‘Happy Christmas all – I’m as clean as a whistle’

Christmas greetings from the Indian Ocean, 1943
Christmas greetings from the Indian Ocean, 1943

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A recent Remember When feature about wartime Christmas cards sent from abroad prompted Derek Knight to send me this one and its contents (below).

Derek, of Brasted Court, Milton, Portsmouth, says it was sent by his father to his mother in 1943.

‘He was serving in HMS Emerald, a cruiser, in the Indian Ocean.

rw tache rotated''Was this code for Clean As A Whistle?

rw tache rotated''Was this code for Clean As A Whistle?

‘The ship was brought back to the UK in 1944 to take part in the D-Day landings.’

But Derek says he’s always been puzzled by the two words on the inside page ‘Sans Tache’.

I looked it up and it means ‘without stain’. Derek’s translation comes up with ‘spotless’ or ‘clean as a whistle’.

He adds: ‘I wonder, could it be anything to do with censoring?

Might it have been coded language for ‘everything’s fine here with the lads and the ship’?

If you know, please get in touch.