War prisoner's letters of love unearthed

WHEN Tony Roe's partner told him to look at something she had found in her new home, he had no idea she had discovered an intimate piece of military history.

WHEN Tony Roe's partner told him to look at something she had found in her new home, he had no idea she had discovered an intimate piece of military history.

She handed Mr Roe, the Station Warrant Officer's Gang Charge Hand at RAF Honington, what looked like the “inside of a cornflakes packet” and inside was a number of letters to and from George King, a prisoner of war held first in Italy and then, when the Italians surrendered, in Germany.

Mr Roe, who lives with his partner in the Bury St Edmunds area, is hoping to reunite the material with the King family, which has ties to both Great Yarmouth and Beccles, or, if he is unable to do that, hand the material over to the Imperial War Museum.

Among the letters and poems sent from the prisoner of war 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.


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“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.

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The letters have left Mr Roe deeply moved and 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.”

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