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Heartfelt wartime letters found

PUBLISHED: 14:39 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:44 03 July 2010

Heartfelt letters which chronicle one man's experience of life in a second world war prisoner of war camp have been discovered in a house in Norfolk.

Now RAF bosses have launched an appeal to reunite the handwritten notes with the family of George King, who was held in various camps during the war.

Heartfelt letters which chronicle one man's experience of life in a second world war prisoner of war camp have been discovered in a house in Norfolk.

Now RAF bosses have launched an appeal to reunite the handwritten notes with the family of George King, who was held in various camps during the war.

The letters, which represent an intimate part of military history, were found by Tony Roe when he and his partner moved into their new home near Diss.

They were hidden within what looked like the inside of a cornflakes packet inside the drawers left by previous occupants.

Mr King was held first in Italy and then, when the Italians surrendered, in Germany.

Other than the information within the letters, little more is known about Mr King and it is hoped his family can help complete the picture.

Mr Roe, the station warrant officer's gang charge hand at RAF Honington, is hoping to hand the letters to the King family, which has ties to both Yarmouth and Beccles. If he is unable to do that, he plans to give them to the Imperial War Museum.

Among the letters and poems is a personal letter to Mr King's wife Miriam, whom he married just three weeks prior to setting sail, in which he says: “I want to say my darling there is no need for you to worry. I am perfectly well as I stated on my first card which was given me on my arrival here.

“The shock of course was great, but I am not alone in this, as all of us are here. Please, darling, do not worry as all is well, and soon our day will come.”

Mr King was aboard HMS Bedouin, a Tribal class destroyer in the Royal Navy, when it was hit by an Italian Navy torpedo. He was one of more than 200 taken prisoner by the Italians in 1942. One of his letters, sent from a German PoW camp, is dated April '45, and it is thought likely that he made it back to England to be reunited with his loved ones.

The letters have left Mr Roe deeply moved. He said holding and reading them was a “privilege”.

“When you think they are 66 years old, it was as though they were written just a year ago, they are in such perfect condition. The cards, for example: there is not a crease in them. And when you think this man was a prisoner of war in both Italy and Germany, he must have guarded these letters with his life. They have been looked after so well.

“It is like going back in time and to handle four years of someone's life when they did not know if they would make it home or be shot is a real honour and a privilege. You just cannot imagine what four years in a PoW camp must be like.

“And to then suddenly find them, it is like finding the end of a rainbow. I feel very, very privileged.”

To contact Mr Roe regarding the letters, e-mail ops1@honington.raf.mod.uk


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