Not long ago, a stash of more than 1,000 love letters was discovered, penned by Cyril and Olga Mowforth.
During World War II, the couple kept their love going strong through the letters, which date from 1940-1946. The writings were exchanged while Cyril was in training and when he served as a tank commander with 42nd Royal Tank Regiment at El Alamein in North Africa and in Germany. While he was away, Olga stayed at home in Sheffield, England, and did her part to help during the war by participating in civil defense duties. The letters cover topics about everything from rationing to books and music, to fighting on the front line, to romantic poems penned by Cyril.
The couple, who met while youth hosteling in the 1930s and were married in 1940, spent six years part. They only saw each other fleetingly when Cyril returned from home on leave in 1944. They wrote nearly every day.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Post, the couple’s children, Peter and Sue, shared how they first stumbled upon the amazing love letter collection in their father’s loft. Peter, who lives in Milngavie, Glasgow, and his sister, Sue, found the collection in the family home a few years back. The letters were in a box, tied up with a ribbon. At first Sue said she didn’t know what to do with them as they were personal, but she and Peter, as well as their brother, John, decided they wanted to read them.
The script was initially hard to figure out. Sue enlisted the help of a neighbor, who enjoyed deciphering writing. It took five years to type up and organize the letters and, in 2015, Sue turned the collection into a book dubbed Good Evening Sweetheart, which was given to members of the extended family.
“Their usual greeting to each other was ‘Good Evening Sweetheart’. That’s where the title came from,” Sue told The Sunday Post. “They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. From this experience Cyril and Olga grew into the loving parents we remember, respected and adored.”
“It’s been amazing to learn about our mum and dad, the strength of their relationship – and really, how and why we’ve become the people we are today,” Peter, 63, said in the interview.
He added that he was impressed with the amount of words in the book — 400,000 to be exact.
Olga wrote Cyril more often than he wrote to her, as Olga didn’t always know where he was. But the letters always found him, even if they were often censored by the Army. The stories are both lovely and harrowing, speaking of dreams the couple shared as well as wartime tales.
After the war, Cyril worked as a remedial teacher until he retired. He passed away in 2004, at the age of 91. Olga worked as an independent community counselor and unfortunately had passed away from cancer decades before her beloved, at age 54.
But their love lives on now through their book of letters. The public interest in the project has grown so much that Peter and Sue said they may open up the writings to more people in a published form.
“History tends to be about kings and queens … there is very little known about the day-to-day life of war,” Peter said. “And to read it in an exchange between two people in love who shared almost everything certainly gives you a different viewpoint.”
Featured image by Andrew Cawley, Sunday Post.