December 27 1943

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

Dear Folks, 

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.

Love 

Cecil

P.S. What’s the idea of waiting two whole days before writing. 

Love

Cecil

August 1 1943

Indomitable service:

July 1943       

                5th        Sailed from Algiers with HM Battleships WARSPITE, VALIANT, NELSON and RODNEY, FORMIDABLE, HM cruisers AURORA AND PENELOPE and screen of five destroyers to cover military convoys to Central Mediterranean.

                10th      Part of Force H deployed in Ionian Sea to prevent interference by Italian Navy during landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY).

                16th      Torpedoed by aircraft which had been wrongly identified during air attacks as a naval SWORDFISH returning to carrier.

“The port boiler room and nearby wing compartments flooded rapidly causing a list of 12 degrees to port within 1 minute. Counter flooding reduced this list to 1 degree within 20 minutes…. The ship was able to proceed to harbor under her own steam …”

                             Repair arranged in USA.

August 1943

                20th      Took passage to USA via Bermuda escorted by HM destroyers OBDURATE, OBEDIENT and OPPORTUNE.

                31st      Arrived at Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia.

Same son 

Same address 

Aug 1, 1943

Dear Mother, 

I have just received the airletter that you wrote on my birthday*, so it is not surprising I haven’t yet received the parcel you mention. The news was certainly welcome the first I have received for sometime.

I was surprised to hear Les was getting married so soon, but he told me in his last letter he had become engaged to Joyce again, but he didn’t hint at an early wedding.

I’ve been having a rare time since I last wrote, thoroughly enjoying a sunny Mediterranean cruise. We had a ringside seat to the Sicily invasion. Quite a party isn’t it. I imagine the Canadians taking part are glad to get away from 3 years inactivity. It’s amazing to me that they have any spirits left at all. About the most interesting part was to see Malta. I was able to spend one afternoon traveling around the island visiting some of the towns and beaches. The swimming is grand in the Med, clear, moderate water, bright sun. And salty – wow – you gargle as you swim. Very economical, don’t you think?

Some things appeared very strange, particularly vegetation – what there is. There are a few semitropical trees, most of which seem to have been planted. Wood is almost a rarity, the houses, so-called, are of sandstone blocks and even the telephone poles are a tall thin steel & cement lattice work. They look so strange after the pine poles at home.

The country and huts is very much like some old Biblical painting, even to seeing a small mule tied under a shelter against a stone fence. I went swimming in St. Paul’s Bay, where he landed on his way to Rome. I bought a little Maltese lace which caught my fancy. I don’t know yet just how I will dispose of it.

Glad to hear the hatchery is doing well in spite of the new hands you have to get every year. I hope you haven’t worked too hard at it, Mum. But I know you & Dad both have. Give Lena my congratulations, I got her announcement. I wish I could have attended. 

Bye for now

Love

Cecil

*Cec’s birthday was June 16.

April 19 1943

Indomitable service:

April to May 1943

                  Deployed with Home Fleet.

                  Carried out trials with new radar equipments

1 from http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-04CV-HMS_Indomitable.htm accessed April 21 2020

H.M.S. Indomitable

H.M.S. Indomitable

April 19, 1943

Dear Mother, 

Here is another letter, late again. It seems three a month (altogether) is all I’m able to manage. I have received two letters from you since I last wrote, one on Les’s visit and one announcing my new nephew.

Thanks very much for the clippings. By the way, I knew Bill had got DFM* when I got his address from the Air Ministry in Feb. It is really grand, he sure deserves it, and so do most of them. Also, I don’t think I told you Dr. Orgfusson, who was killed on 25th it was the man I took my Indian arrowheads to in Varsity. He was grand chap.

I haven’t heard from Les yet. I hope you enjoyed his visit. He may have told you some things which had occurred, but he would have no idea (he may now) of the variety of life on board. It is extremely interesting, and I’ll come out of it as well qualified to be a steeplejack or father confessor as a physicist. I forgotten how to spell it.

Glad to hear Merle is getting on so well. I’d certainly like to be back to see John & Lorne. John is just at a cute age.** By the time I get back he will be getting “ornery”. 

My congratulations to Jack Longstaff. This ROP business seems to have considerable attraction. I’ll have to watch my step – but I’m not worried.

I don’t get this business of my keeping secrets. Explain please. 

I didn’t get or else dropped your clipping on Bob Bibby. What is he doing over here? 

Joan is really getting up isn’t she? if she does take a commission it will be from private to officer in a little over a year. I think she will make a good “sarge”.

It is after midnight now so this is my “first anniversary”. The time has sure flown. This year has been much better than I even hoped, and the next should be equally as good. You know, I get Foreign service leave after two yrs (over here) so until July 1944.

Love 

Cecil 

P.S. Send graduation paper

*DFM – Distinguished Flying Medal

** My cousin John. He’s still pretty adorable.

John Moor. Summer of 1942.