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5 love letters between troops and their spouses during war

Ruddy Cano Avatar
(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)

During the War to end all wars, the prequel, troops and spouses communicated with each other through letter writing as it was the only means known to them. The pain of separation was unbearable especially because anything could happen to the troops during combat. In 1917 alone, the British Army Postal Service reported having delivered more than 2 billion letters during the war to and from the troops and their loved ones. Soldiers barely had time to write letters but when they had the opportunity, they seized it. Some would write their letters from trenches or in the less chaotic environment behind the lines. 

The soldiers were censored from mentioning sensitive content in their letters for security purposes, but they somehow found ways of passing information to their loved ones. Soldiers who received letters from their family and friends depicted good morale as it gave them joy knowing their loved ones were doing well. Today, letters written during the war on the home front to loved ones are an incredible source of intel on the soldiers’ experience during the first world war.

Emily Chitticks to William Martin

Emily expressed her deep personal stories in her letter to her fiancé William during WWI. This is one of the most devastating letters, as it was written to William before she knew that her fiancé had been killed in battle. In the letter, she airs her concerns about not hearing from her fiancé despite writing another letter previously. She stated how she trusted that God would protect William from any fatal injuries and would send him back home to her. After writing this letter, Emily was informed of the falling of her beloved in battle.

Courtesy photo from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division

Madison Bowler and Lizzie Bowler

During the war in 1864, Lizzie disclosed to her husband Madison the loneliness that had dawned on her since he left in 1861. She wrote the letter immediately after Madison resumed duty after his six-week furlough. The little time they spent together before he left made her lonelier, making her long for the day her husband will come home and never return to the battlefield. Six days later just before receiving his wife’s letter, Madison expressed how much he missed his family and was reminded of his little baby girl when he saw some children while aboard the steamer Davenport. Like Madison and Lizzie, several other couples struggled with the same outcome during the war.

Anthony to his lover

St. Anthony wrote to assure his lover his safety as he was in the hands of the best doctors, school teachers, lawyers and other respectable persons. Though he had promised to never do anything to make her feel bad, he had volunteered to serve his country during the war and was letting her know how sorry he was. He knew he had an obligation to defend his country and wanted her to be good with ay situation that would befall them. 

Reg to his wife Helen

Reg wrote to his wife informing her that six of his friends had received marching orders and expected to get his the following day. He mentioned that they had spoken earlier on the telephone though she was not feeling good and hoped that she would be better after receiving the letter. Helen received the letter the following day but her response was not clear since historians never talked of it.

Frank to his lover

Frank wrote to his lover and imparted how much he longed to go home and hold her in his arms. He also mentioned how he felt bad about missing his daughter’s progress and how he could never recover the lost time. In the end, he reassures her of his love and wishes her well.