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  Wednesday  January 7  2004    10: 50 PM

griff's story

I've added a new section to Griff's Story. For those that are new (or have not been paying attention!), My grandfather was a Naval Combat Artist in WWII. In addition to being a good artist, he was a hell of a writer. He did two books, which are up on the site, and had started a third, which was never completed. Between December 1943 and June 1944, Griff traveled around the world sketching and writing. His writing was in the form of reports sent back to the Navy, which were to be the basis of the book that didn't happen. I've been slowly putting them up. REPORT NO. 6, dated Feb. 22, 1944, is the latest section I've added.

Many thanks to Jenny who has been typing much of this. We have electrostatic copies of typewritten reports and the scanner can only do so much. Here is one day's entry.


Feb 12 - 0900 Pack up "U.S.S. JEEP 111180". Canteens filled, box of food, musette bags and pistol belts strapped fast to sides of car. Driver--Photographer's Mate 2c--and a Lt. Comdr. who wished to observe certain things, as a guest. Give orders to weigh 1000 and off we move, three jeep-mates on a cruise. Last night the Captain said, "You have got to be tough to take a rough trip of 1300 miles in an open jeep in winter. You take a terrific banging and the springs will stick up through the thin seat covering. The sun will burn your face in the desert, and the wind on the snow-covered passes of the mountains will cut through like a knife. You'll cross the pass at 5,000 feet, when a day or so before you were sweltering 1,300 feet below sea level. If you break down in the desert, put on your pistol belts, for presently Arabs will appear from nowhere and be all around you. Take water and food and get those German gas cans made fast to the car, you may need them. Take plenty of American cigarettes--you'll get none where you are going, and they are worth a lot of money and can be used for barter. Watch out for your petrol points--you'll get gas nowhere else. I know you'll get some swell pictures for the Navy at Beirut and elsewhere. Good luck, Griff!" Out of dusty Cairo with the air laden with donkey-, horse-, and camel-dung dust. We roll out across the colorless Sinai Desert bound for Suez, ninety miles to the Eastward. Pass many convoys of lorries. Distance dim, sky pale and misty. Last hour 3,000-foot high desert hills on the starboard hand. We three, gay with going. 1230 ships' masts and spars showing above the rolling sand. Over causeway through quaint squalor of Suez. Over second causeway to Port Tewfick. Look back and see town upside down in still waters. Down Suez Canal to its southern end, to Navy office at the head of the Red Sea. Canal bright blues and dancing greens. Lt. Robert Johnston comes out to greet us. Eastern experience, fine officer. He's No. 1. Three officers and three men at this Naval observation post. Sit in his fine office as big Dutch tanker northbound and feluccas pass his window. To French Club on terrace overlooking Canal, for pink gin. To his villa for lunch with his mess, Lts.(jg) Tarrant and Newell, and American Consul. Newell drives me through U.S. Army camp at Ataka, and around head of Red Sea to the Adabiya Dock. Here the high, bare mountains come right down with their dry sand to the very salty water. Out of this desert juts suddenly a modern dock with big, self-propelling cranes, loading four large ships. Very unexpected. Spend night at villa and from my floor bed can see the Sinai mountains looming large across the water in the misty moonlight.