A different day at work
Preparations for the Memorial’s new travelling exhibition Of love and war are nearly complete. The showcases are being built, all the labels and captions are being printed and we’ve been in the recording studio as well.
A large part of the Memorial’s collection relating to love during wartime comes from private records, particularly the letters that were exchanged between lovers separated by conflict.
However, an exhibition is a very visual experience and actually reading many of these letters (faded by time in some cases, terrible handwriting in others) is a hard task, especially in an exhibition setting. So we decided to bring them to life in another way. Last week several Memorial staff members put aside their day-to-day tasks and assumed the identities of 15 men and women who not only experienced the hardship of separation from their loved ones, but wrote about it in amusing, eloquent and often heartbreaking letters.
Extracts from these letters were recorded in the sound studio and will be cut together in the next week or so to provide an audio backdrop to the section of the exhibition which looks at the importance of receiving letters, and gifts, from husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends. We plan to make this recording available on the website soon. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of the extracts:
"Marie mine, I want to get back to you again, I want so much to have you in my arms, making love to you and cuddling you close to me. When will that come again, Girlie? If I had ever thought I would be so long away from my own Wifie, I would never have enlisted. This is not life to me, being away from you."
That was written by Lieutenant Peter McFarlane, 34th Battalion AIF, to his wife Marie in June 1917. He was killed in action at Villers-Brettonneux a year later.