- Contributed by
- BBC Learning Centre Gloucester
- People in story:
- Doreen Conway; Frank Conway
- Location of story:
- Churchdown, Gloucestershire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 December 2005
Wartime newlyweds Frank and Doreen Conway were separated weeks after their wedding when Frank was taken prisoner of war after being captured at Anzio in Italy
My husband Frank was in the Royal Engineers. We married on January 18th 1943 when my husband was 23 and I was 19 but a few weeks after we were married he was posted abroad and I never saw him again for several years because he was taken prisoner of war on the Anzio beach-head.
A letter arrived at my home in Churchdown telling me my husband was missing in the central Mediterranean area on February 10th 1944.
It said “The report that he is missing does not necessarily mean that he has been killed as he may be a prisoner of war or temporarily separated from his regiment. Official reports that men are prisoners of war take some time to reach this country and if he has been captured by the enemy it is probable that unofficial news will reach you first. In that case I am to ask you to forward any postcard or letter received at once to this office and it will be returned to you as soon as possible.”
I was relieved because at least it didn’t say that he’d been killed. Then I had a letter from the chaplain of the 2nd Field Ambulance: It says:
“Dear Mrs Conway. You will have heard by now that your husband has been reported missing and although I have every hope that he has been taken prisoner I felt I had to send you a line to tell you how deeply I sympathise with you in what must be a very trying and anxious time. Please forgive this note being written in pencil. You will have heard we are all on the Anzio beach-head where the facilities for correspondence are limited. So excuse a very short letter as there are many other similar cases to whom I want to try and write. 23rd Field Company is my favourite unit and I have stayed with them on several occasions so I need hardly add how earnestly my prayers are joined to your own for the safety and wellbeing of your husband. Sincerely yours.”
Frank was in prison in Germany. I had a letter from him for my birthday which was written on April 15th 1945. It reads: “It is your birthday today so I will begin by wishing you many happy returns of the day. I wish you could have received this news in time for it, darling. It feels more like my birthday sweetheart to be free once again. I expect the last few days have been very worrying for you, wondering what had happened to me. It has been rather exciting but I am glad it is all over now. I have still a long way to travel, darling but I hope to be back in Blighty by this time next week so keep you fingers crossed and I will be seeing you before the month is out. I am too excited to write much now but will have plenty to tell you when I see you. I still love you as much as ever, so be patient, it won’t be long.”
But something quite good came out of the war because when my husband joined up first he met a fellow and they became pals and they went right through the war together, they were taken prisoner and were prsioners of war together and we’ve stayed friends ever since.
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