Letters are always interesting.
Letters written at times of world-rocking events
are especially interesting revealing much of what the ordinary people thought about what was going on around them, how their lives were affected and how ordinary life was carried on despite major upheavals.
Dear Ray is a book of such letters. They were written to a Royal Artillery gunner serving in the Second World War by his girlfriend, his mother
and occasionally by other members of his extended family. Ordinary domestic details such as problems with jam making and family illnesses rub shoulders with talk about his mother’s call up, his sweetheart’s duties in the ATS and the family’s evacuation due to an unexploded bomb.
They also contain a mystery; who is the German girl whose photograph Ray kept with his letters?
Given that Ray experienced frequent changes of posting and ended up as part of the British Army
on the Rhine, it is remarkable that so much of his correspondence survives. As his fiancée writes:
‘One reason I detest leaving places is that you
have to destroy letters and I detest doing that –
but you just can’t carry them all around – but I always keep a few – and that means I have to read them through to see which to keep and I get so interested reading them again that time flies by without me realising it.’
The book covers a period of about six years from when Ray Hibberd was called up, aged eighteen,
to his demobilisation after the end of the war. The text of over 100 letters is included, together with comment, photographs and anecdotes which provide historical information and put the background into context.
Publication is planned for 10 August 2011 to coincide with the anniversary of the day in 1945 when Japan surrendered and ended the war.