Saturday, 26 September 2015

The “Admiral C.F.Hughes” eventually went to Canada. They arrived in Victoria B.C. on 9th October and crossed Canada on the train. Throughout their time in Canada they were marvellously well looked after. On 24th October they left Halifax for a boring crossing of the Atlantic (“nobody is enjoying it one little bit – or is it that we are all suffering from suppressed excitement”), but the final day, coming up the Channel, was different:

30.10.45. The Bishop hove in sight immediately after breakfast & the sun began to get through. Lovely view of the Scillies & I was able to pick most of them out. Could just see Lands End. The plane from Scilly flew round us. Saw the Wolf very clearly & passed close to the Lizard at 11.15. How lovely it all looks, & how lucky we are to have this pleasant, sunny, calm day to come up the Channel & at last see our own country. Grand. Too excited to take tiffin. Abreast Eddystone at 12.45 & could see the white line of Plymouth itself. Later could distinguish Rame Head & the Mewstone. And so on up Channel past Start Point & later Portland Bill. Entered the Solent from the East after picking up pilot at E end of Isle of Wight & anchored about 8pm. And so to bed.

They docked in Southampton the following day, 31st October 1945, where he was reunited with Carrie. The following day they returned to Plymouth and he met his daughter Jenifer again – just in time to celebrate her 8th birthday a few days later.


This is the finish of our “end of the war” blog. The diary from which it has been taken is extensive and covers the period from February 1942 to his homecoming. We welcome any enquiries and will be happy to provide relevant extracts where appropriate. We hope to publish the whole diary in due course.


Earlier on we mentioned Tony Banham’s website and we recommend it again as an invaluable source of information and news for anyone who is interested in what happened in Hong Kong during the war.


Jenifer (née Sprague) & Philip Burton.

Friday, 25 September 2015

26.9.45. Slept well on deck. Good breakfast of Krispies, sausage meat & fruit. Tiffin of ham & sausage meat sandwich. Drew £2 pay this afternoon. Shall need money to buy in the States things to take home. Soap, scent, food & chocolates I reckon. Lord knows how we shall carry everything eventually. Bully & cabbage hash for dinner – & a free packet of cigs. Rain in afternoon.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

25.9.45. Felt like nothing on earth after a bit of a nap on one blanket on the steel upper deck. But I should have fainted down below. It will be a great treat to go out of the tropics. Breakfast was fine – grapefruit, omelette, bread, cereal & milk & coffee & jam. Wonderful how they push it out. Journeying between islands till mid afternoon. Some rain. More or less smooth sea. Nowhere to sit down is the trouble. Captain said over the loud speaker that he is making a trip direct to San Francisco, & expects to arrive there on the morning of October 9th. Good shooting. Looks I shall be home in good time for Jenifer's Birthday – but we may get snags yet. Tiffin was a snack of sausage sandwich & fruit. Dinner of sausage & mixed tinned stuff. Bit of everything I must say. Have talked with many Americans but not one has been of the “newspaper” variety. All quiet, decent, & without brag, what a mixture they are though. Gambling schools on deck. Got a spot to lay out my bed on deck & had to listen to the sound part of a film I couldn’t see. What tripe. Everywhere there is the blare of this accursed canned music.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

24.9.45. Finished packing. Hell of a job.  Also got a good breakfast, after which things got moving. All the luck in the world – it was a fine day. Adequate arrangements had been made to shift a big crowd of us. Working alphabetically things seemed muddled & cumbersome at first, but actually all went fine. Lorries 15 men each moved out in convoys of 10. I liked the Philippine landscape en route – green with hills in the distance. Manila sure looks as though it had been fought through. Embarked on “Admiral C.F. Hughes”, Compt 63. As you stepped on the gangway you received from a lady a packet of Wrigley's gum & a packet of Lucky Strike cigs from American Red Cross. Very fine. Quarters were clean & I got a top bed – but little choice. Look round ship which is a sizable boat, lots of welding, & obviously designed for the job of trooping & at the same time easily cleared & rebuilt for passenger work after the war. There are plenty of GIs returning home plus us – about 4000 on board. Moved off about 5pm & soon gathered way. Organisation for feeding is rather marvellous. Each compartment called in turn & one “combined dish” you slide along the counter & the chow whacked into the depressions. Damn fine meal which you eat in a separate mess hall standing at tables. The whole thing is hustle but a good show. The ship washes dishes. Drinking water fountains in all compartments & heads etc right aft. So washing, living & eating are all quite separate – & very right too. You can't do that in a liner converted to troop carrying. I tried hard to get to sleep in my bunk but had to give up the attempt for the heat which is made worse by proximity to hot steam pipes. Very pleasant sail out of Manila Bay & surprised we then turned south to pass into the Pacific via southern end of the island. So that is the end of a short stay during which we have received much kindness & had lots very willingly done for us.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

23.9.45.Sunday. One draft left at 3pm. Hobbs lucky & on it. Very heavy rain midday. Wrote letters to Elsie, boy Arthur & Marion. Expecting draft as two go tomorrow via San Francisco. On Draft for tomorrow & drew winter trousers & zip blouse. Draft supposed to go today waited all day to embus but returned to huts late at night. Confusion. Saw stars.

Monday, 21 September 2015

22.9.45. Rain morning. Two men in this tent on draft today. Lucky. They have cut down the grub issues a bit & the camp is getting full. The Red Cross hut, or canteen, is quite impossible with the big queues for free tobacco, soft drinks & hot tea, cakes etc. Just crowded out & noisy with the loud speaker “music” superimposed. It is an all day job to get three beers – & I cease to bother. Later in the day we gathered that 4000 UK bound people will move off in the next three days in Aircraft Carriers to San Francisco. Well we ought to be in that crowd alright. I only want half an hour's notice. Wrote poor letter to Carrie.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

21.9.45. Miraculous sunshine in morning, but heavy rain all evening. Terrible climate this. Good feeding, but camp getting very full. It is an all day job to queue up for meals baccy & beer. When not in a queue you feel at a loose end. Impatient to go. Wrote to Carrie. Seen nearly all former Argyle St batmen. No mosquitoes or flies in this camp – remarkable.