Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir



Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir


Jim writes to his mother about daily life on board and concerts in which he had been involved. During time spent ashore he and two others had been shown round Lewisham Hospital by a priest. He was in the best of health and enjoying life.




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14 handwritten sheets


IBCC Digital Archive


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Postal No. 272
Oversea’s [sic]

Sat. July 10th 43

At Sea.

Dear Mum

Once more we are at sea and I am at sea what to write about. How is every thing at home? I hope you are feeling in the best of health & now that June 30th Balance is passed you ought have a few early nights. Vincent no doubt is still in the same job I hope he is doing a bit of swot at night, it will pay him in the long run. I don’t suppose Paddy has been lucky enough to get leave yet, but don’t you worry Mum when he does get leave it will be a decent one and it will be well worth waiting for, I would like a snap of him in his uniform at the first opportunity. How are the Boys going in the football? I hope they are

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still playing as they were the last time I saw them, they will [inserted] be [/inserted] playing their finals by the time I get my first mail so it will be quite sometime before I hear how well they did in the season

Up till date I have written four letters to you this is the fifth did you receive them all? I also send home numerous snaps & post cards, let me know if you received them when you write, I think it would be a good idea to mention in your letters what letters you have written previously, for the time being at least.

It took me a couple of days to get my sea legs back again, I had been so long on dry land that it was a matter of becoming accustomed to the roll & pitch of the ship once more up till date the trip has been perfect we have had marvellous weather with plenty of sunshine. We seem to fill in the time pretty well, every morning

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we have an hour of lessons then half an hour of P.T. as a class, the rest of the morning is your own to do as you please.

Lunch is at 12 oclock [sic] & the afternoon is generally passed reading in the sun or playing deck games. Whilst we were in New Zealand our C.O. very kindly [deleted one word] [inserted] procured [/inserted] numerous games such as Quoits, Darts, Cards, Chinese Checkers, I have played more cards in the pass[sic] few days than I have in the whole of my life before in fact I am beginning to take an interest in the game, of late we have played a fair bit of 500. At the beginning of the voyage cards were only for gamblers but now[?] they are for everybody as nobody has any money to spend & we will not be paid for a long time yet.

Every afternoon I do about an hour of solid washing, I hardly did anything in the way of washing whilst we were ashore consequently I have got it

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all to do now, which is not a bad thing in away[sic] as you are never stuck for something to do.

This week we had the funny experience of a Friday following a Friday, actually it did not make much difference to me as one day is the same as another [inserted] on [/inserted] board & you begin to lose track of day & date

The evenings are a bit hard to fill in, you generally continue on what ever you left off doing just before tea, we have a libary[sic] on board which helps a bit, I have read a couple of good books the one I am reading now [inserted] is [/inserted] not too bad its by Peter Kyme[?] & I can’t think of it’s name.

Cigarettes are again a ridicullous[sic] price of 5d per pkt, they are N.Z. Capstans & are exactly the same packets as you pay 10d for on dry land. A few of the Boys made a bad slip they started to buy up a few hundred cigarettes for the journey at 10d a pkt, they losed[sic] pretty heavily on the deal.

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Whilst we were in our last stopping place, the place from where I sent you the snaps & postcards (if they arrived) I was invited to a “Legion of Many Meeting”, I attended & it felt just like old times again; the [indecipherable word] was composed of Boys & Girls & was very young (I can consider myself old now; after I reach my next birthday which I will celebrate with water on all sides of me in a week’s time).

During our stay in our last Port I bought up a few things in the way of clothing that I hope will be useful to me later on, I also bought a nice pair of sandals they cost me 15/- so they ought to be pretty good, they can be used as slippers also

Well Mum! I think I have written enough for today so I will close I intend writing as little [indecipherable word] day and if this letter seems very disjointed you know why it is. Au Revoir until next time I take up my pen to write.

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When I was writing the other day I forgot to mention that Bill Purtell[?] Jeff & myself were shown through the Lewisham Hospital in our last Post. We met a priest who introduced himself & said he was a fellow Australian, after quite [inserted] a [/inserted] long chat with him he asked us would we care to see over the Lewisham Hospital, we jumped at the chance & he took us out in his car where we met the Rev. Mother & sisters. The Lewisham Hospital in this particular city was the biggest Private Hospital & second to the Public Hospital in size.

We were shown through the Maternity Ward first and when I come to think of it it must have looked queer to see a priest accompanied by three Australian airmen inspecting the Maternity ward; Father Bergin[?] must have seen the joke as he wise cracked us about it a couple of times.

After walking through wards of

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gaping mothers & viewing dozens of babies we were then shown through the operation theatres & X’ray [sic] plants[?]; one of the nuns in charge of the Xray rigged it up in such a way that we could watch one another breath.
It was a most interesting morning & I thought for a moment we were going to be invited to view an operation, that would have been beyond me and I wasn’t so keen on loosing[sic] my breakfast. We said goodbye to Father Bergin & promised to call on him on the way home.

The regular routine still prevails on board, I am still trying to catch up with a bit of washing; for the sake of something to do I even put creases in my pyjamas when I do my ironing. Next Saturday a concert is to be held, at present the Boys are trying to bring forth some hidden talent they did not know they had, Lance[?] & myself have volunteered to do the shadow[?] operation if we can get the

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necessary requirements for it.

Today was very squally at sea & the weather kept us in doors most of the day, another chap & myself got the loan of a gramophone from one of the crew & we had a musical afternoon, there were quite a few decent records including three or four of Nelson Eddy’s a couple of Richard Touber’s[?] and a couple of records of Anna Hato[?] a famous Maori singer that a couple of Boys & myself met personally; you remember in one of my previous letters I told you how the Mayor of a certain town took us in his car to a Maori Ceremony that is held about every 10 years, well one of the Maoris that the Mayor introduced us to was to Anna Hato, I did not think much of it then, but to be introduced to a famous singer then hear [deleted word] [inserted] her [/inserted] on a record sometime later gives you quite a kick.

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Every night in the cabin we collect for the Rosary, we started off with only four but have increased our numbers to eight now, before we finish the trip I hope we have 100% attendance there is only a couple missing.

At present I am reading another Book by Phillip Gibbs its entitled “European Journey” and gives his impressions that he gathered from the common people of France & Germany during his travels through those two countries about six years before the [indecipherable word] War, what he predicts is really amazing & up to date it has all come true, I would very much like to read his commentaries on present day events as I am sure they would be very reliable & well worth reading.

Last night I had a bit of luck & won seven shillings at Housie-Housie, a couple of chaps run it each night & as a rule I don’t take much interest in it, it cost be[sic] a bob to win the seven so I am still on

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the credit side of the Book, and I intend to keep there.

Well Mum today [deleted] was [/deleted] [inserted] is [/inserted] my birthday, little did I think that on my twentieth I would see nothing but water on all sides of me, here’s hoping that on my twenty-first I will celebrate it at 505 Bell Rd. I remembered you specially in our Rosary this morning, we held it in place of Mass, we have an attendance of eight or nine each night for the Rosary.
Yesterday I felt very energetic & did quite a bit of washing, remember those old football jerseys I bought[sic] with me, well I suddenly remembered [inserted] them [/inserted] yesterday & raked them up from the bottom of my kit bag for a wash, and did [deleted word] [inserted] they [/inserted] need a wash!!?!

The weather the last few days has been perfect, it’s not quite hot enough for shorts yet but it won’t be long, I still do a bit of P.T. & a fair amount of walking

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since leaving our last Port most of the Boys have started to grow Mo’s,[?] I [deleted word] haven’t shaved my top lip for days now & quite a nice little mo is sprouting. Bill Cashman[?] is the [deleted word] envey[sic] of all on board, he has many days growth on his face & looks like a real hobo, he got permissission[sic] to grow it to add effect to his part on the concert last night.

Last night was the big night on board everybody attended & voted it one of the best nights entertainment they had ever had, I have a programme of the items which I will send home to you in due course. The concert opened with an overture followed by a comedy sketch about a nervous Father awaiting the birth of his first one, it was very well produced & the chaps acted very well. After that were a few songs, [deleted] by [/deleted] a duet and a solo, the chap who sang the solo [deleted] sang [/deleted] rendered “Because” & “Dusty Road”.

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Bill Cashman[?] then took the floor for his part as the hunchback, Bill looked extra good in his get up, he had blackened his beard that he had been growing for days & on the side of his face was painted a huge red scar, he acted his part very well. Before interval there were numerous other items such as humorous sketches & musical items.

After interval there were a couple of items by chaps at [inserted] the [/]inserted] piano, one chap in particular was marvellous he made certain notes on the piano give the same effect as a bass Drum whilst he was playing the rest of the notes, he did that by placing sheets of paper inside in certain places.

Another chap who was really the life of the concert gave his version of the “Potty Parson” he was very good. There was also a duet accompanied by a “uke”. To finish up there was Community

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singing & a Quiz. I can honestly say that I never enjoyed a concert so much as the one I did last night; it was something[?] out of the Bose[?], and here’s hoping there will be another one very shortly.

Today I finished “European Journey”, it’s a remarkable book & well worth reading if you get the chance Mum! After I had finished it I came to the conclusion that French Germany Germans, Italians
& Englishmen don’t realize how unlucky they were in not being born Australians. The author all through the Book shows you how the people on the Continent live in continual fear of their next door neighbour. Their thoughts & ideas seemed to centre around Politics & a new war which has eventually come to Europe, I sincerely hope that when this present conflict comes to an end that Japan will be crushed beyond recovery in the way of armament [?] & other things that even give them the

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slightest ambition of aggression, otherwise Australia will find herself in the same state of uncertainty & fear as the different Countries in Europe did before this War. There’s no doubt about it Australia is the one & only, no other country in the world even runs a close second.

With that little bit of a lecture I will close this letter Mum, and start another one in a few days time. I was going to send you a few more snaps home but find I am not allowed to do so yet, did you get the last lot? I would like you [inserted] to [/inserted] put them away in a safe place separate from the many hundreds of others at home, also could you save the rest of the stuff I send home if it is of any value.

Don’t worry about me Mum! I am feeling in the best of health & enjoying life. Cheerio to all at the Clubs


Jim Cahir, “Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 27, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20038.

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