"TABOO" DIARY OF SYD CLARK, RAN; RADIO & LATER RADAR OPERATOR
Residing at Cleveland, Q 4163 during Aug
Compiled, Edited & Corrected by
Dr.Pat.ffyske Howden (tel/fax 07-34095100), Son of then Hobart Skipper
Capt.Harry L. Howden
LEGEND: EPO = GPO. H =
Helen Cole. Leigh = Helen's brother. Mrs.C = Helen's mum. Rita Clark
= Syd's sister.
Betty Brooker or BB = 2nd Cousin.
Jack Clark = Syd's youngest brother. YL = young
HA = high angle, LA = low angle = 40deg.
EI = East Indies frequency.
NEI = Netherlands East Indies.
SDO = Signals Distribution Office on HMAS Hobart.
BII = ?
BSSI = British Soldiers and Sailors Institute.
TO Trained Operator. Tel = Telegraphist.
WT3 = Wireless Telegraphist. ED = Excused Duty.
DF = direction finding.
KPH/KTS = west coast USA news station in Morse.
GBR Rugby UK radio station.
RI = Radio Inspector to obtain radio operator's
SSO = Senior Signals Officer.
'Y' = reading enemy's radio Morse signals which may
need subsequent decoding.
GI = Garden Island docks.
A/C or a/c = aircraft or aircraft carrier.
G.O.H. = Grand Oriental Hotel fronting harbour,
R.N.H. = Royal Naval House. H.F., L.F. = high, low
R.P.O. = Regulating Petty Officer = ship's cop.
Sun 3 Sept 1939:
During the past few days we have been experiencing a period of strained
relations with Germany. On Friday evening Hitler and his minions invaded
Poland; a few hours later Britain and France sent an ultimatum to
Germany saying "If German troops are not withdrawn from Poland,
Ambassadors concerned are to ask for their passports and WE WILL fulfil
our obligations". A satisfactory reply was not expected and
fulfilment of obligations means war. "We are ready" says
Chamberlain. Ships of the R.A.N. are ready also. This morning I returned
to the ship by 8:25 ferry after a telephone conversation with H. We were
very surprised to see the ship being made ready for sea: gangways were
being taken in and telephone cables had been disconnected. At 9:30 we
slipped and a few minutes later were at sea wearing only the white
ensign as wearing of the jack is discontinued during war. Paravanes were
streamed on leaving the heads and a few minutes later we had turned
southward. Radio staff went into four straight watches immediately
Sydney was left behind. There are various rumours as to where we are
bound, but as yet nothing definite. The most pressing question at
present is "when will the British and French declare war?".
The reply to the above question came at 8:50 p.m., but I was unaware
that war had been declared until called for the morning watch at 4 am.
Mon 4: The
morning was fairly quiet and I attempted to write a letter to H but
found it impossible until during the forenoon. As yet we do not know
when we can send or receive mail. This afternoon the news of the
torpedoing of the Athenia was received. She was torpedoed without
warning 200m west of the British Hebrides islands with 1400 passengers
aboard. So far no news of any casualties. When it was announced that the
Postman was ready for the sale of stamps there was a great rush and his
supply was exhausted in a few minutes. Three hundred Germans living in
Australia were arrested today and are to be interned in a camp near
This afernoon identification discs
were issued to us.
Tue 5: Today
is cloudy and the sea looks dark and forbidding. We have been working
farther and farther south during the last few hours until now we are
just off Logan Island in Bass Strait (lpm). This we circled apparently
looking for enemy merchantmen. Maybe we are looking for the Enderglen
which was reported in these parts short of coal. Our main recreation now
is reading and many of the boys are ardent Mah Jong-ists. Cards are not
at all popular at present although they usually are on a cruise.
Hoping for a letter from H but there
is not much hope as she does not know where to address any mail.
Although I am now flat broke I would welcome a run ashore at
Wed 6: Fairly
good weather, passed Wilson's Promontory light at 7am. Westbound and
quite close to shore. Had to see the Doc again today as measles contact;
whole mess involved.
Still no sign of enemy ships, but Voyager
was sighted during the forenoon. Four-inch gun's crews are constantly
standing by and watches are being kept in the crows nest. Some of the
watchers say they will have the old hen crows eggs hatched for her
before we enter port if the entering is not done pretty soon. It is
funny how thoughts of some people keep popping up. H is ever in my mind,
must phone her if I get the opportunity in VIM (Melbourne). We arrived
at Williamstown (Nelson Pier) at 5:15 and leave was granted from 6:45.
At the station the crush proved too heavy for one man and as tickets to
Melbourne had run out many had to take the train without them. Arrived
at Aunt Ivy's at about 7:30 and whilst she was cooking me some tea I
booked a phone call to H in Sydney. Sat talking to Uncle George and Dot
Haynes in the sitting room until 9:05 when I left to take my call across
the road; the call did not come through and as the shopkeeper wanted to
shut up her shop I went into the E.P.0. for it . Immediately I had
spoken to H I returned aboard by the next available train.
Thu 7: From
Williamstown to Princes Pier Port Melbourne at 9:30. Squared up with Vic
Truman, R.N.H. and sent 10/- to Richmond for transport of my gear.
Received cheque for 2:10. from Wireless Weekly. Leave was only granted
from 4:30 until 11pm. Not much anyone but natives going ashore and they
are tied by the early return and cannot stay the night with their
people. Sail at 2pm tomorrow.
Morning watch and it was quiet so we listened to a Radio program of old
wartime songs like "Lord send you back to me", "Pack up
your troubles" and others played by 3AK, our all-nighter. At 8:30
this morning ships at Port were, City of Manchester (4"
guns) Port Townsville (4"), Strathnaver (4" and
smaller), Mariposa (US), Vampire and Hobart.
Yesterday when we moved from Nelson Pier there were no ships here at
all. The weather this morning was beautiful. Sunny and with hardly a
ripple on the water, no cloud and no wind. A light wind sprang up during
the forenoon and at mid-day was quite strong. I went up on deck and lay
basking in the sun, sheltered from the wind by the breakwater and A
turret. Immediately after divisions, all hands not actually on watch
were piped to P. on the pier and Oh boy was it a picnic. As a climax
they gave us a run around on the wharf and then we all fell in and came
aboard again. 1pm saw the paymaster and I banked some money including
£2 of the cheque from Radio & Hobbies mag. Also made arrangements
to have £2 banked automatically each payday.
Sat 9: Drew
10/- from bank and went ashore, visited Betty B. Mrs.Leeden, Gwen and
Reg at football match. Ken still at Lord Howe Island but has been
recalled. Next went to Uncle Bert's and found no one home. Immediately
afterwards went out to Ascot Vale to see the Heather family. Returned to
the city and tried to get into a theatre to see a show but was too late,
so went to the Albany Coffee lounge and spent an hour there after which
I saw a newsreel show at the Tatler. Very amusing Donald Duck short
"The better side of his nature". The CQ (amateur radio
contact) hi kid made by the devil in the piece was particularly amusing.
From there I returned to the ship whilst Bill and Eileen went away to
round off the evening.
Sun 10: Bitingly
cold weather, during the forenoon we had church on the pier. It was so
cold that the response was even chillier than usual. Sydney papers were
available during the forenoon and shortly afterwards mail arrived; there
was a letter posted a few days ago (8th) in Hobart. Still no sign of a
letter from H. I posted another one to her yesterday at Brunswick, very
illegal but hang the censors.
Another very cold day. Sailed bright and early, 6:23am. I awoke at 6:45
to find the ship on her way down the bay. A couple of hours later we
passed thru the Rip and immediately breasted a heavy swell. Turned
eastward and with the sea abeam things became worse. Was a bit sick but
didn't lose any food; some of the rockies (rough waves) were pretty bad.
At lunchtime the ship was performing horribly and we lost our jug of
custard, then after cleaning it up a particularly bad one caught us and
upset the table. Very little damage was done but, there was quite a mess
to clean up. When the northern turn had been made the motion lessened
considerably and things became much more comfortable. During the rough
stuff, however, one fellow going aft slipped on the wet deck and went
sliding quickly towards the rail. We all expected him to fall over but
he did not; instead he retained his balance and sat on his heels with
one hand out in front of him to grasp the rail when he arrived there.
The rest of our northward patrol uneventful.
Tue 12: We
met the Canberra at 11:15 and carried out manoeuvres with her.
Gunnery practices, day and night firing then we left her about 8pm and
turned south once more. The meeting was memorable in so far as all our
salvos were straddles. The southward trip was uneventful with a calm
sea, a cold wind and overcast sky.
Arrived off Queenscliff at about 9pm. We expect to enter soon. First
watch. Will begin letter to H if possible. Anchored off Queenscliff at
Thu 14: Embarked
practice ammunition and then put to sea again for H.A. firings off the
heads. After which we went to Williamstown for oil. Leave from 5:15pm
but not for me as I am duty. Letters received from H and R. Stock.
Replied to Rene tonight and added a P.S. to the one I wrote H last
Posted letters via E.P.0. to H, R.S. and Fred P. Shopped; bought macrame,
stockings and other small items. Had snap taken for mailing to Kay.
Visited Gordon Duck, Then to Nth Melbourne Seamens mission where we
spent a few happy moments at a dance there. Received mail from H, Aunt
Ivy, Sis and receipt from Vic T.
Ashore at 1pm. Letters to H and Aunt Ivy posted. Also cards to Kay
Juranic. Visited Mother, then Betty B where cards were played until
late. I stayed there the night. Foster Hillman and his YL Ada were
there, also Dick Miller the drunk who blew in about 7pm was rather
amusing - said he had had 30/- worth of liquor when he visited Betty's.
Sun 17: Back
aboard at 8:45 but leave did not expire until 9:50. Divisions and then
church on the pier. After reading Sydney Sunday Sun wrote letters to
Rita & H, giving them together with a Birthday present for Bet to
one of the boys to post.
Torpedoing of HMS Courageous reported; she evidently had a
reduced complement aboard and most of the crew are said to have been
rescued by Destroyers. Courageous was an Aircraft Carrier
converted from a cruiser built originally in 1916. Converted 1929.
Normally carried complement of 1100 with 48 aircraft. Armament
16x4.7" H.A./L.A. guns and a number of smaller. It is also reported
that Destroyers sank the Sub that did the damage. Left Melbourne at 9am.
and proceeded down the bay for subcalibre firings. Our aircraft was
reported to have engine trouble about 2:30pm. Landed safely near ship
and was then embarked. Left Mornington for Burnie at 6:30pm. Rough.
Anchored off Burnie at 9:30am and left again at 4:30pm on a
northeasterly course. Very rough and cold, quite a few chaps seasick.
Wed 20: Morning
watch. Made will out naming Rita and Jack as beneficiaries; Uncle Bert
Thu 21: Carried
out full calibre shoot off Sydney Heads with Canberra. Arrived Sydney
about 1pm; duty. Letter from H.
Sydney: ashore at 4pm. Bought transmitter crystal 7.187Mc. Met H at 5:45
Circular Quay; dinner at Plaza and then to Plaza Theatre to see Joan
Blondell and Melvyn Douglas in "Good Girls go to Paris"
Supported by "Torchy plays with dynamite" - good.
Ashore at 12:30pm. Changed and across to 43. We all slept during
afternoon for couple of hours. H and I then went to dance at Cremorne
Regent. Intended to go to Trocadero but decided it too dangerous in
civilian clothes. Glad afterwards that I chose the Regent. Mac says the
Troc was so crowded that one could hardly move. Back to shakedown at
R.N.H. by 12:40 tram Very enjoyable evening. Gear now safe and sound at
43. Thank God for such friends.
Sun 24: Back
aboard 8:25 ferry. Divisions and Church as usual. FD 1st & morning
watch. Writing Betty B. General Von Fritsch reported killed in fight for
Leave from 4pm. Dance at Rawson Institute. Phyllis says her Mother and
Father are on thair way back and expect to arrive in Sydney next
Wednesday. Had good time after which H and I made tracks for Cremorne.
Mrs.C and Leigh just returned from pictures and greet us on our arrival.
12:40 tram as usual.
Tue 26: To
sea at 9:30. A very unpleasant surprise. H and I were to have gone to a
show tonight but now impossible. Thank God that she will understand when
I don't turn up. Piped that we are bound for Cape Byron. Expect to
return to Sydney 10:30 Thursday 28th. Now operating H.F., better than
L.F. taking it all round.
Wed 27: At
sea, calm, zigzagging, gunnery drills.
Thu 28: Sea
until 9:30 when we arrived at Sydney. Raining, bad visibility, exercises
cancelled. Leave from 1pm. H & I to see "East Side of
Heaven" at Victory theatre as support movie. George Formby in
"Keep your seats please". Note to Jim Price. From Betty,
letters Florrie, A.W.Valve Co.
Fri 29: Post
from H & Rita. Leave 4:30. H at Bridge party, yours truly with her
for tea. Spent an enjoyable hour and half at VK2ZB radio station. Bought
Lissen Hi-Q dial. Note re meters.
Usual routine, to sea at 12:30. Most glad that I saw H last night, we
miss each other very much but that cannot be helped and we both realise
it. Reported we return Sydney Monday; hope it's true.
Sun Oct 1 1939:
Sea off Queensland coast. Wrote Florrie. Calm, sunny and uneventful.
Arrived Sydney. Leave from 11:30. Public holiday. As luck would have it
H had accepted an invitation to go out with some friends and so my luck
was definitely out. Saw her for a few minutes during the afternoon
before she met her friends. Spent the evening at Rawson Institute dance,
won statue dance with Joan P. Wrote Crown Radio to buy parts to make
radios at Flinders Naval Depot (where Capt. Howden was later in
Tue 3: Duty,
middle watch. Letters to Rita and Elsie Benson.
Ashore 12:45pm at Leigh's during afternoon, his Mother there. Met H
Circular Quay at 5:45. Dinner at Wynyard Grill room and then to see
Sonja Henie in "Second Fiddle". "Charlie Chan at Treasure
Island" as support with actor Sydney Toler.
Thu 5: To
sea for exercises and south coast patrol.
Fri 6: Sea
patrolling. Letters to Rita and Betty.
Arrived Sydney at 07:10. Uneventful.
Sun to Fri:
Alongside G.I. doing short refit. No report of doings ashore.
Sat 14: Left
Sydney northward bound for Singapore sailing Oct 15, 16, 17. Arrived
Darwin. 09:45, Oct 18 off Cape Flattery, Lizard Island. 19 Oct rounded
Cape York at 10:00 today and turned westward. Almost lost paravane in
Strait. 20 Oct sea uneventful.
Reached Darwin today and spent a few hours there. Officers the only
people who got ashore - Big Bill came back aboard drunk. No inward mail
but I managed to get some away to H, BB, & Richmond. Sailed at 4pm
for Singapore. After dark I lay on the forecastle for a while just
watching the stars and thinking of H and Sydney; some of the glorious
nights we spent together before we left for the north. Had to wear
Helmets to Divisions for the first time and they had the mike rigged to
the type 404-type valve power amplifier gear.
Mon 23: At
sea, exercised night action and took second inoculation.
Passed Bali 5:45am. Spent a short time up on deck watching the dolphins
and flying fish. British station GYL now good strength on 88.2; nothing
Wed 25: At
sea calm sunny, nil.
Rained during the middle and morning watches. There was a false alarm at
action stations this morning caused by the appearance of a Dutch
Crossed the equator at 4:15am this
morning. Arrived Singapore at 5pm and secured alongside oiler Apple
Leaf. Airmail to Australia 1/9A via Imperial and 2/3 via K.L.M.
Ordinary mail to be marked "On Active Service" and sent in
"The Last Hero" by Leslie
Charteris. Another Saint book and very good too. The lights of Johore
can be seen just across the strait which at this point is only about 4
hundred yards wide. A viaduct spans it and some of us were hoping to be
able to go over and have a look around Malaya but we were prevented by
the quarantine. Mumps is the cause. In any case leave would only have
been to the canteen.
Fri 27: Off
dockyard at anchor, provisioning. etc. Otherwise uneventful. Repairing
damage done to aerials last night by Lt.Cdr.Johns and his efficient
handling of the crane.
Sat 28: In
stores. Left Singapore at 2pm for patrol in vicinity of Sumatra. Expect
to return on Nov 5th, Birmingham to keep us company.
Sun 29: Says
the press: Admiral Scheer is loose in the Atlantic and Indian
Oceans. Uneventful, exercises.
Mon 30: Calm
Informed that pay will be in local currency with sterling value. This
brings mine up to a value of £5.16.6A. At 7:45 Walrus amphibian (Pusser's
Duck"), insignia A2-23 crashed near the ship on landing. Although
on watch at the time I was up on deck soon afterwards to witness the
salvage efforts. Extensive damage was done to the forepart of the hull
and she was brought alongside upside down. After an unsuccessful attempt
to hoist inboard, during which a hawser parted, the job was carried out
successfully by attaching wires to catapult points and lifting very
slowly on the crane. The plane was inboard by 9pm and as soon as the
cutter was hoisted and the 'plane made fast we were again under way.
Wed Nov I 1939:
Partial dismantling was done last night and the rest today. Last night
although I never mentioned it all the crew were rescued safely. And so
Dave's prophecy came true. Finished reading "The Sailor's
Holiday" a book by Eric Linklater. It was not a very good story at
all. Another by Arnold Bennet, Helen with the high hand was very good
Thu 2: Paid
today in Straits Settlement currency, $18.
Fri 3: Bound
for Singapore again, uneventful.
Passed boom gate at 6:15 oiled and down to wharf alongside at 11am.
Wrote H and the Public Trustee. In mail, nothing from H but a letter
from VK2AGU (amateur "ham" radio station) written before we
left Sydney turned up. Leave to Temporary canteen ashore from 16:30 and
we were warned not to contact anyone ashore or everything would be
spoiled, as mumps should be isolated.
No one to go to Singapore. Beer then
served at No 1 sports ground about two miles away. "Tiger" was
the brand but it was very poor stuff. Some people thought they could get
through a lot and bought dozens of bottles. Many were wasted. Bought two
tickets in the Sweep; hope I have some luck.
Sun 5: Leave
to canteen (not allowed off ship because of rubella) as for yesterday.
Many of the fellows went to Singapore or Johore despite the ban on such
escapades. Duty. No 1 girls were much in demand: it beats me how a white
man can lower his dignity enough to have intercourse with a Chinese.
Maybe there is something in the old adage "Sailors don't
care". I still prefer Blondes - H is one.
Tue 7: Last
night the 'Ship's Company Sweep' on the Melbourne Cup was drawn. What a
swindle! Owing to the manner in which the sweep was drawn, the draw
favoured those first on the list. Officers and Petty Officers being
first, naturally they had the best chances. Officers 9 horses, C &
POs 8 horses out of 28 runners. The other 11 were whatcked (shared) up
amongst the rest of the ship's Coy. I drew Frill Prince in the small
sweep. Cup results were made public a little after 16:00 and I had no
luck. Danny Ward of Maffra (Victorian town) won the ships Coy Sweep.
Wed 8 Nov:
Departed Singapore 14:30 in company of HMS Eagle. A few minutes
after clearing harbour she began landing Fairey Swordfish
aircraft which had been practicing formation flying around the two ships
since about 16:00. A number of us were up on the fo'csle watching the
procedures. All the aircraft made good three pointers and it was an
experience to see then landing. After four planes had landed we were a
bit close in to an island so we went about at 18:00 and returned down
wind for a few minutes. Then resumed our previous course & the
others landed. An airmail arrived for us today but no letters from
Helen. I felt disappointed that I did not get a letter. It is rumoured
in the ship that a merchantman we nearly ran down last week was a
German. Some say she was flying a German ensign when first sighted and
that she hoisted three Dutch ensigns and made for Dutch territorial
waters when she saw us. When she saw she could not get close enough she
made a smart turn and crossed our bows. They say that when 'Torps' told
the skipper she was a Nazi he laughed and said not to be ridiculous.
Tonight they announced that we are bound for Colombo and ETA Sunday
11th. Hope we actually go to Colombo and not to Trincomalee as I should
like to find Norma X Fred's YL. Should be quite possible to find her if
we get any leave, but we will probably be quarantined again as we still
have mumps aboard.
Today a piece appeared in the news regarding the acute food shortage in
Nazi Germany. I hope it is true and that the war will soon end so
allowing us to return home. At midday we were almost up to the northern
end of Sumatra. During the forenoon exercises were carried out with
aircraft from Eagle and action stations sounded. The day was fine
except for a sharp shower about 13:30. Clocks were put back 50 minutes
at 19:00. I did quite a lot of Helen's bag today and hope to have it
finished soon (Macrame) I should be able to send it to her from Colombo.
Fri 10: We
entered the East Indies Station at 02:30 and a few minutes later took
over on EI frequencies. Bombay Fort, Colombo and Aden to listen out for
and quite a job on HF as they do not keep special routines but, come up
any time. They are not very particular about call signs either and the
surest way to tell who is called or calling is to listen for the
The system in use was called the
'Intercept Method' The shore stations would send signals from one to the
other and back again depending upon the shore station's assessment of
the most likely 'pair' to provide the ship for whom the message was
intended the best path.
The signal received and most of them
did not concern us, have all to be partially decoded and the pile in the
SDO has been growing steadily since we entered the station, even though
the signalmen have been working overtime on them.
NB. After a few days decoding all the
coders became very adept at ascertaining the addressees and only
completing those intended for us.
Still at sea; no Captain's rounds. 2 messmates received a kit muster and
one with two hours extra work for skulking. Gloucester in company
with Eagle & Hobart. We should sight Ceylon about
16:00. Speed 20k approx. Notice advising Airmail to be posted early
& sender's name & parcel weight to be marked thereon so postman
can charge. Currency Rupee (Ceylon) = 100 cents. Value 1/6s (l8dS, par
exchange rate). This afternoon the Skipper Capt.Howden said a few words
to us and said we should be on the EI station for an indefinite period.
Told the geographical limits of the station & the steps he had taken
to ensure a regular mail service. Lying on the upper deck & watching
the stars, my thoughts go back to Sydney & Helen. "In the Still
of the Night" is not very appropriate here thousands of miles from
home as we are. Still it would be worse to be in the North sea instead
of fairly secure on the EI station. By the latest PX ("supermart")
news it looks as if Holland, Belgium and probably Switzerland will be
involved in the conflict before long. If Holland, that means the NEI
will probably give Japan an opening for a "Coup de Grace".
Then it will be exceedingly hard for Russia & the USA to remain out
much longer. Unless it ends very soon I firmly believe the whole world
will be involved before long.
Arrived Colombo 08:30 preceded by Gloucester & Eagle.
Sloop also present name unknown. Noticed a few white people on the mole,
apparently tourists. We did not expect that we would be granted leave,
but we were and away we went at 14:30. There was a short wait at the
gangway before we were able to board the Pinnace and shortly thereafter
landed at the wharf. Colombo's harbour system was to moor ships fore and
aft in lines down the length of the harbour. Service to and from the
ship was then by ferry or ship's boat. The wharf was a floating pontoon
similar to a Sydney ferry-wharf. Bandsman Jack Haynes and I went ashore
together. He had visited Colombo before and spent five years in the BII.
We changed some Australian currency to Rupees at the rate of 10R/l0d per
£A. Then we went sightseeing around the city & saw most of the
sights including Hindu, Mohammedan & Buddhist temples from the
outside. Down into the native quarter of the town we went for a look
around. It was not until sometime later that we learned the place was
called the Pettah.
It was not exactly "de
rigour" for whites to go there & very few did We soon found out
that giving begging children 10c pieces only attracted a larger crowd,
so we used the "Polly Ann" trick and got rid of them.
We bought some postcards and Christmas
cards and then went down to the Post Office & bought a few stamps.
Then around to the British Soldiers & Sailors Institute and prepared
some of our cards for posting. I sent one card each to Fred, Helen &
Rita. After posting these we had a meal and a rickshaw ride and were
then going to the pictures (cinema) but instead spent a very pleasant
couple of hours in a Jewellers shop and bought a Pendant & Brooch of
Moonstone for Helen and a pair of King Ebony bookends for myself. In
this shop of De Silva's we were shown some wonderful jewellery, stuff
that could not be bought in Australia for even twice the prices asked.
He showed us lots of stones of different types: diamonds, emeralds,
rubies, zircons etc. and showed us how to tell the real from
counterfeit. At 22:30 we returned to the ship tired but very happy and
feeling that the run ashore had done us the world of good. I made an
attempt to find out Norma's whereabouts - without result. I really had
no right to expect miracles for I did not even know the girl's surname,
though wished I did. At 12.2.1940 I have not the foggiest notion who
Norma was, but, later on we made friends with a number of Australians
living and working in Colombo. There were quite a few tourists about
& they also appeared to be enjoying themselves.
Still at Colombo. To sail Wednesday for Gunnery drills and patrol. The
Captain has informed us we may not return here. The Captain has worked
out a method of inoculation to try and rid us of the mumps. Gloucester
left last night and Liverpool entered 1300 today Eagle & Leith left
this morning & so did the French Submarine L'Espoir No52. 'Sous
Marin' L'Espoir is on their cap tallies. Leave has been granted from
14:00 and I shall go ashore again to get some sandals and a pair of
pyjamas. Airmail ex Sydney has not yet reached us and the skipper is
making quite a row about it. Am looking forward to a letter from Helen.
Went ashore at 14:00 and after a beer with Tom Liddell we wandered into
the Pettah where we had a look for some sandals and pyjamas. These, of
the variety we wanted, proved to be rather hard to obtain and we
eventually came back to the shopping centre and bought them there. We
then went around to the BSSI (British Soldiers & Sailors Institute.)
and after a couple of lime drinks and reading the newspapers, we were
told it was about two miles out to the swimming pool plus it would cost
about 3R's each for a dip. This evaporated our enthusiasm. Instead we
met Jack Allen and went to the restaurant for a meal. Lucia is
the sub-depot ship. After which we intended to go to the 6 o'clock
session at the Regal Theatre. Then Harry Harwood returned so Tom and he
decided to go to the "Olympia", After the 'flics' we returned
to the BSSI to listen to the news. On our way back to the ship we
visited a couple of native shops and I bought a small Moonstone brooch
for Rita. So far I have bought very little here, but hope to be in a
position to get an Emerald (blue) for Helen's birthday and maybe an
Emerald pin for Fred's 21st also if it can be worked. Moreover I would
like a signet ring for myself. Quite a few of the boys were drunk by
this time and some of them got into fights.
Today the usual harbour routine was carried out. I am on duty tonight
and glad about it too. One soon sickens of the wandering around looking
at 'niggers'. The first time is a novelty but the place loses its
glitter after the first run. Today we were told that none of our mail
will go to Australia by air, but will go by sea to Fremantle tomorrow or
the next day. Yesterday was a festival of the Hindu New Year of 1206.
Rough & wet today, put to sea about 13:30 bound for Bombay. Good job
we have a head sea or else... Some of the boys did exams for Tel, TO
& WT3 yesterday. In Bombay I may get a chance to see the lady who
Helen had stayed with when there. Calling on people uninvited is a
little unconventional, so we'll see what happens.
Last night Leith reported seeing some starshell bursts and gave
her position after which she said she was proceeding to investigate;
nothing was found so we resumed course. Today is much calmer than
yesterday and it is now possible to have portholes open. During the
forenoon we went to General Quarters" and exercised Action
Stations. A freighter was sighted about 10:30 & Action Stations were
again sounded. A boarding party stood by, but the ship satisfied our
Capt. that she was a Greek merchantman going about her legitimate
business. Soon later, normal routine was resumed. Today pay was in
Indian Rupees, I did not collect any. Tomorrow I shall draw some money
out of the bank to send to Mum, Rita, Jack and Helen. Some of my
shipmates have Aust notes so I will buy £7. The most interesting piece
of press news today was about machine gun bullets being sprayed around
Rose Bay, Double Bay and Waverley, Sydney.
Enroute Bombay. Sea calm, fine day and nothing eventful. Obtained the
money I wanted and hope I can arrange to register an airmail letter from
Bombay. Wrote H & H.C.Hatton.
Arrived Bombay 08:30. From the ship the city looks very inviting and we
have hope of getting ashore & perhaps going to a dance. When leave
is granted I shall try to look up the Mrs.W.A.Clarke as Helen stayed
with her when here. Will also look at the Zoo which according to Helen
was exceptionally good. (For readers, Helen Cole was a secretary at
Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo and had recently returned home from a trip to
Bombay.) There may be some difficulty about my leave because last night
I was unlucky enough to miss the first of a series of broadcast
messages. Ashore at 14:00 for a look around the city. Went out to
Victoria Park and found the manager was away for that weekend. Later I
came back to town and sent Helen a postcard by airmail and then out to
Worli to try and find Mrs.Clarke. I finally located "Buena
Vista" only to find that she had had the misfortune to lose her
husband in June and had moved. Mr.McCallum of the "Reserve
Bank" of India is supposed to be a chap who can put me in touch
Today we were told that we were to go on four days recreational leave in
groups of 120 (S.Coy 610 approx) & were to quartered in the barracks
in the local RN dockyard & allowed to leave at any time after midday
and remain out until 23:30. We went out at 17:30 and after meeting Dave
Moodie went to Breach Candy baths for a swim. There we thoroughly
enjoyed an hour in the water. Then we went over to the Ritz Cafe and had
some milk drinks. Returning to the city it was decided to the Eros
Restaurant. There we found we could buy anything they had to sell
although they would not let us dance. This is certainly not in keeping
with Australian customs so Jack Box and I intend to go and see what we
can do about obtaining permission to dance where ever we please. There
are plenty of theatres, but at present we would very much like the
pleasure of the company of white women on a dance floor. Lord! I wish
Helen were here. It would be glorious then instead of just so so.
Mon 20: Another
glorious day. Breakfast at 7:30 then after reading for awhile we changed
and went in our No6's to Breach Candy swimming baths. This is a most
beautiful spot just like some of the pools one sees on the screen as
patronised by the 'Stars of Hollywood'. We stayed there about two hours
and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Then for good measure we spent about
half an hour playing hand tennis on the court provided. There are two
very nice tiled ones available. Returned to the barracks for lunch and
then off on my own for a little shopping. Buying shorts, sandals,
underpants and a copy of "Lady Chatterleys Lover". Then out to
"Victoria Park", arriving about 14:30 to find the
Superintendent was away and would not be back until 15:30.
I decided to return to the city &
see if I could locate Mr.W.T.McCallum at the "Reserve Bank of
India". I finally located the bank and after sending in a chit with
my name and business he very kindly consented to see me. I spoke of
Mrs.Clarke and he told me that she was away from Bombay and that unless
I wished to go down there (it's out of bounds so cannot be done) I told
him what I would like done and he kindly consented to do it. And so I
forward my money to Helen & Rita. Mr.Mac said he thought the
H.G.Cole was familiar and asked her Christian name. When I told him
Helen, he said "My wife knows her well". Couldn't it be grand
if we could change into Mufti. We could then really enjoy the company of
some of the European Residents. Bombay is really a dream city &
there are hundreds of modern buildings going up. Buildings of the style
one sees in the overseas architectural books. Tonight an Airmail notice
came out and so I shall write a letter to Helen.
Today I loafed around the dormitory after breakfast just waiting to see
if Mr.Len Walker would call. He did not so about 2pm I left for Breach
Candy and spent a very enjoyable two hours there. On my return I went to
see Mr.Walker & after his wife came home we went down into the
market to have a look around. There I bought a pocketknife and some
razor blades. We then returned to the Outram Hotel where we had dinner.
Afterwards we sat yarning and very soon it was 23:20 and I had to get
back to barracks. (From memory Mr.Walker was an Inspector of Police).
Another 21st except that I had a much better time at Candy & on
return cleaned myself up and went with Jack Box to dance at the
"Prince of Wales institute for Seamen". We had a most
enjoyable time there although I was a bit shaky on my legs for the first
dance or two. The "girls" were outnumbered at least four to
one & most of the dances were "Excuse me", but despite the
apparent shortage of partners we had an absolutely rip roaring time (no
liquor either). The dance ended at 23:30 and we stayed talking until
midnight, followed by taxi back to the barrack gate and crept up to our
beds only an hour late.
Th 23: Today
the first recreational party returned aboard and a second party went
into the barracks. Duty tonight, with nothing much happening. It is
rumoured that we shall be here for Christmas. Hope we have a good
dinner. May even have an invitation ashore if present run of luck holds.
Fr 24: Today
Jack & I went ashore in the 19:15 boat to a dance at the
"Seamen's Mission". Collected my model aircraft from the
jewellers and paid him the required Rs 4/8. Had an excellent time at the
dance. The only thing really wrong was that our leave expired at 22:30
& therefore only 1-1/4 hours there. Still it was fun whilst it
lasted. Intended to remain aboard until Monday, but Miss Bessie Jones
(who takes her charges swimming daily) asked me to meet her at Breach
Candy by 17:00. Mail from Australia today.
Sat 25: Intended
to go ashore by the 16:00 boat but Jack persuaded me to go to Breach
Candy with him & remain all afternoon. I went ashore and then found
he had missed the boat. Nevertheless I decided to go out immediately
& picked up with Sam Lush & Eric Abbott & we three went out.
After swimming around for a while I saw Dave, had a bit of a yarn &
then began a game of Deck Quoits. This didn't go our way at all and Ron
Ponting and I were beaten 6-0. Attempting to jump a low hedge I caught
my foot in a depression and sprained my ankle albeit not badly.
Then decided that the best I could do
was to get my book and read. Sitting on the sand in a deck chair I was
asked by a young chap (who turned out to be a subaltern in the Indian
Army) who all the others were and when I said mostly Australian Navy
from HMAS Hobart he said "Oh! that's why they're all expert
swimmers". I knew they were not locals by their color and we began
talking about Australia & India. He then asked Eric to join him for
tea. This we consented to do and then about 16:45 Bessie put in an
appearance with her two charges. We cavorted for awhile on the rocky
foreshore & then Bess had to leave at 18:10 so when 18:30 came I
decided to decamp also. Whilst waiting for a bus a long low Morris
sports sedan pulled up and I was offered a lift into town. This I
accepted with thanks and was dropped at the Regal Theatre entrance.
There I met Dave & Bill & finding I still carried a box of
chocolates intended for Bess but which I had omitted to deliver, I
decided to give them to the people in the car who had so kindly given us
a lift. They thanked me and drove off a few moments later.
From the "Regal" corner we
went to see "The Angels Wash their Faces" at the
"Eros". A very good show indeed & really a beautiful
theatre. Ann Sheridan, the American "oomph" girl had the
leading feminine role & was excellent.
We also saw a trailer of Danielle
Darneux in "Return a Lark" or "Return at Dawn", the
next week's attraction.
I was surprised to see in this trailer
a picture it seemed of Helen & the indescribable beauty of her look
when she was in my arms awaiting my kisses. There was a great similarity
- the facial expression & the general appearance of the scene.
15.2.1940 India did then as they do today, make more movies than
Hollywood to serve their market of some 600 million people.
Sun 26: Saw
the Doc this morning about treatment of my sprained ankle. Had it
X-rayed and strapped. Divisions and afterwards church in the Starboard
waist. I am E.D. so did not go. Mail was piped to close at 19:00 so I
set to during the afternoon and finished Helen's bag (Macrame). It only
needs lining now and that will need to be done in Sydney. Managed to get
it cleared by censor before 17:00, though it looks as though we shall be
going to sea so mail may not get away. I wanted to write her yet there
was no time. In any case an airmailed letter should easily catch up on a
seamail parcel. At 16:10 it was announced that no more liberty men would
land until further orders. It sure looks as though there is trouble
brewing somewhere! They have called up patrols and a special patrol to
land. I suppose to get as many men as possible back aboard in case
anything does happen. Many of the chaps are in barracks & they too
may be recalled. All liberty men have been recalled, those in barracks
told to report in though not yet to return to the ship.
eventuated, however we are still at two hours notice for steam. Second
recreational party returned and third did not land. Leave was granted
(recreational) from 16:20 till 20:00. Orders say we are to sail tomorrow
Sailed at 13:00, Action stations 13:20. Wrote Mrs.Collis, will write
Helen to catch First airmail. Also owe letters to others.
Wed 29: Calm
and uneventful. Wrote Helen. Some of our letters are pretty basic
because there is so much we cannot say anything about.
Payday. All into the bank. RslO from Col Peterson. We are still at sea
heading North and we expect to arrive at Bombay tomorrow after carrying
out a 4" full calibre & 6" sub calibre shoot.
Fri Dec 1 1939:
Today I wrote Florrie & also answered one of Helen's which came by
air. It was dated Sydney 20 Nov. We arrived Bombay 17:45 and went
directly to our oiling berth. Papers were available during the evening
& no leave granted. Although nothing has been announced about our
departure, rumour has it that we shall be convoying troops to Aden. Maloja
carried out a shoot before us yesterday & took so long about it that
we had to wait until afternoon for ours.
Sat 2: Usual
Saturday panic, but no rounds. Bought "Illustrated Weekly of
India" which I hope to send home to Helen. I'm sure she will
appreciate this tremendously as she knows Bombay. I think the other
paper we saw whenever in Bombay was the "Bombay Times".
This afternoon was spent sunbathing
& reading. Our sailing has been delayed from 12:15 indefinitely
& now we know we are going although not when. Aden appears to be a
sure bet with about nine days at sea. Hope it remains calm. On deck this
afternoon we were watching a tumbling exhibition by a Jap and an Indian
kid. Their prowess was far greater than any I have seen on stage or at a
circus. It was wonderful the way the young Indian (in long trousers)
would give his body a sharp flick and turn completely over in the air
& land on his feet. The Idiot was there too & when he saw the
others getting "backsheesh" he put on a show of his own. More
ludicrous tumbling could never be witnessed, still he earned a few
annas. The others must have earned three or four rupees before they were
hunted away by a 'buttercup' policeman. Quite a crowd of our men
gathered at the rail to watch these men go through their repertoire.
Also there was a poor kid with 'Elephantitis' in one leg begging.
Sun 3: We
departed Bombay 16:30 Sat Dec 2 to convoy Akbar, an Indian
troopship, part of the way to Aden. After rendezvous we will return with
a fast transport as our charge. Last night the water was very
phosphorescent & small piece of broken water would make the
phosphorescence dance like a million fireflies. One could plainly see
the Paravane and it's wire as they cut through water. This afternoon
after a good 'bake' we stood in the shade of the awning & for awhile
watched an enormous shoal of porpoises at play. Normal Sun. routine
Mon 4: Still
at sea with Akbar. Nothing eventful except for Capt.'s memo re
explosions which may be caused by mine, torpedo or internally.
Tue 5: Sea
with Akbar. Uneventful. In addition to my 'standby job as reserve
Radio Op for our observation aircraft the Pusser's Duck or more
correctly Seagull Mk5. I have been appointed a member of the
Boarding Boat's crew. This crew is detailed when it may be necessary to
board a suspicious or enemy vessel for sailing to the nearest port or
perhaps in the case of a rescue. Today my tools were 'drawn' from the
Wed 6: At
sea with the Akbar. "Illustrated Weekly of India"
posted. News reports from KPH/KFS and other stations broadcasting ship's
news is read daily by Leading Tel "Wombat" Sutton. I think he
spends half the night sitting up in the DF office with his little old
"Imperial" portable typewriter copying news from a number of
sources in addition to those already mentioned. GBR Rugby, UK was a
popular station. Another German ship of 9000 tons has been captured in
the South Atlantic. This is the third they have lost in that area. Their
own crews scuttled the others, but this one appears to be safe.
Thur 7: In
last night's broadcast news there was much about the Soviet-Finnish war
and also about the war at sea & comparison of losses between now and
the Great War. The position appears to be somewhat better now than it
was then. If no more countries are to be drawn into the war on Germany's
side, the struggle should be fairly short. Widespread indignation is
felt at the invasion of Finland, & Sweden says she should give much
more than sympathy.
Bulgaria and American States are on
Finland's side. Italy also has had anti-communistic demonstrations. In
Sweden or Norway, I'm not sure which, Their House is reported to have
walked out on a communist speaker & left only members of his own
party to listen to the blah. We are to meet the fast transport Ettrick
some time today. She must be a new ship, as our 1938 books do not
mention her at all. Ettrick was contacted at 09:00 so we have
handed the AKBAR over to the other escort from Aden and turned
about to escort Ettrick to Bombay.
Fri 8: Still
at sea with Ettrick. Quiet & uneventful.
Sat 9: Early
this morning we increased speed to 25kts and proceeded direct to Bombay.
We have a Petty Officer aboard with acute Appendicitis. We arrived
Bombay at 15:00 and leave was granted. Since I had the afternoon watch
(12:00-16:00), Dave, Jack & I went ashore at 16:30 and caught a taxi
direct to Breach Candy. We spent two hours there and had a thoroughly
enjoyable time. On leaving the baths we returned to the city. Terry
Owens was with us both ways. Bessie Jones had her two charges with her
at the baths and we were talking to her for half an hour or so. On our
return Jack Box and Terry went to the flics and Dave & I went to do
a little shopping. Books main1y. Although I tried a number of
bookstalls, I was unable to get the PMG's Handbook or find any Jone's
handbooks either. Dave got some Penguin series and I one about the
Indian underworld. Reviewing our finances we found we were very low on
funds so went up to see the Walkers at the Outram Hotel. There we spent
a very enjoyable evening over dinner with them. Fruit cocktail, soup,
fish, duck, ice cream & toast cheese with coffee. Boy! What a change
from our own frugal fare. Then before we knew where we were it was 10:40
and we had to return post haste to the Alexandra Docks. There was no
mail for us and the acute appendicitis case, P.O.Barker, died tonight.
Sun l0: Left
Bombay 07:30 with Maloja and another AMC to escort troop convoy
to the gulf of Aden. When we leave them we're off to Colombo arriving
about Dec 21. Short Division's today. There was a memorial service for
P.O.Barker at 10:30. Composition of the present troop:
Ranchi AMC Ex P&O 16,700t, 548.5'. Built by
Hawthorne Leslie 1925.
Maloja AMC Ex P&O 21,000t, 600.8'. Built by
Harland & Wolfe 1923.
HMAS Hobart. Cruiser. 8 x 6", 8 x
4", 8 x 21" torpedo tubes + smaller weapons 72,000 HP,
Rajula BI 8500t, 462'. Built by Barclay Curle
Rohna BI 8500t, 461'. Hawthorne Leslie 1926.
Lancashire Bibby Line 9500t, 482'. Harland &
Tairea BI 8000t 450'. Barclay Curle 1924.
Talamba BI 8000t 450'. Hawthorne Leslie.
D'Artagnan Nessenerins Maritime15000t, 543'. Abel
& CH, Bordeaux 1924.
Cap Tourane 8000t, 417', built by Chargeun Rienis,
at CH Abel Nautia 1932. (?)
Tota1 escort: 44,600t.
65,500t. Overall 110,000t. Dispersal as follows:
Rajola Rohna Lancashire Tairea
D'Artagan Cap Tourane Talamba
Since leaving Sydney we have travelled
17,667.7nm and consumed 5,110t oil fuel, or 3.457 nm/t.
previously a Pilgrim ship of 4043t gross, 375'. Owners Bombay &
Persia SN Co. Built Glasgow 1924. Ettrick 11,200t MV. 0wners
P&O SN Co.
Today I finished reading "Gay
Batchelor" by Helena Grose. This is the second of her books. The
other one I have read was "Second Class Angel" and another one
I now have is tit1ed "Secret Honeymoon".
Mon 11: At
sea with convoy. Uneventful.
Tue 12: As
Wed 13: As
Thu 14: News
of the Exeter, Achilles and Ajax, versus the German
'Pocket' Battleship Admiral Graf Spee reached us today at sea.
The action took place off the east coast of South America and the Admiral
Graf Spee put in to Montevideo badly damaged. Exeter was also
badly damaged and forced to retire.
Fri 15: In
this morning's press there were two accounts of the Montevideo action.
The German account claiming a victory and saying that they ran for port
because shellfire had damaged their food store. This is the first time I
have ever heard of a victor running away because some of his food was
damaged. Most of the ships that were engaged in the action are in
Montevideo carrying out repairs. Others are waiting just outside and
ready to pounce on their prey if/when she comes out. It seems probable
that she will remain there and eventually be interned by the Argentine
authorities. This morning we left the convoy and after steaming down the
centre of it with the usual pomp and ceremony set off for Colombo which
is almost SE. We expect to arrive there on Thursday next 21 Dec &
will probably remain only long enough to take on fuel & provisions.
Still at sea bound Colombo. My present bank balance is £13.7.1. Wrote
Helen & Chief R.I. Melbourne. Since the news is still mostly about
the South Atlantic battle perhaps some details of the ships involved
will not go amiss. The battle is officially known as the "Battle of
the River Plate", Admiral Graf Spee was the third of three
ships, which are about 600' long, 70' beam and 12000t displacement. They
mount six 11" guns and have a top speed of 27kts. Engines: Diezel
British squadron Exeter,
Ajax & Achilles: 575', 8,500t, 58' beam, 80khp, 8x8"
guns. Latter two are similar to Hobart as they are 500' long, 60'
beam and displace 7000t, mount 8x6" guns, and 32.5 kts. The weight
of broadside lay with Graf Spee but disadvantage of
simultaneously engaging at least two targets apperently told. No doubt
Brits would be trying their best to take advantage of their somewhat
higher speed too.
Sun 17: At
sea, calm, nothing eventful, usual routine.
Mon 18: At
sea for Colombo, wrote Eileen Heather. Graf Spee blown up off
Montevideo. All crew saved.
Tue 19: At
sea for Colombo. Admiral Custance died in London last night Age 55. He
was last Flag Officer Commanding Australian Squad'n.
Arrived Colombo 1345; duty watch. Working on 'bug' (= Morse key which
pressed left gives dots, right for dashes). Seven letters & Polaroid
glasses received. News received that Capt.Langdorf of "Graf Spee"
Thur 21: In
harbour, Colombo. Company; Kent, a sloop & gunboat. Ranpura
sailed this morning. Leave from 13:45. Went off in the first boat and
after a bit of shopping and a couple of drinks we went out to the "Galle
Face" Hotel for a swim spending about three hours there including
one in the lounge drinking a Pimm's No.l Cup. Then returned to the city
where we bought a few stones. I bought an Emerald ring for Helen, a Jade
tie pin for Fred & birthday stones for May. We then went to the BSSI
to dance, but only had an hour as it finished at 22:00. After wasting
quite a lot of time searching for a Miss Norma Wockner I finally found
her during the last dance at BSSI. She has been married some three
months now to a soldier (Jim Davies) at Trincomalee.
This session we were granted the first
all-night leave since leaving Sydney on October 14th.
Leave to two watches again from 13:45 to 06:45 tomorrow morning. I went
ashore at 13:45 to do a little shopping and having finished this early
returned aboard by the 16:00 boat with tie pin & a small pill I had
Dec 23: To
sea 08:00. Completed 'bug' which operates OK. Gunnery program carried
out, full calibre shoot, late due to Widnes the sloop losing the
target for awhile. We are to proceed to escort a French Convoy from
Malacca straits to Colombo & meet Suffren pm tomorrow.
Christmas eve at sea. The first I have ever spent & I hope it will
be the last. Usual Sunday routine. Met French cruiser Suffren at
17:00 (Zone 6).
Christmas day with a special edition of the "Wombat Times".
Dinner of Duck and vegetables with a good duff, nuts & beer also.
The beer was horrible stuff though some of the fellows enjoyed it.
Picked up three ships in convoy this morning about 07:00. Suffren
& ourselves work alternate 500kc/s guard.
Wrote Helen, Gwen Dalziel & Betty. Left Suffren at 18:00
bound for Colombo. The 'buzz' merchants have it that we shall be in by
18:00 tomorrow 28th.
Arrived Colombo 17:45. Company: Kent, Widnes, Oden
& another sub also here. Kent has now been hare for more than
three weeks. Leave from 18:30 until 06:45 tomorrow. Landed 19:00 with
Dave to dance at BSSI. Stopped for a glass of "Beck's" beer at
the Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH).
I phoned Mr.Davies bungalow &
found he was out at his golf club. We had a meal at the BSSI restaurant
then up to dance. Had quite a good evening. Slept ashore - never again!
Fri 29: We
were to sail sometime today and pick up the Convoy again after they had
refuelled. They did not arrive until late however & so we had a few
hours respite. Leave was granted to two watches from 14:30. I am on duty
but, do not mind a bit. Expected a letter from Helen but was only lucky
enough to get a card. Norma says Fred sent her £5 for a wedding
present. Believe Ramillies has been in Sydney. God I wish they'd
send us home again. This seems so damned useless to us all - we've not
been wanted anywhere we've been so far. Details of last convoy &
Escort. Suffren 9,400t 8x8", 8x3"AA, 2 A/C, 6 or 8
tubes. Savorgnan de Brazza Escort vessel 1969t, 340', 41.8' beam,
14.6' draught, complement 136, carries seaplane + 50 mines; 3,200 hp
diezel eng. 18kts. (A sister ship Admiral Cherner visited
Melbourne for the 1934 Centenary.) Yalou 856t Messageries
Maritimes built 1914 at Bremen as Raimund 478', 58'4" beam,
28'3" draft. Bougainville 7,1110t, Chageus Reunis built 1913
Le Havre; 414', 53'8" beam, 34'8" draught. Si Kiang,
Messageries Maritime. 7014t, 473'9", 59'B, 28'D, built 1914 at
Westermunde Germany as the Meininger.
Sat 30: Left
Colombo 1130. Convoy as before. Suffren left us soon after
departure. Now in company as escorts are Bulldog & Glorious.
Sun 31: The
last day of 1939. In this morning's section of the ship's news the
following poem appeared. I shall call it:
We must go down to the
With the Neon sign in the
All we ask is a good
And a straw to drink it
With fierce foam and a
From which the ice is
The soft purr & the
Of the next one shaking.
We must go down to the
For the call of the milky
Is a long call and a
So we cannot say it nay.
And all we ask is a
Or two if one's heeding
And the brown dregs of
To us through the straws
We must go down to the
Where the whirring mixers
To the swirled spray of
the whirled whey
Where the frothy
And all we ask is the
With another to follow
And a pink dream of an
When this long war is
Today the church service was the best
I have ever attended on a warship. The hymns we sang were some of those
Xmas hymns with a decent "swing" to them. "Come All Ye
Faithful" & 2 others. The chaplain took as his text a question
ever present since we left Sydney - "Where are we going?" He
made quite a good sermon out of it. Chaplain J.E.Romanis (NB. later
vicar at East Brighton about 1952).