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Love : Two Men in the Time of WWII

Photo Credits: Screengrab from BBC News YouTube

Love letters—have you ever written one before? If yes, to whom did you write it? To your first love maybe, to your high school crush, or to a college buddy? Have you ever received one? What did it say? Moreover, what do you think of love letters, guys?

It’s probably not as popular now as it was before, but over 78 years ago, two men named Gilbert Bradley and Gordon Bowsher risked their lives just so they could write each other love letters.

The couple reportedly met in 1938 during a “houseboat holiday” in Devon and promptly fell in love. However, World War II broke out and as fate would have it, Mr. Bradley was conscripted for the army signaling the beginning of their long-distance love affair. The two proceeded to exchange over 600 love letters in the course of six years from 1939 to 1945.

From the letters, it can be deduced that they didn’t end up together; also, Mr. Bradley even talked about falling in love with two other men. But what made this remarkable is that this happened during the time when homosexuality was against the law and they could’ve landed in jail for their “indiscreet letters.” Also, those who engage in gay sex had it worse because they could get shot, BBC UK says.

In one of the letters, Mr. Bowsher had asked Mr. Bradley to, “do one thing for me in deadly seriousness. I want all my letters destroyed. Please darling do this for me. Til then and forever I worship you.”

We are glad that Mr. Bradley didn’t listen to his request and said letters are now owned by Oswestry Town Museum where it will be put on display. Because even though Mr. Bowsher wanted his letters destroyed, he did say once, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.”

Check out two of the letters below.

February 12 1940, Park Grange

My own darling boy,

There is nothing more than I desire in life but to have you with me constantly…

…I can see or I imagine I can see, what your mother and father’s reaction would be… the rest of the world have no conception of what our love is – they do not know that it is love…

February 1st, 1941 K . C. Gloucester Regiment, Priors Road, Cheltenham

My darling boy,

For years I had it drummed into me that no love could last for life…

I want you darling seriously to delve into your own mind, and to look for once in to the future.

Imagine the time when the war is over and we are living together… would it not be better to live on from now on the memory of our life together when it was at its most golden pitch.

Your own G.

What do you think about love letters, guys? Isn’t it a romantic gesture? This story brought tears to my eyes, I felt it was so pure and beautiful… Share with us your thoughts and stories in the comments section below.


There are 6 comments

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  1. Romantic @ Heart

    I am 53 years old. When I was in college back in the 80’s, before the invent of email, letters were a prevalent way to communicate. I have both written and received my fair share of “love” letters from chance encounters. Letters in general is a prolific way of expression. The penmanship is what gives it life in contrast to something typewritten. Sad to say, I don’t write as many letters as I used to.

  2. Tuck

    I have been lucky enough to receive love letters and notes and even post its expressing admiration and true affection and humor and tenderness from many different men I have dated over these last many years. One very simple note simply read “Share your gifts”. It was from a beautiful man I couldn’t let break down my walls at that time. I foolishly let him go. I regret it every day. I learned from him that I can love again. I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Bottom line I guess is the written word is strong. Healing. It shows you care.

  3. Rky_Mtn_Bi_Guy

    Tuck you’ve expressed my ideas as well from your thoughts on barriers to the power of writing.
    It’s too bad we live with these regrets.

  4. Trystham

    The last ‘letter’ I wrote was under anonymity and addressed to one hottie in my PG hostel 2 yrs ago. Creepy, I know. Felt stalker-ish, but I just had to let him know his baring his chest to do laundry was making ME uncomfortably frisky (loool). Anyway, dude is homophobic AF. Thank heavens I didn’t act on my hormone clouded head, I for chop beating that day.


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