Read these love letters from a WW2 soldier to his boyfriend
The love letters of a WW2 soldier have been made public, nine years after he passed away.
While on military training, soldier Gilbert Bradley fell in love with another man.
Same-sex activity was strictly prohibited at the time, not being decriminalised until 1967.
So much so that when Gilbert sent letters to his love, Gordon Bowsher, the letter were just signed as ‘G’.
Collectors assumed ‘G’ was a girlfriend, until they recently discovered the truth: they were in a same-sex relationship through the war.
In one letter, Mr Bowsher wrote: “My darling, I lie awake all night waiting for the postman in the early morning, and then when he does not bring anything from you I just exist, a mass of nerves.”
There’s limited information known about the two men’s lives at the time.
It’s thought Mr Bradley was a reluctant soldier, writing of how he tried to fake having epilepsy to avoid joining the army.
The pair had met on a houseboat holiday in Devon in 1938 when Mr Bowsher was in a relationship with Mr Bradley’s nephew.
Mr Bowsher is thought to have come from a wealthy family, his father owning tea plantations and a shipping company.
The couple went on to write love letters to one another throughout the war.
In another letter, he wrote: “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.”
Whether or not they lived happily ever after isn’t known for sure.
It seems unlikely, though, as Mr Bowsher moved to California and became a well-known horse trainer.
He would go on to employ Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy, in a dramatic twist.
Mr Bradley was briefly with MP Sir Paul Latham, who was imprisoned in 1941 after a court martial for “improper conduct” with three gunners and a civilian.
Sir Paul was exposed after some apparently “indiscreet letters” were discovered.
The letters are now on show at Oswestry Town Museum, in Shropshire, England.
Owner Mark Hignett found them when searching for items related to the town on eBay.
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He bought a handful of the letters online, which had been discovered at the house of Mr Bradley after he died in 2008.
He became so fascinated by the exchanges that he spent thousands of pounds buying some 600 letters, until eventually making the surprising discovery that they were between two men.
In one letter, the pair referenced their forbidden love, deeply secretive at the time.
The letter read: “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.”
The pair are not the first gay couple whose wartime correspondence has been preserved.
A letter previously surfaced from Brian Keith, a GI stationed in North Africa, to a fellow soldier he met and fell in love with during the war.
The letter, sent on their anniversary, reminisces about time spent together, and expresses regret that Dave never made it home.