A thousand letters that kept couple’s love alive in wartime

Peter Mowforth with family letters.
Peter Mowforth with family letters.

A Milngavie man and his sister made an amazing discovery when they stumbled across 1,000 love letters exchanged between their parents during the Second World War.

Peter Mowforth (63) from Mugdock Road and his sister Sue (68) recently discovered the letters, dated 1941 to 1945, in their father’s attic.

Cyril

Cyril

Their dad Cyril was a tank commander with 42nd Royal Tank Regiment at El Alamein in Egypt and their mum Olga remained in Sheffield, driving an ambulance through the Blitz.

Sue spent three years typing the letters up and put them in the right order to create a book called ‘Good Evening Sweetheart’ with photos.

The book reveals how the newly married couple, who were torn apart by the war, kept their love alive with the letters.

They contained anecdotes about Olga’s friends and her life in Sheffield, rationing and coupons, food, health issues, finding war work, transport problems, youth hostel committee updates and political observations.

Olga

Olga

Olga also told Cyril about her walks through the English countryside of which they were both so fond.

Cyril’s letters contained first hand frontline descriptions of tank infantry warfare in North Africa and Germany. He took part in some dramatically described tank battles from the Egyptian border into Libya.

After returning briefly to the UK in 1944 he was sent to Northern Europe as part of the British Liberation Army that raced across Germany engaged in frontline skirmishes with the retreating Nazi army.

His impressions of both allies and Nazis caught up in the turmoil are some of the most vivid and thought provoking in the letters .

Peter said: “Sue found the letters tied up with ribbon in a box after our parents died.

“She read them and was deeply moved by the contents.

“I’m sure that in many similar situations, the children decide that the best thing to do is to destroy them.

“But the more we read the letters we realised that the story was significant and does much to help comprehend the enormity of what happens during war. Everyone in the family felt the same way.”

Marie Davidson from the Glasgow and West of Scotland branch of the Historical Association said: “The letters are a wonderful record of the war as people experienced it - they talk about the dangers and shortages of everything including money, and not knowing what would happen next.

“They reveal the lives of two ordinary people during an extraordinary period of real life history.”

Sue and Peter will read extracts from the letters at Hillhead Library in Byres Road next Thursday, February 9, at 5.30pm. Admission free.