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Date: May 1942
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

Canadian Fleet Mail Office
10 Haymarket,
[annotation, origin unknown, of erroneous date: “March 1942”]

Dear Mother and Dad,

We are now getting fairly near to our destination after a quite long and tiresome trip. I sent a letter to you from the last port of call which you should get. I hope you don’t go too long a time without letters and probably by now you are wondering a bit what is happening, although I did try to let you know by various means. However long before you get this I shall have sent a cable to you informing you where I am etc. and after you get this letter you should be getting them regularly again although of course they will take longer.

As you will know we are going to be stationed in South Africa although what our duties will be we don’t know for sure. We do know that we will be flying though whether it will be from land bases or from the carriers we cannot say yet. But we are all very pleased about it. Canada would have been better perhaps but everyone says that South Africa is a grand country where we will enjoy things a lot. Also I see there is no food rationing so we shall start eating steaks again. Mind you I don’t look as if I am starving by any means but I do like the odd steak. The only trouble is that I am still farther from home but we cannot help that really.

I told you in my last letter about my visit to the Sheldons and meeting Harry so if you did not get that letter let me know and I shall tell you about it again. The above address may not be the best one for South Africa. You had better send them to the address I give you when I get there, They have just established the C.F.M.F. and our mail no longer goes to Canada House. And find out too if there is Air Mail service to S.A. There may be one via England and there may be one via South America.

The trip so far has been rather dull. We have had no sight of the enemy, all we have seen is the sea and we are all just a bit tired of it. We are over the equator now and back into our blue uniforms as it is again getting colder. As you know when it is summer at home it is winter down here but I don’t believe it quite such a severe one as at home. However I can tell you more about that when we find out more about it.

I hope I get some more news of Jane soon. I have not heard from Phyllis yet except for the wire and all the information I have is from your letters. Is she lucky, Dad, in taking after her mother. You will by now have been up there to see them all and will undoubtedly have written to tell me all about it. Phyllis will have been able to write by now too.

I do hope, too, that your trip has helped you both in easing the sorrow of the last few months. You both have something which helped you when the first shock came but by now a reaction will have set in and you will be feeling so very lonely. It really is the Families of the boys who suffer in war time. When anything happens to us it happens quickly but the parents and wives must suffer long afterwards. All we can hope is that all this sacrifice is not in vain. Still you have one great satisfaction. You brought up Jack to be a fine man and although he is gone there can be no bad memories of him in anyone’s mind. You only have to talk to people that knew him. They all tell you how much Jack meant to them and how much he could do to cheer people up. You know all this but I like to talk about him to you as there is no one with me who knew him. As Pete said in his letter “if there were more like Jack we would not be in the spot we are in now!”

I am sharing my cabin with a lad called [Gary?]. He is only twenty years old but he got engaged just before he left home. It is funny to hear him talking about it. Another chap called Clarke (you will find him on the last big pictures I sent you got engaged too. He is wondering what he will do down in South Africa for awhile as he spent three months pay buying a ring. So far the right girl has not come along for me, however so do not worry.

The last few days we have been taking part in ship-sports. The fleet-air-arm officers entered teams for all the events and we won two of them but gave our prize money to the second place teams as they were privates in the army. We had a sack race which we lost in the first round, also tug-of-war. We won the potato race which is a relay race carrying the potato on a spoon and also won the tunnel ball where you pass the ball between the legs and the last man runs up to the front. We had a good time doing it and as we were the only officers indulging the soldiers liked it. It has made the time pass quickly for the last few days.

You might like to look up the boys in the picture Clarke, Beeston, Harris, Broadbent, Sutton, Ogilvy, Brook and myself are on this ship. Gaunt, [Hadman?], and [Cheer?] are on another ship and there may be others. It is quite a good group.

I shall write again as soon as we get to our station. This letter will go from aboard ship.

All my love,


[Editor’s note: The date annotation of “March 1942” is inconsistent with the letter’s contents, such as the references to Hampton being en-route to South Africa, which place the time of writing as May of 1942.]

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of May 1942, from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC