• circa 1938: Piles of post lie on a table, waiting to be sorted. (Hulton Archive (Photo by London Express/Getty Images))Source: Hulton Archive (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)
The two men exchanged letters throughout World War II after falling in love on a houseboat holiday.
By
Michaela Morgan

21 Feb 2017 - 9:21 AM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2017 - 9:21 AM

The heartfelt correspondence between two gay men during World War II has been discovered after a museum in England acquired hundreds of their love letters.  

Gordon Bowsher and Gilbert Bradley met on a houseboat in 1938 while on holiday in Devon, and continued their relationship throughout the war when Bradley trained as an anti-aircraft gunner and later, an infantryman.

“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,” one letter reads.

The notes were first thought to be between Gilbert Bradley and a girlfriend, until it was discovered that the letters signed ‘G’ in fact stood for Gordon.

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Same-sex relationships in 1940s England were considered “gross indecency” and jail sentences were common.

Oswestry Town Museum curator Mark Hignett—who purchased the letters on Ebay from a house clearance company—says the trove of letters is an incredibly rare find.

"Such letters are extremely rare because they were incriminating - gay men faced years in prison with or without hard labour," says Hignett. "There was even the possibility that gay soldiers could have been shot."

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In one exchange, the couple ponder what life would be like if their romance had taken place in a more accepting era:

"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 letters will be displayed at the Oswestry Town Museum and there are plans underway for a book detailing the correspondence.