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.
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."
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.