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Date: July 19th 1942
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

R.H. Gray S/Lt
Box 512
C/o Fleet Mail Office,
Mombassa, Kenya.
[annotation, origin unknown: “19/7/42”]

Dear Mother and Dad,

Again I am on the move getting still farther away from home but seeing more of the world all the time which is a good thing in many ways. We left Capetown a while ago and I am writing this at sea. The above address is our immediate destination. I don’t expect to get any mail for a long time and I am afraid with this movement that there are liable to be long periods when you will not hear. But I keep writing and you do too so eventually they will all catch up. Just before I left Capetown I got your cable and was glad to know that you had heard from me. But the news about Jack Diamond was bad. I feel terrible about that and I think we can know how Mrs. Diamond will be feeling. I am writing her and will tell her about my seeing Jack. I saw him just before we left England. I received some other bad news the other day to the effect that Alan Johnson had gone, too. You will remember your little Johnson From Calgary, Mother.

I still have a few of our old bunch left with me on this ship. You will find Cowan, Ogilvy, Brewer and Atkinson on those last pictures I sent you. We had to leave young Sutton behind because he had not recovered from his Hernia operation but he and the rest of my friends will be coming up here soon, we hope.

We were all glad, I think, to get out of South Africa. We were treated well there and had quite a decent time on the whole but we got tired of the people. They don’t seem to know there is a war on at all (except those, of course, with members of their families in Libya). One Boer told me to try and stay in Capetown where it was perfectly safe. It made me pretty mad to hear that especially after coming all these thousands of miles and everything else that has happened. I also object on principle to the very strict colour-bar they have here. I suppose there is no way out of it but it just seems to go against the grain a bit. But we enjoyed all the fruit we could eat, and all the food. But still we are glad to get out of it. I think if we had been doing anything worth-while it might have been different but we had very little to do and we all seemed to think that if everyone had our jobs the war was going to last forever. But we are on the move again at last so maybe we will get a job at last.

I got your letters about your trip and was so glad to hear about it. I am sure that you came back feeling refreshed and I know seeing all the folks at Westminster would do you a lot of good. But the big thing of course would be my little niece, Jane. I was delighted to hear all about who she looked like and how cute she was. Phyllis tells me, Dad, that she has a head just like yours. I hope that does not include the lack of hair, too. I wish I could get home and see her but I can’t for some time yet so I am just waiting for some pictures of her to show all my friends. Cowan’s wife is expecting a baby today, I believe it is. She is in London and he is someplace in the Indian ocean so you can see he feels just a little helpless. I am glad Ed is making such a good father. Phyllis wrote me a cute letter while she was still in the hospital about how Ed was standing there pressing his nose against the window. By now the baby will be about five months old and growing like mad I suppose.

I got a letter from Beattie. He said he had written you. That was very nice of him. I also got a letter from another friend of mine in Vancouver, Bill Wallace. He is at present Editor of that fraternity paper you have seen. He apologized to me. There was going to be a notice about Jack in one issue but through some stupid mistake of the printers it did not appear. I expect it will come out in the next issue. By the way I expect most of those have come to you. I expect you have forwarded them but I have not received any of them yet. I hope I get them as there is always a lot of interest in them for me.

I hope there will be no mix-up about Jack’s things. I can understand you wanting them but I just thought that you might like me to look after them. But as you say it really is much better if they go straight to you. It has so happened, of course, that I could not have looked after them in any case and I wrote to the authorities before I left England and told them that. So you will be getting them soon, I hope.

We are on quite a luxurious ship at the moment. Of course I cannot tell you the name. I am sharing a nice large cabin with two others. We have beautiful soft beds and our own fully equipped bathroom. It is really the most comfortable trip I have yet had and is a long way from those old days I spent as a rating getting the worst part of the ship to sleep in. We are in the tropics again but the heat, for some reason, has not become uncomfortable as yet, though it will be, I expect, when we land.

But I have had so many of these sea trips now that I am getting just a bit tired of them. I really am lucky in a way, seeing a lot of different countries and doing it all for nothing but this travelling around does get monotonous. I think I shall be quite ready to settle down when I get home.

We spent a day in Durban on our way. It is a sub-tropical place in a very lovely setting. I should imagine it to be much like California. The buildings are clean and nice. It is really a much more attractive place than is Capetown. The only thing wrong with it is the black-out which we thought we had got away from when we left England.

Give my regards to Mrs. Horswill, will you and ask her to send Stan. my regards when she writes. I would like to see Stan and find out how he finally managed to get away. If he had stayed much longer he would have been quite indispensable in that store. As it is I imagine they are having a hard time to replace him. But all those chaps that don’t go will be conscripted soon anyway. Have Blake or Leigh, Jim or Ken or George Russel done anything yet. I imagine Blake will be the first to go. According to Pauline Fraser really shook Aunt Francis and Uncle Jack when he decided to go.

Will you tell me about Paulines’ boy. She tells me he is a good type but she would say so anyway. You met him, didn’t you. Is he good enough for her. I’ll bet he isn’t. And have you met Alison’s husband (I presume they are married by now) I hope he is a bit better than some of those boys Al used to go out with. And Lois, too. There are three nice girls all getting engaged or married at once. I feel that when we all get back from overseas all the nice girls will be gone, but that still doesn’t induce me to find a wife over here. I shall trust to luck that there may be one nice one left for me when I get back.

I wrote to Joan Broughton yesterday. I have sent it care of you because I do not know where she is training. You will forward it, please.

I don’t know what move we will make from this new station. The idea is that eventually we will join an aircraft carrier but when that will be of course we have no idea. We all hope it will be soon because it is getting to be quite a long time since we finished our training and we all are getting a little out of practice.

This will be a long time in reaching you but you will know that all the time I have been thinking of you and praying for you. I hope that you are feeling a little better now. I can never be a substitute for Jack because one cannot fill two people’s shoes but I shall always try to be as good a son as he was. Don’t ever worry about me. I am in the Lord’s hands.

Your loving son,

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of 1942-07-19 from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC