are ten pennies to the shilling. When the prices are marked 2.50 it means half-a-crown.

After buying our things we had a taxi to the Officer's Club, where there're are nice cool buildings, a swimming pool and also a private beach with a shark net protected bit of sea to swim in. For 2/-s entrance fee we had the run of the place, and changed into our new swimming trunks and went down to the sea (taking care to wear our shoes because the hot sand above the waterline burns your feet). The water was lovely, such a relief, even if it was about 85 degrees, just like getting into a warm bath. There we met some of the RAF chaps who'd been on board, with their wives and kids, a beautiful brown, they only work in the mornings (and go to school in the mornings) and spend the afternoons on the beach. What a life!

Although it was hot, it was much more pleasant ashore than on board where it is airless and sticky all the time. We had tea with the RAF people and then returned on board at eight o'clock with some of them for a cinema show which we held on the quarterdeck.

A pleasant but tiring day, and so hot on board that I didn't sleep well at all on Sunday night. How nice it would be to get into cold sheets, everything here is warm to the touch, I'd never thought about it before but the bed is warm when you get into it, and clothes are warm when you put them on in the morning, and my poor ankles are swollen up like a pregnant lady's. In the harbour we had to take our swimming pool down from the quarterdeck too.

Monday morning was a normal working morning, but at lunchtime I found at ten minutes notice I was the guest for lunch of a RAF Squadron leader who'd come off in an RAF launch to offer hospitality. So I set off at half-past twelve to go to lunch with him and got back on board at ten to eight! The only reason I managed to excuse myself and get away then was that I was in shorts still, and here everyone dresses in the evenings, which means they put on long white trousers, instead of shorts, with their open necked shirts. Incidentally, they feel the heat on board more than we do (I suppose we've got used to it) and all of them when they came on board had sweat saturated shirts within a few minutes, not just under the arms, but all down the chest and back too, and perspiration pouring off their faces.

I find, much to my surprise, that although I feel hot (and my ankles swell) I don't get wet and my shirts, and my shorts and shirts stay stiff and dry, and although my face gets red (in fact the Major reckons he can tell the temperature from my face) it doesn't run with perspiration and drip all over the place. I eat lots of salt which is a good thing and drink lots of lime juice, and I don't eat much during the day.

To get back to my day out, I was taken up to the RAF mess by boat and car, where I saw all the old familiar faces from the previous day, and after drinking sparkling (iced limes) had lunch after which they carted me off to their sports ground, where I sat with their wives and kids in the cool of the pavilion (such a relief) and watched a game of cricket on the "green" (all sand rolled hard, with a coconut matting pitch). I learned all about their married quarters, which I saw, and how they live out here, but I'll have to tell you about that tomorrow dear. It's past midnight now and I must try and sleep. I put my feet on the pillows to reduce my swollen ankles.

Goodnight my Darling, more tomorrow,

Your Own Ken xxxxxxxx

[Father must have bought an electric Philishave razor. They were very new then. In his letters he wrote "Sillyshave" as a joke so it initially it took some working out.]

Philishave 7743 electric shaver from the 1950's. Photo: Philips. CC BY 3.0 Europeana Museum Rotterdam A swordfish. Photo: Citron. CC-BY-SA-3.0 Wikimedia Commons Porcupinefish, also known as a Hedgehogfish. Photo: Linnaea Mallette. CC0 1.0 Public Domain

HMS Gambia in the Arabian Sea - Wednesday, May 11

Hello Dearest,

I saw the Southern Cross in the sky tonight for the first time, it's quite low down, and so is the N. Pole star, in the opposite direction. Eventually, when we get to the Southern Hemisphere proper (at Mauritius for instance) we shall see the Southern Cross overhead and won't be able to see the N. Pole star.

I was telling you about the married quarters, they're large and airy, flat roofs, all white with refrigerators and large overhead fans in each room. There's no question of gardens, it's all sand, although some have flowering trees which look lovely against the white walls and I was told that trees as high as the house take only 2 years to grow if you water them every day. Apparently anything that's regularly watered grows at an alarming speed. Although the trees look nice they're a bad thing to have because they attract flies and breed disease.

I've forgotten whether I told you but my host's wife is a doctor and runs the clinics in Aden two days a week. She's on a good thing because the native women [don't?] want to go to a male doctor. We went back to the mess where they tried to get me to stay for dinner, but I managed to get away and after a murderous taxi ride and a native boat trip got back on board just before 7 o'clock, where after the cool and freshness ashore the heat and stuffiness on board made me feel terrible, my head was throbbing and I felt the heat for the first time. Still, I've got over it.

We passed the island of Socotra this evening, where the natives are still cannibals and we shan't see land again now unto Monday when we reach Ceylon. This evening I've used a pair of pants as a pattern and made my black swimming suit into trunks with an elastic waist from my spare garter elastic. It was quite tedious, I'm afraid I couldn't undertake reducing any sleeves in these conditions. It's very sticky and I must go to bed. Goodnight my love. I hopr you are all well.

Your Own Ken xxxxxx

[I think my Father has an old fashioned full swimming costume that men including his Father (we have a picture) used to wear. He was bringing himself up-to-date.]

Thursday, May 12

Hello Dear,

It's another sticky warm day and I've been taking it easy, sitting writing in my cabin most of the day. I'm trying to learn to take life easily in this heat, I'm not anxious to wear myself out. We lost another hour's sleep last night, put the clock on again, for the fifth time, and we do it again tomorrow, which will mean that we're a quarter of the way around the world from England.

I didn't tell you I nearly lost my sunglasses twice did I? The first tome was last Saturday night when I was working down in the bilges, I was hanging upside down looking through a hatch with over two feet of water at the bottom when they fell out of my shirt pocket. Luckily the air in the case held them up until I got them back. Then on Sunday without thinking I jumped into the water with them on, on the beach, and didn't miss them until someone with his underwater fishing stuff (you know, mask and flippers) fetched them up from the bottom and luckily I saw him and recognised them. I'm trying to be more careful now.

There's lightning flashing in the sky tonight, we're expecting the monsoon to break tomorrow, when we shall get torrential rain and rough seas, but it may be cooler.

Goodnight Honey.

Friday evening

Today I have my ankles bound up with calamine plasters on them! I gave in at last and went to the sick bay with my elephant's feet. There are lots of people similarly affected but I still feel silly nevertheless. With my bound feet I haven't been able to jump into the canvas pool. I now have a nice cool crew cut. And much better it is too. Incidentally, I've taken on the organising of the ship's swimming and water polo activities, so I'm going to be busy one way and another before the trip is over.

I saw a shower of flying fish today for the first time, they looked like a flight of birds, only silver. No sharks yet though. I'm going to have and early supper and then lie down with my feet up tonight. I must finish this letter, it's getting too long. Goodnight my lover, I'd like to be with you tonight.

Your Own Ken xxxxxxx

HMS Gambia in the Indian Ocean - Sunday afternoon, May 15

Hello my Lover,

I'd like to nuzzle your shoulders now, I'm feeling slightly despondent. Although I'm pleased to say my ankles are back to normal now after two days bound up with calamine lotion. It's something to do with the small blood vessels having to get used to the heat. With them wrapped up I couldn't go in the swimming pool and I missed the relief of that most of all.

Incidentally, it rained just now, not very much, just a light shower, it would be wonderful to have a really cool downpour. It's been cloudy today, just like and English sky, no cooler though. It's very hot down below, I'm not looking forward to reaching Trinco on Tuesday, it will be very hot on board as soon as we stop. I find it very difficult to sleep at night with heat, but yesterday I took my camp bed up on deck under the awning and slept beautifully for a couple of hours. I'd rather sleep during the afternoons.

It was very rough last night, we passed through a storm belt and I had to have my "window" closed. The Concert Party rehearsals are coming along well, I'm quite surprised really at the talent we've got on board, I think it will be a good show. It's quite rough again this evening, I've been measuring the rise and fall of my cabin by watching a small cloud through the scuttle and my cabin is going up and down through three feet, and yet I've reached the state now where unless I watch something outside, I don't notice the movement.

[Trinco = Trincomalee in Ceylon now Sri Lanka (1972)]

Monday Midday

Hello Darling,

It rained all night and most of this morning, from a black overcast sky, with flashes of lightning. We're working our way up around the coast of Ceylon, of which I caught a brief glimpse this morning through the mist and rain. It's very rough, I had to have my window closed, but the rain has made it slightly cooler, we're down to 88 degrees now, ( very hot and sticky really).

We have a very full programme in the week ahead, which I'm not looking forward to, still I expect I'll manage. Last night for the first time the water was phosphorescent, little patches of light dancing on it, particularly in the wash astern, very pleasant.

We had a film show last night which was shown in the cinema because of the weather, and it was "Red Beret" with Alan Ladd as a paratrooper, quite exciting, I was soaked with perspiration though, it's too much trouble to breathe in those conditions. I must write a few lines to Penny and Susan now and seal this up to catch the post in the morning. I expect they'll be foreign stamps on the letters from here, because it's no longer a British possession. Cheerio my Love, I love you and I'm ready to start the return trip really.

Your Own Lover xxxxxxx

[It is interesting to note that Father is generally at his lowest when he has received no letter between landings.]

HMS Gambia at Trincomalee - Midday May 17

Hello My Love,

Three letters from you on arrival, what a nice wife you are. One of them was posted on the 13th too, only four days ago. Poor old Penny, she does have a rough time, I hope she's none the worse for her bang on the head. Tell her she's very brave to write me a letter so soon afterwards. I expect now you've let her sleep with you she'll be bumping her head every day. I would you know!

I think your mice are a nuisance always coming and going, I should make a mouse pie if I were you. I shouldn't worry too much about your neighbour, especially now your clothesline is up again. They're a queer lot, so are we I suppose. I don't expect to get the photos until we get to Mauritius really (about 17 days' time) because they say they're only sending Air mail here, ordinary mail is being sent to await us at Mauritius. Never mind I'll still be pleased to see them.

I'm sorry Susan didn't hear my ship. I wish I could have come home after she'd gone to bed. I'm glad Andrew is becoming a tidy eater, he should be OK by the time I come home. It's funny you want to put Ariel on my letters. I have to be careful addressing yours, I always want to put Plymouth, Devon, Cornwall; every time! I'm still smoking, lightly, it seems silly not to, when they're only 4/6s a hundred. You know I'm anxious to come and try this wonderful machine of yours.

Well we're here at last! Yesterday evening, while we were coming around the coast of Ceylon there was a lovely smell on the breeze coming offshore, a scenty smell which I'm told id sandalwood. We're lying in a tropical creek, with thick trees right down to the water's edge, tropical stuff too, palm trees and so on, but thick jungle in all directions with just a few tin roofed shacks on the water's edge. It's lovely to see all the green again after the desert wastes we've passed lately. And lying out here you can hear the steady murmur of all the birds ashore in the trees.

Funnily enough I keep thinking of one of Penny's comics, the bit about "Captain Bungle, he lives in the jungle." It's been on my brain all the morning. It's hot here but there's a pleasant breeze which makes it tolerable. It looks lovely, but there are also many things ashore you can't do, mustn't drink water, any local lemonade, mustn't eat any fresh fruit, or raw onions, or fresh salad.

Everything must be cooked. All the dogs have rabies and if you're bitten you have to have injections right away, and catch the dog, and if after having bitten you it doesn't die in 10 days, you'll probably be OK. I'm not joking! The snakes are poisonous and VD is present in its most virulent and spectacular forms (not that that will affect me!) My writer (?) is just raring to get ashore now of course, it must be terrible to arrive at 7.30 and not be allowed ashore until after tea.

We've had Divisions this morning and been addressed by the Admiral, he seems pleasant enough but they're all hard inside! This evening we're having a little party for the staff officers ashore, and tomorrow morning I'm going ashore early to see to the concert party electrics, and then on to the local Naval Base mess. I can see I'm going have a bust 10 ten days but it will all help pass the time quickly. Cheerio my love. I love you, all of you, (kids as well)

Your Own Daddy xxxxxx

HMS Gambia at Trincomalee - Thursday, May 19

Hello My Lover,

I quite like it here, it's not too hot, in fact my cabin now feels very cool (it's between (75 and 80 degrees actually) and I'm only wearing pants, and I've just had a cold rub down and I'm letting it dry off in front of the electric fan, it's feeling beautifully cool. I had a short night last night, we started tropical working hours today, which means we start work at half-past five, stop for breakfast at half past seven and then work until half past twelve, after which the rest of the day is free (almost).

I was later than usual going to bed last night because I was watching and enormous whale shark which came up to investigate the ship. It was a monster! Over ten feet long, light coloured with black spots (like a Dalmatian), and it seemed very friendly in spite of an enormous head and mouth. It hung around for about two hours in our lights around the gangways, preceded by striped pilot fish.

We rammed it twice with a motor boat, and then pinned it between the ship and a motor boat, but it just lazily turned over, right on the surface with its "shark fin" sticking up. It played about like a puppy really and although we put out an enormous hook with beef on it, it didn't bite and we were pleased really, it was so playful. It's funny because the night before a half drunk sailor getting in his hammock which was hung by the rails, fell straight out the other side into the water (quite a long drop). He couldn't swim and a Marine corporal had to jump in and fetch him out.

Needless to say no-one fell in last night and I expect everyone will be very careful from now on. I went for a swim yesterday afternoon at a place called Sandy Bay, outside the harbour, it was very nice but, there were various living things in the water that I don't care for. A native there fishing with a line on the end of a branch caught a Dory 2 feet long and enormously fat. The natives use "dug-out" boats made from hollowed out trees with a log out rigger, and fish with nets and lines. They're a queer lot and don't understand English although they showed us all their gear with dirty betel shined toothy smiles and much arm waving and chattering. Curiously enough although they look murderous I don't feel that they'd do me any harm. The jungle is very thick and very tight from luscious vegetation with a continual noisy hum of birds and crickets and flying things.

The quarters ashore are pleasant and airy, just roofs, no walls, large verandas with the breeze blowing straight through, the married quarters are similar, just dotted about in the trees, very far apart and they all have 3 or 4 servants and live like Barons. There's a Naval school for the kids, which is said to be very good. Everyone seems to live a pleasant life here. I'm writing now to catch the afternoon air mail. We only get three lots of air mail a week, on Thursdays Wednesdays and Friday.

I haven't seen any elephants yet, I'll have to go further inland for that. Ox-carts are in use here though. This evening I'm going to look at the village shops, there aren't many. Colombo is the only place, about 200 miles away. I must get some stamps for Penny too. I hope you're well my love, with no scorpions and mad dogs and sharks hanging around the kids. Cheerio dear,

You Own Ken xxxxxxx

[Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka]

HMS Gambia at Trincomalee - Sunday May 22

Oh my Lover,

I wish I could lie in bed and talk to you, there are so many things I want to tell you about that I can't possibly write them down. And to make it worse I've only 4 sheets of paper left. First of all, yesterday was a good day, I had two letters from you! I'm glad things are going smoothly for you, I hope the time passes quickly, according to the latest rumours we are to be home by the first of March, which I'm sure won't be long coming.

You'll be pleased to hear that Geoghegan is now married to his native girlfriend! The wedding was yesterday morning and of course I had to go and had a place of honour (together with the local Chief of Police) as a witness. I thought that meant I just had to sign the register, but instead I had to stand out beside them throughout the ceremony and see that there was no hitch. It was really most impressive and took an hour and a half, in St. Mary's the local Roman Catholic Cathedral (a very small cathedral) with an American priest officiating and the rest all native. It was conducted in Latin and a marital mass was said too. I hadn't a clue what was happening. It was full of Ceylonese, all colours from black to off-white, in all sorts of costumes, many in saris, and other colourful native dresses, some with caste marks on their foreheads, and the sides were open to the village streets, where there were lots of barefoot native children watching.

At the reception were over 100 relatives and well-wishers, and I was introduced and spoke with many of them, they were all most friendly and cheerful people. I thoroughly enjoyed the outing and learnt a lot too; his wife is very tiny, a pretty dark little girl with finger nails that project ¾ inch beyond her finger ends. She was beautifully dressed in white, with two bridesmaids and a little flower girl about 2 1/2.

I was lucky to get through the event because, like a lot of others I had Trinco tummy, acute stomach ache and fierce diarrhoea, I had such a bout, that combined with getting up each morning at five o'clock on this new tropical routine, I was exhausted last evening and fell onto my bunk at seven, and slept a beautiful 12 hours right through to this morning. I feel much more settled today.

Which was just as well because we had Divisions and March Past this morning, the full nausea, in our full white suits, medals and swords, followed by Church in the same rig. I'm not keen on this silly white long Chinaman's dress, though being loose, mine wasn't too bad. Actually the whole thing went off well and I thought the funniest thing was a shark cruising round and round the ship with his fin (drawing) up, just like the comics, I expect he liked the band.

This afternoon I had a wonderful afternoon, you know I have some frogman's flippers. Well I borrowed a diving mask which is a sort of glass face piece in a rubber thing like a gasmask, with two tubes sticking up out of it with cork valves that shut if a wave goes over the tube. In this I've been out to Sandy Cove, exploring the underwater rocks, and it's really fascinating, I spent about an hour and a half and never enjoyed a swim so much, chasing underwater fish of all shapes, colours and sizes. I'll tell you more later. Cheerio now my lover. I hope you're well,

Your Own Daddy xxxxxxx

P.S. Stamps inside for Penny.

[The word "nausea" reflects my Father's attitude towards pomp and ceremony.]

HMS Gambia at Trincomalee - Monday, May 23

Hello My Love,

I was telling you yesterday when I was rudely interrupted by lack of paper about the view underwater. With this helmet you just swim along the surface with your head in the water looking down, and you breathe air through the tubes on the helmet. It's wonderful going over the rocks, the water is teeming with fish of all shapes, colours and sizes, I was fascinated. They seem not to mind you swimming and you find you're diving down amongst hundreds of coloured fish, some with stripes one way and some the other, some long thin funny things, (drawings) like the drawing; (I followed 5 of these together for a long way and although they let me put my and a foot away they wouldn't let me catch them). The most colourful ones were all blue, a most vivid light blue. I can understand why people do this underwater deep diving, it's quite a new world, I had a very enjoyable hour and a half, and in this helmet and flippers I feel I can swim for ever, long distances too.

I went around the shops in the afternoon, that's a laugh, it's a collection of hovels in the village where they sell things. I wanted to buy Geoghegan a wedding present really and used that as an excuse to look around. One of them is full of carvings, you know I always wanted a carved Indian elephant when I was young, well now I've seen them in all shapes and sizes, right where they makes them. They had some made up as bookends with a cunning secret compartment inside, and some lovely inlaid boxes. I'm determined not to load myself up with curios though, certainly not as early in the trip as this.

The village is very interesting, full of natives and kids, and Indian cows, funny little mournful ones with tiny udders and huge bumps on the backs of their necks. There are rickshaws to ride in, pulled by natives, and plenty of fruit on sale, bunches of bananas 2ft 6inches straight off the trees, they look funny growing and beautiful pineapples a foot long, (drawings of Indian cows, banana tree and rickshaw) with a wonderful flavour (for 1s/6d). Incidentally, the bananas that grow here are called plantains and they're slightly shorter than the Fyffes we get at home, but twice as fat and they have much stronger delicious flavour.

The coconuts grow up the trees of course and the native boys wait to climb up (barefoot) and fetch them down for a consideration. There's more fruit many of which I don't know the names, but one looks like a vegetable marrow (a small one), it's called a paw-paw, and you eat it like a water melon, it's red inside and also has a delicious flavour. There are many others and at breakfast I never know which fruit to try next.

Yesterday I walked through the native quarter to where they wash clothes, in a lake that's only used for washing clothes and the women were washing, in the water, still dressed in their saris, knocking the stuffing out of their washing by beating it on big stones in the water. All their kids were rolling around in the water, and there was some of that devilish chanting you hear on the radio, it was all very picturesque.

The jungle (I've only been on the fringe really) is quite interesting. At first it looks like a normal English thick, light green wood. It isn't until you get closer that you see the leaves are different, and that there are flowers quite unlike our own, and lots of other differences. There are really exotic bright coloured flowering trees, and hanging things (that Tarzan swings on) and so on, and yet it's not the steamy hot swampy jungle that I always imagine jungles to be. Those are the S. American Amazon jungles, really nasty pieces of work, these here are more healthy, rather like the Africa big game jungles.

The locals caught a six foot shark in the harbour yesterday, the waters really are alive with all sorts of fish. It's funny how soon you get used to things, you know it even feels cold to go into the sea now, goodness knows how I shall get on when I get home. It's got hotter during this past week, hotter than when we arrives here, I'm just in pants now, and rub down with a wet flannel frequently, and sit under an electric fan, just to keep dry.

I haven't been swimming this afternoon, in fact I stripped off after lunch, sponged down and lay down and slept for three hours. I was pleased after because those who'd been swimming were stung several times in the water and they couldn't see what was doing it. So I was better off in my bed. I have a lot of report writing I must do this evening, when it is cooler, so I'm glad I've had a sleep.

We had a film show on the quarterdeck last night to which a lot from the Naval Base were invited, and we had to wear full white mess dress. That's one of the things I don't like here, it's a small place run entirely by about 30 naval officers and their families ashore, and because there's an Admiral here they're far too formal and starchy. I much preferred Aden where there was an RAF element and the civilians from the oil refinery, and it was a much friendlier informal sort of place. The dress restrictions here are much more formal and stupid in this heat.

Anyway, after last night's performance, although I've learnt to sit very still and relaxed and not breathe deeply, and keep fairly cool, I was soaked nearly through, my pants were wringing , so was my shirt and trousers waistband and lining of my waistcoat. Everything had to be hung up to dry after, and yet I was lucky because my outer uniform hasn't yet got wet. The wives look funny in their evening gowns too, with globules of perspiration all over their arms, shoulders and backs, just as though they'd come out from under a shower, faces too of course, powder is useless. I find mine shines but doesn't run! I'm sure this business of keeping still, and not breathing very deeply has a lot to do with it, anyway it's my private way of beating the heat, and I'm going on practising it.

I'm not being successful with postcards, I asked our Chief Steward today (who is a native of the place) to try for me, and he's been to all the place in the village without success, there are no postcards of local animals, no elephants or anything so the kids will have to wait I'm afraid. I'll write Penny and Susan a line tomorrow. I hope you are all super fit, I'd welcome some of your cool weather, and some of your other amenities. Cheerio my Lover.

Your Own Daddy xxxxxx

HMS Gambia at Trincomalee - Wednesday, May 25

Hello My Lover,

I had a letter from you this morning, very welcome of course. You seem to very busy sewing every night, still it's not much fun going to bed alone is it? Poor old Penny and her arithmetic, I know I used to worry about things when I was young, it's a mistake really, I don't worry nearly as much these days, and I feel much better as a result. Which Sunday School teacher wants Penny to sing, it's not the one at the end of the road is it? Isn't she going to the Primitive Methodists now? The price of a kettle has to come out of our new car now then. I'm sorry poor old Susan isn't very good at nights, I've been all over the place trying to get her some pictures of animals too, without success I'm afraid. I'll write her a letter in a minute. Yours comes first though!

You're right, I am losing weight, my clothes are all very loose on me, I can see I'm going to look stupid if I carry on, although I feel much better. In fact I feel superfit today, this afternoon I've been exploring the native bazaars at Pettah with Commander L, over two hours walking in the hot midday sun, very interesting though, we were the only white people about for nearly all the way and we pottered around and saw all sorts of interesting things. I'm determined to not to buy anything yet though, otherwise I'll be arriving home with a cabin full of junk. I'm going to wait until I've travelled a bit further and can recognise something really worthwhile when I see it. You have to be careful, Com. L bought a pair of ebony elephants for 25 rupees (37s/6d) the other day and this afternoon saw some exactly similar for 15 rupees (22s/6d).

We're leaving here at midnight tomorrow, and we're going on to Mauritius, which will take a week so there'll be a break in my letters again. I forgot to tell you that after my exploration this afternoon I went swimming and watched the pretty fish again, and saw a beauty like this, black and white stripes. (drawing of a fish with large antennae). There's no doubt there are some fine fish in these waters.

We put on our concert for the first time last night, and it went very well, especially with me in my ginger wig and black nightshirt and big bosom! The lads in the "chorus" were jolly good especially those dressed up as wenches. One was got up as "Salome" and did a wonderful tummy rolling dance. Well honey, I think I'm acclimatised now, no ankle trouble for a long time and my tummy is back to normal, and I feel well so perhaps I shall be OK for the rest of the trip. I hope all goes well for you, I'll be home as soon as I can to nuzzle your neck. Keep the children cheerful.

Cheerio my Love,

Your Own Ken xxxxx

HMS Gambia at Trincomalee - Thursday noon, May 26

Hello My Love,

I haven't much to tell you today, but as this is the last chance I shall have of posting a letter for just over a week, I must say something to keep you going. The Admiral and all his staff are arriving today. You'd think they were coming for a couple of years by the amount of stuff that's being carried on board, instead of two months. Such a lot of nuisance. The Admiral's wife is a nice old lady, she showed me yesterday just how she wanted her bedside lamps and things arranged. He's one of those tall thin Admirals who look younger than they are, consequently, she looks old enough to be his mother. I prefer jolly fat Admirals! The others are generally miserable.

One of our sub-lieutenants shot a Hedgehog fish yesterday, a horrible brown thing, 18 inches long, all puffed up like a football and covered in spines or prickles which have to be avoided because they're poisonous. I can't make up my mind whether I enjoy swimming here or not, there are so many peculiar things in the water. Yesterday afternoon there were lots of floating dead chewed fish about that had been savaged by a tiger shark in the Bay. I suppose it's OK though swimming in the middle of the beach, away from the rocks, although I haven't seen any of the natives in swimming yet.

We've had a shocking bother on board over laundry. You remember we had a crowd of natives join at Plymouth, well they were jolly good at the laundry. At Aden, for some reason they were paid off and another crowd engaged. They were shocking! So bad that everyone was moaning and lots of gear was lost. Exceptional action was taken and they were kicked off at the end of last week and now we've got the first lot back again, so everything is back to normal. Now that we're all wearing whites, good, quick laundry is essential.

I think this afternoon I must have a last swim, and then a sleep this evening, before staying up late for the midnight sailing. A silly time to leave. I'm not looking forward to arriving at Mauritius where we've a big programme for the Queen's birthday parade, fireworks, floodlighting, children's parties and all sorts of nonsense. Mauritius is an island down by Madagascar, (I'm making full use of the atlas you gave me long ago) we'll have to cross the Equator to get there so I expect there'll be a lot of gaiety with a "crossing the line" ceremony, do you remember the one at Anthorn last year? Now my love, I'll send you all my love and kisses and leave you again.

Your Own Ken xxxxxxx

HMS Gambia in the Indian Ocean - Friday, May 27

Hello My Love,

We're on our way again I'm glad to say, though I shall miss my swim this afternoon, just as I was getting used to it too! It wasn't so nice yesterday though, there were some stinging things in the water, I was stung in several places but there was no lasting effects, no swellings or anything.

Isn't it funny, after I'd written all my letters, and caught the last post from Trinco, the very thing happened yesterday afternoon which I would've liked to put in my letters to Susan and Penny. The ground around the "beach" rises very steeply to high cliffs, all covered with dense trees, the edge of the jungle in fact. As we were sitting there yesterday there was a loud chattering, and dozens of monkeys came down out of the trees onto the edge of the sand, a whole tribe of them, mummies and daddies and baby ones too. They were quite big too, baboons probably, with long tails they swung from. They must have been disturbed by some other arrival. Anyway, after a bit they withdrew into the trees again, and they looked jolly good, swinging along in the branches.

I wish Susan could have seen them. It's funny you asked me about smoking, I think I have stopped now, I've tailed off during the last 10 days. I think it's because I feel so well, it seems a shame to smoke, and I've stopped altogether for the last three days. Maybe I won't start again now.

Saturday Evening

Hello Dear, I've had a pleasant day today. I was bidden to lunch with the Admiral, so of course, fresh and smart in clean starched shorts and shirt and buckskin shoes I presented myself, together with the Commander and Surgeon Commander, and a very pleasant couple of hours it was too. His wife is a nice old soul, who's always travelled around with him, and she's very interesting, she's been all over the world. She was saying how funny it is, some officers are abroad all the time, and others stay in England all the time; she even knows other Admirals who never go to sea. It's a queer Navy. Personally I'd just as soon come home now, I've had a couple of months holiday, I'm ready for a new job!

This afternoon (after I got away from Mr and Mrs Admiral) and this evening I've been sunning myself. It's slightly cooler down here, with a stiff breeze to take the heat out of the sun, and it's very pleasant lying out on my camp bed. Plenty of flying fish about today too. In two hours' time we cross the Equator (I hope we don't feel a bump!) and we've just had an ambassador on board from Father Neptune to find out how many people have to be presented at his court. We're going to have the real ceremony on our way back to Trinco; but tonight's thing was just an introduction, and there'll be an hour's fun and games tomorrow morning I expect. We rigged up microphones tonight, and a searchlight on the bows, and the ship was stopped while the ambassador climbed up over the side from the sea (actually, he came up over the side from a porthole below on the deck underneath) all dripping wet, dressed in a frogman's suit and seaweed. He made a long speech in verse to which the Captain replied, also in verse, and after promising to have a lot of fun in a few weeks' time he left and we carried on.

It's stupid, but it makes a change, and brightens up the poor sailor's dull life. It will be another lazy day tomorrow (no parades, I'm glad to say) so I hope to improve my suntan tomorrow afternoon. We put the clocks back half an hour this evening because we're going west now, across towards Africa. It makes life very complicated, all this clock changing. Now my love I'm going to bed early, probably to read for a bit. Goodnight Dear.

Sunday

Hello My Love. It poured with rain this morning from an overcast sky, still warm of course, although the rain made it seem cooler. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to lie out this afternoon, but it brightened up a bit, so I took my camp bed up, from one 'til half past three, it was blowing hard, but the wind was warm, so I just wore bathing trunks, which meant that I was able to lie there through three showers, after each of which the wind dried me off nicely. I didn't sleep much, but it's nice lying outside, being rocked by the motion of the ship. I'm going to a concert party rehearsal now (you should see my ginger wig.)

This evening is film night, I hope it goes well, I really go to watch the film, not mend it if it won't go properly. I don't seem to have much to tell you on this trip, there aren't any interesting fish or anything appearing at the moment, although tomorrow we should pass a large group of islands, somebody's Archipelago or something. Cheerio my love, I love you. Kiss the brats for me.

Your Ever-loving Ken xxxxxxx

[I think it was the Chagos Archipelago]

HMS Gambia in the Indian Ocean - Monday, May 30

Hello Darling,

We're rolling heavily tonight, it's surprising how you get used to it though, I can even stand on one leg and put my sock and shoe on, and still balance with the roll. Well we passed the Coral Atoll today, low and thick with palm trees, Diego Garcia, sounds wonderful doesn't. There was a rumour that we were going to stop for a few hours while the Admiral went on a fishing trip, and so that the lads could see a real coral island with a lagoon. We didn't stop though, and I was quite disappointed, for the second time today, the first was when I realised we weren't getting an afternoon off for Whit Monday, real slave drivers they are in this ship! It would have been lovely lying in the sun this afternoon. It's appreciably cooler down here, not such a sticky wet heat, the air is drier and the sun browns more, a much nicer climate.

Showers of flying fish too, it's wonderful to see a whole shoal leave the water together and skim over the surface, gleaming silver, they go quite a long way too until suddenly they meet a big wave and go straight into it.

There's been a lot of trouble on board about the lads' food. There have been complaints for some time, but it culminated this morning with 79 lads seeing the Commander to complain formally. Of course they've not been allowed to do it together, that's too much like mutiny, he had to see them all individually and hear their complaints. It took 2½ hours, and as 28 of them were my lads I had to stay throughout. What an endurance it was. I only hope they get some improvement though.

The film was depressing last night, though it did end happily (you know I hate films that don't), it was called "Background" a story of a family of three kids whose parents decided to get divorced, a real tear-jerker, with a strong moral message, but as I say it all turned out well in the end, they were reconciled, and all lived happily ever afterwards.

Tuesday 31st May

Hello My Lover,

Another long day today, we have to put the clocks back another hour, and being stupid instead of doing it at night so that we get an extra hour in bed, they're doing it now at six in the evening, which makes it ages to supper. Otherwise it's a fine day, very warm sun (92 degrees) and a very heavy swell, the ship is just wallowing along.

I'm putting in a photo that was taken some time ago, I think it was the first weekend in the Med. It was taken when I didn't know it, and I'd just sat up on my camp bed to pull my shorts up. The other chap is the pilot on board to get sea experience. He is only with us for six months and goes home next month, lucky chap. He's a jolly good sort too, very reasonable, a typical 'air' as opposed to the 'ship' lot.* It's a pity he's leaving, although he's pleased, he's going in command of a jet squadron.

Well tomorrow is my birthday and I there won't be any birthday treats! I hope there are some letters for me when we arrive at Mauritius, perhaps even the photos will be there. I'm not looking forward to Mauritius actually, there's an enormous programme of official functions and entertainments that I shall strive to keep clear of. My idea of enjoyment is a quiet car ride, swim and picnic, not a round of night clubs. In any event I'm more interested in animals and scenery than people.

[I think my Father found the flying side of the Navy less stuffy and more relaxed. I also think that his mind was beginning to look at the opportunities in electronical development in aircraft which interested him more in the future.]

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