I love the internet- the information available about the aircraft carriers of World War Two, and the H.M.S Indomitable in particular, is amazing, and I am so grateful to my brother for searching it out. I would urge anyone interested to have a look- certainly nothing in Cec’s letters will help you. It is amusing, in a horrifying way, to contrast his breezy allusions in the last letter to his ‘ringside seat to the Sicily invasion’ with the details of the torpedo damage to the ship, which was, by the time he was writing, sending them back to the States for repairs again. Perhaps it was on this trip that the North Sea added to the damage…
This letter shows a Cec, happy with his promotion, giving his family details of a pleasant Christmas. Although he never mentions it, apparently the US Navy ships were all dry, and so Americans were very happy to be invited aboard British ships where there was a bar and a proper party could be enjoyed!
HMS Indomitable Service:
September to December
Under repair and refit at Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia after being torpedoed in Mediterranean American Radar Types SM1 and SG fitted. (See RADAR AT SEA).*
*From http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-04CV-HMS_Indomitable.htm , accessed April 21 2020.
27 Dec 1943
Did you surprise me?! I had expected to surprise you with an early promotion, the last thing I expected was that you would hear of it first. Everyone thinks it’s a great joke. If anyone asked what the date was I say “I don’t know, mother told me about it.” While you’re at it, will you find out my “seniority” or date of promotion, from the barracks. I’ll not likely hear officially till the CW lists come from England (6 weeks). I won’t put my stripes up until it does but I’d like to know. The recommendation went in two months ago, right after I came back from leave. From the date you heard I knew it’s at least four months acceleration (due 20 Apr. ’44) but how much more I don’t know. It was certainly a grand Christmas present, a Lieutenant stripe plus a mere ($150 plus) extra pay in my pocket. Boy oh boy, just wait till I get to New York. Fancy me a Captain in the army, if I was in the army, which I’m not, thank goodness. I hope this war doesn’t last long enough for me to get the next “half stripe”.
My commanding officer seemed as pleased as I was so all is well.
I spent a quiet but enjoyable Christmas. Lieutenant (RCNVR) and Mrs. Stark had Christmas dinner with us on board, and my Captain and I had dinner with them on Sunday. I also did dishes and had supper. It was really enjoyable and I still feel well filled.
I gave most of your cake to my men for Christmas and they really enjoyed it. It was good! They had two turkeys & dinner, for eleven, so I think they did alright.
It’s past midnight now so I’ll close. Write soon.
P.S. What’s the idea of waiting two whole days before writing.