Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

Letters and Diary

Saturday 19th May 1945

We continue North today. The wind is behind us and pushing but there is a good sea and the ships are tossing about. We see the ship’s Concert Party. It’s quite good in particular ‘The Green Eye of The Little Yellow God’. We now know we are going to the Clyde on Tuesday.

he Green Eye of the Yellow God is a 1911 poem by J. Milton Hayes that is a famous example of the genre of “dramatic monologue”, which was a music hall staple in the early twentieth century. 

The poem is influenced by the ballads of Rudyard Kipling and was often parodied, most famously by Billy Bennett as The Green Tie on the Little Yellow Dog

The opening lines are still very well known:

There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,

There’s a little marble cross below the town;

There’s a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,

And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

It is set in Nepal to the north of” Kathmandu and tells the tale of a wild young officer known as “Mad Carew”, who steals the “green eye” of a “yellow god” (presumably an emerald in a gold statue) in order to impress his beloved. He is wounded in the course of the robbery, and later murdered, presumably by a devotee of the god for the theft, who returns the jewel to the idol.

Thursday 17th May 1945

I have gang plank duty from 3 to 6am as well as relief duties at meals. At 5.30am we set sail in a convoy of eleven ships and five destroyers, 200,000 tons of shipping I should say. It’s a beautiful evening and I see Cape Trafalgar and Cadiz. West, West, West!

Wednesday 16th May 1945

We sight the Rock of Gibraltar about 11am and get into position at 4.30. At least six big liners are waiting and numerous smaller ones and cargo.

At about six we are moved away from the big ships and put among the cargo ones. This leads me to assume that we are not going with them. It is a very pleasant day in the sunshine.

Monday 14th May 1945

Early in the day we sight Pantalleria and pass close enough to see the terraced fields airstrip and some bomb damage.

From then on we follow the coast and in the evening get a good view of Bizenta. The sea is just like a mill pond. We see several ships and a submarine.

Pantelleria is an Italian island in the Strait of Sicily in the Mediteraanean Sea,  62 miles southwest of Sicily and 37 miles east of the Tunisian coast.

Saturday 12th May 1945

It is wet and raining and the ship is becoming uncomfortable and tough I don’t feel well I eat highly. About 8pm we are invited to see the engines and at that moment there is a heavy engine knock and the port engine is stopped and so our speed is reduced to about seven knots.

Friday 11th May 1945

We leave Port Said at 8.30am with the promise of a straight run home. Will we make it by my birthday? The news mentions the Burma Star. In the evening we get mixed up with some destroyers who are towing something. We do a complete turn and stop and then proceed. Speed sixteen and a half knots.

Not to be reproduced without permission