Let­ter from the Somme un­cov­ered

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

A HEART­BREAK­ING let­ter writ­ten by a sol­dier to his sweet­heart days be­fore he was killed, re­veal­ing how nerves had stopped him propos­ing mar­riage, has been un­cov­ered after almost 100 years.

Cap­tain Harry Cromie wrote to Vera Vereker 98 years ago on the eve of go­ing into bat­tle at the Somme in the First World War. He was killed in ac­tion 13 days later.

Fours days after that, 18-year-old Vera re­ceived the let­ter, in which Cap­tain Cromie, who was 19 when he died, said: “By this you will know that I have been killed.

“I meant to ask you to be en­gaged to me but when I was on leave I was too frightened to say any­thing – I loved you very very much and would have done any­thing for you.”

He signed off: “Ever your own loving boy.”

Vera went on to marry and had chil­dren, but kept the two-page let­ter for the rest of her life along with a locket con­tain­ing pho­tos of her and Harry.

She gave her grand­daugh­ter Kate Vereka-Durston the locket on her deathbed in 1988 when she was 91.

Herother­grand­daugh­ter, 70-year-old Mary Ken­dall from Chal­font st Peter, dis­cov­ered the let­ter in a case of her grand­mother’s be­long­ings.

Mrs Ken­dall said: “One can only imag­ine what she must have gone through at that time.”

Capt Cromie lived in Ring­wood, Hamp­shire, and he was a school­teacher be­fore he joined the Hamp­shire Reg­i­ment in Fe­bru­ary 1915.

He was sent to the Somme in Oc­to­ber, 1916, and on the 23rd was sent to at­tack the Ger­man lines at Les­boeufs, com­ing un­der heavy ma­chine gun and ri­fle fire. His body was never re­cov­ered.

Mrs Ken­dall said: “One can only imag­ine what she must have gone through at that time.”

Vera mar­ried RAF of­fi­cer Al­bert Durston in 1918 and had three chil­dren. She di­vorced and re­mar­ried Royal Naval com­man­der Ge­of­frey Dal­ley in 1948.

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