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Date: July 6th 1942
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

Royal Naval Air Station,
Capetown, S.A.
July 6/42.

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have just got back from a week’s leave and feel a good deal better than I did. I was sort of able to get all the dirt and salt out of me from the long trip down. There were about ten of us sent out to homes in a place called Hermanus which is about eighty miles along the coast from Capetown. Ogilvy and myself stayed with some people called Milne. He is a retired mining engineer I believe and they seem to have lots of money, with a beautiful home, a nice car and all kinds of black servants. During the week we did just about everything we could do in that town. We climbed a mountain, (its grand to see mountains again), played golf an a very tough course, fished (we caught nothing but a thing called a cat-fish which looks exactly like a baby octopus) and even went in swimming although it is the middle of the winter in South Africa. They gave us beautiful food and I am afraid I ate too much. One nice thing they had which is a terrific luxury at home were these Avocado pears. They were served in halves with the core taken out and a tablespoon of vinegar in the hollow. We were really quite sorry to leave there as there wasn’t much here to come back to.

When we got back we found that Sutton (My roommate at Yeovil) had gone into the hospital to have an hernia operation. The doctor said he didn’t really need to have it done now but might as well as it would just gradually get worse. But he is perfectly O.K. as the operation was a complete success and he is getting very good treatment at the Naval hospital.

This station is not so good. We are getting very tired of the Food and our cabins are damp but so far nothing very serious in the way of colds has overtaken any of us. But I think we will all be glad to get out of here if we ever do.

By the way I got the parcel with the lighter and Flashlight long ago and I am sure I mentioned it in several letters. Thanks again.

I have had a few letters from you, forwarded from England. Thank you very much. Thanks for the picture of Jack. It is a dandy one and I am glad to have it. It was nice of the Air Ministry to send you some pictures of the Funeral and of Vincent Massey sending you the letter. All those little things help a lot. It was good of the old Caretaker to write too. He is the kind that will take good care of the place I am glad to say, especially as I am not there in England now,  and am unable to get to Doncaster once in a while to see about it.

I also got letters from Phyllis, Pauline and one grand letter from Aunt Grace. Phyllis had written shortly after her confinement and of course the letter was full of beautiful little Jane. You have told me a lot about her too and I must say I would love to see her. I bet she is the cutest thing ever. Pauline’s letter was a short one. She told me how Fraser shook them by going so suddenly but he’s a good kid and I think, doing the right thing. She mentioned about Walter Banford, too. That is too bad. Aunt Grace sent me a grand and comforting letter. Do thank her when you write and tell her that I appreciate it a lot. She didn’t tell me anything about herself. I hope she is getting better.

By the way I am glad you felt free to use some of my money for your trip. I am glad to be able to help you even that much and I do want you to use it any time if you need it.

 It must have shaken Mrs. Boomer to hear about Lois’ plans. But I have heard people talking about the chap and I believe he is a good type. I am glad that Lois is doing this because I was getting afraid that she was going to fly from one boy friend to another without ever settling down.

There is not a great deal to do in Capetown. It just livens up when a troop convoy is in. They have open house all over the town then and seem to go all out to try and entertain the troops and it is really quite nice. I have been taking a girl named “Cuckoo” out. (That is certainly a funny name but she is quite a nice girl). She was a friend of Earnie Gaunts, but he has left now so I stepped in.

Aunt Grace in her letter mentioned what someone had once sent to her when her brother had been killed “Thy brother shall rise again.” I have just read John 11 where the words appear and it is a great comfort and a comfort, unfortunately, that most people do not have. It helps me to think that you have that to fall back on and as you say, Mother, it just cannot cause bitterness.

I must close this now as it is after 11 and I must get some sleep. Let me know how this air-mail works. I sent a short letter dated July 3rd by ordinary mail and I wish you would tell me if it is any advantage sending them this way. The pictures are self explanatory.

All my love

[postscript] Give my love to Phyllis.

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of 1942-07-06 from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC