Rest camp

Sept. 8th 1942 Tuesday.

Dear Jim,

Once again I am writing from the rest camp after another patrol. You will be thinking that this submarine service is all rest camp but that isn’t so. This is my second time here and it is indeed a pleasant change. It is much colder than last time but to me that is really an advantage. It seems strange to walk around for four or five days with nothing to do but to enjoy oneself.

After three weeks settling into life in Beirut, Turbulent’s crew had prepared for their boat’s 7th War Patrol. They left on August 5 bound for the west coast of Greece. They were also to carry out two special operations. The first was Corsair and involved picking up an agent from Crete.  Just after nine on the evening of August 8, Turbulent surfaced allowing the Folbot, a folding kayak used by commandos, to make for the shore. Two passengers, an agent and his Greek guide, returned to the boat and the whole operation was over in an hour. Turbulent then proceeded towards Greece to carry out special operation Capricorn in which two Greek agents successfully landed near Navarino. In the same area some days later, Turbulent torpedoed an Italian transport ship unfortunately resulting in the loss of hundreds of prisoners of war. The ship was towed into Navarino with survivors. This occurred on the afternoon of August 17. These were clearly dangerous actions and the crew would have been relieved to return to Beirut on September 1. Sadly, they were met by the news that one of the flotilla, HMS Thorn, was missing.

There was but one letter from you this time in and it was dated May the thirtieth. Of course I have had several before this with later dates. In fact I answered some of them about a month ago. The mails are very infrequent nowadays and I know for certain I have lost some of your letters. I hope you receive most of mine as there isn’t many of them, since I write only about once a month. There is so much I could write about but the censorship allows only a very limited number of subjects and even those are the most uninteresting.

It was probably this letter that Jim received on October 8 when she commented Had a letter from H. Poor devil – a dull life. The delay in arrival of mail was probably due not only to the loss of Medway but also to the change of base.

Cars

It is a bit of bad news to hear that you have found it necessary to put the car in storage indefinitely. I’ll bet you missed it most in the long summer evenings. It is a convenience that is very hard to do without and I know most Americans will find it very trying once tyres and petrol are rationed in the States. Cars are considered a necessity not a luxury in the States and most Americans dislike walking even a few blocks if they can ride in their car. It is a standing joke among Yanks that if one strikes bad times one sends one’s wife home to her mother, and if they get worse then one sells the car. At least it is all part of the war effort and anything that will bring the end of the war nearer is to be encouraged. What with rationing and shortages, and all the inconveniences now in England, it must be a sort of Spartan life these days. Talking of rationing here is a bit of a rhyme I saw in a magazine a few days ago;

Queueing for the weekly egg, Jill fell down and broke her leg: “What a bit of luck!” cried Jack, “Suppose she’d fallen coming back!”

A bit ruthless don’t you think?

Jim had certainly tried to cut down on the use of the car during the year and her diary shows how much the war was affecting everyday life. Summer evenings though, as at any other time of the year, would find Jim walking the dog. She frequently mentioned the price of petrol and considered selling the car and using her bike. This was a far cry from what met Hugh’s father when he landed in 1920s America. The country was enjoying an economic boom and able to develop industrial methods that made it a world leader. Cars became a must-have product, Fords of course, and people were able to enjoy the adventure of travel. The crash at the end of the decade was ruinous for many families and may have led to Hugh and his father moving to Ohio.

Photography

Have you received the photographs I sent to you sometime in May? I sent them sea mail so they probable took some time to reach you. I have an old camera of my own and I’ve taken quite a few photographs at different times out here and I hope someday to be able to show them all to you. There is a few that would interest you I know, but I can’t send them thru the mails. Films are fairly easy to get here but are rather expensive and they make a poor job of developing them.

Jim’s 1940 postcard of Niagara Falls

Author’s photograph of Niagara Falls in 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography appears to have been a hobby of Jim’s at times but it is not clear whether she owned a camera at this time. No snaps of her scholarship have survived unlike the many items of paperwork. Amongst these are postcards from Jim’s visits including New York, Niagara Falls and Jamestown.

You were asking me if I had read Auden’s. I’m sorry to say I haven’t. I seem to be getting hopelessly behind with my reading. The only good book I have read since last I wrote is E.F. Benson’s ‘Edward the Seventh’. It was very good I thought. Benson is very modern in his outlook. I read his ‘Dodo’ some time ago but I don’t think it is quite as brilliant as this one. It is odd the sort of literature one picks up out here. A few days ago I was rummaging thru some magazines and came across a copy of Sribner’s [sic] Magazine printed in England in 1900! In quite good condition too! There was a short story by J.M. Barrie in it, also a yarn about soldiering in South Africa. All very quaint and interesting.

There is some information about Benson in Books for September 1942.

Summer will be over in England when you receive this letter, but I suppose there will still be a few fine days here and there to go walking in the country with the dog. The weather has to be very bad to prevent one from enjoying the English countryside.  Now that I have finished writing about myself I’ll send this off. Hope you are fit and well.

Jim’s summer consisted mostly of swimming and teaching swimming. She was considering a change in her teaching career by applying to grammar and private schools. Clearly unhappy in her current post, she applied for a few jobs. There was even an interview during the holidays. However, she returned to the village school.

Please write soon. Thanks for your last one. I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

                        Goodbye until then.

                                                Yours,

                                                            Hugh