The letters that are heard in this documentary were first published in the book 'Love Letters from the Front' edited by Jean L Kelly. The letters tell a love story: that of Eric Appleby and Phyllis Kelly during the First World War.
Eric Appleby was from Liverpool. He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1914 and was sent to Athlone for training. At a dance there he met Phyllis Kelly, who was brought up in Athlone, where her father was a solicitor.
The collection consists of some two hundred letters, field service postcards and telegrams, covering Eric's experiences from the time he left Athlone in March 1915 until he was killed in October 1916 at the tail-end of the Somme offensive. They show how much he depended on Phyllis's love and her letters to him to help him deal with the horrors of war.
Eric was seriously wounded at Morval on Friday 27 October 1916 (his last communication to Phyllis was a field service postcard written the previous day), and was taken to the Casualty Clearing Station at Meaulte, where he died the next day. He was twenty-three.
Phylis moved to London with her mother and became an opera singer. Eventually she returned to Ireland. She never married and always kept Eric's picture above her bed. She died in 1991 aged ninety-nine years old.
Readers in 'Love Letters from The Front' included Jonathan White, Kate Minogue, Kathryn Brennan and Hilary Cahill.
Sound supervision was by Anton Timoney and the programme was produced by Lorelei Harris
Click here to purchase a copy of the book 'Love Letters from the Front' edited by Jean L. Kelly
First Broadcast 2001, repeated Nov 11th 2012
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