One of the many advantages of having all my documents in one place is that I now have access to the letters I wrote to my family during the campaign. Unknown to myself my mother kept these letters safe and returned them to me a couple of years ago.
They make for some interesting reading and give me an insight to my thoughts at the time.
This is the first one I wrote while on board the QE2
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
Well everyone I write to you my first letter for almost 2 years aboard the QE2. After an early start (3.00am) we finally boarded the QE2 at about 7.30am, watched by a small crowd of relatives and a huge hoard of photographers and film crews. I have got a cabin which built for 2 people, however they have crammed 3 of us in here. The QE2 has changed from an obvious luxury liner into a troop ship for some 3,000 troops. Gone have the display cabinets and fixtures from the corridors and main meeting places. Cardboard and mats cover the floors, gone have the plush lounges to be replaced by rows and rows of camp beds. She has been stripped down to what a cross channel ferry looks like. However there are still many good things. The food is fantasti. Its cooked by the crew, not army chefs, and as a result we get very well fed. We are actually allowed galklons of milk to drink and we get GRAPEFRUIT!! for breakfast. Waiters clear up and keep the dining rooms clean each meal time, which can't be easy when there are 3,000 troops on board. Everywhere you go there are soldiers, machine guns, rifles, sub-machine guns, anti-tank weapons, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons and piles and piles of stores which spill out onto the decks in all directions. Along with the Welsh Guards and Gurkhas there are artillery, rapier anti-aircraft crews and personnel from every corps and support arms in the army.
The crew are fantastic, they are cheery, helpful and quite willing to engage in conversation. I pity them for they must be used to quite dosile, rich and well mannered passengers. Now they have to cope with us!!
So far we have done nothing but sit around and explore the ship. Its huge with a swimming pool, a laundarette, cinema and shops. One funny thing I heard was one of the crew commenting on that all the army exists on is beer and chocolate which makes up a vast amount of the stock. Prices are very cheap, everything is at cost price and its suprising how much we were over charged in the shops on shore.
Morale is very high and everyone is having a great time writing messages on sheets and hanging them over the sides. Boredom is the only fatal thing that we have to watch out for. As I have previously mentioned there is virtually no extra space to do weapon training and exercide but that doesn't really concern me.
Well that's all I have got to offer as news at my end. There are no problems at my end except I havent got any stamps so could you send me 2 or 3 please? I will re-imburse you of course. As far as the bank is concerned forget what I said. I'll draw money over the table which will make my bank paymenst very small.
Well lots of love to all the family. Write as sonn as possible and hopefully I'll get back in 2 weeks time