Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

on active service overseas

Friday 25th May 1945

We get to Grantham at 4am and to Nottingham at 7am. Had breakfast then compose and papers. Take 10.15 to London and get to Janie’s parents’ house at 2pm. Ring Janie in the evening and make arrangements etc. After three periods of six nights I sleep in Janie’s parents’ house, the last time I was here was before going overseas.

Wednesday 23rd May 1945

At 9am we started up the Clyde, arriving at the King George V dock at midday. It was a most interesting trip. There is an amazing amount of ship construction going on. I’ve really got the feeling I’m on my way home. I help with the unloading of the baggage. At 3.30am I had got all my stuff off and so transferred to my valise the minimum needs.

Monday 21st May 1945

At 7.30 this morning we see land to the port side. Not until 3.30 did we see Wales and by this time there was a little watery sunshine. At Anglesey the convoy splits into two strong lines, the others bearing off to Liverpool. Six big liners bearing off to Liverpool. Six big liners astern is a good sight.

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.

Not to be reproduced without permission