This Valentine’s Day, skip the saccharine sentiments and discover how love thrived and endured during the First and Second World Wars in a new book, Wives and Sweethearts: Love Letters sent during Wartime, written by Dr Alastair Massie and Dr Frances Parton.
Inspired by the First and Second World War archives of the National Army Museum, Wives and Sweethearts is a colourful compendium of 50 real-life wartime romances. The book brings together letters, photographs and diaries to reveal the endearing, humorous and, at times, heart-breaking personal accounts of soldiers and their loved ones during the turbulence of war.
Dr Alastair Massie, co-author and Head of Academic Access at the National Army Museum, said;
‘With this book, readers get a rare glimpse into another era and the people who lived through it. Discover through their words the love, fears, doubts and joys of generations of soldiers and the profound effect of Army life on the personal relationships of soldiers and their partners and families during these global conflicts.’
Key stories include:
Tragedy: 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’ – and reveal the horrors of war. 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.
Humour: Alan McPeake and Eileen Linn
Letters and reminiscences uncover the flirting and witty banter between 18-year-old officer Alan McPeake and conscientious schoolgirl Eileen Linn in 1918.
Enduring Romance: Anthony Rhysworth-Hill and Valerie Erskine Howe
Anthony Rhysworth-Hill, a winner of the Military Cross, was defenceless against the charms of an ATS dispatch rider, Valerie Erskine Howe. He proposed to her by post on 22 May 1944 and was granted home leave in January 1945 for their wedding.
Full extracts of these stories and images are available.
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd, the book is available in hardback from 30 January 2014
From all good booksellers, priced £12.99. ISBN 978-1-47110-264-6
Don’t miss – Wives and Sweethearts: Love on the Frontline – Free talk 14 February 2014, from 12:30pm
National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4HT.
This Valentine’s Day we’re celebrating love on the front line and the launch of the National Army Museum’s new book with a love-inspired lecture from co-author Dr Alastair Massie. Alastair will be drawing from the book’s 50 stories to provide visitors with fascinating insights into love during the two World Wars.