Saturday, 24 May 2014

Letter 1 - Traveling down the east coast

This letter is four foolscap pages in length, written on both sides, in a fountain pen using Indian Ink. The paper is that form of brittle parchment widely used at the time. As you can see, it does not reproduce well, mainly because Ross always used both sides of the paper. So I will not upload the full letter in each post, but rather provide access to the full letter in the RHS Page Gallery.

This letter is marked by Ross as Westernport, Sunday 15th October 1939. It gives details of those whom he visited in his extended family during the trip to Sydney to enlist. So, I think it reasonable to assume this was his first letter to his mother since he left Brisbane. He mentions no details about his enlistment at HMAS Penguin, which reads as though it might be a security issue. But he does mention family:
  • In Coffs Harbour, he had tea with Uncle Frank and Aunty Bubby. Frank is Jennie's brother, Frank Guy Ewings (1892-1969), four years her junior.
  • He went out to Grandma's (Sarah Annie Cole 1865 - 1945) for lunch, and Olive (Olive Sylvia Annie Cole 1888-1987) was the only other person present.
  • Sylvia (Sylvia Irene Veronica Cole 1895-1984) rang while he was with Grandma, as they had missed each other on the Hornsby platform.
  • At Sylvia's urging, Ross phoned her son (and his cousin) Gordon (Gordon Lewis Tonkin 1919-2011), but they do not seem to have had much contact through the years.
  • He heard from Molly (Molly Beirne, wife of Cyril's next-in-line brother, George, 1887 - 1959) out in Manly, and dropped in on Molly's daughter Norma (Norma Cole, 1924 - 1958) at Rose Bay Convent.

Then he is quickly onto his impressions of the Crib Point facility. He sent home a dozen small photos taken in and around the naval training facility.
He is very impressed with the facilities, and the layout of HMAS Cerebus. He just casually mentions that lights are out at 10pm. He mentions people whom I do not know: Keith Currie, Mr & Mrs McPhee, and a Miss Janott . He exhorts his mother to provide Miss Janott his address at Crib Point. He mentions some accounts and some allottments, casually. He was strong on investing his money.

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