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Letter from Charles Peckham

Mike Peckham's great grandfather Charles Peckham travelled to Australia on the Orvieto in 1922 to visit two of his sons Theodore Charles and Edgar Holmwood Peckham who had emigrated in 1910. Mike sent me this transcript of a letter written from the ship by Charles to Mike's grandparents.

R.M.S. Orvieto, Toulon Harbour, Friday 27/22 8.50pm.
L & B Peckham 1

My Dear Beatrice & Leslie

We anchored to day at 2.30, I have not been ashore for again it is cold wet and foggy, rather disappointed. I was surprised to receive four letters, even after these few days absence it was just nice. I have today been through 3rd class quarters, oh what a difference I really pity them poor things just carting them across. 2 Journeys ago they brought back 1000, it's a mystery where they packed them, they had 100 cases of measles and lost 3, I wonder they did not loose the lot. I am so glad Edgar wants Willie Whill for himself, it will save me a lot of anxiety and it ought to be nice for Edgar.

Sat. evening. After all I have been ashore at Toulon this morning, word came that the boat will not start until 6pm owing to the mail being so late, and a tender would take who liked ashore, so off we went and it was a lovely day. Those that went on Friday paid 2/- each and got drenched and we paid nothing, rather hard. Toulon maybe nice but it's not Hastings, I am very tired though, not walking much and then going ashore finds one out, so here is to bed.

Sunday. Unfortunately it is scarcely known on board, except the ladies put on smarter blouses and smoke more cigarettes, to me it's disgusting. It has been a lovely day, the sun was quite hot on deck, we sat in our chairs and read until the sun went down then it soon got cold so we retired to our cabins and soon went to bed. After dinner it was posted up that we should reach Naples early on Monday and Breakfast would be at 7 O'clock instead of 8 as usual and the fare would be 2/6 by tender, the boat would start at 12 noon. So off we went, hired a cab, or and apology for one and went round the principal streets, going in the Cathedral 1/- City Church 1/- and museum 1/- and through the poor quarters and no mistake there was a collection of old stuff on sale. Also they made Macaroni in the street, I did not taste it. They have wonderful buildings but such a dirty place; Hastings is a hundred years before them. It cost us 10/- each. I shall not go on shore at Port Said as it costs too much and is not worth the money. We are very cosy in our cabins, of course that is our homes for the time being. I received a letter from Uncle David today and he wonders how I felt the first night, strange to say, although I have wondered all my life what it is like, it has quite slipped me. Well we were very excited and everything took our attention until about 10 O'clock, we went to our cabins and tumbled about as we undressed, got into bed and soon was lost to everything until the steward called us at 7O'clock with a cup of tea and biscuits. So that was my first night at sea. Poor old uncle feels my going rather but is better now there is a chance of my returning. Now I am off to bed and hope to have a real good nights rest. One thing, we thoroughly enjoy our bunks, so cosy, warm and snug. Our cabin window is 2 feet by 3 with 3rd class promenade in front. We have hot water brought for washing in for breakfast, also for dinner, so there is no excuse for not keeping clean.

3.15 it's just posted up that we reach Port Said tomorrow noon so we have lunch at 12 O'clock and will be allowed on shore for 3 hours. I hardly know if I shall go or not, will let you know in my next. We are getting lovely shrimps now, really worth eating. The sea is lovely today although we have a strong headwind. How is Kimbo? I will write to Father and Mother possibly during our run to Colombo which will take 9 days from this. Well my dear children, may God Bless and keep you both, your ever-loving Father,

Chas Peckham

Copyright © Mike Peckham.