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World War II love letter professes love of one soldier for another

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Reader comments

  1. A hat tip to where this was just republished might have been a nice idea.

  2. What a read. You can’t help but smile through all the memories he talks about, and then you’re confronted with that sad end. He must have been heartbroken.

  3. ColinJones 1 Mar 2013, 2:36pm

    I saw a TV drama once about two gay WW2 soldiers which was very poignant,nice to hear something similar which is true.

    1. ColinJones 1 Mar 2013, 2:40pm

      I should have said interesting rather than nice.

  4. That letter is very sad. Poor men. Brian Keith must have had to carry the burden of grief all alone :-(

  5. So beautiful. What more can anyone say.

  6. Brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye reading that.

  7. I cried reading this letter. As the song say’s Love is a many splendid thing.

    1. ‘splendoured’, not ‘splendid’. That is why the adverb is ‘many’ and not ‘very’. The structure is parallel to ‘many-sided’.

      1. Sorry – I meant of course that the adjective ‘many’ is used instead of the adverb ‘very’.

        1. nobody likes a know-it-all.

          1. Agreed that’s just belittling and undermining Danny’s comment

    2. Indeed.

      1. This was in response to Danny’s comment.

  8. Jim middle tn 1 Mar 2013, 3:16pm

    a love cherished …memories that i hope found the way to ease the grief of Mr keith’s loss .. and this needs to be a novel .. then a movie .. I knew from the start the end of the letter . but still tears where shed
    a love like this is a grand thing .. I hope Mr Keith went on to a happy and great life
    this is why we need to keep the fight going for equality in marriage and our rights . so that loves like this can be shown to be the best thing in life ..

  9. Beautiful!! So many have asked for evidence of same gendered love out of the past and this is the most wonderful expression of just that.

  10. tears in my eyes, this is so beautiful. Letters of Note is a really great website, and has loads of fascinating and poignant letters. I think this is the only one that has actually made me cry, though. And yes, it should totally be made into a film and/or a novel.

  11. What an utterly beautiful letter!

    It’s a pity that the actual date of its writing has not been given in the article.

  12. A masterfully and movingly written letter. Historically priceless.

  13. Brett Gibson 1 Mar 2013, 4:09pm

    Oh my fucking god I just cried like a bitch. This is such a sad story, bless them both. So well worded, truly conveys love. I feel for them never getting to live a life together that they wanted. If there is a heaven, I’m sure these two will have found each other. Rest in peace, brave heroes. xXx

    1. One could flesh out a movie script just from this letter!

      1. Neil Phelps 1 Mar 2013, 4:17pm

        Moving and truly wonderful.

      2. Christopher in Canada 1 Mar 2013, 4:21pm

        Is the letter considered public domain? Would Keith’s estate need to be contacted to obtain the rights? This could be the next big gay movie…

        1. I’d love to know, because I would very much love to set this to (contemporary classical) music.

  14. Neil Phelps 1 Mar 2013, 4:20pm

    Truly moving and wonderful.

  15. As homosexuality was illegal then, I just wonder if Mr Keith was able to share his story with someone understanding – or, did he have to keep it all to himself. Perhaps he wrote the letter to help him express the memories locked in his head. It’s very sad and is a reminder of a time when life was very different for us. I wish we could find out what became of Mr Keith.

    1. Brian Keith went on to star in a few movies and TV shows. He was Uncle Bill on Family Affair and the dad in The Parent Trap (Haley Mills version).

      1. Brucelaidlaw 1 Mar 2013, 10:05pm

        I’m no expert, but Brian Keith of Family Affair was in the Marine Corps and served as a radio-gunner in a two-man dive bomber. The letter reads like its from a land based soldier. (Brian Keith was also married three times and fathered four children, though that doesn’t prove anything!)

  16. Brought a tear to my eye. What a lovely letter. How sad that it was written to someone already gone. Pure unrequited love.

  17. what a beautiful, and very descriptive letter. I remember watching a ‘Secret History’ documentary years ago about gay servicemen, and it was by no means uncommon in entertainment troops for such relationships to blossom – and in many other places where stress-relieving ‘services’ were provided by gay soldiers.

  18. Paul Brownsey 1 Mar 2013, 6:35pm

    Is it certain that this is authentic? It seems just a little too literary.

    1. Oh shut up.

    2. yes, because we all know that only illiterate idiots ever went to war, right?

  19. So sad and beautiful.

  20. Xavier Radic, New Zealand 1 Mar 2013, 8:57pm

    Absolutely brilliant… but perhaps someone could have bothered to find out what happened to ‘Dave’?, and complete the story of both of them.

    1. Two things. 1: The given date and mention of Oran suggest the romance occured as the North Africa campaign was drawing to a finish, so as it says somewhere in the letter, GIs were being reassigned and retired. And 2: The battle of the Atlantic was still going on at this time, and would continue to do so with varying degrees of intensity almost until the end of the war in Europe.
      With this in mind, I suspect Dave was killed in transit. Near the end of the letter, the author does say “We vowed we’d be together again ‘back home,’ but fate knew better — you never got there….”

      Still, it is something that would be worth proper investigation.

  21. Stephen Mead 1 Mar 2013, 11:54pm

    “Danny, what caused these scars?
    Hypocrisy confronted; the intimidation of clubs. These marks are now your uniform…”

  22. Omg so sweet. Should be made into a movie like Romeo and Juliet or something, but knowing how homophobic society still is, chances of that happening would be the same as Ugandans celebrating their gay brothers and sisters – it just won’t happen :-(

    1. I think Ang Lee might disagree!

  23. John Cairns 2 Mar 2013, 11:35am

    It’s …moving.

  24. *wipes eyes*

  25. Charles Brown 2 Mar 2013, 2:09pm

    The dubious history of this document needs verification. It “reportedly” is in the Library of Congress? Either it is or it isn’t.
    And 15 years before it came to the surface to be published? It was written in memory of an “anniversary”… but which one? 10? 15? 18?

    1. Linus Van Pelt 2 Mar 2013, 6:08pm

      Thank you for volunteering to contact the Library of Congress to verify that the letter is in their archives. I’m sure they’ll be happy to comb through their 170 billion holdings to satisfy your relentless quest for truth and accuracy.

      You MIGHT, had you the wit to check the article sourced (“Letters of Note”) ask these questions of Shaun Usher, or of Carrie Kendall of the One National Gay & Lesbian Archives (Usher’s source), which is located at the University of Southern California Libraries. Their holdings are a mere two million items, so it should be duck soup.

      As to WHICH anniversary – it is the date specified – October 27, 1943. “IN MEMORY OF AN ANNIVERSARY — THE ANNIVERSARY OF OCTOBER 27TH, 1943i, WHEN I FIRST HEARD TO SINGING”

      Not clear on the concept of “anniversary of a memory?” Go back to minding the bridge. In any case, troll elsewhere.

  26. someone should make a movie based on this letter.

  27. Welling up a little over here…

  28. This letter is stunning, so sad yet so beautiful, to your memories together

  29. The real tragedy is that if they had been discovered, they would have been thrown out of the Army, and both would have survived the war (albeit after imprisonment for a period).
    Whether the social fallout of being revealed as homosexuals would have been too great to risk, or whether they fought out of patriotism rather than fear of ostracism is something we may never know, and is largely moot……

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