S/L R.H. Gray
Royal Naval Air Station,
Wingfield, Capetown, S.A.
Dear Mother and Dad,
At last we have reached the end of our journey and are settled here for a time at any rate. This will take a bit of time to reach you but I do hope that you won’t have been worried too much as you are bound to know where I am. I cabled you when I came ashore so you will have that. I am going to send this Air-Mail. It is a bit expensive but it may be worth it especially as sea-mail will take such a long time. I wish I could hear from you. I have not had any mail for over eight weeks now and it takes a long time to follow us when we move so I do not expect any for some time.
I told you most things about the trip down that I could tell you. On the whole it was a bit dull with the ship quite crowded and very little for us to do. However, we got here safely which is the main thing.
We spent a day and night in Durban. It is a very beautiful, sub-tropical town and the only trouble was that the night we were there they had a black-out which seriously curtailed our activities. But it was nice to get to a place where we could order the food we wanted and just generally get back to something like peace-time conditions again. In the afternoon we went for a swim in a big open-air pool there and enjoyed it a great deal. It is really winter-time in S.A. of course but Durban is just like California and it is very mild all winter. We had fun riding around the town in Rickshaws pulled by the natives wearing huge headdress and all painted up with their war-paint.
Capetown is not nearly as nice a city nor is the climate so good. It has been raining buckets since we arrived and only the last couple of days have been a bit better. It is a typical sea-port town which I think usually spoils a place but if we get to know some people it may not be so bad. Since we arrived here we have been doing a lot of eating out, filling up on steaks and things just as we used to do in Canada. But it is not like Canada, enough. All it does is make me wish still more that I was there. However I am even farther away now than before so it is even less use talking that way. One nice thing that South Africa does is to make us Honorary-members of most of the Clubs. We can go to the social Clubs, play Golf and Tennis for nothing, etc. It is very nice indeed and it helps a lot. Yesterday we went out riding. You will remember the last time I was riding. This time it was not quite so bad as I had a horse that seemed to have a little easier motion and did not arrive home quite so sore. I also got the whole business taped a little better this time. So if I go out a few more times I should be alright. The country we were riding through was hilly and just like Canada in spots. But you may be sure I have met nothing that makes me want to stay away from B.C. Anything that does that will have to be good.
One other thing of interest has happened here. I met a Canadian Nurse on the street and of course, spoke to her. You have no idea how delighted she was to hear a Canadian voice again and of course, I was happy too. Anyway I went out to their home for tea that evening and had a grand chat with her. Apparently there are about 150 nurses here in the country so I shall probably run into a lot more before I leave.
We ran into Cowan down here. You will find him in the Yeovilton picture. He is rather lucky because his home is here. He took some of us out and we met his Mother. She had been evacuated from Burma some time ago and was pretty annoyed to think of the Japs using her home. Mr. Cowan was a big tin mine engineer in Burma. She was thankful as apparently he had just managed to get out of Burma a few hours ahead of the enemy. Cowans sister has a baby daughter (Barbara) who is just nine months old so I got an idea what Jane will look like in a short time. We also found Gaunt here but he has left for Alexandria I believe. It is amazing how we split up and then come together again six thousand miles away.
The station we are at is not too bad although there is practically nothing to do. During the rain our sheets got extremely damp and it is a wonder we are all not down with colds. But we expect to get a week’s leave and get away from it all for a short while.
You will remember Sutton, the boy I roomed with at Worthydown. He has had to go and have a hernia operation which apparently will put him out of action for about three months. He feels very badly about it but feels he might just as well have it done now. He had his appendix out and the doctor says that weakened the abdominal wall. He hates to think of losing touch with all of us.
A lot of the South African people are very worried here. Apparently most of the Tobruk garrison were South Africans from this district so that there are a lot of relatives and friends to be accounted for.
I do hope that you are both feeling a bit better now. It seems so useless of me to sit here writing to you when I should be there helping you personally but you will perhaps not be feeling quite so blue now that the first shock is over. But I keep thinking of Jack all the time. People say things all the time that remind me of him. I am missing him more all the time and you will be too. But God is helping us all and we have a grand daughter, daughter and niece to think about now.
I will finish now and hope that this letter reaches you quickly. Give my love to everyone around Nelson and to the Westminster people. And especially to Phyllis, Ed and Jane when you write them. Tell Phyllis I shall be writing her directly. I wrote you some letters aboard ship and put Air-Mail on them. But do not be angry if they do not come Air-Mail as we did not put postage on them and they might have gone ordinary mail.
Much love to you both,