Lieutenant David Dawson wrote to his wife, Blanche, often between 1939 and 1945.
Ruth Walker, who’s from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in England, and is a granddaughter of family friends of the Dawsons, donated the letters to the Scarborough Museums Trust. The messages written during the wartime paint a vivid portrayal of a young soldier’s memories, and of his persistent longing for home.
The letters were left to collect dust in Ruth’s attic in her home in Scarborough but were found again during a “lockdown project.”
The soldier wrote to his wife with impressive regularity, and the heartfelt notes were raw in emotion. Despite being written between 1939 and 1945, they have been remarkably preserved.
In a letter penned the day after Victory in Europe Day, he told his dearest Blanche that the day they “have been waiting for for so long has arrived.”
The letter read:
“My dearest Blanche,
At last, the day we have been waiting for for so long [h]as arrived—it seems hard to realize. The main topic now is when will they be starting demobilization and let us get back to civvy street. There was very little in the way of celebration here yesterday, in fact as far as we were concerned, there was nothing at all.
Today we went to the cemetery and the burgomaster [laid] a wreath on each of the graves of some RAF men who had been brought down somewhere near here. The graves had been beautifully kept and I know that if the relatives could see them they would be very pleased…
There [have] been some weird and wonderful [processions] throughout the day reminding me somewhat of my extreme youth.
According to the wireless there was much merrymaking in Britain yesterday—I suppose the people were glad of the opportunity of letting themselves go.”
David, who was a lieutenant in the Royal Army Pay Corps, was stationed in London, Scotland, the Netherlands, France, and Germany.
The prevailing theme of the letters was his love for Scarborough and his longing to come home.
On May 7, 1940, while in Hastings in southeast England, he wrote: “I am writing this letter in the open-air as it is a pleasant evening, and I want a bit of fresh air after being closed indoors for the best part of the day, so I am [sitting] on a seat on the front in a small shelter—something like the North Side at Scarborough, but not as good.”
Ruth said her family had been taking care of the letters for some years now.
David and Blanche were good friends with her grandparents, and her mother was the executor of the Dawsons’ wills.
Ruth said: “The letters have been sitting in the attic for years; finally, sorting through them was my lockdown project.
“It’s very apparent from them that David was very much a Scarborough man. He loved the town, and a running theme of the letters was his wish to come home, so where better to give them to than Scarborough Museums Trust?”
The Trust’s Collections Manager Jim Middleton says: “We’re delighted to have been donated this amazing collection of wartime letters: they offer a rare personal insight into the everyday plight of ordinary people during extraordinary times.
“So often collections like these are lost over the years as people pass away, so for such a complete record to be saved for the town is fantastic both for local historians and future generations.
“The museum has been collecting Scarborough history for nearly 200 years, and it’s donations like these that make up the core of our collections.
“As an accredited museum, donors can be safe in the knowledge that anything given to the museum will be very well looked after, saved for future generations, and available to all for research.”
Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “We are privileged to look after the collections held in trust on behalf of the people of Scarborough.
“It is vast and comprises over 250,000 objects, including some of [the] exceptional rarity but also some like these letters—which are wonderful artifacts relating to the normal, everyday life of this remarkable town.
“One of our key strategic aims is to democratize the collection, to make it more accessible. We’ll do this by organizing more exhibitions and displays, but also by introducing new digital formats so people can access the collection online. It is growing all the time and we are enormously grateful for the innumerable gifts and bequests we receive from local people and beyond.”
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.