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Date: January 19th 1943
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

R.H. Gray S/Lt
℅ F.M.O., Kilindini.
Jan. 19.

Dear Mother and Dad,

I just got today a terrific piece of old mail that has taken a very long time indeed to get here. There were about twelve letters from you, two from Peter, two from Pauline and one from Phyllis. Incidentally one of the ones from you was written on Nov. 2/41 which puts it just a bit out of date. However I have just spent about an hours good reading and there are all kinds of little things in them that I had forgotten about or had missed. You will see by the address that we are off the ship again. We are all very disappointed about it as we were getting used to the life and liked it a lot. We felt a bit as if we might as well give up and not try any more but we got over that. We were really a good squadron and were doing a good job. However that is how this Navy works and we get finally so that we just leave everything in the hands of the Admiralty and don’t worry about everything. Another complaint is that Tanga is even hotter than it was before and we are not yet in the worst season for that. Malaria is very prevalent after the rainy season and there are something like five new cases each day. I have not had any of it yet, fortunately. The other day a few of us hired a car and went out to visit some people called Mumford whom we had met in Tanga at different times. They have a place about thirty miles up the coast. We had a grand time playing tennis, sitting around, and having a wonderful roast turkey dinner. It was grand to get away for a change. In one of your letters, Mother, you mentioned how bad the roads were. Well, here, they are much worse. I imagine they are still like they were at home the time you got stuck at China Creek, Mother. In the rainy season they become quite impassible. But they don’t seem to worry a bit about it here. They think nothing of sitting for eight hours on the road waiting for it to be repaired. Mrs. Mumford was telling me how they used to come to Tanga years ago. They only had a motorbike which would not climb the hills with two aboard. Mr. M. would leave Mrs. M. at the bottom and ride up and wait at the top for her to catch him. Mr. Mumford has walked the whole distance for doctors or something when there was no other way to do it. I don’t suppose everyone out here takes it as casually as they do. I am sure I would not. They work a sisal plantation. Sisal is a fibre used for making rope and since Malayan hemp is gone it has become very important. Everyone out here is making a fortune out of it but that is just their good luck as the market in peace-time is quite limited. – I got a lot of these things from you up to a little while ago but they seem to have stopped lately. I hope you can still get them as they are by far the best thing at the moment. They can come much more directly and swiftly. I only hope mine are going as quickly in the other direction.

Gaunt, Sutton, Ogilvy and a lot of others have left recently. I don’t know where to but I suspect they have gone back to England. I don’t think there are any of the boys whose pictures you have, left here now. I also got an old number of the fraternity paper. In it was a very nice message of sympathy to us about Jack. It was nice of them to think of it. If they did not send you a copy please let me know and I will send you the clipping from it. – [annotation “(”] Pete mentioned [annotation )” and initials “MB”?] a letter from you. Here are his words “Yesterday I received a very nice, interesting and informative letter from your mother in answer to one from me. Your mother is a thinking sincere lady and her letter did me a lot of good. She has great faith in the lord, something which many of us lack, to our sorrow.” I think that was very nice of him and how right he is about you. – We wear shorts all the time here and we were having a discussion about how silly it is not to wear them in the hot weather at home. It really is a good rig but I can imagine myself shaking the natives of Nelson appearing in shorts. I remember how we used to laugh at people dressed like that. – I hope you are not working too hard, Dad. I do wish you could get a watchmaker. It is too much for you to be doing it. By the look of the news lately we may be home sooner than we expect. We are not doing too badly anywhere at the moment. I hope it keeps up –

Love to you both,

[postscript at top of first page:] My regards to the Kelmans. Thank Charlie for his letter and tell him I am writing


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

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of 1943-01-19 from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC