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Date: January 13th 1943
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

c/o H.M.S. Illustrious,
G.P.O. London.

Dear Mother and Dad,

I got another of these things today, the first one for four weeks and I was glad to hear from you again. Christmas has now passed but it was not quite like a home Christmas. Still we had a good dinner and I was not really too unhappy. As I told you in my last one the Captain acted[?] as Santa Claus and I got a funny little [lace cap?] like the natives wear. It will be useful to keep the hair out of my eyes. I was glad to hear of all the babies doing well but was shocked to hear about Betty Grimes. What a shame it is. I suppose some men get like that after they are married. What a pity she did not know beforehand. I can tell you now less than I ever could before about my work as you can see by the address. (By the way we are not allowed to put the date on.) But it is good to be on a ship and I am enjoying the work far more than I ever did before. Somehow on a ship I feel more settled and also feel that after nearly two years training at last I am doing something worth while. But even this is not as good as being at home. I would like to be able to get a few days in Nelson so I could tell everyone all about it. And it would be nice to taste some of your cooking again, Mother. Still if our present successes continue maybe the war won’t last a great deal longer and then I’ll be there. I suppose you will be just recovering from all the Christmas work in the store, Dad. I am sorry to hear that you are having to do the watchmaking yourself. Don’t strain yourself with it. I know that it is a full time job in itself and I would be as glad to hear that you had managed to get a man. But I suppose that is just about impossible at present. Still, do take it easy, won’t you. – I managed to get away the other day for a bicycle ride. A chap called Brown and I hired bikes and went up the coast for a way to a place where we could have a swim in the nude. The swim was O.K. but I am getting too old for bikes, I guess, and I arrived back pretty tired. Still it does not do the waist-line any harm and if I have the chance I shall do more of it. I do hate the tropics, though, and just would not dream of living in a climate like this in peace-time. We are always sweating away and cannot keep our clothes decent. I would love to get on a decent suit and feel comfortable in it again. Pauline sent me a letter. She says she is getting married in June. He had better be a good chap because he is getting a good wife.

Much love to all,


[Editor’s note: The envelope’s postmark has been used for dating the letter.]

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of 1943-01-13 from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC