COVER STORY: Letters of Love and Despair; Kings, Conquerors and Tragic Lovers Have All Used Letters to Express Their Deepest Feelings. Here Are a Few of Them Romantic Missives from History's Famous Names

The Birmingham Post (England), November 4, 2006 | Go to article overview

COVER STORY: Letters of Love and Despair; Kings, Conquerors and Tragic Lovers Have All Used Letters to Express Their Deepest Feelings. Here Are a Few of Them Romantic Missives from History's Famous Names


Letters penned by a woman to her sweetheart during the First World War were recently returned to their only daughter, 91 years after they were first sent.

Retired teacher Patricia Mose-ley, aged 78, of Moseley, was amazed to receive the two letters written by her mother Kathleen to her father Samuel Croghan in 1915.

The then Private Samuel Croghan had just arrived in Mesopotamia - now Iraq - where he served with the Royal Norfolks during the war and the couple regularly wrote to each other.

In one letter addressed to "Sammy", Mrs Croghan wrote: "Oh darling, I cannot wait until next month to see you."

In another she said: "I went to the pictures today and arrived home about 10.15pm, the latest I have been for a long time.

"I expect you were in bed by that time my dear and thinking I ought to have been too. I try to do as you would like me to, you know dearest, although you are not here to look after me."

The couple married on March 29, 1921 after Mr Croghan's return and the letters were soon misplaced and forgotten until a builder came across them six years ago in one of their former Norwich homes.

Other war letters recently published include the correspondence between:

Edith Ainscow was 17 when she fell in love with Geoffrey Boothby, a second lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment.

Although they spent only a handful of days together, they became deeply attached and wrote love letters to each other during Geoffrey's posting to Flanders during the First World War.

The correspondence came to a dramatic end on April 27, 1916. The officer's final letter to his Birmingham sweetheart, composed in the frontline trenches, said:

Dearest,

Leave postponed about a week. Will probably be in Brum somewhere near May 9th with luck.

The hope I mentioned is now far stronger. But please don't build too many castles in the air. I should hate to disappoint again.

Yrs Geoff.

Geoffrey, who was attached to a Royal Engineers tunnelling company, was referring to the possibility of meeting up with Edith while he was on leave after an earlier arrangement had fallen through. He was killed in a tunnel near Ypres the day after penning the letter. His body was never recovered.

Edith, who Geoffrey addressed as "Dear Girl, Blue Eyes" and "Golden Locks," went on to marry a dentist, Wilfred Stockwin.

The collection of letters was only discovered eight decades later when the Stockwins's family home in Sutton Coldfield was cleared by their son, Arthur.

He later published the letters in a book, Thirty-Odd Feet Below Belgium, An Affair of Letters in the Great War, 1915-1916 (Parapress pounds 8.99).

Here are two examples:

27 November 1915, Mining Section, BEF.

Darling,

How are you ? I'm in fine form, though in the trenches. Muddy from head to foot and damp in all the joints .. Your suggestion that I should get home with the dysintry [sic] is really the limit. I know you are confoundedly matter-of-fact in your letters but really, dysintry, how horribly prosaic

... What would our grandmothers say to the modern girl's letter to her beloved at the front?

I do hope the Carter's little liver pills have removed the yellow shade from your beautiful green eyes.

Cheero, girl, Geoff.

11 December 1915, Beechcroft, Birmingham (The first surviving letter from Edith):

My dear one,

There's a simply lovely moon tonight and I'm just in the very mood for watching it so please don't mind if this letter is very daft.

Do tell me what it is you want most out there. I want to know. I promise not to get swell-headed or anything like that, but as you see I can't promise not to get sentimental as I've already got it frightfully badly.

There's something I want too - oh! so badly - but it's a secret.

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COVER STORY: Letters of Love and Despair; Kings, Conquerors and Tragic Lovers Have All Used Letters to Express Their Deepest Feelings. Here Are a Few of Them Romantic Missives from History's Famous Names
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