Revealed: love letters from First and Second World War soldiers

Letters sent by soldiers to their wives and sweethearts during wartime have been compiled in a new book.

Letters sent by soldiers to their wives and sweethearts during wartime have been compiled in a new book.

Wives and Sweethearts: Love Letters Sent During Wartime brings together letters, photographs and diaries from the First and Second World War archives of the National Army Museum, to reveal the personal stories of soldiers and their loved ones during the turbulence of war.

The book, published ahead of Valentine’s Day, focuses on 50 real-life wartime romances.

It tells of the relationship between Arthur and Florence Harrington. In 1914 Arthur went to war, leaving behind his pregnant wife and their young daughter. His letters express the pain of separation – “You and my darling child are constantly in my thoughts”.

On 28 April 1915, just two weeks after celebrating the birth of his second daughter, Arthur was killed by an exploding shell. He was buried in Ypres in the Menin Gate memorial cemetery.

The book also reveals how Anthony Rhysworth-Hill, a winner of the Military Cross, fell in love with an ATS dispatch, Valerie Erskine Howe. He proposed to her by post on 22 May 1944, and was granted home leave in January 1945 for their wedding.

The book features ‘last letters’ to be read in the event of death, and reveals the pressures placed on relationships by conscription from May 1916. It also captures the turmoil experienced by wives and sweethearts when out of contact with their partners for prolonged periods.

Wives and Sweethearts: Love Letters Sent During Wartime is published by Simon & Schuster. To find out more, click here.

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