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Love letters from World War II reveal the promises that were made and broken

They met in Boston around Christmas in 1943, they sang and played guitar at her home and exchanged a kiss that he said he will never forget.

By 1944, Leslie had to. The Upcraft, an Englishman, on board H.M.S. Cubitt, serving the British Royal Navy while his girlfriend, Barbara Russo, high school dreaming of becoming a pilot, remained in her hometown of Boston.

For a year, he wrote her emotional letters that promised marriage and endless love.

He wrote to her in December 1944: “If only we were dear together, I would give you anything to get back to you.” I am sure I will return to you after the terrible war is over. “

Unfortunately, he did not.

Mr Upcraft later learned from his friends that his American girlfriend became engaged with another person during the war, according to letters Ms Russo received from his family. Mr. Upcraft eventually married another woman.

But their passion, their legendary love is permanently captured in a wide range of similar messages in The National Museum of World War II in New Orleans. As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, the museum highlights thousands of love letters from soldiers and sailors to their wives and girlfriends. Mr Upcraft’s messages are among the many groups whose employees are digitizing so they can be more accessible and read online all over the world. (The museum has no letters written by Mrs. Rousseau.)

Tony Keser, the museum’s assistant director for collections management, said the errors indicate that war disturbances and horror forced people to evade their feelings and ignore fears of rejection or humiliation. They are also touching reminders of how email messages were written everywhere like email and text messages, if more romantic.

“I was really shocked by the passion and the number of times young people wrote to their friends,” said Ms. Kesser. “When I gave a lecture about this, I said, guys, these days. You should escalate it.”

Love letters from the war were found In used stores, By home clearing companies And On eBay, Where it is priced at $ 500.

Through the families of WWII veterans, the museum collected letters to loved ones, family members and friends. The museum contains other artifacts, including ancient recipes of how to bake During the sugar share And wedding dresses are made of umbrellas.

Mrs. Kesser said that silk was also legalized at that time. Japan made most of the world’s silk, and the war cut imports to the United States, which made this substance extremely rare. She said that soldiers who encountered silk umbrellas would have taken them from the battlefields and shipped them to their homes, where they were often sewn into dresses.

Efforts to collect messages from veterans began about 20 years ago, and since then, the museum has received thousands of mailings indicating true love, pain of loneliness and despair.

One letter simply dated “Tuesday. Eve” from a woman named Pat to Second Lieutenant Dale Brown of the Air Force in the army is desperate.

“The radio is playing” If I could be with you for one hour tonight, “so I started.” Frankly, I don’t know what happened to me. All I know is that I want to be with you. Even after what you said to me last night I want to see you. “

She was writing dozens of letters full of similar feelings.

She was not the only pen owner, according to Ms. Kesser.

Mr. Brown’s family presented a set of dozens of letters that included painful correspondence from at least four women. They asked why he did not write, why he did not call them or tell them that he had been transferred, or why he did not come to see them while he was on vacation.

In the end, Pat’s messages stopped.

“I think she is wise for him,” said Ms. Kesser.

Ms. Kaiser said that the museum contains messages of disintegration, most of them women.

What is bound by the relationship between Mr Upcraft and Mrs. Rousseau is unclear.

In December 1944, he wrote to her another letter on the first anniversary of their first meeting.

“My mind is made to come back to you,” Mr. Upcraft wrote. “I would be very happy, darling if you were my wife. This is the memorial suggestion, Barbara. Please say yes!

Her answer is a mystery, because the museum does not have the letters Mr Upcraft received from her.

He later wrote some Christmas cards to her, but soon after she stopped receiving letters, according to museum officials.

Then he learned that she became engaged to another person.

His mother, Mrs. Rousseau, wrote in April 1945 expressing confusion that she had not personally told him that he had to learn from courtship from his friends.

Mrs. Rosso’s family has donated Mr. Upcraft’s letters to the museum more than 12 years ago. Museum officials were unable to find their current contact information.

Mrs. Kiser said she could only speculate that Mrs. Russo still had feelings for Mr. Upcraft.

“She still has to be in close contact with him and the messages she has kept for 70 years,” she said.

Shilag McNeill contributed to the research.

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