Leslie and Phine’s letters span the period from 1914, just before the War, to 1918 when Leslie is back in England. They have survived for over 100 years, beautifully preserved, despite having been in the trenches and a damp loft!
The contents of the letters are what you might expect between two young people at the start of their relationship. They talk about their love for each other and their engagement is even formalised by letter. They chatter about their families, friends and their love of dancing. Phine stays loyal to her ‘darling Leslie’, gossips about the folk at home, and admits to wearing a pair of trousers; while Leslie comments quite matter-of-factly about the cold, muddy trenches, yet shows more concern about the Zeppelins over London and Essex.
These ordinary letters occasionally belie the extraordinary nature of their situation. And with our hindsight and knowledge of the trajectory of the War, it can be hard sometimes not to feel touched by the poignancy of their words.
Stay Safe My Grenadier is a fascinating collection of letters and postcards that will give you an insight into life for two ordinary people during these extraordinary times.